the paris review
“There’s sometimes a pressure in fiction to transcendence. To completion, a sense of wholeness, things working out or really not working out. Toward something happening. Utterly off-the-cuff example, and it’s not even fiction, but take the ending of the movie Downhill Racer, with Robert Redford—he’s a ski racer, and at the end of the movie he wins the big ski race, and he’s at the bottom of the run, and he doesn’t care at all. The movie just kind of trails off. It’s a moment of profound alienation and silence, and then the credits roll. To me, it’s an interesting example of a way that you can remain in control of story but also arrive at something unexpected and truthful, which is that there is sometimes no payoff or point to victory.”
- Rachel Kushner (from an interview at The Paris Review)
Now alone, knock on Bobby (that most famous of wooden noumena, the not-in-use-just-now dummy of ventriloquist Signor Blitz (famed, as you already know, for the spectacle of his opening routine (involving an as-yet unhandled Bobby firing a pistol at Blitz from across the stage as Blitz enters (the ventriloquist, seeming to exhale cordite, having caught the bullet between his teeth (the trick being that Bobby talks all the while (first, professing anger at his constant manipulation by Blitz, then, once he’s pulled the trigger, expressing sorrow at having killed his master (Blitz slumping over on his back opposite Bobby, both thrown backward by the force of the shot…
- “( )” by Gabriel Blackwell (from Conjunctions #60)
feats of strength
the open bar
I have a short piece on the Tin House blog. Here’s the first paragraph:
A strongman is lifting my car, his hands bolted tight to the front bumper. His trunky thighs and buttocks are facing streetward, and several women in the neighborhood have set up lawn chairs and are watching the spectacle from their front yards. His grunts are loud, like falling timber, and the birds perched on the roof have fled in search of friendlier shingles.
david foster wallace
bull men's fiction
Very brief rejection note at BULL. Take a look-see. Or don’t (I have no way of knowing).
(Big thanks to Laura Ellen Scott, Scott Garson, Erin Fitzgerald, Mel Bosworth, and Sean Lovelace for including “Loafer” and “A Good Meal” on the longlist.)
1. Constant eye contact unnerves some people. Don’t just focus on the eyes: take in all of your potential employer.
2. Try using some big words, like “beleagered” and “philanderer.”
3. If you plan on eating a meatball sub during the interview, make sure to bring plenty of napkins.
4. A piano key necktie goes a long way if you’re interviewing for a job at Steinway & Sons.
5. Only quote Malcolm Gladwell if the opportunity comes up naturally within the flow of conversation.
6. Deny, deny, deny, deny.
7. If there’s a lull in coversation, shout out “paperweight fight” and see where that gets you.
8. Be sure to include an up-to-date 40 time on your CV.
9. A light kiss on the forehead says more than a handshake ever could.
bull men's fiction
A new rejection note is up at BULL:
This piece may have played well in France, but it won’t work here in the States. For one, the character names are too difficult to pronounce. Vladimir and Estragon don’t exactly roll off the tongue.
(Don’t worry—there’s more…)
But there is something intensely satisfying, I think, to the human mind, when it sees a work of art where you have a lot of disparate elements suddenly brought together, especially in cases where we know that the elements were once a part of something else, and now have been rearranged, and so forth, that is, that you’re now in a relation between parts which has not been forced upon. For example, if I’m making a hammer, I’m forced to make it in a certain way in order for it to do its job. When you get a sentence that’s right, all the words are there because they’re happy to be there, and they’re happy to be there because it exploits them to their fullest nature, it allows them to shine. At the same time, they are in a combination which shines, and it’s a free community.
- William H. Gass interviewed by John Madera (at Rain Taxi)