Wrote a 900 word piece for The Washington Post on the suicide of John Kennedy Toole and how publishing seeks to suppress anything new, fresh, meaningful, and that you might enjoy and derive any sustenance from. Excerpt:
Passive aggressiveness is the preferred currency of the publishing land. Gottlieb put out loads of bilge, but had a private criterion for Toole. Clearly he wanted to extend the exchange, which was a form of power for him. Dunces “really isn’t about anything,” Gottlieb wrote. “And that’s something no one can do anything about.”
One more rejection was all that Toole could handle. I think about Dunces, too, because of a maxim I have found to be true: the more people will connect with something that is fresh, exciting, singular, both artful and entertaining, the less likely publishing is to put it out.
This has been a worsening condition for a long time now. Decades. I published a short story in Harper’s that was turned down or ignored by 200 literary magazines you’ve never heard of. That’s how it is: if you are not a representative of the “right” news cycle gender and ethnicity models, and featuring derivative work that no one would actually like that your crony camp is touting, it’s not coming out until the system changes.
How many books as good as Dunces are out there? What’s awful about Toole is that he gave up so quickly. He was only thirty-one, which, as an author, means you’ve hardly even started your career.
Walked three miles, climbed the Monument three times. The On air, Op-eds, and Beatles writings tabs are now finally updated--in terms of new material from about November on. The pre-2014 material is still going to have to wait, and I haven't started doing the last few months for the Music, Literature, Film, Sports, and Arts tabs yet. The News tab has not been updated in about a month either. I'll get on it. There needs to be a whole entry for Buried on the Beaches--including where it can be purchased--on the Books tab, so that will be coming as well.
I didn't get to put these up yesterday for St. Patrick's Day. But, as Padraig said to Lorcan in a story of mine in Between Cloud and Horizon, we are the deciders here--or, rather, with this journal, I am--so who cares that it is March 18, these are three Irish works I want to highlight.
This film is not by Orson Welles, but he dominates it, in a good way. Clearly he had some input with the opening sequence--it's a riff on his trailer for Citizen Kane, no doubt. Short film made while shooting Othello. I might like it more. Ghost story.
Points here for intrepidness with an attempt to reimagine Flann O'Brien's At-Swim-Two-Birds for the radio in 1980.
And this is a banger of a Pogues show from the Glasgow Barrowlands in 1986. Note how frantic the crowd is after the penultimate number, and yet the band quiets it completely with the closing air of "The Parting Glass." "And since it falls/Unto my lot/That I shall rise/And you shall not/I gently rise/And softly call/Goodnight/And joy be with you all." I have always heard those lines as being about the duty of genius.
I ended up writing 20,000 words in four days. What do you think about that? I wrote a short story. I wrote journal entries. I wrote on corruption in publishing for The Washington Post. I published a feature in JazzTimes. I published a controversial op-ed in the New York Daily News. I published a literary essay in The Daily Beast. Days. Mere days. That is a career, for any of these people. More than a career. It is so far beyond criminal what this system has done. And I can say that repeatedly, and there is not a single word of refutation anyone who has seen the work, or follows the career, can provide. Not a single syllable to argue that that is not true. You know something else? I am not even trying, because I am so fatigued and beaten down and removed from hope. This is me, not trying, and barely hanging on. Hey, person who hates me, who reads this in order to hate me more: What do you do when you try? What's it worth on your best day? Can you even imagine--of course you can't--what this will look when I get past you and try as hard as I can try, with the bottomless bank of energy I will then have at my disposal to go with my boundless imagination?
Any time I eat, I am reading. Or looking at sports statistics. I have to be doing one or both of these things, for the most part. Sometimes I piece together crazy stats I've not seen mentioned anywhere. Here's my new one: 6 of the top 22 all-time baseball leaders in career batting average are not in the Hall of Fame. That's more than a quarter! Isn't that just nuts? In my down time--right--I put together lists for future things, like Downtown segments. Will do a sports grab-bag one soon, maybe, and can rope this in. Also came up with a good one today on guilty comforts.
Back from the Starbucks where I was reading Melville's Redburn. I feel very cold. Like I am getting ill.