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So much good stuff, I don’t know where to begin . . .

I’ve found, or been sent, so many good links and other tidbits of interest to writers, I hardly know where to start.

Let’s begin with an interview with Ron Rash, the keynote speaker at the 2008 Fall Conference and author of the new novel Serena, from today’s Shelf Awareness:

Book Brahmins: Ron Rash

Ron Rash is the author of three novels, One Foot in Eden, Saints at the River and The World Made Straight, three collections of poems and two collections of stories. His latest novel, Serena, was published yesterday by Ecco. A recipient of the O. Henry Prize, he holds the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University.

On your nightstand now:

The Serpent and the Rainbow by Brad Davis; Breath by Tim Hinton; Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Call of the Wild
by Jack London.

Your top five authors:

Shakespeare, Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, Hardy, McCarthy.

Book you’ve faked reading:

My high school Chemistry I textbook. The fact that I got a D- for the year shows my teacher wasn’t fooled.

Book you’re an evangelist for:

With by Donald Harington. Harington is America’s Chaucer, and his lack of recognition and critical acclaim befuddles me.

Book you’ve bought for the cover:

The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw
by Bruce Barcott. The cover is a gorgeous painting of the bird, and the fact that the book is about the scarlet macaw’s probable extinction makes the cover even more haunting.

Book that changed your life:

Crime and Punishment. I read it in my mid-teens and was in a daze for a week. I didn’t know a book could have that kind of effect on a person. That novel made me want to be a writer.

Favorite line from a book:

“She would of been a good woman if it had been somebody there to shoot every minute of her life.”–From Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Truer words have never been spoken about humanity.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Huckleberry Finn.

Do you have a photograph or painting hanging above your writing desk:

Yes, it’s a photo of Flannery O’Connor glaring at the camera, and thus at me, as if to say, “You’re not there yet, son.”

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I completely missed the debate last night, even though I had it on my TV, because I’ve been reading an advanced copy of Serena, decided to read a bit before the debate began, and was not able to put it down until I finished it.  I can’t wait to hear Ron speak at Fall Conference.

To make up for my failure of civic virtue, I’ll send along the news from Arts North Carolina that both Pat McCrory and Bev Perdue have posted their position on the arts on their respective websites.  The arts don’t usually get much attention from candidates for public office, so I’m pleased to see that NC’s two leading guberna . . . gubera . . . candidates for governor have some respect for the arts.

Speaking of the arts in NC, last Friday was the birthday of Thomas Wolfe, so Joyce Dixon’s Southern Scribe included this quote from “The Original Thomas Wolfe Website”:

I have listened to writers who had a book published shudder with horror at the very mention of Hollywood — some of them have even asked me if I would even listen to an offer from Hollywood — if I could possibly submit my artistic conscience to the prostitution of allowing anything I’d written to be bought in Hollywood, made into a moving picture by Hollywood. My answer to this has always been an enthusiastic and fervent yes. If Hollywood wants to prostitute me by buying one of my books for the movies, I am not only willing but eager for the seducers to make their first dastardly appeal. In fact, my position in the matter is very much that of the Belgian virgin the night the Germans took the town: “When do the atrocities begin?”

—from “Writing and Living,” by Thomas Wolfe, born October 3, 1900

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Nicki sent me a link to this website for one-sentence stories, as well as this link to our Poet Laureate’s blog.

Finally, for those who haven’t already come across it, Clive James’s funny-because-it’s-true poem of publishing envy, “The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered”:

The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered

by Clive James

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered.
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-praised effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life’s vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book—
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and the banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I rejoice.
It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legion
Beneath the yoke.
What avail him now his awards and prizes,
The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,
His individual new voice?
Knocked into the middle of next week
His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys,
The sinkers, clinkers, dogs and dregs,
The Edsels of the world of movable type,
The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,
The unbudgeable turkeys.

Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapper
Bathes in the glare of the brightly jacketed Hitler’s War Machine,
His unmistakably individual new voice
Shares the same scrapyard with a forlorn skyscraper
Of The Kung-Fu Cookbook,
His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed in by others,
His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretence,
Is there with Pertwee’s Promenades and Pierrots—
One Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment,
And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,
His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,
His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as one
With Barbara Windsor’s Book of Boobs,
A volume graced by the descriptive rubric
‘My boobs will give everyone hours of fun’.

Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,
Though not to the monumental extent
In which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted out
To the book of my enemy,
Since in the case of my own book it will be due
To a miscalculated print run, a marketing error—
Nothing to do with merit.
But just supposing that such an event should hold
Some slight element of sadness, it will be offset
By the memory of this sweet moment.
Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.

“The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered” by Clive James from Opal Sunset: Selected Poems, 1958–2008. © W.W. Norton & Company, 2008. Reprinted with permission.

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