Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Kind of Novels Do You Like, or Do You Write?s

1) I like novels I can knock off on a single Saturday, with time left over to cook meals or mow the lawn. Baldwin's Giovani's Room, 224 pages and still available in a Dell mass market edition in used bookstore for five dollars and under, is my speed. What a fine novel. Baldwin is a moralist and teacher, unpopular roles for the novelist in our time, but he pulls it off. I like short novels so I like to write short novels.

2) I hate family sagas that follow a family through many generations.  I like a novel that follows a main protagonist closely, either in first and third person. Sherman Alexie and Jim Harrison I dig.

3) I went through a period of about two years in the late 1960's where I only read women novelists. Now it looks like I read mostly male novelists. I did get 100 pages into the first Harry Potter novel, reading it to my daughter, but she got bored so we quit. Of course later the peer pressure became so great she read all of them. The last novel she read she told me about was the Japanese writer Murakami.

4) I make no theoretical justifications or arguments. I'm interested in educating myself about the human condition through the novel. I don't care if a novelist is famous or critically high ranked. I pick a novelist as you might pick a piece of pie at a restaurant.  I've read most of Bukowski's novels. Read around in but never read either Joyce or Henry Miller all the way thru, except for a short book Miller did on Greece. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers I found a repetitive bore and gave up. The same with his novel on Mexico--too full of Aztec propaganda.

5) So I like short novels, and I tend to like novels that are autobiographical. Hemingway said in a Paris Review interview something about how novelists are after the truth and how can you write it if you haven't lived it.  I know that's an unpopular view now. All art is autobiographical, one way or another, as Louis Armstrong said, even SF and fantasy.

6) Both my Drifter's Story and Fogg in High School are short novels. Both essentially follow a male protagonist. The first is in interview form.

7) Well, I'm interested in lively conversation, and would love to hear from those who disagree with me.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bitch Time

Bitch time.

Everybody's out to pigeonhole you--not that I have anything against pigeons. I lived in Chicago and they seemed everywhere. At the train station. In the eaves of your house. 

Actually, I never saw a pigeon living in a hole. It's a powerful phrase, pigeonhole, but seems unfair to pigeons. It's like the phrase, "Work like a dog."  Almost all the dogs I see are sleeping. Maybe in the old days Border Collie's worked hard.

People call me a poet. I've got nothing against poetry. I read it; I write it. 

But I write novels and memoirs too.  And short stories. 

It's like the old Scotch tape store on the old Saturday Night Live. People would come in there asking for greeting cards or paper, but no, they only sold Scotch tape.

I'm a writer. I write criticism sometimes, book reviews and movie reviews.

Quit trying to marginalize me into the dark and forgotten corner of the poor poet. But hey, you want to be a poet, a poet alone, that's fine with me. Do as thou wilt.

Thank you. You may bitch in response.