Sunday, September 25, 2005

sci-fi and civil rights.

Been having some trouble getting into anything lately. Keep starting books and gradually losing interest. I got a copy of Venus on the Half-Shell by Kilgore Trout, assuming it was a long lost Vonnegut joke, but found out that it was actually by Phillip Jose Farmer. I was a little disappointed when I heard this, but thought it was still a cool tribute, was glad someone actually published a Kilgore trout novel. Come to find out that it just sucks (in my humble opinion), I couldn't make it past the first few pages, it was kind of painful to read. Not the clever writing you would expect from Trout. I think if you're gonna do it, you should at least try to make it sound like the excerpts in Vonnegut books. It uses the paragraph that was in God Bless You Mr Rosewater (which I reread while traveling and man is it depressing), but that's about all. I guess I'm just saying it should sound like Vonnegut. I was going to keep it just because it's an old mass market that says Kilgore Trout on it and has a picture even, but now I'm not so sure.
The best book I've read lately is King, Malcom, Baldwin, a book of interviews by Kenneth B. Clark. It's from live television interviews from 1963 with Martin Luther King, Malcom X, and James Baldwin. Makes it very apparent how intelligent and commanding MLK and Malcom X were. The interview with Malcom X is just awesome, really powerful. Even though I like King's philosphy more than Malcom's, Malcom is just so convincing that it's easy to see why so many would get behind him. A hyperintellectual, very sure of what he believes, would be really hard to argue with. Clark gets fed up with him by the end, says "I'd like to talk to you some other time if you would tell me a little about what you think the future of the Negro in America is other than separation." The interview with James Baldwin was off the hook, emotional, all over the place. It got me to start reading Go Tell It On The Mountain, which I was really into at first, amazing writing that completely carried the book. I think I've given up in it for now, though, lost my interest at some point. Want to give some other Baldwin a try sometime, he's obviously an interesting guy, very smart, very troubled, seemed to have been torn in differnt directions his whole life.

"I'm terrified at the moral apathy, the death of heart, which is happening in my coutry. These people have deluded themselves for so long that they really don't think I'm human. I base this on their conduct, not on what they say, and this means that they have become in themselves moral monsters. It's a terrible indictment. I mean every word I say." -James Baldwin

the zines.

First and foremost, Ilse Content Vol. 3, the third installment of Alexis Wolf's fine poetry zine is her best yet. Technically, it's not out yet (soon to be released on SSO Press), but been enjoying my "advance" copy. Personal, serious, humorous, playful, all around very enjoyable. It's also the prettiest one so far.
Illustrated Roots Music by Drew M. Christie is a cool little zine of American folk music. Very random on who it touches on and where it goes, but that kind of makes it fun. A few interesting facts (Skip James was a pimp and started his career playing piano in the brothel he hustled at), but it's really all about the drawings, his style is so hip, I want him to do murals on my walls.
Casey Fuller gave me his latest poetry book the other night and it's good. I think he just made it to give away to a few people and the relaxed style really is what makes it cool. It's all poems he wrote at work, just about mundane day to day stuff, people at his job, weird small events. He's not trying to create works of genius, he's just taking notes and seeing what genius lies in everybody and what beauty there is in the boring stuff that doesn't make for the good stories when you get home at the end of the day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Jewel's mother is a horse/Hollywood

years ago an english teacher said to me, "what? You've never read 'As I Lay Dying'? Oh, you should really do that as soon as possible. Here, borrow my copy." i didnt take his advice until recently, after a fun library adventure with socksnrobbers. it's a fantastic book, the first full novel of Faulkner's that i've ever read, and a good experience.
it's the horribly tragic story of the Bundren family trying to bury their mother in a town 40 miles from where they live. waiting, holes in the coffin, bridges washed out, the coffin loose in the river, broken legs, barnburnings, a stinking corpse no one wants in their town, tragedy upon tragedy as this poor family falls apart. totally awesome.
told through 15 or so perspectives this book is superb. am definitely going to check out more Faulkner. i highly suggest this book and want to talk about it with you if you've already read it.

was watching the film of Hemingway's 'To Have and Have Not' and noticed Faulkner cowrote the screenplay. what other authors went to Hollywood and why? what were their reactions?
so far as i understand Faulkner couldnt support his booze and had to make quick cash, hated Hollywood. Steinbeck worked on a few things, 'the Forgotten Village' and 'the Red Pony' and there was the movies of 'the Grapes of Wrath', how did he dig it? does anyone like John Fante? he wrote one great novel, 'Ask the Dust', the his others werent so good. i've only seen one movie he wrote, it was somewhere between mediocre and bad. just wondering

Monday, September 19, 2005

Word, Mr Hemingway

There's some books you can just read a billion times and not get sick of. Steinbeck's funny-as-shit novels tortilla flat, cannery row, and sweet thursday are some of those. In fact most of steinbeck and about a dozen others. One is Mark Twain's Adventures of Huck Finn. Damn. Have you read this recently. The writing makes saliva roll down my chin. It is good. Anyways, When asked what the best American novel ever written was Hemingway did not, as Ayn Rand possibly did, select one of his own. His choice was Huck Finn. The interesting thing about it was that he said that was his choice only if the last 30 or 60 or something pages were disregarded. So I've been wondering about that since I heard it two years ago. Now reading the book again I understand what he's saying. Huck Finn is an amusing book but its also about some real shit; Slavery, Abuse, Greed, Politics. Towards the end Jim is captured by some farmers who turn out to be tom sawyer's relatives and Huck is taking in pretending to be tom. Here is where the book changes. Tom sawyer shows up and it goes from the Adventures of Huck to the book previous about Tom. Its funny. Really funny. But it loses that edge it has through the rest of the book. Despite that you should all reread it if you haven't recently done so.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Huxley 1, Orwell 0

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

by Neil Postman

i really enjoyed this book. it told me everything i wanted to hear. the dueling prophesies of Brave New World v. 1984 was the theme throughout. In the end, soma wins because entertainment is more powerful and convincing than blatant fascism.

the oppressors are standing behind the green curtain, except we can't even see the curtain. it saddens me that still photography is half to blame for the creation of television (telegraphy is the other half). it surprises and pleases me that even though this country was founded by puritans, they were intellectuals, and reading was very important to them. even though it was to read the bible, you have to start somewhere.

the solutions offered by this book were a little vague, but nonetheless inspiring. we have to expose television as just another instinct tickler, and at the control of corrporate interests, it does nothing good for you. only the money interested shareholders. down with television!

top 3 recent

had a lot of time on my hands recently and have been reading quite a bit. in no order the best things i've come across are 'counter clock world' by Philip K. Dick, 'wealth is a bad marriage' (unpublished) by Will Hewitt, and 'in dubious battle' by John Steinbeck.
Steinbeck is the motherfucking man and i was blown away by this story of a strike set in a fictional california valley. seriously, the motherfucking man.
Philip K. Dick, the crazy scifi guy probably most famous for Blade Runner or Total Recall is another master of the craft, even if lots of folk dis on scifi. this book is set in a world where time is moving in reverse and an old prophet is returning to life. a crazy cult, LSD grenades, and adultery, the library is the enemy, busy eradicating books and generally frightening people. awesome.
wanderer, poet, activist Will Hewitt has outdone himself. SSO Press is putting this out sometime in the future, a cycle of poems about his travels down to Chile, an open heart and an insatiable curiosity. will be a huge hit when it comes out, people will burn their houses down and throw beercans at South Africa.