Friday, November 28, 2008

Best Thing I Heard on TV at the Hilton Garden Inn in Louisville

"Maybe scallops will fly out of me britches!"

--Mr. Krabs

Monday, November 24, 2008

2 1/2 Questions for Amanda Nazario...

...whose sure-fine story, "Big C and Lil Puppet," has just gone live @ Wigleaf.


SG: This story would seem to take its place in the slim niche of dogwalking literature. There's the Ann Tyler novel--Accidental Tourist, is it? The new woman, she's a dog walker, right? I read it a long time ago. Don't know why I keep it around because I'll pretty surely never read it again.... Then there's Arthur Bradford's debut collection, Dogwalker. Now there's a kick-ass book. Have you read it? The dogwalking material isn't as memorable as the mutant puppies material or the having-sex-with-dogs material, but still. Okay, so what's my question? Dogwalking? What you're reading lately? What your dogs are reading?

AN: I love Dogwalker too! Being a dog walker/writer with literate friends, I get asked a lot whether I've read it. Though it deals with dog walking almost not at all, I'm able to relate to it anyway -- Bradford's bizarre/cruel situations, softheartedness, and slightly weird narrative voice are all right up my alley. I think about "Chainsaw Apple," wherein a guy falls in love with a girl after accidentally chainsawing her face, about... once a week. However, my own writing is more similar to Anne Tyler's, if I have to pick between them. Her Saint Maybe is a novel I like; in my longer stuff I aspire to that level (depth? can you aspire to depth?) of sadness. That's a sad book, man. And the dog in The Accidental Tourist is a Corgi, which is my favorite breed of dog, so there's something else she and I have in common. Right now I'm rereading Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller, which I read last summer and realized I had to read again -- its articulation of a desperate lifestyle, of absurdity and hilarity in desperation, is addictive. The dogs I walk live better than I do; I think some of them read P.G. Wodehouse.


SG: You're a deejay, and you're a writer. This means that if we ever met at a party and somebody started feeding me cigarettes I would try to talk to you all night about the many possible parallels between the pop song and the story, music and lit.... How would that conversation go (before you started focusing keenly on something beyond my left shoulder)?

AN: The first thing I'd say would be that deejays in clubs learn fast how to deal with drunks who won't shut up. This would make things awkward. I would apologize. Then I'd say I do notice endless similarities between music and literature, and I hope what I write can satisfy people the way a good pop song can. (I choose pop because that's the kind of music I know best; I could try to write a piano concerto-like story, but I doubt it would go very well.) It's exciting to imagine this can happen, that two artistic disciplines so different from each other can produce the same feeling in a person. As literary fiction continues to incorporate new stuff -- by "stuff" I mean drawings, verse, experimentation with visual space, etc. -- there seems to be a lot of room in it for music. Not that this is that new an idea. I'm thinking right now of Dos Passos's interstitial "camera" sections that have song lyrics in them. I guess I just mean I'm excited to see more of that, to see more of a conflation of music with literature, and not just because right now many of my stories contain copyrighted song lyrics that make journals not want to pick them up.


SG: How often do you daydream about...?

AN: Constantly. It's a wonder I get any work done at all.

Dawn of Twelve Stories

And it looks good.

Wigleaf connections: Molly Gaudry co-edits. Jimmy Chen has a story in it. Matt Bell has a story in it. And Steve Almond has a story in it. What's the Steve Almond connection? I know what his next thought is going to be after reading this. His next thought: I've gotta send something to Wigleaf.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Out of Control Line-ups... these three print mags, just out or pre-orderable (by following links)

New York Tyrant

Quick Fiction

Keyhole (handwritten issue)

I could name names. But just trust me: out of control.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I was really slack once about subs. I'd lose my list of places I'd sent stuff to, then figure it didn't matter much anyway, because no one really liked the stories I was writing. But before I got to that place in my head -- before I came down from the high of the writing itself -- I'd think that I had the best story in the world and send it to like fifty places. As a result there was a story of mine that was once accepted at four different journals. And of course numbers 2-4 I can never send stuff to again....

Why am I thinking about this? Wigleaf has lost a couple stories in this way recently-- both to Quick Fiction, which I guess makes sense, since it's pretty much my favorite mag. One of the writers felt really terrible, and I wrote to her saying that I wanted to encourage in her the misguided idea that she owed me one. That writer was Molly Gaudry, and I guess I was successful in my appeal, because she wrote another, the fabulous "Come See the Monkey," which has just gone up.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sometimes It Takes Years for Things to Occur to Me

Like w/ the cover of Harry Nilsson's 1971 album here: is he holding a bowl? I looked at this the other day and looked again and thought, He's holding a bowl.

One time I sang "Coconut" in the car and B jumped in with the "Doctor" parts and from the back seat it was like, Do that again, Do that again, Do that again, Do that again....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Charles Lennox Stole the Title of this Blog Post....

...which was going to be, Sir, yes, sir!


No, SK and MH aren't in Issue #1 of SIR!.

But I am and Charles Lennox is. And lots of other people I like and admire. This wk has been hell but I will read it tomorrow and will like reading it, I'm 100% certain.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

2 1/2 Questions for Kevin Wilson...

...whose double-plus-good short, "Tommy Explained: Album One, Side One, Track Three: 1921," has just gone up @ Wigleaf. (Other pieces from the project are in the excellent new web journal Robot Melon. Check them out--and go to Kevin's blog for some entertaining background.)


SG: You've got a book coming out from Harper Collins next year, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. Man am I looking forward to that! Let me give people a little taste, this from your Ploughshares story, "Blowing Up on the Spot."

"I am not sure how my parents felt about each other. I think they loved each other. It seems like a reasonable answer. Still, they didn't like each other very much at all sometimes. I guess they were like any couple in that they loved each other and didn't love each other, depending on the situation. I really can't say."

Here Katie, an insomniac who each day counts the number of steps it takes her to arrive at the factory where she searches for Q's in mounds of Scrabble tiles, is considering her parents, who have the distinction of being, as she puts it, "the first recorded double Spontaneous Human Combustion in history." This is odd stuff, but as an author you seem to approach it in a fierce and direct way. There's more compassion, maybe, than is to be found in Flannery O'Connor, but I think of her all the same. You know what's coming now, don't you? The Southern Writer question. Does that label still mean anything, if it ever did? Or if you don't like that question, answer any of the others that could be derived from all this.

KW: I think of myself as a southern writer because I was born, raised, and still live in the south. Aside from two years in Boston and two years in Gainesville, FL, I haven't even lived outside of Tennessee. So, yeah, I'm a southern writer. I love Flannery O'Connor (so much it's unhealthy) and Truman Capote and William Faulkner and Barry Hannah and Padgett Powell. I don't think their work suffers or changes if you call them southern writers. These are writers who are/were obviously shaped by the oddness of their lives in the south (as opposed to the oddness of life in the Midwest or Northeast, which are just as odd but in different ways). I'm not some southern-by-the-grace-of-god motherfucker, but I know living in a tiny town in the rural south affected my writing and I'm happy about it.

That said, if someone called my work "southern" as a way to dismiss it, I'd want to kill that person.


SG: I could totally be wrong about this, but I get the sense that as a writer you work easily and happily within the short story form. Is that the case? And if so, what draws you to the short story, and what's there to say about the distinction between it and longer stuff, as you see it?

KW: I love the short form. I work with wacky modes and I find that it's better in the short story form. You can ask for suspension of disbelief with more confidence when the length is shorter. If I fuck up a short story, I feel like I can walk away from it without much incident. No one got hurt. Ten pages got spoiled. Oh well. The novel that I'm working on, if I mess it up, I'm going to drive my car into a tree.

Most of my favorite writers have a facility for the short story, even if they also write incredible novels. What's not to like? It asks of the reader less of a commitment in time but can offer as much emotional resonance as a novel.

I have a seven-month-old baby. I've been trying to read Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union for seven months and even though I like it, I'm not even halfway through it. There is no time. I have chunks of fifteen minutes when I'm not attending to the needs of the baby or buying action figures on ebay or hiding the action figures that I've won on ebay so my wife doesn't find them. It's just difficult for me to come back to the novel and pick it up with the same intensity each time. But I've read a ton of short stories in that time. I've been blown away by stories by Lucy Corin and Blake Butler and Alix Ohlin and Chris Adrian and Holly Goddard Jones and Matt Bell and a lot of other writers in the past seven months. How can you go wrong?


SG: Has it ever occurred to you that your career might benefit from your deciding to…?

KW: Honestly, Scott, if I had any clue what that would be, I would go do it. I'm shameless.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


* I've been worried about some of my friends' facebook statuses. If you were going to drive a car off a cliff, would you write something odd in your facebook status?

* That graffiti is in London, where I want to say I've never been. I have been there but I was eighteen and did worthless things.

* My friend and I had a third housemate once who was annoying. He came to stand in the doorway of my friend's room and asked him what he was doing and my friend said, Writing. And the third housemate said, Huh, in a cheerful way--I wasn't there but can imagine. Then he said, I'm going to Heckinger's. I'm going to buy a hose and some duct tape to hook it up to my exhaust with so I can kill myself. And my friend said, Have a good time.

* There's more to that graffiti painting. I cut it out. If you want you can see a detail from that other part when you read the next story in Wigleaf, which is by Frances Gapper. I don't know if Frances Gapper is from London, but she is British, I think.

* I almost never update my facebook status. It's like I'm scared of it. It follows me around asking, What are you doing now? And now? And now? What are you doing? Are you doing something now?

* I had a dream last night in which Mike Young sent me a mix he made and did up in a very professional way. He asked me not to sell it, because he hadn't got copyright on any of the stuff he'd put on the mix, but it could have been sold, because it had been done so professionally. The cover of the disc had a burnt orange tone, and though I don't remember the title, at the bottom it said "No Posit Records." This morning I'd like to correct that. Noo Records. Not No Posit. This morning I'd also like to listen to that disc. The packaging was innovative. There was no opening cover. Instead there was a slit in the side, like the slit for a DVD in a Mac, and if you hit a button the disc came rolling out. Thank you for that, Mike Young.