Richard Powers ROOLZ!

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David Loftus
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Richard Powers ROOLZ!

Postby David Loftus » Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:57 pm

Richard Powers spoke last night at the Portland Art Museum as a special event in the Portland Arts & Lectures series. I was so thrilled that he was coming to town -- he doesn't tour very often, and only made four stops on this particular junket.

Incredibly brilliant, he also came across as earnest, generous, thoughtful, humble, and delightfully in love with what he does. He read a story written especially for this tour, called "Modulation," in which four characters (SATB, for you music lovers) deal with parallel "invasions" of a nagging tune in the brain and a computer virus that destroys music download programs.

His novels are tours des forces of ideas and wordplay -- mixing literature, science, and good old fashioned character development and plot drive. I think of him sometimes as Pynchon lite, which is not intended as an insult in the least, because I admire and respect Pynchon, but don't really LIKE his books that much -- there's something cool and distant about them, and the characters seem more like ideas and cartoons than real people. Powers describes real people, intelligent people, and though the ideas challenge my mind, the plotlines and characters also punch me in the heart.

I think, since the death of John Fowles, Powers has become my favorite living novelist.

To my astonishment, he recognized my name afterward, because I had written synopses of his early books on AllReaders.com many years ago.

If you want to know a little more about some of his books, check out my short descriptions on AllReaders.com:

http://www.allreaders.com/Topics/Topic_548.asp
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Mar 10, 2008 8:19 am

Thanks David! Always on the lookout for the good stuff.

To reciprocate don't miss the wonderful Chilean writer Roberto Bolano whose work is being translated into english. I'm reading Nazi Literature in the Americas which contains biographies of imaginary fascist writers in North and South America. Wandering somewhere in Borgesian and Calvino country, by turns funny, sad, beautiful.

Makes me want to bone up on my Spanish.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:04 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:Thanks David! Always on the lookout for the good stuff.

To reciprocate don't miss the wonderful Chilean writer Roberto Bolano whose work is being translated into english. I'm reading Nazi Literature in the Americas which contains biographies of imaginary fascist writers in North and South America. Wandering somewhere in Borgesian and Calvino country, by turns funny, sad, beautiful.

Makes me want to bone up on my Spanish.



There's another coincidence. I've been rereading Borges the past few weeks on the potential for a "Story Time." Kind of on the fence about him; I'm not that knocked out with his stuff personally -- recall reading a bio of him once that I found much more interesting -- and his works (at least what I encountered in The Aleph and Ficciones) is not particularly lively or dramatic for reading aloud purposes.

Any resemblance to Calvino would be very welcome, however!

I need to read more of the South Americans. Only read a smattering of Marquez; have hardly dipped into Amado or Llhosa. Who else would people recommend?
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Borges for reading?

Postby Tony Rabig » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:12 am

David,

Agreed that picking a Borges for a dramatic reading could be a bit sticky. But I'd think you might be able to do something with "The Intruder" or "The Book of Sand."

Bests,
--tr

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Postby Moderator » Mon Mar 10, 2008 10:33 am

You could always do Victor Borge's "Phonetic Punctuation" routine...
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Other South Americans

Postby Tony Rabig » Mon Mar 10, 2008 11:59 am

Julio Cortazar, Jose Donoso, and Carlos Fuentes. You might also hunt up a book by Donoso called THE BOOM IN SPANISH-AMERICAN LITERATURE: A PERSONAL HISTORY for a few more references. Don't know if they're still doing them, but late-70s through mid-80s Avon published a truckload of Latin Americans in mass market and trade paper. If you scrounge up a couple of the Amado titles in the Avon line (they did LOTS of Amado, so they'd probably be the easiest to find), the end pages may list some more authors. Signet had done a collection of Latin American short stories a while back (also late 70s-mid 80s, I think), and the contents pages should point you to even more.

Bests,
--tr

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Postby FrankChurch » Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:53 pm

Harlan is my favorite writer, so there.

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Postby David Loftus » Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:13 pm

Not that anyone asked.

And . . . * sigh * . . . once again I make an attempt to point out how carefully I attempt to word my posts, and how the care is largely wasted on Mr. Church.

I wrote -- pay attention, and look closely -- "...since the death of John Fowles, Powers has become my favorite living novelist." That's a specific noun.

Fowles and Powers both have written monumental novels, but very few stories. Ellison has written hundreds upon hundreds of short stories, and very few novels.

Thus, apples and oranges.

If Frank responds that he wasn't really replying to my comments about Fowles, Powers, or anyone else in this thread, well then, that's another typical trait of Frank Church posts. And another reason I usually ignore them.

But if your own endless threads are not enough for you, Frank, hijack away.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:26 pm

My fave is the Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano.

Especially

http://www.amazon.com/Upside-Down-Prime ... 192&sr=1-3

or even better yet his latest

http://www.amazon.com/Voices-Time-Stori ... 192&sr=1-5

I don't know if you do poetry but if you do don't forget Naruda!
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Mon Mar 10, 2008 3:12 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:I don't know if you do poetry but if you do don't forget Naruda!



... although I'd probably find his books faster if I looked under Neruda.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:01 am

Aw maaaaaannnn... cut me some slack.

After all I did spell Uruguayan correctly (I think).
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:06 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:Aw maaaaaannnn... cut me some slack.


Can't do that, when you're trying to come off all well read and lit'ry.


Ezra Lb. wrote:After all I did spell Uruguayan correctly (I think).


Yes, you did do that.

Hey, I found a delicious typo in the "Fingerprints on the Sky" galleys -- these are uncorrected proofs, mind you, so they can be expected to be comparatively messy, but this one's a juicy one . . . an Ellison story cited as "Silent in Johanna."

That has definite possibilities.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Mar 11, 2008 1:50 pm

You do know that Galeano is a marxist?

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:21 am

trying to come off ...

Now that hurts.

Actually it would be stretching it way too far to call me literary but I am one absurdly well-read sob.

I've thought about trying my hand at literariness but unlike a lot of writers it seems I find my lack of talent a serious impediment.

Is there a pill I can take?
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:40 pm

David, lighten up, I was trying to be cute. More uppers, less downers.

My threads get hijacked every five seconds, so I know the territory well.

----------

On to Borges: his stories are esoteric; usually doesn't work well being read.

He does make you think, an admiring win/win.

-------------

Could you imagine a certain person in a real scrum. Yikes.


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