Tag Archives: Cormac McCarthy

Literary news round-up (via Twitter)

Here are a few interesting things, in a literary vein, that I’ve read today because of Twitter:

Thanks, Twitter pals, for all your crazy links. Feel free to share ‘em with some of your own pals!

P.S. If you dig poetry, check out 3 new poems from Louis McKee over on Black Heart today. You’ll never look at orange juice the same way again.

Texas: “Surprisingly barren writer state”

According to a recent post on the Publishers Weekly blog, rating each of the United States based on their literary heavyweights, Texas had its proverbial ten-gallon hat handed to it. Here’s the quote:

Along with Pennsylvania, Texas is the most surprisingly barren writer state. Who knew?”

Pointing to Texas’ sole kick-ass writer (Katherine Anne Porter), the post’s author (Gabe Habash), gives us the gears… without admitting where his own literary loyalties actually lie.

Poor form, dude.

Okay, so as someone who is in no way a native Texan (“but I got here as quick as I could!” as the bumper stickers proclaim), I’m not as testy about this testimony as, say, a reader and librarian like Laura Bush might be, but still. Katherine Anne Porter isn’t the only writer the great state of Texas has to offer the literary minded, although she’s certainly a good pick—especially amongst all those dead white dudes. (And no, I’m not about to suggest that Mrs. Bush’s husband is in any way on my list of “Must Reads.”)

But… what about the man UT Austin’s infamous literary school is named after, James A. Michener? What about Cormac McCarthy? (PW points out he now lives in New Mexico, but was born in Rhode Island, so which state gets to claim him? I say we do. Rhode Island didn’t inspire him to write about life and death, did it?)

Not to mention…

  • Larry McMurtry, author of the classic western Lonesome Dove
  • Molly Ivins, queen of skewering Dubya (among others) with her liberal reportage, and
  • O. Henry, inventor of the twist ending

Seriously, PW: We imprisoned O. Henry on bank fraud charges, AND we own his house. It’s hardly fair that some pansy state like North Carolina gets to claim him, given the fact that it was his stint in the joint that got him started writing in the first place.

Honestly, this list is whack, and I’m sure anyone from Texas will agree. In fact, I’m putting together an anthology that will show this blogger just how wrong he is about our literary heritage!

If you’re from Austin — or have ever visited, or wanted to — I’m putting together a digital anthology about the “weirdest” city in Texas. The Austin Writers Anthology will feature established writers as well as awesome up-and-comers. As an added bonus, it’ll also banish the notion that Texas is a “barren” literary state.

Got a story to tell? Bring it on! Full submission info is available here. I look forward to reading your work, and proving Publishers Weekly wrong!

Winter haiku

I haven’t written any of my haiku-a-day in a while, and since I’ve got a few Basho books out of the library right now, I thought I’d give it a go. It’s the end of January, and I’m feeling a bit unmoored. I’m used to ice and snow at this time of the year, and while it’s certainly cold here in Texas (apparently it’s 34 degrees outside right now) and rather a desolate landscape (as evidenced by my recent visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center), the lack of a standard Winter Wonderland is making me feel kind of spooked.

Add on top of that the fact that I just read The Road by Cormac McCarthy (which I wrote up briefly on CrackBooks), where the two protagonists are shivering with cold virtually all of the time and the post-apocalyptic landscape is described as “cold enough to split rocks,” and you’ve got a bit of a paranoid writer on your hands. Am I dying, or is it just cold in here? (To paraphrase a Sarah Silverman song lyric.)

So, here are three of my winter haiku:

texas winter landscape (with poodles)” by Flickr user greg westfall

Silent winter snow
missing from Texas landscape
Strange chill without ice

texas in winter #4″ by Flickr user greg westfall

Do I miss freezing?
Strapping boots to venture forth?
Not at all! (a bit)

Real winter in Texas” by Flickr user CameliaTWU

Montreal Winter

Icicles question,
breath hanging in air shatters.
Cold, clean fear of death.

I should note that I wrote all of those haiku in a great (free!) Zen-style writing program called OmmWriter. If you’ve got a Mac, you should definitely check it out (it’s not currently available for you [suckafool] PCs), as it’s quite a neat way to approach your creative writing. It takes you out of the clutter of your desktop and allows you to choose your background, a repeating pattern of music that resembles my husband’s Buddha Machine (another great little gizmo if you want to clear your mind), and another ambient noise associated with tapping the buttons of your keyboard. You’re focused on the words on the page, and the repeating musical patterns are meant to keep your thoughts flowing, rather than snagging on the words to a familiar tune or even the hook to some classical music. I really like it, especially for things like my haiku writing project—and did I mention it’s free?

Seriously, try it. You’ll convert.

Finally, I am announcing a crazy (but attainable) goal, inspired by my recent reading of Jeremy Mercer’s Time Was Soft There. Apparently George Whitman, the owner of the illustrious Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, allows writers to stay at the bookstore so long as they read one book per day to earn their keep, so to speak. This is an amazing idea, both because it will help any writer improve his or her craft, but also because it immerses you in the world of literature and ideas. It allows you to see the connections, to see yourself as one in a long line of writers, to broaden your horizons and deepen your interests. It sounds time-consuming in our rush-rush world of corporate consumption and pointless motion, but really, what have you got to lose when you sit down and read a book?

I always have a book or two on hand anyway, and regularly read about a book a week. I’m already the type of person that puts library books on hold so I can have good books delivered (almost) to my doorstep, and since the Austin library nearest my house has a drive-thru, well, I’ve been going a bit nuts with my holds (despite their threat that you’ll have to pay $1 per book if you don’t pick them up within 10 days of your request being fulfilled). I am, in a word, voracious. Always have been. I was the kid who checked out stacks of books, and once a little girl saw me with my pile and whispered to her mother, “Look at all the books she has, mommy!” The mother whispered back, “She’s not going to read them all.” I turned to face them and said, “Yes I am!”

That child was undoubtedly scarred for life, but you get my point. I’m an unstoppable reading machine. So now it’s time to step it up a notch and really get serious. Thus, I pledge to join the ranks of the Shakespeare and Company writers, from afar. Tonight I’ve got a few hours left to kill Under the Tuscan Sun. Let’s do this thing!

Who’s with me?