Can we transact between creative and financial accounts?
On June 6, 2014, I heard something uncommon: a novelist interviewed on a Wall Street report radio program. The novelist was Mona Simpson. Forgetting the supernatural suavity of host Kai Ryssdal’s voice, let us look at these wise words from his “Marketplace” guest that day. This is my transcript of the end segment titled (with classic Ryssdalian aplomb) “Here’s the Thing.”
For best results, please put your feet up when reading.
Ryssdal: Here’s the thing about numbers—economic numbers, anyway: You gotta put ‘em in context. In context in the economy, of course…
A lot of questions have been coming up lately. Such as:
What lines from Alan Alda, as “Hawkeye” Pierce on TV’s <em>M.A.S.H., </em>uttered to Loretta Sit as “Hot Lips” Houlihan, best resemble the nuanced flirtations and icy rebuttals that are often bandied between Russia and the United States?
Is it true that our president habitually spends security briefings from NSA watching Miley Cyrus’ <em>Wrecking Ball</em> video on YouTube, even though he’s watched it over three dozens times, and currently is responsible for over 80 percent of the posts in Comments, most of which simply say things like: <em>I…
I’m writing a story about my evening. In it, I take a walk up the road past Jablonski’s place to see if he should happen to be mudding that godforsaken concrete wall he’s been failing at for the last three winters.
I have a strong sense of how things will go in this story. It’s almost like I’m having visions. And since at this time of year at 8:00 the sun sets just above the branches high over the ridge, that ought to put Jablonski’s place in shadow. I can visit him without interrupting his slipshod labor.
I can see…
Hey, Karl. Come on in. Good to see you. Hey, you remember Denise, whose ham salad went viral last year.
You remember Joan, the dental assistant with the really successful autism blog.
You remember Augustine, the former bank president who wears a crooked brown mustache.
You remember Harold, the graphic designer renown for his regular use of neon green in his logos and layouts.
You remember Lyle, the neighbor of that guy from Shreveport who won the lottery last year but then blew it all on boats, each of which he sank in a series of successively more gruesome accidents…
Part 1, Bullshit Self-Esteem
October of 2019
Where else could I have been when I spotted Ken? At the bookstore, of course.
The memorial was underway. Bookstores are where recently passed poets are remembered these days. Across the room, on the other side of the History shelf, a tastefully dressed woman was speaking into a microphone.
Tiptoeing like a thief across the room, Ken passed between two shelves, History and Fiction. He seemed to be slipping out at the very moment when the reverence of the crowd was just building to a somber crescendo.
“Ken!” I whispered.
Hail to you, gray-haired gentleman / on that summer porch. Let us put down / our fishing magazines and nod / sternly to your valor
You have met her eyes, there on the wicker davenport / with a curtain of lush hemlock and hard / ash behind you; Trickling / between your eyes is the elicit promising of imminent love-making
You have stepped up behind her and, broadly / but not desperately, / filled the saucepan of your square jaw / with the curving bratwurst of a smile
Now we understand
Under cover of night, you supervised / the hired…
A common pitfall for the beginning fiction writer is The Breadcrumb Effect. This is where the author conceives of a plot — a murder, a jealous lover, a stilted artist — and goes about relating things in such a way as if daring his reader to surmise what exactly is happening.
What is the nature of the lover’s jealousy? What has made the artist stilted? Readers can’t say.
Usually murders are sufficiently transparent (barring Whodunnits), but not always. In workshops, I’ve been in a student’s narrative rowboat crossing an inlet under moonlight, unaware (because I was not told) that the…
Part of the Spring 2021 collection
The Pandemic Pant returns to the spring lineup. Back by loathed demand, and sponsored by Doritos, this classic is literally timeless. As in, all recollections of sanity and personal grooming will be sucked into the void of something called a “distant past.”
Available in Melancholy Gray, Cobweb Light Gray, and an all-new tone, December Sky Medium Gray, these pants bring new meaning to the word comfort. That meaning is hideous, but it is undeniably new and undeniably a meaning, and that’s the bargain these lightweight polyester/cotton sweats strike with your lower half.
I want to introduce you to something I call “The Editorial Department Schema.” It’s a way to think about your fiction writing, or other creative writing work.
What’s a schema? Let’s have a look.