Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Suspended


Voy a dejar el blog en suspenso por un tiempo. Espero volver pronto. Se me ocurre recomendar un detalle: el escritor Luis López Nieves, en su (visitadísima) página Ciudad Seva, permite suscribirse a una lista para recibir un cuento semanal. No es una mala idea. La página está aquí.

***

This blog will now go into remission. I hope to put up new posts shortly, but I’m starting work on a new novel, and that will take up the spare time from other duties. Before I go, if you haven’t already, be sure to read Donald Barthelme’s wonderful (and tiny) short story “The School,” available here.

UPDATE (10 June 2009): Following Javier Moreno’s hint (I had missed the story when it first came out last year in The New Yorker), I read Wells Tower’s story “Leopard.” Mind you, Wells Tower is all the rage now. The story does deserve at least some of the attention Tower’s anthology has received. The pace is good. The second-person narrative flows well. The main character, an eleven-year old, is convincingly portrayed, with mighty but ultimately impotent longings, with a warped and all-consuming lust for justice. The stepfather is an intriguing character. The story gets a nice edge right about the middle, when the title becomes clear. Having said that, some sentences could have used a little trimming. For instance, this one could have been tidily relieved of the word “pointless”, which makes it cluttered with adjectives: “The little chips and gouges in the frame are a dispiriting reminder of the pointless assault.” Also, since the story does revolve around an eleven-year-old, the vocabulary could have been kept in check in some parts, like with these phrases: “Your stepfather fancies himself a kind of socialist frontiersman” and “it is surely offended by your stepfather’s desecration of the silence.” On a different note, I was reminded of another story that also works well with an adolescent narrator; it’s “Grillos,” by Mauricio Salvador.

UPDATE (26 June 2009):
“[Many stories I read in 2006] felt show-offy rather than entertaining, self-important rather than interesting, guarded and self-conscious rather than gloriously open, and — worst of all — written for editors and teachers rather than for readers. […] It’s tough for [short-story] writers to write (and editors to edit) when faced with a shrinking audience of readers-for-pure-pleasure.”
“What happens to a writer when he or she realizes that his or her audience is shrinking almost daily? Well, if the writer is worth his or her salt, he or she continues on nevertheless — because it’s what God or genetics (possibly they are the same) has decreed, or out of sheer stubbornness, or maybe because it’s such a kick to spin tales. Possibly a combination. And all that’s good.”

(Stephen King, in the “Introduction” to The Best American Short Stories 2007)

Tanea plans to be a writer. Can you provide one do and one don’t for her?
JB: Don’t let anyone discourage you. Do write without fear.
[…]
Has writing fiction diminished your ability to enjoy reading fiction […]?
Only when I’m writing. Make that only when I’m writing intensely — meaning once I’m past the first draft. I hate writing first drafts. It’s the worst part of the process for me. I’m a rewriter. A reviser. When I’m caught up in my characters and their story, I can’t allow myself to get involved in the lives of other characters — and reading fiction for me means being caught up in the lives of the characters.

(Judy Blume, in the “Introduction” to The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008)

UPDATE (1 July 2009):
“Artists, writers, and poets all have pat answers when they are asked why they do what they do, and I’m no different. Usually my reply is a soft one peppered with the word love (as in ‘I love what I do’ or ‘labor of love’), and sometimes if I’m feeling fancy and literary I throw in a Robert Frost quote about ‘uniting my avocation and my vocation.’ When less inspired, I resort to some well-worn variant of ‘I write because I have to write.’ Whatever. These are nice answers, all of them, but the truth is I haven’t thought too deeply about it, and, if I did, I suspect the real answers would be significantly darker and less verbal. A series of angry but self-assuring grunts, maybe. A howl or a pounding on my chest.”

David Gessner, “The Dreamer Did Not Exist: A boy’s obsession with nonexistence”

(PS: The rest of the story/essay is nothing to blog home about)