I think I’m the only one who’s happy with the results of this season. I loved Gretchen’s collection, and throughout the season I felt like her clothes were the most stylish and wearable. She can get a little too hippie for my taste—for instance, I thought the purple velvet frock the judges loved was hideous. But overall, her clothing really appealed to me.
I also liked Mondo’s work, but his clothing felt repetitive. So much purple Houndstooth! Also, it seemed like people liked him more than his clothing. He was so lovable.
I thought Gretchen, rather than being villainous, was simply misunderstood. Okay, maybe she talked a little shit—but didn’t everyone? She was honest in her confessionals, which is what you want, right? I feel like, were I to be on a reality TV show, I would not be able to hold back on the critique and gossip whenever the producers sat me down in that little room! Was she a little opinionated? Yes. A touch bossy? Yes. But, you know, I don’t fault her for those traits. I can be a real bossy boss too sometimes. I like to be in control, and that can get you in some troubling situations.
I’ve written a brief recap of the conference I went to last week at the Internet Archive. If you are interested in the thrilling and sometimes confusing direction publishing is headed in, check it out.
"I was well aware that there might be some kind of advantage to be gained from what seemed a disaster."
Every week in class we run out time before we can discuss “Me and Miss Mandible.” This has actually only happened twice, but it feels like it might happen again next week, and again the following week. An effect of mistiming, or of a bureaucratic oversight, or the consequence of our group-wide idee fixe on the third person and its dangerous and amazing elasticity. Whatever it is, we just keep forgetting the reading! How fitting for Barthelme, no?
Tonight in class I served a platter of chocolates because my students were turning in their first story assignments. Of course, not everyone partook in these treats, and there were a couple of absences; of course, many pieces of chocolate remain. Guess who will eat them? I will.
I don’t understand writers who don’t read as they’re working. It takes years to write a book. Years! It seems to me that even if another book influences your voice, you soon move onto another anyway, and in revision such inconsistencies in the narrative can be smoothed out.
I am proud of my first collection, To Slow Down The Time: Stories, and still eager to share it with those that haven’t yet come across it. But, I’ve always known that what would come next would likely not be another story/art collaboration. It would have to be a new and different challenge.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen isn’t funny and beautiful enough to outweigh the nasty, frustrating actions of its characters. And the characters aren’t authentic enough for me to be truly absorbed by their lives and their problems. I don’t think it’s a wonderful book, just a capable one.
I’ve spotted two anachronisms so far. First, when Patty was a kid, her grandparents bought her remaindered books from Barnes and Noble, What year was that…?! And, later, in Joey’s 2001 section (which is stupidly part of a section called “2004”), he says his aunt disparages Tina Fey and Sarah Silverman. Those two comediennes certainly weren’t famous by then.
While I suppose the summary in the first half does give the novel a Tolstoyian feel, it also allows for some near hysterical listing of facts and asides. It gets exhausting. Much of the drama is presented as exposition or in summary describing the event after it’s happened, making me feel like I’ve always just missed a train.
Also? I don’t believe Patty wrote that biography of herself in the third person. Franzen makes some feeble attempts to suggest it’s her by capitalizing words at random. Isn’t that cute—oh, you silly woman who’s not a writer! But he eventually forgets the conceit altogether, and the language becomes entirely Franzenian again. For me, it violates the authenticity that point of view should provide. Why use that gimmick at all, if it’s going to be handled so gracelessly?
I eat kale for lunch about three times a week. It’s a wonder food!
I still have trouble with raw kale. I sautee mine with butter and olive oil until about a third of the leaves are a touch crunchy. To cut the bitter flavor I squeeze some lemon into it. If I don’t have a lemon, I use white wine vinegar.
Add some sea salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and serve. I like it over quinoa or rice, with an egg on top.
This recipe is amazing, and I didn’t even do it properly. Have finally conquered my fear of kale. Some notes:
1. The tofu part is worth the slight hassle and also, you can re-use the marinade (I used it for a stir-fry), so that’s a nice bonus.
2. You might, like I did, scoff at the serving size of 3, as though it could take three times/people to eat a wimpy little salad. But that is indeed how many servings it has. I consider myself a pretty champion eater, AND I first tried it after a run, when normally I can eat a pound of bacon without much fuss, and I still needed three meals to finish it off. Probably because it contains an entire block of tofu. And also kale is no joke. Luckily it keeps v well in the fridge, probably because kale is so hardy.
3. Don’t be fussed if, as you’re putting the various parts of the salad together, you are doubtful. The tofu will taste kinda off! The dressing will be way too intense! But then you’ll mix them together with kale, and then you’ll be a believer.
I’ve handled a lot of rejection for my writing, and in the last couple of weeks, those rejections have been pretty unbearable. I will talk more specifically about them someday, hopefully when I have a happy ending to report.
But! Today! Today! A magazine accepted a story of mine! It’s kind of well known. It was started by a guy whose name rhymes with Bave Beggers. Holy shit! I am going to take a morning bath now, to celebrate.
I don’t own a single item of clothing that is purple. Well, not true. I have a Michael Kors formal dress that I got at Loehmanns or $99, marked down from $1,000 (!). I also have a pair of purple underwear, which I magically chose this morning. Now I am happy to be wearing them, to show my support. I wish I had a purple shirt like everyone else!
For example, if you were a big Helen DeWitt fan and showed up to see her speak, and a pretty girl with arm tattoos was also a big Helen DeWitt fan and she too showed up to see Helen DeWitt speak, you might post something like this:
You were a girl with tattoos on your forearms and were wearing a gray shirt and jeans. You were at McNally Jackson, listening to Helen DeWitt discuss her book. You were a copy of “The Believer” and “Mojo.” I told my friend that you looked like the idealized girl for the 26-year-old version of me; my friend disagreed and said that you looked pretty idealized for everyone. I had to admit that there was a good chance that he was right.