Living is storytelling: Narrative realities

Overheard, an item of happy hour flotsam: “I never read fiction. I’m only interested in the real world.”

Yeah, well. So you go ahead and tell me all about your ‘real world.’

narrative and living didionPersonality, culture, our realities themselves are narrative in structure. We and our worlds are stories we tell ourselves and each other, individually and collectively. This is something most people don’t understand. Reality is a social construct. Always. Once people do recognize this, even only tacitly, then the construction … Read more

No rewind, no undo

 

 In my last post, ‘Interpermeable realities, material & digital,’ I suggested that manipulative impulses, as well as sources of addiction, are leaking over from our digital worlds into our material realities. The impulse to conduct a word search in a paper book for just one example.

UNDO buttonEven before the digital age, of course, we’d experience impulses to alter our material world merely by wishing hard. A faux pas, for instance, could make you wish you had access … Read more

Cooking up a character

 

chang deliciousnessBill the Mathematician has just sent me a link to David Chang’s Unified Theory of Deliciousness.’ As it happens, nine years later than the rest of the world, I’m currently hooked on the Breaking Bad TV series, and I have to wonder whether there’s a connection between Chang’s theory of deliciousness and a formula for creating great characters in fiction.walter white good

As Chang says:

A chef can go crazy figuring out how much salt to add to

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How to write a novel that flies

I had positivism and the notion of eternal recurrence sussed when I was five or six years old.

horse-and-wagon-clipart-1
Back in this boondocky town where I lived at the time, the streets were littered with horse turds from the one big white horse that pulled the garbageman’s wagon. Waste ground, of which there was plenty, tended to be covered with rubbish I guess the garbageman didn’t categorize as garbage. For example I remember patches of rhomboid glass fragments like dull gems … Read more

Tattoo me noir too

tattoo year of glad

 

 

tattoo year of glad

In an earlier post, we had a look at Jack Flowers’ tattoos in Theroux’s Saint Jack, set in 1950s Singapore. Now we get a range of early-1990s attitudes to tattoos as described by David Foster Wallace in his novel Infinite Jest, which in parts can safely be described as noir. Very noir, in fact. In this excerpt, we find a broader sample population of tattoo aficionados, a variety of urban flotsam and jetsam conveniently washed up together … Read more

Opportunities for graybeards

writers love 'emkenny rogers1Upon recent acquaintance and saddened at the news I’m only a writer, more than one Filipina lady has suggested I could make a living in Manila as a Kenny Rogers impersonator. Now an American woman from Tennessee who looks like a diminutive Cormac McCarthy with longer hair and dyspepsia tells me there’s hope for me in America as an Orsen Welles clone.

orson welles

I grow giddy at this ever-expanding horizon of opportunity, where age and gray-beardedness are instead generally supposed to … Read more

Epidemic dead pens: Sign of the times

refills simmeringThis morning my tea is ready before my Parker refills are done. They’ve been simmering in a pot on the stove for five minutes already, but they still won’t write.

I’ve used indelible black Parker medium ballpoints for years. Some of my associates describe my Parker pens as mere affectation. “I do fine with these twenty-baht stick pens,” says one friend. Of course he’s only a photographer and hardly knows what to do with a pen anyway. The point is, … Read more

What I should write (learning to listen to my public)

kicking-dogslarge

Jack Shackaway here. Of Kicking Dogs fame.

It’s true, as Collin says (here and here). Nearly everybody’s a writer these days.  And — given all the media interest in current publishing-industry convulsions — the few who aren’t writers are experts on publishing and books.

I used to tell people I was a novelist. I don’t anymore. That’s as interesting to your average citizen as saying “Every night I go to sleep.” Who isn’t writing a novel?

But if … Read more

Dark Night of My Quick Guns XVII, by Allie Ambit: A brief review

Jack Shackaway presents a review of a recent Mickey’s Muse product:

explosion hollywoodTHIS BOOK never fails to satisfy basic reader expectations, but I was disappointed that, in key ways, it never exceeds them.

Take the lead scene, for example. Mr. Ambit presents everything that Hollywood wants—a startling instance of random structural violence, with much smoke and flame and opportunity for the action hero to squint in the general direction of the shitstorm and wince in a way that suggests strong … Read more

Mickey’s Muse: Henry Ford for writers

The bots are coming, the bots are coming 

robot writer la times bbcThe times, they are a’changing, and faster than some of us might like. Us writers, for example. As Klaus F. Zimmerman has suggested:

“If anyone needed a wake-up call about how much the world, as we know it, is changing, consider this: China betting its future on robots is certainly about the starkest signal imaginable.” (“The big trade-off in the world of labour,”  The Straits Times, 1 May 2015)

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