Bad Advice Wednesday: Summer Writing

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour

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summer49

Americans who weren’t rich started taking vacations before the civil war, and by the turn of the 20th Century, the middle class vacation had been perfected to an art form.  Already at that time there were newspaper articles and library recommendations for summer reading, and already the summer reading recommendations were for fiction, preferably light, plot-driven, no “heavy biographies.”  But let me propose something I’ve been trying to perfect into an art form: summer writing. Continue reading →

Guest contributor: Vince Passaro

Guy at the Bar: Vince Passaro on the Passing of E. L. Doctorow

categories: Cocktail Hour / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow

 

E.L. Doctorow departed from us this week, succumbing to lung cancer complications at the age of 84. It was my good fortune to meet him in the early 1990s and share a few brief conversations with him in the years that followed. There was an expression used among the elders on my Italian side: mal’ a visage, mal’ di cuore, buon’ a visage, buon’ di cuore, which means basically that the heart shows on the face. Doctorow – Ed to his friends – had that kind of expressive face; a moment’s engagement with him and you knew you were dealing with a thoughtful, polite, supremely gentle human being. A tall man, he never loomed, always stooped a little for those of us who couldn’t breathe the air up there where he was.

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Guest contributor: Bill Lundgren

Lundgren’s Lounge: “The Brothers: The Road To An American Tragedy,” by Masha Gessen

categories: Cocktail Hour / Don't Talk About Politics / Guest Columns / Reading Under the Influence

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gessen book

The universal response to the Boston Marathon bombings was revulsion, horror and incomprehension. The media’s talking heads incessantly characterized the Tsarnev brothers as Islamic terrorists/jihadists. In her account of the circumstances leading up to and the emotional aftermath of the bombing, journalist Masha Gessen offers up a more thoughtful and nuanced perspective on the causes of the tragedy and its broader implications in, The Brothers: The Road To An American Tragedy.   Continue reading →

“Love and Mercy” Rocks

categories: Cocktail Hour / Jukebox / Movies

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The-Beach-Boys-in-Love-and-Mercy

I cried through most of “Love and Mercy” a film about the incredible Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.  Partly the tears were for my own youth, but this is a sad tale–of misunderstood genius, of mental illness, of abuse.  The directer is Bill Pohlad, who produced the enigmatic Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” in 2007.  That film used a number of actors to portray Dylan, including Kate Blanchett.  This film uses two actors to portray Brian Wilson, and lets us see the actual man during the credits.  And it works beautifully, an embodiment of the changes the man went through, the eras of his life.  We’re all played by different actors as we grow older, aren’t we. Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: Get Up The Wall

categories: Cocktail Hour

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wall          I’ve written in this space before about how long, steep bike rides are good metaphors for writing a book. But yesterday, as I pushed and slogged up a ride that once seemed everyday but is now monumental, I thought that what I was doing was also a fairly apt metaphor for a writing career.

 

It seems to me important to make a clear distinction between the writing itself and the attempt to get the writing out in the world. Obviously, both skill sets are needed to become a published writer in the first place, and also needed to publish books over the course of a career. The writing itself is what we usually talk about here, but for today let’s stick to this other thing. Unless you are insanely lucky, the getting of the work into the world takes almost as much persistence and commitment as the work itself. This is understandably frustrating to a young writer—“But my writing is good”—and remains to some degree frustrating to many published and not-so-young writers. I will not go as far as to say I am in control when I am at my writing desk,but I almost never feel as out of control as I do when I try to negotiate the world of publishing.

 

Of course the hill seems steepest from the bottom. I am full of admiration for the young writers I know who have been trying for years to get published, working at it every day despite the world’s indifference. By extension this Continue reading →

Guest contributor: Vince Passaro

Guy at the Bar: Vince Passaro on Post-Racial Life

categories: Cocktail Hour / Don't Talk About Politics / Guest Columns

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battle-flag-2a

It now seems undeniable to me that we have been living in a 50 year semi-coordinated backlash against the civil rights movement. There is no other way to explain how the conditions of economic and political life of African-Americans gets worse, while “racism” putatively wears away, and we become (laughs here) post-racial. I remember my working class white relations (largely but not entirely the males), furious throughout my childhood at the claims of African-Americans, the demands for equality. I remember the combined total of votes for Richard Nixon and George Wallace in 1968: 60 percent — even McGovern did better than Humphrey did that year, only four years after Lyndon Johnson’s landslide. Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: A Lot at a Time

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour

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Okay, this one is the opposite of last week’s Bad Advice, “A Little at a Time,” in which I suggested celebrating incremental writing, since that’s mostly what we get time for.  “We” being we humans…  But let’s say you’ve got a novel started, or other book (or really any project humans get involved in, though hold off on the mass killings, please)… At some point, it’s going to be time to blast out a rough draft.  So accrete as you will, but when you’re well in, I suggest a draft vacation. Continue reading →

Bad Advice Wednesday: A Little at a Time

categories: Bad Advice / Cocktail Hour

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A few years back--can we do it again?  Yes.

A few years back–can we do it again? Yes.

Every year it’s the same–I look out over my garden and wonder how on earth I’m going to get it ready and then planted in time to have any chance of food from it at all.  And every year, an hour here and five minutes there, a morning next week and an hour last week, the thing gets done.  And all the other things.  Including, like, parenting.  And novels. Continue reading →

A Reading with Ed and Wally

categories: Cocktail Hour

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Been a packed month of readings–one almost every other day. The  most recent was a great event at Between the Covers in Telluride with Ed and Wally in the flesh. Thanks Daiva Chesonis. And special thanks to Terry Tice as Ed and Ashley Boling as Wallace Stegner. Next up is the Bookworm in Edwards, Colorado on Thursday the 18th.

abbey stegner

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