Salvatore Pane

Month: June, 2011

Philip Roth on the New York Knicks’ Second Round Draft Pick: Josh Harrellson

“You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong.”

“He had learned the worst lesson that life can teach – that it makes no sense.”

“Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that — well, lucky you.”

“The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong.”

“I came to New York and in only hours, New York did what it does to people: awakened the possibilities. Hope breaks out.”


NYC Lit Events or Knowing As A Shorty I Was Always Told/That If I Ain’t Gon’ Be Part Of The Greatest/I Gotta Be The Greatest Myself

Guys. This reading! This reading!! As you (hopefully) know, I’m reading in Brooklyn July 1st. But it pains me I’ll be unable to attend this reading a few weeks later because I’ll be busy teaching at a creative writing camp here in Pitt. If you’re anywhere near New York around July 27th, you have to go to this. Amber Sparks. Sarah Rose Etter. The list goes on. And I’m not going to link to all the readers because I love pretty much everyone involved with this. NYC, I’m falling for your siren song.


BEHOLD! You can now buy a short story of mine on your Kindle future machines for only 99 cents! After the always wonderful Flatmancrooked went defunct awhile back, Steve Owen and the fine folks at Mixer Publishing saved some of the material that had been lost to the internet intended for the next print volume of FMC. “The Scranton Historian”, which I’ll get to in a minute, is mine, but first I’d like to point out some of the cool stuff you can get digitally from Mixer before their site launches later this week.

Click here, and you can see everything Mixer has published so far. Their first anthology is called of Love & Death: Heartburn, Headaches, and Hangovers. Each story is 99 cents and there are some great writers like Kate Braverman, Myfanwy Collins, Tom Bonfiglio, and more.

So “The Scranton Historian”. Like I said, this one appeared in Flatmancrooked awhile back, but I actually wrote it in the long, long ago of 2009, in a writing workshop run by Irina Reyn to be specific. It’s about a down on his luck high school history teacher, and what’s especially interesting to me after rereading it is that I wrote it a year before I ever taught a class myself. This one kind of holds a special place for me because it was written right around the time when I started getting better at writing and actually having luck publishing things. I’d only published one story while I was working on “The Scranton Historian” but I was really hopeful that two straight years of nothing but  rejection were about to pay off. And I’m so glad it’s going to exist again in a way where people can read it.

To sum up: Mixer. Read their shit. Go submit.

NYC Lit Events or The Billboard Killa/No Team Illa/The Fam-O/Ammo/Is Every Channel

Do you remember that X-Men story when Cyclops sent his son into the future and then his son time traveled back a little while later as this totally badass, grizzled warrior with a robot arm, glowing eyeball, big guns, and about five million little pouches? This is the literary reading equivalent of that X-Men story.

What you want us to do?


See you at Bookcourt (and hopefully Barcade afterwards).

Novel Playlist

As I mentioned here, I’m working on a new novel. It’s been maybe 7 or 8 weeks now, and there’s been some significant progress. I’m a quick drafter, and the majority of my work always comes in revision. And I’m extremely excited because this weekend I’m taking my first ever writing-related research trip. I’ll be returning to Washington, DC (I was there for AWP this past year where I initially began to form the idea that would become the book) to check out Georgetown and a few surrounding towns, Woodbridge, Arlington, and Canova mostly. Also, I’m heading down with my pal Robert and his sister, and we’re going to party with millionaires in a country club tomorrow night. So, you know, shit’s going to be hard.

One distressing element of working on a larger project is the way you have to kind of shut yourself off from the outside world. I’ve been pretty much a hermit which was mostly the case when I was drafting out Last Call in the City of Bridges two summers ago. I wake up early and write with three fans aimed squarely at my face. I try to go to bed early so as not to disturb that schedule. This weekend will be my first significant time away from the book since I started. One thing that’s been extremely helpful during this process is the music playlist I’ve been kind of unintentionally putting together. I don’t like to listen to music when I write. I’ve never been able to do it, and I don’t think I ever will. But when I get stuck, or before I begin while drinking coffee, I do like to listen to something that can put me in the head space of the book. So, that being said, below are some of the songs I’ve been listening to a ton while working the past two months or so.

One of the characters in the book is obsessed with the Monkees movie Head. Have you ever seen this movie? After their TV show was cancelled, the band made this anti-war, anti-consumerism movie with Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson. It’s incredibly bizarre, darting from one random set piece to another, very few of which make any sense. But the album is actually pretty good, and “Circle Sky” is one of my favorite, if not the favorite, Monkees songs. My mom used to play their records full blast when I was growing up. When I think of Americana, I think of the Monkees.

Ok. Are you ready to think I’m the lamest person of all time? I never heard this song until I saw the opening credits of Kevin Smith’s Clerks II in a movie theater all by myself in Ocean City, New Jersey. Yes. I know. I am the worst. But I still love this song and have since come to really enjoy the Talking Heads. “Nothing But Flowers” always puts me in this really positive, post-apocalyptic mood which is the kind of strange juxtaposition that I love.

I don’t claim to know much, if anything, about rap. But I really like Kid Cudi, and I really like this song. The electronic hum of the thing. The silly introspection. The earnest confusion about living well in the world. When I get really stuck or anxious, this one tempers me.

I’m really into Kanye West. This album and this track especially. The over-the-top choir and the lyrics pairing class mobility/longing with playful wordplay and absurd production values. This song sounds like it was recorded in the future and sent back to us from aliens. Whenever I’m trying to write something absurd and feel the tug and pull and no you can’t do that sentiment of my very rigid domestic realism background, I listen to this song.

Speaking of domestic drama… You want that shit? I sure do. BOOM! This song is so dark it’s kind of amusing. And I’m not just saying that because “No Children” was used to end a season of Moral Orel on Adult Swim. Unlike Talking Heads, I was listening to the Mountain Goats before all that. Anyway, if you’re looking to put yourself in the mood to write tense relationship drama, look no further than pretty much any MG album.

My second favorite song from Head. There’s just something about the tired lyrics combined with the upbeat sixties pop/rock that really gets to me. There’s something here right under the surface, although I’m not exactly sure what it is or if it’s positive or not. Good song regardless.

This is the favorite song of one of my characters. Because he is 90 years old. My friends know my secret fantasy is to become a turn of the century industrialist wearing a top hat and monocle while working my immigrant employees to the bone. This is as close as I can come.

My favorite parts of Head are the Davy Jones scenes. I’ve seen Davy perform live before, and I actually met him a few years back when he judged a film festival I was part of. He called my entry “the end of Western Civilization.” Anyway, what I like about his scenes in the movie is that it’s so clear he wants to just make a regular wacky Monkees episode and the other band members won’t let him. Look at how ridiculous this scene is! Cheesy earnestness run amok. So amazing. Whenever I’m trying to get at a really dense but well-intentioned character, I play this.

I’m always writing about death.

This is my all-time favorite video game song from one of my all time favorite video games. Like the Monkees, Nintendo Entertainment System games are always going to be tied up with childhood and Americana for me. And when I think of the future, I think of this: a capitalist duck on the moon murdering aliens and duck astronauts with his cane for pure, undiluted profit. This is America.