Monday, March 31, 2008

Book Trailer for Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball

Here is the book trailer for Michael Kimball's new novel Dear Everybody, which I am constantly mentioning here. The trailer is at the same time a brilliant short film by Luca Dipierro (of the project I Will Smash You), and this is by far the best book trailer I have ever seen. Here is a chance to hear Kimball read from the novel, see the back of his head and his hands, and watch a beautiful short film. Excellent work everyone.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bob Harris's "Seven Deadly Words of Book Reviewing"

Here's a good one I found via the NewPages blog. Bob Harris wrote a stupendous blog post about overused words in book reviewing. I think this should apply to book blurbs, too. Of course, there are many more than seven overused words and phrases in ye olde booke reviewing, so readers have added liberally in the comments section. It's a fine post. Take a look.

Here are some words/phrases I would not mind never reading in a review or on a book cover again, even despite having used some of them myself. I vow to never write these words again in a review without being sarcastic while using them, in which case I probably should not use them:

Dazzling

Sparkling

Achingly

Fantastic

Explosive

Brave

Sentences so sharp they cut the eye.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Book Reviews and Random Things

The new batch of book reviews is posted at NewPages. Books by Yannick Murphy, Ander Monson, John Darnielle, Matthea Harvey, Jo Carson, Mary Otis, and Michael Pritchett are reviewed. My review of Without Wax by William Walsh is reviewed there, too. WW is available now. I keep mentioning this novel in my blog posts. I like this book a lot. I recommend it highly to people who like to read, and people who don't like to read, too.

I feel withdrawn lately, even more than usual. I even feel withdrawn from my blog. A story is eating its way out of my head. Falling out in little chunks. Each chunk has a different color and texture. I am not sure what they are planning to build, but I am going along with it. It might be fun. I want a certain feeling from it and I did not get that feeling after writing 6k or 7k words. I am done talking about this now. I feel tacky talking about it. My friend once likened this kind of talk to declaring that one has just bought a winning lotto ticket, getting people around all excited, and then finding out it is indeed not a winner and having to tell everyone it is not a winner.

Pressure is high in my head right now. It is a combination of the head cold and the pill I took. My neck is sore and my sinuses are producing overabundant mucus and blood.

I have a tendency to read many books at one time, oscillating between them. More than three is too many for me. It is impossible to catch up with everything that's already been published and to keep up with everything that is being produced. I would like to not work and just read and write all day, and work when I wanted to break up the routine. I don't know why I bother saying that.

I would like to apologize to William Walsh for this post turning into this.

I would like to apologize to Blake Butler for sending him a piece of writing that was largely uncalled for.

I have a piggy bank that is actually not a piggy bank, but it is in the shape of the upper half of The Incredible Hulk. The bank is built out of a rubbery material. The bank does not have a way to get the money out except to shake the coins back through the slot between the Hulk's shoulder blades. Freeing the round metal presidents is going to require a razor blade.

Okay, I am done.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fresh Batch of Literary Magazine Reviews at NewPages

Yes, it's that time once again. More lit mag reviews at NewPages, including my reviews of Conjunctions, Phoebe, and Redivider.

Looksee, looksee.

Also, my review of William Walsh's debut novel Without Wax will be in the next group of book reviews. Matt Bell has already posted his review and Blake Butler's review of WW is in the latest print issue of Rain Taxi. I'm pretty sure the general consensus is that Without Wax is excellent. It's due out March 24, officially, but it's available to order on Amazon now.

UPDATE: The latest batch of book reviews has been posted at NewPages, including my review of William Walsh's Without Wax, which is now available. An interview with Walsh is available on the Keyhole blog, along with Michael Kimball reading an excerpt from his new novel Dear Everybody. Well worth a look and a listen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reviews of Everyday Life: Lunch at McDonald's

Last year the McDonald's near my house was demolished and a new one was built in its place. The new setup has turned the original layout 180 degrees. I avoided this newly resurrected McDonald's restaurant for many weeks because I simply did not want to feel the stupidity I knew I would feel while getting oriented. The drive-thru now has two order speakers like at a bank, but then the cars have to merge once again to pay and gather their orders. So I think this double order station concept is merely the illusion of even faster service and shorter lines.

Today I chose the line of the left.

The speaker at the drive-thru was very loud. The person's voice made me feel like I wanted to tell them to shut up. But the speaker was not their fault. They asked how I was doing today. This made me feel obligated to engage in small talk even though I knew it was not a genuine question. I felt strange and unsure of what to do. So I said nothing and began my order.

I ordered the Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal, Large Sized, with Coke. The person told me the total and said to pull ahead to the second window. As I pulled around, my tire scraped and then bumped over the concrete curb. I felt embarrassed. I could not remember which window the voice had told me to pay at, and I moved very slowly past the first window and waited to see someone inside. But I didn't see anyone, so I went on to the second window.

I had my payment prepared so that I would get larger coins back instead of a bunch of pennies. When the cashier handed me my change I counted and then asked if it shouldn't be six dollars instead of $5.50, and then the cashier led me through a math drill to demonstrate that I was being a typical stupid customer. I was embarrassed and apologized. She was gracious and handed the drink out and the bag of food soon followed. I drove away, checking my blind spot so I did not hit someone driving past. Overall, my purchasing experience, including the selection of my meal number, was satisfactory, despite the slight ringing deafness in my left ear due to the loudness of the order speaker.

Now that I'd successfully ordered, paid for, and retrieved my lunch, it was time to dig in. McDonald's french fries have the lifespan relative to a mayfly, lasting about ten minutes outside of the oil they're fried in before going limp and cold and amazingly tasteless. So I ate my fries while driving back to the office, maneuvering the steering wheel with a combination of elbow, knee, and different fingers. Thus, my fries were excellent: still hot, rigid, and salty.

I like the Coke served at McDonald's. They have the ratio of syrup to carbonated water spot-on. And taking a drink halfway through an order of fries sends a tingly caffiene/sugar rush into the special place in the brain. Nothing like it.

I saved my Quarter Pounder with Cheese until I returned to the office. Almost immediately I remembered that I'd forgotten to order it without onions. In a matter of minutes the entire office reeked with the sweaty smell of onions. After picking them off, I put the bun back and closed the box in hope of minimizing the smell.

Aroma is an important part of a meal. I held the burger to my nose and sniffed. The burger smelled vaguely like end-of-the-day genitals or armpits, as vague as something like that can smell. And so I learned that aroma is not necessarily an important part of an extra value meal from McDonald's.

Yes, of course I still ate it. The smell of genitals never kept me from putting my mouth on anything before. Plus, I'd paid for it. When not consciously smelling the burger at close range, and simply tasting the amalgamation of flavors, it was a passable meal.

Random thoughts:

The word "meal" irritates me when talking about a combination of main and side dishes, but, strangely, not when talking about ground corn or flour used to make tortillas. I do not understand this about myself.

Yes, I have watched Super Size Me and was nauseated and disgusted and moved, but I still eat fast food, including McDonald's, though I'm diversifying more these days.

The phrase "extra value" also irritates me, especially in conjunction with the word "meal."

I was shitting less than a half hour after finishing my extra value meal.

Fast food may make people fat and stupid as well. But I suspect that these conditions are present before fast food is introduced into the equation, or even if it is not part of the equation at all.

There is a sense in generalized society that being fat is very closely linked with being stupid, and vice versa. I disagree with this.

There is not, however, a sense in generalized society that being thin is very closely linked with being arrogant and mean.

People who feel angry that hamburgers are why many cattle are killed each day should feel a little better about McDonald's hamburgers because it seems unlikely that they contain any actual meat.

I think I'm going to research becoming a vegetarian.

Quote

"Things are going to change. I can feel it." -- Beck

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Outbursts Will Most Likely Continue

I do not like Cadbury Eggs. I think this is mostly because I cannot figure out the flavor. Whatever it says on the tinfoil wrappers is not right. I'm sure of it.

I am listening to the new Nine Inch Nails instrumental album entitled Ghosts I-IV and I like a lot of it. I have been waiting for Trent Reznor to produce an all instrumental cd for years. In places Ghosts is like Brian Eno and/or Harold Budd, and in others like Aphex Twin, and yet in others like Claude Debussy. I'm also still digging the remix of Year Zero: Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D.

[the rest is something different]

I feel good when I see some names. I roll my eyes when I see other names. I have little or no reaction when I see other names not in the first two groups. Names are great and stupid. Names are generalizations and misunderstandings.

I knew a guy once whose generalization hung down to the floor. That's because he was very short. He seemed angry and energetic about feeling short. But I think his generalization made up for a lot of that.

Today a person driving a massive and expensive generalization passed me and then cut me off. They were victorious and they dominated me with their large strap-on generalization. I slowed behind them and turned into a drive-through restaurant.

My extra value meal only satisfied me while I purchased and ate it. As soon as I finished it I felt hungry. I was deceived by a large cup that was filled three quarters with ice fragments. The ice fragments would not give way to my straw when I tried to push to the bottom for a last sip of tea. I used violence in order to penetrate the ice with the straw.

I saw a man whose generalization was attached to his face. It was so big that I kept staring. He seemed happy to have such a large generalization that people stared at him with quiet eyes and expressions of disappearance on their faces. The man changed when a woman walked past hard on her heels, sending jolts up her legs and back and bouncing her big generalizations. She seemed to absorb the stares like the man did. They both seemed to enjoy the effect of their generalizations on the world around them.

Another man in a generalization walked up to a cashier and pulled out a black leather generalization as he asked how much for someone to carry his purchases out and load them into his generalization. He held a wad of crisp generalizations in the air while the cashier called someone on the intercom.

I think I learned something today. I'm not sure.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Even Halfwit Podunk Mental Deficients Can Use Fun Computer Programs

I think this is the case, but I'm not sure. I'll have to check with the smart people and get back to you.

Here is a transcription of my average thought on an average day (which is a good generalization of my existence): aaauuurrhgbpppbaererererererrrffvvdjazzzzzkjdiefnake

People talk to me different than they talk to other people. They talk like I'm a baby or I'm stupid, or at least they make me feel that way. I know they can't help it when they think I don't understand anything and can't do anything without making it stupid.

Other people are a lot better at my life than me.

I spent ninety-six minutes trying to open a door yesterday. And another thirty-three minutes this morning. I will open that door someday if I get the right guidance and a little bit of help.

I went potty in the toilet today. No help. I got excited while I was going and I started jumping up and down and clapping and I got pee all over the bathroom and myself. Then I felt sad and defeated and I cried.

The most fun I had was when someone turned on the computer for me and started the typing program and I typed letters on the small TV. I was happy. I could type them and make them go away and type some more. I liked the red and green lines under all my words.

Today I'm going to the store. I'm going to get some McDonald's and a slurpee. I'm excited.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

iPhone Sex

I'm going to write something normal this time. No more abstractions. Only concrete. No, actually I don't like concrete, just so everyone knows. I like abstract. I think this is because I am detached from concrete. Concrete hurts and bleeds and dies. Abstract bends and survives despite giant holes. The everyday is a series of moments lived in direct contact with experience. What if experience takes place mostly in my head? Does that mean it is not experience? I don't know.

I like sitting in the dark with deep blue light as the only light. One time when I was nineteen I stood in the dark in my parents' garage at night and stared at a tiny green light on the garage door opener. There were some moments when I had lost my sense of proportion. I felt like the detached cogito Descartes led us to imagine in Intro to Philosophy. I stood still and felt like I was only my mind without a body. I still remember that experience and sometimes I want to feel that again.

I am in far better shape for intellectual1 acrobatics than emotional exercises.

Direct contact with things makes my eyes feel tight. I think I said that before one time.

Here are some things that intrigue me: People arrive at this blog often by searching for these terms:

girls with penises - at least a dozen searches for this anatomical situation lead here every week. I mentioned in a post before that girls have penises in Henry Darger's illustrations for his unfinished epic fantasy.

what does disseminating mean - this word disseminate and its variants apparently has an uncanny ability to stick to minds and then is almost always unhappy to remain alone in a mind without its meaning, like a suit that feels naked and anxious without a body inside it.

zizek - people are really interested in what Slavoj Žižek is saying or what is being said about him, and also Žižek in conjunction with Baudrillard. They are/were both intellectual rock stars, so that makes sense. Irony is a huge part of their interaction with the world ("the world" being society) and I enjoy that. Žižek has a portrait of Stalin in his entry way to scare people away. He does not like Stalin.

Also of interest is that there are a half dozen Slavoj Žižek's on Facebook and all of them look identical and have the same name, but they are dispersed throughout the earth. I think these Žižeks ought to get together and find their parents, because they are obviously sextuplets that have somehow been separated. The reunion could be a 20/20 special or a Dr. Phil episode. No, I want to see the Slavoj Žižeks embrace one another with sweat and tears beneath the hot stage lights of the Oprah show some afternoon just before my local news airs. Or the Žižek brothers could bombard Larry King or any of the cable news channels. I want every news channel expert to be Slavoj Žižek. I want every other word spoken by anyone to be Slavoj Žižek.

I have digressed. Below is a post that I wrote on January 2 and never did anything with until now, when I deleted it:










______________________
1 This particular usage of the word intellectual is not intended in the snobby way that the word can often seem; rather, it is meant as another word for mental/thought/logical, simply being what I thought was a better word choice for sound and rhythm purposes, and quite possibly was a mistake. Thus the intentionally pretentious footnote to just do something snobby and get it over with in an honest, yet, still sort of ironic way. I've been pretty bored with this for quite a few sentences now. I can't believe I'm still going. I can't stop.

Monday, March 10, 2008

CM Evans's Cartoons Get Some Love from Dave Eggers

I've been shouting from my virtual soapbox forever about the brilliant cartoons of CM Evans. Now, finally, these hilarious cartoons are getting some wider exposure. Dave Eggers -- yes, the Dave Eggers -- has invited CM Evans to show his work in an art exhibition in New York City at apexart, a not-for-profit contemporary visual arts organization in Lower Manhattan.

This exhibition, entitled "Lots of Things Like This," will run from April 2 to May 10, 2008, and will include work by, of course, CM Evans, Saul Steinberg, R. Crumb, William Steig, Ralph Steadman, Shel Silverstein, David Shrigley, Nedko Solakov, Henry Darger, Kenneth Koch, Alasdair Gray, David Mamet, Kurt Vonnegut, and many more. McSweeney's will also print an edition that will be a companion to the show.

Here's what Eggers has to say about "Lots of Things Like This":
This show will explore a very small and specific type of artmaking exemplified by contemporary people like David Shrigley, Raymond Pettibon, Nedko Solakov, and Tucker Nichols. This kind of art, which we refuse to name, is somewhat crude, usually irreverent, and always funny. It exists somewhere between one-panel cartoons and text-based art. What we're talking about, basically, is a show of about 100 works that subscribe (unknowingly) to the following criteria: a) they're drawings, usually very basic or crude; b) these drawings are accompanied by hand-drawn text on the artwork, and this text refers to the drawing, much like a caption; c) this caption-text is funny. So in many ways you might say these are cartoons, because we’ve just listed the qualifications of a cartoon. But the works in this show are usually found in galleries, not newspapers or magazines, and so we have something interesting to think about: Is humor allowed in art, and in what forms? Are captions allowed in art, and why? And most importantly, why doesn’t David Shrigley spell better?




Big congratulations to CM Evans for being invited to take part in this show. I wish I could attend.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

David Fraser's Killing Trout Released by NewPages Press

NewPages Press has released their first book entitled Killing Trout & Other Love Poems by David Fraser. Fraser grew up in the Detroit literary scene in the 1960's with the likes of Andrei Codrescu and Ken Mikilowski, back when things were pure and the future could still be spit-shined to glory. Fraser has been living up in northern Michigan, working and writing poems, a lifestyle almost extinct and unheard of post-the advent of the MFA program.

I had the pleasure and honor of attending a reading by Ken Meisel and Jeff Vande Zande at the Zeitgeist in Corktown in Detroit, and it's a great, sad place full of soul and baggage and history whose smoke is hopefully clearing to reveal a revitalized future. I'm looking forward to reading Fraser's collection. Even if it's not all about Detroit.

You know the drill.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Build a Baby, Part A

Other parents went for realism. We said forget that. Our child is going to be a work of art.

Eternal Return

I invoke things that should not be. invoked. called (back?) to life. resurrected.