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“At that same moment the Santa Teresa police found the body of another teenage girl, half buried in a vacant lot in one of the neighborhoods on the edge of the city, and a strong wind from the west hurled itself against the slope of the mountains to the east, raising dust and a litter of newspaper and cardboard on its way through Santa Teresa, moving the clothes that Rosa had hung in the backyard, as if the wind, young and energetic in its brief life, were trying on Amalfitano’s shirts and pants and slipping into his daughter’s underpants and reading a few pages of the Testamento geométrico to see whether there was anything in it that might be of use, anything that might explain the strange landscape of streets and houses through which it was galloping, or that would explain it to itself as wind.”
But still. Why does everyone think Roberto Bolaño is such a goddamn genius?
So anyone who knows me knows I have this thing for Junot. Drown, his first collection of stories, was one of those books that made me unravel with envy. Given my Junot-love, a few guys have asked me, don’t you have a problem with his misogyny? And I’ve always been like, what?
Well. I just finished Oscar Wao and I have to say, I’m conflicted. It’s good. Punchy, breezy, seductive, serious, a real pot-boiler. But that whole middle section about Oscar’s mom is so rife with pussy fascination that even I found it hard to take. I can see how it works (considering who the narrator is), but at the same time, is it really necessary to pummel us with all that male gaze-y lust? Hmmm. I’m still figuring that one out.
So I went to see the dashing David Hollander read the other night, and now we’re Facebook friends! Will New York wonders never cease? (I guess it helps that he teaches at Sarah Lawrence and is friends with a bunch of my friends.) David wrote a book called L.I.E. that was made into a movie. I saw it when it came out and I quite vividly remember sitting in the theater and being totally creeped out by it. Daaaaaark stuff. David read his story called F Train, and I was totally blown away. He’d probably kill me if he knew that I’ve posted this pic of him in swashbuckling garb, but it’s not as if he’s ever going to read this right?
Last night I saw Deb Olin Unferth read as part of the St. Mark’s Bookshop Reading Series. There were only a handful of people there, which made me quite sad because everyone I know (and a few others on top of that) should have been there. Deb’s funny and talented and last year she wrote a short-story called “Deb Olin Unferth” that made me so insanely jealous I lay awake most of the night wishing I’d written it. There’s a nifty little animated short film of it here. And despite the New York Times’ lukewarm review of her new novel Vacation (boo Madison Smartt Bell!), I’m adding it to my must read list. Word on the street is that it’s pretty fab.
So it’s my first day back in New York and I’m already conjuring up ways to get out. Applying for a MacDowell fellowship is something I’ve been daydreaming about for some time now, spurred on by my friend Katy Chevigny, an uber-talented documentary filmmaker who did a residency there this past fall. (How do you insert an umlaut on this thing?) Katy’s most recent film is Election Day and I urge everyone to see it. Filmed on Election Day 2004, it follows a group of voters at polling booths throughout the country. What with Obama’s victory and Katy’s movie, it’s the first time I feel genuinely hopeful about American politics. Plus, if Katy’s stint at MacDowell wasn’t enough to inspire me, Emily Raboteau, one of my very favorite young writers recently completed a residency there. If you haven’t read her short story “Kavita Through Glass,” I have a few words for you: Find it. Read it. Hint, hint: Tin House published it in October 2002 and then it was anthologized in Best American Short Stories 2003. It’s so so SO good.
Pictured above is Heinz–one of the artist’s studios at MacDowell–conveniently named after my most favorite brand of ketchup. Can you imagine spending a summer working there? Swoon.