29 February 2012

What Images I Obsess

What Images I Obsess 2/29

Fireflies blinking off and then on
as they rise from the grass in August

Red of sand against the blue
of the sky like in an O'Keefe

That blue like Rothko

The face of Vishnu with his tongue out
wheeling arms threading time's blanket

A monk ringing a bell
walking one step every toll

A drumbeat out of time


There is silence after a gunshot
flies spiral and unfold when waved away


The hands of the old splicing each other
like the limbs of old cherry trees


My grandmother's eyes

The needle in and out of seconds
that way night comes slow then fast

Black following blue lights becoming stars

28 February 2012

Good Country People

Good Country People 2/28

Slide the leather off - the pink
round knee - stump - pound
of flesh in the hayloft

The folds - loose - without bone
finger on under sensitive skin
It is all rubber - all shredding

27 February 2012

Dust Jacket : The Orphan Master's Son

The Orphan Master's Son (2012)
Design by : Lynn Buckley

Finding information on the designers who create book covers is not easy. Most book listings on sites like Amazon don't list the designer. Typing names into Google only works if the artist has a website or is very well known. Usually you find a link to another Amazon page.

In the case of Lynn Buckley I found nothing on who she is. What I did find was a list of the books she has designed:

Gilead, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet, The Corrections, The River Wife, Star Dust, The Time of Our Singing, Big Machine

What can be seen from these covers is Buckley's clear style. Bright and bold. She uses a bold text-based focal point and brings in an image that supports it. She also tends to have the text interact with the image in some way. And she is clearly in demand; most of these books are best-sellers.


What caught my eye with The Orphan Master's Son was the bold text that fades in and out of the rich orange image of a tiger face. The animal seems to be eating the title while also being consumed by it. In person, the text has a slightly different texture and is glossy. It draws the eye and is memorable.

In publishing there has been a trend towards text-based covers. Jonathan Safran Foer, Toni Morrison, and Zadie Smith books come to mind immediately. Good text design can be just as beautiful and as image-based design. One just needs to look at illuminated texts to see this.

It also calls to mind the work of Glenn Ligon. Specifically his work Mirror from 2002 that recently appeared in the controversial show hide/seek at the Brooklyn Museum. That work contains a long quote of James Baldwin's:

What I like about Buckley's work is that it combines the current trend of text heavy design with a bold sense of image. This is more up my alley, personally. There are a few other recent covers that pop to mind when I think of this blend of text and image:

No One Is Here Except All of Us is my favorite cover so far in 2012. The cover of Hope  is evocative and makes you want to know the story inside.


Sometimes, Buckley's text takes a back seat (Star Dust, The Time of Our Singing) other times it is the center pull (The Orphan Master's Son, Big Machine). There is a great balance and the covers catch your eye. While I don't particularly think The Thousand Autumns is a beautiful cover, it certainly is memorable and one of the few from last year that I looked at each time I saw it in the store.

I wish that artists like Lynn Buckley, even if they are 'just' designers, got a little more attention. For no other reason that I could see/hear what they have to say about working on these covers and how the process unfolds.


Dust Jacket is a sometime article about the design and artwork of book covers. The idea is to shine a spotlight on the work of the designer separated from the work of the author. It is literally judging a book by its cover.

The Open Boat

The Open Boat (Crane and Norton) 2/27

None knew the color of the sky

A Soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers

Their eyes glanced level, were fastened upon the waves

There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears

These waves were the hue of slate, the tops were foaming white, all knew the colors of the sea

But a comrade stood beside him, and he took that comrade's hand

The horizon narrowed and widened, dipped and rose, at all times its edge was jagged with waves that thrust up in points like rocks

And he said, 'I nevermore shall see my own, my native land'

26 February 2012

Sonny's Blues

Sonny's Blues 2/26

dark club
swirling smoke
drinking whiskey and milk

here now
eyes closed
to the rolling heads

this is ecstasy
nothing melts
so much as bounces off

25 February 2012

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas 2/25
Across on tired legs
Feet into soft earth
Yellow mud spotting ankles

Seek refuge seek calming looks
Across the expanse

Remember :
                        dark basement room
                        string of eyes
                        motherless child

The sky opens purple
Cloudless
All unseen

24 February 2012

Hills Like White Elephants

Hills Like White Elephants 2/24

The track divides the land
into green and brown planes

Hand across abdomen
the soreness in the joints a burn
a field of rushes charcoaling

Tall grass popping
along the silver of the rails

Nicklehead spinning on edge
the face the un-face
stalls and lands opening

Every small flower
broken anise and china

23 February 2012

A Perfect Day For Bananafish

A Perfect Day For Bananafish 2/23

Foot through sand
A pressed hand into dried peas

The ocean void
more glass than sea

Here is the gun sir, here is the gun sir, here
is the gun.

22 February 2012

The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper 2/22

The wall is a purple field
a silver scratch
pulls itself into a coil

Filigree

All tone and shine
breaking the line of your eye
taunting you

To wrap your wrists in it

21 February 2012

Scene VI

Scene VI 2/21

Angela Lansbury hangs up the phone, searches for her car keys

She is wearing dark glasses, her head wrapped in a green scarf

Wheels screech on loose gravel.

20 February 2012

Sellers : Death Comes To Pemberley

Death Comes To Pemberley (2011)
Author: P. D. James
Publisher: Knopf
304 pages

The fact of this book is strange to me. That someone would write sequels or further adventures of books about Jane Austen characters is difficult for me to get my head around.

Austen wrote fairy tales, and like Shakespeare, her stories somewhat hinge on the idea of the characters having a life beyond the tale, one that we do not see. To show us that 'happily ever after' defeats the purpose and makes me cringe to even think about it.

So why is this book by P. D. James a best seller? Why is James, an award-winning mystery writer, publishing this thing? I mean, she's 80, lists The Third Man as her favorite film and is a Baroness. She should be better then this right? According to reviews the mystery part of the novel is taught and well done, the Austen rehash is not so great. So why do this? Because people WANT to know what happens next to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. People NEED to know. Even if knowing ruins everything that they love about the story. Or, people are told they want and need to know.

This is why this book is not only a shame, but happens to not be alone in that shame. There is a whole pantheon of these books. It is nearly a genre at this point. Let's take a look at a few :

Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife by Linda Berdoll
Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange
Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One by Sharon Lathan
Mr. Darcy's Obsession by Abigail Reynolds

You can see a theme here. Every one focuses on Mr. Darcy. Each seems to center around him being an object of desire and obsession. And while I can totally get behind obsessing over this :
Doesn't it all seem a bit 'women can only be happy married and having babies'? And isn't that a bit opposite of the strong women Austen is famous for writing? Isn't that the job of terrible teen lit? Granted, in Austen, they all do get married and it is implicit all have those babies. Despite this, they are not swooning light-headed children who must be protected and kept.

Each of these books takes Austen and turns her into a terrible romance novel cliche. Most are re-imaginings or what-ifs. It all strikes me as lazy. Trading the Austen name for a cheap gimmick. And cash, let's not forget the cash. Speaking of cash :

Pride and Predjudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and its two sequels Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After neither by Mr. Grahame-Smith. The first time I saw this I was bored by it. Why bother with the book at all? The cover is clearly the joke, the joke is clearly the story invented by the viewer when seeing the title.

I guess my point is that I literally don't get this. Reboots like Star Trek, Charlie's Angels, Hawaii 5-O, Transformers, The Smurfs, The Muppets, The Incredible Hulk, Superman, Spiderman. I've even liked a few of them. At least these are all series which have been re-imagined several times.

My issue isn't about whether they are good or not, it's about the dullness of it all. The attempt to take the familiar and bring it back to life is tantalizing. Keep the good times rolling, find safety in the familiar, etc. I get it, but it's also a clear grab at money that rings shallow. And is it actually reassuring or comforting?

These things are not museums. I'm not advocating pressing pause on culture. The exact opposite actually. The constant re-imagining and remaking only serves to spin the tires. We never have to move beyond Jane Austen because we can just read infinite variations on the theme of Austen written by random hack writers.

Austen is a great theme to deconstruct, she left us 6 books. She is beloved. So we deconstruct the books for our soap operatic pleasure and profit. We re-love the pale imitations in hopes of finding that Colin Firthiness in them. I hate sounding like an old man in an ivory tower but go read Austen herself. She left enough there for us to enjoy I promise. Leave the hack 'girls need boys' tales to teen lit and the bargain bin.

Scene V

Scene V 2/20

Angela Lansbury wears red wool and looks towards the sea.

18 February 2012

15 February 2012

Wiser

Wiser 2/15

What I don't know
I place on the shelf
Stare as it mutates and
Experiences light shifts &
Rises like bread.

14 February 2012

Milk Bottles

Milk Bottles 2/14

Cracked white glaze on a vase

Milk in a decanter with an aluminum seal

Glass on glass ringing like bells

13 February 2012

Dust Jacket : The Tin Drum

The Tin Drum (1959)
Designer: Günter Grass


The dust jacket is an ephemeral thing. It is really only there as a means of keeping the hard cover of a book from wear. The dust jacket design is mostly a marketing ploy to get our eyes to stop on a particular book and open our wallets in response.

This is the first of what I hope to be regular posts on dust jackets that I find beautiful, or interesting, or important. I will probably veer off into general book design when it applies, so don't quibble. This is meant to be about beauty.

The iconic image on the cover of Günter Grass' The Tin Drum appeared on the first edition in 1959. It has since been on most editions of the book. The young drummer was drawn by Grass himself. He has drawn the covers for all of his books, including Cat and Mouse (1963) and Dog Years (1965).



He has a distinct artistic style that compliments his magical-realist writing style. There is a whimsy that also contains something ominous.

Grass's illustration style calls to mind wood block prints, finger painting, tribal art. There is a connection to medieval art as well. Look at the eyes and nose on this Coptic icon from the 6th or 7th century. Simple lines that are decidedly not to scale or reality. Shortened forms that are more about impressions then anything else.

The scale-like features across the figures resemble armor. They recall Egyptian and Medieval illuminated texts. Grass manages to call to mind a lot of history with a simple drawing of a boy and drum.

There are also recalls to primitive arts. The notches on the boy's body are like the nails on this Congolese power figure.


The notches also resemble Coptic writing and other early scripts such as Cuneiform, tying the artwork to the foundations of language itself.

While I am certain that Grass probably just liked this style, there is a chain that leads from him back to these images. I also understand the dangers of reading into something. Know that I say all of this with heavy grains of salt.

Many artists enact their aesthetic without an eye to all that fed into it initially. Take a little Coptic here, a tad Byzantium there, and you get a Nobel winner who managed to design and execute his own covers for most of his career. A rarity in any art-form. Especially in today's market-minded publishing world. Today Grass would not get to put his drummer boy on his book without a fight and a strong agent.

If you have a favorite cover, or story about a dust jacket, share in the comments.

I would love some feedback on this post. Let me know if this was awesome or not. I'm thinking of expanding the blog to include more pots like this and the Reading List 2011.

Parasite Weaver

Parasite Weaver 2/13

The orb weaver makes geometry in the air

Tackles the night and makes reflection

That parasite takes its sense from it and
wraps it around into a cocoon

Makes the weaver spin camouflage

Takes geometry and turns it to lies

12 February 2012

Instructions

Instructions 2/12

Stick the toothpicks into the surface of the table
A forest, a medieval defense strategy, a crowd waiting for rapture

Lay the paper across the surface
It s a plane, a disk on the back of elephants, balanced on a turtle

On the paper is written -

11 February 2012

Haunted

Haunted 2/11

Having obtained some evidence of spirits in the basement, the team headed to the attic.

It is the ghost of a monkey, running in the cage-like room.
Frantic.
Trapped.

The attic was inspected to make sure no living animal could make the noises.

I told you so
You thought I was crazy.

In the basement a doctor chopped off the heads of monkeys.
In the attic his daughter lived with a pet monkey.

Linda keeps her candle shop open despite the problems.

Jim will not go into the attic
But loves money.

10 February 2012

Coral

Coral 2/10

Hands
color of clay pots
bloated fingers
break their casings

Callus

The cool water
is clear
opens fresh wounds
brightens the old.

09 February 2012

Reading List 2011 : Part Seven

Reading List 2011 : Part Seven

This is the last part of the reviews of my 2011 reading list. I decided to leave off books of poetry and book that I re-read. I may bring up some of the poetry at a later point. I'm working out a series of reviews and they may play into that.

Or not. We will see.


Blue Nights (2011) by Joan Didion
In 2003/2004 Joan Didion was dealing with a lot. Her husband, John Dunne died suddenly and terribly. Her daughter Quintana was in a coma with septic shock. After recuperating a little, Quintana would suddenly die in 2005 just as Didion's book on her husband's death went to print.

In the 6 years since then Didion has kept a low profile. Blue Nights is a sort of summing up. It is a lesser Year of Magical Thinking. A quieter, less focused attempt to deal with aging and the death of a daughter and life as you knew it. I would say it is unsuccessful but it is not that bad. It is just a failed attempt at summing up a life.

I love that Didion had the balls to attempt. Few can talk about themselves as clearly and wonderfully as her, and few have made such an art of spinning self-centered narratives into universal tales. This is a great glance back, a sounding call that Joan Didion is at the end of her life and refuses to go without talking about it as best she can.


Don Quixote Book 1 (1605) by Miguel de Cervantes translator Edith Grossman

We all know about Don Quixote. A man in the later years of his life takes up a tin can helmet and rides a donkey against windmills he thinks are ogres in an attempt at chivalry.

What is interesting is that that moment lasts for one chapter in a gigantic book. A book divided into two equally giant parts of 500+ pages. In those pages Don Quixote attacks priests, frees criminals, leaves a poor boy to be lashed by his master and manages to be beaten numerous times. He also gives us two (yes two) mini-novels written into the story as tales told by travelers to each other.

The wonder of Cervantes is that he shows us both reality and Don Quixote's strange hallucinatory version of it. The prose reads like poetry, like Shakespeare, like Dante. It is comedy and tragedy all in one. I will admit that the going is slow due mostly to the aforementioned mini-novels, they have no bearing on the story of Quixote and are quite lengthy. Fortunately they can be skipped.

I look forward to reading the second part where Quixote must deal with the fame he garnered from the first book. Cervantes breaks the fourth wall and apparently it is great.


To The End Of The Land (2008) by David Grossman

Man, I hated this book.

Not a single likable character. A setting made up of mostly desert and rocks with a few sparse trees. The main push of the plot is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Written in the point of view of Israelis there is little on how Palestinians feel about things and I found the moments of doubt in the characters to be shallow.

Basics. A woman's youngest son is off to war. She freaks out and decides that if she leaves her house the military cannot come tell her that the boy has died. If he dies. IF. She grabs an ex-lover and they go for a hike in the wilderness. As they walk she tells of her sons and husband. It turns out that the ex is the father of the youngest son and that the husband knows and the son does not.

I wish there was more. But that's it. It unspools in long rambling dialogue. Everyone has horrible lives, everything is sad. This is the most heavy-handed of heavy-handed stories.

I feel bad about not liking it. A lot has been made of the fact that Grossman's son was at war when he was writing the book and that the son died soon after he completed it. And I sympathize with it. Like the protagonist, Grossman wrote to avoid the reality. A sort of pocket of time where the son would forever exist no matter the outcome.

I get it. And I am so not interested in it.

Ocean Hands

Ocean Hands 2/9

Broke
snow-capped water

Static on sand

A hand raking
leaving

A sigil, a scrawled missive

08 February 2012

M,SW

M,SW 2/8

You must ask yourself
why these bodies stack up around her

All these WASPs turning up dead
in New England

Are you killing them Jessica ?
Are you turning them into novels ?

Is this what Agatha Christie did too ?

07 February 2012

Face Of Stars

Face Of Stars 2/7

The face of the stars
is porcelain - cold painted warm

Lips frozen in a kiss

The eyes drip darkness
onto the universe - he is expanding

Is about to eat the world

06 February 2012

Reading List 2011 : Part Six

Reading List 2011 : Part Six

The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1955) by Brian Moore

Judith is not a likable woman. Snotty and pretentious, she frowns at everyone she comes across. She has recently moved into a new room, she keeps to herself and likes to mention how pious and clean she is.

In the pantheon of unreliable narrators, Judith Hearne occupies a special place. She is mysterious. The reasons for her move are left open-ended for half the book. She falls for a man who is only out for money, who openly says he is only interested in business partnerships. She hears what she wants to and has a very rich fantasy life. The definition of spinster, she puts the Beales to shame. Judith isn't the only unlikable character. In Moore's world everyone is terrible, full of secrets, and only a heartbeat away from despicable acts.

Eventually, a series of terrible events and misunderstandings force Judith's dark secret into the open. It is only a short trip to the end where everything falls spectacularly apart. A very Irish take on a certain time and a certain type of person.

There is an excellent film version staring Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins.


The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759-1767) by Laurence Sterne

Framed as a memoir. Written as a farcical take on memoir and the sadness usually peddled in them. This 'novel' may be one of the oddest things ever published.

A memoir that mainly tells of the conception and night of birth of the author, there is little actual story within the cover. Whole sections are crossed out. There are 10 pages missing that are then discussed at length. There is a diagram of wiggly lines, a picture of a nose, a blacked-out page that symbolizes death. I could go on. Frustrating and long-winded, Sterne created what can only be called a masterpiece of post-modernism. He out Infinite Jest's David Foster Wallace. And manages to be mostly interesting in the process.

I got tired of the book's idiosyncrasies quickly and it was a bit of a slog for me. I definitely love the book for its balls. I appreciate that after Sternes the idea of what a novel was or could be grew larger. I am grateful I read it. You will be too.


A Moment in the Sun (2011) by John Sayles

Yes. That John Sayles.

This book is gigantic. It is 955 pages. It spans 1897-1903. There is a gold rush in the first 5 pages and an elephant in the last 5. In between are the Philippine-American War and race relations in North Carolina and New York. There is a cast of at least 10 main characters and 20 minor. It is, to say the least, epic.

It was also the best book I read last year.

Sayles is a master story-teller. He knows how to set a scene and to populate it with people who react and act in ways that make you stare and watch. We follow these people from the first page as they muddle their way into the 20th century, and it is messy, sad, happy, beautiful, terrible.

The book is at its best when set in North Carolina or once the Philippine War is in the final stages. The weakest parts are the war itself and some ill-advised newspaper cartoonists opining on politicians and the famous. It is a shame, the Philippine War is a forgotten section of our history. Many Americans probably are unaware that it even occurred. It was full of racism and questionable ethics on the USAs part. And while Sayles does go there, he becomes bogged down with illness and sex and drinking and insanity on the part of his characters. Fortunately the rapid pace of the writing and the switches between character/location keeps these issues from detracting too greatly from the whole.

Do this book. Now.


Wheel of Time (Books 1-5) by Robert Jordan

These books are the literary equivalent of the Real Housewives of wherever. You come for the easy thoughtlessness and you end up staying because it is mind crack.

Jordan has essentially stolen the basic plot of Lord of the Rings filtered out all the encyclopedic, history lesson, elfin language stuff and pumped up the action, romance, drama bit. There are unwilling heroes, a magic dagger that turns the bearer evil, a villain who is never seen and is locked away in a mountain. Seriously...wholesale stealing.

All you need to know is that there are 3 boys who are swept up in the affairs of a woman with magical powers. She is trying to stem the tide of evil. They are prophesied to help her. Rinse and repeat. What makes these amazing and worth your time is that Jordan is a master at keeping you interested for huge amounts of time. Each book hovers around 900 pages. There are 14 books (will be, the last has not come out). And yet...they rush by like an article in a magazine.

The only real negative is that Jordan tends to draw time out into silly lengths. It will take a book and a half for a character to get somewhere then he will turn around and jump ahead suddenly between books.

Jordan died before the end of his series. his widow found another writer to take his notes and ridiculously long final manuscript and edit it into publishable books. This is apparently contentious to die-hard fans. I am only half-way through the series so I cannot comment on it. If you are looking for something to just occupy a moment, a train ride, a vacation. This is is.

The Day After

The Day After 2/6

Under foot dark blue glass like the ocean : Windex

Imbedding in the heel of new shoes

Each step : sound : peanut shells cracking

There are two full Corona bottles on the sidewalk
50/50 chance they are full of piss

05 February 2012

Super Bowel

Super Bowel 2/5

I
can eat glass
in seconds

The iron in
nails keeps
my blood thick

This heap
of rotted leather
cuts my teeth fine

Those foods
meat, fruit, bread

soft.

04 February 2012

Childhood

Childhood 2/4

Where is the boy
that I was

Has he gone running into the woods
hiding under the sloping branches of a fir

The seasons are going
he may be cold - freezing - wet

03 February 2012

Snail

Snail 2/3

The snail shell found in the chamomile
means there are few steps between field and cup

The insides are candied ginger
curled across the golden curl of mica

The cup is hot and everything turns to liquid
becomes scent of dry flowers and sleep.

02 February 2012

Reading List 2011 : Part Five

Reading List 2011 : Part Five

The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer's Epic (2006) by Simon Armitage

After reading The Lost Books of The Odyssey earlier in the year I decided to go back to the source material. I was in New Mexico, in a small house with no TV or internet, writing my own novel. I needed epic escape (I will go into that when I get to Robert Jordan).

I didn't want to read The Odyssey again. I read it a few years ago and didn't want that book at that time. I picked up this short version by Armitage.

This is a radio play. It was produced by the BBC and it reads like a quick action adventure. I could see it as a series of shorts like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. Told only with dialogue this Odyssey moves fast and loose. Bracketed with an ever watchful Athena, we see Odysseus make his way. There are cuts, and there are characters given voice who are not in the original. But it works, a great adaptation. It also has what may be one of my favorite book covers ever, designed by Anders Nilson.



The Queue (1983) by Vladimir Sorokin

Arriving in New Mexico I decided to read books by authors I had enjoyed. The Ice Trilogy was one of my favorite books from earlier in the year. I decided to cash in on my love of NYRB (some of the most beautifully designed books around) and check out Sorokin's first novel, The Queue.

This is a different kind of Odyssey. The Soviet-era line. Told through only lines of dialogue that are never connected to a speaker, the book manages to tell the story of a man waiting to buy goods at a store. No one knows what the store sells. The line is over 1,000 people long. They wait several days. Through the book, people eat, fight, have sex, argue politics & class, and manage at the end to possibly get what they waited for.

Just like Virginia Woolf's The Waves, this book washes over you and moves quickly. It leaves you breathless and confused. An amazing first novel.


Frost (1963) by Thomas Bernhard

An unnamed narrator is sent by one of his medical school professors to watch on the teacher's eccentric artist brother, Strauch. It is the dead of winter. The village is isolated in snow and ice. The narrator and Strauch spend their days walking in the woods. Strauch tells stories of the villagers and of the land around them. Everything is bleak and violent. Each tale is filled with death and betrayal. The narrator slowly looses himself to the tales. At the end no one changes and the world continues as is.

Bernhard is a difficult writer. He is bleak, full of melancholy, and at times nihilistic. To say you 'enjoy' Bernhard is to sort of miss the point. He takes you and shows you a very dark space at the back of a closet. In there is something terrible. Of the two Bernhard books I read in 2011, this is the one I'd suggest. Just be ready for it.



Kertész' book opens with Georg's father being taken away by the Nazis. Georg begins to work to help pay for expenses. He is 14. On the way to work one day, Georg's bus is pulled over and all the Jews are taken from them. The book shifts into a 14 year-old's description of life in Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.

Through accident and luck, Gerog survives. Unflinching and shocking in its portrayal of how people can normalize any situation, Fatelessness is one of my favorite books on the subject. It avoids all the cliches and traps of WWII tales. There are no pat answers, or deus ex machina here. There are no tawdry scenes of torment. This is not suffering porn. It is honest and wonderful. Kertész' prose is sharp, to the point, and never wasteful. When he won the Nobel in 2002 they said it was "for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history"

This is the first part of a trilogy that continues in Fiasco and Kaddish For An Unborn Child.


The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time by David L. Ulin

I read this because I re-read The Great Gatsby. And it was given to me because I re-read Gatsby. I did not like this book.

David Ulin's son Noah has to read The Great Gatsby. He doesn't want to. This is a classic teenage reaction to a school assignment. The same kind that has gone on for all of time. In Ulin's hands he inflates this into a 'the times we live in be crazy' message.

I hate this kind of book. The whole premise is false. We may live in a world full of twitter, facebook, and 24-hour news feeds. BUT. We also are reading more as a culture. Those tweets, texts, feeds, are in TEXT. Aside from that anytime someone writes a 'kids these days' type article, I cringe and reach for something else to look at.

The idea here is that teenagers don't like to read. They never have. Perhaps it is the books we teach and the way we teach them and not that they don't enjoy the experience? Let's ask J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Myers or Daniel Handler about that shall we?

NYC

NYC 2/2

The broken tower that is Manhattan -

(I was about to say 'looms' but that is a cry in the wind
a promise to no one and an explanation of nothing)

- drifts to sea grazes its bow against the bridges
and cradles itself against the edge of Governor's Island

What occurs next is murky

Is a record dribbling against the over door of Long Island

Then everything pushes out - in - to the openness

01 February 2012

Thoughtlet

Thoughtlet 2/1

The city at night is a broken flashlight
blinking in the woods near Vancouver

All blue and orange and white
going on an off when you least expect

Leaving you in static rush though leaf
lines of shadows across your eyes.