Saturday, February 14, 2015

ANTHEM by Ayn Rand (Audiobook)

If you're a fan of Ayn Rand and have never read ANTHEM, you might want to check out this new audiobook on cdbaby, narrated by me: ANTHEM by Aynd Rand (Audiobook) - Performed by Frank Marcopolos

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Saturday Show #87: Everything is Green by David Foster Wallace

Saturday Show #87: Everything is Green by David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace was a literary genius who hung himself due to a life-long battle with clinical depression. His best-known work is the mammoth novel INFINITE JEST. This title comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet:

Yorick is a fictional character in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. He is the dead court jester whose skull is exhumed by the gravedigger in Act 5, Scene 1, of the play. The sight of Yorick's skull evokes a monologue from Prince Hamlet on mortality:

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? (Hamlet, V.i)

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 (, 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

1:19:36 End of podcast

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!


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,

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.