Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 1865: Booth shoots Lincoln.

Things I Read

In the last few days I’ve read Vanishing Point by David Markson and We Are Never As Beautiful As We Are Now by Adam Gallari. Here are things I think about them:

So I liked Vanishing Point a lot, especially as a book that I could carry around with me during the day and read in small increments, which was facilitated by all of the really short, separate paragraphs. It took me a long time to really latch on to the “narrative,” if you can even call it that, running through the book, but the ending sealed it for me. That ending, damn. Freaked me out in a good way. I was surprised that I liked the book as much as I did because I often have trouble with fiction that strays too far from traditional narrative. I’m able to recognize and admire the merit of it if deserving, but when it comes to personal taste, I usually want to be told a story. If I can’t find the story, I tend to get frustrated. But that’s about me, not the writer. But, in any case, I will definitely read more by Markson. Vanishing Point was the only book of his they had at the library when I checked, but I’m sure that I can order the others in from another branch.

We Are Never As Beautiful As We Are Now is a long-ass title. Also, the stories in it are mostly about baseball. I know almost nothing about baseball, which made it a little difficult for me at times to identify with (or, on a few occasions, fully understand) what was going on. Aside from the baseball disconnect, though, I liked the stories a lot. I liked the thread running through the book of young men who realize how precarious their current position in life is. It was interesting to read a book so completely rooted in the masculine perspective, especially because I don’t do that too often. My two favorite stories were “Negative Space” and “Go Piss On Jane” (neither of which have much to do with baseball, which might have affected my decision). Also, Adam Gallari is really young, born in 1984. Whenever I read good books by people near my age, I feel both excitement and pressure. It’s a strange combination.

So that’s what I’ve been reading. Other than that, I’ve just been revising. And revising. And revising. I have portfolios for both autobiography and advanced fiction due in the next two weeks. The fiction one especially is fucking with me. Editing my stories, at least on the large scale, is not my strong point in the process. I get overwhelmed easily. I had my second workshop on Tuesday, and while I was really pleased with the feedback, I feel like there’s so much to do with this story that I just can’t handle it. Also, I think it’s going to be long. Really long. Which further confuses me. I would just like to add that in Sal’s absence my workshop was run by the wonderful Katie Coyle, who is a Pitt grad student and all around nice person. She gave me some insanely helpful feedback (and some much-needed encouragement) on my story. She also let me interview her for my public writing final project, which is another indication of how nice she is.

I’ll hopefully finish White Noise this weekend.


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