Monday, December 31, 2012

Books read in 2012

Ruff, Matt.  Bad Monkeys. HaperCollins: New York, 2007.
Brown, Rebecca.  The Dogs a Modern Bestiary. City Lights: San Francisco, 1998.
Ginsberg, Allen. Howl and Other Poems. City Lights: San Francisco, 1959.
Thompson, Hunter S. The Rum Diary. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1998.
Burroughs, William S. Naked Lunch. Grove Press: New York, 1959.
Miller, Henry. Tropic of Capricorn. Grove Press: New York, 1961.
Capote, Truman. In Cold Blood. The Modern Library: New York, 1992.
Robinson, Edwin Arlington. The Man Against the Sky. The MacMillan Company: New York, 1921.
Lowell, Robert. Near the Ocean. Faber & Faber LTD: London, 1967.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. An Artist of the Floating World. Vintage International: New York, 1989.
Rilke, Rainer Maria. Letters to a Young Poet. New World Library: California, 2000.
Polidori, John. The Vampyre. 1819.
Cross, Shauna. Whip It. Square Fish: New York, 2007.
de Saint Exupery, Antoine. The Little Prince. Harvest: New York, 1971.
Semaines de Suzanne. various authors. Alycamps Press: Paris, 1997.
Bellatin, Mario. Beauty Salon. City Lights: San Francisco, 2009.
Robbins, Tom.  Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates. Bantam: New York, 2000.
Cather, Willa.  Death Comes for the Archbishop. Vintage: New York, 1990.
Snickett, Lemony. A Series of Unfortunate Events. Books 1-6  Harpers Collins: New York.  (don't laugh, I loved them)
Nabokov, Vladimir. Lolita. Crest Giant: New York, 1959.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day. Vintage International: New York, 1988.
Ishiguro, Kazuo. A Pale View of Hills. Vintage International: New York, 1984.
Skarmeta, Antonio. The Postman. Hyperion: New York, 1987. Trans. Katherine Silver.
James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. Konemann: Koln, 1996.
Neruda, Pablo. Neruda at Isla Negra. White Pine Press: New York, 1998. Dennis Maloney, ed.
Capote, Truman. Breakfast at Tiffany's. Vintage International: New York, 1993.
Kotzwinkle, William. Seduction in Berlin. G.P. Putnam and Sons: New York, 1985.
Thompson, Jim. The Getaway. Orion Fiction: London, 2005.
Kosinski, Jerzy.  Being There. Bantam: New York, 1988.
Hughes, Langston. The Panther and the Lash. Vintage International: New York, 1992.
Ballard, J.G. Empire of the Sun. Simon and Schuster: New York, 1984.
Fieldbook, 1967.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. The Bottle Imp, 1893.
Bánk, Zsuzsa. The Swimmer. Harcourt: Orlando, FL, 2004. Trans. Margot Bettauer Dembo.
Proulx, E. Annie. The Shipping News. Scribners: New York, 1993.
Spallholz, Julianna. The State of Kansas. GenPop Books: Grafton, VT, 2012.
The Happy Mutant Handbook. Rivberhead Books: New York, 1994.

A New Year and a New Focus

It's probably safe to assume that we made through another twisted apocalyptic debacle. The western death wish superimposed on the Mayan cosmovision I hope goes by the wayside like Y2K, Hale Bopp, Red Dawn, solar super storms and all other freeze dried end of days nonsense. But with 2012 gone, or nearly so, we have made it past another year, another presidential election here in the US, and another show of world unity at the summer Olympics. If nothing more with 2012 over now, we have made another revolution around the sun.

And now, another year begins.

In all the years I've worked the bar and restaurant business, I have always hated New Year's Eve. Not only is it dangerous to be out and mixing with the crowd, it is a night of paradoxes. First, many people make New Year's resolutions. This is generally ill-fated because seldom do people hold true to them. Gym membership surges in January and vacant exercise rooms in February prove this. Second, many above said resolutions are made during the height of the gluttony of the holidays, no one thinks clearly then anyway. And third, the boozy nature of New Year's Eve has always bothered me. If you want a good new year to come, why start it hungover?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Winter Reading List: December, 2012.

It's dark here, it's dark here because it's always dark here. At the restaurant on the 30th floor, we looked out the windows. Richard said, “wow, it's dark, already.” “Yes,” I said. I looked at my watch. Quarter to five. “The solstice is still five weeks away,” Richard said. This conversation was already five weeks ago, now. “Yeah,” I said. “It's going to take another ten weeks to get back to where we are now.” “Amazing,” he said. “Amazing,” I echoed.

It's dark here, it's dark here because it's always dark here. In my mind it's wintertime here because it's always wintertime here. No, this is not the contagious case of global cooling that they pitched to us back in the 70s. They pitched a bunch of nonsense to us in the 70s. It's not cold here, it's cool, but never cold. It's raining here, it's raining here because it's always raining here. The streets are wet, the black of wet asphalt makes mirrors. The depths of reflection are the preeminently gray skies, the grayest of clouds that are ceiling of Portland, Oregon.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Waiting for Life in Tucson, Arizona. Part the Last.

The State of Kansas and other unmapped places, an interview with Julianna Spallholz. December 2012

We went to the aquarium in Denver to see the sights. We wandered through the exhibitions of theoretical marine life of the Colorado River from the top of the continent to the Gulf of California. It was May of 2008. Julianna and Scott were just pushing through Denver on their way to New York. They were on their way from Tucson in search of new memories. They were doing, that summer what Janice and I would do years later: an odyssey to the northern climes and parenthood. It was a warm day in Denver, all those years ago, and the aquarium was a fun diversion.

When I consider all the growth as writers that both Julianna and I have experienced since that day in May 2008, I am simply astounded. Her book The State of Kansas which was released in December of 2011 is a great point of fact. This book is a delight to read. As I read these short and very short fictions I moved through the spectrum of feelings. There were the sad feelings, then there were chuckles and there were the sudden alarms of the bizarre, the macabre or the tense. And then I think, I know this person. I know this writer. And this writer is a dear friend. A dear friend who has at times guided me, encouraged me and dared me. She's taught me a thing or two as well—I did get a lesson in second person narration, as you will see in the interview below.

AFI: First of all, thank you for participating in this interview.

Julianna: You’re welcome. And thank you for asking to interview me.

Available at
AFI: I suppose the question of the hour, what do you think of The State of Kansas? The book was released last December, so you've had a year with your first book out in the world, do you feel differently about the book now than you did a year ago? Have any readers contacted you?

Julianna: I suppose, yes, I do feel differently about the book now than I did when it was published a year ago. But the real difference was in how I felt about the book when it was published a year ago versus how I felt about the book when I finished writing it. The book was written very slowly over a six-year span, was finished a year before it was accepted for publication, and was accepted for publication more than two years before it actually materialized. So, like, a child who was born the year I wrote the first part of the book was almost ten years old by the time the book came out.

Some readers have contacted me. I’ve had great receptions at the readings I’ve given, and a handful of lovely reviews. And the book elicited some nice solicitations from a few excellent journals, like Indigest, Free State Review, and Nöo. I’ve really appreciated all that, especially because I’m not all that great at reaching out and marketing myself. The book has taught me that about myself. The book has taught me that I am a very slow writer and that I am a lazy and/or insecure self-promoter. The book itself, though? I like it. I still like it. It’s a lot stranger, I think, than I thought it was. And sadder. And it’s about as funny as I thought it was. The funny parts are my favorite parts.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Waiting for Life in Tucson, Arizona. Part 4

As writers, how do we write about it and make it interesting to readers?

The question comes to me so often that I'm ashamed that I don't have a snappy answer to it. The question: Did it really happen? The question comes after someone I know has read something I've written. Did it really happen? No. I repeat, no. The next question is just as silly. The next question is really a rewording of the first question. Have ever noticed that some folks will ask the same question over and over and still hope for the answer they want? The question is: Is [insert any character from the story] really you? No. Again, no.

I write fiction.

But the elements of fiction must come from somewhere. If I chose to write about the time I did this that or the other and had a good time of it and wrote it as it happened, as in real time, reality TV or whatever, it would not translate well to the page. If I choose to write about a place, or the people within it, to simply report on it will prove boring too. As writers, and this is any kind of writer, we must be selective and make choices when we narrate.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Waiting for Life in Tucson, Arizona. Part 3

Dunbar Springs and a moment to dejank

I was opposed to the house on Queen Street. I was so opposed to the house on Queen Street that I said nothing. I said nothing. Any words I uttered fell into abysmal air and neglected to find deaf ears. The house on Queen Street meant one thing, and one thing only: the end of my Tucson days was incredibly close at hand.

Dunbar Springs is a soft neighborhood on the north side of downtown Tucson. The only real concern with the neighborhood is that you must cross the railroad tracks to get back and forth to everywhere else in town. The trains are impressive in that there are so many of them. Late at night they blow their whistles constantly and in Dunbar Springs everyone has windows that rattle with the passing trains. The train whistles were good to me: I blew on that fuckin' trumpet every waking minute of the day. No one said a word about it either, the train conductors wore down the audible sensations of the denizens.