Jealousy

20110511_FlashlightonBook-02
Reading Bolano’s 2666 by flashlight.
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SpringGun Spring Issue Out

SpringGun_Spring2011
One of my flash fiction stories, America Online, is now out in SpringGun Press’s spring e-journal.
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The Hashimoto Complex Is Longlisted


I’m happy to report that Black Lawrence Press has longlistedThe Hashimoto Complex for The Big Moose Prize. The prize is given annually for an unpublished novel. The final winner will be announced in a few weeks. Keep your fingers crossed.
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LuLu & Dan (East Harlem)


We made a family visit to LuLu LoLo and Dan Evans’ townhouse on E. 116th Street, aka East Pascale Street, named in honor of LuLu’s father, Pete Pascale. Out back is Dan’s chapel, a beautiful, spiritual place full of mementos, bells, and the fresh scent of wood. Below is a detail of one of Dan’s iconic monochrome paintings celebrating the films of Raymond Chandler. You can read more about LuLu and Dan and their art museum-like house in this NYT’s piece from last August.
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Homage to Nabokov (Park Slope)

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Ranbir (Chelsea)


My friend Ranbir Sidhu, a fiction writer and playwright extraordinaire, will be hosting a staged reading of his play, Sanskrit, at La Mama ETC on May 17th. Read about Ranbir’s work here.
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John Talbird Reading at Jimmy's # 43 (East Village)


John Talbird, one of my fellow residents at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, gave a fun reading at the subterranean bar, Jimmy’s No. 43, an event sponsored by Essays and Fictions literary journal.
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Barry Hannah, R.I.P.


I had the privilege of spending a week with Barry Hannah in 2007, at a summer workshop at Amherst College. Though his love of storytelling was still richly evident, it was clear his failing health was most on his mind. Drink and cancer had ravaged him, and the financial fallout was terrible. Like Orson Welles, who needed to pontificate about cheap domestic wines to pay the rent, Hannah joked that he only did these workshops for the money. Still, I was charmed by his raucous sense of humor and his reverence for his literary forbears. After enjoying brief monologues on the craft of fiction, I got to lunch with him and talk about Faulkner and John Grisham and Larry Brown, and Donna Tartt, his hatred of the label southernwriting. He had an amazing, playful way with words. His sentences and characters were wild and fun and irreverent. I have never encountered voices like those in Airships or Geronimo Rex. The horror and grotesque humor of Yonder Stands Your Orphan still haunts me. On Monday, America lost a truly original voice. Read the NYT obit here and an appreciation at Vanity Fair.
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J.D. Salinger, R.I.P.


JDS in 1950, photo by Lotte Jacobi

One of the most influential American writers of the 20th Century died on the 27th. The Catcher in the Rye remains one of my favorite books. I wonder if his children will reveal if there was a manuscript their father was working on all these years.
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The Straitjacket


My friends LuLu LoLo and Dan Evans are staging a production of The Straitjacket, a fictionalized play about Emily Dickinson in the Metropolitan Playhouse’s Another Sky program on American women writers.
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Reading at Motorcycle Federation (NoHo)


Though it was a rainy night, a big crowd turned out to listen to yours truly, Nikki Sprinkle, Roberta Bernstein, and Jean
Monahan (pictured) read at Motorcycle Federation’s cafe.
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Should Have Been Burned?


Yesterday marked the official publication of The Original of Laura, Nabokov’s last work in progress. Dmitri Nabokov, the author’s son and executor, agonized over the decision not to burn and send these roughly written 138 index cards worth of notes into the wild. For diehard Nabokovians, it’s a treat, but I don’t think it will do the master stylist’s reputation any good. Reportedly, Lolita, too, was supposed to be consigned to the fireplace, but his wife Vera rescued it and now we all have one of the 20th Century’s masterpieces of literature. But that was a finished novel and this is just the opening notes. For more about TOOL, check here and here. The Times of London got the excerpt exclusive. Will I buy it? You betcha.
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The Reader (Cobble Hill)

Scott Adkins of The Brooklyn Writers Space hosted a book launch party at Book Court to celebrate the limited edition run of The Reader, and anthology from the 2008 reading series. I have a couple of absurd short-shorts in it, a copy of which Max is proudly being forced to hold.
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One of My Short Stories Is Favorably Reviewed


My first actual review of a short story which appeared in the Sonora Review in spring of 2009. This was part of a longer review in The Review Review.
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Antonya Nelson Reads at UCF (Orlando)


The ACA writers got to hear Antonya read from Nothing Right at the University of Central Florida.
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Recent Published Work

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J.G. Ballard, R.I.P.

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SJ Rozan Reading

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Goddammit I'm Mad Dog

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Waiting for the Next Disaster

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Q: What Was Bush Doing While the Economy Was Melting?

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Animated Film Celebrates Publisher's 25th

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Studs Terkel

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LMCC Custom House Reading

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Final Reading of LMCC Residency

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Meeting with Paula Fox


I had the great fortune to meet Paula Fox and her husband Martin Greenberg at LMCC's office. Paula had graciously agreed to read a long story of mine and give me feedback. She's a real pro and full of lots of life with a nice sense of humor. It was a real honor to meet one of my literary heroes.
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Montparnasse Cemetary

Beckett and Baudelaire, among many others...


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Houellebecq vs. Mom

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Julie Andrews at Barnes & Noble


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Invented Memoirs—A Million Little Pieces Redux X 2

First a holocaust memoir turns out to be a total fabrication (Misha Defonseca's Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years), now an L.A. gang orphan story turns out to be fiction as well. Margaret B. Jones' Love and Consequencesfooled a lot of reviewers for the best reasons: it was well written and compelling. In Defonseca's case, she was not found out until the book was already a bestseller and a movie. For Jones, we'll see how her career fares, especially since the publisher has cancelled her book tour and is recalling the book. (I wonder if you can sue for the mental anguish caused by memoir deception--WRITERS: a possible short story idea?). It's amazing how well a book can sell when it's labeled as a memoir, but when it's fiction, it's assumed to bear little resemblance to reality and is given much less attention. Reality sells. Though I haven't read her book, Defonseca's supposed raised-by-wolves childhood was probably no less vivid than a great book of powerful fiction thought to be based on some version of the author's youth: Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird.
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Snow at the Custom House

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Custom House Inside Details











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Custom House Outside Details

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The View from My Desk at the Custom House

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Custom House History


Cass Gilbert's building in 1907. More info here. And some brief history here.
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Into the Custom House!

Finally got clearance to use the Custom House!

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Propaganda Photos: Which Came First—Chicken or Egg?

If you haven't been following Errol Morris' indefatigable research into which of Roger Fenton's two pictures of the Valley of the Shadow of Death came first, it is definitely worth a read (part1, part2, part3). Like a one-manned JFK assassination inquiry, Morris tries to refute Susan Sontag's claim that the photo with the canon balls on the road was staged, "a fake." This whole subject is fascinating for photographers like me who strive to document reality, but know that aesthetics often trump when the subject is mundane. Here are the two photos in question. Now, which was shot first and why?
OFF
Fenton-off
ON
Fenton-on
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Kurt Vonnegut—1922-2007

Photo by Jill Krementz (his wife)
One of my heroes died yesterday. I started reading the lovable hoosier late in high school and on through my twenties. I must have read every book of his before Galapagos: Breakfast of Champions, Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse 5, Player Piano, Mother Night, Deadeye Dick. And I really loved Slapstick, which seemed to be universally panned. He was a true original, a brave patriot, a promoter of free speech. He looked like Mark Twain and smoked as much as George Burns. What a force! What a conscience! I will miss his voice.
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