His letter to Gail Godwin, where he tells her that shyness is a form of hostility, and scolds her for not looking him up when she was in NYC. She was a student of his at the Iowa Workshop, and became a famed novelist. Other letters reveal that he championed Godwin, and tells her that she will be one of the three-hundred writers in America who make a living at it, and that her chances of success are numerous.
Friend of the blog, Gina Frangello, tells me that LA crime writer Tod Goldberg (Fake Liar Cheat, Simplify, Other Resort Cities) is the funniest person she’s ever met, and watching this video which Goldberg made right before AWP, that’s not hard to believe. I peed my pants watching this thing. Something about the off-beat deadpan deliveries makes it even sadder and funnier.
Since I ended last year on a crusade to target male fiction readers (see my holiday guest post at EWN), and since this blog is written by three (okay, four—and counting) guys, and since I’m such a macho dude (Baby Bjorn and diaper bag, notwithstanding), I decided to focus my year-end list on manly books. And that’s not to say that these books won’t totally appeal to women, it’s just to say that they all in some way speak to traditionally manly subject matter.War. Hunting. Meat night.
The first ‘real’ book I ever read all the way through was Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. Although I have little memory of the novel’s plot, I still claim it as one of my favorites. What I do remember is the name Sal Paradise, the weight of the pages, the feel of the back cover on the pads of my fingers. But only one short scene still lingers in my mind. “It was always mañana,” Sal narrates. “For the next week that was all I heard—mañana, a lovely word and one that probably means heaven.”
New this week, among other things:
-Paul Auster’s new novel Sunset Park, which takes a typically Austerian cast of characters through the financial crisis and wars in the middle east.
-Fated, by S. G. Browne, which sounds to me like a kinder gentler version of Robert Olen Butler’s scabrous Hell.
He introduced me to storytelling. In my infancy, it was the oral tradition. In the darkness of my room before bedtime, he spun whole worlds for me out of thin air. He was masterful. His characters won my sympathy right off the bat. He understood tension. Pacing. Climax. For the most part, these stories comprised an ongoing serial concerning three orphaned tiger cubs and their adventures in the jungle. I’m guessing my old man liked Kipling.