Archive for October, 2011

October 27, 2011

Was It Christopher Fry, and Not Shakespeare, Who Wrote the Plays?

How was it that Christopher Fry, and not the man called Shakespeare, wrote the plays? Did he time-shift himself back in time to the year 1600 and compose the plays in retrospect? If so, how did he become so literate in theatre without a former Shakespeare to teach him thus? How is this a good premise for a movie?

I mean, not even Shakespeare himself knew who he was: you can tell by the scripts. “To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows / . . . For in that sleep of death what dreams may come.” This writer had no idea who he was—that’s why he wrote the plays. He wrote them to find out. Every writer is a huge mystery to himself and that’s why he writes. The spark of human imagination is only touched off when imagination and hands come together in the act of writing. The imagination sparks words which sparks memory which sparks more words which sparks dreams which sparks more words which sparks imagination again and again until a writer has a whole bonfire going. And like a bonfire, he does not have control over it, as much as he might hope to. In one sense a writer is merely a man or a woman like any other. In another sense he or she is the entire sum of the imagination and dreams and the experience of writing which is captured by his fingers.

As you can see, the premise matters little: the play is the only thing! Is it a good story? If it is, readers or movie-goers will find it. Will they be entertained? Perhaps. Will they learn anything about the real Shakespeare? No!

For more blah, blah, blah about this see:

October 27, 2011

I Know, a song by Sara Tavares

If I fly, I do not know where
If I walk, not knowing who I am
if I speak, and the voice sounds with the morning
I know . . .
If I drink this light that goes out on me at night,
And if one day I say I no longer want to be here,
Only God knows what he saw,
Only God knows what will be,
There is no other who knows everything that happens to me.
If sorrow is deeper than the pain
If this is no longer the flavor
And to think that all this already I thought
I know . . .
If I drink this light that goes out on me at night,
And if one day I say I no longer want to be here,
the uncertainty of knowing what to do, what to want,
Even without ever thinking that one day you’ll think
There is no other who knows everything that happens to me.

[link to song is here: I Know, a song by Sara Tavares]

October 26, 2011

Parallels of Repression: Joe Island and Occupy Wall Street

I’m getting towards the end of an edit of the Joe Island novel. Throughout the arc of the story there are a succession of occupiers of Greece: Italy, Germany, Britain, and then the USA. Each occupier thinks they are unique, but each operates to force the people of Greece to support its own agenda. And so the death-squad system used by the Nazis becomes adapted by the Americans by default. The USA says it only wishes to stop communism—the Greeks say they want to stop dying for American sins, that they want their own country back. They want to be free of the type of colonialism Americans fought in 1776. Is Joe a psychological colonialist, or is he simply a man without a country?

October 24, 2011

New Directions for Writers and Publishers: a Debate

Thomas Glave (“Whose Song? and Other Stories,” “The Torturer’s Wife,” and “Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent” from City Lights Books) is optimistic about the changes in publishing and states that they are an opportunity for writers to grow, experiment, and take advantage of new ways of expression and working with others. He is, however, fearful that Amazon’s entry into publishing will not favor the art of writing and the collaboration of writers and editors, or even writers and other writers. Other publishing voices in the debate are: Dennis Johnson, publisher of Melville House; Michael Wolf, vice president of research, GigaOM: and Laurel Saville, author, “Unraveling Anne.”
Check out Thomas Glave and the others here:

October 21, 2011

Bob Dylan for a Nobel Prize? It’s “crazy speculation”

I think Dylan’s got a bucketful of awards and approbation, he doesn’t need a Nobel. He’s a great songwriter, an average writer of memoir, and a mediocre poet. There are many writers don’t get to perform before huge crowds who deserve it. If Woody Guthrie were alive he’d laugh to think a songwriter should get a prize like that. At least Woody did finish and publish a novel.

“Dylan blew it by reminding everyone he’s a plagiarist,” said Joni Mitchell. “Bob is not authentic at all,” she said. “He’s a plagiarist and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.”

October 13, 2011

Why “The Cats Table,” by Michael Ondaatje Is Not an Interesting Novel

When I read about this novel, I struck by some of its similarities to my own most recent works, Tardy Son and Tesora. I read an excerpt from his latest novel to find out. But I found that it’s all written from a remote adult’s POV with indulgent explanations about the boy with very little emotional or psychological understanding of him. That may have been all right with The English Patient, but not with this one. Instead of the writing being alive like a teenaged boy is, it’s petrified and dusty and conclusive. Life for a boy of that age might be dangerous in this situation, but it is not boring. He doesn’t seek out answers ontologically. A boy looks for gold and squished bugs and is obsessively optimistic.

It seems the closer a subject is to mine, the further the writing is apart from my style. Here’s a link to a NYTimes review of his new novel.

October 9, 2011

The Boston Book Festival: Copley Square, Saturday Oct 15. It’s free.

There are many events including a Flash Fiction Open Mic at 2:00pm, Old South Church, Mary Norton Hall, 645 Boylston Street. For other events, check out the site:

Read your very, very short story out loud for an eager audience. The Drum, an audio literary magazine, will be recording each story, choosing the best ones for publication in the magazine. Each piece must be no longer than three minutes. Emceed by Henriette Lazaridis Power, editor of The Drum. (The Drum is a made-up one-time literary magazine created for this event, but the readings should be fun.)

October 7, 2011

Syrian poet, Adonis, Does Not Win The Nobel Prize

The Syrian poet, Adonis, or Ali Ahmad Said Asbar, who might have won the Nobel Prize this year, wrote this below. I imagine the Nobel Committee thought it would be too political to choose a Syrian writer in this political climate of The Arab Spring. It’s from the title poem of the book, Desire Moving Through Maps of Matter:

                                I summon angels and ambulances—
I turn into water and flow in the pool of my sorrows
I become a horizon and climb the heights of desire.
I know that we die only once                           and are many times reborn
And I know that death is only useful if we live it through.
I know that the hereafter is this rose
                       this woman
                       and that a human face is the other side of the sky.

October 6, 2011

Tomas Transtromer, Poet, wins the Nobel Prize

Tomas Tranströmer, a Swedish poet, won the Nobel Prize for literature today. Here’s a bit of one poem below and six others here. Enjoy.


After a black day, I play Haydn,
and feel a little warmth in my hands.
The keys are ready. Kind hammers fall.
The sound is spirited, green, and full of silence.
The sound says that freedom exists
and someone pays no tax to Caesar.

October 5, 2011

Requiem for Steve Jobs

R.I.P. Steve Jobs. All of my novels have been typed on Macintosh computers. I’ve been using them since the first Mac 128 came out. The following excerpt is from a speech given by Steve Jobs in 2005. It says a lot about creativity.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,” Jobs said. “Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

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