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review 2018-06-02 09:59
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men - Look At It
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men - David Foster Wallace

I've been treating myself to rereads of books and authors I love, and I just reached to the Wallace shelf the other day with my eyes closed, so this got read again, and only for the second complete (cover-to-cover) time since I bought it because I didn't like it loads the first time. Honestly, if it wasn't written (and signed) by David Foster Wallace, I'd have given it away - not because it's oh so awful, but because it seemed like - on that first read - an uncharacteristically unending parade of toxic masculinity, which (as it turns out, on a reread and more than one close reads of a few pieces) is precisely the point and not at all true.

 

My penciled notes (I use pencil first, then go to various colors on later reads) haven't all remained legible, but they are harsh. Tucked in the back of the book was an envelope with an article written by David Foster Wallace, which I just learned can still be found online, so here is DFW on Great Male Narcissists in literature.

 

There's much to love about that piece. Here's one of many paragraphs I have squared off w/ my pencil: 

 

incorrigibly narcissistic, philandering, self-contemptuous, self-pitying … and deeply alone, alone the way only a solipsist can be alone. They never belong to any sort of larger unit or community or cause. Though usually family men, they never really love anybody-and, though always heterosexual to the point of satyriasis, they especially don’t love women.

 

What Wallace castigated in his ''Great Male Narcissists" piece - he goes after John Updike, and I'd add a hard case of Philip Roth to the mix. I'm sure there are many more, but these two men pioneered then glorified and received mounds of awards for toxic masculine self-absorption with a seriousness that doesn't seem to fit the subject matter. Women are readers these days, says Wallace, and women don't like those characters. (Complete with possibly the best quote ever, that I hope came from Mary Karr, but she won't claim it now that it's famous: "penis with a thesaurus.")

 

Wallace's hideous men here might be a kind of mirror held up to the characters in these most toxically male novels. Not surfacely toxic like American Psycho, but the ones that seem more benign - even sometimes just stupid. I think Wallace was staring at humanity and showed us in these stories a bit of the ugly side of what he saw.

 

On first glance, these characters (all written in a terrifying first person feel, even if it's not actually in first person. In other words - you feel like you're inside these hideous men while reading these stories - no, you eventually become the people, whether you want to deal with that or not) but anyway, on first glance they seem like caricatures. On a closer look they are carefully constructed and while hideous and scary, this book contains some of the best writing DFW did (and I'm including Infinite Jest in that appraisal.) After IJ, Wallace was clearly upset that everyone found his very sad and terrifying novel "hilarious." He didn't set out to write an hilarious novel and didn't feel he had. I'd agree with him that IJ isn't just hilarious, but there are parts that are very very funny, and there's no getting around that.

 

So Brief Interviews feels like a direct reaction to the reaction that IJ got. Nobody would call this "hysterical realism" or find much about this funny. What is so sad is that this book got horrible reviews in many quarters because it requires close attentive reading, deconstruction, doing a fair amount of research at times, certainly a dictionary and internet access if you are to understand some of these stories. He knew that. He probably knew the newspapers with their deadlines would not "get" this book, and he surely could have guessed that many people would mistake the author for any one of the horribly misogynistic, self-absorbed, overly verbal yet emotionally stilted men found in the pages. Or maybe he didn't think that far. I don't know. I honestly didn't spend much time reading criticism of DFW until after he'd died, and then it was just because I wanted more DFW and rereading everything every year only got me so far for so long.

 

While this is the second time I've read this in its entirety, I've read many of the pieces very closely many times. This book contains a few of my favorite pieces from David Foster Wallace: The Depressed Person, Octet, Think, Suicide as a sort of Gift (which I like more for personal than literary reasons,) Datum Centurio (which took me at least 10 reads just to begin to crack the code - but it's oh so worth it,) the prayer-like overview of life found in a young boy's dive -- Forever Overhead, and the stunning Church Not Made with Hands. Those are my favorites. That's a lot of the book right there. 

 

And holding all of these gems together are the Brief Interviews. They have no questions because the men answering know the questions and don't need some interviewer to ask the obvious. They tie the book together - making it, in some weird way like a novel - defending against what they know we think.

 

 This book, like all of Wallace's fiction, makes the reader sweat. If you're not educated in many subjects, like I'm not, you have to work harder to figure out what might be a reference even before you then move on to what that reference might mean. As in all of his work, it requires a dictionary on round one, note-taking and time - time and more time. It requires multiple readings, and it rewards them (much like all of his fiction does. The later the writing, the more time it will require.) Sometimes it requires reading aloud, over and over. Sometimes it requires a notebook to write questions and then another notebook to puzzle them out. And maybe a third or fourth when you find you've gone down a bad alley and need to find your way back to a better start.

 

"Look at it."

 

demands an uncharacteristically short sentence very early on. And that's really what this entire book asks of us. Look at it. Not at him - but it -- life, death, horrors, terrors, bullshit, you name it. At the end of that story, I've written (in a later read - purple pen) a long paragraph that includes "this is the whole book. He wants us to stop and really look" and after more words ends with "We need to STOP. and THINK. And allow ourselves to feel it for as long as it takes, no matter how horrible that is." So, clearly I'm not the writer, but it stuck me somewhere along the line that this was exactly what my shrink took decades to beat into my brain and still reminds me on a bi-monthly basis. It's too easy to just stay up on the surface. I need someone to remind me to plumb the depths. I think these stories, the book entirely asks the reader to do exactly that - plumb the deep, scary depths. 

 

And yes, that's way more work than I'd offer to many writers. I can think of two (only one of whom is still alive) I have enough faith in to do the work required every time. Sometimes it doesn't pay off. I've found that with Wallace, especially as he matured as a writer, it does.

 

I doubt I was Wallace's intended reader. I think he thought his reader would be more literate than me and I know he expected his reader to be more formally educated than me. I have advanced degrees but they are very narrow subjects and I spent my early life in music school, so I missed a lot of that classic liberal arts education. I think he thought his readers had a lot of the references already at their fingertips. No matter. I find that reading like this is more satisfying than almost any other kind. And even so, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone. I might suggest it if someone asked for certain things. I've suggested some of the pieces to other people, but only in response to something specific they've discussed with me.

 

Why am I willing to work so hard to make sure I'm getting as much out of this book, and his other work too, as I can? Because it's worth it to me. There is a pay off. In fact the payoff is bigger every time I put a bit more work into it. The feeling isn't like figuring out a problem. It's like finding a deep truth or meaning or finally grasping something you have sort of felt for a long time but never had enough of a grasp to figure out. I find meaning in this work.

 

And the meaning isn't "misogynistic bullshit" like some reviews I've read on some sites. It's exactly the opposite, actually. These men are, by and large, misogynists (and the women aren't so hot either.) Everyone is hideous, save perhaps the diving boy and the man in Think (though even he is not a perfect specimen.) But this hideousness is something we've all seen, perhaps been - if not exactly in the same way. There's a universal truth in this group of stories, and there's writing that I can't even begin to explain (though I'd recommend Zadie Smith's essay "The Difficult Gifts of David Foster Wallace" for a clear and understandable explanation of why this writing is so blindingly excellent at times.) 

 

So, if on a first read I found these nameless men and women almost cartoonish, it's because I could only see the surface on that read. Here's what I wrote after that read: 

 

These men really are hideous. I mean they are awful people, and people is a very kind word for these characters. So few of them have names or faces. They are simply babbling egos, many of them narcissistic others outright sociopaths The word hideous is important because it is exactly correct, yet so many of them come off as your average know-it-all at the bar it's depressing.  Structured around the "brief interviews - given places and names, but only answers" the stories are unrelentingly bleak and horrible. I can't even call them tragic because they're not complete enough to be tragic characters.

 

I was wrong. They're more complete than I could see on a first read. I was looking for an easy answer, not a psychological/philosophical ocean that I'd need to dive into and swim for a while before I could understand what lies beneath.

 

Wallace was most experimental in his fiction, and his craft and  talent are on rare display here, with none of the easy humor or zing found in all of his previous work (including his political reporting and scholarly work.) Infinite Jest is a much easier read. It feels like a beach read compared to these very short stories. 

 

But there's something much more real here. Something that I can't explain. I learn about people - myself included - from reading these stories. He was already, in this first work after Infinite Jest, pushing himself to a much deeper place. And he set a high wire that he manages to walk in most of these pieces. 

 

This book gets a bad rap because everyone wants it to be easy and they want it to be like the earlier nonfiction or Infinite Jest. It's not. It's different. You can feel the growth of an already talented artist here. But I can't recommend this group of stories - or any of Wallace's fiction - to anyone without knowing something about that person and what they might be seeking. The one person I've recommended most of these pieces to is my therapist. And I read them along with him, notes in hand, breaking things down, explaining what I thought various things mean. (And, um, I'm SURE I'm wrong about most of these things.) But this is the kind of person I'd recommend these stories to - someone who is deeply concerned with the darkest, saddest, hardest parts of humanity, and someone who already knows how ugly human beings can be when they're shown without any fancy make-up and easy laughs.

 

If it sounds like I'm defending this book, I am. I think this is Wallace upping his game, projecting toward what he might try to do in long form in a novel someday. I don't know if it's doable in long form. It could be way too hard and way too heavy. This book is very heavy, but once I started to break it down, and really read it carefully, I became even more enamored with the soul of David Foster Wallace, and to me that soul is anything but hideous.

 

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review 2018-02-02 00:00
Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror & Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers
Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror & Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers - Michael McCarty Modern Mythmakers: 35 Interviews with Horror & Science Fiction Writers and Filmmakers by Michael McCarty is a must have for genre fans. It’s a peak inside the brain of several great minds in the world of horror and science fiction. The best part about it is it has conversations with people who are no longer with us, such as Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Dan Curtis, Forrest Ackerman and others. It’s an opportunity to find out what the greats have to say about their profession.

One of my favorite moments in this book was the introduction by Alan Dean Foster. He says if life is getting you down society says to gulp down a handful of pills. Instead you will find it better if you listen to the words of the people interviewed in this book. You will feel better, stimulate your brain and become addicted to their work without the use of a narcotic. Mr. Foster is right because what’s in this book are the words of people who are passionate about what they do and you can learn from them, you just have to keep your mind open.

One interview I enjoyed was with Dark Shadow’s creator Dan Curtis. Dan gets into how he made the Zuni Fetish Doll chase Karen Black in the made for TV classic Trilogy of Terror. I found it fascinating how much work went into pulling that off, but what I liked even more is when he mentions why so many horror films stink. He talks about how people making horror films think they can do anything but they can’t because if an idea is too illogical the audience won’t be scared, they have to believe it’s possible. Dan Curtis knew how to make a good horror story and I liked reading his opinions here.

Another interview that stuck out for me was with Science Fiction author Frederik Pohl. At the time of this interview I imagine he must have been in his eighties. He has seen a lot of changes in the world of literature and he never stopped doing what he loved even when he having health issues. I love that he mentions at his age he is still trying to figure out the cosmos and how society works and changes. He even gets into all of the scientific breakthroughs that were predicted in Science Fiction. Pohl is only one of the great minds you hear from in this book and one idea he gives on writing is that the hardest part of it is sitting down and making yourself say on paper what needs to be said.

While you may not like every interview in this book it’s still a good read if you love hearing from creative people. For instance there is a wealth of information for anyone who wants to be a writer. I love reading interviews with writers along with finding out what makes them tick. I also loved that Michael asks each one: What advice would you give to a new writer? All of their responses were a little different but they all seem to agree that you always have to keep writing and write what’s in your heart, not what will make others happy. As Ray Bradbury puts it: “Write what you love, it doesn’t matter what others love.” Good advice from the masters, do what you love.
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text 2017-10-16 18:45
Interview with Matt Godfrey, (Narrator Extraordinaire!)
Blackwater: The Complete Saga - Michael McDowell,Matt Godfrey
Haven - Greymore Publishing,Matt Godfrey,Tom Deady
Nightmares and Geezenstacks - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Fredric Brown
All Souls' Night - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Sir Hugh Walpole
The Late Breakfasters and Other Strange Stories (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Philip Challinor,Robert Aickman

 

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing actor & audiobook narrator Matt Godfrey for Horror After Dark!

 

Have you every wondered if narrators read the book first before accepting a narration job? Have you wondered whether they just know how to pronounce everything or if they practice first? Your questions have been answered! I hope you'll take the time to check it out here.

 

 

  

 

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url 2017-06-23 21:05
Mindfulness Training Books Group: Tips, Videos, Interviews
Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Art of 4 Elements - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Eating with Delicious Raw Vegan Recipes - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Tree of Life - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Being - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Chanting Mantras with Best Chords - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Conscious Creativity: Mindfulness Meditations - Nataša Pantović Nuit

#Mindfulness #Training Group sharing mindfulness. Links, interviews, videos...

 

Artof4Elements developed and with 7 Authors launched the Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training Series of 9 fiction and non-fiction books focusing on spiritual growth, creativity and mindfulness. The world of ''Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training'' explores numerous self development themes.  Using a variety of self-development tools from other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, neuroscience, to helping people identify and achieve personal goals.

 

Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training is a spiritual not religious endeavor that uses life-coaching tools from various philosophers, gurus and sages of our past and present.

 

Believing that we are all innately divine the ''Alchemy of Love Mindfulness Training'' explores the alchemy of the soul: the preparation, transformation and initiation process as an underlining method of personal development and growth. Nuit

 Come and join us! 

Source: www.goodreads.com/group/show/220405-mindfulness-training-alchemy-of-love
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review 2017-04-18 05:55
Dead Interviews: Living Writers Meet Dead Icons
Dead Interviews: Living Writers Meet Dead Icons - Dan Crowe

Several modern day writers answer the question, if you could go back in time and talk to any famous writer, who would it be? by imagining how such interviews would go.

 

Some are straight-forward, some are really very clever, like the Samuel Johnson/Boswell interview imagined by David Mitchell, or Rebecca Miller's take on how an interview would go with the Marquis de Sade.  Some of them aren't even authors; Douglas Coupland interviews Andy Warhol, who he imagines finds heaven very dull.

 

I bought this because I saw Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the list and he's just about the only author I'd travel back in time to talk to, if I could.  Ian Rankin did the honours, but I was rather disappointed with his efforts, to be frank.  Very little came out of the exercise except perhaps a wicked hangover for Rankin if he was lucky, a court-ordered psych eval if he wasn't (fictitiously speaking, of course).

 

The weirdest by far was Joyce Carol Oates' disturbing and intensive extended grilling of Robert Frost.  I think it's fair to say, fictional imaginings or not, she does not like Robert Frost!  At the end of it, she is careful to remind readers it's a work of fiction, "though based opon (limited, selected) historical research", and then points the reader in the direction of Meyer's biography of Frost.  I'm betting there's a story to tell there somewhere.

 

It's an amusing collection of what-ifs, some of which, like with all such things, are better than others.  

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