Anyone coming into a tome about the Beat Generation probably knows something about its most renowned writers. While this familiarity comes in handy and helps the book set its hooks in early, American Smoke is a strange and unpredictable read because Sinclair’s brings together key figures of the Beat Generation and interweaves their stories with those of the places in which they worked, his own thoughts, memories, and feelings, and tangential narratives about the people who surrounded their lives. This is a fragmented autobiography of Iain Sinclair as much as it is a book about the Beats, pop culture, movies, travelling, Olson’s Gloucester, Burrough’s Lawrence, and the secrets, lies, and half-truths often found when conducting research on famous characters. The result of this wild mixture is a multilayered text in which names like Ginsberg and Kerouac end up intermingling with others as unexpected as Courtney Love and Aliester Crowley. (via Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Review: “American Smoke,” Iain Sinclair’s History of the Beat Generation)
Moodwise, The Spray was meant to cover a very specific spectrum based on what we both took away from the Jonathan Lethem short story of the same name. Overall, I think we were aiming for notes of ambivalence and resignation but we have a…tendency towards the ebullient even when we’re trying to bum out the listener. SIMISM was meant as a return to those comfortable, feel-good waters. We used the word “shameless” a lot when we were making it. We wanted it to radiate positivity. (via Vol. 1 Brooklyn | “We Wanted It To Radiate Positivity”: An Interview with Seattle’s USF)
When I finished, I had not worked on a story for five or six years. I did exercises. I started stories that just died, and I didn’t spend much time with them. The last thing I published was in 2007, probably. A story, also, about religious yearning, that takes place in Death Valley. I went back in, and I found myself writing really long stories, which I’d never done before. I wrote two very long, fifty-page stories, which I eventually cut down to a more serviceable twenty-five, twenty-eight pages. And then I felt totally spent, and I found myself revisiting one of my old loves, which is Donald Barthelme. I started writing these weird things that looked nothing like the other stories and nothing like the book. So I’ve got five stories: two that are somewhat traditional and three that are somewhat…off. And hopefully someone likes them, somewhere in the universe.
In Episode 10, we hang/rap/laugh/explore with poet/publisher/all-around good dude Mike Young. Mike runs Magic Helicopter Press and has been an integral part of moving indie publishing/writing from ones and zeros into paper and hands. Mike was in town for a thing and we were so stoked he came and spent an afternoon with us at Mellow Pages. Mike even took a request from Eric and sings us all a song. Mike’s newest book, Sprezzatura, is on the cusp of release from Publishing Genius.
Part of what I like about the stories was the pairing, that balance — in one way, “After the Leaving” is a kind of suburban story, even while being this bigger, more surreal, Bible story. So, then, it became, “how do I segue out of one and into the next one most effectively?” And also asking what each story added to the whole, with a few stories that felt very at home in one of the half-collections getting cut because, here, it felt too similar to something else and didn’t add anything interesting to the mix.
Taylor Jenkins Reid and After I Do, 7/8 "I wanted to explore what happens when a couple approaches the problem of falling out of love in an unconventional way," Taylor Jenkins Reid tells Reeder Reads in an interview.
Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Tim Kinsella…
Our event with Tim Kinsella is happening Thursday at WORD in Greenpoint.
"Something I’m really interested in is disconnection, in relationships and especially between family. A big part of this book is the disconnection between the Walker family. I wanted to concentrate on what characters wanted to say to each other or thought about each other that they would never actually get a chance or let themselves say. Instead of focusing on what breaks the family apart, I wanted to concentrate on what led up to it and the effects on the family. I wanted my characters to be reliving and re-seeing what happened years later, and so for a good deal of the book we’re stuck in the characters’ heads."
In this episode we get to hang with Elissa Schappell–all-around literary powerhouse/rabble rouser, book editor at Vanity Fair, and co-founder/Editor-At-Large of Tin House. We talk about her beginnings as a writer and the path she’s navigated to get to the place she’s at, places she’s lived, as well as how she has managed to overcome some personal issues and be the awesome human being she is today. This is a doozy of an episode, so make yourself a nice cool drink and settle in and enjoy.
"The trip was part of an on-going negotiation I have with independence versus interdependence—how much should I do alone? I didn’t call anyone at home for the three months I was gone and some days I didn’t say much more than a handful of words to a stranger. I wrote an email from a library every once in a while. Most of the time I was just sort of staring off at the horizon, getting weirder."