What a relief it is to see rain again after this weird year of drought in California. This leaf was sitting in my garden and it was as pretty to me as if it were covered in diamonds.
More Mental Floss pieces! Read ‘em all:
Speaking of Anne of Green Gables, my most recent article is all about the author of Anne of Green Gables, LM Montgomery.
Here’s an excerpt:
6. She wrote despite a lack of support from her relatives.
Montgomery’s family considered writing to be a waste of time, especially for a woman. So she worked in secret, even going so far as to smuggle candles to her room so she could write at night. As she said in The Alpine Path: “I struggled on alone, in secrecy and silence. I never told my ambitions and efforts and failures to any one. Down, deep down, under all discouragement and rebuff, I knew I would ‘arrive’ some day.”
I have an essay in the Spring 2014 issue of The Los Angeles Review. It’s called “On Shaping A Reader.”
It’s about my thoughts on directing my son Gideon’s reading, and how certain books–Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, etc–profoundly shaped who I am today.
If you want to pick up a copy, click here.
If you have AAA, check out this issue of Via Magazine. I have an article in there on the Charles M Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa. It’s a pretty nifty place.
Have you been checking out all the awesome articles I’ve been writing for Mental Floss? Here’s a couple of the most recent ones:
I finally read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.
I have mixed opinions.
I love Wallace’s short stories and essays, and I’m glad I read this book because it’s hugely influential. But do I think this is a classic book that people should force themselves to grapple with, the way they should grapple with Melville’s Moby-Dick or Joyce’s Ulysses? No, unfortunately not. Infinite Jest feels like a cultural relic of the 1990s. I’ll be curious to see if it’s still around in 50 years.
Here’s my review from Goodreads:
Reading this novel is like hanging out with a smart person at a party. At first, you’re disoriented by his language, but then you get used to it, and you’re like, “Hey, this guy is pretty clever. This is a pretty effervescent dialogue we’re having.” After awhile, it becomes clear the dude is showing off. He’ll do things like make a pun and then look at you to see if you got it. He uses so many acronyms, it’s like he’s speaking in code. And the worst is when he tries to be funny. You smile politely and chuckle, but you’re thinking, “You’re not funny dude. Don’t try to be funny.”
Just when you’re about to try to get away from him, he says something that so perfectly describes a facet of real life that you’re bowled over. You think, “Okay, this conversation is worth my time after all.” That carries you along for a while. But then he starts telling you these horrible stories, one after another, of abuse and animal mutilation and death. It all feels cartoonish and you start thinking that this guy’s worldview is a little melodramatic. Maybe he’s too wrapped up in imagining people doing awful things, and that has skewed his view of humanity. In which case, does this person have anything to say that has meaning beyond being clever?
“Watch me do an imitation of a poor person!” he chortles. Then he does an imitation that sounds nothing like a poor person. You say, “Wait, why don’t you tell me more about that interesting person you mentioned awhile back?” He ignores you. “Let me tell you about my dreams,” he says instead. Then he goes on about a dream about a wraith. You’re like, “Holy cripes, is he ever going to stop with the wraith dream?” He says, “It’s a metaphor.” You try not to roll your eyes.
By now, you’ve been listening so long that you feel obligated to let him get to the point. At the same time you’re fearful that there won’t be a point and you’ve been listening for nothing. You whisper, “Please let there be a point. Please let there be a point.” The party is almost over, and there are so many people you could have been talking to in the same amount of time that you’ve been talking to him. So you wait, fingers crossed as he winds down, for the point.
And, yes, he does connect the dots and tell you what happened to this and that person, but he does it so subtly that it’s anticlimactic. You start shrugging, as in, “Oh, okay, so that happened.” Or: “Hm, okay, that’s why you mentioned that earlier.” Then you say goodbye and head for the door. You know you’re supposed to be a better person for having had the conversation, but in reality, you’re relieved it’s over. All you want to do now is talk about something fun, like sparkly vampires or swamp monsters, as a kind of palate cleanser.
Did you catch my book review in last Sunday’s San Francsico Chronicle? It was on Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon. If you missed it, have no worries: READ IT HERE.
Hey! I’m going to be speaking at AWP 2015 in Minneapolis this April. My panel is called “Yes, Writing Is a Job: People Who Get Paid To Write.”
Marcia Simmons, Ken Walker and Nora Maynard will be joining me. We’ll be talking about the ups and downs of being full-time writers. Here’s the official event description.
Yes, Writing Is a Job: People Who Get Paid To Write
Believe it or not, it’s possible to make a living writing. Four working writers from diverse backgrounds will talk about how they make ends meet through article writing, blogging, nonfiction books, and other projects. We’ll discuss how we get work, the financial realities of the publishing world, and our struggle to balance writing for money with creative endeavors that are closer to our hearts (but harder on our pocketbooks).
SO! I hope you will come see me speak in April. Come say hi if you do.
If you’ve been to my house, you know how much I hate the 1970s wallpaper on the dining room wall. Well, now it’s gone. We have painted over it.
Free at last, free at last.