DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Gary Lutz The Gotham Grammarian (2015)

 

‘I came to language only late and only peculiarly. I grew up in a household where the only books were the telephone book and some coloring books. Magazines, though, were called books, but only one magazine ever came into the house, a now-long-gone photographic general-interest weekly commandingly named Look. Words in this household were not often brought into play. There were no discussions that I can remember, no occasions when language was called for at length or in bulk. Words seemed to be intruders, blown into the rooms from otherwhere through the speakers of the television set or the radio, and were easily, tinnily, ignorable as something alien, something not germane to the forlornities of life within the house, and readily shut off or shut out. Under our roof, there was more divulgence and expressiveness to be made out in the closing or opening of doors, in footfalls, in coughs and stomach growlings and other bodily ballyhoo, than in statements exchanged in occasional conversation. Words seemed to be a last resort: you had recourse to speech only if everything else failed. From early on, it seemed to me that the forming and the release of words were the least significant of the mouth’s activities—and more by-products of those activities than the reason for them. When words did come hazarding out of a mouth, they did not lastingly change anything about the mouth they were coming out of or the face that hosted the mouth. They often seemed to have been put in there by some force exterior to the person speaking, and they died out in the air. They were not something I could possess or store up. Words certainly weren’t inside me.

‘A word that I remember coming out of my parents’ mouths a lot was imagine—as in “I imagine we’re going to have rain.” I soon succumbed to the notion that to imagine was to claim to know in advance an entirely forgettable outcome. A calendar was hung in the kitchen as if to say: Expect more of the same.

‘I thus spent about the first thirteen or fourteen years of my life not having much of anything to do with language. I am told that once in a while I spoke up. I am told that I had a friend at some point, and this friend often corrected my pronunciations, which tended to be overliteral, and deviant in their distribution of stresses. Any word I spoke, often as not, sounded like two words of similar length that had crashed into each other. Word after word emerged from my mouth as a mumbled mongrel. I was often asked to repeat things, and the repeated version came forth as a skeptical variant of the first one and was usually offered at a much lower volume. When a preposition was called for in a statement, I often chose an unfitting one. If a classmate asked me, “When is band practice?” I would be likely to answer, “At fifth period.” I did not have many listeners, and I did not listen to myself. Things I spoke came out sounding instantly disowned.

‘Childhood in my generation, an unpivotal generation, wasn’t necessarily a witnessed phenomenon. Large portions of my day went unobserved by anyone else, even in classrooms. Anybody glimpsing me for an instant might have described me as a kid with his nose stuck in a book, but nobody would have noticed that I wasn’t reading. I had started to gravitate toward books only because a book was a kind of steadying accessory, a prop, something to grip, a simple occupation for my hands. (Much later, I was relieved to learn that librarians refer to the books and other printed matter in their collections as “holdings.”) And at some point I started to enjoy having a book open before me and beholding the comfortingly justified lineups and amassments of words. I liked seeing words on parade on the pages, but I never got in step with them, I never entered into the processions. I doubt that it often even occurred to me to read the books, although I know I knew how. Instead, I liked how anything small (a pretzel crumb, perhaps) that fell into the gutter of the book—that troughlike place where facing pages meet—stayed in there and was preserved. A book was, for me, an acquisitive thing, absorbing, accepting, taking into itself whatever was dropped into it. An opened book even seemed to me an invitation to practice hygiene over it—to peel off the rim of a fingernail, say, and let the thing find its way down onto a page. The book became a repository of the body’s off-trickles, extrusions, biological rubbish and remains; it became a reliquary of sorts. I was thuswise now archiving chance fragments, sometimes choice fragments, of my life. I was putting things into the books instead of withdrawing their offered contents. As usual, I had things backward.

‘Worse, the reading we were doing in school was almost always reading done sleepily aloud, our lessons consisting of listening to the chapters of a textbook, my classmates and I taking our compulsory turns at droning through a double-columned page or two; and I, for one, never paid much mind to what was being read. The words on the page seemed to have little utility other than as mere prompts or often misleading cues for the sluggard sounds we were expected to produce. The words on the page did not seem to have solid enough a presence to exist independently of the sounds. I had no sense that a book read in silence and in private could offer me something. I can’t remember reading anything with much comprehension until eighth grade, when, studying for a science test for once, I decided to try making my way quietly through the chapter from start to finish—it was a chapter about magnets—and found myself forced to form the sounds of the words in my head as I read. Many of the words were unfamiliar to me, but the words fizzed and popped and tinkled and bonged. I was reading so slowly that in many a word I heard the scrunch and flump of the consonants and the peal of the vowels. Granted, I wasn’t retaining much of anything, but almost every word now struck me as a provocative hullabaloo. This was my first real lesson about language—this inkling that a word is a solid, something firm and palpable. It was news to me that a word is matter, that it exists in tactual materiality, that it has a cubic bulk. Only on the page is it flat and undensified. In the mouth and in the mind it is three-dimensional, and there are parts that shoot out from it or sink into its syntactic surround. But this discovery was of no help to me in English class, because when we had to write, I could never call up any of the brassy and racketing words I had read, and fell back on the thin, flat, default vocabulary of my life at home, words spoken because no others were known or available. Even when I started reading vocabulary-improvement books, I never seemed capable of importing into my sentences any of the vivid specimens from the lists I had now begun to memorize. My writing was dividered from the arrayed opulences in the vocabulary books. Language remained beyond me. My distance from language continued even through college, even through graduate school. The words I loved were in a different part of me, not accessible to the part of me that was required to make statements on paper.

‘It took me almost another decade after graduate school to figure out what writing really is, or at least what it could be for me; and what prompted this second lesson in language was my discovery of certain remaindered books—mostly of fiction, most notably by Barry Hannah, and all of them, I later learned, edited by Gordon Lish—in which virtually every sentence had the force and feel of a climax, in which almost every sentence was a vivid extremity of language, an abruption, a definitive inquietude. These were books written by writers who recognized the sentence as the one true theater of endeavor, as the place where writing comes to a point and attains its ultimacy. As a reader, I finally knew what I wanted to read, and as someone now yearning to become a writer, I knew exactly what I wanted to try to write: narratives of steep verbal topography, narratives in which the sentence is a complete, portable solitude, a minute immediacy of consummated language—the sort of sentence that, even when liberated from its receiving context, impresses itself upon the eye and the ear as a totality, an omnitude, unto itself. I once later tried to define this kind of sentence as “an outcry combining the acoustical elegance of the aphorism with the force and utility of the load-bearing, tractional sentence of more or less conventional narrative.” The writers of such sentences became the writers I read and reread. I favored books that you could open to any page and find in every paragraph sentences that had been worked and reworked until their forms and contours and their organizations of sound had about them an air of having been foreordained—as if this combination of words could not be improved upon and had finished readying itself for infinity.

‘And as I encountered any such sentence, the question I would ask myself in marvelment was: how did this thing come to be what it now is? This was when I started gazing into sentence after sentence and began to discover that there was nothing arbitrary or unwitting or fluky about the shape any sentence had taken and the sound it was releasing into the world.’ — Gary Lutz

 

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Further

Gary Lutz @ Wikipedia
‘Eminence’, by Gary Lutz
‘For Food’, by Gary Lutz
‘Contractions’, by Gary Lutz
‘Devotions’, by Gary Lutz
‘Esprit de l’Elevator’, by Gary Lutz
‘Street Map of the Continent’, by Gary Lutz
‘SMTWTFS
‘, by Gary Lutz

‘THIS IS NOT A BILL’, by Gary Lutz
‘Fatal Agreement’
Blake Butler interviews Gary Lutz @ VICE
‘Gary Lutz by Derek White’
‘THIS IS NICE OF YOU. Introduction by Ben Segal’
‘newly fraught and alien’
‘KEVIN SAMPSELL IN CONVERSATION WITH GARY LUTZ’
‘YOU HAVE ARMS TO BAR YOURSELF FROM PEOPLE: GARY LUTZ AND I LOOKED ALIVE’
‘Wrapping My Head Around Gary Lutz’
‘American prose aspiring to be poetry’
Gary Lutz on ‘Divorcer’
Buy ‘The Gotham Grammarian’

 

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Extras


Gary Lutz reading @ The Renaissance Society


Gary Lutz reading excerpt from “Pulls”


60 Writers/60 Places: Gary Lutz Trailer


Pt 1 of Gary Lutz’s reading of “People Shouldn’t Be the Ones to Have to Tell You”


Pt 2 of Gary Lutz’s reading of “People Shouldn’t Be the Ones to Have to Tell You”


Pt 1 of the Q&A; with Gary Lutz at TCNJ


Pt 1 of the Q&A; with Gary Lutz at TCNJ

Notes

‘We went to Brooklyn for a reading .. Gary Lutz, John Haskell & some others at Unnameable books. … We met Gary Lutz after at some Mexican place full of day of the dead kitsch. It seems every time we meet Gary we eat Mexican food in tacky dives .. & he gets tortilla soup. For the most part, we hate readings. But it’s always a pleasure to hear Lutz read. And Haskell is an engaging reader as well. After Lutz read, we stole the pages he used to read from (don’t worry Gary, we’ll return them!). Here’s one page [below] to give you the idea. The text becomes a sort of script for the performance .. with certain words & phrases marked as cues, reminders. And with Lutz we’re not just getting a straight-up reading of the story, but an ever-morphing medley of sorts .. even though he was reading “The Driving Dress,” the binder-clipped on paragraph is from the story “Middleton” (both pieces of which appear in Divorcer). As he was reading the spliced part, we sort of realized something was funny because «(I preferred brochures of things over the things brochured.)» is one of our favorite lines .. that we remember being in another story.’ — 5cense.com

 

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Interview
by Justin Taylor

 

I’m curious about Gordon Lish, who seems to be a figure of great controversy. I’ve met people who hate him with a truly rare vitriol, but I’m never quite sure why, and then of course there are those who love him. I know that you place yourself in this camp. What does he do that inspires such sharp differences of opinion and flares of emotion?

Gary Lutz: He was a magisterial presence in the classroom. At the core of his teaching was the necessity of achieving an intimacy between words that involves something more than simply a cohabitation based on obeying the laws of syntax and grammar and semantics and a kind of prose prosody. He was the most exacting teacher I have ever encountered, and also the most generous. Some of the students who enrolled in his classes were probably not prepared for the syllable-by-syllable scrutiny of their sentences that Gordon’s teaching entailed. They might have been seeking little more than validation of their talent. But Gordon was never easily pleased. So some went away in bitterness and a few, I guess, in fury.

How did you first find out about him?

GL: When I was nosing about in bookstores in the mid-eighties, I was eventually struck by certain slim books of prose fiction in which the sentences all but protruded from the page and poked out at me. There was Barry Hannah’s Ray, for instance, and also his Captain Maximus, written in a kind of brawling, roughhouse aphoristicity, and there was the lovely neurotic one-liner-ish lyricism of Amy Hempel’s Reasons to Live. The sentences in those books had a discernible topography, an unignorable spectacularity of contour and relief that was entirely unlike the depthlessness or bodilessness of the sentences I was seeing almost everywhere else. I eventually came to learn that all of the books I had been admiring had been edited by Gordon Lish. When I found out who he was, and where he was (ensconced at Knopf, in New York City, but venturing, come summertime, in a freelance professorial capacity to the Midwest and elsewhere), I jumped at the chance to study under him. I took his class for five straight summers in Bloomington, Indiana, and then once in Chicago.

Where were you coming to him from? Actually, this is a good opportunity to ask for the Abbreviated Autobiography of Lutz — other than knowing that you’re from Pennsylvania, and that you still in Pennsylvania, I don’t know really anything about you. Moved a lot? Summer camp? Cartoon featured on cake at 10th birthday? Undergrad? Grad? Origins of lifelong love affair with literature?

GL: I was not a reader as a kid. I usually had my nose stuck in a book, but I wasn’t actually reading. My behavior with books consisted of just staring into the things. I know I eventually turned the page and confronted another sheetful of arranged and settled and stilled language, but I wasn’t absorbing the sense. In eighth grade, there was a mandatory vision test in the office of the school nurse. She shrieked at me that I should have been wearing glasses for years. I’d had no idea. I must have simply assumed that the world was a blurry place. It had never occurred to me that what I was seeing wasn’t the way things actually looked. What I saw when I got my first glasses was different but not necessarily an improvement. I wasn’t sold on the virtue of ordinary clarity. Other than that, I don’t have the makings of an autobiography. I might have been in a Saturday-morning bowling league at some point. I think I got ousted for not showing up to throw the ball. I drummed rather primly in public-school marching units and orchestras, and intemperately in a chummy garage band. It was my parents’ garage. This was toward the end of the age of reel-to-reel tape recorders. We were working on a song cycle called Crap. The summer before I went off to college, I bought an issue of Harper’s magazine. I tried to read it, but too many of the words were unfamiliar to me. So I bought Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and read that instead. Words in isolation, not batched together to form thoughts, began to appeal to me. That is when I began develop a sense of the physicality, the materiality, the dimensionality, the inorganicity of words — words as things, as matter. The objecthood of words impressed itself upon me. But I felt like a latecomer to language.

I assume this feeling has abated since then. Your stories are linguistic marvels, almost word sculptures, but also case-studies in proper usage, a point frequently missed, or ignored, by your critics. I went and looked at the original Publishers Weekly assault on Stories in the Worst Way, and the most striking thing about it is not that they didn’t like it, but that they called it unoriginal. That’s beyond a taste-call; it’s simply incorrect.

GL: Stories in the Worst Way definitely took a beating, but if I had been assigned to review it, I probably would’ve panned it myself. It’s not the kind of book that’s asking for any wide welcome.

What then, if anything, is the book asking for?

GL: Probably nothing. Maybe “ask” isn’t the word. Maybe the book motions vaguely and uningratiatingly toward a certain kind of reader, someone who finds the world amply underintelligible but can’t put much trust, or find much satisfaction, in the explanations and affirmations of the undepressed.

Reading that review, it felt to me like Stories got caught up in the knee-jerk anti-Pomo backlash that was going on, which is funny because I’m not sure that your work falls in line with the trends of that era.

GL: I’ve never seen myself as part of any school or pack or coterie, or any trend, any movement or drift. I’ve never made an effort to understand postmodernism. I remember that in an interview somewhere, Barry Hannah remarked that postmodernism was too much like homework. What interests me is instigated language, language dishabituated from its ordinary doings, language startled by itself. I don’t know where that sort of interest locates me, or leaves me, but a lot of the books I see in the stores seem to lack language entirely.

I’ve read explanations you’ve given elsewhere about how the individual sentences are constructed, and I think your notion of characters “less as figures in case histories than as upcroppings of language, as syntactic commotions coming suddenly to a head” is an intriguing one, but there are recurring concerns in the writing that I’d like you to talk about. I’m thinking especially about gender and sexuality. It’s interesting to me that you’ve never really been identified as a queer writer, since your characters tend to be bisexual, anti-monogamists. If they weren’t so neurotic I’d be tempted to call them sexual revolutionaries.

GL: It would pain me to be labelled a queer writer, because the classification would be missing the point. The people in my stories suffer attraction to other people, and each person is a novel, consuming totality of life and limb, eclipsing whoever it was that came before. To these people, differentiations of gender, of orientation, don’t even register. They’re just looking for somebody to ride out some sadness on, at least for a while.

But there’s something inherently radical in that lack of discrimination, both in the characters who are riding out their sadnesses sans regard for differentiations, and in the writer who writes them that way. People love — perhaps prefer — to talk about the way you construct sentences, but I’m at least as interested in why you choose to tell these stories as I am in how you go about telling them. This non-registration of differentiations is a fundament of your work, it seems to me, and I’m curious if this is a personal/philosophical decision or an aesthetic one.

GL: My characters seem to have involuntarily disimagined the differences between the sexes or between the standard categories of affection, but they cut me in on their hearts only so far before sinking back into the sentences and typography they spirited forward from. They rarely point to anything definite in my life or manage any likeness to people whose passages in life I might have been a party to.

Do you think the degree to which they cut you in has changed? I Looked Alive seems like a denser, more involved book to me than Stories. The pieces seem longer, and more narrative-driven.

GL: I’m not sure why my stories have gotten longer. Maybe it’s because I write only one at a time now, so they’re grabbier, and they swell out more.

I know you do other stuff besides write, too. I read somewhere that you teach.

GL: I teach classes in business writing and compositon at an outlying branch of a huge institution.

David Gates edited this anthology of stories about peoples’ jobs, called Labor Days, and in his introduction he talks quite a bit about the problem of writing “the job,” even though it is where most people spend most of their time. A lot of your work is set in offices, which are figured as terribly abstract spaces, marked by even more terrible moments of specificity that happen within their walls. How do you manage the balance, if it even is balance?

GL: There’s no balance, no poise or proportion. I had my job before I started writing my stories. I can’t speak for myself, but a job does things to a person, deducts a person pretty brutally from life. Desks are terrible places, no matter how many wheels a chair might have. You can’t do much about how drawers fill up.

I noticed that both times I saw you give readings you read stories divided into numbered sections… maybe I’m shooting in the dark here, but it felt like it might indicate more than mere coincidence.

GL: At readings, I’ve taken to numerating the segments of a story so a listener has some sense of where lines had to be drawn on the page, but the numbers aren’t part of what the reader encounters.

What are you working on now and what, if anything, might there be for readers to look forward to in the nearish future?

GL: I’m trying to write a third book of stories.

I remember you mentioning in the Believer interview about consciously avoiding brand-names and other markers of culture and era. I think a writer’s desire to be unfettered by the stuff of his day makes sense to me in an instinctual way, but I’d like to just hear your take on it.

GL: I would hate to know exactly where and when my stories are set, in what suburbial latitudes those dark days keep coming. My characters seem bent on piecing themselves out of any big picture, and I have to honor their wish. I don’t know which is finally sicker — specifics or
engulfing abstractions.

I’m not sure that can be answered, but one effect the abstractions have on me, as your interviewer, is they make me want to hound you for concrete detail. I want minutiae. I want you to name names. What are the albums you’d take to the desert island if they sent you? The books and films? What are your brand allegiances when buying cereal, personal computers, and shirts? Did you ever go to a Grateful Dead show? What kind of car do you drive?

GL: My desert-island playlist would be all songs, not albums, and would have to start with “A Sister’s Social Agony” (Camera Obscura [the one from Scotland]), “New Haven Comet” (Luna), “Over Time” (Lucinda Williams), “Nothing Came Out” (the Moldy Peaches), “So Stark (Like a Skyscraper)” and “Here” (Pavement), “Hello Halo” (Parker and Lily), “Name Etched in Home-Room Chair” (Alsace Lorraine), “An Ocean Apart” (Julie Delpy), “Past, Present, and Future” (the Shangri-Las), “Haligh, Haligh, a Lie, Haligh” (Bright Eyes), “Tears Are in Your Eyes” (Yo La Tengo), “It’s Getting Late” (Galaxie 500), “These Days” (Nico), “By the Cathedral” (Keren Ann), “Marion Barfs” (from the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack), “You You You You You” (the 6ths), “Lie in the Sound” (Trespassers William), “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Thank God” (the Softies), “I Wanna Die” (Adam Green), “Bobby, King of Boys Town” (Cass McCombs), “I Was Born” (the Magnetic Fields), “Is It Wicked Not to Care?” (Belle and Sebastian), “I Have Forgiven Jesus” (Morrissey [Live at Earls Court version]), and “I Know It’s Over” (the Smiths [Rank version]). Books? Were I deprived of the contemporaries I admire, I would ask first for Salinger (especially Seymour: An Introduction), F. Scott Fitzgerald’s three adult novels, and all of E. M. Cioran. A few months ago, I was watching lots of movies over and over, and they were mostly Eric Rohmer movies, especially The Aviator’s Wife, Summer, A Summer’s Tale, and A Tale of Winter. I haven’t eaten cereal in a couple of decades, and when I did eat it, I ate it dry and unbowled — Alpha-Bits was one I favored. All of my computers except my current one, a Gateway laptop, were hand-me-downs. (I wrote my first book on an Amstrad word processor, a British contraption, something Sears once sold.) My haberdashery comes largely from the “50% Off” and “75% Off” racks at Target. I saw the Grateful Dead only once, at a grassy amphitheater outside Pittsburgh, in June of 1991 or 1992. They stank that night, and somebody smashed my windshield, but I was a fan. I drive a 1993 Saturn, but only because my previous car suddenly caught fire (people were honking horns, rolling down windows, shouting, “Hey, buddy!”), and when I managed to make it to the closest garage, the guy said, “This car is shot,” so I walked from there to a used-car lot — it wasn’t very far — and committed myself rapidly to a sedan. I remember the salesman saying, “I owe you an apology.”

I’m also curious about your abiding interest in the human arm.

GL: As far as arms go, I think they’re the one part of the body that tends to get short shrift in fiction, even though they’re the place where the trouble between people usually gets it start.

 

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Book

Gary Lutz The Gotham Grammarian
Calamari Press

 

‘The most brilliant writers occasionally stumble with grammar and punctuation, and the rest of us can learn from their missteps. The Gotham Grammarian is a book of rules and guidelines for anyone who believes that correctness and precision still matter. The book discusses the ninety-five errors that most often go undetected by stellar writers, as well as by editors, copy editors, and proofreaders.’ — Calamari Press

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Excerpt
from Sleeping Fish












 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Bernard, Hey! Well, how cool were you? Are you still still London even now? I care about theater, I just don’t like a lot of it. Everyone in London, The brainy, taste-stuffed writer and more Bernard Welt says … ‘the Bridge production of Midsummer Night’s Dream is mind blowing, for any of your London pals who might see this and be wondering. Lots of low comedy, lots of very smart riffing on the ritual roots of the play. Very homo, too. It can be seen in cinemas, as we say here, in October on National Theatre Live.’ I was going to say you must’ve met or seen Martin Bladh since he practically runs the Freud Museum, but, huh, no. I idolise Godard, and I’m okay. Lovely going on, B. I miss our face-to-faces (spellcheck corrected faces to feces, huh) too. But you’ll be back. You’ve got the addiction. There must be those t-shirts already now that you mention it. No French person would ever stoop to wear one, but I’d be amazed if they’re not front and center on the Louvre merchant guys’ blankets. Yes, Thomas M. is wonderful as foretold, right? Glad you guys smushed together. ** Shane Christmass, Hi. I would need to try Caravan and Camel again because I wasn’t into them back in the day. Yes, I have and love that Kevin Ayers album. His best, I think. Wyatt’s ‘The End of an Ear’ is stellar! All the early Wyatt is. I think ‘Rock Bottom’ is a masterpiece, for instance. Thanks, man. ** David Ehrenstein, I did know Wong Kar-Wai likes Zappa. I think there might be some Zappa in one of his films if I’m not mistaken. ** _Black_Acrylic, I was so lucky to pop in here early yesterday, see your announcement of the Deller film on youtube, then watch it and share the booty on Facebook. Really terrific film! And really unexpected too. Thanks a lot, Ben. Yes, the Magical Power Mako guy ended up going all over the place sonically. I guess he’s a massively respected cult figure in Japan, and elsewhere I’m sure. I’m going to investigate his stuff’s whole body. ** Tosh Berman, As a frontier, Prog is a pretty unstable and treacherous place, if you ask me. But fun to visit. Big up and much agreement with you about Godard (and Scott Walker). ** Nick Toti, Hi, Nick! How timely and so interesting. I don’t think I know of Sigmund Snopek III at all. I’ll follow your link and then diverge into whatever there is of him out there. Thanks! Very excited about about that film. Where are you in that film, progress-wise? Are you shooting stuff? Great! ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Like I mentioned to Ben, the Mako behind that band is very revered in Japan and has done work in many styles over the years. Well, practically speaking, I don’t see any progress potentially being made on that unless, at the very least, the Dems can take the Senate and the Presidency, and even then, who knows? ** h, Hi! Oh, my goodness, it wasn’t silly at all. It was gorgeous, and it was very popular. The traffic went sky-high that day. Thanks about MUBI. Yeah, we’re very happy about that, obviously. I will telegraph my next trip to NYC. Nothing in the works, but there surely will be. Take care. ** Misanthrope, I’m a worrier too. Even when it’s illogical sometimes. Total waste of energies. Deep shit. 25 chapters! How big is that motherfucking novel? I don’t think I’ve ever had more than maybe 7 chapters in any of mine. Lordy. Go for it, duh. ** Jeff J, Hi. There is some quite good stuff in there, here and there. Whole albums? Well, Family is one of my all-time favorite bands. I think they’re amazing. And Roger Chapman is an insanely unique and incredible singer. People either adore his voice or can’t stand it, understandably. My favorite Family album is ‘Fearless’ with ‘Anyway’ running second. Otherwise, one either likes Henry Cow or not. If one does, their first two albums are terrific throughout. And the Soft Machine albums when Robert Wyatt was in the band. Todd Rundren’s ‘A Wizard, a True Star’ and ‘Todd’ albums are great, but his actual prog band/period under the name Utopia is very dated and not good. Van der Graff Generator’s first few albums are excellent if you like them. Etc. Yes, of course I would love to have a post about the IC-B book, definitely. Send me what you have or want, and that’ll happen when you tell me the time is right. Have a great gig tonight! ** Bill, Hi. Good about the gig and talk. An improvising quintet does sound very tricky to negotiate. Huh. Right, gotcha, I kind of figured on the protests there. The gilets jaunes weekly protests restart again on the first Saturday of September, and they could become more massive and violent this time. Getting that feeling. ** Right. I’m devoting the blog today to one of the great American geniuses of the English language sentence, and, specifically, to his book about sentences and writing. It/he are incredible. Give them some time please. Thank you. See you tomorrow.

6 Comments

  1. Lutz is quite interesting

    There are Zappa cuts in both “In the Mood For Love” and “Happy Together”

    Today is Andy’s Birthday Hope this still works

  2. Gary Lutz! I really wasn’t sure about Gotham Grammarian at first, though the bookstore staff who sold me my copy was cute, and I felt I had to grit my teeth and try to make progress in solidarity. Pretty quickly I really got sucked into it. Now it’s one of Lutz’s books that I think about the most. When I come across writing that I have trouble with, I itch to send the author a copy of Gotham Grammarian.

    Those notes for the Brooklyn reading are nuts. Wow. When is Lutz going to put out a new book?

    Things have calmed down somewhat around here. We’ll see how long this lasts.

    Bill

  3. Hi Dennis. The Snopek movie is being worked on in phases, and we’re basically done with the first phase. Phase One entailed numerous trips to Milwaukee over the course of the past year to record Sigmund in his natural habitat–playing polkas in beer halls, marching in local parades with his alpine horn, and generally just experiencing his world. He also writes classical music, and if he can get a performance of some of his classical work together I’ll take one more trip up to record that. Otherwise that part of filming is finished. Now we’ve moved onto interviewing people, which has been interesting given the breadth of his career. I got to interview Brian Ritchie from the Violent Femmes and Xeno (the original singer from Cheap Trick), but then also just random Milwaukee people. I expect it’ll still take another couple years to finish the movie. I won’t give too much away, but the finished project is also going to have a science fiction element that will make sense in the movie but is hard to explain on its own. It’s a massive project, and we’re doing it with no money and only the most limited resources. The crew is just me and one other guy (a college professor with little to no filmmaking experience but a wealth of knowledge about Snopek and Milwaukee in general), and it’s really been a lot of fun to work on so far. Hopefully the finished product isn’t a shit sandwich!

    Thanks for asking. I haven’t been telling people much about this project since there’s still a long way to go with it, so it’s fun getting an excuse to talk about it. I hope you’re doing well!

  4. This actually looks like a really useful book. Grammar and punctuation are always worth keeping on top of, and a decent guide will be a definite booster to the writing confidence.

    I thought the Jeremy Deller doc was so brilliant. I’ve watched it twice and it should really be on the UK school syllabus, if only there were a functioning government to arrange it. Maybe an Independent Scotland could show that and the recent Beats film in politics class?

  5. Family are excellent. I included a TV clip of them performing in the psychedelic video program I presented at Anthology last year. What happened to Rundgren after TODD? THE HERMIT OF MINK HOLLOW is the only album after that point that has the same spirit (although TODD itself often gets overlooked.)

    Here’s my interview with Rodney Evans about his new documentary VISION PORTRAITS: https://filmmakermagazine.com/107942-rodney-evans-on-documenting-his-own-and-others-blindness-in-vision-portraits/

    LUCE, which I saw last night, represents the bottoming out of Trump-era “woke” cinema and an abandonment of subtlety in favor of a script where the majority of the dialogue consists of characters just flatly saying things like African-American men have to perfect to be considered any good. It lays out a series of Important Themes, like the perception of young black men, immigrants’ assimilation, rape and mental illness and acts as though throwing them in front of the audience with little substance and a self-congratulatory “ambiguity” is doing something politically and artistically daring.

    The New York Film Festival schedule came out today. Have you seen it? I was disappointed they rejected my friend Dan Sallitt’s FOURTEEN, but I’m looking forward to ATLANTICS, BACURAU, I WAS AT HOME BUT…, LIBERTE, PARASITE, the new Pedro Costa, and Agnes Varda’s final film.

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