Do Gummi Bears Dream of Rubber Passion Fruit?
This is a blog for my friends and fans alike. Tho, really, what's the difference? I'm only kidding. I love my fans. This blog is to stay in contact. This blog will be full of disorganized things like my thoughts, poetry, my new life in Chicago, and the like. The only organized thing talked about on this blog will be BASEBALL.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013
BUG HOUSE for Sale or Trade!
Despite the mostly overwhelming silence since the release of my book, BUG HOUSE, you can still depend on this glowing review to sway yr decision in the direction of picking up a copy. If you'd like to, you can buy one directly from me as I've got some copies on hand. Shoot me an email (loganryansmith AT gmail DOT com). I'm up for trades, as well.
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Ramblings About Reading and Writing and So On That Doesn't Really Go Anywhere Which is Why They're Ramblings
For the past few years I've probably read 10 times as much fiction as I read my entire 20s. My 20s were spent obsessed with poetry and, as tends to be the case for me, I had tunnel vision and found it hard to give too much attention to anything else. So, in my 20s, I read very little fiction or prose of any sort that wasn't a news article. But, after all that time, I realized I was missing something from my reading experiences. Poetry offered something I needed, but I was definitely needing whatever it offered less and less. Or, rather, after 10-plus years of reading poetry, it finally donned on me that much of it isn't worth my time. Some, of course, will stick with me forever, but most of it just slips into the ether and is gone forever, completely erased from memory. If I had to name the hundreds of books I read over that time, my guess would be I'd recall less than 5% of them. That could be said for most anything, but I've never been very bright and it took me a long time to figure out I need a more well-rounded reading list.
So, a few years ago when I was stuck on the couch for a couple months during a long and arduous breakup with a live-in girlfriend, I picked up Bret Easton Ellis's LESS THAN ZERO. It's a slim book, but after reading poetry for such a long time, it sure seemed like there were a lot of words. I probably read it in about four weeks. But, in that book, I found something I was missing from my reading. It's hard for me to put my finger on it, but to simplify it, I'm sure what I was longing for was a return to story. My own writing was leading that way, as well, when I wrote BUG HOUSE, which is poetry, but contains an up-front, mostly linear narrative. My ex-girlfriend's tiny library contained a few other B.E.E. books, and I quickly read those, even devouring his 600 page GLAMORAMA, which, for me, was quite a feat. To stick with a book filled with a couple hundred thousand words in my 20s would have been impossible. At that time, I think poetry probably appealed to me because your mind could devote hours to it, but the actual reading of it could be done during a five-minute wait at the bus stop.
In any case, that time spent living on the couch re-ignited my love for fiction, and I was once again reading book after book, sticking to what would mostly be called "literature"--books that could be considered, for lack of a better word, "serious". But when I was a teenager, one month I might be reading Milton's PARADISE LOST trilogy and the next I'd dive into a couple Dean Koontz or Poppy Z. Brite novels. And then I would read a Shakespeare play and follow that up with one of the Wizard of Oz books or a novel from the grocery store from the likes of John Saul.
Which brings me to my main point, which is to say my reading has once again taken a somewhat tunnel-visioned path, reading novels and short stories almost exclusively. That is, over the past six months, at least. And that partly has to do with the fact that I've started writing novels over that time and feel the need to stay immersed in them in order to pull a few out of my ass and have them at least remotely resemble the form of a novel.
Actually, that's not my main point--my main point, I think was to talk about this idea of "serious" work versus genre work. I've had my head buried in genre work for the past few months, reading a couple sci-fi and fantasy mags along with mostly sci-fi novels and short fiction. After spending my 20s and at least the first few years of my 30s reading only poetry, I definitely had heard the argument again and again for "serious" literature and against anything that didn't, I guess, consider itself part of the language arts. So, much to my surprise, I quickly discovered the writing in these genre books were generally quite good and sometimes extraordinary. Further more, the stories, almost always, contained a message or meaning of some sort. I think, over time, I'd been convinced that genre work was the work of hacks and those that only want to feed the masses easily digestible dribble--stuff that will fill the hour but not occupy the mind. And while there's plenty of that out there, there's also the same problem with supposed serious literature. When I pick up a lit mag and take a look at the poetry and fiction, I often couldn't tell one from the other, or one writer from the other. There's a certain sameness to this seriousness, and I think it's definitely flooded the "market". That, actually, may be a big reason why I returned to fiction, but was then surprised to find just a much stale work lacking in any kind of kinetic energy or unique voice. And for all their seriousness, after reading it, it also faded away into nothingness and I may as well have never sat down with it.
Those voices are out there, of course, across all kinds of writing, but finding them is tough. Those voices that occupy the mind. My question, then, is why does genre work get ghettoized when it only suffers the same thing that all writing does--that most of it is bad. What I'm thinking about is this: if I write a fantasy novel (which I'm doing), there's a good chance it'll be written off before being read. But, if I say I'm writing a semi-autobiographical but fictionalized novel about my life spent experimenting with drugs, committing violent crimes, and spending time in and out of jail--and especially if I throw some family drama in there--then there's going to be something attached to it, a respectability, so to speak, before I even write the thing. Thing is, I could tell that story in fantasy or science fiction, and make it all the more poignant and interesting, but that might mean it'll never be considered worthwhile.
This thought crossed my mind when I picked up Steven King's THE STAND yesterday and then read (online) that King, himself, suffers from an inferiority complex. I guess he wants to be considered a serious writer, and he is not being allowed that status. This is a struggle I remember hearing that PK Dick suffered from, as well. Of course, when someone writes more than 60 books (King, that is), it's hard to believe you didn't water down your own voice and, just like the sameness that floods the lit mags and bookshelves, make it hard for people to find and hold onto that which was done with both a uniqueness of voice and solid prose. But THE STAND is supposedly his fans' favorite book. And, while I'm only 100 pages into it, I'm impressed by the character development, the detail, and the mostly decent prose. And it's hard to put down. It's FUN.
That brings up something else--fun is rarely used to describe serious literature. It is used when describing genre stuff. Why is that? What's wrong with fun? I don't know, I like having fun. I think there's too much seriousness in the world, as it is, and I have only this one life with no do-overs--WHY SO SERIOUS? However, what I'm saying is that there's something there in this genre stuff to be held onto just as tightly as any meaningful, poignant, "serious" tale that exposes something rarely thought of about this real life we're all forced to live.
Is it that genre puts that meaning a little too much to the front? I've been watching a lot of THE TWILIGHT ZONE lately and Rod Serling is my current hero. In the 60s he fought against TV censorship and its inevitable demise by sort of masking meanings and messages in science fiction. However, he also told you those meanings with his intros and outros. He confronted a plethora of issues, from racism to sexism, xenophobia, the contradictions and horrors of war, the dehuminization of the modern world and especially the modern work world, and so on.
In trying to imagine someone doing that now with current problems--say, terrorism, war, failed capitalism, torture, the erasure of the middle class, etc.--I really feel like it would fail straight off. And that's because I don't think you can make direct points anymore, the way THE TWILIGHT ZONE did. And why is that? I think it has to do with a certain cynicism. That cynicism is put on hold with a show from the 60s because somewhere inside of us our inner-editor says "That was a different time," and accepts it for what it is--also because it's fucking BRILLIANT. I think if someone were to do that show now, people would be angry. Is that because we don't want issues confronted so directly in our entertainment? Or is it because we know it's there and don't want to deal with it? But, seriously, why can't a writer tell a tale that is expository to a point? I also feel the cynicism might be something like, "Why are you telling me something I already know?" But that's another extension of a mind fighting against having to think about something. Or is it?
I don't know where I'm going with this. I'm going to stop now. No one is reading this, anyway, and I'm just thinking in type. How I ever organize any thoughts, I don't know. Actually, maybe I don't.
I'll just leave this here for now and try to figure out what the fuck the point is I'm trying to make.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
It's Old, It's Love, It's Broken
HAPPY ZOMBIE JESUS DAY, PEOPLE! Hola, and como esta? Bien? Asi asi? Who cares! He is RISEN! Isn't it swell? Anyway, the Grand Poobah, Ryan Walters, allowed me to once again guest DJ a playlist for his podcast/ website Some Kind of Jam. I must say, it's a pretty fucking rad mix and I appreciate Mr. Walter's letting me subject his listeners to my taste in music. It has a song from FUTURISK, a relatively unknown post-punk-electro band from 1982 starting it off followed by my favorite track of Bosley's--this young R&B dude out of Baltimore. There's also a b-side from The Faint that may be their best song ever, and an oldie but a goodie from The Replacements. Additionally, there's an actual oldie from LaVern Baker, a Chicago gal, singing about how much ladies love morning sex. As for the title, IT'S OLD, IT'S LOVE, IT'S BROKEN--it starts with a meteorite and ends with everything broken, and has a whole lotta love in the middle. Just like life! Eat it up, yo.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
THE NEXT BIG THING SELF-INTERVIEW
This meme has been going around for some time, and the illustrious personages of John Sakkis and Andy Peterson have both tagged me as invitation to contribute my own self-interview based of this set of questions.
1. What is the title of your book (or story)?
A PATH IN THE WOODS
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was reading J.G. Ballard's CRYSTAL WORLD, which took place in and around a forest that was crystallizing and somehow trapping both time and light as well as anyone that stayed in it too long. In that book, as in most of his books, he took a seemingly small idea and was able to inflate it into a whole novel of weirdness and intrigue. Not having written a novel before, it inspired me to just go for it and let my own imagination run wild, no matter how elaborate or simple the initial idea. And, basically, the initial idea was that I just wanted to have a neat story take place in a creepy forest (and it became something far more complicated all on its own from there).
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Fiction, first and foremost. However, genre is a problem for me as I don't feel it falls directly under one, exactly. For now, I'll say it's dark fantasy/ horror/ psychological thriller.
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Shit if I know. How about I get to play the lead and either Jessica Chastain, Deborah Ann Woll, or Karen Gillan play the main female role.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Ambiguously crazy man goes into a wicked forest and crazy super fucked up shit happens.
6. Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?
It's not yet published. I just finished it and it's still awaiting some fine-tuning. I'm hoping to have it published by a classy but small genre publisher that knows the difference between good and bad prose. If you know of any, I'm all ears.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Nine and a half weeks.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
While Crystal World, by JG Ballard, was the inspiration, I cannot think of any comparable stories to my own.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This was answered in #2. But ever since I read LESS THAN ZERO, by Bret Easton Ellis, about 2.5 years ago, I knew I wanted to write fiction, primarily novels.
10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There's at least four sex scenes in it, each of varying levels of disturbing.
WHO I TAG TO DO THIS NOW
Steve Orth, Nicholas Buzanski, JG Ballard, Bret Easton Ellis, Cormac McCarthy, and Karen Gillan.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The Wind from Nowhere Probably Should Have Stayed There
I think I should have framed this book and put it on the wall, rather than read it. David Pelham's cover is gorgeous, as are all his covers. But instead, I read it, and the book got a little more beat up than I would have liked, which wasn't hard since it is a copy that's 36 years old. But I digress. This book, unlike the gale force which it revolves around, lost momentum quickly and was just a bit of a drag until the last 30 pages or so. Basically, this book is about a wind that gains 5MPH in speed each day on and on and on and on, which of course forces mankind underground as the wind destroys cities and sends tons upon tons of topsoil into the air as a whipping black curtain. It does what I find inspiring about Ballard, tho, in that it takes a tiny tiny TINY germ of an idea and expands it into a whole novel, and Ballard has a knack for that, for sure. However, this idea about a "wind from nowhere" just falls flat and takes quite a long time to come to a conclusion, even if it is only 190 pages. However, I was THIS close to giving it three stars instead of two out of five, but then the immensely abrupt and somewhat anticlimactic ending made me think otherwise. Additionally, the sexist view of women in this, such as telling the female journalist her good looks will keep her alive, is off-putting. As well, after reading five Ballard books now, I'm beginning to wary of his methods of description. Too often I find myself unable to picture the scene in which his characters are acting. I'll have one picture of them in a room only to find out that somehow they're suddenly outside--that sort of thing. He also doesn't always choose the right words for what's he's describing. For instance, he'll say something like someone "dove" into the room, when what he really means is that someone walked briskly into it. Anyway, I'm probably going to stop my Ballard marathon now, as CONCRETE ISLAND is the only one of the five I absolutely loved, and this one was fine, but flat.
Thursday, March 07, 2013
Great Lakes Review & Fiction News
Just a quick note to fill space and keep this here blog semi-updated, but I will have a story entitled "Bret Easton Ellis" in the next issue of Great Lakes Review, due out in May, I believe. The journal "publishes fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry from Toronto, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Hamilton and the rest of the Great Lakes region." They also publish work that takes place in/ or is about those regions from authors not necessarily living in them. Anyway, that story belongs to ENJOY ME, my unpublished collection of short stories all based around some fucknut living amidst the horrific horrors of San Francisco hipsters, which sometimes manifest as zombies, other times as over-sized crickets, and other times as their terribly shitty frightening selves. I digress. That story is my favorite from the collection and I'm excited they're publishing it. It'll be my first piece of fiction published since Hobart took a couple stories of mine way back in 2003. In any case, submit work to GLR, click that link above and "like" their page, and order their first issue from Amazon. In other news, the novel I'm writing should be completed in a week or so. So, yeah, if you didn't believe it yet, believe it now: I'M A GENUINE MOFUCKIN' FICTION WRITER NOW. Ba-dow.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Get Sad, Get Sexy
Some Kind of Jam. Give it a listen when yr sad and want to feel sexy, or having sex and want to feel sad.
Monday, February 11, 2013
John Sakkis Responds to Bug House
Yesterday while doing my taxes I received this text from John Sakkis, poet/translator/SPD backbone/friend. There may have been a tear shed upon reading it, but since there's no evidence of it, I'll never actually cop to it. Here's the text:
Friday, January 25, 2013
BUG HOUSE IS OUT AND READY FOR YR BATHROOM TIME READING!
Thursday, January 17, 2013
I WROTE A POEM FOR MY SISTER'S BIRTHDAY I MISSED THREE OR EIGHT YEARS AGO BUT I DON'T REMEMBER IF I EVER GAVE IT TO HER BECAUSE I DON'T REMEMBER WRITING IT
A Poem for My Sister Upon Forgetting Her Birthday
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Monday, December 31, 2012
New Year Resolutions/ Plans
Before my 2013 balls drop, I figured I'd go ahead and make a few resolutions/plans just for shits and giggles.
1) Write two novels or novellas
2) Self-publish ENJOY ME or find someone else to do it for me and enjoy it for me
3) Drink less
4) Then drink a whole lot more to make up for that
6) Play more soccer
7) Get better at playing the guitar
8) Make some songs and record them
9) Give readings in support of BUG HOUSE's 2013 release
10) Stay out of jail
11) Commit and get away with a ton o' crimes
12) Date Alex Morgan
13) Scare fewer people
14) Make at least one friend
15) Make as many enemies as possible
16) Stay afraid of airplanes
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
CHRISTMAS TREE IN THE ATTIC WINDOW ACROSS THE STREET
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
2012 Favorites List
Outside of sports teams, I have a hard time picking a #1 in pretty much anything, so this list is a cop-out, featuring two favorites for each category.
FAVORITE BOOKS READ IN 2012
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
MEMORIES OF THE WAY WE WERE
Sunday, December 02, 2012
PET PEEVES 11—20
11. Cars that can't stand to wait a g-damned 5 seconds for you to get thru the crosswalk. Yr in a car, people. Five seconds is not going to make you late or make a difference. Yr in a CAR, you fucking psychopaths.
12. El trains that suddenly go express and skip my stop.
13. Any writer that's not Tao Lin that sounds anything like Tao Lin.
16. When someone sits next to you on the train and has no sense of boundaries, so their knee touches yr knee and their thigh and side-butt touch you. It's fucking awful. I don't know you and I don't want to touch yr side-butt. Stay on yr own damn side of the seat, people.
17. How no one except for me seems to be able to shut doors without slamming them.
18. How almost everyone except for me seems to enter through a closed door like a fucking SWAT team member.
19. That 98% of Chicago is made up of beautiful women and I don't get to talk to any of them.
20. That Chicago landlords for some reason let previous tenants move out on the 1st of the month instead of the last of the month. If my name is on that lease starting the 1st of the month, those mofuckers best be out of my apartment by midnight of the first, dammit.
Saturday, December 01, 2012
PET PEEVES 1—10
1. People that wear pajamas outside of the house.
2. People that don't walk up or down escalators.
3. People that stand in the lefthand lane of escalators that is exclusively reserved for those of us that fucking know the goddamned escalator is NOT a fucking goddamned ride.
4. When someone walks toward you on the sidewalk and doesn't budge a shitknocking inch, assuming you are the only one that needs to give way.
5. When groups of people or couples walk toward you on the sidewalk and seem to think since they're in a group they own the fucking sidewalk.
6. People with kids in public that let those bacteria-filled little shits run all over the place and think it's funny when you nearly stampede them to death.
7. Moms with strollers that think since they were granted the saint-making ability to squeeze a little shitknocker out that they own the fucking walkways.
8. When you hold the door open for someone and they just bust through without a "thank you".
9. When a line of people are walking through a door and everyone, in turn, holds the door open for the next as they pass, and one selfish piece of shit just walks through without doing the same.
10. When people treat service staff like slaves.
from Oz and Damaged Architecture
Smithereens Press, Bolinas, CA 1986
by Larry Kearney
The fish of the valley, the rosefish swim
in clusters and breathe
And when it's fall but not yet iced
they ripple over to any bare
reflection like bare
and stop there composing and hanging
in the water positioned
still on the real
roses. When the tired gatekeeper bent
at the lake to look in the rosefish
hung themselves on his face's
They showed there perfectly logical
on his face that he looked at soon,
without knowing it,