Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday Show #79: Peter Elroy: A Documentary by Ian Casey by Elizabeth McCracken

Note: My new book, INFINITE ENDING: TEN STORIES, is now available for pre-order. In e-book format, it's only 99 little cents so why not support a pasty indie author like me for half the cost of a cup of Starbucks coffee? Please click thusly: INFINITE ENDING: TEN STORIES

This episode features a group discussion of whether writers should go independent or take the academic route to achieve success; plus, the subjectivity and objectivity of art and life, including how to properly judge works of art via objective rules.

Saturday Show Podcast #79

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Saturday Show #67: Something by Literary Recluse Thomas Pynchon

A Matter of Emphasis....

The writer of literary fiction chooses which story elements to emphasize in her story very, very deliberately. Do you notice these story elements? Probably not the first time through the story. The first time through, the reading brain is trying to get oriented in the world, get to know its characters, and figure out what's going on -- all the while judging if all of the elements (why am I using "elements" so much?) above are interesting enough to stay engaged with this fictional world. This being the state of things, exactly WHAT should the writer choose to emphasize in her stories to keep the reader engaged and fulfilled--especially upon a second or third reading?

The Austin Writing Workshop discusses all of this and more on Saturday Show #67.

More elaborate details, including rough timestamps are included below:

0:00 Excerpt from a story by an Austin Writing Workshop member

1:23 Frank's introduction to the podcast

2:40 Group discussion about a writer's choice of emphasis, including choice of literary techniques, what the writer was going for, the emphasis of typical literary stories, postmodernism, fantasy and vampires, dialogue, David Mamet, Lars Von Trier films, everyone dying, art for art's sake.

8:06 Group discussion about an essay/op-ed by Thomas Pynchon (http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/05/18/reviews/pynchon-sloth.html), including thesis, development, flow, resonance, cleverness, purpose of essays vs. stories, Pynchon's work overall and common elements, muddled theme, The Crying of Lot 49, intense research, the effectiveness of expecting readers to become detectives, neuroticism, an AWW member's puzzles in stories, Greek Gods, Pynchon's attempt to show off and its attractiveness or repulsiveness, obscurity of puzzle references, Umberto Ecco, The Name of the Rose, self-referentiality, A&P intertextuality, Pynchon's references to history and evidence, Pynchonian themes of what it means to be American and American history, missing the point of the essay, literary themes in general, emphasis on humor to the exclusion of other techniques, Pynchon's reclusivity, The Simpsons, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, the hardships of fame, the asociability of writers, Chuck Palahniuk, J.D. Salinger, and "A Perfect Day for Bananafish."

25:56 Group discussion about an Austin Writing Workshop member's story, including the date of the story, first-draft issues, strength of the story, connecting the elements of the story, theme of the fact that love doesn't work, stand-out lines, resonance with The Crying of Lot 49, rewarding of a second reading of the stories, repetition of symbolic elements, character empathy and how plot reflects on character empathy, emphasis on time symbolism, living in the now vs. fleeing from the now and living in the distractions of modern life, "time" words, elements in stark relief, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, "Rock Springs," story details, lack of intimacy with the main character, vulnerability, creating intimacy through plot, showing change in the main character, superficial ways of creating empathy with characters, ability of plot elements to draw the reader in, societal-level meanings of stories, John Steinbeck, Charlotte Perkins-Gilman, subconscious or intuitive writing, discursiveness, mawkishness, the theme of Optimism, Richard Ford-like characters, the opposite of the Tao Lin story, stories becoming something out of the control of the writer and facilitaing multiple interpretations.

53:51 Group discussion about the movie "Melancholia," including the decadence of the first 15 minutes and the question of whether it is earned or not, cliched art, Marie Antoinette, Kirsten Dunst, cinematography, review of the acting in the film, use of foreshadowing, interesting science of the movie, Lars Von Trier's work overall, Kiefer Sutherland, big budget vs. small budget films, likeability of characters, douchenozzles, plot summary, symbolism of the planets' paths, golf and hail and horses as representative of the elitist lifestyle, "Eyes Wide Shut" comparison, more discussion of the great Salinger story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," the "depression trilogy," Nietzsche and comparison to Bible passages, the violence of women, and a reviewer's comments from ScreenRobot.com.

1:19:36 End of podcast

http://frankmarcopolos.com/archives/3247

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Saturday Show #66: Tao Lin

I wanted to unravel the mystery of Tao Lin, but I knew I couldn't do it alone. So my strategy was to suggest one of his short stories for review in the Austin Writing Workshop to see how much progress we could make in this inquiry based upon just one story. I supplemented this evidence by posting in our Meetup comments a video of one of his sold-out (!!!) readings. When you watch this genius operate, you know someone's being had, and all that remains is the kind of detective work needed to figure out Who and Why.

My secret theory was (and is) that Tao Lin is the Andy Kaufman of the literary world. And the existential joke is on all of us.

Here is the heated debate the AWW had on this topic and others:

Saturday Show #66: Sex After Not Seeing Each Other for a Few Days by Tao Lin

Listen in and let me know what you think about this lit-world mystery!

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In other news, the NoiseTrade promotion is still going strong. If you give me your email address to be used for my newsletter, you get a free e-book. Sound fair? The deets are here:

A Car Crash of Sorts on NoiseTrade.

You can also just sign up for the newsletter without going through NoiseTrade via my website, FrankMarcopolos.com.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saturday Show #64: All That by David Foster Wallace and Annie Hall by Woody Allen

Saturday Show #64

I felt a little nervous about the meeting, simply because I knew I was going to take the position of defending the story, and the rest of the group was probably going to be extremely aggressive in trashing it. Sure, it was David Foster Wallace, but I really didn't think my fellow Workshoppers were going to show him any mercy. It turned out to be a pretty spirited discussion, and a very productive one, I think. Afterwards, I couldn't help thinking, though, that I'd let Mr. Wallace--and literary fiction authors everywhere--down, at least to some extent. You can listen in and see what you think, if this kind of thing interests you at all, by clicking the link above.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Show #63: Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood and Opposite Days by Frank Marcopolos

Saturday Show #63

Live recording of a meeting of the Austin Writing Workshop held on July 9, 2014. Excerpts from "Happy Endings" by Margaret Atwood and "Opposite Days" by Frank Marcopolos are also included. The main topics of discussion are the two stories just mentioned, plus the movie "Intersection" with Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, and Lolita Davidovich.

Timestamps with more precise topics of conversation are provided below:

0:00 Excerpt from "Opposite Days" by Frank Marcopolos

1:38 Frank's Introduction to the Podcast

2:16 Excerpt from "Happy Endings" by Margaret Atwood

3:16 Group analysis of "Happy Endings" by Margaret Atwood, including understanding theme, essay versus short story as a way to transmit a message, the Socratic method of determining truth, Atwood's target market for the story, Atwood's intended message, "Hair Jewelry," flat and dull characters, genre writing, the market of genre writing versus literary fiction, the syllabus for classes taught by David Foster Wallace, Stephen King's new story in "Esquire Magazine," comparison to "The Babysitter" by Robert Coover, disjointed narrative styles, and making the reader work hard to understand what is happening in a story.

28:35 Group analysis of "Opposite Days" by Frank Marcopolos, including authenticity of the female voice in the story, minimalism, maximalism (and the contrast of both and the effect of such contrast), philtrums(!!!), the theme of mating rituals (and societal norms) and the consequences of reversing them, comedy in the story, abruptness of the ending and its effect, leaving a story open for discussion, #FAIL, sports celebrities, power struggles among men and women, "Franny and Zooey" by J.D. Salinger, testing of potential mates, reusing the same characters from previous stories (intertextuality), character construction and continuity with dialogue and narration, chiarroscurro, postmodern allowances in storytelling, clarity of setting, "LeBronning" as a joke in a story and the ability of the reader to follow such a specific detail, the "Walmart for your literary needs," William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County stories, character motivations, and different levels of successful themes.

1:08:03 Group analysis of the movie "Intersection," starring Richard Gere, Lolita Davidovich, and Sharon Stone, written by David Rayfiel and Marshall Brickman, and directed by Mark Rydell. Discussion includes building characters, casting, formulaic plot, evolution over time of a writer's ability to construct successful elements of plot and other characteristics, character sympathy, and developing a question rather than an answer.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saturday Show #62: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson and Ceil by Harold Brodkey

Saturday Show Podcast #62

Podcast Timestamps:

0:00 Excerpt from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson

2:51 Frank's introduction to the podcast

3:31 Excerpt from "ceil" by Harold Brodkey

4:57 Analysis of "Ceil" by Harold Brodkey begins

5:10 Frank's Analysis of "Ceil," including discussion of postmodern literary techniques and purpose, and Brodkey's history/legacy

9:48 Cory's Analysis of "Ceil," including personal resonance with the story, storytelling voice, Brodkey's history/legacy, his relationship with John Updike, and storytelling techniques - especially postmodern techniques

16:13 Stephen Crane and "Red Badge of Courage"

16:34 Jim's Analysis of "Ceil," including in-depth exploration of postmodern storytelling techniques and the fundamental philosophical concept in postmodernism and how that fundamental informs all art within postmodernism, a priori knowledge vs. everything else, Ayn Rand, modernism ("We can conquer truth"), Plato's philosophy, Kant, Hinduism and Maya, the Scientific Method, "The Matrix," Baudrillard, the real vs. the unreal, Lacan, Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," meta-structure, and Charlie Kaufman.

32:30 Frank's analysis of Cory's story, including a comparison to "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson, characters with small penises, thoughts on literary memoirs, use of obstacles as a narrative technique, and proportion and balance in the narrative.

37:52 Kevin's analysis of Cory's story, including the importance of setting, the use of obstacles as a narrative technique, use of character goals, and naming the narrator

43:53 Theresa's analysis of Cory's story, including the appreciation of the style of the piece, vivid details, and the "oral" technique

45:36 Jim's analysis of Cory's story, including lack of storytelling technique, editing, pacing, comparison to Henry Miller, risks of novel techniques, discursiveness, specific discussion about the story's first paragraph, importance of plotting, genre, James Frey, Lacan on the subconscious, David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, thinking horizontally, and theme exploring things through dialogue rather than monologue

1:04:35 Group discussion about the movie "Side Effects" by Steven Soderberg, starring Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum, and other actor-type people.

1:19:17 End of podcast

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Saturday Show #45: The Advantages of the Well-Read Gentleman

Saturday Show #45

We—my mom, brother, sister, and I—were enjoying a rare family meal at China New Star Restaurant on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. I was trying to explain to them what was so great about Paolo Coehlo’s international bestselling novel, THE ALCHEMIST, which I’d recently read. As I was going through a litany of praises, my sister, the devoted New Kids on the Block fan, sighed as only little sisters can sigh, and said, “If it has this great message about life and stuff, why not just tell us what it is?”

After expressing the exasperation of a big brother exhausted from 30+ years of being exasperated with his younger siblings, I said, “It’s not the same. You can’t just tell someone what the meaning of a great book is. Doesn’t work like that.”

“Why not?” my sister said.

“Because, that’s why,” I said, big-bro brilliant.

The embarrassing fact is, I didn’t know why on that day. But my little sister’s line of questioning stuck with me. As I started thinking more and more about my little sister’s question, I started thinking about the role of fiction in our society, and how it seems that there’s a perception “out there” that fiction is for entertainment purposes only—that it’s not useful for helping us solve the many problems we face.

And that is DEAD WRONG.

Robert Bly says:

“The knowledge of how to build a nest in a bare tree, how to fly to the wintering place, how to perform the mating dance—all of this information is stored in the reservoirs of the bird’s instinctual brain. But human beings, sensing how much flexibility they might need in meeting new situations, decided to store this sort of knowledge outside the instinctual system; they stored it in stories. Stories, then—fairy stories, legends, myths, hearth stories—amount to a reservoir where we keep new ways of responding that we can adopt when the conventional and current ways wear out.”

Once it became clear that great fiction could have a distinctly useful purpose, I sought to find out what some of those purposes could be...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Saturday Show #44: The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls (Part 2)

Saturday Show Podcast #44, with Frank Marcopolos

In this episode of the show, Frank discusses the enigmatic nature of the J.D. Salinger estate. The estate has been silent since the death of the famous author in 2010, even as documentaries come out about him, and some of his unpublished stories are leaked online. Through all of this, the estate remains completely silent, like a straightjacketed mummy with duct tape over its mouth. Discussed as well are the Story Magazine collection at the Princeton University library, Friedrich Nietzsche's influence on modern philosophy, two members' stories from the Real Writers' Group in Austin, TX, and the movie "Being John Malkovich."

Relevant links and show notes:

J.D. Salinger - Nine Stories

Princeton University

Whit Burnett's Story Magazine

Saving Private Ryan

Band of Brothers

Wolfgang Borchert

The Art of the Tale - Daniel Halpern

Being John Malkovich

Symbolism

Friedrich Nietzsche

*

Almost Home: The New Paltz Novel

A Car Crash of Sorts

The Whirligig

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Saturday Show #43: The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls

Saturday Show #43: The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls

Wake up wake up wake up: Your five senses are extremely limited in what they can perceive. Therefore, there's no way to tell (yet) what reality actually IS. Why does this matter? Frank delves into this philosophical matter due to the storyteller issues derived from the movie "The Truman Show," starring Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti, and Ed Harris. What are the themes of the film, and how do they have meaning for our lives?

Also, something about J.D. Salinger.

Relevant Links and Show Notes:

The Truman Show

Italo Calvino

Being There

William Shakespeare

Bill Hicks

John Lennon

Terence McKenna

The Matrix

J.D. Salinger (Books)

J.D. Salinger (Documentary)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Show #42 - Fuck the Authors Guild Edition

Saturday Show #42 - with Frank Marcopolos

In this edition, Frank delves into the world of personal revelation, revealing facts about his romantic life that you never wanted to know. Since no one asked for it, Frank delivers! And with such aplumb you'll find yourself marveling at his shocking lack of romantic skills. Plus, news about the latest lawsuit filed by Big Publishing Luddites, the Authors Guild, this time against Google Books, and the launch of the super-awesome Tim Ferriss Book Club! It's a laughfest, a crybonanza, and chock full (as always) of literary fiction techniques and philosophy gleaned from the meetup.com-organized "Real Writers Critique Group" in sunny Austin, Texas. (New members always welcome -- if you can handle honest criticism!) Relevant show notes and linkages: The Authors Guild The Authors Guild's Beef Against Amazon.com The Authors Guild Loses Latest Lawsuit Against a Tech-Giant, This Time vs. Google The Authors Guild on Why Everyone Should be Afraid--Very Afraid!!!--of Amazon.com The Tim Ferriss Book Club Launches! (Pure Awesomesauce.) Richard Ford Nick Mamatas - Love is the LAW Staying in "Writing Shape" The Brain and Its Tricky Tricks Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind The Long Island Railroad Jim Carey Charlie Kaufman Confessions of a Dangerous Mind Web Design, Ebook Covers, and MORE: Dandy Lion Studio - Affordable prices, incredible quality, and responsive customer service

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Saturday Show #41 (CIA Weaponization of Culture Edition)

Saturday Show #41, with Frank Marcopolos

In this exciting episode, Frank discusses the revelations that the C.I.A. has been in control of American "culture" since the beginning. This includes the funding of The Paris Review and other literary magazines, as well as the global promotion of American Abstract Expressionism in an effort to defeat Communism through the triumph of American (presumably freedom-oriented) art.