Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Dog Named Wolf

Day 293 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and my mom is a new subscriber to One Story, so she has been reading issues 141 and 142, and I got to borrow them from her, so I have also read these two fabulous short stories: "Nephilim," by L. Annette Binder, and "Housewifely Arts," by Megan Mayhew Bergman.

I love the idea of this tiny print journal--one story per issue, saddle stapled, chapbook style.  At the One Story website, you can discuss the stories, subscribe, get lots of additional information, and learn how to submit.  But it's a sweet little print magazine that comes in the mail, like Inch (for short poems and short short fiction) and blink, before it.

Marcus, a new Facebook friend and fellow writer, who lives in Germany, has an interesting stack of books on his desk right now:

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, by Carson McCullers
Samuel Beckett, The Short Prose
Our Lady of the Flowers, by Jean Genet
Giraffes in Hiding, by Carol Novack
and three by John Hawkes: The Lime Twig, Second Skin, and Travesty

I would love to know from Marcus, why these particular books at this particular time?  Which will he read first? Will he read one straight through and then the next, or read around in several at a time?!

Looks like John Hawkes has great admirers and writes lyrically in mystery or thriller mode and also in complex prose resembling a European more than an American sensibility.  Is this correct, Hawkes readers?

Giraffes in Hiding looks like a wild ride!  And its subtitle is The Mythical Memoirs of Carol Novack, so she must be a goddess!  I love this bit of the author's bio at Amazon:  "Carol Novack is a writer of sociopolitical neuroerotic rants and raves, poems, prose poems, and image drenched, lyrical whatnots, and a play."  Ah, Genet and Beckett wrote plays, too.

Marcus, do you read a lot of plays?

I am progressing in Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote, and found the phrase that is the title on page 100, in the indirect dialogue of the character Little Sunshine, who lives in an old hotel because if he ever "went away, as he had once upon a time, other voices, other rooms, voices lost and clouded, strummed his dreams."  And that is a taste of the lovely, lyrical, vaguely mysterious prose style of this particular novel.

I took up this novel to encounter the Idabel Thompkins, who is based on Harper Lee, as I learned in Mockingbird, by Charles J. Shields.  I mentioned this in an earlier blog entry, spelling it Tompkins, as I'd found it on page 59 of that book.  Imagine my surprise to find it spelled Thompkins in the actual novel.  This is one of those moments of mild woe for me, when I ponder the state of print publishing, proofreading, copy editing, entry level jobs, graduates with degrees in English or communications.  Sigh....

Fortunately, I write a BLOG, and can make all the errors I want.  Or, in most cases, don't want.

And, finally, I am dog-sitting a dog named Wolf.


Marcus Speh said...

hey kathleen, thanks for featuring my book pile. i'm impressed by your questions, my own choices but perhaps most of all by that last line "i'm dog-sitting a dog named wolf". wonderful title to a great post.

why these particular books at this particular time? - "singles" first: i read novack's book because i'm writing a review for smash cake magazine (ought to be finished this week). hawkes: i never knew the guy but rick moody wrote about him as one of his teachers and i like moody. when i picked it up (not via kindle which is my preference for books of new authors, before i know if i'm going to love them) i immediately knew this was my cup of tea. freakishly so. i'm looking forward to reading hawkes the way i read over the holidays...fragmented, a paragraph here and there. he seems suited for that as the man who renounced plot, characters...etc. if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. but the language!

talking about language: mccullers, beckett and genet all are on that pile because of the novella i'm writing. the first chapter is due for submission tomorrow, i'm slaving over the synopsis right now (this is what i should do at least) and when i'm sweating, i like to reach for texts that calm me and recharge me. these three do that. moreover, all three of them make me want to write so bad it itches when i write about them even...without imposing their style on mine (which is something i can only say of the greatest writers).

do i read a lot of plays? no. i watch a lot of movies and get into a lot of fights with my family over their relative value...beckett is less known as a writer of short prose but gosh, what a writer of short prose he is. check him out. and genet's value is overshadowed by his vie engagée.

enough said. thanks for letting me spill the beans!

Kathleen said...

Marcus! Thanks for spilling here! I love that the reading is a motivation and a comfort while writing. And best wishes on the novella and the review!

I love movies, too, and the discussions they can provoke. Lately--and I hope this lasts till I die--I am in a joyous and serene state of not evaluating, not judging. Nothing prevents my pleasure in art, life, people, etc. I can still observe, compare/contrast, notice "categories" (and blurs), but I resist judgment.

SarahJane said...

I like Marcus's book list.
And I'm looking forward to your talk with Susan.

Kathleen said...

Me, too, SarahJane, and ditto.

Kim said...

I'm coming over very soon to get my Wolf and find out what he's been reading at your house!

Kathleen said...

Wolf has been gently whining passages from Other Voices, Other Rooms....