Friday, November 7, 2008

Excuses, Excuses

The weather in this neck of the woods has been absolutely abysmal for photography of new items! I want to do this big shop update, but wouldn't you know that every day has been ugly and gray for the past couple. I just hate using a flash; the colors seem to get so distorted. So I'll just wait for half-way decent day.

Meanwhile, I have actually done some writing, and other than working constantly on the yearbook as well, I have been re-reading some old favorites.

The first one, which I've read SO MANY times, is Cintra Wilson's Colors Insulting to Nature. It is one of very few books that can make me truly laugh out loud. I think I can safely say this is my favorite book ever. It chronicles the life of Liza Normal, a girl born in the 70s and raised on the mega-glitz fairy tales of television and movies who, understandably, has a hard time reconciling these fantasies and her un-fabulous life. The novel follows her from birth to her late 20s-- through all the embarrassments of high school, the earnest and drug-addled questioning of self, and tons of other events of humor and sadness. The writing is just stellar; Cintra Wilson is a savagely hilarious critic of pop culture and how it can screw us up if we believe in its sparkly technicolor facade. Considering that she is a playwright and screenwriter, I can't believe this book isn't a movie. I would love to see this on the screen. It should absolutely not get into the hands of a big studio-- a smaller indie company would have to do it. I also can't think of an actress that would do this part justice.

The second one is Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang. I was in seventh grade the first time I ever read anything by Joyce Carol Oates; it was a short story called "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" I was haunted by it-- I read the photocopied, stapled-corner pages of it over and over. I had just never read anything so dark and mysterious before. It left me hanging in a way no other writing ever had. At the story's close, you just can't say with certainty what will happen and if it's bad or good. That kind of ending is not something you find in writing geared toward young people; it's actually not a kind of writing that receives a lot of attention in the US in general. Last night I was just reading an article by Scott Elliott in an old issue of the AWP magazine, The Writer's Chronicle. He discusses magical realism, which is a genre I love: Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Innocent Erendira, almost any of Robert Coover's writing (the collection Pricksongs and Descants is my favorite). I mean, I'm a poet, so I appreciate the fantastic, the stretch of the imagination. But that's not a commonly-favored style in this country. Other cultures, like in South America and Asia, aren't as uncomfortable with a conclusion that actually doesn't conclude much, or with a story line that requires some suspension of disbelief. Just look at French film compared to the majority of US films. Michel Gondry's work is amazing (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep), but I don't think it's as respected or appreciated by the majority of people in this country. They are often movies where "nothing happens" (i.e. no explosions, infidelity, or high-speed chases) and a lot of what does happen is highly questionable in its reality; these films are cerebral. A lot of what we see is on the fine line between the "real" world and the imagination.

Whew! I didn't plan on launching into that, just from talking about Joyce Carol Oates! Anyway, Foxfire is a great novel that delves into a lot of interesting feminist issues, and that's another one that I would never bring in a crate to the used bookstore!

Wild Mind, by Natalie Goldberg, is another of her books on writing; the pieces in it are excellent to give you a little push in the "write" direction. Most are only a page or two, and they can be really helpful for a quick focus-- I read these until I hit on something that helps me feel "ready" to write. While I prefer one of her other books, Writing Down the Bones, (and both get a little heavy on the "I'm a Buddhist, and all these Buddhist tenets apply to writing-- don't forget I'm a Buddhist who studied with a Zen master" patter) this one is still a good one. It gets the job done!

So that's where I am these days: crocheting, cogitating theoretically, and creating a high school yearbook. I hope to have an update to the shop in the next few days. When I do, you'll be the first to know!

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