Journals of Lord Malinov volume 2

Volume 2 of my collected works, the Journals of Lord Malinov, is free today on Amazon

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laundry list writing

I have grown weary of laundry list writing. About 100 years ago, it was a fresh technique. Now it is old and tired.

(Laundry list writing. Exhaustive lists of synonyms and examples. Lists of foods. Lists of colors. Lists of plants. Lists of types. Sentence fragments. Pages and pages of repetitions and repeated ideas. Nouns. Adjectives. Building the scene brick by brick… etcetera, etcetera, etcetera)

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Song of Songs – prelude notes

The day like any other day
A Tuesday, a weekday wedged
Into the early part of the schedule
Uncertainty filled the air, shivering
Slaving in a constant flux, enduring
As much as acting, weathering the storms
I lost a bad woman, hurt my kids
And moved in with the love of my life
Echoes within echoes of pains
Reduced me to jelly
Until in the aftermath, trying to get out there
I drank and fucking chatted
Until I dared to take the stage
And sang

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books read in 2014

Fasting, Feasting, Anita Desai

The Portrait, Ford Madox Ford

Balthazar, Lawrence Durrell

Vera, Oscar Wilde

The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon

Wait Until Spring, Bandini, John Fante

Modeste Mignon, Honore de Balzac

Doctor Faustus, Thomas Mann

Bolshevism in English Literature, William Talbot Allison

A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood

Nana, Emile Zola

Our House in the Last World, Oscar Hijuelos

Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dona Perfecta, Benito Perez Galdos

A Separate Reality, Carlos Castaneda

The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty

An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro

Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Pierre Chonderlos de Laclos

Auguste Rodin, Rainer Maria Rilke

Chamber Music, James Joyce

The Last of the Star Kings, Edmond Hamilton

Kokoro, Natsume Soseki

Oedipus Rex, Sophocles

The Eye in the Pyramid, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

Black Spring, Henry Miller

Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Glenarvon, Caroline Lamb

The Iliad, Homer

The Russian Roots of Nazism, Michael Kellogg

The Balcony, Jean Genet

A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe

Couples, John Updike

The Soft Machine, William S. Burroughs

Pierre, Herman Melville

Outlaw of Gor, John Norman

English Literature, Stopford Augustus Brook

Tarnsman of Gor, John Norman

Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt

Endgame, Frank Brady

The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac

Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler

The Captain’s Daughter, Alexander Pushkin

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

Justine, Lawrence Durrell

The Blunderer, Moliere

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

The Hero, W. Somerset Maugham

Foundation, Issac Asimov

The Trespasser, D.H. Lawrence

Numbers, John Rechy

The Possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Nicolo Paganini, Stephen Samuel Stratton

La-Bas, Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass

Edward II, Christopher Marlowe

The Masterpiece, Emile Zola

The Unclassed, George Gissing

The Food of the Gods, H. G. Wells

The Coming of the Night, John Rechy

A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Aeneid, Virgil

White Nights, Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, Lord Byron

The Lost Continent, Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Circle, W. Somerset Maugham

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells

The Monk, Matthew Lewis

Confessions of a Travelling Salesman, Timothy Lea

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

 

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Books read in 2014, so far

Nana, Emile Zola

Our House in the Last World, Oscar Hijuelos

Notes from the Underground, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Dona Perfecta, Benito Perez Galdos

A Separate Reality, Carlos Castaneda

The Optimist’s Daughter, Eudora Welty

An Artist of the Floating World, Kazuo Ishiguro

Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Pierre Chonderlos de Laclos

Auguste Rodin, Rainer Maria Rilke

Chamber Music, James Joyce

The Last of the Star Kings, Edmond Hamilton

Kokoro, Natsume Soseki

Oedipus Rex, Sophocles

The Eye in the Pyramid, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson

Black Spring, Henry Miller

Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Glenarvon, Caroline Lamb

The Iliad, Homer

The Russian Roots of Nazism, Michael Kellogg

The Balcony, Jean Genet

A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe

Couples, John Updike

The Soft Machine, William S. Burroughs

Pierre, Herman Melville

Outlaw of Gor, John Norman

English Literature, Stopford Augustus Brook

Tarnsman of Gor, John Norman

Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt

Endgame, Frank Brady

The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac

Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler

The Captain’s Daughter, Alexander Pushkin

Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe

The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux

Justine, Lawrence Durrell

The Blunderer, Moliere

Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

The Hero, W. Somerset Maugham

Foundation, Issac Asimov

The Trespasser, D.H. Lawrence

Numbers, John Rechy

The Possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Nicolo Paganini, Stephen Samuel Stratton

La-Bas, Joris-Karl Huysmans

The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass

Edward II, Christopher Marlowe

The Masterpiece, Emile Zola

The Unclassed, George Gissing

The Food of the Gods, H. G. Wells

The Coming of the Night, John Rechy

A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Aeneid, Virgil

White Nights, Fyodor Dostoevsky

The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, Lord Byron

The Lost Continent, Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Circle, W. Somerset Maugham

The Time Machine, H.G. Wells

The Monk, Matthew Lewis

Confessions of a Travelling Salesman, Timothy Lea

Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

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Read in 2014

The Last of the Star Kings, Edmond Hamilton
Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
The Eye in the Pyramid, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson
Black Spring, Henry Miller
Agamemnon, Aeschylus
Glenarvon, Caroline Lamb
The Iliad, Homer
The Russian Roots of Nazism, Michael Kellogg
The Balcony, Jean Genet
A Man of the People, Chinua Achebe
Couples, John Updike
The Soft Machine, William S. Burroughs
Pierre, Herman Melville
Outlaw of Gor, John Norman
English Literature, Stopford Augustus Brook
Tarnsman of Gor, John Norman
Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt
Endgame, Frank Brady
The Subterraneans, Jack Kerouac
Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler
The Captain’s Daughter, Alexander Pushkin
Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
Justine, Lawrence Durrell
The Blunderer, Moliere
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
The Hero, W. Somerset Maugham
Foundation, Issac Asimov
The Trespasser, D.H. Lawrence
Numbers, John Rechy
The Possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky
Nicolo Paganini, Stephen Samuel Stratton
La-Bas, Joris-Karl Huysmans
The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass
Edward II, Christopher Marlowe
The Masterpiece, Emile Zola
The Unclassed, George Gissing
The Food of the Gods, H. G. Wells
The Coming of the Night, John Rechy
A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Aeneid, Virgil
White Nights, Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Siege of Corinth, Parisina, Lord Byron
The Lost Continent, Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Circle, W. Somerset Maugham
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
The Monk, Matthew Lewis
Confessions of a Travelling Salesman, Timothy Lea
Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

 

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On overly clever writing

“I find that I don’t really care for writing that is too clever. This is my issue with most poetry and some prose. I prefer a more natural style, with moments of clever phrasing. When the writing is too clever, it becomes unnatural, like a fast paced comedy routine. I want something more genuine from prose.”
As I said this morning, I have found that I do not like writing that is overly clever. My observation derived from consideration of my own writing. I am working on my novel and find the urge to be clever is hard to escape, so I’m trying to gauge how much cleverness is appropriate to the tone I am after. I am nearing the end of Couples by John Updike, a novel I am enjoying very much. The structure is well-considered and the poetics are constant. The plot and characters are compelling. Some of the symbolism is a bit too heavy handed, particularly the use of Kennedy and his assassination as a metaphor for innocence and disillusion. Maybe it was fresh in the sixties, but now it is laid on too thick for my taste. It’s a brilliant novel but I’m always looking at the machinery, hoping to learn and acquire technique for my own uses. The only serious complaint I would make about the writing is in the dialogue. When the characters speak to each other, they are always trying to say something clever. They would rather make a joke or a play on words or a memorable aphorism than communicate. I know this happens and that there are people who communicate by sarcasm and humor but when it happens all the time, it becomes tedious and obstructive. For the most part, this is not how anyone communicates and interrelates. Oscar Wilde and many of the social dramas of the turn of the century delight in this kind of writing. In the proper forum, like a comedy, it can be delightful and I can appreciate that. But when the story being told is realistic in intention, this kind of language play becomes stilted and detracts from the story telling. In poetry, the question is a bit more complicated because the terse nature of poetry renders basically everything clever. Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, for example, is a long litany of clever phrases to paint an emotional picture. This is delightful and poignant. Poetry almost has to be cleverly worded to be effective. Where it crosses the line, in poetry, for me, is when the poet uses a gimmick to lay out the portrait. Cheap rhymes are a good example of this, particularly in the lyric format, where making the rhyme becomes more important than the denotation. Overextending a weak metaphor, repetitive line structure, or, worst of all, setting up a play on words all become a gimmick. The author isn’t trying to convey an emotion, paint a picture or tell a story. They’re trying to be clever. I don’t have time for that. There are authors who write so well that I forgive all levels of cleverness. Nabokov, probably because he is not writing in his native tongue, has a tendency to be too clever. If he didn’t write so well, I would object. But he does so I don’t.
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