Archives for September 2013


The New Yorker forgot to caption this cartoon on their home page. I decided to help out

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 10.49.56 AM“Doesn’t the poor bastard know he’s on death row?”

Here Comes Everybody

Spider web; J Schmidt; 1977

We’re gonna need a bigger sidebar. Plus a Venn diagram. I mean, you got us, Korrektiv Press. And the upcoming title (available tomorrow!) from Labora Editions is Surfing with Mel, which started life as a Korrektiv ebook. And the editor over at Tuscany Press is one Joseph O’Brien, who blogs ’round here as JOB. Plus there’s that fancy chat between Korrektiv author Brian Jobe and Wiseblood publisher Joshua Hren. And I was arguing with Greg Wolfe at Image about Catholic fiction way back in 2008. (I sound pretty dumb in that debate, but what else is new?) I’ll list more connections as they are unearthed.

Now Playing


Temporarily Not For Sale


Declaration of Principles

Over at Labora Editions:

I have loved books all my life. I take a romantic view of them, as one inevitably does with the things one loves, and my approach to publishing is colored by that view. Tuscany’s Peter Mongeau comes from a business background and rightly talks about the publishing market and “barriers to entry” and “distribution channels.” My background is in studio art, (ceramics, specifically) and I bring my ideas of form, function, the mark of the hand, and the importance of craft to my process of making books.

The other publishers featured in this post are, so far as I can tell, producing books according to the current standard practices of book manufacture, and that is perfectly fine. I was happy to pay for all of the aforementioned purchases; I can’t wait to get my hands on them, to have a chance to sit still and read. But the standard practice is not what appeals to me as a craftsman. The book is a kind of vessel, and I am as interested in the thing itself as in what goes between the covers. The content, of course, must “dazzle gradually,” so to speak, but my parallel aspiration is to create an attractive, durable vessel.

I think of it as craft publishing. Recently, in an email to Matthew Lickona I described the idea thus: “Like a microbrewery, except with books.”

Sherman Alexie

The Spokane falls where ghosts of salmon
Foreseen by Sherman fill their gills
With Catholic gilt and white man’s mammon
To pay for rehabs and oil pills,
Basalt and concrete worn by water
Flowing genocidal slaughter,
Coyote’s unrequited love,
Alexie’s push that comes to shove.
The towns of Wellpinit and Reardan,
The left and right arms that draw
You to Spokane’s hungry maw,
Release you now; but do not harden
The paths of your own tears that trail
Down windows in Seattle’s vale.

Surfing with Mel available for pre-order

Spread the word.


Sword of Honour Radio Drama — Incoming!

‘Everyone thinks ill of the BBC’, Evelyn Waugh told a BBC interviewer in 1960.

Nevertheless, fourteen years later, the same BBC adapted Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy into a radio drama — a situation in which, though it may have seemed hard at first to judge whether Waugh, or the Beeb, had the last laugh, it’s clear upon reflection that neither did (corpses and corporations being equally incapable of laughter).

Now is the age of the reboot, and the BBC is preparing to broadcast a brand-new radio dramatization of Sword of Honour.

It’ll be a seven-episode series; Episode 1 is set to air on Sunday, September 29 on Radio 4. It’s supposed to become available online here.

Since it hasn’t been broadcast yet, I haven’t heard and can’t vouch for the new adaptation’s quality: This is a heads-up, not an endorsement. That said, it is an Evelyn Waugh radio drama: Whatever the outcome, there will be something worthwhile in that broadcast.


Jess Walter

Your name recalls another Jesse—
The outlaw James whose name came down
The falls and tumbled graves of history,
Like Springdale dogs that will not drown.
Your books pile up, basalt-like, columns
Beneath them, reporter’s stratagems
From ink to paper, one eye dark
But one enough to light a spark.
Evince the witness of the breaking
Unbroken ground of needless naught
Within your grasp but dearly bought
Self-loathing but not self-forsaking.
Your soul, dear Jess, is nonetheless
The ruins that I’d have God bless.

Pope Frank About Preferences in the Arts

This interview has been getting some attention, of course, and in some cases completely misunderstood, of course. And maybe this isn’t such a great subject to light upon either, but I particularly enjoyed reading about what he likes most in the Arts. In literature there is Dostoevsky, Hölderlin, Hopkins, Manzoni, in painting he mentions Caravaggio and Chagall, and in opera the list seemed to go on and on.

But I especially liked this:

“We should also talk about the cinema. ‘La Strada,’ by Fellini, is the movie that perhaps I loved the most. I identify with this movie, in which there is an implicit reference to St. Francis. I also believe that I watched all of the Italian movies with Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi when I was between 10 and 12 years old. Another film that I loved is ‘Rome, Open City.’ I owe my film culture especially to my parents who used to take us to the movies quite often.”

Makes me feel just a little less guilty about my indulgence in the movies. But what I liked most was his response to his time spent teaching literature to secondary school students:

Then I also started to get them to write. In the end I decided to send Borges two stories written by my boys. I knew his secretary, who had been my piano teacher. And Borges liked those stories very much. And then he set out to write the introduction to a collection of these writings.”

When the white smoke last appeared, the first question on my mind was “I wonder what he makes of Borges?” (not proud of that, but we all look for what we want to see). And I remember reading that the pope was a fan, but I hadn’t heard that he’d had much contact with blind bard of Buenos Aires. Makes a certain sense, actually, and I was happy to learn of it.

Real Estate of Arcadia – Part III


With man’s capacity for pleasure’s pain
I am part of a rascally race, a goat
Who fetches fair price when brought to market.
So what’s the worth of wilderness and mountain?

But, no – I am not easily convinced
The starker beauty of the ancient myths
Must yield to midnight torches, rakes and scythes
To see the “quality of life” advanced…

No, I’m not so easily persuaded –
Though multitudes begin to trace a path
In firestorm and riot – frenzy’s swath
To cut through nature’s ordered calm, aided

By honed appetite, ambition’s principle,
To engineer avenues, boulevards,
Manage union strengths and strikers’ canards,
And mint their counterfeit cities on a hill.

Why does mankind call forth this blackening storm?
These hard-blowing winds? Destruction, pillage?
The rapacity that reigns? O, to pledge
Again by the strength of Jove’s throwing arm!


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Bird’s Nest in Your Dappled Things

Mr Hren interviews Mr Jobe … and does a crackerjack job of it.

Prisoner Work Release

The Real Estate of Arcadia – Part II

arcadia 3

Rain falls at angles against cliff and crevice,
Eating further into the mountain’s limestone,
Leaving gaping punchbowls – a debt on loan
To drink up accounts of time’s inchmeal voice.

And no soft whispers come from the forest –
Instead, summer and autumn winds sound off
In clashing private battles, cough for cough,
Cancerous at least – emphysemic at best.

We take our stand at death’s own windy doors
Pitching tents for Faun and Dryad’s alliance –
That ancient, hauntingly sweet reliance
On intimacy, mine and these sister-whores’.

Ah, seasons! I am all too prone to love –
Have given up the habit of mysteries…
It all ends this month with last rites and manes
Cashed out on bottom lines over and above

An increasingly urban populace
Who eschew the bloodbath of ritual
To trade in tooth and horn, with bear and bull
Embraced as idylls of the marketplace.

Idea for a Sitcom

Everybody Loves Francis

The Real Estate of Arcadia – Part I

arcadia 2

Men like you are now caught up in the chase or
Now caring for a pleasant acreage…

I set down hoof gingerly against stone
Recalling small snapshots of Arcadia
Back when estates were paying in stadia
For the capricious and copious horn.

My brethren just sold the last rough parcel
Of sacred grove and the centaurs’ pasture
(And some fifty bowers just for good measure);
So here I am, less myth than sideshow marvel.

Call me George Goatman, though no one else does.
For proof, here’s my panpipe, the stops smutted
With wood-rot where once they sang clean-fluted
Epithalamions. Now each echo is

A dismal buzz as I inspect this burnt-out
Scene of violence, a recent holocaust
Where unconsumed sacrifice stinks, long-past
Its prime and left behind by the devout –

Clear evidence that they cleared the hell out.
I look on with sadness and dejection:
Such scenes spell the end of honest seduction
And indict naiad and faun in a sell-out.