Over at the Paris Review blog, I have the delightful privilege of carrying on an extended conversation with Matthea Harvey, whose new book would be rather amazing even if it didn’t also include visual art: I’m pretty sure it’s her best yet.
Newest of all, at Cold Front I explain why you should strongly consider reading the poetry of Morris Stegosaurus. It says things about identity and fandom, or randoms, that nobody else has quite figured out how to say.
Every few years Laura Kasischke publishes a new book of poetry and I try to explain why she’s so good, and also why that book is not just like her last book (because, so far, they never are). This year the book is The Infinitesimals and it speaks directly to why there is poetry instead of no poetry at all.
Here’s the author reading aloud on PBS.
I’ve been thinking about superhero comics, too, and writing about them: Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), for example.
I’ve also been listening to a podcast about them, and it’s so good that I wrote about that too: Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men. (It is totally plausible to me, as a teacher, that if you want to learn how to explain something complicated or how to do a compelling, fun podcast you will love this podcast even if you don’t care about the X-Men. But I’m not really in a position to know.)
Oh, and I read artsy non-superhero comics too. I even tried to explain them this summer in Artforum (subscriber login may be required).
Lots of new reviews and review-essays out in the last month or so and I haven’t been putting them up here in a timely fashion: I’ll post a few now divided into categories. A piece of music writing I began back in 2010 is now all done and out there at At Length magazine: it’s about the great Columbus, OH post punk act called Scrawl.
Daniel Terna, from his Far Rockaway/Marina 59 series.
inbound: Glitchy images from Voyager 2’s approach to Neptune, June 1989.
Image credit: NASA/JPL. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.
Silent HD looped projection. About 20 minutes.
In Ryan Park’s video installation, Rabbit (2013), a shadow puppet in the
form of a rabbit is held in place in a circular swath of light. The rabbit
doesn’t really do anything, except remain fixed in the conditions that allow
for its visibility, dependent on the light for its existence. Physical strain
takes its toll on the Rabbit. Its static pose broken by quivers of movement,
at once a twitch of an animal’s ear and the spasm of a human hand,
growing in intensity over the 20 minutes of the shadow’s lifespan. Through
the basic elements of light, darkness, and human effort, a simple parlour
game becomes a meditation on presence and absence, signaling, and
limitations of the body.
(via Squid Bits!: Fhtagntastic!)
Jess Bradley, everyone.
November 15, 2014
When I proposed to my (ex) wife for marriage, I told her “I am, though I say it myself, about the cleverest young man of my age in the country… and I know you would like my companionship.” Of course, she said yes. Like others, she presumed that I had money or came from money. The truth is I allow people to think that, but in all honesty, and for those who know me well - when was the last time I picked up the check? Never. My recurring motif is to pretend to receive a phone call, around the time when the waiter brings the check to the table. I excuse myself, and from a distance, I watch the table to see my dining partner pay the check. It is then I come back to the table, and pretend to look for the bill. At that time, the friend good naturally tells me he took care of the check.
The truth is I pretty much live off the estate’s earnings. At times, I tend to spend a tad too much on goods, and therefore I find myself stranded in my large home, with a lot of places to go to, but no funds to pay for the experience. In fact since I don’t drive, I usually have to depend on the kindness of acquiescences. Even paying for the bus, has got too expensive for me. Food is not so difficult. If you just have one piece of toasted muffin, and use old coffee grains for your morning café, then you make it through the day OK. I know how to sew, so I can keep my clothes in good condition. So for appearance sake, I’m totally fine. I never worry about the lack of money in my life, because no one likes to hear someone grumble about finances. It’s such a bore of a subject to bring up, and once you do, you can immediately see the eyes of your visitor or friend clouding over. No, it’s best not to say anything. They may find my starved body by my moldy and mildew swimming pool, but alas, I will still look fashionable.
One of the few pleasures I have with respect to shopping is finding used copies of Mantovani albums. If for nothing else, I love his cascading strings, which places me in an imaginary place. Well, my home actually, if it was better cared for. I had to let go of the cleaning lady, due to the financial situation. Nevertheless I tend to enjoy putting an apron on, and wander through the hallways with a duster. Besides the enjoyment of Mantovani, I focus on the mailbox for a hopeful check, but more realistically, an invitation to a dinner or cocktail party. I know how to control my hunger and not run up to the catering table and go crazy. Allow a piece of cheese to melt in your mouth with a taste of white or red wine - and one is fine, if you keep your wits about. What I just have to keep in mind is to “put a higher value on yourself. Being hyper-realistic about everything is too simple a get-out.” At the same I feel very much like an impostor, and already my mask has begun to bite into my face.
“The falsification of everything has been shown to be one of the characteristic features of our period, but falsification is not in itself subversion properly so-called, though contributing directly to the preparation for it.” I pretty much live in people’s opinion on who they think I’m. My role is to never give them doubt or a sign of concern on my part. I observed that the more I talk, the less they listen. Therefore my life is a performance. As long as I focus on myself, and avoid the outside world, I should be acceptable. One of the wonderful things about my work is a “degree of selection and separation from the dross of living.” I do have these moments of doubt, and a feeling of fear, but generally I brush it off. “The end of the world never is and never can be anything but the end of an illusion.”
James T. Kirk. Not shown- my brood of three tribbles, one which is a clutch purse.
November 14, 2014
Everyday I wake up in the morning to write. Often I’m in a very sad or angry mood. Other times, quite cheerful. Oddly enough, when I start composing my thoughts and thinking what kind of words to put on the empty computer screen or notebook, it is neutral. I empty out all my fears, desires, being poor, and trying to remember which Brahms’ Symphony I’m crazy for (ah, it’s the 4th). Nevertheless, I’m swimming in a sea that is endless, and that is why I have restricted myself in working only in the mornings, and must finish the essay by either 11 AM or 1PM (Pacific Standard Time) that day. As of this being number 318, I haven’t failed yet. But who knows about tomorrow. The truth is I made plans to finish this project on December 31, 2014. I pretty much know that I will wake up each morning, and immediately start thinking about what I’m going to write about. Obviously by now, there is just one subject. Me. But is “me” that interesting? I can’t tell, because I never felt boredom or even being self-critical. I literally don’t care what people think of me. The funny thing is I never think about myself, except in the mornings when I’m writing. After I finish, and post the piece on Facebook and my blog, I totally forgot what I wrote.
After I finish the work for the day, I often fantasize that I will die. Death doesn’t bother me, but what bothers me is that I won’t finish this writing project. If I die this afternoon, the work I have posted will become meaningless. It will only have meaning if I finish the project on December 31. So, I do spend time taking care of myself. I don’t drive, but not only do I not drive, but I also don’t get into cars. I don’t care who is driving, I just don’t trust fate or that driver will make it to point A to point B. Buses I don’t have a problem with, because it is rare an accident happens, and even more rare that everyone dies in a bus accident. So yeah, I have a lot of phobic thoughts, but only when I’m sitting down and composing a narrative, these morbid images in my head disappear and I’m looking into the white light, that is blank as my computer screen.
In the afternoons, I have been working on a memoir about my childhood years. So far, it’s going OK. Again, one can go on forever, but I’m restricting myself to a certain period in my life, and I plan not to go beyond that. As a role model, I’m using Louise Brooks’ “Lulu in Hollywood” and Lord Berner’s “First Childhood.” There is not one wasted word in either of those two memoirs, and I have to keep in mind that the great masses out there really don’t care or are interested in me. I’m the only one that has an interest in “me.” But only when I’m writing, as I mentioned above, I have no interest in “me” whatsoever. After spending six hours a day just focusing on myself, I’m usually tired. Self-reflection is so tiresome. If I didn’t write, I would never bother with it. I can’t believe that people actually spent time or money on focusing on their identity or not. If I was going to an analyst, I wouldn’t know what to say. I guess I would just give him or her this essay, and let them figure it out. I wouldn’t want to know the results.
The only thing that is important to me is that I finish these series of daily narrations. I guess I would hope that they will be a book of some sort. But being practical, it is unlikely a publisher would want to publish all 365 pieces. I for one wouldn’t read it! Would you? Of course not! So, it is weird that I spend at the very least, six hours a day working on this project. By the end of the year that will make it 2,190 hours. So many hours working on just one large body of work. I don’t socialize that much, because after working, I have very little to say to people. I tend to like to play music on my turntable. I’m a fan of Wendy Carlos’ “A Clockwork Orange” soundtrack. I’m not that crazy when she is doing Bach or some other classical material - I much prefer her own compositions. I have played this album for friends who come by the house, but then they want to discuss it. That I found draining. I like the act of writing and listening to music, but seriously, I don’t think I can discuss it afterwards. I think what I like about composing words and listening to music is that it’s a verb. I’m doing something. Afterwards it becomes a ‘thing, ’ and I just don’t care at that point.
So, in a nutshell, I like to think of this writing project as an act, or a performance. What happens afterwards is not all that interesting to me. Eventually I’ll perish, and turn to dust. The work I do may live on, but then it just may end up on the third floor of The Los Angeles Downtown Library, and only made available as reference material, meaning one can’t check the book out and take it home with them. When you see things in that objective light, it is not worth the bother to work for 2,190 hours, that will just eventually end up in a dusty vault. On the other hand, I very much enjoy myself and the act of “doing” is the pleasure itself.
Since his BBC Newsnight interview went viral last year, Russell Brand has emerged as a political firebrand. David Kamp speaks to the the comedian.
Photograph by David Bailey.
Now screening: comet conference of infinite regression
I’ve got a problem, Sir…
November 13, 2014
“Money doesn’t buy happiness. But happiness isn’t everything.” A beautiful actress in Godard’s “À bout de shuffle, made that comment, and then eventually she killed herself in a parked car in Paris. Of course, she was hunted down by the FBI for donating some of her Hollywood and European dole to the Black Panther cause. The FBI hated that. Basically they hunted her down, followed her around, till she killed herself. You’re given the tools and the means to move a certain way, and you follow that path. I think that could be regarded as a murder, but alas, the perception is perhaps stronger than the truth. Nevertheless I seem to have a lot of her pictures on my wall. Not due to her death, or her politics, but the fact that she represents something new and fresh to me. To be honest, I only saw one of her films, and that was “À bout de shuffle.” I always wanted a girlfriend like Jean Seberg, someone slightly mad, yet fun. My guess is the fun part wasn’t that prominent and her sadness at the world was a cup overflowing.
Another beauty of that period was Oskar Werner, who starred in François Truffaut’s “Jules et Jim” and “Fahrenheit 451.” He had the facial glance of a lost sheep in a harsh cruel world. If you look at him, he seems to melt in front of you. I never felt he was alive. I have an active imagination, and I just presumed that I thought him up. Surely a creature such as Oskar could exist? In my mind, I think Oskar and Jean would have made an interesting couple. Some people live by chance, but I feel that Oskar and Jean’s fate were made - not only by the cruel mechanics of the Hollywood machinery, but due to their fragile state of consciousness. These two sad characters (but beautiful) made me be aware that I need to take my life in my own hands, and not depend on others. For many years now, I have declined to work, or even leave my house.
If I do travel, it is through films and books. First-hand experience is not all that important to me. I logically feel that having an experienced traveler writing about ‘their’ experiences is a much better situation for me. Why go out and get yourself burned, when someone else can do that leap into the unknown. “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.” In many ways, I can be that pinball stuck in a machine, and I’m just endlessly bouncing off the side rail. Therefore I totally trust the experienced traveler to lead me to hopefully, or if nothing else, a different world. But it is always a battle between a life that is planned out and those who just follow their desires.
The one story that comes back to me is when the late 19th century actor Edwin Booth saved Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert, from falling between the train and platform. As the train began to move away from the platform, Robert started to fall between the crack, feet first. A hand came upon his coat collar and pulled him up onto the train. Robert recognized Edwin Booth, due to his fame at the time. He thanked him. Two or three months later, Edwin’s brother John kills President Lincoln. When I come upon this story, I always wanted to know how Robert felt to be saved by the brother of his father’s assassin? It is like when I know someone died in a car accident, and knowing it was just an issue of seconds, that the person driving behind that driver didn’t die instead. Is that chance, or a fate being played out? I try to pinpoint people who have consistent back luck, and I avoid them at all costs. I lost friends, but that’s nothing compared to having their bad luck rubbing off on you. Putting images of those with bad luck on my wall, somehow makes me feel more safe. An illusion, perhaps, but if I’m going to throw my life to chance, I rather beat the odds in any fashion or manner that is in my power to do so. I just have to remember to “keep my fears to myself, but do share my courage with others.” Right now, fear is standing up proudly.
Google results for “tonkin gulf incident”. Who fired first (or at all) in The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which sparked the Vietnam War, has long been contested by historians. Google’s pop-up summary is taken from a 9/11 conspiracy site.
I am walking through my north London neighbourhood on an unseasonably warm day in late autumn. I can hear birds tweeting in the trees, traffic prowling the back roads, children playing in gardens and Wi-Fi leaching from their homes. Against the familiar sounds of suburban life, it is somehow incongruous and appropriate at the same time. As I approach Turnpike Lane tube station and descend to the underground platform, I catch the now familiar gurgle of the public Wi-Fi hub, as well as the staff network beside it. On board the train, these sounds fade into silence as we burrow into the tunnels leading to central London. I have been able to hear these fields since last week. This wasn’t the result of a sudden mutation or years of transcendental meditation, but an upgrade to my hearing aids. With a grant from Nesta, the UK innovation charity, sound artist Daniel Jones and I built Phantom Terrains, an experimental tool for making Wi-Fi fields audible.
I flew home from Montreal yesterday via Minneapolis. MSP was still kind of messy, recovering from a snowstorm, and my Montreal-Minneapolis leg was delayed. Delta told me I wasn’t going to make the last flight back to Madison, gave me a hotel voucher for Minneapolis, and rebooked me for the first flight the next morning. But when we landed in Minneapolis, there were still 5 minutes left until the Madison flight was departing. The gate agent got a guy in a motorized cart to take me all the way from the end of concourse C to the beginning of concourse F. Those things can go pretty fast when there’s nobody in the airport! Even so, we got there two minutes after departure time and the gate was shut. But I could see the plane still parked at the end of the jetway. So the agent opened the gate back up, took me down, and got the pilot to re-open the main boarding door so I could get on the plane. The whole thing was awesome, I was extremely happy to sleep at home, and I’m feeling very warm towards the people at Delta for making it happen.
November 12, 2014
For someone who is always on the front line of utter disaster, I’m pretty much in a good mood. There is no question that I will one day die, and I find that comforting for some odd reason. No matter what I will do, or say, I’ll still end up dead. I’m not big on doubt or “why.” I pretty much take what is out there and ride it into the storm, or if I’m lucky into the calm. Nevertheless I never could understand why people grumble about this and that, when in fact, there’s a beginning, the strange and sometimes wonderful middle, and then of course the end. I’m hoping that someone will write a biography of me, after I am dead called “The Beginning, the Middle, and The End.” My only regret is that I’m not floating above people as they read the book - but alas, I think death is really nothing. Nothing, like being blank.
On the other hand, I have a great deal of desire. Mostly for the girls who are employed in banks, shops, and on the bus. The more I don’t know about them, the more I plunge into love. When I see a beautiful girl, contained in a shop, I feel like a visitor to a zoo. They can’t go anywhere, but I, on the other hand, can come and go as wherever my desires lead me. I often find myself humming the melody to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” as I walk from one shop to another - not for the merchandise, but for the woman who sells the goods. I like to think of myself as a piece of merchandise, and these ladies are handling me with the care, because eventually the goal is to sell, and damaged goods are not good for retail. Or the customer. Salesgirls boredom is a turn-on for me, and I’m not sure why? I suspect that I trust indifference over passion, because after a while it becomes a narrative that one can read miles away. “indifference” is an empty canvas where one can fulfill their desires on the blankness. “Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.”
Knowing that death is ahead of me, I fetishize the living, as a theater piece. I get high just thinking that I’m the driver and it doesn’t matter how fast or slow I go, I can throw myself at the mercy of fate, and let the wind behind take me to where ever the desires are. “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore), ” a song I remember hearing in a pub in East London called “The Blind Begger, ” and thinking how that could be the last song I’ll ever hear. More likely it will be “My Death” by Jacques Brel (translated into English by Mort Shuman), but then, who knows?
So today, after writing this essay, I’ll go outside and wander through the town, perhaps to see the pretty girls who work in bookstores and imagine my life as a best-selling biography. The map was made some time ago, yet I don’t feel compelled to follow that destination, or why not draw up a new map? …”I am withdrawn from all finality, I live according to chance…”
- Kim Gordon profile - The New Yorker (via theredshoes)
Having not quite fully mastered the art of camouflage, Oswald hoped no one would notice how extra scaly and cute this one particular branch was.
Image from “Zoologia typica" (1849)
If only this tactic would actually work - there are eight different pangolin species found across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Poaching for their meat and scales, combined with habitat loss, have made pangolins one of the most endangered groups of mammals in the world.
Learn more at the IUCN Pangolin SG site and SavePangolins.org
November 11, 2014
“I came into the world very young, in an age that was very old.” Now that I’m old I remember when I was younger and I was told: “You’ll see, when you’re fifty. I am fifty and I haven’t seen a thing.” With that in mind I was approached to appear in a film, as well as write the music to accompany the images. I have been a piano teacher for the majority of my life - mostly instructing young children, in the hopes of bringing some culture in their lives. Usually I find my own version of culture by drinking at the nearby bars, that time-to-time will allow me to use their piano, to work out some composition ideals. I do have a piano in my living quarters, but numerous friends of mine successfully took the piano and put it upside down. I don’t have the strength to lift the piano of course, and nor do I really have good friends to assist me. In fact, I don’t have any friends. I have nothing. Except the skill in writing melodies and playing the piano. Beyond that - nothing.
I met a painter by the name of Francis, who is friendly with me. He told me “Good taste is as tiring as good company, ” which explains why he likes to hang out with me. We seemed to be compatible in ways, that work out in my favor. For one, he’s rich, and I’m not. Therefore he takes me out for an evening of drinking, and I like to drink. So in that sense, we get along really well. It was at one of these drinking sessions where he took a piece of paper out of his pocket and told me that this was a film script. I was looking at it and it looked like poetry. “Are you filming poetry?” He said to me “if you’re in the film, it will be poetry.” He then asked me to write the score for the film as well. As he was paying my bar bill, it wouldn’t have been polite to turn him down, and I said “yes.”
A week later he picked me up from my little apartment (with the piano still placed upside down) and took me to a neighborhood that I wasn’t familiar with - and on to the roof top of a tenant building. That is when I met the film director René, whom I found out that this was his first job as a director. He and Francis introduced me to a professional chess player by the name of Marcel and his friend Man Ray, which I will always remember because of the weirdness of his name. I sort of know him through others, because he’s a photographer, and some gossiped to me that he sells naked pictures of girls on the street - but I can’t tell if that is a male fantasy or truth. These guys are professional bachelors - and they play with females like if Rome was on fire.
I read the poetry (the script) and was told by Francis that this is actually a part of a theater piece - which again, they want me to write the music for as well. The film will serve as an intermission entertainment between the theater acts. This seemed highly ambitious in my opinion, but there is payment at the end of the carrot stick - paid by my best friend Francis. And again, with this specific friendship, the word “no” is not allowed in this context of our relationship. The one person who I met on the set that really impressed me, and sort of reminded me of myself when I was younger is a stand-up comedian by the name of Theodore. He had strange logic, but when you chatted with him, he made complete sense. He told me this: “What do we know about the beyond? Do we know what’s behind the beyond? I’m afraid some of us hardly know what’s beyond the behind. “ This, I think is quite profound.
They had me dressed as a female ballet dancer, which was awkward, but my favorite part of the filming is the scene with me and Francis lighting a canon on the rooftop. René told us to leap towards the canon, and what they intend to do is make the actions very slow motion. The theme or the narrative of this film appears to be about a funeral march, where the corpse becomes alive in the end. Which seems very opportunistic to me, yet when the film was screened during the ballet “Relāche” it caused a mini-riot. Mini because it was actually me and Francis that stood up and booed. I don’t know why we did that. We were both drunk at the time. “In this best of all possible worlds, everything is in a hell of a mess. ”
Album: Black Moses
“It could happen because it has happened. Anne Roth, a political scientist who’s now a researcher on…”
It could happen because it has happened. Anne Roth, a political scientist who’s now a researcher on the German NSA inquiry, tells me perhaps the most chilling story. How she and her husband and their two children – then aged two and four – were caught in a “data mesh”. How an algorithm identified her husband, an academic sociologist who specialises in issues such as gentrification, as a terrorist suspect on the basis of seven words he’d used in various academic papers.
Seven words? “Identification was one. Framework was another. Marxist-Leninist was another, but you know he’s a sociologist… ” It was enough for them to be placed under surveillance for a year. And then, at dawn, one day in 2007, armed police burst into their Berlin home and arrested him on suspicion of carrying out terrorist attacks.
But what was the evidence, I say? And Roth tells me. “It was his metadata. It was who he called. It was the fact that he was a political activist. That he used encryption techniques – this was seen as highly suspicious. That sometimes he would go out and not take his cellphone with him… ”
He was freed three weeks later after an international outcry, but the episode has left its marks. “Even in the bathroom, I’d be wondering: is there a camera in here?””
- Carole Cadwalladr, in The Observer
November 10, 2014
“I am unjust, but I can strive for justice. My life’s unkind, but I can vote for kindness. I, the unloving, say life should be lovely. I, that am blind, cry out against my blindness.” Those who know me, say I’m the kindest man on this planet. That is their perception, and I think we all know that they’re wrong. I can’t speak for everyone, but the one’s I know really wants to believe. They don’t have any sense of doubt. In fact, they don’t trust doubt. They accept what is in front of them, and you can’t really blame them. If there is a malted vanilla milkshake at their table, why would they want to think about it as existence or not. You drink it up and look outside the window, as the world collapses. I imagine the soundtrack will be either Screaming Lord Sutch’s “Jack the Ripper” or Gruppo di Improvvlsazlone Nuova Consonanza’s “Azioni.” The two craziest sounds from the 20th century. If I recognize the difference between truth and doubt, then I can clearly lick my lips to get the last taste of the malted milk and continue on to my inner-journey.
“Conquer yourself rather than the world.” The more I talk, I can clearly see that I’m talking to the wind. The words are hitting against my face, and the pain makes me realize that I’m truly alive. I only feel dead when I look in your eyes, and I get no response whatsoever. Just a well-rehearsed glance towards me as I speak - and I what I speak is totally useless to you - but you’re kind enough to pretend that it may become of some importance. “To know what people really think, pay attention to what they do, rather than what they say.” All I have to do is keep in thought that “the joke loses everything when the joker laughs himself.” I have been known to laugh on a consistent basis. Even at things or incidents that are not funny.
“They tried to get me, but I got them first.” I have made that decision a long time ago, that when they come after me, and right before they break the door down… that will be the moment when I’ll end my life. I’ll drink the entire bottle of Lysol. “Did you think the lion was sleeping because he didn’t roar?” If I don’t die, then I must at all costs, with respect “in order to seek truth, it is necessary once in the course of my life to doubt, as far as possible, of all things.” I remember once you told me that you love me. I could never believe it, because you said that while looking out the window. I was a little hurt, but I never allow the pain to overcome me. What I see in the mirror is something magnificent, and if I believe it, then I become it. “I think, therefore I am. ” What other choice do I have, but to endlessly doubt that you care? “Let whoever can do so deceive me, she will never bring it about that I am nothing, as long as I continue to think I am something. ”
Bezos’s last line of defense against the ire of the literati had been Park, the lone survivor of Amazon’s initial push into publishing of the big-time, hardcover variety. Three other promising hires out of “legacy” publishing, including former Time Warner Book Group CEO Larry Kirshbaum, all preceded him out the revolving door. In the intervening five years, genre books have done well — sometimes very well — over at Amazon’s West Coast operation, while big fiction and nonfiction have floundered, partly due to the bookstore boycott. Genres sell briskly as e-books, while the literary mid-list is still largely hand-sold in physical bookstores, so the Amazon authors hurt most of all by the lit world’s hostility are those it might like the most. Out of the earshot of the hosts, one agent at the party told me that for his kind of work, “Amazon is the publisher of last resort.”When I signed a contract with Amazon for my last novel (Ed was my editor, and he was the most amazing person to work with obviously - he really should have been credited as a full-on collaborator, the book changed so much for the better as I worked for him!), a friend in publishing asked me, "But won't it be strange not to see your book in bookstores?" I had to say that it would not be much different from my previous experience with traditional publishers! My YA books, though they were published by HarperTeen, were not ordered by B&N and other chains, and had truly abysmal sales (the first one didn't clear the limit for republication in paper, so the sequel was released as if in all appearances it was a standalone, hardly surprising that readers found that frustrating). If you are a small midlist book at a traditional publisher and don't catch the world's attention particularly, it is not as though your book really will be in stores in any systematic way.
In general, I am really moving away from novel-writing: in any line of work, you will need to spend a good bit of time publicizing your own stuff and being out on the road, and it is really bad enough having to do that for ONE writing career let alone two. Increasingly sure, and happy about it, that I am a scholar and nonfiction writer in my heart of hearts - that said, future projects will include more crossover work a-la-Geoff Dyer (it is easier for me to force convergence between roles as professor of eighteenth-century British literature and author of literary nonfiction than to shoehorn in the novel-writing thing)....
8.000 glowing balloons were installed by the former course of the the wall and released into the sky to remember the 25th anniversary of the Fall of Berlin Wall . The temporary installation based on idea by Christopher Bauder and Marc Bauder.
The footage shot in Mauer Park.
Saw The Death of Klinghoffer on Saturday at the Met. It is amazing: somber, beautiful, MAJOR. Very glad I didn't miss it. Still chewing over thoughts in the wake. I was thinking and talking about documentary art last week already with Clotel, and having been to Israel this year probably intensified my experience too: the score is just absolutely staggering, though.
Back to teaching today. Really this is good: my fall break was rather wasted, I did valuable and important things I suppose (and continued to recover from lingering cold) but it is hard not to feel that I should have gotten a lot more work and exercise in somehow! Next four weeks will be extremely demanding and I am of course, impractically, consumed with ideas of all the books I want to be writing - more thoughts on that at some more leisurely moment....