Friday, April 23, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Own Reality Hunger was Born in the 70's and 80's

Like a lot of nonfiction geeks (and everyone else, it seems, even Steven Colbert), I've been reading, thinking about, talking about, arguing about, and pondering passages from David Shields's book, Reality Hunger. Today I was reading Section 251, where we learn that the Defense Department hired the director of Die Hard 2 as a consultant to "game-plan potential doomsday scenarios; in other words, fiction got called to the official aid, reinforcement, and rescue of real life," and I was reminded again why this book is so exhilirating, maddening, strange and satisfying, why it seems to be speaking (at times) to things I've thought for a long time but had trouble saying. In a rush, I opened my own book, TDATDA and flipped to a passage where I talk about this very thing with the movie, The China Syndrome and the 3-Mile Island :

The blockbuster 1979 movie, The China Syndrome, starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and a young, bearded Michael Douglas tells the dramatic story of a near meltdown at a nuclear power plant and a subsequent conspiracy to cover-up the accident.
It was released 12 days before and still running in theatres nationwide on March 28, when the 3-Mile Island Nuclear facility in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania experienced a partial core meltdown of a pressurized water reactor, releasing into the atmosphere, among other things, 13 million curies of what are called radioactive “noble gasses” . . . This synchronicity between movie reality and reality-reality was more than artistic coincidence. This was the sort of boundary-blurring experience that defined my childhood. The film even contained an eerie reference to destruction of an area “the size of Pennsylvania.”

Not only was the movie credited for contributing to much of the public panic surrounding the Three Mile Island accident, but the movie was also cited in several press conferences afterward when reporters and others had trouble understanding both the mechanics and magnitude of the potential disaster. That is, the movie--a dramatic fiction--became a reference text for objectively explaining the truth of the danger faced by millions of Americans.

Who doesn't want a Bookgasm?

Hello my fellow mutants,

Check out what Rod Lott at Bookgasm has to say about TDATDA. Here's the first para.

"My remembrance of THE DAY AFTER, the 1983 TV movie about a nuclear attack on the American heartland, is simple: I was forbidden to watch it. Apparently, my mom was convinced the filmmakers had somehow captured the Armageddon that was just looming around the corner, just as soon as the Russians pushed the button."

Click here to read the rest of the review and check out more of their recommendations.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writers Read Post

I was lucky enough to be asked to contribute to the Writers Read blog. Here's my entry, wherein I try to make myself sound really smart while also being honest about books that are living in my head these days. Check it out. Buy these books. All of them. And read them before midnight.

Monday, April 12, 2010

AWP Reflections/Fragments: Part 2: The Awkward Hug

My compatriot and co-editor, Matt Roberts, who is normally a warm, fuzzy, and congenial person, described AWP as, "a lot of awkward hugging." This is true. Because writers are by nature both lonely and emotive, we often stumble into a lot of such embraces. You've done it. Or you've seen other people doing it. The Awkward Hug usually begins with a furtive glance at the other person's chest where, if you're lucky, the name badge is facing out and you're able to confirm an identity and connection (if you're unlucky, it simply looks like you're unabashedly staring at someone's chest). Then comes eye contact. Raised eyebrows, perhaps a "Heyyyyy!" or some other outburst of feeling, and finally, the choice: handshake or hug. Sometimes you or the other person approaches, arms up and spread already like an albatross coming in for a landing, and then you really have no choice but to accept the awkward hug. If it's a big person (like me) it may feel like you're being attacked by an overstuffed armchair. Sometimes the Awkward Hug begins with the the classic handshake fake, that gesture at formality, that is then retracted and accompanied with a verbal rejection of such formality ("Oh, come here, you!") before the two of you go in for a sloppy awkward hug right there in the middle of the bookfair, in front of all those people. Sometimes the handshake is real, a first step in the Awkward Side Hug dance, wherein you both stand sideways, sometimes swaying in unison to an inaudible tune, and try to fold the other person in half with your hugging motion, a dance that seems to occur more and more often as the conference progresses, as if everyone is just too emotionally and physically spent from all that excessive, rampant hugging.

As perhaps a reaction to, or astute commentary on the Awkward Hug, if you're lucky and you happen to see him at a poetry reading in a hotel on the last night of the conference, there's the eternally refreshing, Dinty Moore Fist Bump (accompanied by exploding fist motion).

Until next year, fellow AWPawkward Huggers!

Reflections/Fragments of AWP: Part 1

It's the day after the day after AWP (sorry) . . . and I'm still processing it all, but here's some fragments, reflections, memories, and observations from my time there:

The word of the conference, uttered by many (and often) was, "overwhelming," with some suggesting that the crush of writers, publishers, editors, and strange, hobbit-like creatures was perhaps too much for a young writer, that it might be discouraging or daunting for someone who isn't "established," and while I can understand this (the sheer numbers and volume on display at the bookfair is stunning), I have to say that I've never felt that way at AWP. Rather, I like to look at that massive convention hall full of people, the bars overflowing, and think to myself, "All of these people love books." I feel at home in the madness and a bit mad myself, like a loquacious pinball bouncing off the flippers and posts

I have to say also that this bookfair met several of my strict qualifications for the title, "Best. Bookfair. Ever.":

1. It was all in one room.
2. They served beer.
3. There was a giant blue bear staring in the windows
4. They served turkey legs (yes, those huge country-fair sized ones), and pork sandwiches.

Though the bookfair was all in one room, it was also significantly smaller than in previous years. It was painfully obvious in many cases that the economy had taken its toll on publishers and magazines. Many presses and mags just couldn't afford to be there, and that was sad.

I did bring and sell copies of TDATDA, and clearly should have brought more since I sold all those that I brought (hooray!). HUGE thanks to everyone who bought a copy and to my friend and editor, Luke Gerwe who slogged around the bookfair talking up my book to people, doing more to put it in the hands of other people than I probably did. If you weren't able to get a copy, I'm sorry. Hopefully you'll order it from your local bookstore or pop on over to Amazon and get it there.

More AWProcessing soon . . .

- SC