It is now the bright shiny morning of our content, and scroll down for all things Junot Diaz and LJLBF (those are my brother Lewis's initials, in full).
quote: "And how I feel right now about that is a little sad because I want to live so much and have all my time and do so many things. So I have to attend to the thing in front of me because if I am not focused I can get overwhelmed by my desire to do everything still, yet as they say the clock is ticking and I won't get to it all. I can't. And the impossibility of that choice, of the everything when I was young, that choice made me a poet because I could have some purchase on everything and do a little bit of it all day." (Eileen Myles, "Live Through That?!")
1. An advantage to my elite education is that I was compelled to read this entire story from start to finish: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education (@the american scholar)
2. Gay Men and Straight Women Have Similar Brains, Study Says (@the la times)
3. Another great Dirty Girls Review. (@city paper)
4. Rich people actually are happier than poor people. Ta-da! (@portfolio)
5. OMG, this is really sweet. (@the planet podcast)
6. "there's still nothing like a good old-fashioned hardback." Editorial Notebook (@nytimes)
7. Top Ten Family Guy Newscasts (@nerve.com)
8. Interview with Drag Historian Joe E. Leffreys (@naked city @the village voice)
9. Media Bitchery: The Definitive Biography. (@gawker)
10. The Microfame Game. .A lot of feelings about this. (@nymag)
Y'all rocked the Birthday Contest. You made me & Lewis laugh & smile over and over. The videos! The Jesus-postcards, personally selected songs, e-cards, animated postcards, personal photographs etc. -- y'all blew me away. SO it's hard to pick a winner. I shouldn't hold contests, I feel bad about all the people who didn't auto-win. I'd be better as a teacher where I can grade people. Contest judging is like teaching a class where everyone's pass-fail, and only one student can pass.
I wonder if there's anything I'd be qualified to teach a class in. "The Collected Works of Cecily Von Ziegesar" or "Contemporary Writing By Urban-Dwelling Sexually Flexible Women" or "The Contemporary Memoir" or "The Short Story after 1950" or "Suburban Discontent in the Modern Novel." Anyhow, back to Lewis.
Rather than waste a tree by literally pulling names from a hat, I made a numbered list of all the entries in order of submission, and then emailed Alex:
The creative award was a little harder. So I narrowed the field and then asked Lewis for his faves -- and, having disqualified his first two selections 'cause I'm not about to give a free book to someone who's already endeared to me (a.k.a. people i know outside of blog-world), especially 'cause obvs they'll be buying the book on their own or else I'll kill them ...
As y'all know, I'm a sucker for things that are so bad they go all the way past good, back to bad again, and then into the beautiful realm of terrible/AWESOME. Chaitee wrote a poem, Lewis cited that as a favorite because though it was "terrible," it indicated admirable "effort." Of course, I love it.
Can I call you Leonard? I think that name is splendid.
I hear your car uses diesel
So does mine
It's not really feasible
To use petrol
With fuel prices the way they are
Though diesel is $1.70 a litre and climbing here in Australia which makes me want to gouge my eyes out with spoons, mash them into a fine meal, mix with water; and use as my own special brand of fuel
I forget what word I was supposed to be rhyming
Rhymes with weasel, maybe you should get one for your birthday
Or get a sticker of one, to put on your car window, that'd be awesome, I say.
What a blow
No giant rubber fists
For your birthday
Howevs, Chaitee's already confessed to buying the book, which means she'll be taking another prize. So ... Sarah R., want a copy of The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao?
Lewis was very heartwarmed by all your good wishes and wrote this story for all the heartwarmers. Apparently he already posted it on his Facebook, so if you're facebook friends w/Lewis, you've already read it. I'm not facebook friends w/Lewis, 'cause I'm scared that one day I'll get something in my feed like "Lewis Bernard has added 'booty calls' to his interests," and then I'll be scarred for life. Which's probs how he feels every time he tries to read my blog or published stories.
Also, Lewis was inspired to catch up on my blog and would like to make it known that he hasn't worn Axe Body Spray since high school, and that since abandoning the allegedly irresistible scent, his luck with the ladies has increased exponentially.
Looking over the list I see a nice variety of friends from the third coast to the dirty coast, spanning a couple of continents and countless (well, like 6) states. It's a privilege to have touched so many lives and so, for those of you don't know about June 16th's bender at the Maple Leaf (for the record, neither did I, surprise!) I'm gonna share my favorite story from it.
Early in the night I'm chatting it up with this girl. (I don't remember her name, hair color, age or really anything besides her saying she's some sort of singer and that she had a nasty bruise on her arm.) She says the bruise on her arm is a result of taking too much Valium on her private plane, apparently, though she couldn't recall specifics. I'm bleeding from the elbow for some reason too, so I find her admission comical and noteworthy.
The conversation shifts to astrology ... so, I leave her at the bar, find my friends on the patio, and one thing leads to another and before you know it the five of us are at the front bar ready for birthday shots. I look up to see Valium Girl standing on a bench, watching the band.
"Come take a shot with me, it's my birthday!" I yell. Valium hops down and joins me and together we find my friends -- money unspent and no shots to be seen.
Dan explains: "There's no sugar for lemon drops so Margot went to Jaques-Imos to borrow a cup."
Valium starts laughing: "I thought you said MAKE OUT with me, not ..."
Oh, I know what she means, and it's awkward, but I manage: "No, no I said take a shot with me --" and then -- excellent! "... but you followed me!"
"You just looked so confident and it's your birthday! So I just figured."
So there's the lesson: Carry yourself with confidence, say it's your birthday, and the world is your oyster.
(Additional Life Lessons from the Lew-Man are here.)
Okay. I'm gonna give y'all a week to get your hands on Junot Diaz's The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and then you'll start reading like wild rabbits. It's cheapest online. Wao has received numerous awards including the New York Times Notable Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pultizer Prize for Fiction. A brief Wiki-hijacked description: "The novel chronicles not just the "brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao," an overweight Dominican boy growing up in New Jersey and obsessed with science fiction, fantasy and women, but also the curse of the "fukú" that has plagued Oscar's family for generations and the Caribbean since colonization and slavery. The middle sections of the novel center on the lives of Oscar's mother Beli and his grandfather Abelard under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Rife with footnotes, science fiction and fantasy references, and street Spanglish, the novel is also a meditation on story-telling, Dominican diaspora and identity, masculinity, and the contours of authoritarian power."
You must be at page 160 by July 2nd for our first team meeting. If you aren't, you will suffer. Look at Junot in that picture! He's standing by a wire fence on an urban street! You know what that means. I wonder where my author picture will be taken if I ever have one. Hopefully on the roof. Of my urban street. Anyhow.
While awaiting your book's arrival, you should read his short fiction: I love the story Alma (@the new yorker) and FYI; Wao started as a short story, I've not read it (Fear of Spoilers), but I imagine it'll be interesting post-reading. Last summer I ate Wildwood -- (not available online), and I'm recognizing much of it in the novel. I was encouraged to read that Drown was his only book before this one, so, coupled with The New Yorker's stories, I've read almost everything he's published and therefore I am a Junot Diaz expert! Perfect for my position as book club leader!
In the mean-time ... if you've got any questions you think would be good to ask/discuss, vocab you didn't know, or opinions about what you've read so far, email me at Automatic_Win@yahoo.com. I'm gonna try to finish it within the next few days so that I can field your requests regardless of how far you're reading ahead.
I'm compiling a list of some of the english translations of spanish words I didn't know (nothing that'll give anything away. I'm only on page 100) Not knowing a few words here and there really doesn't matter, though. FYI.
OK -- I'm still figuring out exactly how one operates an online book club, and how I will make mine super-special and fun ... but I will figure it out and obviously you will be the first to know. I'll be posting online interviews and other related tidbits over the next few weeks. But I promised some information today, and I like to follow-through on at least 65% of my promises.
Also! I'm really excited. This is more-or-less my fantasy about anything a blog could ever be. We're all gonna read a really fucking good book together and have good conversations about it! Srsly, I've had a legit pep in my step for the past week just thinking about it. You can ask my neighbors on my urban streets all about it.