Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Because obsessively manicuring my internet presence is a lot easier than actually sitting down to write my second novel, I have just updated my 2005-2009 journalism archive for the final time. You can now read, among 150+ other articles, my lengthy interview with Bradford Cox of Deerhunter from the December issue of Dazed & Confused, my essay on urban foxes from Meat, and my risotto recipe from Hustle, London!, which is probably my favourite thing that I've ever published. Since I've already got in trouble about that piece at least once, I should probably emphasise that the whole thing is written in character...

Friday, January 22, 2010

"But sometimes I get the impression that all this is a rubbishy rumour, a tired legend, that it has been created out of those same suspicious granules of approximate knowledge that I use myself when my dreams muddle through regions known to me only by hearsay or out of books, so that the first knowledgeable person who has really seen at the time the place referred to will refuse to recognise them, will make fun of the exoticism of my thoughts, the hills of my sorrow, the precipices of my imagination, and will find in my conjectures just as many topographical errors as he will find anachronisms. So much the better."

- Nabokov, The Gift

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I've redesigned my website. There's actually less information on it now than there was before so I'm not sure this counts as progress.

Friday, January 08, 2010

"Thursday was a zombie plague, Saturday was a neutron bomb, and Monday was romance, but tomorrow, Tuesday, was a custom job."

That's the opening sentence of my short story "Client" in the new issue of Icon, my favourite architecture magazine. Very appropriate that it comes out the same week as the opening of the Burj Khalifa. Meanwhile, Eurogamer.net just ran a preview of a game called Spec Ops: The Line, in which you fight through a ruined near-future Dubai: "The tops of buried skyscrapers peek through ever-shifting dunes, whilst the city's chattels of excess lie forgotten and useless in its streets."

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Yesterday my friend Hermione sent me this great photo of a fox that was published on the Telegraph website, to which the title of this blog could not be more relevant, and then today I happened to come across this passage in The Life of Lenin by Louis Fischer:

Once Lenin and Krilenko went fox hunting. The Russian method in this aristocratic sport consists in forcing the fox into a very large circle marked by red flags from which there is only one exist and, by handclapping and yells, to impel the fox to that exit where the hunter waits. The fox came straight at Lenin, who did not notice him because the animal's bright red fur was covered with snow fallen from the spruce trees. When Lenin became aware of the fox's presence he was transfixed and "stared... and stared... and did not shoot." The fox looked at Lenin as he slowly raised his gun, then lifting his tail, made off like lightning.

"Why didn't you shoot?" Krilenko exclaimed.

"He was so beautiful and pretty," Lenin apologized. "I'm not a hunter but a shoemaker."

Monday, January 04, 2010

A little book to which I contributed has just come out in the UK. It's called Dear Old Love, compiled by Andy Selsberg, and it's a paper version of the terrific blog of the same name. I interviewed Andy last year for Jess Holland's Hustle, London! zine, so perhaps this is a good opportunity to put that Q&A online for the first time.

Who are you?
I'm a freelance writer, and I teach freshman composition part time. I'm originally from Wisconsin, now living in Brooklyn.

What was the inspiration for the site?
I had a personal, aphoristic blog for a years. I love the openness of the web, mixed with a disciplined concision - looking for those perfect lines. My focus on the original blog started to dip. I got married this summer, and briefly considered writing a book-length fictionalized letter to an ex (along the lines of Home Land by Sam Lipsyte). But I can't seem to write much more than a few sentences at a time now. All that somehow pointed to Dear Old Love.

Are you on the site yourself?
I'm definitely on the site, definitely more than once. I wanted to set a tone. And I don't think you need to have had a lot of relationships to have a lot of DOL notes in you. It's more a way of looking at the world, sussing out the right details. You could get dozens out of childhood crush on a sweetie down the block. I'm reading the Charles Schulz/Peanuts biography right now, and it's amazing how much "little red-haired girl" mileage he got out of very little raw relationship material.

Do you ever get any submissions that are simply too sad to include?
Most submissions don't get posted, but not due to excess sadness. I'm looking for freshness, humour, poignancy - an old feeling expressed a new way. The site exists for the pleasure of readers more than the therapy of writers. In the midst of heartbreak, it can be tough to come up with original, resonant ideas on the topic. I worry that one boring entry or two will turn readers off. The web is tough like that.

What’s your favourite break-up song?
Favourite break-up song is "Missing You" by your countryman John Waite. Love the way the proclamation "I ain't missing you" contradicts itself. Plus I was born in the early 70's and think pop culture peaked in 1984.