Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Soup and Salad: Bronte Sisters Power Dolls, Crappy Writing, Grant Munroe at One Story, Updike 2.0

On today's menu:

1.  It's already starting to go viral, so I'll join the wave of fans for....BRONTE SISTERS POWER DOLLS!  With Boomerang Book-Throwing Action!  (Pudding not included)

2.  Laura Miller at Salon on Really, Really Bad WritingThe novel, poem or essay you write today, in full confidence of its genius, may be regarded by some later version of yourself as soul-witheringly dreadful.  Can I get an "Amen," brothers and sisters?  Sure, I've got plenty of regrettable writing (and who's to say Fobbit might not one day cause me to wither in shame).  Deep in the dusty bowels of my basement, yellowing in the bottom of a trunk, there lies a 200-something-page manuscript called The Last of Anne.  It is, in hindsight, a truly crap-soaked novel--a newlywed disappears on her honeymoon and the mopey husband drives the interstate in search of her.  But it was my first full-length manuscript, and for the year I was writing it, I was in love.  It served its purpose well: it taught me the dynamics of writing a novel--the discipline, the dedication, the despair.  The Last of Anne never went anywhere (except into the trunk) and when I look back, I think how lucky I was that literary bucket of lard died a quick death.  R.I.P.

3.  I've said it before, I'll say it again:  If you're not subscribing to One Story, you're missing out on some great contemporary short stories.  The concept of the magazine is simple and beautiful:  each issue is a single story--no ads, no editorials, just a few dozen pages easily digested over your lunchtime (or, if you're like me, extended "bathroom breaks" at the office).  Not every issue of One Story is a winner, but 95 percent of them are.  The current story--"Corporate Park" by first-timer Grant Munroe--falls solidly into that winning percentile.  It's impossible to stop reading after this opening paragraph:
It was as if the mountain lion didn’t exist.  Yet it did.  And it was on every mind and every twitching lip every hour of every day.  It wandered into the office building last month.  Kinsella left the door open.  He’d gone out for a smoke.  Seems impossible to think that a mountain lion learned how to use the elevator.  But here we are.
It only gets better from there.  In 19 pages, Munroe delivers a hilarious, biting commentary on what turns out to be a literal cubicle jungle.  Subscribe!  Now!  You can read an interview with Munroe at the magazine's website.

4.  The Barnes and Noble Review's Grin & Tonic sends a letter to the "Family and Estate of John Updike" and it's pretty freakin' hilarious.  So many choice morsels to quote, but here's one of the funniest:
Correct me if I’m wrong, but your father was known as “high-falutin’.” Meaning, he tended to write books that most people didn’t “get” or “buy.” And that’s fine. Not everyone can be Judy Blume. Truly, you should not feel ashamed. There’s little doubt that if I had a menu filled with writers, your father would certainly be one of the main courses. Let’s face it, though: he would probably be something like pumpkin octopus risotto--something that sounds all fancy but no one ever orders.

1 comment:

  1. OK, that was the kick in the ass I needed to subscribe to One Story. I've meant to for what, years? Not that I need another periodical, but this one is worth making time for.