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Showing posts from October, 2011

Public Service Announcement

This Halloween, before you drive, be sure you have a designated pumpkin.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by Freaks Against Drunk Pumpkins.

Not David Foster Wallace (But Definitely Joan Didion)

I follow David Abrams' blog, The Quivering Pen, religiously.  Great blog by a great writer, who's labelled himself a "book evangelist".   Preach it, Abrams, preach it! Abrams has a great library over on LibraryThing too, which is where I first encountered him.  His novel, Fobbit, covering his experience and insights gleaned as a reporter in the Iraq War, will be released soon.  Along with Thomas McGuane (read his novel, Nothing But Blue Skies, for starters, and be moved), Abrams is to the Montana literary scene what, say, Cormac McCarthy was to Tennessee -- the young Cormac at least. I recommend Abrams and his blog, The Quivering Pen, highly.

This morning I couldn't help noticing Abrams featuring "Not Foster Wallace" in a recent post, and just had to share it, since, well, David Foster Wallace is my favorite writer blah blah blah ...


David L. Ulin is easily my favorite critic covering contemporary fiction.  He's the editor of a fabulous litera…

"Obliquely" with Peter Weissman and Brent

{***Peter Weissman is a mentor and dear friend.  He's also, in case you're new to this blog and unfamiliar with the history we shared in LibraryThing's greatest group then and now, Le Salon..., the author of I Think, ThereforeWho Am I? and Digging Deeper: A Memoir of the Seventies.  He's presently at work on his third metamemoir, True Stories: A non-fiction novel.  Enter his name in the search widget of my blog for several excerpts of his published work.  We had a conversation recently in Goodreads (Oct. 15-16) that struck a creative chord with me and I thought it worth sharing.  Peter agreed.***} 

EnriqueFreeque (Brent): Hi Peter,

Hope you're good and your work is progressing apace! Do keep me posted. 

Peter Weissman: Had three false starts on the 24th chapter, backed off and came at the larger story obliquely with a piece in which I bring back Tom, from the first book, based on his daughter, whom I might or might not have seen in my small country town supermarket i…

Tet Baby

Baby please breathe and stop being so rebellious! Breathe the air your mortified mother is breathing; the air your father, so afraid he's a walking talking petrified tree is breathing. Open your little lungs and breathe, won't you?  Breathe so they can take that terrible tube out of you. Please listen and follow our loving instructions.  Because once they do "extubate" you (ah the lovely new vocabulary we're learning hourly inside the NICU!) do please be an obedient baby and breathe.

Otherwise shrill alarms will sound and jar our already shattered nerves, and doctors by the dozen will surround your bed with their clinical and calm expressions we've come to dread, and that tireless nurse working her overnight shift will begin "bagging you" indefatigably until the respiratory tech who's off duty gets paged and comes running so he can "intubate" you again. Meanwhile, your nurse pleads with you (as we do, in panicked rage), "Breathe,…

"Vertical Facades"

Meeting Terri Inside a Book! (or, When a Book Lures You, Listen!)

Look who I bumped into at The Bookmanthe other day:

Terri B. Joseph.
I was stunned to say the least.  I kept staring at her name, and examined it repeatedly (nearly not believing what I was seeing) to ensure that I was in fact seeing it.  I rubbed her name with my left index finger as if doing so, just touching it, could somehow enrich the reality of what I was witnessing: Terri B. Joseph.  I got goosebumps holding the book I'd just pulled off the shelf on a whim from the "J" section of fiction (a book not by "Joseph" but about "James"), as unexpected remembrance of Terri Brint Joseph, my advisor at Chapman University -- whom I wasn't expecting to meet inside The Bookman that day since, well, she's been gone for almost a decade now -- sweetly flooded my consciousness in waves.
Terri apparently owned this very copy of Henry James and the Experimental Novel by Sergio Perosa, published in 1983 by The Gotham Library (New York University Press), at …

They are the Champions

My grandfather (third from right, standing) played center at 6'0'' on his high school basketball team.  Back in those almost antique days, circa 1932, there was a "jump ball" after every made basket.  No fast breaks.  No jump shots.  No slam dunks. No Hoop Dreams.  No recruiting.  No March Madness.  No NBA lockouts or prima donnas. Just pure basketball, in all its glorious and fundamental simplicity. My grandfather, who will turn 97 in March and is the lone surviving member of his team, has recounted many times the strange game that won them the championship by a score of 9 to 6. I've paraphrased his account below:

Eldon's opponent thought they could win the championship game by stalling, holding the ball for several (what must have been oh so embarrassingly uneventful) minutes each possession before attempting a shot.  Keep in mind there were no shot clocks back in 1932; a team could take twenty-four minutes to shoot if they wanted.  But Eldon's adv…

Ruminating at the Ruins

I've tried convincing my wife that we should move our family here, to these very stone cabin ruins in Icehouse Canyon, one of my favorite family-friendly hiking destinations in our local mountains, the San Gabriels.  So far, however, she's steadfastly refused. She doesn't like that the place lacks glass windows — or a ceiling. She's so particular.  I've countered we wouldn't have any outrageous air conditioning bills.  We'd save some hard earned money!  She's then counter-countered we'd have no protection from bears or mountain lions well known to inhabit, if not haunt, the mile-high wilderness area, the very canyon so named "Icehouse" because a hundred years ago, more or less, it was the premier supplier of ice for the burgeoning city of Los Angeles, thirty-five air miles to the southwest.  She's got a point there.  We'd have ice aplenty, and free air conditioning, but mama bears and menacing mountain lions might be too much for …

Take a Ride Down Damnation Alley with Roger Zelazny

Hell Tanner's the baddest bad ass left in what's left of the decimated F.U.S.A., the Former United States of America.  Roger Zelazny really socks it to the F.U.S.A. as he satirically skewers this arguably great (and nearly late) nation.

The nation of California, where the action begins in Roger Zelazny's classic postapocalyptic road trip romp through man made Hell, has recruited Hell, commuting his life sentence, if he can successfully navigate Damnation Alley, after having received some terrible news from the Republic of Boston that the black plague has struck!  As if post-nuclear holocaust weren't bad enough, in marches the dratted black plague.  Rats!

A dehumanized remnant out of Los Angeles, perhaps 25,000 strong (or weak, rather -- Roger Zelazny never gives us the exact figures) wants to help, of course, as the plague, if not eradicated, just might soon eradicate their city of ex-Angels too.  But what can they do, now that Damnation Alley stands in their way?  En…

Prologue to Fiction by Alex Austin

(***Prefatory Note: I've lived near the beaches of Southern California forever.  I've witnessed on shore or while in the water, the hard to capture images Alex Austin has strikingly captured so well in his prologue to Fiction.  For a few days every year, select California coastlines put on their best North Shore of Oahu act, and crowds gather beachside, hooting and cheering those courageous (or crazy enough) to take the drop into Big Waves.  Collective groans follow wipeouts, and then silence: onlookers hold their collective breath until the surfers resurface, sometimes a minute or longer after disappearing in the crunching white crash.  Big Days at the beach, when south swells rumble north -- the mammoth offspring of Mexican hurricanes -- make the local news or front page of the L.A. Times routinely.  But there's nothing routine at all in Alex Austin'sFiction.Enter the watery depths of his prologue's wonderful prose ... and hold your breath.***)

Well, I knew the da…

Stoned October Twilights

Stoned October twilights on the sand
Our pylon shadows stretched impossibly slim
On low tide's sleek divide
Where surf and earth
Disguised themselves as sky

We'd stumble into waves arms alock
Wobbly arcs of a water logged Nerf
Absolute farthest our limbs would part
My spirals were imperfect; hers weren't
Spewing spray like a propeller blade

Anorexic as circus stilts, the pliable palms went ballistic
Beyond the dunes, dancing in wild Santa Ana winds
Making Gumbys of them: Kama Sutra mimics
To my shroom inspired eyes: The palms were obviously
Limbo'ing, bending low as equilibrium allowed

Their pom-pom fronds in ecstatic fluff
And blustery cheer, we'd retreat
From the gusts to our blankets after duskAnd make love beneath the pier