“An interesting thought is trying to reach us here, but the ghost of the literary burns it away, leaving only its remainder: a nicely constructed sentence, rich in sound and syntax, signifying (almost) nothing. Netherland doesn’t really want to know about misapprehension. It wants to offer us the authentic story of a self. But is this really what having a self feels like? Do selves always seek their good, in the end? Are they never perverse? Do they always want meaning? Do they not sometimes want its opposite? And is this how memory works? Do our childhoods often return to us in the form of coherent, lyrical reveries? Is this how time feels? Do the things of the world really come to us like this, embroidered in the verbal fancy of times past? Is this really Realism?”
On Saturday, Salon published a review of Zadie Smith’s new novel, NW, under the headline “Literary Realism is Dead.” This follows a back and forth between Blake Butler on Vice and Stephen Tully Dierks on HTMLGIANT, the former arguing that realism is a bloated corpse, the latter arguing we need realism now more than ever.
This is what I don’t understand: when did we become a society that can only consume one school of literature at a time? I love realism. I love experiential lit. There are some realistic books I dislike, and some experimental books I dislike. I don’t understand the need for these two camps to bunker down and hurl theses at each other like some kind of lit Cold War. Aren’t there enough readers to support both modes? Why all the negativity?
Blake has stated, over at Vice, that he doesn’t want to read any more books about straight white people having sex. Stephen has stated, right here, that he is prepared to read many more novels about people fucking. There are substantial differences in these claims that we could pause to examine (‘don’t want to read’ vs. ‘am prepared to read’; ‘straight white people’ vs. ‘people’; ‘sex’ vs. ‘fucking’), but forgive me if I let those subtleties drop. Because I would rather observe that, if this is the scope of the debate, then it’s akin to one person saying, ‘I am tired of books about dogs, and no longer want to read more novels about them,’ to which someone else replies, ‘I’m still willing to read some canine fiction.’
-A.D. Jameson in HTMLGIANT
Today, HTMLGIANT published an exit interview I did with students who had me for Intermediate Fiction and Advanced Fiction workshops. We talk genre writing, MFAs, old vs. new school, and a ton more that will be (hopefully) interesting to anyone who has ever taken a workshop. Let me know what you think.
Hey, guys. My life is pretty taxing right now. Remember last October when I posted about not having time to do anything because of teaching a 3/3? THAT SHIT IS HAPPENING AGAIN! And this time I’m writing stuff for HTMLGIANT (I got comic book and creative writing pedagogy posts appearing next month) and a One Note on Smalldoggies (it’s about my boy Grant Morrison’s Supergods) and an interview for Patasola Press and a review for The Rumpus. Also, I’m writing a second novel. Most of the time I just want to retreat home and monkishly work on the book which involves characters like Jimmy Hoffa the Battle Wombat and Mecha-Hitler and Dr. Wilhelm von Triumph and a scene where Davy Jones descends from Heaven as an angel. And because of all these responsibilities in tandem, something had to give. That something was the amount of time I had for this blog.
But fear not. Because I have decided that from now on, I’m going to live tweet EVERYTHING.
First up: sports. Guys. I am having a rough month. The Dolphins’ season is pretty much over and it’s not even October yet. The NBA is probably going to be locked out all year. And Pitt’s football team needs a lot of time to work out the kinks of Todd Graham’s “high octane” offense before limping off to the ACC. So what’s a guy to do?
Let me educate you on this shit. Lala is Carmelo Anthony’s wife. ‘Melo is a recent addition to my one and only New York Knicks. Sure, my favorite of the current Knickerbockers (my boy, Amar’e Stoudemire) is spending the Lockout writing a YA series, but ‘Melo is starring in a reality show with his wife, former MTV VJ Lala. I’ve only seen one episode, but it involved Lala confronting Chauncey Billups’ wife in a scene that would not be out of place on Laguna Beach. This show comes on every Monday at 10. My official hashtag is #MamaThereGoesThatWoman. CATCH THE EXCITEMENT, KNICKS FANS!
Second thing I’m livetweeting: 2 Broke Girls! You guys see this shit? There’s a laugh track! And a horse living in Brooklyn! And racist stereotypes galore! I don’t exactly know what the deal is with CBS and why they’re still pumping out three camera sitcoms (like, is this for real for real?), but Kat Dennings is on the show. KAT “DID HE SAY MEOW MEOW” DENNINGS. This week’s installment involved “the girls” trying to get horseshit out of a white dress. BUT GUESS WHAT! The water had been turned off in a conveniently foreshadowed plot point! See you at #KatDenningsDeservesBetter.
Oh, you don’t like TV? NO PROBLEM. I’m covering all the hijinx of being a low level adjunct in the go-go world of 21st century academia! Curious how many times I reference Kanye West in class? Want to know how much time I spend wondering what it would be like if Lorrie Moore was my girlfriend? Think I listen to DJ Khaled on repeat while grading papers? Then find out on #proflife.
So join me, my friends. Let’s live tweet everything.
AWP 2011 is over. Highlights, in no particular order, below.
1. Dancing in a group including xTx, Roxane Gay, my roommates Adam Reger and Robert Yune to the song “I Don’t Want to Lose Your Love Tonight” by the Outfield at HTMLGiant’s Literature party amid a crowd of hip motherfuckers.
2. The Gary Shtenygart/Amy Hempel reading/convo. Shtenygart is so fucking funny in person. I want him to be my older brother.
3. During my Future of the Book Review panel with Emily Testa, Irina Reyn and Paul Morris, some dude totally called shit on us while walking up the aisle of the ballroom and sporting sunglasses.
4. I love Emma Straub. I met her. We talked a few times. She signed my copy of her book Other People We Married. Then one night I was returning to the hotel drunk and saw her chatting with some reasonable humans and I shouted, “Emma Straub knows!” She nodded. She knew.
5. At Recessions, I met Amber Sparks and while drinking a 20 ounce Bud Light explained Spider-Man’s wife’s miscarriage from the mid-nineties and the complexities of Pokemon cards.
6. One night later I had a similar conversation with Amber’s husband in the bathroom of Ireland’s Four Provinces.
7. Aubrey Hirsch and I repeatedly asking people if they were the html giant.
10. I finally met Brian Oliu! We walked through the hotel and parted ways outside, and only later did I realize not once did we bring up Nintendo games as expected.
11. Watching Joel Coggins puke in an Arlington trash can.
12. Getting a Write Like a Motherfucker mug from Isaac Fitzgerald and the awesome Rumpus folks.
13. Chandler Chugg-a-lugg
14. The Annalemma/Pank/MLP reading. One of the funnest readings ever.
15. The Myth of Relevance Panel.
16. This e-mail from Lauren Becker received at 3:28 am:
Body: argh, matey! 🙂
17. Consuming a mass amount of beer every night for four straight days.
18. Proposing to a woman named Polaroid on the Literature Party dance floor after she literally told me she would be “the Alice Munro to your Charles Baxter.”
19. Convincing a woman at Literature Party, albeit briefly, that I was Sugar from the Rumpus. Called her sweetpea and everything.
20. Cathy Day mocking Steve Gillies for being 20 years older than me.
I haven’t done a thing with this blog in a week because I’ve contracted the sore throat from Planet Fuck. That, combined with a three class teaching load, has seriously eaten into my ability to get anything done this week. Mind you I’m not complaining. I’m lucky to have a job, especially one that’s actually what I went to school for. But I feel like shit, have been writing less because I feel like shit, and sometimes I send half-delirious e-mails to my students when one too many of them agree electronically about their complete contempt for all things James Baldwin.
Regardless. How productive are you while sick? Are you able to actually get writing done or is it one of the first things to fall by the wayside? I haven’t written since Tuesday which is disgustingly bad for me. I’m planning on remedying that today, but I’m just sleeping so much more because of this cold and it just hasn’t been working out. Instead, I’ve been playing a lot of Earthbound. Its electronic warmth comforts me. Also, I’ve been reading the absolutely wonderful Elephants in Our Bedroom by Michael Czyzniejewski and Richard Yates by Tao Lin.
Mostly, I’ve been spending a great deal of time thinking about what fictional books I’d most like to read. I don’t mean fiction books, I mean books written by fictional characters in TV shows and movies. I feel (although I cannot prove) that someone on HTMLGIANT did a thread like this awhile back, but I can’t remember. For my money, I’d most like to read My Triumphs, My Failures by Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica and Wildcat by Eli Cash from Royal Tenenbaums. The later was written in an obsolete vernacular, and according to Wikipedia, a mash-up of Cormac McCarthy and Jay McInerney. What’s not to like, right? And the former is the type of dry political nonfiction I crave. “The nature of modern life is obsession,” Gaius writes in the penultimate episode of season three. Have truer words ever been spoken?
To reiterate: I’m sick, and this is the type of shit I do when I’m sick.
For a few days, I’ve been trying to think of a good excuse for talking about fantasy football on a blog that’s supposedly about writing and books and shit. I’ve done this before, coming up with justifications to discuss Scott Pilgrim and Earthbound and and all kinds of esoteric subjects. I thought maybe I could pass the draft day experience as an unfolding narrative, how once choice affects another (for example, if you use your first pick on Chris Johnson, you don’t then use your second on another running back with the same bye week).
But, in the end, I couldn’t think of a single, solitary reason for why I’d talk about fantasy football on this blog which (normally) has absolutely nothing to do with fantasy football. But you know what? Fuck it. This is salvatore-pane.com, so if I want to talk about fantasy football I should be able to talk about fantasy football, right? Here’s the outcome of my draft:
How’d I do? I feel good about it with the exception of Winslow (I wanted Visanthe Shiancoe, but I’m in a league with Minnesota fans). Do you guys play fantasy? Or do you think, like Marvel Editor Nathan Crosby, that it “combines the excitement of the NFL with the sadness of role-playing games”? Can you come up with any parallels between the world of fantasy football and writing? Ok. Wait a sec. How about this shit? Assembling a fantasy football team is a lot like assembling the contents of a literary journal. You’ve got to balance things while playing towards your aesthetic. I’m a running back guy. I took one in the first round (then a WR then QB) and then a bunch of RBs in a row. Is this like editing a journal that primarily runs metafiction while still trying to balance things in terms of gender and race and sexuality? Are you also worried about Maurice Jones-Drew (language thugs like me call him The Hyphen) blowing out his knee and ruining your season? Are you too obsessed with the Talented Mr. Roto?
One last thing. And this has nothing to do with fantasy football but everything to do with lit journals. IT’S SUBMISSION SEASON AGAIN! I remember very vividly when I started my MFA program going for drinks with two recently graduated poets. They clinked glasses and made a toast to the new submission season. One thing I miss in an era when so much of what we do is digital is the idea that September 1st is the universal starting day for new submissions. So many online outlets read year round (which is obviously so much better for everyone–writer and reader both) that the anticipation of 9/1 just isn’t what it used to be.
However, I am preparing to send out a shit ton of new work. How do you guys go about this? Recently I told a current MFA student that I like to have no fewer than 30 submissions out at any given time, and she looked terrified. Is 30 high? Do you send to more places than that? Are you like me and get panicky whenever your submissions queue on Duotrope drops below 20? Do you not use Duotrope? How many times will you try a journal before you give up (DON’T GIVE UP; I’ve gotten into a bunch of journals that initially rejected my work)? How do you find new journals? Through the work of your peers? Through lit blogs like HTMLGIANT? If you don’t know Chris Johnson from LaDainian Tomlinson, but know the difference between Ploughshares and Diagram, hit me up in the comments.