SILENCE HAS A NAME - Poetry Chapbook and CD, with Music by Mark Hanley

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Supreme Espresso To Go

June 30, 2010

Check out this super handy, futuristic beauty. An espresso machine to go. Enjoy the link. Or for quicker access, double click one of the comments to the right for a full view of this blog page from The New York Times.


Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6" Display, Global Wireless, Latest Generation)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Edging Toward Grace

June 7, 2010

"Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost." -- Henry James

The James quote about the writer's task appears in a story by Jay McInerney in How It Ended, New and Collected Stories, published in 2009. I came upon the collection Sunday at a local Borders while running from a brewing storm that never delivered. Thankfully, the stories did.

McInerney, Bret Easton Ellis and Tama Janowitz were part of the literary bratpack of the 80s. Janowitz and McInerney, based in New York, focused on the travails of colorful and jaded characters on their home turf, while Ellis tapped the soul malaise and ennui of white youth on the West coast. I read McInerney's Bright Lights in the 80s in one sitting, and found it fast-paced, real and riveting.

The 26 stories in How It Ended were written over the period of as many years, and take place mostly in New York City. McInerney's characters revel in postmodern angst, and are of all classes and habits. Among them -- the girl with a shaved head and tattooed scalp of "It's Six A.M., Do You Know Where You Are?"; the coke head and prostitute in "The Queen and I"; the cheating husband and pill-popping wife of "I Love You, Honey," a story about lies, faith and deception set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. These characters dream of leading different lives, of being someone other than who they are, of waking up somewhere other than where they really live, and dabble in their illusions. Sometimes their fantasies come true, as in "The Queen and I." But it's longing for them that seems to matter more. More often than not, dreams are mere remainders of a past that cannot be recaptured.

"You remember another Sunday morning in your old apartment on Cornelia Street when you woke to the smell of bread from the bakery downstairs. There was the smell of bread every morning, but this one you remember. You turned to see your wife sleeping beside you. Her mouth was open and her hair fell down across the pillow to your shoulder. The tanned skin of her shoulder was the color of bread fresh from the oven. Slowly, and with a growing sense of exhilaration, you remembered who you were..." -- from "It's Six A.M., Do You Know Where You Are?"

It's not just who you are, but where you come from that matters. "The Waiter," a subtle and elegant story about class that transpires in a cafe, is largely comprised of a conversation between a young man and two women, one of whom is European, and recalls the work of Ernest Hemingway. McInerney also admires F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose subjects were also class, greed and the human heart.

In the early 80s, after getting fired from his job as "fact-checker" at The New Yorker, McInerney was lucky enough to study under Raymond Carver, a master of the short story form, and Tobias Wolff at Syracuse University. Although McInerney has said he finds the short story form daunting, the stories in How It Ended explore important issues with grace and depth and prove he is at home in the genre.