Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Death of Story?

Owen Gleiberman writes a great article in this week's EW about how old fashioned storytelling is an endangered species in Hollywood, thanks to the blockbuster and the reality TV show craze. He hits the nail on the head, but this goes on in fiction as well, and has been for some time. Novelists in the early 20th century (Joyce, Woolf et al) deconstructed the novel, the story and ever since we've had something of a revolt against it in literature.

I think this is why Joseph Campbell (and consequently, Star Wars) became so popular. It wasn't just mythology he was talking about, it was storytelling. We don't do it anymore. Much fiction today favors style over substance, introspection over engagment. Part of the problem is the world we live in. Novels, like letters, used to be means of reporting the world beyond - now that world is at your fingertips, with blogs, email and CNN. And story isn't just plot, it's much more; it's character, it's reportage, it's necessary.

The Revolution Will Be Serialized

Comics make you a better writer. Spread the word.

Speaking of cool comics, Matt (pictured below) is a pretty good artist himself.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Round Up

'Gwen Stefani is a Willow/Betty type in Cordy/Veronica drag.'

As big as DVD has become for the movie industry (by some accounts, DVD sales make up more than 60% of all their profits) you'd think they would want to avoid shooting it in the foot. Today, they took the first step. I'm sure HD DVD will be popular, but you have to wonder if people who just replaced their VHS collection with DVD's of all their favorites will do it once again.

The First Fiction Tour is rolling through the USA. Someday when we're all published, us IWP kids will have to tour the land together. Hotels hide your furniture.

Ever wonder what's really going on with 'Lost?' Some think they're all dead, and in purgatory. Me, I think odds are it's MUCH worse off the island than it is on. Just wait for that first bit of off shore news.

And last but not least, there's only one day left, but I know you can do it.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Good 'Housekeeping'

I'm currently reading Marilynne Robinson's 'Housekeeping', and though I'm twenty years behind everyone else in realizing this is a great, great novel, I'll stand up and say so anyway. I found it after browsing her new novel, 'Gilead', which is also her first since 'Housekeeping.' It's kind of hard to put down a book that features lines like this one, describing the main character's grandfather: ''...a wild-haired, one-eyed, scrawny old fellow with a crooked beard, like a paintbrush left to dry with lacquer in it.''

'Housekeeping' is full of these lines, poetry that clings to everything with a kind of dampness after reading it. It feels like one of those novels the author spent their whole life writing to, almost too good to be true. I wonder too if the reason it's taken her so many years to follow with another is because she spent what 'writer's capital' she had writing it. Writing a book sometimes feels like being Dr. Frankenstein to me, stitching together parts from here and there, sewing together the best material from various sources to create one whole. You sort of mine yourself for all you have, making it harder and harder as you go to generate new insight. You have to live again first, and who knows how long that takes.

'I'm the Dude, Man.'

My buddy Ben located the Big Lebowski Random Quote Generator.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Girls' Turn


Members of the all girl rock band The Lizzie McClurg Situation, or really, five of the best girls in the world, all in one place. Most stars stay in the sky but sometimes you find them on the ground, too. From left to right: Erika, Lisa, Amy, Ilona, and Mandy. Posted by Hello

Not pictured here (but here ) are Polly, Kiki, Andrew, and Amitabh. Next time we'll have to get a big group photo before everyone leaves. And sometime soon I'll figure out how to do all these pics in one post.

Some Pics From Chicago


My friends Conan and Matt (two luckiest bastards in the world) and that's me on the left. Posted by Hello Back in 2000, I spent the summer studying in the Irish Writer's Program at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. It was the best experience of my life, not just because I'm Irish and it meant a lot to go there, but most of all because of the people I met.

On Halloween some of us got back together in Chicago for a long overdue reunion. We went to an Irish pub called Lizzie McClurg's and made the managment nervous apparently with the bill (all was resolved, without any dishwashing) and held a big get together at Lisa's house. Lisa is getting married next year, and so is Conan and Amy (next post.) That sound you hear is the sound of hearts breaking everywhere. Conan and I went on an odyessy to the Sears Tower only to find it closed due to high winds. You'd think with it being the Windy City and all, they'd be prepared. Best of all I got to spend two or so days with good, good friends.


Thursday, November 25, 2004

Surviving Turkey Day: Means & Methods

1) Listen to new U2 album. Repeat.

2) Play The Incredibles video game. Run Dash into a semi at 177 mph. Repeat.

3) Play hooky from family bullshit by strategically arranging long distance phone calls through out the day and evening.

4) Sit and down write even though you promised you'd give yourself the day off.

5) Blog.

6) Go for a walk downtown or to the video store that closes only in the event of a) thermonuclear war or b) a fire sale at the Gap. Wander the aisles in desperate search of mind numbing crap you've seen already, but nothing really gets you out of the fact that your man isn't in office, it's four more years but really a generation of self inflicted damage, your family is held together by bubble gum, and you've accoplished nothing in your life.

Repeat.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

At A Place Called Vertigo

Dizzy happy with the new U2 album. I don't know yet if it's better than All That You Can't Leave Behind, but it does feature some of their strongest material in years. My first impression is that it's a collision of the music they played in Dublin back in '79, some soul, and a louder, more vivid version of their "'80's sound."

I think the best thing about U2 is that the intangible feeling you get, the wordless experience they give you in song after song. I think you saw it in the tears of the cast and audience of SNL the other night, and the crowds they generated going up and down the streets of New York.

The last great rock n' roll band. The last band.

"Your head can't rule your heart."

"I've had enough of romantic love."

"I don't need to hear you say/ if we weren't so alike / you'd like me a whole lot more."

Monday, November 22, 2004

People of Interest

No, not the FBI kind. Just some links to other people around the web that might interest you.

My good buddy Sugu is presently teaching English in Japan. We were once locked inside the Kodak Theater the day before the war in Iraq started and thwarted the massive security to get out and back to the car. Really.

My cousin Kim is a senior in high school and really is the sweetest person I know. We were never locked in anywhere, except maybe the mall one time.

My good friend Polly is going to grad school in NYC and will be a great writer someday. She has that southern twang in her voice that turns all us midwest boys to jello. I was never locked in anywhere with Polly, either, although I was locked out of my room once, and she overheard the Wrath of Darby.

Bookslut is the best literary blog out there. Required reading.

Books For Soldiers Just what it says. Send used books to our men and women in Iraq as well as our wounded in VA hospitals.

www.optruth.org Hear it from the troops direct.

Mmm... that's all for now.


Sunday, November 21, 2004

No Respect

So I was watching "The Wire" tonight (the best show on TV) and after Omar nearly got killed coming out of church on Sunday with his grandma, I found what he said about the decline of common respect in society ("there ain't none") very apt.

Sunday isn't what it used to be. Used to be nothing was open. Sure, a few places still hold on(Hobby Lobby, for instance) but not much anymore. It's even gotten to the point that our holidays don't stop the Wal Marts and Targets from staying open all day. To me it doesn't matter if you believe in God or Santa Claus or not. This kind of trend in our culture (it extends to the tactics all businesses employ against their employees, from pay to benefits to schedules, etc.) disrespects families and tradition. Customer service is an extinct concept. Some people can't handle the loss of respect. Take for instance the Pistons-Pacers game. Ron Artest could not allow such a brazen act of disrespect, and thus set off one of the most humilating episodes in the history of sport.

When people talk about values, about family, whether they're 'red' or 'blue' state people, this is what they mean. Common courtesy doesn't exist in our culture. Neither does respect. Where did it go? How did we get like this? I want answers by tomorrow. Or else.

Hi ya'

I suppose I should start by introducing myself. My name is Darby, and I'm presently redefining the phrase 'long hard slog' by attempting to realize my lifelong instinct to become a published writer from my base of operations here in Waterloo, IA, codenamed: Hell. I think Lucifer said in Paradise Lost that the mind is its own place, and can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven, and that certainly describes my relationship with good ol' Loo Town.

The goal is novels, of which I've written three. One is decent, the other an unmitigated disaster, and the last just so-so. I'm a published journalist and even snuck a poem out there but so far no dice. At the present I'm job hunting and contemplating means of escape. I'm 30 years old, single, one of two brothers, refreshingly Irish, and in another life, skinny.