5/3/16

Quitting

Remember blogging? In the early days of the World Wide Web an Internet user's knowing gaze fell on Wonkette (Ana Marie Cox) and Bookslut (Jessa Crispin). Cox left Wonkette in 2006, after which it wasn't fun; now Crispin has shuttered Bookslut, leaving us with less fun again. Boris Kachka at NYMag.com asked Crispin why she's leaving and her answer shows why we will miss her:
BK: You’re not a fan of the industry.

JC: Part of the reason why I disengaged from it is I just don’t find American literature interesting. I find MFA culture terrible. Everyone is super-cheerful because they’re trying to sell you something, and I find it really repulsive. There seems to be less and less underground. And what it’s replaced by is this very professional, shiny, happy plastic version of literature.
Earlier at NYMag.com, Casey Johnston declared social media unwell:
It's an established fact of social media services that, once they reach enough size that the potential audience for a post becomes nebulous, people shy from posting on them, because they can't predict what reaction they'll get. This — called "context collapse" — is why we've seen group messaging services boom as broader social media ones have flattened; in your Slack or HipChat or GroupMe, you know how your friends or family will react to a link you post. On an open and unfiltered social media feed, the outcome of posting to a public is far too unpredictable.
In 2014 Prince told Brian Hiatt of Rolling Stone why he had stopping releasing albums:
Prince famously liberated himself from his record deal with Warner Bros. in 1996, and it apparently took him years to realize that his freedom extended to not releasing music. "I write more than I record now, and I also play live a lot more than I record," he says. "I used to record something every day. I always tease that I have to go to studio rehab.

"I'm a very in-the-moment person," he continues. "I do what feels good in the moment. ... I'm not on a schedule, and I don't have any sort of contractual ties. I don't know in history if there's been any musicians that have been self-sufficient like that, not beholden. I have giant bills, large payrolls, so I do have to do tours. ... But there's no need to record anymore." He makes a direct connection between fasting, celibacy and his abstention from recording. "After four days, you don't want food anymore. ... It's like this thing that says, 'Feed me, feed me.' When it realizes it's not going to get fed, it goes away. ... It's the same with music. I had to see what it's like to stop making albums. And then you go, 'Oh, wait a minute, I don't feel the need to do that anymore.'"

4/28/16

Up on a hill, as the day dissolves

Why did you take that first sabbatical?

"Well, I was stuck, really... in a funny way. Stuck with more offers to do things than I've ever had before. Some of them were interesting but the momentum problem was going to arise... It would be 'just one more' and then 'just one more' after that.

"The reason for doing it was that I thought I should spend some time alone. I spend nearly all my time with other people... what I'm involved in is a social art, I'm a social kind of person anyway. Yet I find that if I can live through the initial tedium of my own company, which usually lasts about four days, I find it very interesting to be alone. I start thinking in a way that's extremely acute. I'm thinking about different things, I think better and faster, and I'm much more courageous in what I think because as soon as you forget the society that you're part of, it's much easier to move against its norms."

-- Brian Eno interviewed by Richard Williams for Melody Maker, January 12 1980

4/26/16

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue

"Many people think the noir genre is simply a mood. But there's a lot of elements to it. The noir genre is like the white hope in a world that has lost its hold on the string that ties it to morality and goodness. It's a man in his 40s who knows the ropes and is ethically defined. He has no mother, no father, no wife, no children, no property. He doesn't owe anything to anybody. If the police say, "We're going to put you in jail until you talk," he can go to jail. He doesn't have any kid out there he needs to feed. He doesn't have any wife that's going to find a new boyfriend because he's a damn fool. You know, he can do anything."

-- Walter Mosley in conversation with Thulani Davis for Bomb Magazine

4/25/16

And I was so fucking bored

"Basically, I like hanging out and I don't like writing, and by hanging out I don't mean socially hanging out. I like to soak stuff up. My first four novels were sort of autobiographical, and I was so fucking bored. I mean, what am I going to write about next? What I had for breakfast? I can't write this, I can't read this.

"And then I ran into screenplay work, and screenplay work forced me to get out of myself, because now you're writing about pool hustlers. That's what the story demands. I don't know about pool hustlers. Well, go out and learn about it. And I had to go down to Kentucky and Alabama and places where pool tournaments were, and I discovered that I could learn about the world, and that talent and personal experience are not Siamese twins. You can take your talent and go off and learn something, and then you can write about it as well as if not better than the stuff you know from personal experience. So, I got kind of hooked on going out. Going out. Going out. Whatever you write is autobiography, because every kind of character hits a crossroad and has to make a choice in life, and that choice is informed by your sensibilities and your sensibilities evolved out of your life. So it's sort of writing about yourself without the self-consciousness.

"I have to be a little intimidated by what I'm writing about. I have to feel a little bit like I don't think I can do this, I don't think I can master this, I don't think I can get under the skin of this, because when you're a little scared, you're bringing everything to the table because you're not sure you can do it unless you bust your balls and really, really get into it. Terror keeps you slender. I need a sense of awe. Oh, shit! I can't believe I just saw that! But then what do you do with what you saw? That's the bottom line. That's the novel."

-- Richard Price interviewed by Alec Michod for The Believer, May 2008

4/23/16

I want to keep my place in the old world

Perhaps [Tom Hanks'] most perceptive insight came when an audience member raised the issue of nostalgia. After saying "documentaries kick movies' ass when it comes down to the stuff that's really going on," Hanks explicated that his own reason for repeatedly returning to WWII was because of cell phones -- or, rather, the 1940s' lack of those ubiquitous online-connected devices.

While conceding that great movies about the here-and-now are regularly produced, Hanks stated that the existence of cell phones "makes it impossible for you to keep characters apart. Anybody can talk to anybody they want to. These make it impossible for someone to outwardly lie to you, because you can immediately find out whether they're lying or not. And also, these make it possible for you to know any obscure fact that exists in the world. So therefore what disappears? Distance. Communication becomes instantaneous. And the search for a secret, the search for an answer, becomes...[feigns typing]."

-- Tom Hanks in conversation with John Oliver, as reported by Nick Shager at The Daily Beast, 2016

"What year does [The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo] take place in? Well the books are delivered in 2004, so [Stieg Larsson] is probably thinking in terms of 2003, it's not published until 2005, 2007 is the iPhone, so all those apps that would be available to the iPhone are probably something that Salander would have access to 'cause she's a bit of a Mac junkie. So you kind of go, "Well where do we draw the line?" So we just said, look everything has to be pre-iPhone technology, because otherwise they would be sitting there going "Well we just go over here." They would have a compass; they would be able to tell what the weather was like. So there's all that stuff, you just have to make a decision [that's] fairly arbitrary, basically everything in the movie is pre-iPhone."

-- David Fincher interviewed by Steve Weintraub for Collider, 2010

4/18/16

You can't depend on a beginning, you can't depend on an end

Anthony Rainone: But let's talk about The Lost Get Back Boogie, which I think was rejected -- what, 110 times? What was that whole ordeal like? How did you cope with it day in and day out?

James Lee Burke: By the time I was 34, I had published three novels in hardback in New York, and had a fair amount of success, and I was a Bread Loaf Fellow. I thought I was on board. With The Lost Get Back Boogie, I assumed it would be published. But, boy, I went 13 years before I was back in hardback again. And the agency that was handling my works sent everything back. They cut bait. It was pretty depressing.

-- James Lee Burke profiled by Anthony Rainone for January magazine, October 2004.


With The Neon Rain, my first Dave Robicheaux mystery. I'd been out of hardback print for a long time, nearly 13 years. A friend of mine named Rick DeMarinis said, "Why don't you try a crime novel?" I thought about it, and three days later Pearl and I were in San Fran, right down by Ferlinghetti's bookstore City Lights. I bought a yellow legal pad and walked down to this Italian café that's right across from the Catholic Church there on the boulevard. I ordered an espresso, and I sat down and started writing the first chapter of The Neon Rain. That's a fact.

As soon as I started writing, I knew it. I knew it when it started.

-- James Lee Burke to David Langness of Paste, November 18, 2014

4/16/16

So I've got that on him

Bruce DeSilva: Why do you write crime novels?

Robert B Parker: I write them because I know how, and because it never occurred to me not to write them. The process I go through is the same process Faulkner went through. The difference is that Faulkner writes better than I do, not because he is not writing crime novels but simply because he is a greater talent. He's dead, of course, so I've got that on him.

BD: Some people don't take crime fiction seriously. They see even your best books as mere entertainments.

RBP: Writing is either good or it isn't. It's not good because it's about 20th century angst. It's not bad because it's about a private detective. If it's good, it should be taken seriously. There is a misapprehension that it's easier to write a bad novel than a good one. It isn't. You write what you can, and if it comes out good you are lucky.

BD: Why is this such a hard lesson for some people to learn?

RBP: Literature is perceived as what you were taught in college. Professors can't teach books that are not difficult. If students read a book and they all understand it, there's nothing left to talk about in class. The second thing I would say is that most reviewing in this country is not very good. Its main function is not to do something useful but to enhance the reviewer's career. It's easier to review a difficult book because you get to explain it.

BD: Tell me how you work.

RBP: I think up a story and then I outline. The outline isn't terribly long – four or five pages handwritten. Catskill Eagle took me three months to think up. It's the hardest thing to do. I may go two, three weeks with nothing on the notepad, but I am not nervous about it because I know it will come. It always has. When the outline is completed, I write five pages a day.

BD: No matter how long it takes?

RBP: Yeah. Sometimes it takes eight or ten hours, but usually it takes no more than two. But I deliberately don't press on because if you do, then you start thinking you should write seven pages a day. It's better just to stop. I type it up in a draft, make a few pencil changes, and someone retypes it for me and sends it in.

-- Robert B Parker talks to Bruce DeSilva in 2011