Hope everyone had a good weekend. And a good Monday, too. Why not?
Anyway, I've accumulated a bunch of stuff to blog about (mostly movie reviews, of course), but because I don't want this to be one of my needlessly bloated blog entries, I won't write about everything all in this one posting. I'm going tobreak it up over the week. I'll give you a little TC Boyle today, some Scanner Darkly tomorrow, maybe a smidge of Matador on Thursday. Who knows? I'm just going to stay loose and write whatevuh. I'm writing this post because I just tripped up a little in my novel-writin', and blogging right now is infinitely more attractive than going back to rewrite the last 6 pages that I just rewrote. Efrickinnuff already.
Anyway, so Thursday night Peggy and I went to the Margaret Mitchell House in downtown Atlanta and sweated to TC Boyle reading from his new book Talk Talk. (I say we sweated because the AC wasn't able to keep up with the global warming outside and the 100 or so fidgety writer-types inside). I don't know if you've seen Talk Talk in bookstores yet, but it's probably the least appealing cover you'll find on the New Fiction shelf. It's a close up of one corner of a person's open mouth and the title and the author's name are located inside of it. He told us he liked the cover for precisely that reason. "It's gross," he said. "I like it."
TC Boyle looks like Lance Henriksen's less craggy, less hungry brother. He came up to the lectern after a lengthy introduction that described what must be the perfect life for a writer. He's been teaching creative writing since he was 21. He has his doctorate in 18th-century English literature. He studied with John Irving, John Cheever and Raymond Carver at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in the first house Frank Lloyd Wright designed in Santa Barbara (average temperature year-round: 72F). He works less than 40 days a year teaching at USC where he and Aimee Bender are paid to attract wide-eyed wannabe writers to USC's high-priced writing program every year. And he writes all the time, publishing a couple well-reviewed books every year. Thanks, TC. I guess it doesn't take as much to succeed in this business as I thought. I needed the reality check.
Anyway, he was a little stilted at first but warmed up quickly. He read the first chapter of Talk Talk, which was pretty good. He took questions from a bunch of folks and then we all went out to the porch of the actual Margaret Mitchell House so we could get our books signed. All I had was an old McSweeney's Quarterly thing (like a magazine, but this particular edition was hardbound) that contained not only a TC Boyle short story in it, but also a DVD on which he (among others) reads aloud from his short story. He was a little surprised to see it and said he hadn't ever watched the DVD but it had been a lot of fun to make. And that was it -- we were on our way back to the car and out of the heat. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy. He's the only writer I've seen who didn't sit behind a table to sign books. He stood in front of the table and received his visitors like he was glad they came. I got the impression he really preferred a little discussion over a polite exchange of pleasantries. As a result, the line moved very slowly.
Before he began his official reading Boyle asked how many writers were gathered in the audience. He guessed "about 97% of you are writers." There was a quiet murmur of uncomfortable laughter. TC did not smile. "I find that to be true in most cities." By the looks of the crowd -- pale, uncomfortable, largely unattractive -- I would say his estimate was probably close to the mark. But, if that's the case and the people who are primarily interested in literary authors and their literary books are other aspiring writers, than where are the readers of so-called '"serious" fiction who read with no alterior motive? Are we daft, dreamy, delusional few just writing for each other? That question, coupled with TC Boyle's impressive, almost impossible pedigree, took a little of the fun out of the whole thing for me. It all felt a little more unattainable. I managed to shake off the feeling later, however, and submitted gratefully once more to the warm embrace of my delusions.
Also, the MM House announced that Elizabeth Kostova, author of a novel entitled The Historian (an interesting reimagining of the Dracula story) is going to do a reading later this year, as is the brilliant but depressing Richard Ford, author of Independence Day and The Sportswriter. I'm looking forward to both. Anyway. I'm off to lovely Oxford to watch the dog's while my folks are away. More tomorrow.