News for October 2012

The Polysyllabic Spree

by Nick Hornby

I am writing about a book (a collection of essays) that wrote about a bunch of different books over a span of 14 months for the Believer.

For 13 out of the 14 months I thought that Believer magazine was a magazine in the UK. But it turns out that it’s from San Francisco? No wonder Hornby kept referring to the British people as a entire separate entity of species. I just thought that they took thought the same way that we thought about them? But wait, I’m Canadian so to Americans I am a moose and or beaver hybrid.

He reviewed a whole bunch of books, rather than formal reviews, he mostly talks about how he got to reading it, why he’s reading it, what he thought about it and whether he recommends it or not.

I didn’t take up on any of his suggestions except the Richard Yates biography that’s now sitting on a pile of magazines.

I have only read one other Hornby book and it was Juliet, Undressed which WASNT made into a movie. I have seen big screen renditions of Fever Pitch, and High Fidelity, anything else? Oh yeah, About a Boy.

I felt like he was extremely British in the writings of Juliet Undressed (which for the longest time, I called it Juliet, Naked, to everyone when I referred to the book, which technically is the same thing). But through the collection of essays where he talks about fundamentally British things like cricket and FUNDAMENTALLY British authors like Dickens, I’ve never felt him more American!

How strange..

anyways, it’s a fun little read for lunch hours at work…maybe

Next up, I’ll be either read The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris, a lot of references to The Hemingway Bar (apparently rated the BEST bar in the world) or The Heart Broke in which is a fairly new novel, so new that you see it on the round tables when you step into bookstores..I got my copy from the library. I think I’m the first patron ever to read it. horray!

Posted: October 27th, 2012
Categories: BOOKS, Essays
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Kurt Vonnegut the Last Interview

edited by Tom McCartan

first things first, this is an amazing cover.

This is what I assume to be a series of interviews with various famous and infamous authors. From the back page alone I know there is also Roberto Bolano The Last interview.

I have only read one Vonnegut book and that is Cat’s Cradle, certainly not his most famous piece of work.

It seems most appropriate that i pick up Slaughterhouse-5 after this.

There are so many wonderful things about this series of interviews.

My favourite interview out of the six is the first set: Kurt Vonnegut, The Art of Fiction, interviewed by David Hayman, David Michaelis, George Plimpton, Richard Rhodes for The Paris Review in 1977.

I strongly recommend the series of interviews that The Paris Review have conducted with various authors over the years. You can actually buy the whole set on amazon. By the way I don’t have the set yet, so .. you know, a birthday present or something, I would accept. (why is the canadian version $10 more than the US version, bah humbug)

The following five other interviewers were basic reiterations of the first one. You’ll re-learn the things that you already previous read with the exception of The Joe & Kurt Show: A conversation with Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller for Playboy in 1992.

Who knew that Playboy had such decent reading material?

Even though Vonnegut is not a writer that I have widely read, he suddenly shot through the roof in my list of admired and respected writers. there are so many things that I find myself agreeing headily with, so many shared artifacts that I once might have kept secret about.

For one thing, I really dislike literature. I don’t think Vonnegut disliked literature but rather he never felt as included in its most inner circles as he probably should have. Because he often saw himself, and as others also had seen him, as a hack.

I am not even good enough of a writer to be called a hack because I’ve never published anything but I would love one day to be torn apart by The New York Times. Don’t worry I’ll be grinning ear to ear when that happens, hey look, my book is out and it’s being reviewed by a major newspaper, albeit it being a poor reviews!

Who cares! it’s happening!

There are so many other things that I find myself in common with him.

I think that he’s a lover (he hates that word, no man has ever said he is a lover of someone’s, a fucker perhaps) of life even though he always thinks that life is a drag and needs to end as quickly as possible. He possesses a quiet optimism that I think, I THINK that I have too. It’s as if he was saying, sure I am optimistic about things but I won’t convince you to be optimistic about it too. Through his language, his satire, his bewildered humour, it’s almost as if saying, through my dark comedy, you can see how laughable life can be too. Now if only this cigarette would grant me death.

The other thing that I noticed was in the interview along with Joseph Heller for Playboy, the few things he mentioned were incredibly contemporary.

1. war
2. issue on abortion and whether Bush (Bush Sr) would take a stand for or against it
3. women’s rights
4. Bombing in Iraq

That interview was conducted in May of 1992…

So, history really is repeating itself. Joe and Kurt talks about fundies with a 90s frame of mind, Iraq bombings with a 90s frame of mind, and Bush OG with a 90s frame of mind. So all I can ask is, how are we still dealing with all of this 10 years later? the exact same things, abortion, how is abortion still an issue?

There is also something cute that Joseph Heller says.

If i were to type out all the sections that I enjoyed in the interview it would be one too many but I will type this out.

Playboy: who’s going to win the Democratic Convention?

Heller: I have a feeling it might be me.

Playboy: You? are you going to vote for yourself?

Vonnegut: He will have to register first.

Heller: I’d register and I’d pose. I would if I can.

Playboy: Kurt, would you vote for Joe?

Vonnegut: Certainly. It’s a figurehead job in any case.

Heller: I’d run on two issues. And I believe I’d win. the first would be, as Preside of the federal government, I would take no steps whatsoever to interfere wit ha woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. The second I would find some way to institute a national health program in this country. Don’t ask me where the money’s going to come from, I will find away to do it.

Vonnegut: The big difference between conservatives and liberals is that killing doesn’t seem to bother the conservatives at all. The liberals are chickenhearted about people dying. Conservatives thought that the massacre, the killing in Panama was Ok. I think they’re really Darwinins. It’s all right that people are starving to death on the streets because that’s the nature of work.

Heller: Western civilization has made a pact with the Devil. I think the story of Faust has to do with Western civilization. You might say white civilization. The devil or God said, “I’ll give you knowledge to do great things. But you’re going to use that knowledge to destroy the environment and to destroy yourself.” You mentioned Darwin. I think what we’re experiencing now is the natural state of evolution. Half the society is underprivileged and maybe a think of the rest is barely surviving. The trouble with the Administration is that it doesn’t want to deal with the problem. It doesn’t want to define it as a problem because then it will have to deal with it.

How fucking poignant.

Anyways, I highly recommend this, a light reading. It’s barely an inch thick.

You could probably get it at your local library.

Of course, since Vonnegut is a writer, he does talk a little bit about writing and writers and the process and the lit community and all that fun stuff.

From this book alone, it slightly revived my need to write.

Lately, i think all these nasty books have came out and it made me slightly upset at writing when all I really want to do is to make decent writing and make a bit of money.

I don’t want to be great, I want to be decent, and most of all I want to be read.

I don’t care about literature or any of that.

If I learned anything from this set of interviews, is that nothing ever changes.

P.S. I wrote this quickly and in an inebriated state of mind.

P.P.S. I started reading the Casual Vacancy. Despite the fact that someone that i like and respect enjoys the book immensely. I think it’s horrible. It’s pedantic and it’s stereotypical. I think she got extremely lucky with Harry Potter in terms of plot and she’s not very good at writing. She’s very good at plotting things. The words are over used and the adjectives are scattered a little bit too often, like when you tell a kid she can have as much sprinkles as she’d like. All in all, I just don’t like it. I am hoping maybe I can change my mind about it if I somehow finish it.

Someone said that the book is DARK, it’s not dark. it’s the result of you trying to BE dark.

Posted: October 18th, 2012
Categories: BOOKS
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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I finally got around to finishing this book. I think most people read it in high school while all I remember was a ton of Hamlet.

I loved the story, especially the interview at the end, it made the entire thing feel more surreal.

I don’t have much else to say about it, the film is coming out soon, after watching the trailer I don’t fully understand some of the scenes… I hope I’ll get it more when I see it.

Posted: October 11th, 2012
Categories: BOOKS
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