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Gday I have to write an essay for uni and im talking about the necessity of memory and why memory even in fictional literature is important. for example, I live in Australia and we have recently studied fictional works from 2 Aussie writers about real issues. For example there is 'Sorry' by Gail Jones and 'The Marsh Birds' by Eva Sallis. Sorry is a fictional story but it is about Indigenous Australians and The Marsh Birds is a fictional story about migrants. i understand that both these texts make the reader think about the past but i question how important they are because technically we're not REMEMBERING anything because they are indeed fiction. So my question to you, as weird and complex as it seems is why is fictional literature important in regards to the memory of the nation? this isnt my essay question but i think if i understand someone elses point of view on this it may help me to atleast have an idea of what im talking about. Im sorry if this is boring or complicated for you. cheers Candice
Hi Candice. Though I'm not sure I totally understand your question, I'll give it a shot. Fiction is important in regards to the memory of the nation because our brains process events as narratives and stories give drama and shape and texture to what might otherwise be dry or abstract facts. This kind of fiction isn't my favorite kind of fiction because sometimes it feels like it's trying to teach me a lesson. But when it's done well, it can be truly great, and the story that comes to mind for me in this vein is Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried."
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Do you consider yourself a writer who uses magical realism in their stories or dirty realism?
I had to go to Wikipedia to look up dirty realism-what a great term! Like a dirty martini! I'd actually always heard that kind of writing referred to not as dirty realism but as minimalismó80ís era stripped down prose, often with working class characters, usually in realistic though heightened situations. Drinking is often involved. Though I really like a lot of dirty realismóitís hard to beat a Raymond Carver storyóI think the emphasis here is on the realism and Iím a really bad realistic writer. I simply donít have enough intellectual curiosity and simple love of the texture of everyday life to write about it at length. In a way, I donít even believe in everyday lifeóI mean, I believe it exists but I donít believe in it in a metaphysical way. Iím much more devoted to the idea that the world is a giant metaphor waiting to be gobbled up and digested by our minds, and that the reality inside our minds is much more interesting than the trappings of the objective world.
As for magic realism, I recently read a whole bunch of Garcia Marquez and man, I would totally join up if I could write like him. But honestly, Iíve never quite understood the term. I canít really tell the difference in reality levels between Garcia Marquez and Kafka and Isaac Bashevis Singer and Henry Jamesí ghost stories and Carl Jungís autobiography. As far as I can tell, fidelity to everyday life has never been a requirement of literature. Some of the most enduring storiesóBible stories, fairy tales, origin storiesóare totally strange, wild, and dreamlike. So I probably wouldnít use the term magic realism for my own writing. Iím not sure what term Iíd use. But one of the great things about not being an academic is that I am not obligated to use any terms at all.
How would you describe the humor in "Beauty Treatment" or "Cavemen in Hedges"?
You know, itís hard to describe humor. I think thatís kind of the essence of humoróit slips between the cracks in categories and logic, which is what allows it to be so subversive. In fact, itís so hard to describe humor that I can only think of a handful of adjectives commonly used to do soósatirical, slapstick, subversive, dark, and stupid. Can anyone think of any others? Scatological? Of those, Iíd pick dark to describe my writing because Iím sort of obsessed with the connection between funny and sad. But I think thereís also a bit of satire and slapstick, and whenever thereís slapstick thereís going to be stupid. Thatís everything but scatological, and I admit that I donít find poop funny. Well, maybe dog poop. And bird.
what's the best way to get a guy to lose his inhibitions without him having to use any substances (i.e. alcohol.) i get drunk and he still doesn't try to rip my clothes off. i'd like this to happen without me having to TELL him to do it, and gosh, do i have to beg?! i think we're past the "taking it slow" bit...is there some kind of erotica I could read to help me figure out how to be sexier?!
I'm sure you're sexy enough, all drunk and waiting for him to rip your clothes off, jeez. And since you say you're past the "taking it slow" stage, I assume you've tried kissing him. That actually almost always works to get things going. If it doesn't, something else is probably going on--he's a dud, he's got a girlfriend, he's got a boyfriend, he lives with mom. But if you still really think further action is required, try this last ditch test: put on a sexy bra under your adorable top. Then, when he comes over, say, "Can I get a man's opinion on something?" Then take off your shirt and say, "Does this bra make my boobs look too big?" If he can't figure out how to take if from there, he's retarded.
zombies, werewolves, vampires, robots, pirates, or ninjas? ...pretty please write me a bedtime story with 3 or more.
Sorry I haven't gotten to this. I'm thinking about it...but not that much. I'll try harder.
Any words for David Foster Wallace?
Oh God, what a terribly sad thing! It's just wrenching to see someone with so much take themselves out of the world. I didn't really realize until he was gone that I was counting on him to be around--as someone to admire, amuse me, be jealous of, and make me angry. All which strike me as normal reactions to true talent. I wish he could have stayed.
Your thoughts on Sarah Palin?
She seems toxic, but I really don't know much about her.
Update: okay, now I know more and I'm afraid. I hate her political views but it's not that. I'm afraid because she isn't even a little bit qualified to be the vice president. And there seems to be some weird Republican swirl of rhetoric where her gender somehow gives her a pass to be stupid and smart at the same time. Somehow I don't think she'd get away with avoiding the press if she were a man. And is there some law now that politicians can't speak in full sentences? It's not that hard. Oh, I just remembered I had a bad dream about her last night. She wore a red suit.
So - what are you reading lately that's good?
I'm reading The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel, and I'm reading them twice, because I have two translations and I'm reading each, which is driving me crazy. Why am I doing this? Good question. At first I was bothered by one translation but now I'm bothered by both. The stories are weird and great and almost unbelievably violent, especially considering when they were written. I'm not going to recommend them exactly, because I don't quite understand them. I can't tell to what extent Babel was condemning violence, and to what extent he was celebrating it--like the Quentin Tarantino of his day. Maybe I'm just going to have to learn Russian.
But recently I read a couple of great Jim Shepard collections: Like You'd Understand Anyway and Love and Hydrogen. They're awesome, I loved them--they're strange and funny and addictive. They're sort of like boys adventure stories written by an extremely sensitive person. Those are really good.
Okay...sooo what if there's this 6'2" muscley, piercing-eyed, sir-Lancelot-jawed Republican who pretty much looks like Jack from LOST, only better. And he most CERTAINLY makes your knees weak...buuuuut....he may be a lying, psycho cokehead who hates himself and his tiny, tiny penis. What then, Stacey Richter? What then? Oh yea...and I mean from a WRITERLY standpoint. Not a "moral" or "logical" or "responsible" standpoint.
Obviously you're destined to use him up then throw him out. As a writer, I advise you to jot down a few notes about the experience and, as always, to avoid tattoos with proper names.