Archive | literature RSS feed for this section

I measure you in music!

11 Oct

I too was entranced by Eggers’ rant against keeping shit real, and when I stumbled across the above wee gem, I thought it really nutshelled it.

Perhaps a non-sequitur, but to me a similar vein- this weekend I erred most tellingingly, demanding a new pal listen to a favourite song of mine, a rather controverial choice. I instantly rued the move, having flashbacks to this story. And yet, I couldn’t resist. I told him to listen really really carefully to the lyrics. I tapped my finger at certain points, hoping my added emphasis would help him fully appreciate the humour. I explained the ethos behind it, forced my point, smiled knowlingly throughout certain verses, and wrapped up with philospohcial anaysis of why it is so awesome. Yikes.

I guess my saving grace is that most people don’t think Eminem has ever kept shit real, so I was more likely the judgee, not the judger.


Word-famous on the internet

25 Aug

I’m a notoriously terrible speller, which I blame in part on belonging to the spell-check generation, and in part on having spent time in the States as a kid. Those American spellings really fuck you up. It’s a pretty debilitating failure, which has resulted in many moments of shame. In my recent history, I’d say writing “Bango” as the answer to the crossword clue for “small stringed folk instrument” was pretty poor, especially as I have to admit that even Americans spell banjo with a “j”. Also shameful was being the scribe at a quiz the other day – what was I thinking – and having to stumble through two hours of people freaking sounding words out. If there’s one thing a bad speller hates, its people sounding words out. No matter how slowly you say it, or how much you emphasise the syllables, the ‘c’ in “necessary” sounds like a fucking s; maybe even two ses. Just spell if for me slowly, asshole.

So being published in a dictionary (albeit an urban dictionary) was a pretty cool moment for me – even if my word, and the spelling of it, were invented. In fact, that is perhaps the best part of it; no one will ever, ever, have to sound out “urpie” for me – it’s my neologism. I felt pr-et-ty cool. I wasn’t quite at the Palin-stage where I’d compare myself to Shakespeare, but the English geek in me really started to think that neologisms, and urban dictionary, were fun. That was until Urban Dictionary lashed me. Shame.

Save Ferris!

5 Aug

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is one of my favourite movies. And with Thursday evening exhaustion setting in, I, like Ferris, feel I am the deserving candidate of some time off, legal or illegal. If I could, I would dedicate a day to reading Joshua Ferris’ novel Then We Came to the End- must get my hands on this book. This may mean I have a Ferris-Fetish. Well so be it. Defiantly, I feel no shame.  

Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!

2 Jul

Friday afternoon, slacking off at work, so just re-read the epic Herman Melville short-story Bartleby, The Scrivener. A Story of Wall-Street. It’s such a great story; Bartleby is kind of the epitome of passive-aggressiveness, or maybe just passive-resistance. Either way, now I know I can out pas-ag my flatmates any day with his “I’d prefer not to” quip. Pretty sure it will even beat the (semi) ironic “There, I said it.” I won’t be silently starving myself to death though, that’s a bit too extreme, even for me.

Anyway, at the end of the story, the narrator discovers that Bartleby used to work at a Dead Letter Office, something I’d never heard of- thank you, wikipedia. It’s a place where undeliverable letters are stored, emptied of any valuables (which are auctioned off) and eventually burned, all for the sake of privacy. I know that realistically, most of the stuff in DLOs would be bills and junk mail, but the romantic in me just can’t stop thinking about the gems that could be there- declarations of undying love, long-lost sibling reconciliations, invitations to appear on Jerry Springer, Jilly Cooper’s original Riders manuscript, proof that R Patz and K Stew really are dating; the mind boggles. Lordy, what I would give for a day in one of those joints.

So I’ll be day-dreaming DLOs’ contents for the rest of the afternoon. That and listening to eminem’s newest album (comment TBC). Too good.

In the margins

22 Jun

Reading this article* on the New Yorker today got me thinking about the sin of writing in books. I personally don’t partake in it – the goody-good in me baulks at the thought of writing in a book in anything but the lightest of pencils. Oddly though, I love finding the notes others have written in books from the library or a secondhand store. Reading a book is such a private affair, so I enjoy a little jolt from the book’s past life. I usually race through books, eager to reach the story’s dénouement. But when I come to an underlined passage or a phantom question mark in a margin, I stop and take heed. What is my book’s ex-lover trying to tell me?

The funniest ones are always the ranters. Tiny script covering every spare inch of white space on the page, informing me that this author has omitted something vital!!! Or that they vehemently disagree!!! And what about this contradiction, huh?!! (My book’s ex-lovers always are heavy-handed with the exclamation marks).

Maybe I will pick up a pencil next time I am reading and leave a note for posterity.

* I love Mark Twain’s dismissal of The Heavenly Twins, the hilarious expression of a reader’s rage at having perservered with a less-than-worth-it novel: ‘A cat could do better literature than this.’

Transgressing Desire

18 Jun

There are a million kinds of crushes. There’s the signature lust-crush, the frequent student/teacher intellectual-crush (here’s looking at you Willow), the humour crush- ensnared with the “if-we-date-I’ll-just-wet-my-pants” conundrum, the ridiculously incompatible-crush (who needs language, we can communicate with our eyes?), the pack mentality-celebrity crush, probably the easiest to develop, cause all you need to do is pick team Jacob or team Edward. The list goes on.

But who’s had a voice crush? It is certainly a far rarer beast; like falling for 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL. And I have one. On a lady even: Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor for the New Yorker, who chats with writers on the magazine’s fiction podcasts.

Deborah, you are a dream boat. Your dulcet tones are so soothing, so engaging. I listen to you when I go to sleep, Deborah, and think about sounding like you.

Deborah if I had to negotiate peace talks, I would want you there. Israel and Palestine? You’d barely break a sweat.

I bet, Deborah, that you could silence a barge of screaming babies reading anything- the ingredients of a Doritos packet, for example- and those things are made of some hard to pronounce stuff.

Do you promise, Debs, to do my book-on-tape, when the time comes? You might have a bit of a granny’s waver in your voice by then, but trust me, you’ll still sound babin’.

Can we do karaoke one night, Deborah? Or beat-poetry? I’ll play the bongos while you read ‘Howl’. I bet you know it by heart though, you literary figure you.

I should really google your name to check I’m spelling it right Deborah, but I just can’t; I’m afraid I’ll see your face…

Does this blog predict the future?

14 Jun


As though high-fived by fortune and sponge-bathed with irony, my gripe about the literary elite has just played out spectacularly in Australia. Unless Hemingway or Hunter S. Thompson is involved, writers’ fights aren’t usually particularly zealous, but this got pretty close to thrilling; for me, anyway.

Peter Carey, who I actually wrote my honours essay on, used his closing speech at the Sydney Writers Festival to lament the decline in reading of serious, literary novels in favour of popular fiction. “We are getting dumber every day. We are really literally forgetting how to read” he complained. Popular literature, it seems, will lead to the downfall of society. I thought TV/internet/computer games were supposed to do that?

Bryce Courtenay, unsurprisingly offended by this dig at popular lit, retorted “there’s the assumption that just because you’re a literary writer therefore you are writing something of importance, of interest or entertainment or education or ability. It’s absolute crap.” I know Bryce has lived in Australia for decades, but this quote has more zing if read in a South African accent. He also called Carey’s thoughts “boring” and “bullshit”. Awesome.

So, with a small pat on my own back, I say: point proven.