Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kmart, Tao Lin...

...And Tree-Swinging Sasquatches

I was happy to be able interview Tao Lin for The Rumpus, an interview that went up today. Tao Lin is very astute, thoughtful and incredibly specific with respect to topics such as how certain writers affected his work, why the issue of whether or not people think his work is "weighty" doesn't concern him anymore, and about the term 'Kmart realism," and everything it implies about the writers who are grouped under it and the act of grouping writers, in general. He also gives a convincing argument for why his work should not be considered nihilistic and talks a little about nostalgie de la boue.

For a solid primer on "Kmart realism," as per Tao, which charts the time-line of the rise and fall of the literary style alongside that of the rise and fall of the corporation, check out his blog post from 2005: kmart, kmart realism; the rise, struggle, decline of.

A quote I like from the interview:

An unmediated experience of reality seems desirable to me sometimes. None of these reasons, in my view, have anything to do with “numbness,” “ennui,” “apathy,” “condemning my generation,” “saying [anything] about my generation,” “saying [anything] about society,” “saying [anything] about the state of the world,” or “saying [anything] about technology’s effect on people.”

Shane Jones's "The Failure Six"

"Antun thought about the dignity that owls possess"

Shane Jones's upcoming novel, The Failure Six, being released by Fugue State Press is available for pre-order. And if you pre-order, you get a complimentary e-chapbook of DELETED SCENES FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE.

Here's an excerpt from The Failure Six:

Antun struck a match and read from the pamphlet.

His hands trembled.

He felt the air, with its swirling scents of turpentine, beeswax, and smoke, being sucked from his throat.

One of the cats began playing a guitar. Another opened a book by Lewis Carroll and the spinning face of color sighed, causing a large cloud of white smoke to puff out and float up to the ceiling.

Antun thought about the dignity that owls possess.

He lit another match and read the first section of the pamphlet before the tiny flame went out. In his mind what he read aloud sounded like:

Your name is Foe. You are a seamstress who earns a decent living through your ways with linen and silk. Your mother died in an automobile accident in the countryside when you were twelve and your father lost a duel to a man with a green mustache. Your father was drunk during this duel. He would have won. You cried a lot. There was no one to comfort you so you began your lonely apprenticeship in sewing.

The girl didn’t move. Her head was cocked to the side and for a moment Antun thought she was dead. Then she yawned and wiped some blood from her exposed legs and onto some papers.


Partial List for Messengers

# Do only as instructed by given cover note.
# Emotional interaction with recipient is frowned upon.
# Once message is delivered leave the household.
# Appear stoic.
# Dress appropriately for the delivering of bad news.
# Almost all messages will be passed by written note.
# In rare cases, the messenger will be required to become orator.
# The hunting of animals is encouraged.
# A messenger must possess an excellent memory.
# Payment will come in the form of gold doubloons placed upon your pillow.

Illustration by Morgan Blair

Sunday, September 27, 2009

With Drew in Toronto

"Skate Babes in Fishnets"

Filmmaker Michael Almereyda spent time with Drew Barrymore to talk about her upcoming film about roller derby Whip It, and then went to its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. For his piece in the New York Times, Stepping Into the Skates of the Director, Almereyda gets behind Drew's "fear-based" journal, Andrew Wilson as good luck charm, and christening Ellen Page with the derby name Small Newman. Also, Drew and Ellen kissed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good Smashing

Saws, Scissors and Snowglobes

In the film I Will Smash You, people smash objects of personal value, in an attempt to rid their lives of "personal demons." A young girl smashes and burns her teacher in effigy, a woman smashes her Ford Escort with a crow bar, sledgehammer and pliers to get rid of an Estonian woman's bad luck, and Adam Robinson smashes a song, in his mind. These and seventeen other smashings make up the startling documentary by writers and filmmakers Michael Kimball and Luca Dipierro. While I had the privlege of watching it in a Chelsea gallery, the film is making the rounds via private screenings, one of which can be arranged for you. Watch the trailer here. And keep an eye out for their film 60 Writers/60 Places, which stars Blake Butler, James Yeh, Kim Chinquee and Tao Lin's monotone voice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thomas Bernhard

Now He's Irritable, Now He's Not

If you like Thomas Bernhard, you will most likely like this interview with the Austrian writer at his most irritable, "Thomas Bernhard for Life," that Christopher Higgs at HTML Giant found in June.

In the video above, Thomas Bernhard seems not as irritable as he does in his books and interviews, but maybe that's because he's in Mallorca and he's trying to be different from the Mallorcans, who are very irritable. I can't say for sure, because I don't understand what he's saying.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ken Sparling

"One time I came into work at Fairview...and my desk was gone."

A friend recently notified me of a great interview with Ken Sparling up on The Chapbook Review. Ken Sparling talks about working with Gordon Lish when he was at Knopf (“You’re just spinning your wheels, Sparling”), being published by J.A. Tyler's Mud Luscious Press, and working as a librarian (As soon as you make a space truly public, you’re going to get a mess of stuff happening there.)

Papercut illustration by Julien Langendorff

Monday, September 21, 2009

Clancy Martin and New York

"Yellow. Just bring in Yellow."

There is a crazy in-depth and very insightful and engaging interview of Clancy Martin up today on Gigantic Web by Lincoln Michel. Lincoln Michel goes head to head with Clancy Martin on Nietzsche, Nirvana and the color of despair.

Also, I'll be posting a weekly column on The Rumpus listing cultural events going on each week. This week, it's Rasskazy, Harmony and Me, and I WILL SMASH YOU.

Illustration by Gigantic House-Illustator Andrew Bulger

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival

The Future of Fiction, Real Surreal and the Myth of Upward Mobility

I've got a piece up on The Rumpus on my day at the Brooklyn Book Festival, covering readings by Tao Lin and Ben Marcus, talks by Lewis Lapham and Heidi Julavits and silent sightings of Thurston Moore.

Guys v. Men

This Made Me Laugh

This piece by Cathleen Calbert, called "Forget the Men. Pick a Guy." in the New York Times Sunday Styles section is well-written and made me laugh. It was also moving but in a straightforward rather than emotional way.

Here is a part I liked:

My father said if we interrupted his Saturday nap, we'd have to sit at the end of his bed in silence until he slept and woke again. He only made me do it once; at 7 years old, I thought this punishment the height of perversion.

Illustration by Christopher Silas Neal

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The New Yorker Festival


The New Yorker Festival is fast approaching, and tickets are on sale now. As always, the festival, which runs from October 16-18, promises to bring together the most interesting minds in literature and the arts including Jonathan Franzen, A.M. Homes, Gary Shteyngart, Tilda Swinton, Malcolm Gladwell and many others. Here are some events you don't want to miss:

Friday, October 16 (Fiction Night):

David Bezmogis and Jonathan Franzen; Edwidge Danticat and Junot Diaz; T.C. Boyle and Mary Gaitskill; George Saunders and Gary Shteyngart.

Saturday, October 17:

James Franco talks with Lauren Collins; Malcolm Gladwell on Michael Vick; Jason Schwartzman talks with Richard Brody; a screening of Jean Luc Godard's King Lear; Tilda Swinton talks with Hilton Als.

Sunday, October 18:

Heroes and Antiheroes with Donald Antrim, A.M. Homes, George Saunders, and Gary Shteyngart; An outing to the studio of Chuck Close; and an outing with puppeteer Basil Twist.

Tickets are going fast. For a full event schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the site here.


Well Kept Secrets

You can get a longer sentence for selling videotapes of dogfighting than Michael Vick got for running a dogfighting ring. At least according to a case before the Supreme Court on appeal, which I learned in a piece on dogfighting on The Rumpus.

"The Curious Case of Michael Vick" is a talk that Malcolm Gladwell will be giving at the tenth annual New Yorker Festival.

Dogfighting is a felony in all but two states.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Whit Stillman

with cocktails at Petrossian afterwards

Adam Wilson has a great interview with Whit Stillman, covering Criterion's release of
The Last Days of Disco, ousting cynicism, and the coining of the term (UHB) Urban Haute Bourgoisie.

Photo by Terry Rozo courtesy of Bombsite

Depression, Kombucha and The Neutral Facial Expression

Who's responsible for your stealing?

My review of Tao Lin's new novella, Shoplifting From American Apparel is up on The Faster Times. There's also a great GIANT g-chat review between Justin Taylor and Drew Toal. The commentary is pretty hilarious.

Photo: Courtesy of Tao Lin

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ames SS10

the show

The Coveted has some great photographs, including back stage (such as the above), of the Matthew Ames SS10 show at Milk Studios. You can also see a complete gallery of images from the show as well as a review at Style.com.

And, if you haven't already seen it, The Atlantic Monthly did a nice write-up of Matthew Ames in June 2009, further establishing Ames's reputation as an idea-driven designer, one whose broad vision makes him not only a haberdasher, but an interdisciplinary figure who can be appreciated by all thinking people.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Matthew Ames

SS 2010

Pictured Above: Images of Matthew Ames's Spring/Summer
2009 collection courtesy of Matthew Ames

Matthew Ames SS10 fashion show.

I had the great opportunity to interview
Matthew Ames for the upcoming November issue of Gravure Magazine. One of the most talked-about designers working today, and a recent winner of the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award, Matthew is cerebral, eloquent and charming. His clothes are minimal and formally pure--trimmed of fastenings and needless closures. If Gordon Lish designed clothes, they might look like this.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


It's Live

Not Real Surreal


It wasn't until I saw Thurston Moore and thought, There's Thurston Moore that I realized I was not in Real Surreal.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Brooklyn Book Festival

Where I'll Be

Heading to the 2009 Brooklyn Book Festival tomorrow to see readings by Ben Marcus, Sarah Manguso, Tao Lin, Lewis Lapham, and Heidi Julavits and panel discussions on DFW, rappers and upward mobility. It's free and going to be good. A lot will be happening. In several venues. But I'll be going here:

10:00am - The Legacies of John Updike and David Foster Wallace - a panel of distinguished critics discuss their work. (Borough Hall Courtroom)

11:00am - The Future of Literary Fiction - Keith Gessen and T. Cooper will discuss, among other things, how digitization impacts the creative process. (Borough Hall Community Room)

12:00pm - Real Surreal - Definitely don't want to miss Tao Lin and Ben Marcus reading from their latest work. Any rubric that brings together writers of dirty realism and experimental prose is one worthy of note. (St. Francis College Reading Room)

Alternate 12:00pm - Poetry Pop and Hip-Hop - A panel including Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) and Matthew Zapruder will discuss how poets, songwriters and rappers push language in new and good ways. (St. Francis Auditorium)

1:00pm - Editor as Author - Discipline and Freedom - Heidi Julavits and Hannah Tinti, who tower as both editors and authors, couldn't be more suited to discuss the roles that editors play in the lives of writers. (St. Francis College Reading Room)

Alternate 1:00pm - Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia - Emily Gould (formerly of Gawker) will interview Rasskazy contributor Dmitry Danilov. Dale Peck and Francine Prose read. (International Stage)

2:00pm - Movin' On Up - Don't miss Lewis Lapham, storied editor of Lapham's Quarterly, discussing the myth and reality of upward mobility. (Borough Hall Community Room)

Alternate 2:00pm - Life Stories - Sarah Manguso and Philip Lopate are among the authors who will be discussing bad breaks and tough choices in writing memoir. (Brooklyn Historical Society)

3:00pm - Literary Masters - Three highly-revered authors read: Paul Auster, Russell Banks and Francine Prose (St. Francis Auditorium)

4:00pm - Faith and Fiction - Chris Adrian, Rene Steinke and Benjamin Anastas discuss reconciling religion and the ambiguities of character. (St. Francis College Reading Room)

5:00pm - Happy Ending Reading Series - End your jaunt with some risk-taking writers and comedians Jonathan Ames and David Cross with music by Jonathan Coulton (Main Stage)

Good News

For Good People

Sasha Fletcher's collection Everything Here is OK, was a finalist in the open poetry reading by
Octopus Books, the press started by Zachary Schomburg and Mathias Svalina. And this on the heels of recent news that Sasha's novella is being put out by mud luscious press.

Joanna Neborsky, the talented illustrator who of late has been working tirelessly to complete Gigantic's website (for which we're so grateful!) just got news that her collection of illustrations inspired by Félix Fénéon's Novels in Three Lines (see above) will be published by Mark Batty Publisher in June 2010. Joanna's elegant and whimsical illustrations can also be found in Some Assembly Required, an essay in images of her experiences connecting with New Yorks hypnotists, Darwinists and toy collectors on meetup.com. And some of the Fénéon illustrations can be previewed in Gigantic's debut issue.

Congrats Sasha and Joanna!

Illustration by Joanna Neborsky

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Postcards of People I Don't Know VIII


He talked. He paused like he was looking for a word. I talked. He looked at me. I stopped talking and he talked again. I talked over him and finished his sentence the way I thought it would be finished. He stopped talking. As I talked, I lifted my hand. I laughed. He gave me a serious look. He talked. I talked. We talked over each other for some time in a casual way. We both seemed tired and stopped. I looked at the table. I poured a glass of fizzy water. The bubbles were so loud that we looked at the glass at exactly the same time and looked away as if reminded that looking at glass was blinding.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shya Scanlon's Forecast is Coming to Gigantic

Forecast 42 Project

Chapter 18 of Shya Scanlon's serialized novel Forecast will be published on Gigantic on September 14, 2009. Other great venues to check out chapters from Scanlon's novel are Flatmancrooked, HTML Giant, Lamination Colony and Keyhole among many others, 42 in total. To check out a full schedule for the publication of Forecast 42 Project visit Scanlon's site. Also, while the prologue will not be published with the selected chapters, you can watch Scanlon read it via video clip. Perhaps the most interesting venture in serialization since people waded in seawater for Dickens.

Postcards of People I Don't Know VII

A Person I Talked to Once and Still Think About

He held the book five inches from my face. "I liked it for many reasons," he said. "The smell of it being one." I lowered my head and smelled it careful not to make a sniffing sound in the quiet store.

Thinking I'll throw it out, I take it from a small stack on the floor from time to time. I end up smelling it instead. Some days I think it smells like leather. Other days I could swear it smells like mixed nuts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Postcards of People I Don't Know VI


Like some people collect art objects or pearl necklaces, I collect gestures. The larger my set of gestures, the more interactions I can have because I will be able to handle a larger set of possible circumstances. Whereas once I could only handle a few and so spent so much time alone. Throwing both arms up at the same time, I just learned, makes people look in my direction, and it also makes me look like I am fun to be with. I can get people around me, but I don't know how to keep them there for weeks. Some setbacks: I will never master all possible gestures; when a gesture fails to produce the desired effect I don't know where to place blame; like an accessory I might also one day be out of style.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Postcards of People I Don't Know V

Persistent Good Moods

Through golf carts good moods are borne. More than any other small vehicle—how is the breeze always just right—a golf cart asserts itself as a deliverer from a life not-always-just-pure-fun. These strong good moods make even a fall from a golf cart feel unlike a fall. Once I did fall, and because everyone was distracted by his or her good mood, the cart didn’t stop right away. Of course, my head didn’t crack. A cracked head is incongruous with the good moods agreed to in silence by all involved in a golf cart tour. The cart stopped and whirred backwards. My brother, who is older, looked at me like I was a dropped pencil. I lifted my head and looked at the pink-and-white striped canopy over my brother's head. I thought I probably was not very hurt. My brother often made me think I was not as hurt as I thought I was. Later, this hurt me. I think. I got back in and we motored away between green hills.

Interview with Stephen Elliott

The Adderall Diaries Released

In conjunction with the release of The Adderall Diaries, Stephen Elliott's true crime memoir, released today by Graywolf Press, my interview with Stephen has been posted on my column at The Faster Times. Stephen talks about principles, porn and, of course, the pleasures of indie presses.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Elliott, pictured here with Elissa Bassist, Contributing Editor at The Rumpus.