Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Harems Are For Closers

Tin House #43 is on its way! The issue will feature work by Steve Almond, Ron Carlson, Martha McPhee, David "Always be closing/Put that coffee down" Mamet, and many other awesome people.

Click here to check out an excerpt from my contribution, Life in the Harem.

Friday, February 19, 2010

"One of us turns over a card, picks it up, looks at it as if he were looking at himself in the mirror."

I used to think that tarot cards were just for people who didn't know any better. That was before I started reading Italo Calvino's The Castle of Crossed Destinies, his book of tarot-inspired fiction, which is pretty great. [Note: tarot cards are still mostly just for people who don't know any better.]

From The Waverer's Tale:

A naked goddess takes two jugs containing who knows what juices kept cool for the thirsty (all around there are the yellow dunes of a sun-baked desert), and empties them to water the pebbled shore: and at that instant a growth of saxifrage springs up in the midst of the desert, and among the succulent leaves a blackbird sings; life is the waste of materials thrown away, the sea's cauldron merely repeats what happens within constellations that for billions of years go on pounding atoms in their explosions, obvious even here in the milk-colored sky.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"[...] everything good, no matter how often and how unintentionally such a deed is repeated, is new and spontaneous each time."

Today, I spent a decent amount of time reading Letters on Life (a book of writings collected from Rainer Maria Rilke's personal letters). The whole thing is basically just a self-help book written by the twentieth century's greatest German-language poet. And really, I don't know what else you could want from a book.

Try this on for size:

There is only a single, urgent task: to attach oneself someplace to nature -- to that which is strong, striving and bright -- with unreserved readiness, and then to move forward in one's efforts without any calculation or guile, even when engaged in the most trivial and mundane activities. Each time we thus reach out with joy, each time we cast our view toward distances that have not yet been touched, we transform not only the present moment, and the one following, but also alter the past within us, weave it into the pattern of our existence, and dissolve the foreign body of pain whose exact composition ultimately we do not know.

Bam! You've just been Rilked.