Month: March 2012

the glorious return of Mark Leyner

When I returned to the US this week, I was incredibly excited to see that the author of one of my favorite books ever was releasing his first novel in 15 years. A few years ago, I read The Tetherballs of Bougainville. I remember starting it while riding the train home–both a fantastic idea and a terrible one. I flipped by every page with lightning speed but tried so hard to keep the insane laughter inside. I even taught an excerpt to my undergrads a few semesters ago. But be warned, this book is so good it might fizzle your brain. I kept thinking to myself, How in god’s name did this man write this? I wish I would have written this! It is an exhaustive process to read and I’m sure Leyner’s hiatus could be attributed to his own mind-numbing fizzle.

It is so hard to explain to someone what the plot of Tetherballs is because of its ability to make the reader feel like they’re doing hyperactive cartwheels (but in the good way). In Ben Marcus’ NY Times review of Leyner’s new book, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, he abbreviates the plot analysis of Tetherballs to,

Mark Leyner is a teenage screenwriting prodigy, summoned to prison to witness his father’s execution by lethal injection. His father survives (with a vicious hangover), only to be told that the State of New Jersey reserves the right to kill him in the future. Anytime. Anywhere.

Excerpt from Tetherballs: (click to enlarge)

I can’t wait to get my hands on the new book.


it’s a bird? it’s plane? nope, just me; i’m back.

After a lovely time abroad, I have returned to the Big Apple. With suitable jet-lag still in tow, I found myself awake in bed at 5:30 this morning trying to finish my engaging airplane read (perhaps, a review soon?). Even though I have been gone for only 2 weeks, I feel very behind in my life in Manhattan (I was chastised for not realizing The Hunger Games film had come out).

A few weeks ago, I was at a book festival promoting a book that has a literary translation I worked on and a piece of original fiction. It was the first time this writer of no significance felt like a 10%-big-shot. In total, I participated in 4 readings/panels/etc. I then took a much needed vacation in Prague for a week where I received a surprising tan.

Sitting in my small bedroom next to my giant pile of undeclared Czech chocolate bars, I am making a to-do list for the near future:

1. find travel grant to return to Europe.

2. find a new part-time job, ideally in a small bookstore, perhaps? I have much in the way of bookish expertise!

3. translate translate translate

and most importantly…

4. write write write

Looking forward to catching up on all of my favorite writerly blogs!

Medieval cellar where I participated in a reading.

Gone Fishin’

This writer of no significance is hopping a flight and jet-setting to Europe for a book festival! Posts will be scarce because I’ll be sans internet for a little while but hopefully, I’ll be able to share some photos and anecdotes later in the week.

Auf Wiedersehen!

The Writer as a Poetry Student

I was recently asked if I write poetry. Normally, I answer no to this question and just avoid the embarrassment all together but this time I went digging through my external hard drive. I only remember writing a few poems in college around the ages of 19 and 20 but somehow, I had buried the memory of the other poems deep down inside my mind.

Well! Let me tell you. This is not the case. I found my “portfolio” of about sixteen poems from that time period. I had a good laugh. How much my writing has changed but also, I don’t know if I am still up to the task of penning a poem. Here are a couple of samples from my younger days.

The Hounds

Those ill-fated hounds;
Butchered, mangled, and bashed
by their master

He swallowed their lively flesh;
Rabid, bloodied at the mouth

Howling for chaste Artemis
To save them; she merely watches—
A bystander resting with her stags

The last whelp could be heard
But not saved

The Alligator

The blade is smooth and ideal
as it snuggles in his back pocket

waiting for the moment when it will
pounce willingly onto its next victim

slashing it coolly: throat, belly, etc.

Kicking the cracked limestone across
his path, his step leading into a hasty trot

and then he comes to it, left hand
shaking as he reaches for his smooth

blade snuggled in his back pocket and
then he guts it

Huck Finn & Robot Jim

After flying and travelling this week, I feel a bit wonky and definitely sleepy. However, I couldn’t help but get a giggle at this. Banned Books Week pointed me in the direction of this silly youtube video.  Apparently, the two producers also have compiled a version of Huck Finn with the “n-word” taken out and replaced with the “r-word.” You can find a sample, download the e-book, or watch the book trailer on their website. But as silly and ironic as their project is, I can’t help but do the proverbial head-slap over the fact that there are people out there who actually want to censor Mark Twain’s classic.