In America, where writers are preoccupied with the craft of writing, I always try to introduce this concept of the badly written good story. Turning the hierarchy around and putting passion on top and not craft, because when you just focus on craft, you can write something that is very sterile. It looks beautiful, but soulless.
I lived in Charleston, SC from when I was around 11 to 20 years old. I went to a private, all-white elementary school right next door to “Mother Emanuel,” Emanuel A.M.E. church. I wrote an essay about the #CharlestonShooting — and about a stupid childhood prank I played on that church.
And how kind they were to me.
The essay contains some paragraphs like this, too:
Both sides in this race war (and it is a war, the longest in American history) have been fighting for generations. White people are in denial of it, perhaps because it’s too hard for us to see it. And when we we’re told about, we wish it would just go away. We find it a boring topic because our privilege allows us to be bored by it. It’s our privilege to be bored. And yes, it bores me. It’s boring because people like me swim in privilege, like a fish swims in water. Often, I only see the hard work that got me where I am, not the extra boost I got along the way because I am white.
Now at sixty-nine (“an embarrassing age,” he said at a recent appearance in New York City, “I don’t even like the sex position”), John Waters seems to have a career on the upswing: he’s in development for a TV series, and he has a bestselling memoir, Carsick, the story of how he hitchhiked across America in 2012. His traveling stand-up show, This Filthy World, packs the houses on a regular basis.
It was a highly complex project and difficult to execute–I wrote pithy listings for some 125 spots all over the world. I also provided the client with Google map locations and art work (I volunteered for that, a bit to my shame).
It damned near killed me (there were many, many sleepless nights while I worked on this project), but the results look great. And it’s a popular feature, too!
Eventually, there will be slides and all sorts of stuff. Eventually. Right now, nothing’s too fancy around here. It’s like I’ve just moved into a large, messy house and the construction workers haven’t quite finished with the plumbing and painting.
Except I’m the guy doing the plumbing and the painting; I’m doing this thing myself.
It’s a fun thing to do: I’m learning WordPress more concretely (Guernica is on Movable Type, so I’d previously known that CMS better than this one)
That reading was one of my best. I read a short story I’ve been working on, “Burning From the Inside.” I’m glad it worked in front of a live audience. Supposedly the reading will be on YouTube at some point.
“A Fuller film careers between drama and melodrama; it stars scene-chewing actors; is low budget, and has the subtlety of a machete. A Fuller film can start out being about one thing (such as in one of my favorites, Crimson Kimono, where it begins in a Noirish vein, with two cops investigating a crime in 1950s L.A.) only to veer off somewhere else (racism against Asians). Watching a Fuller film is seeing the unpredictable. It breaks the rules of “good” writing—and just goes for the jugular. Continue reading Cinema’s Beautiful Blowhard→
I’ll be reading at the Freerange Nonfiction series this May 5th. I’ll be reading from something new: an essay about a particularly horrible event that happened to me when I was much younger: I interrupted a roommate who’d captured another, tied him down, and threatened to saw his head off with a chainsaw.
I dislike overly dramatic memoirs, so I’m going to try to make the piece about something larger: the nature of nonfiction in general. (But I’ll also try to give you the drama.)
I wrote a piece on Norman Rush’s debut novel, Mating for Guernica’s blog.
“It took some convincing to get me to read Norman Rush. I expected his first novel, Mating, to be an obvious cross between Saul Bellow and a Victorian romance. It took me a long time to realize this: that’s not such a bad combination.”
But first, I whine a bit about the Jakob juggernaut of years ago:
“Because of a former roommate, I shut the door on Jakob Dylan. While my roommate played Dylan’s hit, “One Headlight” repeatedly, I escaped to my bedroom where I could listen to something else. She sang random bars from his songs all day. She shattered the few quiet moments in the apartment to blather on about Dylan’s “cuteness.” Continue reading Jakob Dylan: “Women and Country”→