Daylight Savings Jump Party
Published on November 7, 2010 5:27 pm.

Embrace the daylight savings munificence and spend the next (free!) hour trolling around looking at stuff on the internet instead of doing work! It’s what the world wants, why else would it give us this black hole of free time?

A few suggestions for your divagations:

Check out The Paris Review archive of interviews, recently made available online, a half-century-plus treasure trove of brilliance, acumen, total BS, caginess and sheer ego, from Louis-Ferdinand Céline to James Ellroy….Pick your poison.

Plus, the current issue has an interview with controversial French writer Michel Houellebecq, who seems subdued here (i.e. not drunk and not hitting on the interviewer). Houellebecq insists he’s not a provocateur, explaining, “A real provocateur is someone who says things he doesn’t think, just to shock. I try to say what I think.” Anyone who’s ever read Houellebecq will gleefully chuckle at that somewhat expansive “try.” If for no other reason, the interview’s worth checking out for the mischievous (and creepy) double portrait of Houellebecq and Iggy Pop, a partner in crime.

At The Rumpus, Maile Meloy discusses her return to the short story form. Meloy has been picking up steam of late, a reassuring bit of justice since for far too long she’s been grossly underrated. While her novels, Liars and Saints and A Family Daughter, are great reads, her short stories are Alice Munro-like gems of understatement and insight. Her latest collection, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, is possibly her best.

Also, The Independent’s art critic Tom Lubbock on living with a brain tumor; Giles Harvey on books about Bob Dylan; and if your French is up to snuff (or not, mine isn’t), the complete Madame Bovary drafts, beautifully scanned and organized.

Entasis in Motion
Published on November 7, 2010 12:49 am.

Entasis 1, Faustian Falls, is a done deal. Time to bask in the soft radiance of a job well done.


Done basking. Time to ramble. Jack Spicer says, “[Tradition] means generations of different poets in different countries patiently telling the same story, writing the same poem, gaining and losing something with each transformation,” which means, to me, that poems are snapshots of something always in motion. To be a writer is to be moving on, chasing something else — the Subject, which itself is also changing, though the irony is not really — the author usually with a cup of coffee in hand, or a cigarette, or some kind of human heroin. Moving all the time is tiring and stressful.

So here comes Entasis 2. Robert Anasi, our embedded reporter, will be helming this next issue and I’ll leave it to the Editor-in-Chief Pro Tem to ‘splain his vision. But given the response our nascent journal has received, expressed as the sheer number of views shining on our remote, dusty corner of the Web, I’m looking forward to an issue hand-rolled by a guy committed enough to take a facepounding for a book. Would I do the same for a poem? Hell yes I would, but I still have a point.

Calle 10
Published on October 14, 2010 1:02 am.

In the late-90s I freelanced for a ‘cafe magazine’ in NYC. The thing was owned by a trust fund guy who was so cheap you literally had to put cold steel to his throat to get him to cut you a $50 check (meanwhile he was buying a duplex on Avenue A). But I digress into class warfare. As with magazine offices everywhere, pretty much every inch of space was crammed with review CDs and books, most forgettable or despicable. One day, I picked up a small novel with a cool cover called ‘Calle 10′  by Danny Romero, and eventually read it. And then read it again. And over the past fourteen years, have read it at least nine times that I can remember.

Three or four years ago I finally got around to looking up the novel and discovered that it hasn’t gotten any of the credit it deserves. Not one of the early reviewers seems to comprehend how hysterically funny it is ( a friend and I were reading it to each other and crying with laughter). And that’s only the beginning. Its unsentimental portrayal of ‘low-life’ in Oakland is pitch perfect and undistorted by pieties or agendas. The opening scene on a bus  is a small masterpiece, and there are Beckett-like absurdities throughout. In a better world, Calle 10 would be required reading. It makes me wonder, and not for the first time, about the life experience of those writing book reviews for major publications.  Maybe they have trust funds too?  I eventually tracked down Romero to find him teaching writing at a college in Sacramento, I believe.  I like everything he writes but Calle 10 is up in the stars. It would be a great screenplay. If they could add an extra day to the week – and an extra zero to my bank balance – I would buy the rights and write it.

Issue 1 …
Published on October 12, 2010 10:08 am.

… is closed out. We’re puttin’ this bad dog on a leash and gettin’ ready to take him out for a walk.

We’re tremendously proud of our first issue, which is only days away from online publication. Our theme, “things we’ve agreed to out of desperation,” or “things to which, out of desperation, we have agreed,” or “stupid shit we’ve done in a hurry for the wrong reasons,” is well represented within the issue, the editors’ contribution to that theme being the issue itself.

We’ll be scheduling a reading within the next few weeks, likely in Long Beach, California, the home of one long-assed beach. So if you’re around and in town and want to get down, get Long Beach-bound, hound. After the reading you can commiserate with the writers and grab some Thai cuisine over at Bai Plu. We’re nice people, even if some of us are a little desperate.

Is Irvine the New Compton?
Published on October 2, 2010 12:08 am.

I was sitting in my room enjoying the sound of  traffic when I heard the buzz and squawk of police megaphones. Since it went on for a while, I went outside to find Irvine cops treating a carload of kids like a cross between Al Qaeda and NWA. I mean, those kids had guns in their face, had to kiss blacktop and wear the steel bracelets.

It made me think about David Foster Wallace. Why? Because I always consider DFW as the avatar of a certain white, liberal, NPR listening, Volvo-driving, college town, extremely twee, middle-class. The kind of person who would never in his life had to belly down on the pavement for a cop, yet who would, at the same time, cluck his tongue at the treatment of those kids.

I’ve been writing an essay for a while about a particular DFW piece. In my mind, the DFW piece represents the failure of a certain branch of the American left. Because DFW was smarter and more sensitive than a lot of his colleagues, you can see his awareness of this problem, his struggle with it, his unhappiness with it. Which is why he makes a good target.

But I’m not sure: at what point does it become fair game to kick a dead man?

- RA

Cock-Fighting & The Ecology of Aquariums
Published on September 21, 2010 11:42 pm.

GM: I only wrote one piece for the VQR and my sense of Genoways tracks that of the writer who did the piece you linked. I have experience of monsters and can usually sense it when one is in the room. None of that with Genoways. His sending the magazine in a new direction seemed to be part of the problem. It made me think about the dearth of real long-form journalism in the media today. I want to read eight- or ten-thousand word pieces about interesting subjects, and the mainstream media no longer carries them. Leaving it to people like Ted Genoways, and, I hope, us. For Genoways, interesting meant deeper looks at hot spots, crises: Afghanistan, the ‘war on drugs’ (that calls for quotes), Iraq. Me, I tend to prefer subjects that aren’t in the spotlight. I’d rather read my ten thousand words about Balinese cock-fighting, or the ecology of aquariums. Which leads me to some of the reasons why I’m excited about the two prose pieces in this issue. I have nothing against MFAs in fiction, unlike this guy, but a lot of the work that attracts me comes from people who didn’t go that route. I read a draft of Cynthia Mitchell’s story thirteen years ago and it has stayed with me ever since. We’re lucky to have it. Cynthia hasn’t written a lot of fiction – she leans toward the visual arts – but everything I’ve ever read of hers is fantastic. Steve Geng is another outsider to the world of letters. As his sister was writing for the New Yorker in the 70s and 80s, Steve was a career criminal and junkie. Yet he managed to publish a memoir that lit me up when I read it. Having chops is one thing, a craft, but knowing what to do with them, that makes the artist. — RA

Friday Jump Party
Published on August 27, 2010 11:21 am.

Jump party! Follow some jumps. Don’t be shy. Come on. Take off those flip-flops. Hey, did anyone ever tell you that you have nice skin?

An interesting piece in defense of Ted Genoways, the editor of VQR who’s currently under fire from, it would seem, a few people who own both axes and grindstones.

It’s a sad fact that many words are alone, abandoned, and in need of basic comforts that you and I take for granted. This is the problem. Be a part of the solution.

Oh, you. And you. And you, and you, and you, and you, and you.


Graphic novel recommendation of the week.

Ray Bradbury just turned 90. And there is at least one very, very considerate young lady who would like to express her personal gratitude for the words he’s given us.

Franzen, celebrated for pen or penis? Note that the word pen is in penis. Think about that the next time you’re holding a pen(is).

Introductory Burgeoning With Some Swelling Implied
Published on August 25, 2010 9:19 am.

Living free of Facebook. I found myself, too often, logging in so that I could avoid some minor but annoying errand — a rather large percentage of my days. Somehow, too, admiring the pithy, but mostly context-ephemeral mini-missives arcing through my friendcloud began to feel willfully shallow, as did my own motivations for launching personal remarkettes. The 60s gave us Hippies, but the 21st century’s sprouting Quippies, a screen-tanned, bloodshot crew of bullet-thinkers ready to pop off a few one-thought-or-less witcaps just as soon as look atcha. There must be more to filial love than 20 nimble (or not so) words and a photo of your friend with those people at that party for that thing the other night.

Either that or Facebook is a great clarifier and the digital orgy is a boring bash. Well, we’re here and we’re spiking the punch. Putting Facebook away means that now I can focus, and here I am, posting, he of the palest complexion the first to fling his shirt into the bushes and jump into the pool, hoping that my learned colleagues aren’t so mouth-dropped by my snow-white scut that they forget that they’re the ones now stumped naked poolside and with not even an iced drink in their hands to excuse it. Chumps.

Now to the question I will try ever-so-my-best to answer: What is poetry?

It’s stew of the mind and mouth. Next.

What is Entasis? The answer is: we’ll see. At its core, Entasis is the hivemind of four writers from the University of California, Irvine. Beyond its core, Entasis is, at its beginning, their network, nothing less than an elite group of the finest young guns west of the Rockies, and even a few of them east of the Rockies, and probably a few living in or around the Rockies. Clearly the Rockies are meaningless here. What became meaningful for us, though, was realizing that between us honeybees we knew quite a few talented scrawlers whose writing has impressed, or moved, or inspired us at one time or another, and that seeing their work published more often — alongside high quality work from people we’ve yet to meet, i.e., you, possibly, or someone you might find attractive — was an exciting mission to undertake. We’re looking forward to seeing that mission through.

Our first issue is underway — if you’re reading this and you’ve got a piece of poetry or fiction or non-fiction that fits, even obliquely, even transcendentally (well, especially transcendentally) with our theme, “Things we’ve agreed to out of desperation,” then please do submit. We’re looking for writing that’s smart, fresh, maybe wild, maybe a little hot, not poseur-hot, but that’s been through its whole drug phase and really isn’t looking for a new way to get high, just the best way. Of course we have our own ideas and we’ll be sharing them, but we’re willing to be educated. Educate us. Help us burgeon.

Speaking of which, the term ‘entasis’ appears in the OED as ‘A delicate and almost imperceptible swelling in the shaft of a column.’ More specifically, it’s the bulge that’s added to a column in order to make it appear straight. So there you are. The name is out in the open. It’s a word with a beautiful enunciation and a significance that instantly creates its own lurid reductions. Stew of the mind and mouth. Is there a story about why we chose it? Who cares? I could say more.

In closing my inaugural post I’ll quote a little wisdom from Horace: “Omnem crede diem tibi diluxisse supremum. / Grata superveniet, quæ non sperabitur hora.” So true. Please do come back, if for no other reason than to discover, in my next post, why I went there. I’ll look forward to sharing the answer to that, and more, with you then.

Peace, love, global cooling,


Welcome to Entasis
Published on May 23, 2010 9:43 pm.

Entasis is a new, online literary quarterly based out of Irvine, California. Our focus is primarily poetry, with fiction and literary non-fiction at our discretion. Each issue of Entasis will be organized around a different theme.  The theme of our inaugural issue is “things we’ve agreed to out of desperation.”

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