Wednesday, January 14, 2009

People have been asking me what I read lately...

...or maybe I just have the illusion that that is happening. Whichever, the fact still remains that I don't really know anymore. I've been going after books based on the superficial--title, author, who the author knows, relationships between authors (i. e. Bret Easton Ellis leading me to reading McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City)--and the other day, when Welcome to the Monkey House was not at the bookstore, I found myself wandering shelves looking for a collection of short stories that could lead me to some sort of reasonable pastiche for the novel I'm trying to write (it's still coming along rather nicely in my head, but is stuttering on the computer screen, thanks for asking). It came down to Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son or Sherman Alexie's The Toughest Indian in the World, of which I picked the latter because it was longer, the same price, a trade paperback, rather than an MMP, and, partially because the grammar of Johnson's book still bothers me.

All of these somewhat stupid things flow through my head a bit too much, methinks. The blogs I'm reading are depressing me, because they all seem to tell so much more of a story than I've ever felt I've had to give. I don't really know the first time I started writing, or the first time I started telling stories, but I do know that it had nothing to do with my life, because I find myself to be quite boring.

So now I'm reading Chabon's A Model World and Other Stories and the aforementioned book by Sherman Alexie. Both remind me of the benefits of reading the short story, a style of writing that according to most everyone you ask, is becoming a commodity. (Even if the only person I can think of right now who has commonly brought this up is Stephen King.) Basically I've been reading straight first person as of late, even something like The Unbearable Lightness of Being with its ever present speaker, but have been avoiding books like The Delivery Man or The King of Methlehem, which are both, I believe, third person. I'm not exactly sure why I've been doing this, it's not like I dislike the construct of an omniscient narrator, but it has definitely become a conscious effort on my part. So, with a collection, I can shift back and forth, and have done so in the first three stories I've read of books. I need to get back to Paycheck and Other Stories, the first of the complete short stories of PKD, just so I can keep up my genre feelings, since my writing has been getting progressively more and more mainstream, which is not bad, but just unexpected, considering who I think I am.

I've also been drawing possibly random connections as of late: the whole time I was reading Lunar Park, I was thinking, "Ha! This is like Christine," and I don't know if that makes any real sense, even though "haunted" cars do play moderate roles in both. I've already spoken of the similarities I found between the first Milan Kundera book I'd ever read and last year's Pulitzer winner, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

Oddly enough, I picked up The Road because it was like six bucks for the MMP (twice as long and half the price of Jesus' Son) at Wal-Mart of all places, so, even though I haven't made any headway through The Orchard Keeper, I'll be reading more Cormac McCarthy soon. Thinking, if I wait on getting back to my first Library of America book, Philip Roth's Novels and Stories 1959-1962, pick up some Delillo and Pynchon (both of which I'll be reading someday, I'm sure), I'll be reading Harold Bloom's favorite living quartet, even though I don't care for anything Bloom says, just because, for me, he is the perfect example of the stuck-up literary critic.

The only problem with this whole goal of mine, when it comes to writing this novel I want to write, is that I've never really done any half-good pastiche, except for, perhaps three pages from the book I wrote in November which was pretty damn close to me just stealing from Easton Ellis's Glamorama. I've written one of the shorts for the book now, but I don't really know if it fits the sort of thing I've been going for. It's called "The Man Who Was Forgot," and is something I've been working on for a long time really (trying to write a story with that title), and an idea that my father's only response to was, "But, that's like, grammatically wrong, right?"

So, it feels good to have written that finally, fully, beginning-middle-end, something I've been doing a helluva lot more lately than ever before, and must be some form of a step up. But that's about it, I guess, thinking I really, really need to read The Great Gatsby, which I've been turning into a myth of comparison in my mind, and is probably nothing, absolutely nothing, like I'm expecting it to be.

And I guess the main problem I have with this whole blog writing thing is the same problem I have with writing anything that isn't pretty much straight fiction. I usually just go with what comes into my mind, what words appear in my head, and that leads me down odd pathways, and useless corridors, and I find myself wondering what I'm even trying to talk about anymore. But feeling better than that last sentence sounds right now.

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