Monday, August 23, 2010


David Mitchell on his process:
Mitchell: When you’re 27, you’re more apt to be like: “Oh God, I need to do this two-thousand-page scene before I go to bed.” “OK, well. Let’s do it, then.” And you do it.
Rumpus: And you think it’s brilliant and you don’t want to change a word.
Mitchell: Precisely. Now it can take painstaking weeks—God knows—to excrete a single sentence. It can be like having a hemorrhage, but one hopes the quality is superior the greater the excretion.
It's a great interview. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet isn't yet seizing me the way Cloud Atlas did, but I'm into it, so far.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


The great writer and guitarist Sara Jaffe has a blog and you should read it. Her posts are seldom but deep. My hope is that if her statcounter blows up she will post more. Post more, SJ! (There are strangely a lot of Sara(h) Jaffes out there who make music, but this is the one who used to be in Erase Errata and who coedited The Art of Touring.)

Incidentally her profile picture is a painting of Denton Welch, whom you should also read if you can find his stuff. English writer and painter of the 1930s and '40s who died too young. I love his short stories. Darkly funny and discomfiting, they emanate queerness in that way that repression, so terrible for the soul, can be channeled so deliciously in art.

Here's what William S. Burroughs had to say about him, via a charmingly '90s-style Denton Welch fansite:
He's only got one character and it's always him. Well, there are other characters, what it all pivots
around is an eternally 15-year-old boy. His writing was all done after his accident. He had this accident when he was riding his bicycle and some woman ran into him from behind. That happened when he was 20 and he was an invalid the rest of his life and died at the age of 33 from complications. ...
Such a marvelous writer, the way he can make anything into something. Writers who complain that they don't have anything to write about should read Denton Welch and see what he can do with practically nothing.
While I'm at it, writing about reading before I get back to my writing, I have adopted (via CLMP) two literary journals as texts for my Poetry/Prose Workshop this semester, Tin House and A Public Space. I have no idea what we'll be getting, but I love both these magazines, I love that I got to write in the syllabus "Whatever poems turn up in A Public Space" or "Stories TBA from Tin House", and I love the break from ye olde anthologized pieces. (Which are amply represented as well.) The element of surprise and the element of Now-ness. Good for all of us.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I have never liked video games much. I find them immensely stressful: you chase some impossible quarry, and/or flee from something that wants to kill you, and always you die trying. Over and over you die. What a nightmare. Even Pac Man overwhelms me.

But I love old-school arcades, the way I love rinky-dink carnivals--the lights and sounds and dimness, the unlikely euphony of all those machines going at once, the mismatched machines and people--and I really love pinball. I love the friendly analog thunks and pings and dings that soundtrack it, I love pulling back the spring on the thing that shoots the ball out of the chute, I love that nothing is pursuing you, I love that you can score millions and millions of points. Pinball wants you to succeed.

So a couple days when we stepped into the Pinball Gallery in Lyons, Colorado on a rainy drive out of Estes Park, I discovered my personal heaven: an ALL-PINBALL ARCADE. The place holds someone's personal collection of machines from the 1950s to the present, ranging from 25¢ to 75¢ to play, all expertly maintained.
A prematurely lost ball cruelly doused my blazing run of luck with the Simpsons game.

No matter how newfangled and barky and gimmicky a pinball machine gets, it always comes down to a real ball and real flippers. Forever analog at heart. I'd move to Lyons to be near this.