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Aug. 15th, 2006 @ 01:28 am gta? more like gtyay!
Current Music: http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2006/05/stairways_to_he.html
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I honestly would have enjoyed Grand Theft Auto 3 a lot more if it was more like this.

Andy, the link in the music field is for you.
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Aug. 15th, 2006 @ 04:28 am human contact is a maslow's need
Thank you, everyone who called me yesterday. I never asked, but you all responded. You have kept me sane a little while longer.

This room gets smaller with every passing second. Can't wait to get back to Oberlin.
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Aug. 15th, 2006 @ 04:56 pm dan chaon reminds me of me
Current Location: san francisco public library, anza branch
Current Mood: snooty
Current Music: Gregorian Masters of Chant - Starway To Heaven
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Guess what I found at the library today? A copy of Dan Chaon's You Remind Me of Me!

I imagine there's always a kind of strange, giddy thrill to discovering your professor's work outside the classroom. It's not an altogether unlikely event if you're a creative writing major, especially if your professor is one of those proverbial Award-Winning Novelists, but in an age when most people can name maybe five talented modern writers, it is a pleasant surprise.

I'm not very far into the book yet, but here are some initial impressions.

  • This book is Dan Chaon. Not the characters or the plot or the voice, but the storytelling style as a whole. One of the problems with reading a book after you've gotten to know the author is that it's impossible to read it without having the author narrate it to you in your head. In workshop, Dan has personally expressed irritation with readers who identify the protagonist or the narrative voice with the author himself, and it's pretty clear that neither in this story is Dan. Nevertheless, the fundamental essence of his personality radiates from every page. He's there, just transmogrified into an alternate form. There's the same attention to the absurd in the mundane, the same verbal idiosyncrasies (like a love of single-word lists), the same fondness for moments of stupefied wonder. Through his choice of metaphor, you can even get a glimpse of his love of cinema and popular culture.
  • We are Dan Chaon. Perhaps years of reading student work has rubbed off on him, but there are elements of pacing and scene that are profoundly familiar. In his style there's a little Anna Leuchtenberger and a little Jasmin Roberts and a little Geordie Flantz and maybe even a little Kevin Chen (if I dare flatter myself), which is astounding because this book was published before he taught any of us. Most likely it's the other way around. He's done his job and taught us how to write, guiding the growth of our own distinct ways of writing with his own technical experience. It's not that we've taken his style or his voice--not at all--but for subtle things like where to start and when to stop, how far to go, how little to tell and how much, we do as he does. This is amazing, considering that most of us (in my 320 class at least) had never read anything by him before, and I'm willing to bet a good number of us still haven't read his work. Dan closed one of the last 320 lectures last year with a discussion on the nature of legacy, on how all writers unwittingly borrow from all who have come before, even the ones they haven't read, and not until cracking open his book am I really understanding that.
  • Dan Chaon is awesome. There's a famous scene in Drunken Master, Jackie Chan's debut film, in which, after a lengthy montage of digging holes and carrying buckets of water, Chan's character asks, "Master, how much longer must I do this before I am ready to learn real kung-fu?" And his master strikes him with his cane, says something that could be culturally translated as "bitch", and retorts angrily: "This is real kung-fu." And this is precisely how I feel about reading You Remind Me of Me--it's a masterful demonstration of Dan practicing what he preaches, using the seemingly arbitrary advice he gave us to put together compelling, non-masturbatory prose. His technique is not well suited for everyone, and it certainly isn't perfectly suited to anyone but himself (and he reminded us of this pretty often), but it did benefit me and many of my classmates enormously by giving us something to compare our own techniques against. And now I have the privilege of seeing his technique at full strength.

  • For those of you who have never heard of him and have no idea what I'm talking about, amazon!

    I am also reading Chekov. Chekov is even better, naturally, but there's really no praise I could give Chekov that hasn't been said already. And there's not a single gun yet.

    Michelle, when you requested insights on my development as a writer, I hope this is what you were looking for.
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    Aug. 15th, 2006 @ 05:19 pm fanfiction sinks to a new low
    Current Mood: pompous and windbaggy
    On the same set of shelves I also found a recently published sequel to Pride and Prejudice, titled Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues, written by some lady. Some lady who is not Jane Austen. It is told in a very straightforward manner.

    There is also a third book.
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