Monthly Archives: February 2011

Are the great just the lucky?

I have a new piece up at Numero Cinq, a little essay about how those who we regard as great may only be greatly lucky:

Beyond the flickering light of those few writers who achieve fleeting fame in their lifetimes, past the much brighter halo of the Faulkners and Dickens and Shakespeares whose posthumous fame constitutes the canon, lies a vast, unseen, unmentioned graveyard.  A graveyard of unknown books, a monstrous, unknown continent that surrounds the little enclave of books we revere.

Please head on over and have a look.  Thanks.

A writer is paid in hope – interview at Dark Sky

Brad Green and I had a conversation over at Dark Sky about writing, the expat life, and how a struggling writer is paid not in currency, but in hope.

The real cost of taking a real shot at the writer’s life isn’t the lost income (although there’s that, too), but in what Taleb calls the subtle humiliations at the watercooler. Faulkner pointed out fifty years ago that the writer has no place in American society. Little has changed since then, other than the growth of MFA-sponsored refuges, and your only choice as a writer is to keep on working. And hope.

Maybe you’ll get your big break, maybe you’ll get published in The Paris Review, get a hotshot agent, or sell 10,000 copies of your self-published Kindle book. But don’t count on it. As Taleb says, you may spend years working for a grand vindication that will never come.

If you are a struggling writer, you are not paid in currency. You are paid in hope.

Please head on over to Dark Sky and have a look.

Attack of the John Galt fanboys

Oh, no.

They actually did make Atlas Shrugged into a movie, and it’s actually going to be released in the actual world.  Prepare for the attack of the John Galt fanboys (and girls, no doubt, though in vastly smaller numbers), who now won’t even have to have actually read the turgid pool of warmed-over brainspittle otherwise known as everything Ayn Rand ever wrote to go prancing on and on about Objectivism and the Individual and Selfishness and Galt knows what else.

We can always hope, though, that the release of the this terrible pseudo-philosophical “literature” as film will be a giant stinkbomb of Battlefield: Earth proportions, thus consigning two kooky worldviews to celluloid infamy for all time.

Can I give you just one example of how terribly inept the whole Randian endeavor is?  Just one?  The movie will be released on April 15, Tax Day.  Get it?  Tax Day?  See?

If you don’t, please count yourself lucky.

We should be so lucky.

In the meantime, the universe of snarkasm also known as the internet is going to have a field day with this one.  Though if the movie is half as terrible as the trailer is, this won’t rank as much of an accomplishment:

Ethical question: I am going to have to see this movie for myself, of course.  Which pirated source will cost “The Strike” productions the most money?

More fun I have had with Patron Saint of Selfishness:

I had an Ayn Rand phase, too

This amusement brought to you by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand smackdown

What American English sounds like (according to an Italian)

This deeply weird video is evidently a parody by the Italian artist Adriano Celentano. It purports to be what American English sounds like to an Italian. He goes to very great, even disco-like, lengths to demonstrate this. QED.

Celentano may be overly kind. According to my students in Japan and Thailand, American English sounds way more gibberish-y than this.

Not that this prevents this Japanese girl from going for the American English gusto anyway.

Donigan Merritt goes e-bookin’ – buy it

Noted author Donigan Merritt has made his 1982 debut, One Easy Piece, available as a Kindle book.

Here is what Donigan has to say about it:

One Easy Piece was my first published novel; it came out in late 1982, before I had finished work for the MFA degree from Iowa, which I received in December of that year. It has been out of print for just less than forever, although in its day it sold very well. It’s been a while, but one word sticks out as common among the newspaper reviews of its day: harrowing. Yes, I think it is harrowing reading.

One Easy Piece was originally titled “The Devil You Know,” which is the novel’s epigram — few of the original titles of my books have made it all the way to publication. The basic idea, or theme, of this novel came from a program aired on “60 Minutes” back then about wife abuse and a look into the lives of women hiding out in a “safe house.” What most intrigued me about the story was how many of the women were forgiving of their abusers, how many had returned to the man, or would return. My wondering about this eventually lead to the story of this novel. Conversations with three women who had been abused by husbands or boyfriends constituted the bits of pieces that created the characters here.

One Easy Piece costs less than a Starbucks latte and has traveled almost three decades to reach you.  Go pick it up.

Donigan also plans on releasing it in iPad and Nook format soon.

Donigan Merritt goes e-bookin' – buy it

Noted author Donigan Merritt has made his 1982 debut, One Easy Piece, available as a Kindle book.

Here is what Donigan has to say about it:

One Easy Piece was my first published novel; it came out in late 1982, before I had finished work for the MFA degree from Iowa, which I received in December of that year. It has been out of print for just less than forever, although in its day it sold very well. It’s been a while, but one word sticks out as common among the newspaper reviews of its day: harrowing. Yes, I think it is harrowing reading.

One Easy Piece was originally titled “The Devil You Know,” which is the novel’s epigram — few of the original titles of my books have made it all the way to publication. The basic idea, or theme, of this novel came from a program aired on “60 Minutes” back then about wife abuse and a look into the lives of women hiding out in a “safe house.” What most intrigued me about the story was how many of the women were forgiving of their abusers, how many had returned to the man, or would return. My wondering about this eventually lead to the story of this novel. Conversations with three women who had been abused by husbands or boyfriends constituted the bits of pieces that created the characters here.

One Easy Piece costs less than a Starbucks latte and has traveled almost three decades to reach you.  Go pick it up.

Donigan also plans on releasing it in iPad and Nook format soon.