Monday, October 28, 2013

Ulysses in 18 Cartoons

Not having a midlife crisis? Not wanting to read a book that almost demands reading other books? Have approximately ten minutes?

Go here for 18 animated cartoons that sum the whole thing up.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Books I've Bought Because of Ulysses

So my midlife crisis is taking the form of reading James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is an excellent excuse to buy more books.

1. As I’ve already pointed out, picking an edition of Ulysses is hard. And so I ended up buying the Modern Library version for my reader’s copy.

2. I know this person here would argue that you should just go it alone to get the true enjoyment out of the Ulysses, but I’ve tried that before. Granted this time has been easier (do I just remember stuff from the before?). Let’s face it, I’m academic at heart. I like reading annotations. So I bought Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated. And for good measure I got The New Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires (3rd edition).  

3. I happened to find cheap copies of Chester G. Anderson’s James Joyce and His World and Edna O’Brien’s James Joyce.

4. For good measure, I bought a three volume set of James Joyce’s letters. I found a first edition set on eBay. I wanted the three volume one so I got both Stuart Gilbert and Richard Ellmann edited letters. My friend Mel Clayton turned me on to collecting writer’s letter collections. There’s something comforting glancing through and seeing Joyce complain about money and how the writing’s going. And, of course, the dirty letters.

5. I’ll write later about all the collector’s copies I had already acquired, am acquiring, and would like to acquire.

Ulysses has already given me so much—mainly a reason to get more books. The only thing better than reading is book collecting.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Ulysses Podcast

Frank Delaney's Re: JoyceI've started Frank Delaney's Re: Joyce a podcast where he says: "I mean to go through it sentence by sentence if I have to, in order to convey the full brilliance of this novel - and the enjoyment to be had from it - I'll be podcasting for some time to come!"

The only problem is that he's not done and won't be for years. Maybe I should slow down my reading. A sentence a day. A word. A letter.

Just read the letter "L"--I'm done for the day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Choosing an Edition of Ulysses

As you may or may not know, I'm having a midlife crisis and therefore reading James Joyce's Ulysses. First I had to pick the right version. Here's a better post about this subject than I'll be able to do. After reading about the editions I thought I was set for the Gabler, and then at the last minute, confounded by the controversy (and frankly disturbed by the aesthetic of the Gabler), I chose the Modern Library version. So take that Gabler! Go fuck yourself. Yeah.

Actually I picked the ML because the above said it lies open flat. It does (see picture). Nice.

Also, I'm not on that page. I'm on page 5. My plan is to read it slowly. Like four pages a day slow. So that I started it on my 40th birthday and I'll finish on Bloomsday in June.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Please Join Me as I Have a Midlife Crisis and Read James Joyce’s Ulysses

I just turned 40 today, and, therefore, I am contractually obligated to have a midlife crisis and ergo must do something crazy. I’ve been surveying my options. I could buy a sports car, but I don’t care anything or know anything about cars. I could have an affair, but my wife might not like that. I could jump out of a plane, but I’m afraid of heights and flying—mostly I’m afraid of dying which has necessitated this midlife crisis in the first place.

So I’m reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. Reasons why:

--I’m a writer and pretend to know stuff about literature.
--I’ve been to Dublin a few times.
--I’m not going to climb Everest.
--It was published on Joyce’s 40th birthday.

I don’t believe in bucket lists (or YOLOing). That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of life, as if it were just a checklist of experiences to collect (GOTTA CATCH ‘EM ALL!). Life’s a random barrage of sensation barely comprehended, and it’s better to cultivate a savoring enjoyment of all the small pleasures that happen your way. But, that said, you got to do something before you hit the grave, so for me it might as well be reading this Modernist masterpiece.

Though, I have tried to read Ulysses before and failed. So check back to watch me quite possibly fail again, miserably. Or quietly. Or just skip it and watch The Walking Dead.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Have you bought The Night of the Comet yet?

You should because it is amazing. And it is about comets.* The Night of the Comet is by George Bishop. Full disclosure we went to grad school together, so I might be biased.

But here are some reviews that are not biased:

"It's the summer of '73, and the Kohoutek comet is hurtling toward Earth. The media hypes doomsday, while in a dull Louisiana backwater an obsessed science teacher becomes unraveled by his passion for the approaching mass of ice and gas. Told through the eyes of his 14-year-old son, himself tortured by passion for a new girl in town, this lyrical family saga twinkles with bittersweet humanity. As the comet becomes a laughingstock, Bishop (Letter to My Daughter) does a heavenly job telescoping the heady promise of youth tinged with the sorrow of lost dreams."—People

“Coming-of-age novels examine youthful revelations about the world—filled with cynicism and wonder and rearranged expectations—and the quality hinges on the honesty of the voice, the truth of the observations, the handling of innocence lost; Bishop succeeds on all these fronts.”Kirkus Reviews

“Resonant . . . explores the complexities of a father-son relationship through science, astronomy, and the growing pains of adolescence. . . . Bishop’s characterizations of young Alan’s mother, father, and sister Megan are endearing and their relentless coddling of their maturing son is wincingly accurate.”Publishers Weekly

This is Bishop’s (see how I’m using his last name as if I’m a journalist—you can trust me) second novel. His first book Letter to My Daughter resulted in my favorite Amazon review of all time:

“this book impacted my daughter's life.
just like in the book, my daughter, then 16, ran away. she escaped out the window and stole my car. i barged into her room and there wasn't a note or a clue..just this book placed on her pillow. i IMMEDIATELY knew what had happened. once it was all said and done, she enjoyed the book...even i enjoyed the book. i suppose it was her way of trying to tell me something. now, it's two years later and my daughter is 18 and in college and doing very positive things. while i'm usually not one to say music or movies influence kids, i have to say that this book did and perhaps, it wasn't a bad thing. “**

That’s right Bishop writes so powerfully you will lose all self-control. Comets be warned. You’ll stay out all night if you read this one.

Bishop also starred in the movie Teen Vamp. And more important wrote about his experiences in this article for The Oxford American. (I plagiarized this from Wendy Brenner).

So in conclusion, buy The Night of the Comet. And Letter to My Daughter. And find a copy of Teen Vamp.

*It is not “about” comets.
**This person gave the book two stars. Also this person is silly. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Me on McSweeney's Internet Tendency IV

My piece "How to Tell If Your Dog Is a Fatalist" is up at McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Last time, it was Netflix causing the apocalypse. This time it's an important public service how-to on how to tell if your dog is a fatalist. It explains fatalism. And dogs. Also, there is a penis joke.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Me in REAL: Regarding Arts & Letters

I’ve been behind on my bragging. So my story “Divulge Nothing Save the Terror of Being” is in the current issue of REAL: Regarding Arts & Letters that’s been out for months now. It’s a great issue full of splendid stuff, including an interview with Stewart O’Nan. My story has a brief philosophical discussion of indecision. Also, there’s a house fire.

Monday, March 4, 2013

AWP Ready (Boston Edition)

I am ready for my AWP experience in Boston. I have everything I need:

√A leather bound notebook so that I can write while other people are just talking about writing. And be seen writing which is even better.

√A laptop to sit in the free Wi-Fi lobby and blog about the conference. The lobby's good because people will see me writing.

√A smart phone so that I can multitask during small talk. I might even be writing.

√An odd hat so people will look at me.

√An odd shirt or T-shirt with an odd phrase like "Pushcartoplyses" so that when people are staring straight ahead they'll look at me.

√An odd pair of shoes so that when people are looking down and don’t see my hat or shirt they will notice my shoes and look at me.

√Pre-prepared questions/comments (mostly comments, long, long comments, a speech really) that are so good they will prove that I am smarter than the people on the panel and that I should have been up there in the first place.

√A limber neck so that I can scan the Bookfair as I talk to someone in case there is someone more important I should be talking to.

√Nonalcoholic whiskey to use for shots with other writers who are using actual whiskey so that I can drink them under the table and thus prove I am a better writer.

√My wife--step one in entourage creation.

√Some red socks--I hear that's big up there.

Bring on the associated writers and writing programs.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Rereading Moby-Dick: A Quote

"...great people generally, were in the custom of fattening some of the lower orders for ottomans; and to furnish a house comfortably in that respect, you had only to buy up eight or ten lazy fellows, and lay them round in the piers and alcoves." Moby-Dick Ch. 21.