Sunday, August 3, 2008

In the Ditch In the Ditch

A new interview with the incredible edible Michael Martone is live at The Quarterly Conversation. I love Martone's interviews. He is so good at explaining his complex ideas about writing in an accessible way.

I was within 30 feet of Madonna tonight. I did not pass out or soil myself. I did not feel excited. I did stand on my tippy toes to try and see better, though. When I realized I was doing that, I lowered myself and felt ashamed.

I am happy to see new work posted in pineapplewar by Kristen Orser, and that Prathna Lor seems to be alive and doing moderately well.

I bought some books today at Horizon Books here in TC. They had an entire lower level dedicated to bargain books. My chops were licked many times. I consumed books by Jonathan Lethem, Samuel Beckett, Herman Melville, and a book about the concept of Time. Time is a bizarre animal. Herman Melville gets my mental saliva flowing. Pete Anderson posted a nice bit yesterday, which was Melville's birthday. Melville was a tragic figure in literature.

He spent time as a clerk in Honolulu, and for a while he lived with the Typee people of the Marquesas Islands, a tribe of cannibals who treated Melville well. Inspired by his adventures at sea, Melville returned to his mother's house in New York and settled down to write about his travels. The result was his novel Typee (1946). It was rejected by a Boston publisher, so Melville published it in London, where it became an immediate best seller. He wrote a sequel called Omoo (1847), which was also a big success. But then Melville decided to write for himself instead of to please his readers, so his third book, Mardi and a Voyage Thither (1849), was more psychological, less romantic, and readers were disappointed. He continued to write and publish, but he was never as popular again.

Hey, here are some PDF versions of Melville's work you can download for free. Yeah, it's reading on a screen, but the PDF's are basically pictures of the book. Not much contemporary stuff there, but a pretty good selection of 'classics' for those not allergic to them.

Poetry is not my strongest area of expertise, but I still really like this poem by Danna Williams in Haggard & Halloo.

Watched the documentary Trumbo today, about the screenwriter and novelist Dalton Trumbo. The film was really moving and amazing. I walked away with a new appreciation for the freedom writers and thinkers have in America today, despite the apparent (and sometimes real) erosion of those freedoms. I highly recommend Trumbo to everyone. I can't imagine having to make the choice Trumbo had to make.

Just watched Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, which was also very excellent. I don't think I've seen anything by Chaplin that was not excellent. TGD is funny (of course), and scathing, and brilliant. Everyone should watch something by Chaplin asap.


ryan manning said...

the asian matthew broderick

Pete said...

I wish I could report that Billy Budd is getting my mental saliva flowing but, sadly, that's not the case. This one's a slog - I'm about 15 chapters in, and there have been only about 2-3 chapters worth of plot, with the rest being exposition and digression. The first chapter was great, but Melville really lost steam after that. I hope the book recovers but I'm not counting on it.

ryan call said...

i watched that chaplin last year

i liked