Monthly Archives: August 2009

Courtney Love Interview.

courtney rocks copy

[We meet in my Subaru, in front of a strip mall]

Me: So thanks for giving me a few minutes.

CL: Ehhhhhh–AWCK! (mix of wet and dry cough, something)

Me: Right, right…so how did you like the book?

CL: Didn’t read it. What book?

Me: My chapbook.

CL: I didn’t touch your damn checkbook.

Me: Chap! Chap…You’re holding it in your hands! On stage.

CL: Oh. What? Oh I was burning books on stage, Renfro! The kids love that. I burned the bible. Burned an owner’s manual to a Saab. I burned a dinosaurus. Somebody handed me that little yellow thing, I burned it. I think a roadie was reading it, maybe Stan or TrueBlood.

Me: A dinosaurus?

CL: Words and shit, you know.

Me: You burned my book?

CL: You tell me. Like they say: if the cat do run, don’t try to catch it. Hey you mind if I smoke in here?

Me: Go ahead, I guess. If you could maybe crack the window.  Hey, hey!–

CL: What?

Me: What’s that?

CL: Aluminum foil. An eyedropper. You said I could smoke, Renfro. What’s your problem?

Me: Ok, just hurry. Jesus. So what did the roadie think of the book then? The ones who liked it.

CL: I didn’t say he liked it. He just grabbed me while I was about to roll up that stage like a raw dog and he said, “Clo, burn this book.” So I did. Whoa…

Me: You OK?

CL: Look, I been studying Buddhist stuff, like with the red string and all that flying saucer thing with the levels. I know what that sound was. I got to go, now.

[She runs out the car, into Blockbuster. She returns.]

Me: Did you get a movie?

CL: What? No. I had to see a man about a dog, get it? You can’t assume things, Frof. Not every person leaves a hospital has a cold. I feel great right now.

Me: Good, OK. I’m glad you feel good.

CL: I said great. Hey you know why birds fly?

Me: No.

CL: I’ll tell you. They fly to polish glassware. To keep up their scales and measures. Like parsnip, blue bottle, hollow bone, automobile, farm. They fly to air-fuck. They fly to cow-map. You know about cow maps right? Cows as temporary perches. Navigational guides. As friends. Cow-maps require constant updating, as information changes, as cows come and go, exit the tall factories, enter the tall factories to never be seen entirely as whole again. These maps, they keep them in colorful pouches of their own devising. Them birds even fly like me, Frof, for melody. Song of breeze thru discarded straw; silent fathers long flown; sky when glass, iron, whirlpool, or bright star; cornrows, corn tassels, cornhusks; phone wires, microwave towers—sizzling hums; exhalations of held song; night crawlers crawling along. Oh they fly for video games, or I should say game. They have only one, and they are addicted. The birds calls it Sarah. A quest, a longing, for lost love. The story is told through a series of digital letters in Sarah’s hand writing, sequences of exponentially difficult logic puzzles, Birds-Eye views of locations significant to Sarah’s life, Webisodes of Sarah’s everyday existence, like, you know, screaming past mountainsides; quietly sky-writing her diary; diving recklessly into reservoirs. The finale is said to be a number of maddening obstacles: birdhouse walls, shut windows, storm-swept nights of birdshot, windmill farms, and tornadoes. But who the fuck knows? The birds play for hours, but the majority of the game is an unsolved mystery, a vague mythology. Most never even pass Level One, The Honest Letters of Sarah. No one has ever won. No one has ever found the lost love; has found Sarah. So, this is why they fly.

Me: Wow. I didn’t really know you had that inside you.

CL: (laughs) Well. I told you I feel great. You know, you’re alright for a square. I’m sorry I burned your chapstick.

Me: Oh, it’s no prob–

[She runs out the car, into Blockbuster. I wait ten minutes, a half hour. Then I just go play disc golf.]

Lovelace fore

Sweet style, brosh.

S

Some Crank-Shaft Disses Flash Fiction. I Defend.

Some Brie-head interviewed over here at ShatterColors Literary Review. I guess he edits the magazine or something. So he’s interviewing himself in his own magazine?  And he publishes himself in his own magazine? Hell, I don’t know. I’m tired after running a hill workout. Then I read this, making me more tired. He’s one literary dude, though. Very literary, no doubt.

Robert Scott Leyse (14 bucks he prefers you use all three names) says some really un-sightful things here.

Like he says that he attended a “writing event.” Sounded like he had a hell of a good time, too. In his words, I thought, “What does a gathering of clowns spouting pretentious rubbish and thirsting to have their asses kissed have to do with writing?”

Touche, Robert Scott Leyse. “Thirsting to have their asses kissed” is an excellent image, or maybe just a mixed metaphor/dating service for burros. Either way, I love a man who can recognize a clown in disguise (or were the writers wearing their red noses and giant shoes?).  Reminds me of the grandmother in Flannery O’ Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Grannie wears very clean underwear and knows exactly how to identify “Good Men.” Only takes her a few minutes, too. (Unfortunately, she is soon executed, along with the entire family she leads directly to their collective doom.)

clown on computer

I’ll just jot down this epic poem here, la-dee-da….

One problem I have with Robert Scott Leyse is that the people I meet at “writing events” are scared of clowns. Also they are self-deprecating, witty, humble, interesting, well-read, grinders at the page after page, and know how to drink a shit-load of quality ale. (Those that don’t drink beer I maybe never meet.)

Possibly we attend different conferences?

As an editor Robert Scott Leyse prefers, “love stories, at whatever stage of a relationship…”

Hey! I do too, maybe. So good call, maybe.

Then Robert Scott Leyse reveals his true internal thrumming, as he drops the dark and stormy nights of his intellect onto flash fiction.

Egads! Run for the big tent, you clowns!

On flash fiction (you can hear the disgust steeping in his bottom lip like a tobacco chaw): “It’s a writing exercise, useful in learning the virtues of succinctness of expression. As for it being a viable form… Basically, some corner-cutting smartass thought, “Hey, why waste these writing exercises? Why not doll them up in fancy terminology — call them ‘flash fiction,’ ‘flashers,’ or ‘impromptus’ — and persuade people they’re real stories? That way, I’ll be able to churn out three or four or five of them a night!” Needless to say, I neither read nor publish writing exercises.”

I adore that last sentence. Cutting, shall we say. In fact, fuck it, all short forms are actually writing exercises, especially those damn sonnet things. I mean how can 14 lines be “viable”? Yo, parable, fable, mythology, psalm, and all you annoying hieroglyphics, please go away or at the very least add a whole lot of words, OK? Can we get some more words, seriously? Back up the fucking WORD truck, beep-beep-beep. MORE, MORE, like in a legislature or a contract.

And, yes, you pegged me, Robert Scott Leyse, since I do write and read flash fiction, I am indeed a “corner-cutting smartass.”

[But Impromptus? That sounds like a type of water dwelling dinosaur in a children’s book. Dude, don’t bring that one out in public, just a friendly tip.]

Speaking of “corner-cutters,” and since I just spent a semester with a grad student researching a bit of the inexhaustible history of flash fiction as a genre, other corner cutting clowns would include:

Margaret Atwood, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Dave Eggers (a ton here), David Foster Wallace, Tara L. Masih, Pu Songling, Kim Chinquee, J. G. Ballard, Jim Harrison, Kobo Abe, Primo Levi, Angela Carter, Max Steele, Barry Graham, Umberto Eco, H. H. Munro, Don Delillo, Mervyn Peake, Anton Chekhov, Kurt Vonnegut, Andrei Bely, W.B. Yeats, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Luigi Pirandello, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Ander Monson, Mark Twain, Marianne Gingher, Wu Jingzi, Dubus (x 2), Vladimir Nabokov, Oscar Wilde, Molly Gaudry, Agatha Christie, Dr. Seuss, Jaroslav Hasek, Samule Beckett, Jeff Noon, Matt Bell, Aesop, Deb Olen Unferth, Patricia Highsmith, Emily Bronte, Franz Kafka, Italo Calvino, John Updike, Jill Christman, Julian Barnes, Richard Wright, Sherman Alexie, Sara Teasdale, Shane Jones, Diane Williams, Jesus H. Christ, Blake Butler, Maya Angelou, W. G. Sebald, Edmund White, Thomas Pynchon, Raymond Carver, Carolyn Forche, Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, Buddha, Dorothy Parker, Tao Lin (oh, fuck him [I kid]), Carol Bly, Russell Banks, John David Lovelace, Krishna, Richard Brautigan, Ezra Pound, Scott Garson, Michael Kimball, Jewel, Robert Olen Butler, Gertrude Stein, Alexander Pushkin, Joseph Young, Emile Zola, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, Michael Martone, Hart Crane, Tania Hershman, Joyce Carol Oates, John Edgar Wideman, Rose Terry Cooke, Plato, Katherine Anne Porter, Kate Chopin, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez.

tolstoy

hanging out, corner-cutting...

I could go on, but it gets ridiculous the number of authors in the canon, and outside the canon, and shooting from a cannon (a la Hunter S.), that have worked in this genre, and didn’t I just say I was tired, and also I need my typing finger for clowning tomorrow morning.

I just got to clown, yo.

Wouldn’t want to be with that “impromptu” crowd, anyway, would you? What’s next, you start valuing other forms of brevity, like say oysters, shots of bourbon, sudden kisses, short films, or the well-cut diamond?

A writing exercise? Flash fiction is to a writing exercise as a haiku is to a pretzel. Something. I disagree, Robert Scott Leyse. And what if a flash WAS a writing exercise? What if someone wrote a story in the shape of an apartment building (Georges Perec) or as a travel guide (Martone) or I don’t know a freaking examination. On and on…or can stories only be one way, “love stories, at whatever…” etc.

[A red fox just loped across my backyard. Is it limping or loping? I mean loping is like attitude. Limping you probably got car-struck crossing highway 69]

Oh hell, I digress, and if you read this blog you know where I will digress to, like a ship drifting to harbor…1.) preheat oven. 2.) slice corn tortillas. 3.) Add cheese and “impromptu” toppings.

Well, I just had some kick ass nachos. It felt good. It didn’t take long, they are often listed as appetizer…so eat my board shorts (those are the very, very, very long shorts, sir, I think you will like them), Mr. Robert Scott Leyse.

Nachos

(BTW, here is an exam, a writing exercise, as you would say.)

Well, what can you do? Not human at all, is it, the flash fiction above…drivel, really.

No, no, know.

Now?

I am going to go relax in the bath.

I will not! For me, a hot shower. I said hot.

And quick.

And good.

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Beer prices are going up. (again)

Here’s what the D-bag at Budweiser says: “The environment is very favorable, we think.” (He means for price increases.)

Here is the D at MillerCoors: “We have seen very strong pricing to date this year, and we are projecting a favorable pricing environment moving forward.”

Can you believe people who work at a brewery talk like this? I am done with these fools. Can you smell the cynicism in the voices of these guys? It’s micro-brew only now (was heading percentage-wise that way anyway). I mean I feel like I am buying my beer from an attorney, and he’s laughing right in my face. Going home and telling his wife about all the suckers he found today in his “pricing environment.”

rcarter0012

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Kind words from The Prettiest Girl in School about Eggs here. Thank you for reading!

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S

I Like Fried Chicken as my Buns OK.

woody3 art museum copy

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Worked hard last night with the students in 489, the very class that will produce The Broken Plate.

I was reminded of that rant from American Movie. Where Mark B says (I paraphrase), “We got this big cruise ship we are trying to sail and it’s like we got to feed all the people and sell all the tickets and figure out the entertainment and the engines got to work and figure out where we are going and keep this whole thing off the rocks like that…”

Mark is talking about making a movie. We are making a literary magazine, but you get the idea. For our first meeting, we threw out/discussed so many ideas. Exciting and daunting, thus exciting. (I am strong believer that the difficult is fun, as in engaging, as in stimulating.) A few things we addressed:

* How do we increase submissions?

* Blue or black pens?

* Marketing. How to sell last years and this year’s magazine.

* Prose editing, poetry editing. What will be our process. Just think of the logistics here!

* Design! Cover, ads, a T-shirt, etc.

* Update that web page!

* Interviews, reviews? A rabbit’s gnawed foot?

On and on and on….

Again, a lot to think about, a lot to decide, but really an enjoyable beginning.

I will blog more as we approach our Sept/Oct submission period.

2009

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I’ve been losing some weight as the marathon nears. Getting into “race shape” a bit. I made a huge mistake the other night. I usually run early in the day (really best for my biorhythms) but work has cranked up so I ran late the other night, about 7 pm. I did some fartlek:

4 min at 6:00 mile pace   (90 sec slower between)     4 min at 6:00 mile pace

4 min at 6:00 mile pace       4 min at 6:00 mile pace       4 min at 6:00 mile pace

4 min at 5:56 mile pace       4 min at 5:56 mile pace       2 min at 5:24 mile pace

A solid half hour of interval work. I was pretty knackeed after, but the mistake was this: My metabolism was out the roof after the workout. So I couldn’t sleep. As you probably know, a body stays in a high “zone” after working out, continuing to consume calories in a sort of after-burn. I tossed, turned, had bizarre little snap dreams. A rough night overall.

Don’t exercise right before bed, people!

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Dave Eggers has a story in New Yorker. Way to go Dave, great story. Loved the sailboat part.

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Here is a sandwich where the buns are made of fried chicken. KFC has created a sandwich where the fucking bun is made of fried chicken. Another advance for humanity!

Someone email me and say this is a hoax.

kfc_240318l

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HTML GIANT i got bizness with you. I am about to go talk bizness after I post this little sparrow.

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Len Kuntz writes a better story over at elimae.

“For dinner he spits sunflower seeds onto the sunflower seeds beneath his chair.”

accumulation

rot

husks of….

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I ripped this from Ben Mirov’s blog. Wow. I say wow. I mean just it’s very length makes it kinda bad-ass. What do you people think? A comment on fragmentation, on options? Anyway, I like.

A Jar of Balloons or The Uncooked Rice, Matthew Yeager.

(What are you doing? Read.)

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I just took this photo out my window. Life can be pretty cool sometimes…

DSC01324

O snap! Jennifer Anniston Caught!

Jennifer Anniston put her eggs on ice.

And she’s reading my book while in the waiting room! Thanks, Jenny! Sorry about that time I ran out on the bill at that bar in Guam. Uh, my bad.

I run out on a lot of things, Jenn.

They call it “Pulling a Houdini.” At parties/fishing rodeos/church meetings I might just drift away, gone.

I don’t know why.

Jenn Egg 3

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Submit to the Crystal Gavel this year!

wm-front

Please?

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23.) Define the term perspective.

I remember I guess I was 12 and my first remington and it said the little book their to clan the gun that the gun was packed in shipping grease and oil clean it good before you go hunting I took it to my grandpa and I say grandpa how do I do this I don’t know much I am 12 to and he put his cigar down and took my remington and walked outside and shot it right up in the air I mean both barells loud and he handed it back to me and said Boy, that’s how you clean a damn shotgun.

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S

Artists like Eggs.

Eggs picture

Egg art…?

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Ran 18 today. The first 15 were good flow, the last 3 like meeting my in-laws in a bar. Crunchy. I stumbled into a hi-fi. I sweated the Niagara sweat. Lost maybe 15 pounds of water and electrolytes. At one point I felt like a cloud, only one of those shredded clouds you see over certain rivers, you know while the trees sway and the earth turns to a sour smell, that shifting before a storm… I almost quit, I won’t lie, but then threw on some Missy Elliot and made my way home.

I never listen to music when I run so this means I was hurting.

So.

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I really admire this essay by David McLendon at The Collagist. Since I am now editor of The Broken Plate I keep reading about editing and writing. I am filling the well. I am excited.

I will ask people to submit in Sept and Oct, when we read. People should submit. People who put words on little flat pieces of pressed wood pulp.

I am filling the well with knowledge base and history of editing and am reading this book now:

images

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Today an administrator at the university told me and all the faculty, “When you are going through hell just keep on going.”

OK

S

Rose Metal Eggs Dropped Today!!

eggs

Nursed for months (along with several bottles of ale), as prophesied by pharaoh (and also by Blake Butler who said once, “Hell, even someone like you might one day have a chapbook”), placed afloat on a creek in an ark of bulrushes (OK, cardboard), and then finally here…

Order it up today at Rose Metal Press!

Excerpt here…

DSC01290

Knock at the door!

Dude: I was out there fishing and this here washed up. Man it’s got your name on it there.

Me: Yeh, OK. Look don’t ever come to my front door and knock, OK? That scared the hell out of me. Nobody likes people at the front door anymore. I mean no one. Nobody even really wants to know their neighbors. A celebrity is fine, maybe some Facebook pal from high school living hundred of miles away. A reality show set in Burma or whatnot, OK, I can follow that, but dude you live just right down the street so could you please, please, please just keep away from me and my front door. You made my heart do a triple salchow.

Dude: I was just trying to do you a favor.

Me: Yes, well, Einstein was just trying to do a couple scientists in New Mexico a favor and how did that work out for the world? He regretted that all the way to his deathbed, you know, all the way to his final algebraic breath. And that man had some sweet hair.

Door slam.

Open box!

DSC01291

Eggs! Eggs ! Eggs!

Thank you Sherrie Flick! (judge)

Thank you Rose Metal Press! Everyone there has been incredible. Thanks Abagail and Kathleen and everyone!

And check out the look! Thank you Rebecca Saraceno, designer, who actually carved those pieces of silverware herself! These babies were hand-letterpressed at the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA.

Very cool.

This book be dangerous!

DSC01296

This book be sexy!

bra

This book be all Regis Philbin, folks!

regis-philbin eggs copy

Get one!

S


The Collagist Big Box Mount Everest

I received an exciting box in the mail today. I will post more about that later, in another post. We call this plot, an unanswered question. Are you listening, students who will bean like sprouts in the potted garden of my classroom next week? What? College begins next week? Dude.

Remember the Lorrie Moore story where she accidentally wanders into a creative writing class and then becomes a writer?

eggs

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Been chewing on The Collagist. What an issue! But what else would you expect from Dzanc? I will blog more later as I digest but what an argument for quality. I mean longevity in a lit mag is one thing, though often involved with the winds and whims of commerce/funding. Here we have a mag simply barreling out of the gate. I get so tired of the question (you will get this is academia, folks), Is publishing online as good as in print, etc.? Oh how this question makes my head do the flaming pineapple. Oh how…but I digress.

I will now add The Collagist to my answer, along with Diagram, La Petite Zine, Pif, etc.

Kevin Wilson piece amazing. Great concept, great execution. Playful, and made me think.

I hate to include Ander Monson, because he beats me in disc golf a lot and one time he hit my clavicle with a disc golf disc and I won’t even mention the Wal-Mart episode with the ax, but damn I like/love this essay. Tricky good. Look at the interview to see how it all came together. It argues for one critical value of literature right there in its very title. Kudos and kudzu, my friends.

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Years ago I read Into Thin Air and really enjoyed the read. Strong plot, tense, and a little flurry of thought. Then I created a hill workout (for the treadmill) that followed the basic narrative. I matched each experience to the southeastern route of climbing Everest, with base camp, The Ice Bridge, Hillary’s Step, the summit, all of this different grades of elevation. I think about each experience John Krakauer had during that disastrous accent/descent and season (15 people died in 1996 while trying the mountain). I like to build workouts around narratives, though I’m not sure why.

I did the workout today and my lungs burned like Sally. Good fun. I noticed my upcoming marathon has a massive climb at the start, so important to throw in a few hills. Also this workout really hurts. The body says QUIT PLEASE. The mind says FUCK YOU. This is key attitude for the marathon.

Course and elevation map here.

into-thin-air

This book is not too light for you! Read it.

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For years I drank 2 cup of coffee a day. Now I drink 3.

S