Friday, March 13, 2009


I’ll be reading something from Smoke or a novel-in-progress somewhere at the Third Annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair between noon and 6 p.m. Saturday, March 21, 2009 at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, 453 Porter Avenue, Buffalo, NY. It’s free and open to the public. For more info:

My Smoke is not the first Smoke. Just found out Turgenev beat me to it. So far, there’s the obvious comparisons… There’s also the film starring Kevin Spacey, of which Paul Auster wrote the screenplay, which I haven’t seen. That has nothing to do with my novel…though Turgenev seems to have stolen a thing or two. Russian bastard. Should we ever meet …

I’m purchasing Joshua Cohen’s, A Heaven of Others, with my next paycheck. Consider this from the New Haven Review: “A Heaven of Others, Joshua Cohen’s second novel and fourth book of fiction, is a horrifying, terrifying, and instructive account of the wrong heaven in another’s shoes. Real shoes, that is, left forever in a real river of honey following abduction by eagles and a missed tête-à-tête with “the man named Mohammed”—the only one, it turns out, who might be able to bail our narrator, Jonathan Schwarzstein, of 37 Tchernichovsky Street, Jerusalem, out of a surreal and macabre but theologically accurate wasteland of a Muslim afterlife, and restore him to the heaven of his faith or choice. Though he is only ten when a Muslim boy his age explodes him on the street outside of a shoe store in latter-day Israel, by the time we hear him speak, from heaven, he is no longer a child but a child of eternity, “maturing to infinity,” and beyond and beyond, amen…” Good God! See the publisher’s site

It seems someone else named Charles Richardson had a way with people, too. See: “There is no evidence to support later suggestions that Richardson whipped Chinese while horseback riding in China, though according to a local English-language newspaper Supplement on the Incident, he had been heard to say just prior to the incident, "I know how to deal with these people" at Namamugi Incident. Sometimes, history’s hilarious!

From Sam Hamill’s In Her Company: Denise Levertov, at Jacket: “We shared some “affinities of content,” to borrow the title of her 1991 essay on poetry of the Pacific Northwest, as well as convictions about the role of the “engaged” artist. And we both felt passionately about the necessity of serving poetry[1] — in my case including work as editor-printer as well as poet-translator-essayist. As “engaged poets,” we shared a common struggle to resist bending one’s art to the purpose of mere propagandizing while acknowledging one’s politics within the living arts of poetry.”

An interesting piece on David Foster Wallace at Rain Taxi: “One thing that Wallace did incredibly well was to co-opt metafiction’s recursive involuted style and redeploy it outward in the service of the reader. He likened metafiction to a literary Armageddon (“art’s reflection on itself is terminal”) and called it a “permanent migraine”: you’re writing a novel about a novelist who sits down to write a novel about a novelist writing a novel about a novelist who paralyzingly suspects that s/he’s nothing but a character in some novelist’s novel, and so on—sigh—you get the idea. Wallace called this kind of writing cleveritis, and he saw it as toxically solipsistic because its terminal point is the writer.”

An interesting interview with Ted Pelton, novelist and publisher of Starcherone, at Experimental Fiction Poetry: “I was very angry when I wrote that piece, in 1991, and I think the excitement of the form reflects that anger, that bitterness that after all this time, we are still putting stock in war to solve problems. What could be stupider? Really, what? Who can have so much certainty about themselves and their truths as to kill other people, simply for control of resources? And the first Gulf War was the one that changed how we look at wars today, sans reporters on the ground, showing us what’s really going on. Gulf War 1 was about information control, as much as it was about anything – and now we are very far from even remembering to be critical of what we are told is happening in combat areas. In essence, Dubya and his administration gave us a gift in being so stupid and incompetent in how he managed the wars; his father had figured out how to do brutal, illegal, moneymaking things very quietly. Sorry, I realize I’m getting off on a political tangent – but it remains a political story for me. I am a pacifist, and it feels like this position has lost years of progress. Now, even Obama feels it’s OK to launch missile strikes into countries we are not at war with, and kill people we feel are guilty of crimes without charging them or having to produce evidence. And that leaves out the children and neighbors of the bad people, who also die, because missiles are a little less precise than lethal injection. It’s a crime to be in certain neighborhoods, evidently, and the crime is punishable by mass, summary executions, which are sometimes administered mistakenly. Oops! … I am angry about similar things in Malcolm & Jack, which examines the 1940s and the roots of American Empire by looking at drop-outs from it. The arrogance of how we have come to look at the world; more specifically, how our narratives have come to be powerful, persuasive, and deadly.”

Bizarro scientist look to weaponize ball lightening.

New Blogs:

Experimental Fiction Poetry & Jazz

Mike Palacek’s New American Dream

Arts & Letters Daily

Book Forum

Kirkus Reviews, Fiction

Daily News:

Climate Feedback at

Talking Points Memo

Today’s Papers

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