Thursday, December 29, 2005

Reading a strange and wonderful forthcoming book by Yannick Murphy, due out this spring from McSweeneys. From what I gather, Murphy is a native New Yorker transplanted to California. Knopf published her first collection of stories in ’87, and she followed up with a highly regarded novel from, I think, Mariner. I haven’t gotten to check these out yet, but I will. She tends to write about families from the perspectives of children, who, it would seem, afford her access to a kind of nieve insight adulthood precludes. Her prose is strange, keeping the looping language at the forefront of the action, somewhere between stream-of-consciousness and standard first-person narration. Her work is not unlike Stephen Dixon’s (Mcsweeney’s has done one of his books and has another on the way). There is certainly a kinship there. It seems like Murphy’s been off the map for a few years, and I think this new book HERE THEY COME will make for a triumphal return. McSweeney’s loyal, built-in audience, and lovely book-objects, won’t hurt either. Here’s a stunning sample:

“We are cold at night. We sleep with sweaters on and hats. The cats claw at our faces, they want to get under the covers too. We let them in and keep our heads under the covers, breathing in what the cats breathe out.”

There’s also a stunning scene about an apartment evacuation due to a fire out back, which I read today, and which is very apropos as my toilet flooded this afternoon, drenching much of the building.

I wonder, is there a fiction blogging scene? Do story writers yammer on about the process and progress of their art like we do? A lot of the young fiction writers I know hardly seem to read anything. That’s not quite fair, but there isn’t anything resembling the dialogue and community that poetry has seemingly always engendered. Perhaps the issue is money: maybe when your art pays, you don’t need friends. Then, of course, most of the poets I know are voracious readers of poetry, fictions, nonfiction, cookbooks, anything with words on it. And often poetry is the least of their preoccupations. Why do poets read so much? That’s a rhetorical question—the answers are both too multiple to describe and too obvious. Point being, it’s a shame not to have access to a dialogue about young fiction the way we have one for poetry. If anyone knows anything I don’t, please chime in.

It was a long day. Playing catch-up at work with the backlog from last week’s transit strike. B is away for the month and I’m finding myself tired at the end of the day and more than willing to enjoy a lazy, quiet night at home. Blogging, writing letters, whatever, amount to nice ways of reclaiming my brain from a day of somebody else’s business. I don’t have too much trouble with the notion of splitting time between a day at work and moonlighting as a writer—I really couldn’t handle it when I was teaching and drowning in free time. I did just that: drown. But there must be a better way to pass those eight daily hours so that I don’t come home feeling pillaged. But I guess if there was a better way, somebody would have found it by now and suggested it to the rest of us. Perhaps they already have. If you need me, I’ll be in the self-help isle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just finished Here They Come. Books like this need to be read. I'm doing everything I can to promote it to all of my friends. I need someone to talk about it with me. McSweeney's just puts together such an attractive package. Beautiful words in beautiful bindings. I'm already in the middle of their next one, Dustin Long's Icelander, and it's every bit as amazing as Here They Come though entirely different. How do they find them?