#Author Fail 16: Wendy Walker

Good riddance, failures.

Today ends this column, at least in weekly form, which for the 15 weeks past has detailed a series of missteps, blind alleys, redirections, redactions, and lessons never learned. Ok, I know, many of the writers in this space and its readers have intimated lessons, although this was never my intent.

To paraphrase the call for the column, this investigation of failure is not mean to add to the narrative of redemption constructed from hindsight, which in all is bespectacled glory reifies traditional notions of Authorship (the development over time, the mastery of headspace).  No, the idea here could be that failure can be valuable (or useless) in an of itself–as an articulation of the limits of writing, or our ambitions, of our egos.

Thus, while you may take a warm glow from all of this, don’t overlook the dark pall. On that note, we let Wendy Walker, one of my favorite writers in the tradition of constraint, feel the stage crook pulling her prose from the stage.

*****

My Man & other Critical Fictions

In the years following 9/11 I found myself feeling an urgent need to grapple with the issue of war. I chose as my subject the quintessential war of story, the Trojan War.  It had key female figures, both mortal and immortal.  The work would be a novel centered on three points of view, those of Helen and Paris, the conflict’s relatively clueless catalysts, and that of Athena, who plans and orchestrates the destruction in order to test a number of her new inventions.  I would call the novel The City Under the Bed.

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Kicking Out the Poets

For my post-introduction aesthetics post, I wanted to talk some about Plato, and specifically whether and why the poets need to be kicked out of our ideal city.

Originally I planned to cover Plato and Aristotle in one post, because Aristotle’s Poetics is often treated as a direct challenge or at least response to Plato’s ideas on the arts. But I found I had a lot more to say about Plato than could comfortably fit alongside Aristotle. So I’ll hold off on Aristotle till next time. Continue reading

Books lost between California and England. (Also on Head-On, Birol Ünel, blood, Pierre Loti, Lea Salonga, appendicitis in Paris, flirtations, transoceanic accents, impossible eulogies, Patroclus and Achilles, lost things, holes, giving yourself up.)

Nearly two years ago, when I moved to England from California, I had a box of books shipped over from California to England. The box was full of books, some of which were my most beloved books, and some of which were books I needed to finish the novel I was writing. At the same time, there was a Royal Mail strike going on. The box of books never arrived.

Now I don’t live in that London flat anymore. I don’t know if those books will ever find their way to me. I desperately hope the striking workers opened the box up and read the books. Took the books for themselves. I hope they found something in them. Fell in love with them. With the life in them.

Have you ever lost books like that? These are the ones I lost.

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An Interview with Yuriy Tarnawsky, Part 3

Yuriy reading at Chicago’s Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (1974).

Part 1 | Part 2

[Please note that I’ve updated both of these posts with photos that Yuriy sent me.]

I’d like to ask a few more questions about Three Blondes and Death, if you don’t mind. Perhaps the most memorable and complicated aspect of that novel is its syntax. I’ll quote a short passage to illustrate:

It’d been unusually warm all that spring. The vegetation was much more advanced than usual. It really looked almost as in the middle of June. The grass was thick. It was bright green. It covered the earth like a bright layer of paint. The paint seemed shiny. It seemed still wet. It seemed to have been poured out of a can and to have spread over the earth. It seemed to have spread by itself. The earth therefore seemed tilted. (13)

How did you arrive at such a style?

Oh, yes, that syntax! You can’t imagine how much grief and pain it cost me.

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