A Writer Who Works

Will write for food.

Will write for food.

The writing life is seen as a romantic one, at least by some—usually people who don’t write, or merely dabble at the craft.

Since 2003, I’ve been a writer who works a job. By that I mean that I’m not fully supporting my lifestyle from writing. I have an outside job (or jobs); those purer than the driven snow might look askance at that. Continue reading

Egan Franzen Freedom Squad

February has been a good month for reading books. My goal is set for reading a minimum of 30 books every year–I’ve read nine during the year’s snowiest month, after completing Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. I blazed through it in all of four days. Can I keep up that pace? Only time will tell.

Jennifer Egan's "A Visit from the Goon Squad"

Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad”

Egan’s book has been on my list of must-read titles for awhile. The book generated a buzz when it first came out. Also, I read her novel, Look at Me, after seeing her in person at the 2011 Boston Book Festival, and it was a terrific read. Of course with me, fiction is often shunted aside,while other nonfiction titles cut the line.

After finally reading it, I can see why critics loved it, yet I was somewhat disappointed; I found Goon Squad to be less entertaining and affecting than my first Egan experience. That is to say that critics, who love to levitate above the hoi polloi, lap up writing and novelists that pander and play to trends, especially if there’s a nod to technology, and an offer of a few new literary tricks. I’m not saying that Egan’s intent was to pander, as some of the interviews I’ve read related to the book indicate that her tack for Goon Squad was likely aligned with her desire to write a “more ambitious” novel, which often means changing things up a bit. Continue reading

The Other Maine

Mountains don't care about words.

Mountains don’t care about words.

Issues often get framed in a narrow manner. Apparently it’s easier that way. Words and simple solutions to complex problems are becoming our undoing.

The United States. Drugs. Education. There are other ways to slice the pie.

The State of Maine, and the state of Maine. Context and geography is everything, especially how place affects the people living there. Continue reading

Mother Russia and Matryoshka Dolls

The Olympic propaganda onslaught has continued. The western media ‘s hypocrisy and double-standard has been on prominent display (if you know where to look) since Friday’s opening ceremonies. Journalists tweeting about their substandard accommodations personified every Ugly American stereotype. Then Google ran their diversity doodle, which was just weird. Continue reading

Sochi Games Shrouded in Fog of Fear

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have officially begun, although the “opening ceremonies” will be broadcast tonight on the TeeVee. Every four years, a narrative develops about each subsequent Games. The story of the 2014 games seems to be fear.

The original intent of the Olympics, we’ve been told, was to promote competition and goodwill among nations around the globe. We all know that’s a bucket of horse puckey, don’t we? The archetype for our modern Olympics began in ancient Greece, taking place in the context of a religious festival; all events were held in honor of Zeus, and included the sacrificing of a hundred oxen in his honor. The athletes all prayed to the gods for victory and gave gifts of animals, produce, or small cakes in thanks for their successes. Today’s oblations are to the corporate sponsors that make the world go round, including international sports competitions.

Playing both the fear and financial angles.

NBC–cashing in at Sochi

The worship now centers on how much money can be extracted from the entire process. It’s commercialism run amok, with geopolitical tensions and propaganda thrown in for good measure. Continue reading

Tweeting Backwards

Paris Review No. 181 Cover-Norman Mailer

Paris Review No. 181 Cover-Norman Mailer

Some criticize Twitter for being too brief and even superficial. However, those critics lack an understanding of what Twitter is often best at–aggregating news and other information.

Five minutes on Twitter Sunday morning allowed me to read a tweet linking to a terrific interview with the late literary icon, Norman Mailer. The interview with Mailer, from 2007, was one of The Art of Fiction series, No. 193, from The Paris Review, conducted by Andrew O’Hagan. Continue reading