6.30.2011

if you really want to write the great american poem, you have to realize that Redbox killed Blockbuster, not Netflix

Just a quickie to say thanks for some new LLF reviews: In the Emprise Review, Nathan Huffstutter has an insightful, evenhanded, and well-written look at the book. He also seems fairly familiar with the territory of the stories, as he says of I-5: "In this corridor, Red Bluff to Yreka to Talent, the weeds and speed give way to off-ramp drags of greasy spoons and grizzled beards, canned greens and un-ironic curios, potholes and slush." I can't even feel annoyed at his criticism of a few stories because he understands them so well and so eloquently. Kudos, Huffstutter! Which I've italicized because it sounds the title of a TV pilot Saul Bellow might've written in the bathtub during a fever, but here is Nathan Huffstutter saying eloquent things:
Make no mistake, this isn’t participation-ribbon or up-by-your-bootstraps trying; in these dozen stories, Young exposes character after character who are trying to trust. Trusting themselves, trusting adulthood, trusting the internet, trusting the people they just might love, all while suspecting the very suckiest, that with both sides predisposed to fuck things up, maybe the best they can do is try. These are the same twitching, fragile moments Jim Shepard engulfs in avalanche and flood and Young dares them au natural, in high school gyms and tribal casinos and Pollard Flats. And if you’ve never stopped for the restroom in Pollard Flats, let me be the first to tell you, that mannequin in the tub will haunt you way longer than any old rockslide.
Also in the eloquence department, Kimberly Ann Southwick has a review of LLF in the new Gigantic Sequins, wherein she says "Young's characters are hunter-gatherers of the fiction world, trading any normal identification of themselves or their possessions for something both more interesting to us and more useful to them." Sweet. Also she says some of the people in the book have green hearts, which is a smart thing to say. The whole issue of GS is full of poems, stories, and illustrations of naked ladies with dinosaur heads. Some of my favorite lines from the issue include Leigh Phillips's "You stole my song / by dying into it," James Caroline's "We were 14 when I tried to give him my winter coat," Adam Atkinson's "Months pass. Mongolians pass," and Michelle Cheever's "We ate our pancakes on opposite sides of the room."

In tennis news, Tsonga the butterfly defeated Federer the napper. A major upset in this riding lawnmower of a summer.

6.28.2011

pioneer auto body iced coffee: some thoughts on the english tennis tournament i've been watching alone in my kitchen in between jags of crying softly while staring at the garage

What? You wanted to hear about a new sea star that feeds exclusively on driftwood? Oh, okay.

Jay-Z was at Wimbledon. He sat in the corner like a vacuum you thought you'd lost.

Nadal's foot is hurting because it also makes the Nadal face, which is the face your little brother makes after he's spent months practicing his carnival horse race skeeball game on a homemade sock-based skeeball machine, and finally the carnival rolls around and he beats everyone by like ten "leagues" or whatever the fuck they measure horse races in but all he wins is a headband and a beautiful Spanish model, and as we all know beauty is fleeting and death arrives like the death of your favorite musicians after they've spent the ends of their lives putting out one embarrassing album after another.

Mardy Fish is the last American, just like John Wayne and Barack Obama and that girl who murdered her mom or daughter or stepped really hard on her inflatable pool or whatever.

If Andy Murray were a real conceptual artist like everybody keeps saying he is, he would retweet every article suggesting he shave with the hashtag #yourmomneedstoshave. Alas Andy Murray is just some guy who will lose to Nadal in the semi-finals unless he hires those dudes at Wimbeldon who stopped shooting pigeons to shoot Nadal's bum foot.

Feliciano "Delicioso" Lopez is attractive to old British ladies. Congratulations! Unfortunately, my grandmother is more into pickleball these days.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga looks and plays like Mohammad Ali. That is, he turns into an actually butterfly and carries the ball on the back of his wings while the other player chases him around and swats at him, never catching him, before finally Tsonga the Butterfly drops the ball right on the white line, which isn't even chalk anymore, it's some kind of weird titanium spraypaint, but at least the grass is 100% rye, and what Tsonga doesn't tell anyone but you can see in his face is that butterflies don't want to do something as inconsequential as win at tennis because they'd rather be losing themselves among the trippy patterns—hedgerows, garage roofs—you don't appreciate because you're too big.

When David Foster Wallace killed himself and my mother (who hadn't previously heard of him or read anything by him) emailed me an article about David Foster Wallace's documented mental illnesses, it was Federer who I found sleeping on my couch. And I don't even have a couch! When I walked through the door, I saw Fed's dozy Swiss I-used-to-be-a-fat-kid face and I followed his footprints (which were tiny cities of tinier bluebirds) back to the window he'd flown in through. Then Fed woke up and took me into his arms and bought me a custom-tailored white blazer and assured me that, when you get down to it, 1) nothing in life is documentable, 2) there are still whole tribes of uncontacted people living in dense jungles, no matter how many times helicopters take photos of them and some of them look exactly like people you went to high school with, and 3) there is in life, finally, only the way we avoid or don't avoid the smoke produced by inexhaustible contests of human desire, which is of course a conceptual smoke, which is a concept he demonstrated with his wrists.

Bernard Tomic
is an eighteen year old Australian in the quarterfinals. He doesn't so much play tennis as do your dishes without telling you. He doesn't so much play tennis as replace your doors with automatic, Star Trek style sliding doors.

Djokovic plays tennis like someone who discovered that when he bought a can of Pringles it was only 3/4 as full as it should be; so he goes back to the store and tries to get his money back; but they tell him to talk to the company; but the company has a robo-operator no matter how many times he punches 0; so finally he rents an SUV with tinted windows and drives to the Pringles factory in the middle of "Nebraska" or whatever and crashes his SUV into the SUV parked in the spot reserved for the owner of Pringles; then he walks inside and steals Pringles from all the assembly lines; even after the alarms are going off and the lines have stopped moving; he even steals the half-done Pringles; the unsalted Pringles; the Pringles that don't hold their shape; the rejected Pringles; the raw potato and oil mash that is begging and pleading for its life (I'm not even a Pringles yet!) as Djokovic stuffs it in his cheeks like chewing tobacco; until finally Djokovic has eaten all the Pringles in the factory and set Pringles back an entire day in Pringles supply; and as the police are arresting him and his stomach is bleeding and his face is shining from all the oil, he turns to the security camera and makes that self-satisfied fuck you, world, ha ha, up yours face that I actually like and appreciate and respect a lot despite conclusions you might be reaching from estimating the tone of this analogy because tones are fleeting and tomorrow Pringles will be back on track and we are but measly sacks of willpower set against everlasting tides of progress and comfort equipment and dizzying economic inequality and faraway stars exploding in tremors of terrifyingly un-self-aware star gas.

6.21.2011

lover's just another word for cough syrup in the snow

The spontaneous and endearing Mark C of Big Lucks is staying with me this week for the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, so we are doing things like eating pineapple salsa and buying bike pumps. Today I'm going to get my tennis racquet restrung at the sports store that's so right next to the liquor store that people often get the two confused.

I asked Twitter if there's an emoticon for "that thing where you're writing a book about the internet but it turns into a book about trains?" Two suggestions, which I dutifully retweeted: ಠ_ಠ & :000000000000. It's the first day of summer and I can hear things so well I don't know how far away they are.

Some exciting things that happened in my hometown recently are 1) someone stole a tractor from a high school, but no one knows what they looked like 2) someone stole a wedding dress and a trailer, but they looked like Colonel Sanders.

People have been saying kind things about Look! Look! Feathers of late. Diana Rickard had a nice write-up on her blog where she said: "There is a strong sense of community within these small towns and cliques, a sense of belonging even while there is simultaneously a strong undercurrent of alienation, isolation, and twenty-first century futility." Thanks, Diana! Postitbreakup, whose name I've seen in comment sections a lot but I just now figured out (Post-It Breakup) posted his review of the first two stories, wherein he talks about violence and endings. Thank you! Also he posted a video of Bo Burnham doing a cool piano song about self-loathing and art. Bo Burnham looks like a dentist's son I once knew. The dentist had an office caddy corner from a tackle shop.

Finally, Michael Goroff reviewed LLF for the Barn Owl Review, and it's a very enthusiastic and articulate review. He says the voice behind the stories "is like the debasingly articulate Jiminy Cricket I seem to hear whispering at me on my shoulder every time I open Firefox or pull up to a Taco Bell drive-thru window or simply walk around in the haze of a world that’s mine but that I don’t understand—an ontological cocktail that’s one part disembodied techno-juice, one part actual, physical, real, beautiful, natural living." Gracias, Michael! He also compared the book to E.M. Forster's 1904 Matrix-y sci-fi story "Machine Stops," which anticipates online culture in an amazingly prescient way. "There were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends," Forster says. Probably a lot of people—especially hardcore sci-fi fans—already know about this story, but I didn't because I have been too busy changing my Google background to a picture of a breakfast sandwich.

6.15.2011

the 44 books i've read so far in 2011 not counting chapbooks and anything i forgot to put on the list, i finished all of them except I AM A STRANGE LOOP, feel free to ask me about any of them or harrass me if i misspelled someone's name



1 - Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
2 - Coffee Coffee - Aram Saroyan
3 - Fancy Beasts - Alex Lemon
4 - And Then There's This - Bill Wasik
5 - April Galleons - John Ashbery
6 - Neighbors - Thomas Berger
7 - I Have Touched You - Gregory Sherl
8 - Nick Demske - Nick Demske
9 - The Posthumous Memoirs of Brás Cubas - Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis
10 - Couch - Benjamin Parzybok
11 - Plants Don't Drink Coffee - Unai Elorriaga
12 - Monster Party - Lizzy Acker
13 - The Universe in Miniature - Patrick Somerville
14 - Hush Up Stinky Poo But - Ken Sparling
15 - Cardinal Numbers - Hob Broun
16 - I Am a Strange Loop - Douglas Hofstadter
17 - I <3 Your Fate - Anthony McCann
18 - Odditorium - Hob Broun
19 - Abbot Awaits - Chris Bachelder
20 - Bobcat Country - Brandi Homan
21 - I Is To Vorticism - Ben Mirov
22 - Inner Tube - Hob Broun
23 - Selected Poems - Ted Berrigan
24 - Normally Special - xTx
25 - Campfires of the Dead - Peter Christopher
26 - Await Your Reply - Dan Chaon
27 - About a Mountain - John D'Agata
28 - jPod - Douglas Coupland
29 - There Is No Year - Blake Butler
30 - The Girl With Brown Fur - Stacey Levine
31 - Veronica - Nicholas Christopher
32 - Cowboy Maloney's Electric City - Michael Bible
33 - Us - Michael Kimball
34 - The Book of Interfering Bodies - Daniel Borzutzky
35 - The Disinformation Phase - Chris Toll
36 - Triggermoon, Triggermoon - Julia Cohen
37 - The Exile: Sex, Drugs, Libel in the New Russia - Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi
38 - Casino Moscow - Matthew Brzezinski
39 - Masters of Atlantis - Charles Portis
40 - Madame Bovary - trans. Lydia Davis
41 - Culture of One - Alicey Notley
42 - Three Letter Poems - Josh Brandon and Chelsea Martin
43 - The Financial Lives of Poets - Jess Walters
44 - They Could No Longer Contain Themselves - Elizabeth J. Colen, Mary Miller, John Jodzio, Tim Jones-Yelvington, and Sean Lovelace

6.07.2011

video of poem "Is That It's You" and some banter from NYC June 5th Disinformation Party

Thanks Adam Robinson for the video! You can read along with the poem in Dark Sky magazine: "Is That It's You"


people keep hugging their giant hamsters

Back from NYC safe and sound. Spilled some wine on my shoe. Random rooftop statues. Lucky streak included finding a Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Someone had a stroke then petitioned people on the subway for benefits. Had quite a time catching the bus to the city; had to jump out in traffic while stopped behind the bus at a red light near a church and pound on the door. The driver said "This is a first." Thanks to Francesca Chabrier for due diligence. If you were a lawyer making a pickle joke, the phrase "due diligence" would come into it somewhere.

In NYC I read at the Disinformation Party, a party for Chris Toll's new book The Disinformation Phase, which is like a pop sci-fi Lorca. Lots of fun. Day after that I biked around Prospect Park on a Japanese mom bike with my friends John and Lincoln, then I gave John tennis racket advice and we speculated about the logo of the Brooklyn Nets. Why didn't they call them the Brooklyn Ballers? You really effed that, Jay.

What else in NYC? I went to the Brooklyn Flea Market and bought an expensive artisan grilled cheese sandwich. Just kidding I bought a cookie. Not kidding: I bought a cookie and Ben Fama's chapbook New Waves, which I read on the Megabus back to Western Mass in the very considerate orange twilight, which Fama suggests is one of the only two colors that exist. Also in NYC I asked someone what their favorite food was and they said "I don't like rap or country." Also in NYC the subject came up "Does Chainy live like this every night?" but that subject also probably came up outside of NYC. Also in NYC the L wasn't running so I walked around the Hasidic part of Williamsburg for a long time and thought about how the school buses looked normal except for the writing on the side. Do you want a payot? I do not want a payot. I mean, it's like, you buy one thing from Gardners Supply Outlet then they won't stop sending you emails. Tornadoes suck. People carry strollers up/down subway stairs and through emergency exists. There's a store somewhere on the way out of Manhattan called Insomnia Cookies. How do people blog about anything without giving up and talking about cookies the whole time? Your guess is as good as a mime.

Many thanks to Matt Margo for reading "The Peaches Are Cheap" and "WTF Is An Electroylte" from LLF on his Cormac McCarthy's Dead Typewriter Anniversary Ustream Event. He soldiered on during a storm. He asked his audience if they wanted him to read the whole long story and they did. Matt really nailed the dialogue during the garage rehearsal scene.

Have you seen The Lit Pub yet? You should see it!

Sometimes people enter into relationships and sometimes they then turn around and think about them, which is the subject of my poem "Is That It's You" up at Dark Sky. Thanks to Kevin Murphy for publishing me, and gawk all those other fine soulja boyz/girlz in the contents of this fine summer issue, which will be online only for a short time. Love is when you take someone more seriously than you take people.  Not sure what else to say, but this is already too long of a blog, so here is a part I cut from the thing I'm working on because nobody cares about Y2K philosophy:

"Is it even worth saying that Y2K mongered its scares because no programmer in 1970 imagined their code would still be afloat thirty years later? Not in 2000, land of star-clogged obelisks and robot maids. Should we admit that even late as the mid-90s, the idea of civilization making 2000 seemed mildly bonkers? Like God was bound to punch his way out of the Sphinx’s nose, sand crumbling and God flicking sand off his ponytail, stepping mincingly on hot sand underfoot. Then He’d clear His throat and call the whole show off, tell us to find a ride home and try not to trip on the gila monsters. This seemed more likely than one big computer bug. Ten years. Goes where?"