Archive for ‘About writers’

January 10, 2013

From Treasure Island, by Robert Lewis Stephenson

Painting by N. C. Wyeth

Painting by N. C. Wyeth

The fire lit in me when I first read the novel as a boy, was
extinguished when I finished my own novel, Tesora.
Reading it now, however, allows me to sail again,
back to my own boyhood days—to find the treasures
of adventure and good writing.

From Treasure Island, by Robert Lewis Stephenson:

“Livesey,” said the squire, “you will give up this wretched practice at once. Tomorrow I start for Bristol. In three weeks’ time—three weeks!—two weeks—ten days—we’ll have the best ship, sir, and the choicest crew in England. Hawkins shall come as cabin-boy. You’ll make a famous cabin-boy, Hawkins. You, Livesey, are ship’s doctor; I am admiral. We’ll take Redruth, Joyce, and Hunter. We’ll have favourable winds, a quick passage, and not the least difficulty in finding the spot, and money to eat, to roll in, to play duck and drake with ever after.”

November 25, 2012

Anaïs Nin on the Unfamiliar in Books

Anaïs Nin on Embracing the Unfamiliar

It’s the personal insecurities of leadership which lead to paranoia, the need to control the freedom of individual and social personalities, and finally to mass violence. It’s been true throughout history from Atilla The Hun to Obama. It’s the responsibility of each artist to sieze his or her own piece of space, whether it’s geographic or psychic, and to produce art within his or her own chaos of freedom. “A room of one’s own,” yes?

Nin says:

The men who built America were the genuine physical adventurers in a physical world. This world once built, we need adventurers in the realm of art and science. If we suppress the adventure of the spirit, we will have the anarchist and the rebel, who will burst out from too narrow confines in the form of violence and crime.

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/11/08/anais-nin-unfamiliar/

September 5, 2012

Kimberly Elkins’ story, “The Awful Wondering” is published.

 

I’m pleased to announce that my friend, Kimberly Elkins’ story: “The Awful Wondering” is now published in the Iowa Review. It’s not available online—you have to subscribe. But you can read some things in the issue here:
Iowa Review

Here’s her bio:
KIMBERLY ELKINS’s work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Best New American Voices, and the Chicago Tribune, among others. A finalist for the National Magazine Award, she received a fellowship from the Houghton Library at Harvard for research on her novel, What Is Visible, forthcoming from Grand Central. A visiting lecturer for the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Hong Kong, she has an MFA from BU and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

July 31, 2012

Four poems from Charles Simic: “The Future” & Other Poems

I’ve been reading a collection of the poems of Charles Simic. I like his poems. He is a Serbian American and was named the 15th poet laureate of the United States. I love the way he juxtaposes ordinary images with evocative ones. When questioned about his style, he once said: “I wanted something seemingly artless and pedestrian to surprise the reader by conveying so much more. In other words, I wanted a poem a dog can understand. Still, I love odd words, strange images, startling metaphors, and rich diction, so I’m like a monk in a whorehouse, gnawing on a chunk of dry bread while watching the ladies drink champagne and parade in their lacy undergarments.” At another time he said: “In America, if you want to know where the heart is you listen to the blues and country music.” This juxtaposition is also something Margot Suydam does well in her work (found below). Here are two excerpts of his:

“I like to cloister myself
Watching my thoughts roam
Like a homeless family
Holding on to their children
And their few possessions
Seeking shelter for the night.”
and:
“Friends of the small hours of the night:
Stub of a pencil, small notebook,
Reading lamp on the table,
Making me welcome in your circle of light.”

Here are four of his best poems from “The Future & Other Poems.”
http://www.pen.org/blog/?p=10928

July 17, 2012

How Colm Toibin Uses Memory in Fiction

Here’s a fine article about how a writer, Colm Toibin, uses memories of real events, places, and people in his stories—how they relate to reality, how they relate when they’re changed by a story, and how important a true sense of memory is to getting a story to be “right in the mind” and on the page. It’s called “What Is Real Is Imagined.”

He writes: “The story has a shape, and that comes first, and then the story and its shape need substance and nourishment from the haunting past, clear memories or incidents suddenly remembered or invented, erased or enriched.” —Colm Toibin

June 21, 2012

Interview with a Vamp: The Paris Review and Dorothy Parker, 1956

Interview with a Vamp: The Paris Review and Dorothy Parker, 1956

When I read through this interview done in 1956 between The Paris Review and Dorothy Parker, I couldn’t help but wonder what Shakespeare would have thought of her wit. I imagined he’d say: “Call my director: I was wrong, we should be casting women for all those parts. Hell, if we can find any more like Parker, cast her in the men’s parts, too.”

The Interview:

June 19, 2012

Here’s an Interesting Article on Loneliness in Art by Sonya Chung from The Millions

On Loneliness: Art, Life, and Fucking Human Beings
By Sonya Chung

“There are days when it seems to me that what it is to be a fucking human being is to be lonely; to be in this state of deep sadness and estrangement, and to know that there is something terribly wrong about this loneliness on the one hand, and on the other (in knowing the wrongness utterly), something also potentially beautiful.”

March 24, 2012

March 15, 2012

“Essays from the Edge” Meets “Big Sur” Without a Hangover

There’s a fine review by Patricia Hampl of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Essays from the Edge” in the American Scholar. While the excessive use of alcohol is often associated with an impulse to run away from feelings and, thus, an impulse towards cowardice, it is clear that it took great courage to expose his disease by writing these essays. While he did write fiction, it is clear from the writing that he had first-hand knowledge and that these are autobiographical events.

A generation later, Jack Kerouac came up with a novel called “Big Sur” which is a masterpiece of a chronicle of his own “crack up” with alcohol. I imagine he had read those essays of Fitzgerald’s. It’s amazing to me that great writing does not always require a sound mind. Perhaps writing is more than an intellectual exercise—ya think? The Crack-Up was published in 1945 and by then Fitzgerald was known as a great American writer. “Big Sur” was published in 1962 and by then Kerouac, too, was considered one.

Here’s a quote from Patricia Hampl’s piece:
“John Dos Passos was particularly exercised. “Christ, man,” he wrote to Fitzgerald in October 1936. “How do you find time in the middle of the general conflagration to worry about all that stuff?” The “general conflagration,” presumably, was the Great Depression, but also National Socialism and fascism in Germany and Italy, and the Spanish Civil War, which had ignited in July. “We’re living in one of the damnedest tragic moments in history,” Dos Passos steams on. “If you want to go to pieces I think it’s absolutely OK but I think you ought to write a first-rate novel about it (and you probably will) instead of spilling it in little pieces for Arnold Gingrich,” the editor of Esquire, who had commissioned the essays.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Essays From the Edge:

March 4, 2012

Yoko Ono and Oskar Kokoschka

Yoko Ono has collected the Oskar Kokoschka prize, one of Austria’s most important awards for contemporary art.
Speaking at a press conference, she said: “I think this is very special because Kokoschka is not only an icon of Austria but he is a world icon in the art field.”
“He’s always going to be known and his work is always going to be known because he was always true to himself. And I think truth is something that’s very important now,” she added.

—Oskar Kokoschka had a passionate, often stormy affair with Alma Mahler, shortly after the death of her four-year-old daughter Maria Mahler and her affair with Walter Gropius. After several years together, Alma rejected him, explaining that she was afraid of being too overcome with passion. He continued to love her his entire life, and one of his greatest works, The Bride of the Wind (The Tempest), is a tribute to her.

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