Charles Baxter, a writers whose clean work I much like, has a piece on Franzen that looks eminently sensible, he mentions in passing one idiot by the name of David Shields saying that he wont even bother to read Franzen since he knows ahead of time what to expect. I happen to know this idiot from the UW IMA, turns out that he really liked the work of three people to whom I had been and, in one instance, still am very close: Renata Adler, the no longer with us Frank Conroy [Stop-Times, Mid Air, of Time and Tide - now if ever there was a last book with which to fade away] and Handke's GOALIE'S ANXIETY. Turns out that by now, without of course reading, the David Shields idiot is also not interested in what Handke, the complete virtuoso of any effect you might wish for, does. Alas, I did read Shield's MANIFESTO, if ever there was a monkey, all he knows is how to bang a hollow steel drum.
- I may still find the time for my piece on David Shield's REALITY HUNGER. I am eager to do it cause I know Shields and we share (ed?) admiration for three very different intimately known authors' books - STOP TIME, THE GOALIE'S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK + SPEED BOAT thus: so much for the death of the author! Or, the need in those instances for suspension of disbelief, or lack of linguistic involvement.
- However, responding briefly to Zubatov's piece fills a short gap opportunity: What is real are the letters on the page and the mind that processes them; the however born construct of one mind meets another, creating an event - there is communion or boredom, or fireworks. In the instance of failed attempts to re-create 19th century novels, say Conroy's later BODY & SOUL, I'd agree with David. Anything along those lines and a lot of it is going on – and it can be as much a matter of talent as the historical moment (ask me what I mean!) that leaves the hungering mind bereft.
- There exist of course genres, say "romance novel", but don't dare say that to the wives of men who've gone fishing, or about the ending of that dog, then fat Frank Conroy’s fat dog, BODY & SOUL yet whose end boogies as no American writer has boogied in prose before!, which provides a hint in what direction interesting prose can be found. And in that respect Shields, who has said that he’s been telling stories since childhood, is missing the boat, maybe he simply lacks the patience and ability to create literary works of art, for amazing matters can be achieved in prose narrative of all kinds. Just as Tom Englehardt, of The Nation’s TomDispatch, recently wrote that this is a great age for journalism, the same can be said, internationally, if you look at pure prose narrative, also in as artful a happenings-maker narrator as e.g. Peter Handke became a lyrical epic writer - in succinct masterworks such as his DON JUAN or extended narratives with Indianapolis-500 type ending CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDO, yet now appears rather conservative among the Austrians – the Austrians who seem to have far greater allowance and receptivity of what in this country is shunted aside as experimental. I mean I am able presently to complete maybe one of ten stories published in The New Yorker for the reason that I find them tiresome on the purely linguistic level – and I don't think that that is due solely to my subjectivity at this stage in my life, but is the editor-selector's fault - pleasing either David Shields or me I don’t think is one of the considerata there. - Ihappen to be chewing my way through the 1000 (!!!) literary magazines with on-line presence and will have some positive matters to report once I’m done! Think of me as the literary equivalent of the Seattle Tunnel boring machine Bertha! You all remember Big Betha, the biggest of Krupp’s guns!