Critical Reads August 3, 2012: The Gore-y Truth Edition
"Fiction is payback for those who have wronged you."
This week we got the Gore-y truth. And what is Gore-y? Well, it's anything related to, reminiscent of, or in the tradition of the legendary Gore Vidal of course! This week, we did lose this American man of letters, but his spirit lived on in the wickedly funny writing rules written by Colson Whitehead for the New York Times, the tell-it-like-it-is reality check to MFA-ers in The Millions, and the deeply considered examination of art lingo at Triple Canopy. Then there was the other (lower case) kind of gore as Warner Brothers made moves to film a prequel to The Shining and haters hated in the same ways haters hated in 1981.
Why Gore Vidal's "Some Jews and the Gays" is Still Relevant (Slate)
We lost the great Gore Vidal this week, but J. Bryan Lowder at Slate makes the point that, in fact, Vidal's work is relevant as ever. Focusing on the seminal essay "Some Jews and the Gays," Lowder remembers Vidal's deconstruction of dehumanizing neo-con depictions of The Other. Unfortunately and quite obviously, thirty one years after the essay's publication, we've still got some big, ugly homophobes running their mouths in this country and forgetting that there are real human beings attached to those same-sex sexing sex organs. So in honor of Gore Vidal, let's remember not to simply hate on Chick Fil-A but also to refuse to abstract people into stereotypes -- even homophobes.
How to Write by Colson Whitehead (NY Times)
Whenever someone offers rules for writing, it's tempting to wave them off like the writer-cowboy you are. But when the someone offering rules for writing is Colson Whitehead, the advice will be so funny, you will have to keep reading. Best of all in this list is Rule #6, in which Whitehead suggests enacting the less-is-more approach in real life to practice the less-is-more approach to writing: "The next time your partner comes home, ignore his or her existence for 30 minutes, and then blurt out ‘That's it!' and drive the car onto the neighbor's lawn. When your children approach at bedtime, squeeze their shoulders meaningfully and, if you're a woman, smear your lipstick across your face with the back of your wrist, or, if you're a man, weep violently until they say, ‘It's O.K., Dad.' Drink out of a chipped mug, a souvenir from a family vacation or weekend getaway in better times, one that can trigger a two-paragraph compare/contrast description later on."
Horror Classic The Shining May Get a Prequel (Examiner)
The Shining may get a prequel, but don't blame Stephen King. In fact while Stephen King is off somewhere working on a sequel, Warner Brothers has hired Laeta Kalogridis, Bradley Fischer, and James Vanderbilt to produce the film. It may seem all a bit backwards to produce the prequel so many years after the original and without the author, but what's more REDRUM than that?
Got an MFA? Teach High School. (The Millions)
If you've ever been in an MFA program, you've probably met a lot of whiny people. If you've ever hung out with a bunch of MFA program alums three years after their degrees have been conferred, you've probably met a lot of even whinier people. No agent is interested in their short story collection or novel-in-stories. Adjuncting isn't really paying the bills, but no university will hire them to the full-time faculty without a book published. So what's someone with an MFA to do? According to Nick Ripatrazone, you can always teach high school.
International Art English (Triple Canopy)
Let me preface this recommendation by saying that I have never been so confused by how to access a web article in my entire life. In fact, anyone who has not read Triple Canopy before should be given these instructions: click the plus icon on the right of the screen. This is how the article will appear on your screen and not just look like a an aesthetically-pleasing title page, since the design rebels over at Triple Canopy are not up-and-down scrollers but left-and-right scrollers. Navigational woes aside -- and really, these woes are probably only the woes of the truly dense -- this is an elegant examination of the language of the art world press release.
** Part of our Critical Reads series.