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Showing posts from February, 2012

Do You Have The Dune Encyclopedia? ... I Do!!!

Thank you to The Bookman of Orange for allowing me to whittle down their asking price for this out of print oddity I've had my eye on since I was a teenager in the Eighties.  Note that the compendium spanning 19,000 years of galactic history preceding The Spacing Guild's rise to power in the imperium, through their then ensuing 10,000 year reign that ended with the messianic arrival of Muad'Dib (a.k.a., Paul Atreides, who conquered the evil Harkonnen empire when he liberated the planet Arrakis, otherwise known as the planet "Dune"), as well as a further 5,000 years of continuing space opera and planetary conflict, was not authored by Frank Herbert (excepting a brief preface to the text in which he gave his blessing to the book in November, 1983, two-and-a-half years before he died), but rather "compiled" and further extrapolated upon the known fiction and passing factoids of Frank Herbert by the late Dr. Willis E. McNelly.  It is an unbelievable acquis…

Happy 50th Birthday, David Foster Wallace!

David Foster Wallace would've turned 50 today.

The man just gets better with age. Three or four of us have been reading Infinite Jest and discussing their first experience with it in the Infinite Jesters group in LibraryThing.  I'm tagging along, re-reading sections of my favorite tome in tandem with whatever vignette from the book comes up in the occasional discussion.  The book still resonates as deeply with me today as it did eleven years ago when I first read it, that magical time of awe and wonder in my reading life when the very experience of reading itself was forever altered, amped up eleven thousand notches, elevated to an entirely heretofore unknown, unique and unexpected level of challenge and intensity that I'd never even remotely encountered or could have possibly envisioned before in a novel ....  I guess what I wrote a couple years ago remains true for me today: I'm Still Obsessed with Infinite Jest.

Stephen Wright on Writing (and Readers) and Going Native

Stephen Wright was so discouraged after the commercial failures of M31: A Family Romance, his second novel(1988), and GoingNative, his third(1994), that he almost quit writing for good.  In his view, writing is a partnership between the author and reader, and without the latter (or at least enough of the latter), he felt his writing wasn't complete, so why bother continue writing?

Wright's perspective runs counter to what I think is a general perception (or at least my perception I've gleaned from writers over the years) regarding why writers write in the first place; namely, that they write for themselves!  Because they have to write no matter what, right?  Because they wouldn't be happy or fulfilled or complete as persons if they weren't writing.  And that means writing regardless of the reaction of their readers (or critics), and that it doesn't matter whether their books sell more copies than some obscure volume of poetry or not, because the point of writi…

Pimping Green Integer Press and Their Poetry Blog, PIP

Green Integer is a fascinating press.  I love their half-sized pocket books of poetry and obscure novels, packed with weighty, provocative ideas, like Ole Sarvig's, The Sea Below My Window (Green Integer 72).

Green Integer's publisher, Douglas Messerli, has had a poetry blog running for twelve years -- The PIP(Project for Innovative Poetry) -- and I think it's high time I pimped it.  He just posted some interesting pieces on Harry Mathews' poetry, a writer perhaps better known for the innovative novels Cigarettes and Tlooth; and on the Oulipo movement in literature, of which Mathews has remained a vital part in even as the movement itself has faded in influence over the last thirty years.  Faded in influence or not, I still love the writers of Oulipo; namely Georges Perec (Life, A User's Manual), Gilbert Sorrentino (Mulligan Stew; The Orangery), and Walter Abish's (AlphabeticalAfrica) contributions to the group.  There are dozens of other accomplished writers in…

Steve Erickson's Days Between Stations: In Brief

Steve Erickson is like the Pink Floyd of modern novelists,
and Days Between Stationsis his Dark Side of the Moon.



Erickson's debut from 1985 is one of the most gnostic of more contemporary novels I've encountered. I tried for about a month to explain it all in a real review, draft after crumpled draft, and finally cut my losses with the opening one-liner above.  I've never been able to adequately encapsulate any of the four novels of Steve Erickson's I've read -- the three others so far being Tours of the Black Clock, The Sea Came in at Midnight, and Our Ecstatic Days -- but maybe that's a good thing, testament to the preternatural imagination and mysticism of Erickson's that permeates the spare pages of his mesmerizing novel's universe where "the clocks have all stopped" and mysterious rooms are self-lit without any known sources of electricity or natural light: these "stations" of the novel's title that serve only a select few h…

Survival of the Shittiest: Happy Birthday to Ayn Rand!

It's Ayn Rand's birthday today!  Don't boo, just woo hoo!  What would Ayn Rand do?

I'd like to thank one of Boston's finest men of letters, Sam, whose got a whale of a blog (insert canned laughter), TheTreadle of the Loom**, that has been and is still presently dissecting in the most minute and erudite and fascinating detail, Herman Melville's masterpiece, Moby Dick, for alerting me this morning -- as it was not on my calendar -- that our dear Ayn Rand would've turned 112 today!

Happy Birthday, Ayn!!

And shame shame shame on all you nasty Ayn Rand haters out there who think she's nothing more than a heartless wench who couldn't write worth a lick and for then going all horrendously ad hominem on her in your vitriolic attacks saying something to the unconscionable effect that she's the most repugnant and masculine appearing of pompous, anti-feminine cheerleaders, rah-rah'ing for -- in so many redundant and didactic words otherwise known as &…