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Thursday
Feb162006

A white lie

AnotherSadLie.jpgDid a struggling white writer of gay erotica become one of multicultural literature’s most celebrated memoirists — by passing himself off as Native American?

That's the question posed by Matthew Fleischer of the LA Weekly in regard to the essay "The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams," which was published in Esquire in 1999 and later expanded into a memoir of the same name. It was critically praised. It garnered a small collection of literary awards and trinkets. And now appears to be shriveling under the same spotlight that bore down so heavily on James Frey.

So Frey exaggerated--ok, big deal. People do that. They augment the truth. Women get boob jobs. William Shatner has that rug on his head. I can accept that. But to co-opt someone else's culture? That's really sad. And it's such an ironic contrast to a wonderful multicultural author like Sherman Alexie, who writes fiction that is obviously autobiographical. (If you haven't read "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," you're missing out).

 

Tuesday
Feb142006

My funny valentine

With heartfelt thanks to I-mockery and Indiana Jones.valentine.jpg

Tuesday
Feb142006

I know American Idol is on, turn off your TV anyway

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to read 40 books this year. I read a lot anyway and have never counted, but the big four-oh sounded a little lofty but still doable. Here’s what I’ve read so far:

Stephen King: On Writing--This was a quick re-read, so it’s kind of a gimme.

The Stephen King Companion
, George Beahm—more of a bathroom book. This was an older one I found so it wasn’t current, but had the nice back-story stuff on his early work.

Get Shorty, Elmore Leonard—Never saw the movie. Decided to read the book. Couldn't get John Travolta out of my head. (Insert Brokeback Mountain joke here).

A Goomba’s Guide to Life, Steven R. Schirripa—No, I don't watch the Sopranos. I picked it up for a quarter at a library book sale. Needed it for a little character research. Plus it had some Italian recipes in the back. I made the Osso Bucco. Beautiful.

American Gods, Neil Gaiman––I read the Sandman stuff and wasn’t overwhelmed, couldn't get into the art. But I finally got around to reading this one and absolutely loved it. What an impressive book––the stuff you dream of writing. Drop-dead incredible.

1602, Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert––A graphic novel. I’m still a comic book geek at heart so I loved this. If you like alt-reality check out Red Son. (And if you've never read V for Vendetta, by all means get to the store––go now––and read it before it's sacrificed on the altar of cinema).

My Descent into Death, Howard Storm––I read this one because my wife liked it. And he was one of the people that influenced Anne Rice to give up the goth-vampire thing, which was pretty interesting in itself.

Sole Survivor, Dean Koontz––It’s a book about a plane crash that I read while flying on a plane. I guess it could only have been more ironic if I were also listening to Lynerd Skynerd at the same time. Not a big Dean Koontz fan, but every now and then.

The Mammoth Book of War Diaries and Letters: Life on the Battlefield in the Words of the Ordinary Soldier, 1775-1991
, Jon E. Lewis (Editor)––for research purposes. And in trade paperback it wasn't that mammoth.


Here’s a bit of what’s in my on-deck circle:

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell—not even sure what it’s about. It was a gift. Thanks.

Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson––I’ve always wanted to read this one. My first job out of college was art director for the Bainbridge Review. One of our columnists was a former editor who lived on the island during the time period of the book, who faced charges of treason for reporting the ransacking of homes of Japanese internees during WWII.

Reservation Blues––Sherman Alexie. I love this guy. And Smoke Signals is one of my favorite movies. What do you mean you haven't seen it?

The Kitchen God’s Wife, Amy Tan––I know, it’s kind of a chick book. What can I say, I’m Chinese. I’ve read most of her other books, and finished a book on Chinese culture last fall that talked about the legend behind the Kitchen God’s Wife.

LSD on Campus, Warren Young and Joseph Hixson––picked it up at a used book store. Cool period piece, circa 1966. Never did LSD, never plan to. Just looked like a fun read. Maybe I'll lick the pages and see what happens.

Whiskey Sour, J.A. Konrath––after his exhaustive self-promoting, I too had to buy it. And after I read Joe’s shorts on Amazon, I too was glad I did.

 

What are you reading? 

Wednesday
Feb082006

Group therapy––yes or no? No really, let it all out...

clowntherapy.JPGWhen I was in design school my routine went like this: Stay up until 4:00am working on a project. Catch a few hours of sleep before my 9:00am class. Put my work on the "critique rail" alongside the work of 25 classmates. The instructor would come in with a howitzer and blow big deserving holes into our work. Then we, the students, would come down from the hills to the field of battle and begin shooting the weak and injured. We’d leave class with our assignment for the next day. Wash off the blood. Rinse. Repeat.

This was my life for several years.

Now as a creative director, I submit my work to a firing line of clients each week. The same headaches. The same workflows. But like a prostitute, as opposed to some bar floozy, I get paid for my services.

So do I need more critical input in my life, after all, I’m married right? (Thanks folks, I’ll be here all night, you’re a beautiful audience).

Seriously though, as I’m rounding the bend on my 2nd draft I’m feeling the need for more input––in the form of ye ol’ critique group .

I was able to spend some time last night with author T.L. Hines to pick his brain about this very subject.

And he wasn’t high on their merits. He recommended trying to find that special reader. Someone that understands what your writing is all about. But, of course he found his special reader—in a critique group.