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William Gay is a genius

Crowd at sports arena

A literary one at least.

The deceased author William Gay, that is, not the former professional football cornerback William Gay.

Well, William Gay the cornerback may also be a literary genius, I’m just not aware of it.

But I am aware that Nic Pizzolatto is too a genius, at least of the screenwriting variation, as is evidenced by his hugely popular HBO series True Detective.

I watched season one of True Detective as soon as it was released, what… nearly ten years ago now.

I liked it. Maybe not as much as many seemed to have at the time, and certainly not as much as I like season two (I know, I know… I’m woefully in the minority on this one – I have never been much of a fan of Woody Harrelson’s acting, and I thought Matthew McConaughey’s character was a bit over the top), but I liked it enough to dig into the particulars of its development.

Which is when I discovered Nic Pizzolatto.

And which is when shortly thereafter I discovered Thomas Ligotti

As this highly misanthropic madman (both literally and literarily) genius author was a huge influence on NP and his creation and development of MM’s forlorn and highly misanthropic character Detective Rustin “Rust” Cohle.

TL is so down on humanity he wrote a hatefest about it in a less-than-joyful book called The Conspiracy Against the Human Race.

Come to find out there is an actual philosophical movement, however slight (hopefully), that actual believes that, for the sake of humanity, I guess, humanity needs to be disappeared.

Apparently, NP was so influenced by Tl that some/many believed he plagiarized the immensely pessimistically nihilistic author for much of MM/Cohle’s dialogue.

I can understand why (while imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, I do not condone plagiarism of any stripe), TL’s short stories are some of the most awesomely horrific stories I have ever read/listened to, and I truly appreciate NP for turning me on to the human depressant…

Although, to date, I have not yet been able to make it all the way through his anti-humanity book. It’s too depressing, simple as that.

Incidentally, during Joe Rogan’s last interview with Elon Musk recently, I was surprised to discover, seeing how well informed they both always seem to be, that neither of them seemed to be aware of TL or of his influence on NP or of the whole down with humanity philosophy as they first heard about the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement in a less than recent New York Times article entitled Earth Now Has 8 Billion Humans. This Man Wishes There Were None.

Rogan probably has heard of it before but as much dope as he smokes and as old as he’s getting to be, he probably burned out the brain cells responsible for recalling that information.

Anyway, long story short…

Or have I missed that bus already?

Anyway, for some reason I forget, a few weeks ago I mentioned to my son that I enjoy season two of TD much more than season one.

(Season three isn’t even in the discussion as it is immensely forgettable. And from what I’ve seen of the upcoming season four, it looks equally immensely forgettable.)

My son was shocked at my (poor) taste and went on to pan season two and praise season one, as do most.

So, I figured, since I’ve already watched season two three times, I might as well give season one another shot, seeing that it’s been nearly ten years since I last watched it.

And I recently finished rewatching it.

And I still enjoyed it, probably more because this time around I was familiar with TL and his work and the insight from it was appreciated.

And though I still prefer season two, I still liked season one enough once again to once again look up ol’ NP to see if he has been up to anything new.

Didn’t really discover anything new by NP that interested me, but I did discover this old Buzzfeed article that interested me greatly, as it lists all the literary influences of NP’s that went into the development of season one.

And it was from this article that I discovered William Gay.

The author, not the cornerback.

And I cannot believe I have never heard of this good ol’ boy literary genius before.

And by good ol’ boy, I mean that was one dude whose neck was severely reddened. Crispy, if you know what I mean*.

The good ol’ boy literary genius

I just finished listening to his collection of short stories called I Hate To See That Evening Sun Go Down.

Never had I read/listened to a collection of short stories where ever single story is as completely fantastic as these are. Especially in a collection written by just one author.

Because my eyes are shot because of the side effects from my bone marrow transplant of so long ago, I listen to books now more than I read them.

Consequently, I have a pretty good ear for great narrators. Great as defined by me anyway.

The narrators for this collection are Christine McMurdo-WallisTom StechschultePete Bradbury, and Richard Ferrone, and they all are pitch perfect for their respective stories.

Tom Stescschulte has been a longtime favorite of mine and this to me is the best work he has ever done.

So, yeah, once again I must thank NP for turning me on to yet another amazing author.

And I hope I’m wrong about season four. I’m a fan of Jodie Foster so I hope she pulls it off.

So, that’s the short story long of it.

Oh yeah!

Since I’ve already missed the short bus, let bring up one last thing…

I’ll make it fast – punctuation be damned.

If you are a fan of audiobooks like I am but are not a fan of Audible’s expensive subscription like I am – the only reason I started my subscription back up recently is because I was offered and I accepted a one-month free promo (which they are betting I will forget to cancel but which I marked my calendar so to hell with them I won’t fall into that expensive trap) – then you must be estatic like I am that Spotify is now offering audiobooks for those who are subscribed with a premium membership like I am and all the books I have on my audible wish list are available on spotify as are many many more and my TBLT (to be listened to) list is so long now I probably won’t finish it until I’m in my eighties, which, sadly, is almost as close as my forties are far away…

Yeah…


*Apologies for the stereotype but, dagburnit that dude is one countrified dude. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just, well, you know how the stereotype goes…

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Sunday Songs to Spark the Spirit and Summon the Mood of the Dance

Doing a reread of Big Will’s Titus Andronicus so what better way to summon the happy dancing spirits today than by rocking out to a song by, you got it, Titus Andronicus…

If only ours was a union even a little more better…

#letsdance

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Who am I to blame?

Nobel Medal, Prize for Physics (medal)

Is anyone as surprised as I am that the Nobel Prize in Literature went to an old pasty white dude?

I’m mean, it’s only been four years since the last one was selected with Peter Handke, and five years before that since Patrick Modiano was selected, and three years before that since Tomas Tranströmer was selected.

Of course, Bob Dylan doesn’t count in 2016, because, well, wtf was that all about anyway?

Nor does Kazuo Ishiguro in 2017, unless you are of the mindset of the former South African apartheid government and regard those of East Asian descendancy as honorary whites.

Of course in this day and age it is treading in dangerous territory to assume the particulars of anyone’s identity, even that of assumed pasty old white dudes such as mentioned above, sans Ishiguro of course.

But I’m pretty damn confident of my assumptions.

Come to think of it, that’s a whole lot of old white dudes selected for the NPL in just a little over the past decade.

What’s up with that?

I thought, with the state of the world as it is, with global sensibilities as they are, old pasty white dudes were persona non grata when it comes to just about any form of praise or recognition.

Oui, no?

It certainly is a oui for me and I’m as old and male and pasty white as they come.

I say, to hell with old pasty white dudes, regardless of their particular talents, or lack thereof.

Can I get an amen?

Continue reading Who am I to blame?
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No matter how bad it gets…

grayscale photo of explosion on the beach

And it has gotten extremely bad lately…

I guess there is some comfort to be found in knowing…

That it could always get worse.

Yeah…

Not sure if I have the imaginative capacity, or fortitude, to imagine how.

Hope I don’t.

But, still, here we are, despite it all, moving forward…

Even if it’s just at the most timid and extremely infinitesimal pace.

Because we must.

And we shall.

So yeah, in the midst of all this, all this being our latest global nightmare of ___________ [fill in the blank]*, I finally managed to do something I have been wanting to do pretty much since the onset of the past global nightmare of ___________ [fill in the blank].

Continue reading No matter how bad it gets…
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Where one scholar is in error and another in scholarly license

Yes, this is yet another entry for the Ungeziefer file…

One where scholar and author Rebecca Schuman, who is obviously highly intelligent and supremely credible as evidenced by her skepticism (likeminded with yours truly of course) of Michael Hoffman translating Kafka’s Ungezeifer as a cockroach, as discussed in her 2017 Literary Hub article I Made a Mistake in My Book and the Internet Went Nuts.

Cockroach is, some might say, a bold choice. Others might, uncharitably, call it a mistake, and a big, significant one, one that would signify Hofmann’s grasp of the field he dominates as tenuous. But as vehemently as I disagree with cockroach—I prefer Susan Bernofsky’s some sort of monstrous insect—I’m not saying that Hofmann’s a hack, not entirely.

But this entry is a bit more than just a validation my point.

It is also one where with Schuman’s willingness to take on the odd word choice, which some might call a regretful miscalculation, of a renowned scholar such as Hoffman is, isn’t just an example of her intellectual rigor and toughness, it is also yet another example of the disparities between females and males in a professional setting, the setting here being in the arena of German language author-ity and scholarship.

The disparities this time being exhibited in the differences in the reception between a female scholar’s oversight versus a male scholar’s, where Schuman’s oversight of screwing up her German skulls almost lost her her career (and maybe even her mind) and Hoffman’s oversight of calling Gregor Samsa a cockroach was mostly viewed as harmless scholarly license.

It was true. I had fucked up my skulls. Given: It’s hardly a rousing soliloquy claiming Goethe’s finest work is Macbeth. But still.

Here’s how it happened. The chapter now marred by Schädel-gate is called Liebeskummer, a word for heartbreak that literally translates to “love grief.” I wrote it, in its entirety, with a newborn baby, a feat comparable to climbing the sheer face of a cliff using only one’s teeth. It’s a goddamned wonder I could remember Goethe’s name. However, I’m loath to share this fact; offering, as an excuse, my attempt at multitasking the impossible reveals me as a woman—and, therefore, someone whose expertise is brought into question by default.

Obviously, these disparities in reception has much to do stereotype incongruencies, you know, kind of how people get weirded out by male nurses.

Anyway, what are we gonna do, right?

It is, after all, a man’s world…

At least until it isn’t.

~~~~~

Featured image courtesy of The New Sisyphus Is a Woman by Ron Milford

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If it’s Ungeziefer why not just call it Ungeziefer?!

Okay, admittedly, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer so please take my perplexity for what it’s worth…

About a plug nickel, that’s what.

But anyway, I know it’s easy for a one-language knuklehead like me to complain, but if in “The Metamorphosis” Kafka writes that when Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams to find himself changed into an Ungeziefer, which translates into English as vermin, then why don’t translators just use the word “vermin” (or, as it also can be translated, parasite or, if in a religious context, an animal unsuitable for sacrifice, or so the web tells me, whatever) when translating the work from German to English?

I don’t know, I guess I’ll never understand smart people.

But anyway, for any of you non-Formalists out there who have no problem looking outside the text for interpretation, you can find a bit more clarity — not complete, but a bit — on what Kafka meant by the Ungeziefer that Samsa metamorphosed into from the instructions he gave to his publisher about how he did not want any representation of the creature on the book cover:

Kafka had no intention of labeling Gregor as any specific thing, but instead was trying to convey Gregor’s disgust at his transformation. In his letter to his publisher of 25 October 1915, in which he discusses his concern about the cover illustration for the first edition, Kafka does use the term Insekt, though, saying: “The insect itself is not to be drawn. It is not even to be seen from a distance.”

Wikipedia, and about a million other places on the web

And even within the text we find an affirmation of that bit of clarity when the charwoman refers to the Samsa vermin as an old dung beetle1.

So, what this all means to me is that any further classifying by a translator of Samsa the vermin beyond a generic insect is simply just the translator taking poetic license with the text, to put it nicely.

To put it un-nicely, maybe it is more likely that the translator is punching beyond their paygrade (huh?)

Or… maybe it’s just that they are trying desperately to stick out from the very large global pack of other admiring Kafka translators.

Looking at the tried and true translation of Willa and Edwin Muir, we find the sentence reading in respectfully as, “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”2

Nicely done, well within the limits of Kafka’s intent and desires I would say.

But when reading one of the newer translation of Kafka’s text by Michael Hofmann — which is what started this whole literary todo — his first sentence of “Metamorphosis” (not The Metamorphosis like it’s been referred to in English for close to a century now, but just Madison Avenue cool (or whatever the British equivalent is) Metamorphosis) reads presumptively as, “When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous cockroach (emphasis emphatically mine) in his bed.”3

A cockroach?!

No, not cool, Mr. Hofmann.

Not only do I the one-language knucklehead take umbrage with Hofmann overstepping his literary bounds, I’m sure none other than the great Mr. Nabokov would as well if he were, you know, still able to stand vertical and chase those little butterflies around.

But anyway, as I embark on a close reading of the relatively new Penguin collection of Kafka’s work as translated by Mr. Hofmann, let it be known that I have already been prejudiced against it, for whatever it’s worth…

Not much more than a plug nickel, that’s whatever.

But you already knew that.


1. FRANZ KAFKA, The Complete Stories, Schoken Books, 1971, p1274

2. Ibid, or something like that, p89

3. METAMORPHOSIS AND OTHER STORIES, Penguin Random House UK, 2007, p75

4. Yeah, it’s been several decades since I tried to correctly cite a source so cut me some slack, huh…

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The Graduate by Charles Webb – A Review

BOOK | FICTION | LITERARY
THE GRADUATE by Charles Webb
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

When The Graduate, a book published in 1963 by recently deceased author Charles Webb, popped up as a Kindle Unlimited recommendation the other day, I thought to myself, why not? I mean, shouldn’t every fan of the movie version, a film which “is often ranked among the greatest, most quoted and talked about of all time,” feel obligated to read the source from which the film’s greatness was spawned?

The answer, of course, is yes.

So I read the book obligingly – it’s a fast read as the book weighs in at a slim 224 pages – and upon reflection, I didn’t realize it from the movie version, but The Graduate is essentially a continuation of The Catcher in the Rye. In other words, we essentially witness Holden Caulfield’s post-collegiate angst as channeled through Benjamin Braddock.

In the movie version Dustin Hoffman’s Braddock, as excellent and memorable as it is, comes across to me as more neurotic and whiney than angry and angsty as the character is portrayed in the novel. As I’m not a practicing psychologist, please don’t ask me to differentiate between the two as per the DSM-5 or whatever version the shrinks are now working off of.

However, as examples, when I, the layman psychologist that I am, think of neurotic-y (whiney) type actors in the vein of Hoffman’s Braddock, I easily think of Woody Allen (obviously), Owen Wilson, and Jesse Eisenberg.

However (once again), coming up with angsty type actors in the vein of Webb’s Braddock, that’s a little harder for me to pull off – Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison both come to mind (probably can blame it on Twilight), and perhaps Zack Braff. Of course on the extreme end of the angsty scale we have Christian Bale, whose several angsty roles often seem to teeter on the precipice of sanity.

Anyway, that’s my impression of the novel. So I give it a four-star, not so much for its literary achievements (because, honestly, it’s not that well-written (Just about everything is described as perfectly this or that; and for some reason, just about every character seems to have a hearing problem as they keep having to ask What? after something is said to them. Quite annoying; however, we see a similar case of the What’s in The Catcher in the Rye as well, so… take that for what it’s worth.)). But for a book written by a twenty-four-year old that becomes the foundation for such an important movie, hey, I can afford to grade on a curve and give it an extra star.

Incidentally, it’s interesting to me that both J.D. Salinger and Charles Webb were so disillusioned with society that one became a famous grouchy recluse and the other donated his book proceeds to charity and lived a chosen life of poverty.

How ’bout that?

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My Novel Approach to Novel Writing

At least it’s novel to me…

Anyway, these kinds of posts are always a bit self indulgent, but if you’re like me (and god help you if you are), you too like to know how the sausage is made when it comes to an author’s creative process.

I’m both old and old school when it comes to writing. First drafts are were always done with pen and paper.

Mostly because I love the physical act of writing, the feel of pen in hand, the feel of ink flowing on the paper.

But also because if I try to write the first draft on the computer I never make it out of the first chapter seeing that I’m one of those edit-as-you-go guys. I have too many folders with forgotten novels with unfinished first drafts that I attempted to write on the computer.

Writing the first draft by hand allows for limited editing — a line through here, a line through there maybe — and because of this, I enjoy a more immersive, free flowing writing experience…

One that actually results in finished novels.

How ’bout that?

But there is a catch.

My handwriting is garbage.

Which means draft two is pure and absolute torture when it comes to typing it up into the computer. Oftentimes it takes longer to type up the second draft than it did writing out the first.

Which brings me to my novel approach to first drafts, an approach that saves me months in novel development…

The iPad.

And the Nebo app.

Using this new technology (new to me; never been an Apple guy) I can still write out my first drafts longhand, but with the Nebo app, it automatically converts it to digital text.

It’s amazing.


The notebook contains a print copy of the screenplay (which I use as an outline for my novel). The cool sculpture/now paper weight is courtesy of my highly creative daughter. The iPad Pro 12 with Apple Pen attached shows the chapters of my latest WIP in the Nebo app.
A screenshot of the chapters in Nebo. One slight downside is that you can’t arrange the files (at least I haven’t been able to figure it out if you can) so they’re stored as they are created.
If you look at the top of the first paragraph (click on the image to enlarge), you’ll kind of see how it shows a highlight of my writing as converted text. It’s unbelievable in how well the app understanding my crappy handwriting, but if it doesn’t convert a word correctly, you can catch it in the highlight and go back and write it more clearly.

Of course you don’t get the same feel writing on the iPad as you do with pen and paper. The iPad screen is a bit slick so it takes some getting used to. I initially put a screen protector on it but that made it even slicker and it also screwed up the functions in Nebo to add and delete stuff.

The Apple Pen feels good in hand and works like a charm with zero lag between it and the tablet.

There’s another tablet I’m interested in checking out that is designed specifically for writing. It’s called reMarkable and the developers claim it will give you the feel of writing on paper. Sounds awesome. The best selling point to me for it is that it is a heck of a lot cheaper than the iPad Pro 12.

So, yeah… when it comes to drafting novels, that’s how I now roll.

Oh, and if you haven’t guessed by now, I’ll be announcing my latest novel soon…

Like tomorrow. 🙂

#writeon