‘I met a woman’: Tilda Swinton

I just read Emily Asher-Perrin’s review on Tor.com of a film I can’t wait for, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, with Tilda Swinton.

I have to say, I’ve been hooked on Swinton ever since seeing her in Lynn Hershman-Leeson’s Teknolust, one of my favorite films of that year (2002-2003)

I love this movie, as well as just about everything else she’s done (except maybe Young Adam, but partly because I just couldn’t get past Ewan McGregor’s dick shot, and that was maybe because I had just seen Chloe Sevigny’s gums wrapped around Vince Gallo’s bloated plums in Brown Bunny. So, that. Lots of schlongs in the noughties, not sure why, and as a film writer, I pretty much saw them all). So, Burn After Reading, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Moonrise Kingdom, Hotel Budapest and now Only Lovers Left Alive. Only lovers. Jim Jarmusch and Tilda Swinton. The vibe reminds me of The Hunger (1983), which we almost never remember was directed by the late great Tony Scott.

American Monster from Lazy Fascist Press. It’s official.

American Monster_teaser_2

So I’m on a train to meet my mother at the art gallery, and my phone lights up and my little sector of the social mediaverse goes off. And there was nothing I could do about it for the next couple of hours at the art gallery because you know those places — where no one can hear you scream.

But there it was. A monster is born. Or will be in February. Matthew Bialer, the M of my BrainWorld. Cameron Pierce, publisher of the future, which as Ronald Regan once said in such a chillingly different context that I don’t even know why I’m mentioning it here (except maybe something to do with lazy fascists?), belongs to the brave. But check out the cover art, right? Matthew Revert, old friend, multi-talented artist, musician and writer. So glad to have the good guys in my corner.

The rest of you will have to wait for the acknowledgments page, which will be EPIC. Except you, yeah you. You’re the guy who bought me one too many Armagnacs the other night on our wedding anniversary. And you call yourself a Dr.

Writers on the Web

Welcome to the first installment of a new series called WOW (Writers on the Web), a title so bad it’s not even good, which is good enough for me. It will cover what some writers are doing and saying on and around the web. This week, Stephen Graham Jones, Kris Saknussemm, Ian McEwan, Chuck Palahniuk, and Darwin. Some line-up

LitReactor previews Ten Obvious Truths about Fiction, an essay on craft by the category-defying Stephen Graham Jones.

Really, any scene that’s only getting across what’s happening on the surface of that scene—two guys loading boxes into a truck, say—then that scene’s dead. Instead, let those two men load boxes, but only one of them knows the other’s tranquilized pet is in one of the boxes. It changes everything, for the better.

Annie Murphy Paul at The New York Times finds fiction readers have better brains.

A 2010 study by Dr. Mar found a similar result in preschool-age children: the more stories they had read to them, the keener their theory of mind — an effect that was also produced by watching movies but, curiously, not by watching television.

But even more interestingly, or obviously, this article offers a scientific explanation for why we sometimes remember fictional characters as real. To our brains, they are.

There is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters.

Back to LitReactor, and Zanesville author Kris Saknussemm joins an illustrious line-up of instructors for a workshop starting in April. Saknussemm, fresh from his Reverend America Tour tackles place, a subject dear to the heart of this oft-displaced writer. Tell him I sent you.

Over at The Cult, Chuck Palahniuk is offloading the faux Yin Yang table from The Fight Club to raise money for a Portland Dog shelter. If you live in Portland, he’ll even come over and help you assemble it, so get out your Allenkeys, people.

And finally Ian McEwan at The Guardian draws parallels between science and literature over issues of originality, not nearly so much an anachronism in this digital age as you’d think.

[Darwin’s] reluctance to upset his wife Emma’s religious devotion, or to contradict the theological certainties of his scientific colleagues, or to find himself in the unlikely role of iconoclast, a radical dissenter in Victorian society, all were swept aside for fear of another man taking possession of and getting credit for the ideas he believed to be his.

Rear view mirrors of the mind.


Joey Paulk

Therapy. It’s a bizarre thing to sit and tell… STUFF…. to someone who doesn’t know you. I think that’s the key. They don’t know you. I mean, I’d like to get to know my therapist, but that doesn’t seem to be the point (although hey, I’d kind of like to interview her just to make sure she’s suitable, that there are some overlaps in our experiences, like once before when I had to ‘see someone’ after a death, and he was a paternal Dutchman with wide streak of empathy who somehow managed to connect with a hysterical twenty-something over the issue of loss). She asks about my husband and kids and I tell her. She is great with names. By the end of the first session she is quoting my best friend almost as much as I do. But she doesn’t know her. Does it matter? If she saw her, would she know her, my best friend, more… or less?
I think should I pass over my phone next time, show her pictures? She’d probably say no. It may be part of her Zen, her Way, to form pictures in her head, the way a reader does with characters in a novel. Takes the pictures home with her, mentally attaches them to my file, the Story of Client, JSB. She watches my gestures. I can see her doing that. Her eyes follow the movement of my hands. I make a lot of fists. Did she note that? She’s incredibly beautiful but not in a robotic way. She doesn’t look like a property agent. She looks real. Wide-eyed and freckled with a smile that’s a little bit country. I also think that she’s very smart. Thing is, she’s young, or younger than me. She looks to be in her mid to late thirties. Is that important? I think that’s partly what I’m in therapy to find out. Read more


At the beach the other day, this chick was plucking out her ass pubes with her fingers. What’s with that?

And now it’s raining all the time. The air is cold but humid. I want to wash my hair every day. I felt like a slug at yoga. The animals are going nuts.


In progress: Moonshine

A body-swap story inspired by Shelley, not just Frankenstein, but also “The Transformation,” a tale I read a while ago and which really got me by the throat. What I love about the story is that the Doppelganger and the protagonist get all mixed up in the end, bits of one left behind in the other.

Because, you know, it’s not always easy to say which is which—the good self and the bad. Which the harbinger and which the savior?

Pulp never lies.

Anyway, the story is set just outside my home town, a place I’ve renamed Union Falls in previous work, near Moonshine Falls, NY. My friends and I used to hang out at the falls when we were kids. Ride our bikes there and splash in the gullies, wear bright clothing so the poachers’ rifles wouldn’t get us. It was remote and wild and scary as hell. Those were good summers. We’d head out after breakfast and come home for dinner, maybe. Maybe call from a friend’s place where we’d stopped for a plate of whatever their mom had going. Or maybe just grill us some cheese and take it upstairs to where someone’s big brother would be watching TV and sucking on a joint next to the open window. And always the lake.

In my dreams I’m always on Route 90 heading toward that place and the lake is to my left, so I’m heading north, and I always wake up just before I get there.