Christian Zabriskie responds to my recent Alasdair Gray post, observing that Gray “is a graphic artist as well as a writer,” and that his graphic art “influences his works and is included in many of them.” Christian passes along links to several of visual efforts.
Josh Abraham writes to say it’s patently obvious why contemporary authors don’t describe people’s faces in their writing (yesterday I mentioned that this is the subject of a Believer article by Charlex Baxter). Says Abraham:
The reason* writers no longer describe characters’ faces is because every author hopes their novel will get picked up for a movie, and you don’t want to describe your heroine as a “cherub-faced blonde with a scrunchy smile and twinkly, hypnotized eyes” that only Reese Witherspoon/Kate Hudson/Drew Barrymore could play when, maybe, Parker Posey or Sophia Loren might be interested. This is one of the rules of screenplay writing.
* Pure conjecture.
I think that’s bosh, what Laura Miller says. I think about the nameless narrator of Lorrie Moore’s “People Like That Are The Only People Here” all the time. She practically haunts me. And I think about Lydia Davis’s nameless narrators all the time, too.
Shauna McKenna has a similar perspective, saying that Miller’s article consists of:
pretty flimsy condemnations of contemporary short stories. So short stories are supposed to “compete” with TV and film? Really? Why? Some novels are too rich, too taxing, for me to read on the bus. Am I to dismiss William Vollman and Angela Carter as too stuffy and tedious, simply because they require a level of concentration I can’t really spare at the moment? In essence, this is the old dumb it down argument, and I don’t find it more palatable coming from Miller than Jonathan Franzen.
I think short story character names are less sticky to the memory simply because you spend less time reading a short story than a novel. You’re less likely to remember the name of that brilliant storyteller you met through a friend of a friend at some bar and hung out with for two vivid hours than your amiable, pot-smoking cousin.
I don’t necessarily disagree with the catalog of symptoms — NYer stories are boring — it’s just the diagnosis that’s pretty annoying…. I find plenty of genuinely interesting short fiction online every single day. I don’t have any expectation that it’s massively marketable, and I don’t know why Laura Miller thinks it should be. No one suggests that gee, Andy Warhol could’ve been a real big star if only he’d made his pictures “prettier.”
In response to my earlier post about authors’ book tours, Thomas Hopkins notes that Amanda Stern’s current tour has hit a snag after a car accident in North Dakota. Everyone is fine, evidently, and tour reports will resume on Thursday.
Kristian Gravenor thought everyone “might get a kick out of Jan Morris’ article insinuating that [Dylan] Thomas predicted 9-11″ (at the end).