/ literati:

“when i was your age, television was called books!”—Peter Faulk, The Princess Bride

/ jan 2011

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Michael Chabon on
Novelist Time vs. Blogger Time

michael chabon reto caduff

© reto caduff, courtesy of michaelchabon.com

//

I tend to obsess on three subjects. Ok, I obsess on a lot of subjects, but these are three of them.
For a full list, just take a look around here, you’ll get the picture:

  1. What a rock-star writer Michael Chabon is
  2. How douchy and self-serving blogging can feel at times
  3. And why, as the first post ever on maunet explains, I hate the word blogging.

This excerpt from one of best novelists of the past 40 years, made me feel a little better.

Novelist time is reptile time; novelists tend to be ruminant and brooding, nursers of ancient grievances, second-guessers, Tuesday afternoon quarterbacks, retrospectators, endlessly, like slumping hitters, studying the film of their old whiffs. You find novelists going over and over the same ground in their novels—TNC was talking about Gatsby last week, Fitzgerald’s a prime example—configuring and reconfiguring the same little set of preoccupations, haunted by missed opportunities. That may be because getting a novel written, or a bunch of novels, means that you are going to miss a lot of opportunities, and so missing them is something you have to be not only willing but also equipped by genes and temperament to do. Blogging, I think, is largely about seizing opportunities, about pouncing, about grabbing hold of hours, events, days and nights as they are happening, sizing them up and putting them into play with language, like a juggler catching and working into his flow whatever the audience has in its pockets.

Thanks, Mr. Chabon, for easing my blogging chagrin and thanks to fellow writer/musician Sir Knight Berman for sending this snippet along. Here’s the full article.

/ dec 2010

Weather Report: Dead Vines, Empty Blinds.
Windy, Wet and Cold

Weather Report Dec 1 2010
iPhone 4G + CameraBag | ©maunet.com

Summer’s bright green ivy vines
shade my naked window panes
Natural blinds from prying neighbor’s eyes

Autumn charrs the sky, burning dying leaves a brilliant red
Wind and rain and wet and cold
strips these naked panes, scarred and etched with brittle vines.
Voyeurs, take one last long look,
there’s little left here for to find.

Already Dead

  1. Wednesday 12.01.2010 | 6:35 EDT

    Rob says:

    Can we call Beck’s Sea Change the Blood on the Tracks of the 21st century? No? Okay, carry on. It’s a great record, though, that Sea Change. . . .

    1. Monday 03.14.2011 | 6:40 EDT

      chairmanmau says:

      yes we can, Rob. yes we can…

/ nov 2010

I Often Dream of Trains

photo courtesy of Anthony Mitri and the Forum Gallery

anthony-mitri-charcoal

Last night I dreamt….

we are riding along the Lower East Side, an elevated train I think, cause traffic doesn’t seem to slow us down. I am make-upped and perfumed with something that feels and smells like motor oil. We are all talking about the city, but when the train makes its next turn, I take the mike:

“Coming up a ways, on the left, the building where I got my start here. The Puck Building, corner of Lafayette and Houston. Matt gave me my first job here 11 years ago. Someone said my boss was from the South. Some people thought we were on the make, bedwise, or if we weren’t, should be. We weren’t, though I can’t say it didn’t cross my mind. Turns out she was from Austin. Close, but Texas is not the South. Wait. Here it comes, my office was that window right…”

It was gone. The massive orange-red brick lay in a rubble, an empty, littered demolition lot surrounded by a creaking fence plastered with advertisements and gang tags. No one said anything as the train lurched on, the map of Manhattan folded and  fluted on itself by the geography of the mind. And now I’m saying:

“…it’s one of my favorite buildings, you know, like the Robyn Hitchcock song. Good thing we’re heading south, that’s the best way to see it. You come up to it from the north and you hardly notice it. You have to cross the street and turn around to really get a sense of it. The entrance sits on a corner…”

Arriving at that tangle between 23rd, Broadway and 5th Ave, the Flatiron is no where to be seen. No gaping demolition lot or signs for future development. It simply is not there. The few of us on the train car look at each other sideways, mute. The train snakes west on 23rd and moves on. And I’m saying:

“This one coming up, it’s a cliché, I know. But its history and mythology has been with me since I figured out that black goes with everything. As a teen I wished I’d lived here in it’s heyday. In college we would eulogize it in music and words, knowing it was redundant, that someone already famous had done it earlier, better, but still. Wait… coming up here on the left.”

I could tell halfway down the block it was gone. It was dusk and its tall neon sign would be lit like a derelict beacon, one or two letters of its marquee missing like teeth knocked out in a brawl, or in this case, more likely lost through ill health, years of hard living that wears the body down. In the 11 years I’ve lived in this city, I never once set foot inside. This time there was simply a gap between the buildings where the Chelsea Hotel used to be. Just a dark, empty space.

The dream abruptly ends there, interrupted by the infernal beep-beep of a truck backing up on the street. Half awake, I lay in bed, still gauzy as the dream slips away like a receding tide. I am gripped by the fear that many others have gone missing. I slump out of bed and get dressed. I’d better go check…

photo courtesy of parluck’s flick photostream

Empty Lot, New York City

  1. Friday 11.19.2010 | 9:52 EDT

    Brian B says:

    Flowing words Mau. Bien hecho!

  2. Sunday 11.14.2010 | 12:10 EDT

    Luke says:

    You’ve been here 11 years? I’ve been here 10. Somehow I thought you’d been here even longer than that.

Sister I’m A Poet

Galway Kinnel

Sister, I’m A Poet

Poetry lived with you in close quarters in the years between adolescence and adulthood. During that time, your 20′s, poetry fed a dramatic spirit not yet dampened by the practical and dignified. So then, when we’d all taken jobs, paying our bills on time, newly cautious to the promise and heartbreak of any shining thing, we left poetry behind.

And then one day a friend in need of its powers of support and re-awakening shares an old verse that once had saved him:

Trust the Hours

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

–Galway Kinnell

Live reading here

Thanks for sharing, Rob. Returning the favor, three short morsels from Richard Brautigan:

Alas, Measured Perfectly

Saturday, August 25, 1888. 5:20 P.M.
is the name of a photograph of two
old women in a front yard, beside
a white house. One of the women is
sitting in a chair with a dog in her
lap. The other woman is looking at
some flowers. Perhaps the women are
happy, but then it is Saturday, August
25, 1888. 5:21 P.M., and all over.

Boo, Forever

Spinning like a ghost
on the bottom of a
top,

I’m haunted by all
the space that I
will live without
you.

Automatic Anthole

Driven by hunger, I had another
forced bachelor dinner tonight
I had a lot of trouble making
up my mind whether to eat Chinese
food or have a hamburger. God,
I hate eating dinner alone. It’s
like being dead.

Richard Brautigan

/ aug 2010

Bi-Coastal Binge and Burn:
Stories of the Bleak and Famous

bright-lights-big-city-jay-mcinerney-brett-easton-ellis-less-than-zero

Aging proves the rule of regression: no matter how closely we monitor the pulse of the times, how tuned in we remain to the zeitgeist, we all inevitably yearn to revisit the culture of our youth. We break out our old Howard Jones records, recall our youthful lust, hope and heartbreak to the strains of Purple Rain and Meat is Murder. We revisit the Brat Pack by way of Pretty In Pink and The Breakfast Club as we mourn the death of John Hughes.

Despite Thomas Wolfe’s claim, we can in fact go home again, if only in our imagination. It follows then: literary tastes also crave the spaces we inhabited 25 years ago. Though my formative years favored the written voice of mid-century novels by Fitzgerald, Steinbeck and Salinger, now is the perfect time to revisit the haunts of 80′s Lit.

No works of fiction epitomize the 80′s more than Less Than Zero and Bright Lights, Big City. Until recently, I had only delved into the frightening, narcotic world of Bret Easton Ellis by way of American Psycho, going back for second and third helpings of that gruesome meal of nouveau cuisine, severed brains and urinal cakes. But I never gave Less Than Zero a chance, and the misinformed assumption that Ellis’ contemporary brethren James McInerny was a literary lightweight  prevented me from giving his prose its proper due.

Life ain’t all chocolate and cherry pie. The shadier troughs of our condition pique an appetite for the bitter and the toxic. These two novels serve up tales of disaffected youth recklessly bingeing on empty sex, top-shelf liquor and Bolivian Marching Powder. In equal measure, Less Than Zero and Bright Lights, Big City serve up poison and salve for our basest, most destructive impulses.

Dark reflections on lost youth in the Sodom of L.A, the Gomorrah of New York, are not exactly life-affirming. Ellis’ sparse, meticulously crafted vignettes chronicle the inert attempts of affluent L.A. youth to shed the deseased skin of their depravity. The protagonist’s chosen company elucidates his buried desire to escape from a hedonistic culture of drugs, fast cars and easy women. Absent parents obsessed with chasing the carrot of fame and status orphan their children to unchaperoned lives. Predatory pimps and dealers cruise their luxury cars from one debaucherous party after another, where teenage beauties subject their nubile bodies to failed attempts at intimacy. The story ends without redemption for its characters, no escape from the hollow distractions of anesthetic habits. But underneath all that bleakness, a moral compass lies buried, begging to be unearthed.

A contrast in tone, setting and literary voice, BLBC’s lyrical passages share a kinship with Fitzgerald, crafting a language that serves up humor and pathos in equal measure. The novel introduces a relatively innocent protagonist caught in the throes of a failed marriage and the recent loss of his mother. An aspiring writer working in the trenches of New York’s literary circle, he struggles to maintain a moral center as he prowls the clubs of the city high on cocaine and gin. His best friend and partner in crime enables a misdirected quest that trades human connection for illicit distraction. But McInerny doesn’t deny his protagonist a chance at salvation. A trifecta composed of a has-been alcoholic literary giant, a maternal colleague and a sensitive, pure female beauty prop him up with sound judgement and affectionate comfort. Epiphany and deliverance dawn as the story’s anti-hero wakes in a tub, dazed, nose bleeding, pants soiled with vomit and urine. His deep well of rock bottom ultimately offers a creaky ladder with which to climb back into the light.

/ feb 2010

Blogging: That’s not writing. That’s typing.

That's not writing. That's typing

If we work on the assumption that Truman Capote’s charming reduction of Kerouak’s amphetamine-driven drivel is accurate, then blogging is certainly an easy target for comparable derision. It’s not writing. It’s typing. And as such we shall consider it here…Henry Miller for the Seinfeld set. Calvin & Hobbs garbed as Salinger & Murakami. You know. For kids.

I jump on this crowded train with trepidation and sheepish enthusiasm. This whole “blog ” thing can be, in the parlance of our times, quite douchy. Maunet may look like a blog. It may dress like a blog and even dance like a blog. More than likely it will, save the occasional purple prose and parenthetical distraction, even read like a blog. But let’s just agree not to call it such. Stop saying blog. Who said blog? Blog. Oh wait, that’s me again, sorry.

Here’s to jumping someone else’s train. Now read on, Macduff…

  1. Friday 05.28.2010 | 6:35 EDT

    Steve says:

    You have really great taste on catchy article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

  2. Saturday 05.22.2010 | 10:35 EDT

    sunglass armani says:

    Thanks for making my morning a little bit better with this great article!!

  3. Saturday 05.01.2010 | 11:45 EDT

    tiffany uk says:

    Really nice and impressive blog i found today.

  4. Monday 03.08.2010 | 7:10 EDT

    Another good Bukowsi quote: Opinions are like assholes... says:

    everyone’s got one.

    1. Monday 03.08.2010 | 7:17 EDT

      chairmanmau says:

      Exactly. Bukowski himself lives up to his clever assertion.

      Is there anyone out there who is NOT in their angsty 20′s still reading (and pathetically emulating) the Bard of Debauchery?

  5. Saturday 02.20.2010 | 3:14 EDT

    Anon says:

    Do you have copy writer for so good articles? Because this really rocks! :)

  6. Friday 02.19.2010 | 3:38 EDT

    Alvin Scott says:

    You have really great taste on catchy article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

/ dec 2009

Best of the Decade: Books

Best of the Decade: Books (sort of)

Ok, so this is not a list of the best books published in the past decade… simply those I happened to read and enjoy most between 2000-2009.

Not too many big surprises here for many of you, but a few are buried or ignored little gems. Some already have their own posts here, others will follow suit.

Now, to the list:

//More

  1. Thursday 05.13.2010 | 12:24 EDT

    TJ says:

    I’m glad to see a book I gave you made it on the list. You know, I’m not even sure if I read that many books in toto this past decade: the decade of bearing children. Which of the Murakamis do you recommend I start with?

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