Saturday, May 18, 2013

Soup and Salad: The Worst Novelist in History, Writers Re-Read, Lessons From Gatsby, A Writer's Ego, Embracing Rejection, The Return of Frank Bascombe (?), A 21st-Century Essential Canon, Writers Helping Writers, Author Movie Cameos, 10 Movies Based on Poems, The Ballet Also Rises

On today's menu:

1.  The Virtual Victorian somewhat cheerfully announces "The Worst Novelist in History."  E. L. James?  James Michener?  The guy who wrote that Mack Bolan series?  Guess again.  It's Amanda McKittrick Ros (December 8, 1860 to February 2, 1939)  an Irish novelist who, among other things, wrote that "eyes are 'piercing orbs,' or that legs are 'bony supports,' or that to blush is to be touched 'by the hot hand of bewilderment.'"  One of her book's titles was Six Months in Hell.  Indeed.

2.  It's doubtful any of the authors interviewed by the Los Angeles Review of Books at the L.A. Times Festival of Books ever read Miss Ros--let alone re-read her.  But several of these writers did return to The Great Gatsby again and again:

3.  Speaking of The Great Gatsby....No, I haven't seen the Baz Lurhman film.  Yet.  I'm dying to, old sport, but it'll have to wait until life calms down around the household (I was on the road for the last nine days).  In the meantime, at the Alaskan 49 Writers blog, Andromeda Romano-Lax shares the 10 Things She Learned as a Writer From Fitzgerald's Gatsby, including "Break up the backstory" and "Short can be sweet."

4.  The Book Fox was kind enough to post a quote from Carolyn See which, if it wasn't so long, I would have printed on a coffee mug so I could see it every time I went to take a sip of coffee while sitting at my computer (which is quite frequently, actually).  The quote begins like this: "Your ego is a big, messy, undisciplined, anxiety-ridden dog. It barks and whines and pees on the floor and sheds all over the furniture and takes nips at passing strangers and goes crazy when it sees another dog that might be bigger or smarter or prettier. This dog — at least in my experience — is untrainable. The only thing you can do is try to keep it on a fairly short leash."  Go to Book Fox to read the entire thing.  These are wise, coffee-mug, inspirational-poster words to live by--especially for me, a debut novelist who has just returned from the Oregon coast where his book was chosen as the annual county-wide Title Wave Read.  It's the kind of flattery that could really make my ego-dog pee on the carpet.  Fortunately, I have a down-to-earth wife who keeps me in check and held on a short leash.

5.  Rejection is another thing that helps keep me in line--I'm going on thirty years of "Thanks But No Thanks" in this writing business.  At the New York Times, author Beth Kissileff has a great essay about rejection.  Though she's talking about the college-admission process, she could easily have been describing the writing life when she says: "Experience has taught me that there is nothing wrong with continuing to try for something, even if you aren’t successful the first time. Getting rejected does not mean you aren’t a good student or that you don’t deserve to get in, but that there is a lot of competition."

6.  Could this be the return of Frank Bascombe?  Richard Ford fans certainly hope so.

7.  The century is still a little wet behind the ears, but that's not stopping GQ from putting out a list of 21 Essential Books of the Century (actually, what they said was "21 Books from the 21st Century Every Man Should Read," but I believe these are books which women, space aliens and literate parakeets could enjoy, too).  Of the 21 books on the list, I've only read 7.  I'm not too worried, though.  I still have another 87 years to read the others.

8.  Writers are "whack jobs" who live lives that are "weirdly full-frontal public."  At least, according to Laura Munson that's how it is.  I happen to agree with her.
It’s writers who buoy writers. We get each other. We cut each other slack. We connect each other. We forgive each other. We cut to the chase and we bleed easily with each other.
Click here to read the rest of Laura's lovely piece (which describes her friendship with novelist Lee Woodruff).

Who's that guy in the middle?
9.  Cool Lit-Flick Link of the Week #1: 9 Surprising Author Cameos in Movies.

"OMG!!  I had no idea this movie was based on a poem!!"
10.  Cool Lit-Flick Link of the Week #2: 10 Great Movies Based on Poems.

11.  Hemingway in a tutu?  The Sun Also Rises is also a ballet.

12.  And, closing on a personal note....I am now writing to you on this, my pre-birthday gift from the always-wonderful Mrs. Abrams:

Notice how easily and carefreely I balance my words on the tips of my fingers?  Talk about your "Freeeedom!!"

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