Holy Shit Creative Nonfiction is arguing that blog is indeed a genre of CNF. I agree.
Holy shit they are trying to find the glow/glow blog. It’s a big ol’ contest.
And the finalists are…
Here and Far
Incidents and Accidents
Life in a Northern Town
Life Under A Rock
NGM Blog Central
She Sells Seashells
The Ugly Truth
That’s right, this very blog is a finalist. The others have cooler names, I feel, and now I have a lot of blog reading to do. Haven’t heard of some of these…but I will.
Hey, you, reader:
Do something lucky. Paint your door with an egg. Embrace gruffness. Scratch the top of your car ceiling. Try to avoid salt, I dare you, I mean avoid its very essence. Carve a tiny door into an egg. Tie a rubber band around your ears. Siphon off all your ability and place it into a capsule and feed a tiny bird the capsule. Throw a full bottle of Lorrie Moore at a gymnasium. Cross your fingers and kiss your wife and boyfriend at midnight. (You don’t have a boyfriend or a wife?–my email is right up there.) Eat ham hocks, collard greens, patches of hair, whipped hair, donuts, oversized comic book covers, Merton Lee, and nachos. Remove the roof of your house. Fill your bathtub half full of water and drop a silver coin into it. Position the tub so that the light from the moon shines into the water. Gently sweep your hands just above the surface, symbolically gathering the Moon’s silver. Shoot an arrow into the house of your mailman. Hit a car with your dog. Blubber dryly–try to. Bake your cellphone into the center of a cake. When the phone rings, go fishing. Snort a crushed dream. Snort algae. Snort me. Kill a rabbit and chew off its foot and attach the bloody foot to your key chain. Slide your naked body over freshly cut grass. Take a photo of your photo self. Set all of your work on the east coast. Hold your breath when you pass Cracker Barrel. Take a green candle; dip it into some orange juice then light it. Jump over the candle saying:
Blog, blog, dippety snog, Now I feel like beery fog… (Drink 14 beers)
What do I do for luck?
Holy shit I tie my hair off the side like that girl in Napoleon Dynamite
she be weird/cute
and I put on some underwear and a nice shirt and make my 814th ace and set my basket on fire, on fire, my lovelies, oh my, oh my, I feel like a flower blooming atop a gutter, you know, when you have not cleaned out the gutters and the plants trickle up, a little contrast, house and flora, man and nature…I dedicate this ace to vegetarian burgers and the Coast Guard.
Holy skull-rattle. Have you read “Man Bitch” by Craig Snyder over at Juked?
Man Bitch meets the girl with large shoulders outside Krispy Kreme donuts, in sunshine. They talk and wait for the bus together standing 16 inches apart, with variations up to 24 inches. Man Bitch notices the large shoulders and likes them. Feelings of fullness, 33% manliness, and the idea he may be completely fucked, are generated in the Man Bitch brain. Man Bitch starts to feel like he is on heroin or something and is going to die, but he doesn’t. He has the sensation of becoming a large vibrating egg. He smokes nervously and wishes he were taller.
You just read that opening and I know you want more. Go ahead, click the link and read more.
Ran a 5k last Saturday. It was held to raise $$ for cancer and both my parents have dealt with the big C and so I usually jump into races like that and I drove down there now, there now to New Castle (I like towns named after beers and beers named after towns) and I sat in the car all waiting for the race, all waiting, and what do I do when waiting, like dentist office, oil change, sitting in car??
1. Play my brother in iPhone chess. He has pretty much beat my ass and it makes me madly. I used to kick dino-ass in chess. My only excuse is I prefer an actual board, not a flat screen, but that is possibly a lame excuse. The fact is I have been losing in chess.
2. Drink coffee. (5k tip for you freak-os: many studies have shown that caffeine will improve your race performance.)
What’s that perched atop my 5k gear?
It is Trilobites & Other Stories by Breece d’j Pancake.
What do I think/know?
1. Cool name. The name was a typo by The Atlantic and Breece decided to clutch. This shows you a bit about his personality. He’s keen enough to not take himself that seriously, and when he sees serendipity, he snags it…I mean it is a glow name. You’re going to drink a beer with a guy named Breece d’j Pancake.
2. He can write, let’s make that clear. I mean on the sentence level. You can feel him whittling the sentence out of basswood or pine.
A gray ooze of light began to crest the eastern hills above the hollow and sift a blue haze through the black bowels of linking oak branches.
3. These stories are his only ones. He didn’t write many. Why? Because he carefully worked/chiseled/crafted his fiction. And he killed himself at age 26.
4. With just a bit of research, I immediately found that we (readers, critics, etc.) are to believe Pancake’s stories are holy, are whispered of, are the real deal, a flame too soon extinguished, a real man of American letters. His work is revered, usually by those who write realism themselves and most likely because he is very skilled (also the suicide).
5. I found the stories uneven. Almost all are good, OK, no doubt, but “Trilobites” and “First Day of Winter” (the first and last in the collection) are superior–perfect realism grounded in place, the voices spot on, the pacing, the atmosphere of fatalistic sadness, the individual caught in the reality of a larger, lower world. Two stories (“Hollow” and “The Salvation of Me”) came across a bit sloppy, a bit forced, both in situation and characterization.
[“Hollow” does do an excellent job of using the jargon/terminology of coal mining to poetic effect: seam, glitter, clam crawl, light-flash, bloom pile, “bucket tin buckled” ]
One of my favorites was actually a creepy, semi-mystery story: “Time and Again.” It’s the sort of trick story my students always try to pull off–the Ah-ha! Well, Pancake unfolds it expertly, and it shows his understanding of structure and craft. Edgar Allen Poe would have glowed this story.
6. If you’re going write fiction, you should read this book. You should know it, I mean. A fiction writer doesn’t need to glow all the previous authors, but she does need to KNOW them: Chekhov, O’ Connor, etc. Have them in your quiver. Pancake’s is a certain genre of fiction–soaked in place, shrouded in coal dust and hollers and runover snakes and 10 cent coffee and the screams of truck gears grinding. It has the loner protagonist in it (a genre all itself).
7. Two Pancake techniques I most enjoyed:
* Pancake often liked to open with a natural setting, usually juxtaposed to his character, their mind and situation:
Alena stepped under the awning of the Tastee Freeze and looked out at rain draining into the dust, splattering craters with little clouds. When it stopped, cars hissed along the highway in whorls of mist.
The roads curve tight, but around them is a sort of scar of clay, and the leaves have a purplish blight.
Now he could see the first blue blur of morning growing behind bare tree branches, and beyond them the shadows of the farm.
* Second, he does this cool thing where the writing eye jumps to an animal. The lens leaves our human characters and wonder/wanders off into the forest, the glen, the roadside shrubbery. I found this fascinating, the way Breece nods his head to nature, to its role, to its presence and destruction (most of these stories set in coal country). So many writers leave our fellow animals out. Breece knew them well and reminded me of Faulkner and his horses (Go read all of Faulkner and count the horses).
The opossum lay quietly by the roadside. She had found no dead farm animals in which to build her winter den; not even a fine empty hole.
Two miles beyond, an owl watched a meadow from the branches of a dead hickory tree. Hidden in the underbrush, the fox watched the owl and the meadow.
So, read Breece d’j Pancake. I did. Then I went and ran my 5k in 17: 57, for fifth overall, and to win my age division…
I just did 142 pushups. Time to broil some corn tortillas.