"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What would you expect a dog to write about?

His favorite dog food brand? Even Teddy Kennedy's dog was just a dog, altho he was also a humanizing influence. Everyone liked him, even Republicans who were battling Senator Kennedy's initiatives.

Cute article about intern's dog impersonation.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Editors are Timid; Ebooks are Shorter; There is No E-reading in Cafes

The dystopian future is here.

Timid editors. And, I might add, most likely underpaid. Yet, "Books remain a pocket of air in an upturned boat." Jeanette Winterson, quoted in the article at the Guardian.

Are ebooks getting shorter because of smaller devices, or smaller attention spans? NY Times.

"Many indie New York City cafes now heavily restrict, or ban outright, the use of Kindles, Nooks and iPads." o rly? y is that? Does this make sense? Is it the love of books? The resistance to the spelling butchery that goes with texting? Can you even do that with a Nook? Also at the NY Times.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Responses re; Women Writing and Getting Published

Responses are flying in. It's good to see this topic generate such a flurry of articles and discussions. My writing group is abuzz.

Here is Katha Pollitt, at Slate.
"As in those studies that show men overestimate the number of women in a group—one-third feels like half, half feels like a majority—a big piece by a woman two years ago feels like it was published last week, and one or two pieces by women feels like half the magazine."

Kind of like how racist whites feel about blacks moving into the the neighborhood, eh? If you look at the weak rebuttal in Tin House, the argument there, that they had a women's issue in 2007 -- over three years ago -- fits perfectly with Pollitt's argument.

Here is Percival Everett on The Great American Novel.
"I do not believe that apparent authoritative literary voices of validation would ever make such a grand claim about a novel written by a woman. I say this because I believe there are many novels by women that are about the same sort of world as presented in Freedom. Sadly, the culture usually calls these books domestic or family sagas. Are the novels of Anne Tyler, Marilynne Robinson and Mona Simpson any less white and middle “American” than Franzen’s? They are certainly at least every bit as literary and arguably better written, whatever that means. And they do not suffer the needless verbosity of Freedom. Were a woman to use so many additional words, the prose would be called floral or poetic or maybe even excessive."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If a woman writes a book, will anybody read it?

A lot of attention lately to the disparity in publishing and reviewing between men and women. Do men care what women think? Will they read books by women? (No, apparently.) What is the reason for the disparity? Can women write as well as men? Are women overlooked more often? Pushed into chick lit categorization which turns men off? Not as concerned with international espionage and warfare? Or is it the male literary establishment hanging on by its fingernails? Why will a woman buy a book by a misogynist and/or with misogynist characters, but Jews, blacks, men and other groups largely boycott authors bigoted against themselves?

I don't want to summarize these really good articles, linked below. I think they reward reading and thought. The comments, well, some are really good, but this kind of subject tends to bring out the haters and the bigots, too. And the hidden bigots, who claim to be fair while they hold you back because you're just not as good... It's chilling, but I suppose just another example of people's rotten manners on the internet. Commenters' rage?

I wanted to say a few things that I have not seen anywhere else. One, that the establishment, any establishment, tends to defend itself from all comers. Even the literary magazines, often run by graduate students, favor male writers over female. The editors are largely male -- is it competitiveness? Is it scarier to compete with women? Because, you know, pretty soon if you let women in and blacks in and Native Americans in, let alone other ethnic groups, they will want the editorship, too. (And the Paris Review might become the Native American Women's Menstrual Review, or something, right?)

Is that why the establishment prefers its own? They don't question the gross unfairness at the bottom of it all? They embellish the status quo?

Life, Keith Richards' book, which I am reading right now and totally love, is very clear on this issue vis a vis rock and roll. At one point a group of legal big shots sat down with the Stones to ask what they wanted -- as if facing dangerous revolutionaries. Keith says it was a real eye-opener to him, how threatened they felt, how invested in a shaky status quo that must change. I think he told them they were dinosaurs, deal with it.

One thing I'd like to share is from a creative writing class years ago. We had an assignment to write about our mothers, and woman after woman wrote about a dissatisfied, critical, unhappy woman. A man in the group commented, "Another hard mother," after one of these. His story was nothing like that. Which made me wonder then and now if mothers share their unhappiness mainly with their daughters. If legions of dissatisfied women somehow transmitted their lack of self-worth or were jealous of their daughters' opportunities, or just passed on bad beliefs?


Is there a glass ceiling for women writers?

Why are literary hard-hitters male?

Vidaweb survey, with thanks to Amy King.

Gender Balance, at the NY Times blogs, with links to other articles.

Women are underrepresented in literary publishing because men aren't interested in what they have to say -- Laura Miller at Salon.

It's not just writers. Women are under-represented on the radio, too.

And the solution is: How to Publish Women Writers.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who Says Artists Have to Make Money?

"You have to remember that it's only a few hundred years, if that much, that artists are working with money. Artists never got money. Artists had a patron, either the leader of the state or the duke of Weimar or somewhere, or the church, the pope. Or they had another job. I have another job. I make films. No one tells me what to do. But I make the money in the wine industry. You work another job and get up at five in the morning and write your script.

"This idea of Metallica or some rock n' roll singer being rich, that's not necessarily going to happen anymore. Because, as we enter into a new age, maybe art will be free. Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I'm going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?"

Francis Ford Coppola.

I guess he is making money selling wine, but you'd think he had enough money from the Godfather movies.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's Cold, Zen Cold

Dongshan said,
“Why don’t you go where there is no cold
or heat?”

The monk said,
“Where is the place where there is no
cold or heat?”

Our first inclination is to say, Not here. And try to get away, sit by the wood stove, get a plane ticket to the Caribbean. But, of course, that wouldn't be very Zen. At ZenPeacemakers.org, roshi Bernie Glassman's order.