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)

Read more

Bingeing on bingeing

Bingeing writers and binge writing. Traditionally, writers have been notorious bingers. And, aside from any occupational enthusiasm for booze and suchlike, we get binge writing, where instead of turning caffeine into books, as some would have it, writers instead turn whiskey into piss and engage in binge writing in the intervals between their alchemical endeavors. (I first encountered the expression “binge writing” listening to a Letterman interview with Hunter S. Thompson. See “What is writing?”)

hangovers joy of

hunter s thompson guardianBinge Read more

Good distractions and bad distractions

starbucksSometimes I like to work in coffee shops. Spending too much time alone in my office back home can leave me bushed. It’s also true that some cafés, at least, offer just the right type of distraction. The establishments I favor tend to have regular appearances of eye candy upon which I might rest my weary eyes — much like a nanny app that keeps me looking away from my computer the way I’m supposed to, warding off the dreaded … Read more

Selling novels: What it takes

I’m probably over-reacting, but it’s already getting harder these days to take pride in thinking of yourself as a writer, since so can anybody with the price of a computer and an Internet connection. You aren’t even permitted to die penniless and hungry in proper romantic style, since everyone will merely ask why you did that. Why didn’t you just take steps to flog your stuff?

Even if you decide you are going to flog your stuff, you aren’t permitted … Read more

Losing the plots

This is the longest I’ve neglected my blog since I started it about three years ago.

And right now I should be working on a novel, rather than poking at this post. Except I’ve lost the plot. The structure of my narrative escapes me just now.

Call it writer’s block, or simple lack of sleep. Or maybe this book is really a classic hobologoistic project that should be presented to the jury now, with a view to burning the ms. … Read more

Japanieces & tilefish & things

What have tilefish and superyacht owners got in common?

Collin posed this question at the end of his last post, “Pharaonic fish and flash fatcats.” And now he has invited me, Jack Shackaway, who remains unbound by considerations of political correctness, to explain.

The following passages are from a novel in progress starring yours truly — even written by yours truly though Collin will no doubt try to claim otherwise. The book is a work of … Read more

Starbucks is a jungle

I’m sitting here like a prat in a coffee shop renowned throughout the modern world as the natural habitat of prats with laptops who, in their whole attitude and disposition, claim to be writers. I’m struggling to make sense of a world of my own design and construction. In fact, I grapple with an idea so arcane that previous science-fiction writers who entertained it had to be institutionalized.

I look up from my MacPro to gaze at the ceiling … Read more

Realities and stories: Realities *are* stories

The big news du jour — after the colorful and convoluted transgressions of celebrity athletes — is the imminent Academy Awards. The three top  contenders for Best Picture are Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty. These three have at least one thing in common: They all stand accused of playing fast and loose with the historical truth of matters.

But what is “objective” about history or, for that matter, about reporting? History is always written by the … Read more

What is writing?

 

J.P. Donleavy, an early literary hero of mine, was quoted in Playboy (May, 1979) as saying, “Writing is turning one’s worst moments into money.”

Would that this were so. Meanwhile, another spin on the essence of writing is going the rounds on Facebook:

.

 

In other quarters, writers instead turn whiskey into piss and engage in binge writing in the intervals between their alchemical endeavors. (I encountered the expression “binge writing” listening to a Letterman interview Read more