10 December, 2006

David Robert Hayward Stenton Jones

These fragments has he shored against his gender, so.
His name was David Robert

Hayward Stenton Jones. Not David Jones, too close to Davey
of the pre-fab four. He'd change it first to Tom Jones, then again

and then again. But this year he was Ziggy,
this year he played guitar.

That's him on the left. The man who'd fall to earth
There's a new magazine on the block - named Absent - and its first issue features this incredible poem by Robert Archambeau. A must read - especially if the words 'Hammersmith Odeon' mean something to you.

Another extract (I can't resist):

So New York and yet he's called "L.A."
when he fronts the Eldorados at a dance. He'd been a Jade,

be mother nature's son, but been a Jade who sang
a doo-wop plaintive "Leave Her for Me."

And she was Lisa and she'd say. And she was Stephanie
who'd also say. And she was Jane and Candy too,

or she would be. But he was Delmore Schwartz's
best student, gone to smack and speed and hell,

and he'd come back.

03 December, 2006

Pico, Pico, Pico

Pico Iyer: On Travel and Travel Writing
Two decades after boarding a plane for the trip that would yield "Video Night in Kathmandu," Pico Iyer talks to Matthew Davis about fact and fiction, books he wishes he hadn't written and his humble beginnings as a travel writer.

Pico Iyer on Travel Writing
A while back I was in Larry Habegger's Master Class for Travel Writers, and Pico Iyer came to talk with us about travel writing. I recorded the conversation, and am publishing a small part of it here, with Larry's and Pico's permission.

The Nowhere Man
The transcontinental tribe of wanderers is growing, global souls for whom home is everywhere and nowhere. Pico Iyer, one of the privileged homeless, considers the new kind of person being created by a new kind of life.


21 November, 2006

The play's the thing

In later years we would see great actors play Hamlet. We saw Hamlets who stripped and flagellated themselves, Hamlets who groped Horatio, Hamlets who had epileptic fits. Not one of them was a patch on a gangling Australian boy who did nothing but say the words as simply and as thoughtfully as he could.

Germaine Greer over at the Guardian Unlimited Arts Blog on the importance of letting Shakespeare speak for himself. I agree. Why try to interpret perfection?

14 November, 2006

The Novel, 2.0 - What is the role of fiction in the age of the Internet?

Slate got novelists Walter Kirn and Gary Shteyngart to exchange some mail.

Walter Kirn
My point being this: I'm thrown by this new world, both as a novelist and as a person. These two confusions are one confusion. They come down to the fact that I still think (and can't help but read and write) in linear terms, but I find myself living in infinity loops. Too much happens each day, it happens all at once, and yet, in some ways, nothing happens at all. A day that's spent processing electronic signals like a sort of lonely arctic radar station (my day, your day, a lot of ours) is hard to dramatize.

Gary Shteyngart
We are approaching a time when the Internet and ancillary services will assume the totality of human communications in the developed world. Even such time-honored practices as getting a love interest trashed at a bar and then coaxing him or her across the parking lot to a warm Volvo have been replaced by a barrage of keystrokes, misspelled two-sentence entreaties, and, by the end of the night, a parade of bent, swollen thumbs. Our imaginations are not immune, either. I've had vivid dreams that consist solely of the words, "We are sorry there has been a temporary error accessing your Yahoo account," floating in black, lifeless space before me. I shouldn't even use the personal pronoun "me," because in those dreams I am not a corporeal creature. There is nothing Gary-like about me. There is only the Yahoo! commandment, apologetic yet all-powerful, and the strange background feeling that even my dream-life has somehow been wasted.
That's just disconnected extracts from their exchange. Get thee hence. [Link via our pal Ingrid Srinath of CRY.]

12 November, 2006

Once upon a star..

The results of the TheScian Scifi Short Story contest are now officially out on their blog.

There's some good reading to be had via the page that links to the 9 stories that made it to the top of the list.

Special huzzas to my buddies Rohinton Daruvala, who placed second with To Sleep, Perchance To Dream, and Manisha Lakhe, whose Happy Happy Joy Joy placed sixth.

(Cross-posted—a longer version.)

10 November, 2006

The Buck stops here

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama): “If every American back in 1950 had quit buying novels and invested money in high-yield bonds, today we would be looking at a savings surplus of several trillion dollars, and Social Security would not be in the mess it’s in. Instead, we know what happened—most of the money wound up in the pockets of one unscrupulous novelist, Pearl S. Buck, with the disastrous consequences of which we are too well aware. The fact that that woman never spent a day in jail is a disgrace to the history of our nation. I would ask every American, before you lavish your next paycheck on expensive novels you may not need, consider the other spending choices available. You could expand your cable service, visit a casino, make a political donation, give to a faith-based concern, or put the money in something the brokers call a flort. I think we all know a little bit better how our earnings should be spent than the average novel-writer does.”

Over at the New Yorker, Ian Frazier's hilarious take on the economic consequences of buying books. Don't miss Ben Bernanke's explanation of what a flort is.

And while you're there, you might as well check out Rachel Cohen's piece on Leonard Woolf which reminds us that Woolf's attempt was to come up with a work that

"would have the stature of the books Leonard Woolf’s friends had written. By 1931, Lytton Strachey had published “Eminent Victorians” and “Queen Victoria,” John Maynard Keynes “The Economic Consequences of the Peace,” Roger Fry “Vision and Design,” Edward Morgan Forster “Howards End” and (with Leonard Woolf’s years of careful encouragement) “A Passage to India,” and Virginia Woolf, for whom her husband was bulwark and first reader, seven novels, including “To the Lighthouse” and, in 1931, “The Waves,”"

With friends like that, who needs competition.

09 November, 2006

A Poem On An Underground Train

An advertisement for a bookstore on the "F" train:

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l'automne
Blessent mon coeur
D'une langueur
-- Paul Verlaine, first stanza from "Chanson d'Automne"

04 November, 2006

Take this job and..

Kiran Jonnalagadda on what it's like working in the new economy.
Before you join, demand to be explained the business plan. If it doesn’t make sense, leave. They don’t know what they’re doing.

If the company declares it confidential, leave. They don’t have a plan.

If you tell them it doesn’t make sense and they tell you that you don’t understand and they know what they’re doing, leave. They’re pompous assholes.

If they try to impress you by making you feel small and promising great heights if you associate with them, leave. They’re condescending assholes.

If they tell you that your expected take is more than you deserve, leave. They have no respect for your abilities.

If they offer you stock without giving you decision making responsibility, leave. The stock is worthless and you’ll be signing away the rights to your career.
Read on.

31 October, 2006

The Play Is The Thing

Step 1: You write the best goddamn play

Step 2: You send it to the BBC

Step 3: You win the Contest

Step 4: In an interview to the New Yorker, you say, "I would like to thank my mother, God and my trusted laptop. But mainly, I want to thank Blogolepsy. I thank them with all my heart."

Step 5: You send us half the prize money.

27 October, 2006


A quick follow up to the Elmore Leonard essay. You know that bit about not using 'suddenly'? Here, courtesy of the Paris Review, is a striking demonstration of just what that's so important by the ever delightful Billy Collins.

26 October, 2006

The Future, In Just Six Words

Never got past the first page of first book in the Foundation series? Then you will love Six-word Sci-Fi that appears on Wired.

Some excerpts:

We kissed. She melted. Mop please!
- James Patrick Kelly

Lie detector eyeglasses perfected: Civilization collapses.
- Richard Powers

(Via BoingBoing)

Feel free to pen your petite SF masterpiece in the commentspace. (Story-lines involving an evil computer that runs on Windows Vista will be automatically disqualified.)

22 October, 2006

Well, That Explains Everything

The Dark Knight, deconstructed - in a hand-drawn comic strip, not a dull, 3-hour, $200 million flick.

21 October, 2006

Easy on the Hooptedoodle

These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain
invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell
what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language
and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is
not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might
look them over.
From an old favourite Elmore Leonard essay, a part of the NYT's Writers on Writing series. Subscription required, I'm afraid.

20 October, 2006

How do they kill thee? Let me count the ways

From the Spring 2006 Issue of Ploughshares, this fascinating catalogue of Rock Deaths by Jeff Fallis.

Look carefully, and you might just see a pattern.

17 September, 2006

Thus Spake Woody

Schopenhauer railed against the aimless nibbling of peanuts and potato chips while one engaged in other activities. Once munching has begun, Schopenhauer held, the human will cannot resist further munching, and the result is a universe with crumbs over everything.
Classic, classic Woody Allen riffing wildly on all his favorite topics. It doesn't get much better than this. (Link to New Yorker)

01 September, 2006

Who said New Yorker's were mostly harmless?

From the New Yorker online only Hard Drive - New Yorker Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff does a retrospective of New Yorker cartoons featuring aliens (as in people from Other Planets. Like Alabama, for instance). Good stuff. It's always amusing to see what you earthlin...errr...other people make of folks from outer space.

29 August, 2006

Kid Dynamite

"Hannibal was very courageous,” Tyson said. "He rode elephants through Cartilage."
David Remnick's boxer-as-a-freakshow profile of Mike "Kid Dynamite" Tyson from 1997 is still very, very funny. (Link opens a PDF.)

Jason Shiga

Imagine that you regain consciousness and find you're in a phone booth completely encased in concrete. Imagine that all you have with you are the contents of your pockets and a few mysterious documents. Imagine that you have only 48 hours to live, unless you can find a way out.
Or better yet, don't bother imagining it. Just read (if you haven't already) Jason Shiga's amazing Fleep. And while you're there, check out Shiga's other work - including the marvellous Bus Stop. Easily some of my favourite web comics.

The Decline of the Book Review

In India, the decline of the book review is especially frustrating because it's happened just as the publishing industry has started providing more — more books, selling in more numbers, covering more subjects, more professional translations, more new writers. I can only assume that the bright boys who run newspaper marketing departments read nothing these days, not even publishing industry reports.

But 10 years ago, the physical space for the book review began to shrink, and it continues to suffer from anorexia. The intellectual space for any sort of engaged discussion on the living culture around us shrank in tandem, as the review went down from 1,500 words — such profligate largesse, I think now — to 1,000, then 600, then 400.
Nilanjana S Roy, friend and lit critic (and, in another avataar, one of our earlier litbloggers), on The Decline of the Book Review in the Hindu.

28 August, 2006

Federer as a religious experience

David Foster Wallace in the New York Times on Federer as a religious experience.

Quite the best tennis writing I've ever read. Like all the really great sports writing, it's about more than just the sport. Even the footnotes read better than most reports. An excerpt:
There are wonderful things about having a body, too, obviously — it's just that these things are much harder to feel and appreciate in real time. Rather like certain kinds of rare, peak-type sensuous epiphanies ("I'm so glad I have eyes to see this sunrise!" etc.), great athletes seem to catalyze our awareness of how glorious it is to touch and perceive, move through space, interact with matter. Granted, what great athletes can do with their bodies are things that the rest of us can only dream of. But these dreams are important — they make up for a lot.
And from the main piece:
It's the finals of the 2005 U.S. Open, Federer serving to Andre Agassi early in the fourth set. There's a medium-long exchange of groundstrokes, one with the distinctive butterfly shape of today's power-baseline game, Federer and Agassi yanking each other from side to side, each trying to set up the baseline winner...until suddenly Agassi hits a hard heavy cross-court backhand that pulls Federer way out wide to his ad (=left) side, and Federer gets to it but slices the stretch backhand short, a couple feet past the service line, which of course is the sort of thing Agassi dines out on, and as Federer's scrambling to reverse and get back to center, Agassi's moving in to take the short ball on the rise, and he smacks it hard right back into the same ad corner, trying to wrong-foot Federer, which in fact he does — Federer's still near the corner but running toward the centerline, and the ball's heading to a point behind him now, where he just was, and there's no time to turn his body around, and Agassi's following the shot in to the net at an angle from the backhand side...and what Federer now does is somehow instantly reverse thrust and sort of skip backward three or four steps, impossibly fast, to hit a forehand out of his backhand corner, all his weight moving backward, and the forehand is a topspin screamer down the line past Agassi at net, who lunges for it but the ball's past him, and it flies straight down the sideline and lands exactly in the deuce corner of Agassi's side, a winner — Federer's still dancing backward as it lands. And there's that familiar little second of shocked silence from the New York crowd before it erupts, and John McEnroe with his color man's headset on TV says (mostly to himself, it sounds like), "How do you hit a winner from that position?" And he's right: given Agassi's position and world-class quickness, Federer had to send that ball down a two-inch pipe of space in order to pass him, which he did, moving backwards, with no setup time and none of his weight behind the shot. It was impossible. It was like something out of "The Matrix." I don't know what-all sounds were involved, but my spouse says she hurried in and there was popcorn all over the couch and I was down on one knee and my eyeballs looked like novelty-shop eyeballs.
Warning for the ADS-afflicted: it's a long piece.

27 August, 2006


This is not about displaying our own writing. (Though, truth be told, we work hard at stringing words together. And, now and then, we admit to being pleased with the results.)

This blog will search for and promote excellent creative writing on the web, with a wee bias towards the blogosphere.

What we'll link to: poetry, fiction, graphic stories and comics, great criticism, hyperfiction, lyrics, interactive narratives. Occassionally, we may link to essays, rants and opinion pieces unconnected with writing, but only if we think they're extraordinarily good. We'll also point to opportunities for writers, as and when we hear of them.

Tip-offs welcome. Leave a comment, or mail us.