Thursday, January 31, 2008

I usually don't do stuff like this, but I like what this says about me.

You Are 74% Evil

You are very evil. And you're too evil to care.
Those who love you probably also fear you. A lot.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


by Robert Olen Butler

The concept is pretty rad: a human head is believed to remain in a state of consciousness for one and a half minutes after decapitation, and a person speaks about 160 words a minute in a heightened state of emotion... so, the author wrote 62 stories, each 240 words long, "capturing the flow of thoughts and feelings that rush through a mind after the head has been severed." (Quotation from the book jacket.)

Some of the best short stories I've ever read have been of the extremely short variety,* but a whole book of micro-stories becomes rather tiresome after, oh, five or six. Plus, stream of consciousness is always dicey to begin with. After the first ten or so, the choice of characters — ranging from a prehistoric man, to Anne Boelyn, to a roasting chicken, and beyond — became more interesting than the stories themselves. Yet, the stories are so brief, you ought to read them all anyway for the occasional flashes of brilliance. (Such as the aspiring court jester whose acrobatic prank goes awry and ends with him falling crotch-to-face upon his master while "already full excited at my joke.")

Another good toilet book, or, if you're not a compulsive in-bed reader, read one or two just before sleepy time.

*There's a possibly apocryphal tale of Ernest Hemingway's answer to the challenge to write a story in just six words: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2007

edited by Dave Eggers
introduction by Sufjan Stevens (my future husband)

A lovely anthology of recent writing as judged by a group of San Francisco high schoolers, and Dave Eggers, under the aegis of the 826 Valencia writing program (and pirate supply store!). Runs the gamut from lists to comics to journalism to fiction to memoir... Truly eclectic and all well-done, though some were more to my liking than others purely as a matter of taste and not due to a failure of craft.

My favorites were "Best American Names of Television Programs Taken to Their Logical Conclusions" by Joe O'Neill*; "Ghost Children" by D. Winston Brown; "Selling the General" by Jennifer Egan; "The Big Suck: Notes from the Jarhead Underground" by David J. Morris; and "Literature Unnatured" by Joy Williams.

*An example:
1. Touched by an Angel
2. Contacted by a Lawyer Who Deals with These Sorts of Cases
3. Settled Out of Court with an Angel
4. Blamed All Subsequent Problems in Life on Encounter with the Angel