Reading Under the Influence « Bill and Dave's Cocktail Hour
You are viewing:

Reading Under the Influence


Lundgren’s Lounge: “Preparation for the Next Life,” by Atticus Lish

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

comments: 2 comments


Atticus Lish

Atticus Lish

The Great American Novel has always been a story about outsiders, people peering in through the gates at a uniquely American dream that seems maddeningly just beyond their reach… from Huck (where it all began), to the Joads and Gatsby and Bigger Thomas and on to McMurphy and Seymour (Swede) Levov, Ignatius J. Reilly and Sethe… these are all characters in pursuit of a mirage shimmering on an ever-receding horizon. Continue reading →

Lundgren’s Book Lounge: “The Story I Want to Tell,” by The Telling Room

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

comments: Be the first to comment


Telling room storiesShortly after moving to Portland over a decade ago in an attempt to escape the maw of the Big City that was alternately invigorating and trying to devour me, a friend introduced me to Susan Conley. At the time Susan, along with fellow writers Sara Corbett and Mike Paterniti, was in the early stages of creating a non-profit to support student writers in the Portland immigrant community and beyond, with an eye towards publication as a way to raise the stakes for the writers and the collective consciousness of their readers. Having worked extensively with student-generated publications in the NYC public school system, I was aware of both the potential and the limitations of such initiatives… it seems that many readers and critics find the work of student-writers to be endearing and empowering and yet not worthy of consideration as ‘serious’ literature.

Continue reading →

DFW on CNF: Deconstructing David Foster Wallace

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

comments: 3 comments


“. .. 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.

david_foster_wallace

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

comments: Be the first to comment


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.

Continue reading →

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

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

comments: Be the first to comment


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.

Continue reading →

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

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

comments: Be the first to comment


IMG_1375

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).

Continue reading →

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

categories: Cocktail Hour / Reading Under the Influence

comments: Be the first to comment


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

comments: 14 comments


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

Continue reading →

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

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

comments: 3 comments


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

comments: 1 comment


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 →