Archive for the ‘Rumpus’ Category
Caleb Powell: You excoriate the traditional novel and fiction in Reality Hunger, yet you began writing fiction. It turned out not to be your forte. Why the attack? Isn’t it like an impotent man vowing abstinence?
David Shields: That’s a funny analogy. And I’d be a fool to think that type of criticism won’t emerge… (from The Rumpus)
David Shields and I, at antipodes since the UW, headed into the Cascades for a few days and threw down. The focus? Art vs. life. The result was announced 4/26/13 at Publishers Marketplace:
NONFICTION - General/Other – NYT bestselling author David Shields’s I THINK YOU’RE TOTALLY WRONG: A QUARREL, a debate about life versus art, in which Shields’s co-author, Caleb Powell, always wanted to become an artist, but overcommitted to life (stay-at-home dad to three young girls), whereas Shields has overcommitted to art and forgotten to become a human being, to Ann Close at Knopf, by PJ Mark at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).
“Twenty years ago, another undergraduate, Caleb Powell, was in my novel-writing course; we’ve stayed in touch. I’ve read and critiqued his stories and essays. A stay-at-home-dad and freelance journalist, he’s interviewed me occasionally when a new book came out. We disagree about nearly everything. I’ve sacrifice my life for art; Caleb, vice versa. He’s one of the most contrary people I’ve ever met…” David Shields, from How Literature Saved My Life
Caleb: …that opening of our interview in the Rumpus, when I asked, “You began writing fiction; it turned out not to be your forte. Why the attack? Isn’t it like an impotent man vowing abstinence?”
David: Only about fifty other reviewers used the same trope. I’d say I’m more like a man in love pointing out to the man on Viagra that he’s fucking a sex doll. (from I Think You’re Totally Wrong: A Quarrel)
“Riding a Mower” vs. Reality Hunger:
Earlier this year I met Frank Meeink, and reviewed his book, Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: The Frank Meeink Story as told to Jody M. Roy, M.D, at The Rumpus. My interview with Frank Meeink is now at The Nervous Breakdown. Thanks to everyone who helped, including Erika & Brad at TNB, and Frank, Jody M. Roy, and the crew at Hawthorne Books, especially Liz Crain and Rhonda Hughes.
On December 8, 1984, south of Coupeville on Whidbey Island, the FBI surrounded Robert Mathews’ Greenbank farm house. Mathews had founded The Order, a white supremacist group connected to twelve armed robberies …
Caleb Powell: What did skinheads offer you that was lacking in your life? Frank Meeink: I would definitely say it started with the security…(Read interview here)
The last of my three interviews with David Shields came out today at Gulf Coast. Thanks goes to Hannah Rebecca Gamble, Interviews Editor, for working with me to prepare the final draft. Shields’ book, Reality Hunger, the primary topic of the interviews, turns out to be one of the more discussed books of 2010. My own take…I disagree with at least half of his views, some quite strongly, but…it’s all good.
The book helped solidify, for me, why fiction is, if not the best, as good as any literary art in tackling reality. I wrote more than one unique review, including this at dooneyscafe.com, as well as the interviews at The Rumpus, The Quarterly Conversation, and Gulf Coast. That’s what a quality read does, it gets you thinking and keeps your attention.
What if all life choices are flawed? In her first novel, Little Green, Loretta Stinson, winner of the Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in Fiction, introduces Janie Marek, a young girl with few options. Left an orphan in care of an indifferent stepmother, heartbreak propels Janie to run away at the age of sixteen. On the road and needing money, she enters a topless bar; after displaying her wares and lying about her age she is hired. Janie’s life will become worse…
Frank Meeink is the most famous ex-skinhead in America, his life the basis for the character of Derek Vinyard, the neo-Nazi portrayed by Edward Norton in American History X. But Frank is not quite Derek; as he states in Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead, “American History X isn’t my story. It’s every skinhead’s story to some extent… it was every other kid who ever got sucked up into the white supremacy movement…”