I’ve ceded– I’ve stopped being theirs.

By which I mean that I’ve moved. Again; semi-permanently. I’ll be messing about with things over there, so it should be entertaining/dismaying/ugly/erratic.

Watchmen Verdict: Uff Da

WatchmenPreface: I strongly suspect that everything I might say about this book has already been said, and better than I could after just one reading and with other things demanding my time. But it’s worth acknowledging that I could probably agree with 47 different positions on this book, as long as they all acknowledge its complexity and stunning artistry.

Here’s what I told Goodreads on the subject:

Watchmen by Alan Moore
rating: 4 of 5 stars
Awesomely layered, awesomely referential, awesomely complex, awesomely problematic, awesomely mid-eighties, awesomely entertaining, and awesomely troubling.
(All my reviews.)

Since I Left You

So I have sort of abandoned ship here. Sorry about that – here, have a delicious music video to salve your pain for a bit.

In related good news, I am currently employed at a job I like very much, in which I am learning lots about a number of things very quickly. Hurrah!

This is what people tend to ask when they discover that I’ve attended graduate school in English. In response, I tend to hem and haw awkwardly before answering. I don’t do “creative writing” as they are probably thinking about it; I do not write fiction (at least, not intentionally), and I no longer write poetry (at least, not intentionally). Neither do I write much in the way of the genre somewhat confusingly called “creative nonfiction.” I do—in my scholarly work, in my personal practice, and hopefully eventually in my professional life—write. But I don’t think of myself, primarily, as a writer. I think of myself as a researcher and a problem-solver.

And this is where my hesitation comes in when I’m trying to answer that dang question. Real research, real problem-solving, really good scholarly or professional writing is creative, and its process can resemble the confusing, difficult, twisty-turny process of “creative” work.

Constraints and questions inform the beginning of any written work, but the best writers and researchers are those who can follow the insights they discover in their reading and preliminary writing. The most honest, trustworthy writers are those who can follow their research and its small (and large) epiphanies down dark alleyways and confusing trains of thought, trusting that the result, while less tidy or simple than intended, will be bigger, better, and more effective than they can even conceive of yet. If the process is done right—if the writer or the researcher is fully committed to their work—the results will be deeply creative.

What has me thinking of this now is a book I’m attempting to re-read, with some frustration. It seems to have creativity-as-fundamental-committment-to-researched-truth confused with creativity-as-making-your-research-say-what-you-wanted-it-to. More on that tomorrow. (Yes, tomorrow–not in three months, I promise.)

Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is one of those authors I vaguely respect and follow. I’ve read one or two of her novels, and hear lovely things about her, so she’s categorized in my head as a smart, interesting lady. Thus, when I saw her newest book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth while on lunch break from jury selection, I picked it up. She’s a writer and a feminist, I thought; surely her literary approach to the credit crisis can help me make sense of it and expand my ways of thinking about it.

Unfortunately, I’m about to quit less than seventy pages in. To give her the full benefit of the doubt, the chapters were originally written as part of a radio forum and presented orally; that format requires a different level and complexity of thought. I think I might find this book tolerable if I were to hear it on the radio while half-awake or driving or cleaning house, which are the things I usually do while listening to public radio. Continue Reading »

Regarding Hope

For the past few weeks, my life was mostly on hold. No, I wasn’t working nonstop on the campaign, although I made a few calls and knocked on a few doors. No, I wasn’t ill or incapacitated. I was waiting for Tuesday, for the decision that became clear at about 9 pm PST. Continue Reading »

Love in the Time of Cholera After two years of highly academic reading, it can be hard to read books without placing them in a literary context or analyzing the theoretical implications of the plot. Garcia Marquez, however, is the perfect escape from all that. First, it is in translation, so no fair doing close textual analysis on the English version (and I don’t speak or read Spanish). Second, I know next to nothing about Colombian literature, and very little more about Caribbean literature in general, so I have no context in which to lose the book.

Third, Garcia Marquez’s phenomenally rich plots, deeply layered metaphors, and heartbreakingly human characters don’t just allow me to lose myself in his sensual, gorgeously prosaic world; they force me to lay aside my skepticism, my academic lenses, my critical questions. Unlike the nineteenth-century literature that I’m used to and the childrens literature I love to study, Garcia Marquez’s books don’t have good characters or bad characters. The protagonists do nearly unforgivable things, while the apparent antagonists become confusingly lovable.

Love in the Time of Cholera’s vision of love is so expansive, so physical and intellectual and literary and inclusive, that there is no temptation to root for one lover over another, one definition of love over another. Garcia Marquez allows for the complexity, confusion, and ambiguity of real love and the intense disorientation of aging–but by his ending you only feel more grounded, more sure, and more found than before. View all my reviews.