Robert Louis Stevenson used cocaine. Charles Baudelaire used hashish. Jean Cocteau used opium. Jean-Paul Sartre used amphetamines. Philip K. Dick used speed. Aldous Huxley used mushrooms. Hunter S. Thompson used mescaline along with the usual stuff like LSD and pot. William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Stephen King, Thomas de Quincey, Hubert Selby, William Yeats, the list goes on. As if … Continue reading Will Pot Change Literature?
If you are a published writer, no matter how crappy you are, people will automatically assume that you know Faulkner by heart. Even if you specialize in YA novels, you will be expected to have intelligent opinions on Proust and Joyce. Of course all writers are supposed to be able to quote at least a few … Continue reading Read, Read, Read
When Joseph Conrad's Nostromo was first published in 1904, many of the words used in the text must have been unfamiliar to the general public. The common folk of the neighborhood, peons of the estancias, vaqueros of the seaboard plains, tame Indians coming miles to market with a bundle of sugar-cane or a basket of maize worth … Continue reading Do you have to understand every word?
Like it or not, the phenomenal sales of the Fifty Shades of Grey series will forever change our perception of literary success. Although the series have sold over 100 million copies world wide, not a single book critic I can find could see any merit in the writing. Numerous reviewers have trashed the story and … Continue reading Why You Cannot Write Better Than E.L. James
An intriguing story by Susan Barker appeared on the pages of The Los Angeles Review of Books titled "Should Ethnicity Limit What a Fiction Writer Can Write?". The article relates the authors experiences of a recent book tour she made in China after publishing her book The Incarnations set in modern China. The author is … Continue reading Write Not What You Are Not
In the cult movie The Decline of the American Empire, a young intellectual confesses he has sexual fantasies about sleeping with Susan Sontag. The movie was released in 1986, so Susan Sontag was about 53 years young. Times were different then. Men in their early twenties having fantasies about sex with fifty-something writers was considered … Continue reading Joyce Maynard vs James Patterson
Emily Bronte is still awesome. Charles Dickens still holds up. Robert Stevenson is still exciting. Mark Twain can still leave the modern reader in stitches. Plenty of people haven't read them yet. In fact, there are just as many people haven't read any given classic as there are people who haven't read any given best … Continue reading Why Do We Read?
I have learned the existence of the National Novel Writing Month only recently. When I was a young man in my mid-twenties with aspirations of being a published novelist, an institution like NaNoWriMo was unthinkable. It is pretty much unthinkable today, even though it exists. Who would have imagined? NaNoWriMo is a strange institution for … Continue reading To NaNoWriMo or Not to NaNoWriMo?
“Hello, Susan my wife and fulltime housewife who helps the local Daisy scouts bake cookies. I see you are coming in holding a cup of coffee.” “Hello, Brian my husband of five years who watches football on TV in his underpants and leaves his dirty socks on the floor. How was your day at the … Continue reading Bomb Under the Table
You know you are old fashioned when you feel unnerved when people come out saying that they are gay. My sexual resume has not been entirely heterosexual, but I think I fall pretty squarely in the non-LGBT side of the equation. So, yeah, I'm not gay. Full disclosure. But I have never had any real … Continue reading Gay Boys Coming Out (Don’t do it!)