Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

What It’s Like to Be A Christian Artist

I told myself I’d write about Waste Land, the incredible documentary my partner and I saw last night. However, I’ll hold off on that blog post, as it needs more reflection than I’m capable of now.

What does interest me is the band Danielson. Mostly because I just read Rick Moody’s thoughtful tribute/wrangling/personal symbiosis with the Christian band.

Here’s a sampling of the group’s eerie, completely entrancing music:

Here’s how Rick describes an extended “truly magnificent instrumental coda” from a song by Danielson called, (dubiously, at first glance), “Can We Camp at Your Feet”:

there is a beautiful overdubbed exhalation, by the vocal chorus, and this exhalation, the breath of God, I guess, recurs through the chord progression…and the song threatens to end three times, always with these exhalations, the breath of God, the thing worshipped brought near, away from the history of a religion, away from the religious controversies of the moment, away from the history of a religion, away from the religious controversies of the moment…

Now I’m not a faithful man. But I do view those with true faith with a kind of awe. Awe at their faith, but also in their security with doubt.

Daniel Danielson, lead singer and songwriter, performing in a tree costume.

Seems like Rick and the Danielson band live with both. It’s also clear that Rick’s affinity for the Danielson Famile (the band consists not only of songwriter and leader Daniel Danielson, but also siblings Rachel, Megan, David and Andrew on everything from vocals and percussion to flute, organ, and drums) lies not only in the hypnotic, Yo La Tengo-esque soundscape, but in the group’s unwavering devotion to a generous God, a difficult, larger-than-body spirituality. Rick was one of my mentors in grad school, and in this essay he again reminded me of his mastery, subtly structuring/moving the essay from a straightforward magazine feature to something that works as a subtle meditation on his own faith.

And the Danielson music he’s writing about is damn good.

Filed under: literature, music, religion, , , , , , , , , , , ,

WaPo’s Book Nerd on the NBA

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I was at a conference in Denver earlier this year, and brought one of my old college friends to the keynote by Michael Chabon. He’s a high school history teacher, one of the smartest guys I know, and, most importantly, a person interested in literature.

Chabon was his usual entertaining self: waxing poetic on the business of publishing, sharing secrets about his hipster-comic book-literary successes. At one point, he even cracked a joke about loving Proust–at which the audience of approximately one thousand writers laughed.

It was at this point that my friend leaned in and whispered to me, “Book nerds.”

Okay, I admit it. I’ve even blogged and lamented about our short attention society in the past. Lucky for me, Ron Charles, the book critic for The Washington Post, is also a book nerd. Here, he attempts to infuse a run-down of the nominees for this year’s National Book Award with his dorky, low-fi comedy. His joke about viewers confusing the NBA (National Book Awards) with the NBA (the multimillion dollar sport) certainly falls flat.

Though Charles doesn’t always succeed, I love his enthusiasm. Hell, how can one book nerd criticize another?

Filed under: books, culture, literature, , , , , , ,

Lightly on the Death Toll for Boston Bookstores

I live in a darn educated city, and bookstores are plentiful. Seems like the recession’s been bad for them, however: I just learned that the New England Mobile Bookfair, a behemoth of a bookstore that’s been around for 50 years, is up for sale. Rodney’s Bookstore has been in an indefinite store closing mode for several months; plans to close the Central Square institution at the end of the year may be on hold.

As a former bookseller myself and a frequent supporter, I worry about the disappearance of these institutions. Not only do bookstores–and used bookstores in particular–provide a purchase point for us consumers, but bookstores are community spaces, solitude- and sanity-keepers, a refuge for those of us readers with short attention spans who leap-frog from one book to the next.

Counter to the trend of receding bookstore business is the hopeful story of The Strand. Whenever I’m in New York, I drop by this literary landmark and their 18 miles of books. Founded as a book stall more than 80 years ago, The Strand is still owned by the Bass family and owns its building.

Makes you wonder: Do booksellers make good businessmen? Why are we always lamenting the death of the indie bookstore?

Filed under: books, business, economy, literature, , , , , ,

Poetry for Fading Light

The Times published six poems by some of the greats, in honor of the shift to Daylight Savings Time.

Turn back your clocks, celebrate these poems. “Free,” the prose poem by James Tate, is my favorite. An excerpt:

I was always thinking about her even when I wasn’t thinking. Days went by when I did little else. She had left me one night as a complete surprise. I didn’t know where she went. I didn’t know if she was ever coming back. I searched her dresser and closet for any clues

….were they a dream? I didn’t trust anything any longer. I searched the house for any trace of her. Nothing. I started asking my friends if they remembered anything about her. They looked at me as if I were crazy. I sat at home and began to cheer up. What if none of this happened? I thought. What if there was nothing to be sad about?

JAMES TATE, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author, most recently, of “The Ghost Soldiers”

Towleroad also published a funny post about contentious tweets over Daylight Savings Time. Is nothing free of bipartisanship?

Filed under: literature, poetry, time, , , , , ,

What to Make of Tao Lin?

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/hqUWgoPdKwI%2Em4v%5D

The self-consciousness is a bit excruciating. At least for Emily Gould.

Gould interviews the Author of the Moment for her latest webisode of Cooking the Books, a short vodcast that incorporates book promotion, live cooking, and literary chit chat. Lin, perhaps the hippest of hipster authors right now with his teenage cybernauts with the screen names Haley Joel Osment and Dakota Fanning in the novel Richard Yates, comes across in this interview as either completely affected or seriously introverted. Near the end of the interview, Gould says, “I do feel like we’ve tortured you.”

In his non-plussed way, Lin replies: “I had a good time.”

Filed under: innovation, literature, technology, , , , ,

Writing

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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