More Books, Less Problems

I’ve been acquiring a lot of books recently. This is unusual for me, and I blame the temporary homelessness. Books are my portable home. I curl up in them much like a hermit crab wriggles into a shell. When I move into my new place next week, hopefully I’ll go back to being an unapologetic library rat.

About a month ago, I picked up William Wallace Cook’s insane/awesome Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. I traded Wild for a copy of Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, which a friend got signed for me at the book’s launch party in San Francisco.

I just returned from a trip to Portland. I arrived back to East Coast with six more books than when I had left.

After spending a late night in Powell’s, I emerged with used copies of the following:

  • Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned – Wells Tower
  • Rendezvous with Rama – Arthur C. Clarke
  • The Boy Detective Fails – Joe Meno

My friend then lent me three more books:

  • Accelerando – Charles Stross
  • Hyperion – Dan Simmons
  • Ringworld – Larry Niven

So if you ask me what I’m reading at any time during the next few months, the answer will almost certainly be science fiction or contemporary fiction. But isn’t it always?

I do feel like I should balance out this list with some ladies, though. Jo Walton’s Among Others has been calling my name, as has Edith Pearlman’s short story collection Binocular Vision. I’ve also never read a whole Kelly Link book, which seems like a terrible gap in my reading history. Any other suggestions?

Why Are You Ashamed of Being A Writer?

Ben Mirov asked this over on HTMLGIANT.  So.

I keep putting off real life and real jobs in order to have “time” to “write”, but I don’t use that time to write.  I then complain about not having any money.  I steal stories from other people’s lives.  I write speculative fiction and feel embarrassed about showing it to anyone.  I write realistic fiction and it’s not very good and I feel like a sell-out.  I have long, inappropriately bitter e-mail conversations with my mentors about the publishing industry.  I inexplicably feel like a washed-out failure at the age of 23.  I will never be as good as the writers I admire.  I write about sex and then my relatives want to read my stories.

And you?

Luke, I Am Still Dead

I must say, I do love when the internet combines two things I love into one thing.

A real post coming soon, perhaps. I’ve been playing Dragon Age II and it’s rekindled my desire to write about the narratology of video games.

Llamas, Ect.

I’ve been in Peru recently, hence the lack of updates.  I do occasionally have internet access here, but it is very, very slow.  I’ve seen a lot of llamas.  They aren’t nearly as dangerous as Monty Python told me.

I’ll be back in Stumptown around August 4th.  Then I’ll start posting chunks of thesis again.

Until then, adios.

Blast Off

And rays of yellow paper light shone down upon me...

I turned in my thesis Monday.  I was given a shiny golden hat and tomorrow I get a parade.  Really.  The PoPoPo will be there to celebrate too, but I’m not particularly worried about that.

After I attend my orals board next week, I’ll finish my final edits and then start uploading stories here.  I’m not sure if I’ll publish the entire thing as a PDF or post the stories piecemeal over a period of time.

On Wednesday, May 7th, I’ll be giving a reading along with other creative thesis students on campus.  I’m still trying to decide which story I’ll read.

Things are happening.  Eras are ending.  I’m going, going, gone.

This Bird Needs Books

Like the feathered occupants of my reoccurring dreams, I’ve flown south for the winter.   For the next three weeks, I’ll be staying with family on the coast of South Carolina.  I stepped into the PDX airport around noon yesterday.  I arrived in Charleston, SC at 3 PM today.  Thanks to strange holiday delays, I spent over 24 hours straight in airports.  While it was certainly an experience, it was not an experience I particularly want to repeat.

The last month has been the sort of time period that zooms forward with little chance for, say, updating one’s half-assed fiction blog.  I did manage to finish a draft of “Champ”, but right now it holds itself together so tenuously that I’m loathe to post it here.  This blog has been helpful as a fiction repository, but not so much as a feedback generator.  I think I’m going to stick to publishing more polished pieces.

While pining for Portland and a particularly sweet distraction that lives there, I’ll probably be doing a fair bit of writing over this vacation.  Mostly, though, I’m interested in reading.  Now that I’m out of class, I can go back to self-edification.  I have a few books that I’m already set on reading, but I could always use more suggestions.

A Reading List

  • The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff – I bought this one on sale in at the PDX Powell’s when I realized that I was going to be the next day in airports and panicked.  The purchase of this book, which is 552 pages long and contains 33 stories, immediately calmed me.  It turned out to be a very worthy investment.  I’m currently about 400 pages in.  Very good stuff.
  • Kafka, by Robert Crumb and David Zane Mairowitz – Given to me as a gift right before I left town, this appears to be a biography of Kafka illustrated by R. Crumb.  So, basically, this is one of the most perfect gifts that I have ever received.
  • The Road, by Cormac McCarthy – I’ve been meaning to read this one ever since I heard that a post-apocalyptic novel won The Pulitzer.  The existence of the movie, which right now I’m not particularly intending to see, had the happy effect of reminding me that I needed to read the book.
  • Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, by David Foster Wallace – I’ve read all the other DFW shorts collections besides this one.  It’s time.  I’m pretty sure they’re making a movie out of this one as well.  The idea of a film version of DFW fiction kind of squicks me out.  I don’t think they’ll attempt to make a cinematic representation of the footnotes.  But what if they did?

Other People’s Art

I went to a Dirty Projectors concert last night.  It was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while.  I left feeling like somebody had trepanned me with a golden drill.  In a good way.  Those girls, yelping like machines!

I often have a musical loop of some sort feeding through my ears while I’m writing.  Usually an entire album set to repeat.  I don’t know if the music colors the writing, or if I select the music to reflect the story’s mood.  Maybe I should try experimenting with it and see what happens.

I’ve become very interested in Simon Evans over the last few days.  I’m fascinated by how he subjectively organizes the world through lists, graphs, catalogs, and diagrams.  I really like Symptoms of Loneliness. Also a piece in which he illustrates the process of a love affair via bar graph.  I want to steal titles from him.

I didn’t do any work at all last night, so I’ll be scrambling to catch up until Thursday.  But I do have a draft of “Gainful Employment” sitting on my hard drive that I’ll publish here in the near future.  Pinky swear.