DFW on CNF: Deconstructing David Foster Wallace

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

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“. .. personal essays and memoirs, profiles, nature and travel writing, narrative essays, observational or descriptive essays, general-interest technical writing, argumentative or idea-based essays, general-interest criticism, literary journalism, and so on.” —David Foster Wallace’s syllabus definition of creative nonfiction.

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As a teacher and writer of nonfiction, I devoured the late David Foster Wallace’s recently released creative nonfiction syllabus. Salon, which published it, called the document “mind-blowing,” evidently referring to its tough-love language. In this blueprint for a night class he taught at Pomona College once a week in Spring 2008—so roughly six months before his death, presumably when he was already suffering from deep depression—Wallace prosecutes a rigorous, distilled aesthetic. He builds toward it in his opening “Description of Class,” which notes that “nonfiction” means it corresponds to real affairs but that creative “signifies that some goal(s) other than sheer truthfulness motivates the writer and informs her work.” Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “Something Rich and Strange,” by Ron Rash

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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Ron Rash

Ron Rash

In the literary world “regional” often implies  diminishment. This despite the indisputable truth that many of our most brilliant writers never left a very small world in their fictional creations; think Garcia Marquez and the mythical world of Macondo and Latin America or Faulkner and the characters and stories from Yoknapathawpa County, Mississippi or Jim Harrison’s tales from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Calling these writers “regional” as a form of criticism is absurd; their genius lies in bringing us, their readers, stories from a small world that expose universal truths, meaningful to any reader, anywhere.

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Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “The Happiest People in the World,” by Brock Clarke

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Brock Clarke at Books and Books, Miami

Brock Clarke at Books and Books, Miami

Brock Clarke is one of the funniest writers I have ever read, but to categorize him as a humor writer would be a huge disservice. Beneath the humor is a sly and wry commentary on contemporary culture that will linger long after the laughter has abated. Clarke’s latest novel, The Happiest People in the World will certainly tickle your funny bone but it will also make you ruminate on the absurdity of a society obsessed with security and the underlying paranoia that results when everyone seems to be watching everyone else–and taking notes.

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Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “The Remedy For Love,” by Bill Roorbach

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

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Living in Maine or anywhere with a real winter, we’re all familiar with the hyperbolic ‘storm of the century’ and the panic that ensues as grocery store shelves are emptied, cars shuttled about, gas procured for the snowblower and emergency supplies (batteries, water etc.), restocked. And of course what usually follows is anticlimactic as the storm blows offshore or the storm track veers off to the west (or east or north or south).

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Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “A Rough-Shooting Dog,” by Charles Fergus

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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Charles Fergus

Complementing my love of books, I have always been drawn to the beauty of the natural world. It’s why I was a farmer and why following a springer spaniel filled with bird lust, shotgun in hand, makes me feel as alive as nearly anything I have ever experienced. Recently I came across a classic that combines these twin passions: A Rough-Shooting Dog: Reflections from Thick and Uncivil Sorts of Places by Charles Fergus. Fergus’ book transcends the limitations of the hunting genre: it is a memoir of a man and a bird dog’s education that qualifies as genuine literature. Continue reading →

The Remedy For Love Book Trailer

categories: Cocktail Hour / Movies / Reading Under the Influence

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I made it myself! Let me know what you think…

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Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “Joe,” by Larry Brown

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

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Larry Brown

 

The mysterious alchemy that brings books into my life has always fascinated me. I seldom fail to finish books because it’s always so evident that the book in my hands is there for a timely reason, as though there is a god of reading that has placed it there. Often titles appear off the lips of a network of fellow bibliophiles and so recently when friends Monica Wood and Robert Vitesse, voracious readers both, mentioned the astonishing impact of the fiction of Larry Brown on the same day, I immediately went to my shelves and pulled out a copy of Joe and began reading. Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “The Fog of Forgetting,” by Genevieve Morgan

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

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I’ve never been an ardent reader of the genre called ‘young adult’ fiction, probably because such books didn’t seem to exist when I was a young reader… or if they did, I was unaware of them. Recently we have seen an explosion of books categorized as Y.A., including many that transcend the limitations of the category of  ‘young adult’: these are simply gorgeously written stories whose main characters happen to be kids.  Continue reading →

The Remedy for Love Pretend Dinner Party and Group Interview

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence / Table For Two: Interviews

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It’s such a pleasure to talk about a new book with friends and acquaintances that I thought I’d host a dinner party to do just that, invite a bunch of writers, readers, booksellers, radio hosts, filmmakers, and musicians, among others, to a bash in celebration of The Remedy For Love.  We’ll meet somewhere nice, since it’s all going to be pretend anyway.  I’m thinking Kauai, the garden isle of Hawaii, and will foot the pretend bill for all that pretend travel to a pretend luau, complete with fire dancing and hula lessons, all under a flapping tent, ocean breezes, tropical warmth, a fine contrast to the weather in the new novel, which is cold, cold, cold, a blizzard of epic proportions.  I’ve given my guests just a little to go on—a quick description of the novel (a small town lawyer tries to help a homeless woman and ends up stuck in a cabin with her during the storm of the century…) , and the quotes above from Peter Heller and David Abrams (two terrific novelists I had the good fortune to meet on the Life Among Giants tour).  Because, I don’t want to give away too much!  And now, everyone’s assembled, huge round table, cheerful (and well-tipped) servers dropping fabulous food, bowls of rum punch, bottles of wine.  Everyone has a gift copy of The Remedy for Love, still gaily wrapped (do not open until October 14, 2014, which is publication day!).  The dancing has yet to begin.  Amid the laughter, someone speaks up, gets us started. Continue reading →

Serial Sunday: Crash Barry’s “Tough Island” (Final Episode and Afterword!)

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence / Serial Sunday

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Shaking hands with Cap’n Donald

 

Occasionally, I wonder how my life would have been different if I had stayed on the island and bought a crumbling fishhouse and wharf that was for sale for a mere five grand. Could’ve fixed it up and turned it into the coolest pad. Problem was, the shack was right next door to Donald’s wharf and he’d be the worst neighbor. He didn’t wave at me once after I stopped working for him. If I was walking down the road, he’d drive by and look the other way. Mary-Margaret didn’t wave either. And when I bumped into her at the post office, she’d silently glare at me with an icy gray stare. Continue reading →