Sunday, September 23, 2007

Best Things I've Read This Year So Far

It's time for my first annual, completely-random selected day of Best Things I've Read This Year So Far. Few of these things were published this year, and a few I even started last year but haven't finished until now.

Mark Jenkins, "Ghost Road", Outside Magazine sometime in 2004, republished in Best American Travel Writing 2005: not just a hell-of-an adventurous account of sneaking into Burma, but also an epiphanic summarization of the conflicts of traveling "off the beaten track".

Poe Ballantine, "501 Minutes to Christ", from The Sun Magazine, sometime in 2005: "Tom Waits in book form" chronicles the random meanderings from one skid row to another. I think he just had a collection under the same name published; I just finished Things I like about America, which is pretty much the same (though 501 is better).

Christopher K. Miller, "Literary Mary": I found this on an online writer's forum, and it's one of the most riveting, captivating short-stories I've ever read. It makes me want to throw down my pen and go back to harvesting pumpkins. (Luckily, I write with a computer). I don't know much about Chris, except he's received hand-written, hate-filled rejection letters from Glimmertrain. You may have to sign up to read it:

Sherman Alexie, "Ghost Dance", McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales, March 2003, and not just because several scenes flash about Billings, MT. I've been meaning to ask if he's going to write a whole novel on this. Sherman, if you're reading this blog, can you finish this one book please? I liked it and it was a helluva lot better than Flight.

Finally, "Dating as a Jerry Bruckheimer Movie", though it's criminal to put it on this list as such blatant self-promotion. But hey, this IS my blog, afterall!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Waiting for the ferry outside of Clinton, WA.

Mark Jenkins wrote "Ghost Road" for Outside magazine in 2003, appearing later in the Best Travel Writing of 2004. I call it a pivotal piece in my writing development.

Poe Ballantine wrote "501 Minutes to Jesus" which appeared in the August 2005 edition of Sun Magazine. I'd also say that's a pivotal piece in my development as a wannabe writer. I'm now reading "Things I like About America", a collection of personal essays, and so far it's funny. I'm also reading "Cuba Diaries" and so far, I hate it. I can write a hundred antidotes to every anecdote conveyed in that piece. I think it's rather like "Before Night Falls": despite it's packaging as left-wing (with Cuba, everything is framed as either pro or contra revolution) packaging, it's really right-wing anti-revolution propaganda. A corresponding diary about living in the US with the same skewered point of view and "my experience reflects the absolute reality of the country" would never be published. But she's writing about Cuba, so it's gotta be true.

The line for the ferry is moving very, very slowly. Briana is driving. Trixie is navigating. I'm sitting in the back writing, noting how the stereo has blown out half of the back speakers as well as both up front. We need to get a new stereo and sell this one.

Now, back to that essay on Mexico.

Ideas to expound on, part 15

I had an idea or two about novelty books. One would read for a whole chapter:

But the book down.
Hey hey, PUT the BOOk DOWN.
Put the book down.
Hey hey
Put the book down!
Put! The! Book! Down!
Put the book down?
Put the book down;
Put the book "down"
"put" the book "down"
put the book down
hey hey, yeah baby, put the book down

The book would be called something about self-deprecation and all that, how I'm humble but wanting to be a writer/artist, and how it calls me out to be things that I'm not, like egotistical and self-centered, etc etc. maybe. Maybe. Maybe.