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And of course Scott and Zelda are famous, and of course itís titillating, all the Scott and Zelda books about the real Scott and Zelda. And even in my own head, let alone out in the world, god knows I am too tired to try to make this point without the equipment to prove it, god knows I am too tired to raise the whole question ďwould Francesca Zelda Sylvia Ana Mendieta Frieda have been so famous without the tragedy, without being married to him,Ē too tired even in my own head to make some tired point to myself about genius and merit and Tender is the Night and Save Me the Waltz and Alma Mahler and sex and race and bodies and ďartĒ and is it art and what is art. Itís a point thatís been attempted but never made. People sniff and turn away.
While I was reading and rereading Great Jones Street I walked every day past Great Jones Street, up and down Bowery, between the subway and the building where I work. Sometimes, on my lunch hour, I walked down the block where the novelís protagonist lives. The novelís setting is especially specific because Great Jones Street is so short; it runs only two blocks, from Bowery to Lafayette to Broadway. The end. Elsewhere, itís 3rd Street. So when I stood on the corner of Bowery and Great Jones, I saw the whole thing, and somewhere there was the apartment of Bucky Wunderlick, Great Jones Streetís hero.
Karen Dalton was born poor. Her dad was Irish, drunk and mean but never late to work. Her mom, Enid, was full-blooded Cherokee, she played the fiddle and slept in a brass bed in the backyard -- sheís why Karen always had ivy in her rooms, and knew how to cook beans. In Colorado Karen was the same age I was, that summer. Sometimes I pretended we were each other, in the way girls do when they get a crush but really want a mirror. A boyfriend taught me tarot and sometimes when I read the cards I thought about Karen. The death card looks scary -- a skeleton in a cloak on a horse -- but really itís not, really itís about hairy-eyeballing fear. About what happens afterwards.
The cities that most fascinate Morris, the ones that never seem to exhaust her interest, are peripheral cities, often peripheral in place and sometimes peripheral in time. The city of faded glamor, the city full of ghosts, the city that doesnít even know what country itís in -- these are the places where Morris is at her deepest. Trieste, the fictional Hav, even Venice: the cities where the genius loci has grown old, or confused, or simply sailed away mysteriously.
"I think you can see that I hated Casanovaís backmatter from the get-go. For whatever reason, I didnít realize that: dummy, itís your book. You can do whatever the fuck you want. I thought I was locked into this arrangement."
We know all the usual suspects: Plath and Sexton, Foster Wallace and Woolf, the famous and always very talented writers who offed themselves (ďWhoever heard of a bad poet committing suicide?Ē southern critic Walker Percy once asked). We also know the protagonists dead by their own hands: Plathís literary alter-ego Esther Greenwood, Quentin Compson, Willy Loman, Emma Bovary, Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopinís Awakening. I had sat with all these people in my younger days, wondered where they got their (yes, Iíll say it) courage, the will to make a decision they know will be their final one. Or do they debate right up until the end, like the man who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in the documentary The Bridge and decided the moment his feet left the edge that he wanted to live?
"With Toxicology, I wanted to write about New York, how gentrification has changed us, what it means to be American and an artist, what it takes to be an artist today as opposed to ten years ago. This novel presented an exciting challenge: exploring the digital world, obsessions with real estate, the acquisition of endless gadgets, the constant rush to be up on everything, the name-dropping... Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame as the plague that has engulfed us."
"In calmer, more traditional forms of art, this question has been explored with the photographer Sally Mann. I think her work is amazing and beautiful, but people got a little crazy over the fact that she used her own children in her photographs. From what I understand, the kids, now older, were happy to be complicit in this art. I tried to make the Fang family an experiment in what would happen if you weren't happy to be complicit in the art."
J. T. Hill
For August, I craved to fly away from a series of colliding and onerous demands. These rutted me in place, preventing me from departing a 20-mile radius of home and smacking of a non-carefree summer. In choosing the next book to read, most often I stand before my sun-room bookshelf and gust to right or left by the momentís mood. This time, though, I set a reading agenda for the month that included three books meant to offer mental egress in restorative directions.
Barbara J. King
"What I love about prose writing is that you have the ability to go inside a character's head and describe internal dialogue, and internal monologue, and a lot of subtleties of characters. But in a graphic novel it has to be very lean and specific. You have to be very specific with what you want to show because you only have so many balloons -- so much space for dialogue -- per panel. So you have to be very careful and specific about what you put in."
While writing about a very real, oftentimes frustrating domestic tableau, Olear incorporated pop song lyrics, Facebook status updates, children's book rhymes, direct mail catalog copy, and bits of his central character's scratch-work screenplays. Olear's tapestry of domestic existence is thus an experiment -- his best attempt at trying to write the way our brains are wired now: multitasking mania.