“Nothing but Trouble” | Gordon Lish’s New Collection Goings Plays with the Problems of Language

Books, Literature, Reviews, Writers

Ostensibly a collection of fictional short stories, Gordon Lish’s Goings reads more like a memoir-in-fragments. All thirteen stories are told by a first-person narrator named Gordon, who parenthetically appends an exclamatory repetition of his name (“I, Gordon (Gordon!)”) throughout the work, a verbal tic that registers the tension between the author and narrator, memory and truth. All these…

A Rambling Riff on True Detective

Reviews, Television

1. So usually after I watch the newest episode of True Detective—this week, that means episode five, “The Secret Fate of All Life”—usually I rewatch the episode and then want to write about it and feel stymied. Last week, I had to (was compelled to) rewatch “Who Goes There” immediately after the first viewing. This is…

Gordon Lish: “Don’t Believe Me”

Books, Literature, Writers

From “A Conversation with Gordon Lish,” an outstanding interview between the writer/editor and Rob Trucks. The interview is really amazing—Lish talks at length about his writing process, his sense of competition, his friendships with Don DeLillo and Cynthia Ozick, his interest in Julia Kristeva, his feelings for Harold Brodkey and Barry Hannah—and Blood Meridian. Lots and…

Halloween Links

Art, Books, Literature, Writers

I suggest Count Dracula plays an uncredited cameo in Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 Seven horror stories masquerading in other genres Death (and life) masks. You can’t do better than From Hell (Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell) Seven more horror stories masquerading in other genres Roberto Bolaño’s powers of horror (I read 2666 through a Kristevan lens) Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones:…

Book Shelves #42, 10.14.2012

Art, Books, Literature, Writers

Book shelves series #42, forty-second Sunday of 2012 Couldn’t really get a good pic of the whole shelf, so in portions, starting with a spread of postmodernist favorites from years past. Julia Kristeva was a particular favorite of mine in grad school, but her Portable stands up well outside of, jeez, I dunno, theory and…

Roberto Bolaño’s Powers of Horror

Art, Books, Literature, Reviews, Writers

1. In Powers of Horror philosopher Julia Kristeva describes the idea with which she’s most closely identified, the abject, the intense horror our subjective psychology—and our bodies—experience when faced with corporeal reality: the edges of our body: filth, vomit, shit, blood, death: the me that is not me. Breakdown of subject and object: abject. 2. Julia Kristeva…

Book Shelves #23, 6.03.2012

Art, Books, Literature, Writers

Book shelves series #23, twenty-third Sunday of 2012 Okay. So, a bit later than usual getting this in. It’s the daughter’s birthday and I’m recovering from a Saturday party and I’ve been out in the garden other day and some other excuses. Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, Harry Crews, Flannery O’Connor—and then…

Read “Labyrinth,” an Excerpt from Roberto Bolaño’s Forthcoming Work, The Secret of Evil

Books, Literature, Writers

The New Yorker has published an excerpt from The Secret of Evil, the latest posthumous offering from Roberto Bolaño (new this spring from New Directions). The excerpt begins by extrapolating on a photo of some of the Tel Quel folks, (including a striking Julia Kristeva): They’re seated. They’re looking at the camera. They are captioned, from left to…

Humiliation — Wayne Koestenbaum

Art, Books, Literature, Reviews, Writers

Wayne Koestenbaum’s Humiliation explores the ways that having a body (among other bodies, among a social body) might leave us humiliated or otherwise abject. To perform this exploration, Koestenbaum surveys a discursive range of subjects, including the humiliation of public figures, the sordid “private” lives of celebrities, the work of philosophers and cultural theorists, and the…

I Have Writer’s Block (but I’ll Share a Vomit Story Anyway)

Books, Literature, Writers

I have the writer’s block somethin’ terrible. Everything was going so well, too—I seemed able to blather and drivel at will for a few weeks, dribbling out my noisome little posts on books or films or TV shows or what have you. But now, nothing, which is terrible, because I have been reading up a…

David Foster Wallace, Slavoj Žižek, and Scatological Ideology

Books, Literature, Writers

I came across this clip of Slavoj Žižek discussing the different types of toilets that one finds across Europe the other day, and his riff immediately reminded me of David Foster Wallace’s novella The Suffering Channel (or “The Suffering Channel,” if you prefer to think of it as a long short story). Here’s a version…

Noam Chomsky, Intellectual Elitism, Po-Mo Gibberish, More Attacks on Deconstruction, and Bad Writing Revisited

Deconstruction

While doing some background research for an upcoming Graduate Symposium I’ll be participating in later this month (more on that in the future), I somehow stumbled upon this post from Noam Chomsky in which the famous linguist/activist attacks post-modernism and its heroes. In this email/posting Chomsky criticizes what he views as “a huge explosion of…