- A trio of Peter Orner stories available to read online: “On a Bridge Over the Homochito“, “Off the C-34: Stories from Goas Farm“, and “Meyer and Silla.”
- Vonnegut on Bookworm.
- The latest project from FOUND’s editor Jason Bitner is a collection of 18,000 studio portraits taken of people living in a small town over four decades called LaPorte, Indiana.
- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, reasons why UT Austin is right at the top of our list for grad schools. (Other than the cool name.)
- Too weird: the VU matched with Lawrence Welk footage.
- For fun yesterday at work I sat and stared at the poster for National Poetry Month. I think it would make a good format for a comic…
- My sketchbook’s new favorite site: Artnatomy.
- Say it ain’t so, Martin!
You never know what you’ll find in Mac’s Backs. Here’s a brand-new lit journal to check out: A PUBLIC SPACE. Stories by Peter Orner and Kelly Link, a comic by Kevin Huizenga, and an interview with Haruki Murakami, in which he talks about translating Carver:
When I read Carver’s stories, I was stunned…You know, in the old days, people would trace the writing in good books. Japanese people used to trace the pages of The Tale of Genji, for example. You can learn so many things from tracing. It’s just like putting your feet into other people’s shoes. Translation is the same thing.
I took this in my dad’s barn…
I was free-drawing, and this guy came to me out of nowhere, but now he really fascinates me. What is he supposed to say? I have no idea….
- Until I saw the movie, I had no clue Richard Thompson wrote the Grizzly Man Soundtrack, and Jim O’Rourke played on the session. [MP3]
- Jeremy was live and acoustic last night on the BBC.
- A few works by Yoshihiro Tatsumi are featured in the new Paris Review. Another lit journal warms to comics…good news.
- Check out the First Second Books site, where both Eddie Cambell (From Hell) and Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat) guest blog.
- NPR: Soldiers reading Shakespeare. I’m reading King Lear again, and it’s blowing my mind…
- When you’re not reading Nabokov’s lectures on literature, head over to MIT’s OpenCourseWare project: free access to MIT course materials. An unbelievable resource.
- Ever wondered why the New Yorker continues to print John Updike stories that are so long and suck so bad? Well, they have first-reading rights with him. (As they do with many authors.) Anything he writes, they get to look at first. Not to mention you get paid $1 a word for a short story at the New Yorker. (Like I always say, never trust a writer who gets paid by the word.) Listen and weep.
- Here’s Edward Tufte on cartooning.
- Virginia Tufte’s Artful Sentences “presents and comments on more than 1000 excellent sentences.”
- These new Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions are fantastic.
- Fantagraphics releases I’m looking forward to: 1, 2, and 3.
- Here’s Alan Moore on the BBC, talking about the advantages of having lived in one town all your life. More of Moore on YouTube.
- And finally: the Village Voice voted Gil Mantera best show of SXSW. Youngstown, Ohio where there are two things—Gil Mantera’s Party Dream and the mafia.
“World domination through bake sales,” Ellen Klages said. “That’s our goal: world domination. And if there are any homeland security folks here tonight, I can spell that for you.”
At the end of the most beautiful day of the year, Klages and Maureen Mchugh read at Mac’s Backs last night in celebration and promotion of the James Tiptree Award Anthology 2: Sex, The Future, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. Klages is on the Tiptree board, and McHugh’s first novel, China Mountain Zhang, received the award in 1992. For those of us ignorant of James Tiptree Jr., Klages began with the fascinating story, which included secret identities, gender reversals, jealousy, betrayal, and other steamy stuff you can read about here.
“If you know someone who says, ‘Oh, I don’t read science fiction’, send them to the Tiptree website and tell them to get started,” Klages said. “They won’t be disappointed.”
“Last time I was here, I found out Dan Chaon and I watch the same trash TV,” McHugh said. “Tonight I’m going to steal one of his ideas, and read a story that isn’t finished. Maybe you can give me suggestions for the ending.”
The story was inspired by a phase one drug trial in England that went terribly wrong. There were eight healthy participants in the room: six were given the drug, and two were given placebos. “The first man said, ‘Oh God, I’m so hot,‘ tore off his shirt, and dropped to the ground. Two minutes went by, and another man said, ‘I’m going to vomit,’ and dropped. So one man is standing there thinking, ‘Well, maybe I got the placebo.’ The drama of the situation! And I’m thinking, what kind of person would choose to do this to themselves?“
Maureen read the first 2,000 words, beginning with the sentence, “I was an aggravated bride.” The Bride is from Lancaster, Ohio, and has moved to Cleveland to work at the Clinic. Her life is full of McDonalds and craft shows. The story begins when her new husband’s Ford F-150 breaks down, and he tells her he has gambled their honeymoon money away in Windsor. Eventually, she decides to make some easy money…and that’s where the 2,000 words ended.
I asked Maureen afterwards when was the last time she was in Lancaster.
“I used to go to school in Athens,” she said. “That’s how I know it’s pronounced ‘Lang-caster’ instead of Lan-caster.”
I told her that Lancaster was our getaway in high school. In a twangy voice, “We use’ta get in the truck, put on the tape, and drive to Lancaster!”
And that’s what I love about her stories and hope for in mine–she takes ordinary folks from Ohio and puts them in extraordinary situations.
Ellen’s reading made me a little sad because I only met her a month ago, and in two weeks she’s moving to San Francisco. “I feel like Captain Von Trapp,” she joked. “Tonight will be my last performance in Austria.”
Her great story, “Ringing Up Baby,” is coming out soon in NATURE magazine. It’s about a girl in the future who gets to choose her new sibling: gender, hair color, and all.
And for all the talk about women and gender in the fiction, something fantastic was happening during the reading. I can’t remember feeling warmer at a literary event. There were cookies to eat (McHugh makes a fantastic cookie with rosemary), books for sale, temporary tattoos, and a tip-Tree jar. No ego in sight, just two wonderfully talented and inviting women sharing their storytelling talents.
- Recipe for a kick-ass drive to work: Black Sabbath’s PARANOID. (First heard, coincidentally, in Sean’s Golf.) I can usually get through “War Pigs” and “Paranoid” by the time I get to the library. Most people only credit Ozzy’s vox and Tommy Iommi’s guitar work for Sabbath’s greatness, but the rhythm section was unbelievably heavy and tight. Just listen to the way the bass moves under the power chords in “Paranoid.” Awesome, dude.
- Unrot your brain with video games? (Thanks, Don.)
- The Fez has been with everyone. (Don, again.)
- Lynda Barry is coming to Oberlin.
- And speaking of Lynda Barry, how the crap did I never see Matt Groening’s LIFE IN HELL comics? (Barry and Groening are friends.) A lot of his chart-like comics in one of the books remind me of Kenneth Koch… Check out this cool map charting the similarities between Springfield and Groening’s hometown of Portland.
- Don’t forget the reading tonight at Mac’s Backs.
a Circleville ‘scape…
- A column on the possibilities for storytelling in video games. “You’re not going to get anything on the level of [Citizen Kane] in video games until someone somewhere pays an honest-to-God writer to sit in a room and create a story themselves that they are passionate about telling through game play and visual narrative.” Once again, anybody heard of LucasArts adventure games?
- Somebody explain this hilarity to Sean. It’s like Chappelle’s Show without Chappelle.
- Looking for graphic novels without words?
- George Saunders on Peanuts.
- Lynd Ward novels you can browse through Google Books: God’s Man and The Silver Pony. Strange coincidence of influences: George Saunders credits Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes as being the book that made him want to be a writer when he was young. Lynd Ward did the original illustrations for the classic.
- The Nabokov Library. Where you can find lots of his pieces for free, in .doc files.