Presents of Mind

Here Be An Uncertain Fiction Writer | “It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” —Jack Kerouac

Fiction Shapes Our Chaos into Some Kind of Meaning

February 4, 2014 · Leave a comment

Immortality

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August 31, 2013 · Leave a comment

Inside a Fiction Writer

I don’t think there is a better description of a fiction writer’s aching need to understand than this.

August 25, 2013 · 1 Comment

In Love With Your Words

“I do not care what car you drive. Where you live. If you know someone who knows someone who knows someone…”

August 24, 2013 · 1 Comment

Sir Realism vs Surrealism

There is nothing more surreal than consensus reality. Those who say they know what reality is are practicing empire, folks. But they are whistling past the graveyard. Sooner or later, they will notice a glitch. Sooner or later they will go down.

August 19, 2013 · Leave a comment

Irish Potatoes vs. Couch Potatoes

I’m a huge Flann O’Brien fan, and as such I’m slowly collecting individual softcover editions of his work.

June 25, 2013 · Leave a comment

Where’s the Material in My Crap-Bland World?

The problem with being an American writer, I’ve found, is that unless you come from the South, say, or maybe New England, there is only the crap-insipid strip mall culture and miles of bland suburbia with nothing but cars and concrete, where no one knows anyone, and friendships and one’s whole life are like fast food.

May 4, 2013 · 1 Comment

Free in the Age of Kindle: A List

Here’s a list of free, downloadable books. Its focus is literature, but there are other genres as well. Okay, you probably already knew about these free and legal sites. But I thought I’d post them anyway, just because I like lists.

September 13, 2012 · Leave a comment

Books. Writing. Caffeine.

Maybe I should check my email. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a writer. Maybe I should do something else. Like go to mortuary school. Or clean houses. Freya decides she’s had enough and bites me, then jumps down. I push into the dim recesses of my memory searching for some tiny memory that could jump start the story in a new direction.

September 2, 2012 · 2 Comments

Memory vs. Facts (plus nature’s call while browsing)

Memory is maddeningly subjective and infinitely malleable. As in asking someone to identify a perpetrator in a lineup. Or to recall events on Thursday, November 6, 1986. Some people can do a very convincing job.

July 28, 2012 · 6 Comments

Word Nerd 2.0

When the Mr. and I moved into our present rental house (a 1912 asbestos-shingled hovel that the forest is slowly dissolving) I found a five-inch-thick 1909 leather-covered Webster’s International Dictionary with marbled endpapers and edges. It must weigh 30 pounds and now sits on my desk. Its spine is taped, but it is surprisingly intact. Thumbing through it is like taking a trip in a time machine. It has over 2,000 pages, with pages and pages of lithographed illustrations, plus over 200 pages of additional supplements. This dictionary has actually inspired story ideas.

July 22, 2012 · Leave a comment

The Barcode Book Bully

A few years ago I used to visit one of the local Goodwill outlets regularly because I could walk there and because shopping for quirky merchandize on the cheap was … Continue reading

July 17, 2012 · 4 Comments

Why I Read (And Aim to Write) Good Fiction

When I read, I’m having a conversation with a writer, not a propagandist or someone bent on making a quick buck. I don’t have time to read commercial fiction, which usually means it’s exploitative and sold for profit and self-aggrandizement. I read fiction that preserves my own human dignity (what there is of it). Reading (and writing) such fiction is for me the only means for survival in a totalitarian globalist world with all of its destructive and dehumanizing effects, with its yawning gap between rich and poor and ever-growing corruption. I subscribe to the idea that the more oppressive this totalitarian world, the better the literature, with all of its conflict, pressure, and suffering. Literature aims to describe the water we’re living in as fish, to get outside that somehow to describe the reality that surrounds us, trying to understand from the outside who and what we are. In every story, on every page, the writer is telling the reader, This is about you.

July 15, 2012 · 2 Comments

To Look Beneath the Surface

Last term Charlie D’Ambrosio, who teaches in my MFA fiction writing program, brought Anthony Doerr to speak to us MFA fiction writing students. Doerr read some excerpts from his novel … Continue reading

June 7, 2012 · 3 Comments

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