Sunday, November 20, 2011

Words With Friends

As a forewarning, this will likely be a meandering, ponderous post. Let us begin: I'm in Antelope, staying with my mom in her new house which she shares with my aunt. My mom's old house, my childhood home, is somewhere over there. Anyway, I'm sleeping on the couch. At neither of my parents' homes do I have a room. Which makes sense. I just got an iPhone 4. Not the newest one, but to me, it's like stepping into a new century. Privately, I scoff at people who spend their train rides hunched over their phones, fingers noodling the screens, downloading apps. Such an ugly word and term. The internet age is full of silly words. Google. iPad. Zynga. Facebook. Twitter. Apps. Push notifications (I just learned this one). I'm sure people have written about this before. The language of the internet is ugly. I should have said I USED to scoff but now I know I can't because while my mom and I visited with my extended family I lay on the floor and downloaded Netflix, Words with Friends, Yelp, Fandango. Probably another, I forget. Now, I'm unable to sleep and so I'm getting completely annihilated by someone named Twihard Ninja on Words with Friends (for those who don't know this is a scrabble-like game). In between my turns I follow the #occupysf tag on twitter and watch someone streaming the SFPD breaking up an encampment at the Federal Reserve Bank. The guy streaming is clearly upset and then in between some usual ranting he claims that it's the Fed's fault we're in this crisis - or something like that. My immediate response is, "I've heard this before!" END the FED. I google it. It's the name of Republican presidential nominee Ron Paul's book. Does that mean the guy streaming is a libertarian like Paul? I know there's some sort of love affair for Ron Paul by people who are sort of like me. Young, hip, educated. He doesn't believe in war, he wants the federal government to stay out of everything. I don't know. It doesn't feel right.

In 2008 I remember going for a drive by my dad's old house in Roseville. For some reason it was okay back then (for me) to just drive aimlessly in the undeveloped parts of the vast suburb that is Roseville/Rocklin. I remember seeing Paul's "Revolution" posters. EVOL was backwards. LOVE. What did he mean? It was a love revolution? Revolution of love? Against love, for love, etc? I didn't understand it. I preferred Obama's hope and change slogans. They made sense. But, nothing makes sense now. We're off axis, it seems.

My game is about to end with Twihard Ninja. This person is very good. Or not at all and I am just bad. In my last move I had WORLD to put down but there was nowhere to put it.

The picture above is the head of Saint Catherine of Siena. After I read my mom a bit of my book, she told me she had been to Siena. I had completely forgotten her trip to Italy. She said she had seen Catherine's finger. I didn't believe her. Then she showed me the picture. When I looked up the finger I also noticed that the church has had her head. I found a picture of that. You can see her face. The whole time I've been researching this book, never have I seen anything that said her finger and head were kept at her church in Siena. While I write the story I look at paintings of her and in a weird way I start to see her and then I imagine her and then I write her. The picture above though is really her. This is the face of the character in my book. I'll probably sound like some shroomed out freshmen in college when I say this, but isn't it amazing that my life and hers are linked in this particular way?

Twihard Ninja: ~450
Me: ~290

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Thought of the Heart

So I've been insanely busy this semester, since moving back to San Francisco. Thus, I haven't even posted since school started. I took the picture on the left at the California Academy of the Sciences. A group of friends and I were there to see Jens Lekman play some music. Prior to the show we toured around the Academy. I have a special appreciation for primates of all kinds so I had to take this picture. It's a mountain gorilla. I didn't notice until now that the rectangular reflection near the gorilla's chest resembles some tablet or book shaped object. As if the gorilla is reading. All of this resonates with me right now because I'm working on something about monkeys and gorillas and humans really. B read my initial effort and posed some really great questions which provoked creative thoughts. In finding a way around her criticisms I ended up creating an entirely new work that I read in class just the other day. My teacher said it was 'performative'. I like the idea of performing the writing. It's something I haven't really thought about - at least not with that term. Mostly this semester has been about writing 'Catherine' and finishing my thesis - simultaneously discovering a vast amount of forms and content exist for me to take up. The story about the monkeys is really just the beginning of this discovery.

Last night I went to Dodie Bellamy's class at SFSU because Ariana Reines was going to speak to the class about her new book Mercury. In fact, tonight I'm going to watch Dodie and Ariana read in the Mission. It was sort of like a star struck moment for me to meet Ariana. I took a lot of notes when she spoke about poetry and her writing process. Dodie, Ariana, Ariana's book tour partner Stuart, and I went downstairs for tea and chips. Though I feel fairly confident in talking about writing now, I still had the whole star struck thing going and I'm sure Ariana thought I was a bit crazy. One thing I felt and understood about Ariana's writing, which maybe I didn't understand until I heard her read two of her poems, is that a certain type of love is propelling her writing. It seems as if she is writing as an extension of her physical body. And it feels like her extension is an extension of love. Not romantic or sexual necessarily. But love as caring and as wanting to empathize with the recipient of the writing, her community on this earth. My thoughts/feelings on this were echoed this morning when I sat down at the CCA Oakland cafe to eat my cheese danish and coffee. Dodie had given me a book by this psychologist (Jungian/Post-Jungian) James Hillman. I didn't have time to even get past the first 5 pages because I was responding (in writing) to every sentence. Hillman writes about the difference between mind and heart, the origin of philosophy, philos is not a detached reasoning of life; philosophy comes first from the heart. Hillman uses a quote from a Greek writer (I think, I haven't had a chance to check it out yet): "As you speak, so is your heart." The heart is speaking, I am speaking, Ariana is speaking.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The End of the Road

I'm sitting in my best friend Jason File's apartment which he shares with his girlfriend Jamie. I have left Brooklyn and New York. I came home to chilly weather and a comfortable, familiar fog that surrounds me in memories and a sense of progress. I mostly associate the fog and the smell of the ocean so close to the city with my first experience living far from home at school in Santa Cruz. Interestingly, the memories are mostly of driving in to The Cruz in the late night/early morning from Sacramento. I loved driving at night, I love driving at night. I love rolling the windows down, good music on the stereo. I reach into the back seat and feel for a sweater that I've strategically placed on top of my pack. Sweater weather, the moving fog. I don't yet know what my life will be like, I don't have a clear picture of myself as a person, but I know I'm approaching it. All of this feeling is compressed once I leave The Cruz and settles into one image of the Fog and its attending sensations of cold and clarity.

I have left Brooklyn. The only home I've known outside of California. Sometimes I would hesitate to tell B I was "at home" if she wondered where I was. Could I call this my home? Was I home? After a while it was my home and I felt a part of the always bustling city (Brooklyn, not Manhattan). Who knows what the experience will settle into once I've spent time away. It could be dinners with B. Funny experiments with veggie burgers, cold salads, homemade popsicles. Late night walks to the Greenpoint pier and the privileged view of what B liked to think was the center of the world. I don't know if that's true or not, but it sure seems like it. One look at the Empire rising above earth and you must believe that your time on this planet, as a member of this civilization, has meant something. On that pier with that view you see human magnificence. When I look to my left and imagine the Towers I see the price of our magnificence - in the negative, the lacking. I feel B's hand in my mine and my experience as a human feels whole.

The picture above is in our neighborhood. B and I liked to get ice cream after dinner. Most often we would head to Van Leeuwen (towards Williamsburg). I could never decide if I liked the pistachio or strawberry. Finally, one afternoon we walked the other direction and went to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. I bought strawberry. It was my favorite as a kid and I think that it always will be.

Last night I received emails from my two peer collaborators, Katelyn and Jessica. Katelyn had ordered a copy of our new book. She said that it looks wonderful, a few possible changes might need to be made, but overall it seems like it's what we had envisioned when we first came up with the idea. I'm so excited to hold this tiny book in my hands. Katelyn said that it is a small beautiful thing made carefully. There are so many reasons to want to continue making such things or to have the outcome of your work be viewed as such.

Not too long ago B and I traveled up to Beacon, NY and went to the Dia:Beacon museum. In my limited museum experience, it is my favorite museum. I'm attracted to the work there. Agnes Martin, Dan Flavin, Richard Serra, Sol LeWitt. I've mostly been fascinated by Agnes Martin for about the past year but the LeWitt wall drawings and Serra's large iron swirls or whatever you call them really blew my mind. I've seen other Serra works before but these particular MONUMENTS were amazing. B and I walked through them a few times. I wish I had the language to describe the work. I also go to see a spider by Louise Bourgeois. I don't need to explain why a large spider appeals to me.

On the flight back to San Francisco I started and finished Patti Smith's Just Kids. The picture to the left is Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. I liked this picture the most in the book. In my book WOLF I reference a photograph that Mapplethorpe took of himself, whip hanging from his asshole. I will have to revisit this section of the book. Late last year I read Eileen Myles' Inferno. Smith factors heavily in it so reading Just Kids felt like a dive deeper into the world that created Myles and Acker and eventually the writers who I now love and feel inspired by, Gluck, Boone, Bellamy, etc. So it was somewhat surprising to realize that Patti Smith wouldn't exist mostly without Arthur Rimbaud. My love for Rimbaud always seemed a little out of step with the literary canon I felt a kinship to. Not that I actively searched for him in the New Narrative. But, it just seemed like such an obvious point at which to start. EVERYONE already loves Rimbaud so sometimes it's not even worth mentioning that he has inspired you. Rimbaud, Smith, Myles/Acker/Bellamy/Reines, me? It's curious my own lineage is so heavily female. Maybe it isn't. There are dozens of strands that lead up to me. Some female, some male. Mostly poets. But I guess it begins with Arthur Rimbaud. And really I have to confess to loving his biography more than his poetry. I sense his power in his poems but his life seems more than the writing. Of course, no poem has affected me more than "Sensation". I've borrowed so many ideas and lines from that two stanza poem that it seems like it will always exist as a pumping heart, lyrical blood. Naturally everything from A Season in Hell permeates my conception of words and writing, is the room in which I compose my various hells. Rimbaud's ability/destiny however to strike the earth and transform writing forever appeals to me. I have no great ambition to do the same in the universal sense but in my small way I can transform myself, the only true earth.

Reading of Robert Mapplethorpe's death from AIDS forces me to confront an experience of loss that a specific generation of artists felt. But when I do I can only feel the loss in reverse. They begin dead, come alive and then disappear again. The loss is biographical, not existential.

I took the picture to the left while editing WOLF. In this moment I felt entirely lost. I wanted to capture how I looked. I don't know if my face conveys the sense of fear and incompetence I was feeling. Luckily, good news awaited me a few weeks after this moment. I know this feeling will return at various points in my life, as a writer, lover, father, etc, but also I know that I do have the power to battle against my fear of worthlessness and meaninglessness. There is no goal but to feel less incapable of handling those fears. "There is strength in you, I see it." Thank you William Wallace.

So I'm back in San Francisco. I don't move back into my house until September 1st. At some point I will figure out when I'm supposed to begin school. I've been really bad this semester at knowing when things begin. I will also begin my first stint as a teacher's assistant. My head is full of questions regarding all these new things in my immediate future.

Ahead of me I have rewriting catherine, which fully re-imagined itself over 4 days while still in Brooklyn. Now all I must do is convey its own sense of itself. It's weird to have a story tell you how it is supposed to be written. I look forward to the relief. I've gathered some ideas for a new shorter work, possibly. My novella about the love of my life will soon be finished and hopefully not too long after that available in some form. I will have a birthday too - not for a few months but it's coming.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Somewhere Strange

Some amazing things have happened recently. I will run them down. First, I was offered an internship at Monday Night, a literary journal. My official title is Editorial Intern. I'm very excited about getting the chance to work with the editors. Second, I received an email from an on-line journal letting me know that one of my non-fiction essays would be published in September. Currently, two excerpts from my novel are published on-line. However, for both of these, the person responsible for them being published was directly related to me (a fellow student). I'm eternally grateful for that peer's support, but I will consider this September to be the first time I'm truly published. The specifics of all this shouldn't really matter, but to me, they do. Third, I was solicited to submit to another journal. That's about all I can say about it. I have to write something really special for it. If they accept my submission, it will be a big deal and I will be very happy. Fourth, this morning and early afternoon, I was on the phone with one of my other school peers and collaborators. We were uploading a document to Lulu. The picture to the left is what we were working on. Jessica, Katelyn and I have been working on this collection since May I think and it's finally finished. Once we all approve of the final product, Summer Idea No. 6, by us three, will be available for purchase.

I've finished the rewriting of WOLF. I'm quite relieved by this. It's amazing how much I cut out from the 2nd draft to the 3rd draft. Around 6500 words. From the first draft to the second I cut about 5500. So by draft 3 I was to 12000 words. I kept track of all of this just because this is my first novel and I want to record everything that I do at every point so that I can hopefully make the writing of the next one less difficult. Though probably from book to book the process is always different. What I've discovered is that I didn't write enough for the first draft. Perhaps that's not true though. I did edit while writing a lot of the time because I would receive workshop critiques from peers. However, overall, I didn't edit that much during the creation of the pages. I tried to just write as much as I could because I knew I would be able to rewrite everything later on. All that said, I don't think I wrote enough. I would like to maybe have another 10k words to have. As it is, WOLF has shrunk to below 100 pages. Given the story's major plot-line, this seems understandable. The good news is that in beginning the rewrite of catherine, I've discovered that there is a lot of room to expand catherine, or Part Two of the novel. My original concept for the novel was for WOLF to be the significantly longer part which preceded catherine, the shorter part. Now, it seems that they might end up being around the same length. I will just have to see about that though.

Two of my best friends in the world are getting married. Their happiness surrounds me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Adult Dazed at the Beach

On Friday, B and I took the trains and a bus to Jacob Riis Park for some beach swimming. It was a much needed rest for both of us since next to all of our energy is poured into our respective academic/artistic pursuits. I was happy to discover
that I'm not so far removed from recreation that I need to accustom myself to being at the beach. My mind quickly unwinds and I can forget my troubles quite easily. The picture to the left is of B walking past the Riis art deco bathhouse.

Aside from the pleasure of lying out on the beach and once or twice catching a good wave and body-surfing, my favorite moment of the excursion was the bus ride back to the trains. It's actually indescribable. A series of words will have to suffice for a narration or description. Youth, sand, vibrant, happy exhaustion, warm skin, cool air, infinite, expansive, light, summer memory, nostalgia.

A few days later B made Vegan Sloppy Joe's for dinner. And they were amazing! There they are to the left. There was actually a little more salad with them but I ate most of mine before I took the picture. The link above is the recipe B used. I don't think she changed or altered it in any way, except that we used Kaiser rolls instead of hamburger buns. The last few weeks I feel like my stomach and mouth have been the recipients of the best food I've had in my life. Or at least the best food for the particular moment for the longest stretch of time. B and I have had nearly every flavor of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, strawberry, cinnamon, pistachio, ginger, in pints and on cones. We've had pizza slices from South Brooklyn Pizza. Homemade veggie burgers with bleu cheese and fake bacon, chipotle veggie burgers with all the best condiments, homemade hummus, salsa, pasta salad, gazpacho. Fresh salad dressings and salads, plums and apples and bananas, berries and almonds. Moist coffee cake with red berries, crumbly coffee cake with banana. It gets me to thinking about a previous prejudice I had when I was in undergrad at UCSC. Every once in a while in a creative writing class someone would end up writing about food. Descriptions of food. I never understood them and for some reason I viewed them as a weak and unintelligible way of describing a character. How does what one eats add to the readers' understanding of a character? What does food tell us? At the time I thought NOTHING. I was adamantly opposed to including any description of food into my own writing and felt bored by writers who did. Strange that eventually the book I'm working on would have to do with a character's complicated relationship to food - at least part of the story would be about that. Even as I wrote WOLF/catherine I had reservations about describing food. It still looks a little funny to me on the page, all the names of fruits and vegetables. But I knew I would have to include food into the narrative. Until recently I wasn't aware of how to do that, but in the last few books I've read, the authors have included great descriptions of food. When I say great I don't mean after reading them I wanted to run into the kitchen and fire up some veggies. The mere mentioning of food by these writers brought the life of the characters further into focus. I can't really directly identify exactly what has been brought into focus for my writing, but I feel like food and descriptions of food can now be present in my writing. It is something people do and is worth mentioning.

Don't expect recipes in my next book or anything, but you know, soon I might be traveling to 18th century Versailles and food could play a role once I'm there, we will see.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Scott's (First) Day Off

Last night B and I bought falafel and took them to McCarren Park for the free summer movie FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF. We had already gone to two summer movies previously, but this particular screening was special for two specific reasons. One, it marked the final day of my best friend Scott's battle with the NY bar. Here's hoping he passed. Scott invited a large group of friends to the movie and it sort of functioned as his "I'm back from being a hermit" party. Two, the crowd watching the movie broke out into a giant dance party when Ferris sang Twist N Shout. I couldn't help but laugh when it happened. It felt so good to be surrounded by people enjoying themselves.

Editing WOLF/catherine has become intense and fills me daily with dread. A week or so ago I felt really great about what I was doing. Looking over the edits I found myself reading like an innocent reader. I could enjoy the prose and later pat myself on the back for being creative enough to come up with such an interesting story. I've been told that my writing is beautiful, but I never see it that way, and as much as I like reading my own work, I always wish to be more poetic. Though his influence only goes so far, F Scott Fitzgerald's ghost almost always hovers about me. He is an ideal in beautiful prose. Should I always try to make the words beautiful? I don't know. There's something in (my own) prose that I see. I call it beauty, if I do it right. It might not actually be beautiful, but when the writing has reached that point, I know I have done something. All of this is to say that lately re-reading the edited version has been devoid of beauty. I wrote to my teacher Miranda Mellis. I wasn't feeling as anxious as I am now, yet she still offered great advice. Walk away. Even if for a day, week, etc. Re-see the work and then go back to editing. I don't know if I can actually do that practically. I think I would feel worse not doing anything for a week, but I can at least separate myself from the dread. I can edit as I have been but leave the over-critical portion of my mind out of it. Once I've gone through this 3rd round of edits I can then look back over all the parts which I know aren't good enough. I can hold them in my hand, and I can actively set them back down. Walk away from them. Return days or weeks later and make them better.

I've just realized the comicality of this entire situation. What I'm talking about only amounts to probably 20 pages of work which are causing me these problems. Though it may go deeper than that. A fear that I cannot make them better. That I'm incapable as a writer to improve. I can't believe that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Hottest Reading On Earth

B and I went to a reading in Brooklyn at Cleopatra's: ESS ESS Sunset Series No.2 with Jo Ann Beard and Jibade-Khalil Huffman. The picture to the left is of Beard reading. Cleopatra's is a really small space. I'm not sure exactly what it is they do there. You can see the (possibly backward-facing) tower of fans attempting to cool the audience/reader off. It didn't do much good. They offered beer and popsicles and it was so hot everyone seemed to be dripping sweat. Luckily, both readers presented their work quickly and without much fanfare. I recently read an article about the horrors of literary readings. Some writers have no clue what they're doing when they read, or else they have no understanding that an audience doesn't want to sit through 30 or 40 minutes of droning.

So I appreciated Beard and Huffman's efficient delivery. Not being familiar with their work, I can't say much about it, but I was happy to attend a reading so close to where I live.

After the reading B and I went home and watched Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We've been on a HP marathon lately, preparing for a trip to the theater to actually see the final HP film. I've never read the books and don't think I ever will, yet the completion of Harry Potter's story (in film form) touches something in me. I don't identify with any of the characters really - if I did I would probably guess someone like Hagrid or someone silly like that. I also don't have a particularly deep passion for wizards and witches, etc. But, the completion of the story, of the EVENT of Harry Potter makes me love what it is. Has there been any other film series which has consistently used the same cast so successfully? Or what about the scenes in which Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, and David Thewlis go to head to head in The Prisoner of Azkaban? All are serious (and seriously good) actors. I could almost forget I was watching a movie where these actors were not the main event. Add in Helena Bonham-Carter, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson. The list could go on and does.

I guess I shouldn't be amazed that the Harry Potter series drew so many of the best actors to its casts. But for some reason looking back, it seems like the completion of the series is some sort of historical event in film.

Friday, July 15, 2011

New York Extended Vacation

I've been in New York (Brooklyn) now for two weeks. The picture to the left is of B and my very close friend (and old college roommate) Mark at the pier in Greenpoint. The East River Ferry just opened about 3 or 4 weeks ago. B and I have been meaning to take it somewhere but we haven't had the chance just yet. Our nights have been filled mostly with cooking at home and eating out on the balcony, watching pedestrians walk beneath us. I've also begun editing for the third draft of my novel, WOLF/catherine. The first part WOLF is being edited now. The second part catherine is only in an initial draft form. B read a few pages of it and recommended a lot of good ideas. But for now WOLF has my attention. I've reworked and rewritten the first 7 chapters of WOLF. Thankfully, I think I'm doing a good job. The first 4 chapters of the book were written back in August 2010. As I got further into the book/story, the writing and style changed slightly and my control over the narrator strengthened. So to go back to the beginning chapters was sometimes horrifying. I couldn't stand to read what I had done and looked forward to rewriting them. This is why I say 'thankfully' - because had I rewritten the first 4 chapters, reread them and still felt a deep sense of failure, I think I would be in trouble. My teacher/mentor at CCA, Dodie Bellamy, repeatedly told me that the beginning and ending of a book are extremely important. I think that the end of WOLF is great and when I read it I feel happy with it (though of course I know I will likely change it in some way; it can always be made better). However, the beginning, I felt, was just horrible. Now, I read the beginning and I feel good about what I've done. I have a confidence that wasn't there before and I won't be so nervous sending it out to editors/agents/publishers, etc.

After B, Mark, and I finished our walk through Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Mark and I took the train and a gypsy cab to Mark's high school friend Mohan's house, also in Brooklyn. The picture to the left is Mark and Mohan preparing to play Super Smash Brothers on Wii. Sophomore year of college I moved in with Mark and two other friends (File and Ari). Mark got us all hooked on playing 4-player Smash Brothers. My favorite character at first was Bowser. His moves were simple and powerful, but he was also slow and lumbering. After I became a better player I switched to Zelda and her alter-ego Sheik. I prefer Sheik's speed and agility. She has no defense though so it's difficult to play people like Mark and Mohan who are by this point in their lives expert Smash Brother players.

The picture to the left is B eating watermelon at Lake Wildwood in Northern California. Her grandmother owns a house there. Her family was all gathered in the area to attend B's cousin's wedding. I include this picture now (which was taken in later June) only to point out that in the spring I was working on some prose/poem pieces which envisioned this sort of scene. Two friends from CCA and I have been planning to put out a book of summery type poems/fictions. I wanted to write about a feeling of summer and when I thought of this feeling I envisioned this picture of B. It was an ideal time.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy Birthday to me in New York

The humidity and weight of air was somewhat unexpected as I exited my plane to New York. I took a taxi into Brooklyn, disrobing into just my t-shirt and jeans in the backseat - which I found somewhat romantic. I met Berit at her apartment by 11 at night. I was sweating and tired but happy to see her. We ate tacos for dinner at Papacito's which is just around the corner from her apartment. For my birthday, Berit arranged for us to go to this spa called Spa Castle - those are the bracelets (in the picture) they gave us so that we could drink pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris. Spa Castle was way out in Queens. It was quite an adventure getting there, including a stop in a very strange Korean shopping center. Later in the week, Berit and I met with friends at a karaoke bar. The only explanation I had for the behavior of the other patrons of this karaoke bar was that Mercury was in retrograde. However, Berit and I later discovered that Mercury is no longer in retrograde so nothing explains the other patrons' behavior. They were or are just naturally aggro people. Berit and I had a Woody Allen dvd marathon which included Thai delivery. We sat in a gondola at a bar called Diamond; I couldn't find the horseshoes, but that didn't matter.

One thing I keep coming back to in my descriptions of being in New York is how good the food is here. I'm lucky because Berit loves food and already knows where the best places are. Or I'm just lucky that Berit and I share somewhat similar tastes in food (mac n cheese, veggie burgers, thai etc). Whichever way it is there are some insanely tasty things to eat in Brooklyn. For example, one night after Berit and I saw Woody Allen's new movie Midnight in Paris, we waited in line for maybe an hour to get into Grimaldi's Pizza. It was well worth the wait. We ordered a half carafe of wine and a large pizza with olives and ricotta cheese. To think of it now makes my taste buds go wild. Another day Berit and I met near Prospect Park for ice cream from Uncle Luigi's. It was a dreamy walk back to the subway.

On the plane ride to New York, I started and finished Dodie Bellamy's Academonia (there's a link to Dodie's blog to the right). I'm surprised to feel that I liked this collection more than what I've read previously (Cunt-Ups, The Letters of Mina Harker, REAL). Mina Harker has become a sort of cornerstone for my own writing, and I owe a lot to Cunt-Ups for freeing my prose in ways that had it not my current book would not be possible. I like the way that Dodie can bring anything and everything into her writing. Though she does it with care and I never feel as if she's trying to impress me. It's not as if Dodie is just piling in tons and tons of cultural references, but editing enough into the writing that a sense of honesty is created without her saying she's telling a true story - which at the moment she would say that it would become false. I've only read Academonia once but I know that I will enjoy going back to it to pull through things I might have missed.

On the plane ride to San Francisco, I finished Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking - a few years ago Berit recommended it. Reading about death is never fun, but it usually affects me in a positive way. Though it's sad to read about the tragedy of another person, it is triumphant feeling when that person is Joan Didion and can get to the transcendence over our feelings and fears of death. I've only read Play It As It Lays and Where I Was From, and now The Year of Magical Thinking. I should have a better grasp on Didion's style, but I don't. I know that there is something specific she is doing in her prose, but I haven't figured it out. Whatever it is, it affects me.