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"I see a door, holes in the floor."

Barker
Sunny today, though not precisely warm. I opened my office window for about five minutes, then shut it again. But it'll be warmer tomorrow, and the tree outside my office window has tiny green shoots.

Nothing was written yesterday. Most of the day was spent trying to find a vignette. Still not sure whether or not I did. Also, I tried to work on the interview for Clarkesworld. You'll recall (or you won't) that back in the autumn I declared a moratorium on interviews, after having done a dozen or so relating to the release of The Red Tree. I thought that perhaps I was ready to begin giving interviews again. I may have been wrong. I answered the first question yesterday, and began the second...and suddenly it all sounded like bullshit, everything I'd said. The more I write, the older I get, the less interest I have in writing about how and why I write. The stories should speak for themselves. I do intend to finish this interview, but it will likely be my last for some time to come.

I slept almost eight hours again last night. I assume it's one of the new meds.

And I have this question, via email from Ron St. Pierre: "I know you do not write horror, but your stories give me a chill at times. I was re-reading my draft, and it gave me a chill. Is that how you know a story is working, when it really scares yourself?"

No. I can only think of a two or three times that I've written stories that frightened me. "Rats Live on No Evil Star," that one did. Perhaps also "La Peau Verte." But it's a very, very rare thing, when that happens. Which is hardly surprising, as I'm not trying to write stories that "scare" people (which is one of several reasons I say I'm not a "horror" writer). And even if a story were to frighten me, given the inherent subjectivity of fear, scaring myself would be no guarantee than anyone else would have the same reaction. Sometimes, when I am writing, there is a sort of frission, a certain intensity. When I feel that, I usually suspect that "a story is working." Well, for me, at least. There is never, ever any way to know that a story that works just fine for me will work for anyone else. No matter how desperately a writer may strive for mass appeal, or even appeal beyond him- or herself, the enterprise is too personal, too introverted, too subjective to ever know such a thing a priori. If others like it, you have on your hands a fortunate accident and nothing more. And there I was more articulate than my attempts to answer interview questions yesterday.

---

Last night, we watched the Coen Brothers' A Serious Man. Wow. An amazing, unnerving film. At least, we found it so. I expect many people watched the film and were simply baffled. I loved the prologue, it's encounter with a dybbuk on a snowy night. The remainder of the film builds towards a peculiar crescendo that interweaves the utterly inexplicable nature of the universe (or, if you prefer, "God"), Jewish American culture in the late 1960s/early 1970s, the story of Job, a sort of anti-nostalgia, the inscrutability of mankind, and an almost Fortean spite for anything like comprehension. The final shot...which I won't reveal...gave me chills. And the film is also quite funny, though, in the end, the laughs seem to add up to a very, very cruel joke. Very highly recommended.

And now, the day.

Comments

( 14 comments — Have your say! )
robyn_ma
Apr. 19th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
I took A Serious Man as sort of an unofficial sequel to Barton Fink. They're essentially let's-torment-the-Jewish-dork companion pieces. Both films also feature pus as a motif. Also, both are great movies.
greygirlbeast
Apr. 19th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)

I took A Serious Man as sort of an unofficial sequel to Barton Fink.

Interesting.
robyn_ma
Apr. 20th, 2010 12:06 am (UTC)
Also, it occurred to me that what's in the box in Barton Fink is Schrödinger’s cat.

The movies really do go perfectly together. A Serious Man could very well take place in the same universe as Barton Fink twenty or so years later.

But then the Coens' filmography is full of natural double features (that most likely weren't planned that way). Blood Simple/No Country for Old Men. Raising Arizona/O Brother, Where Art Thou. The Hudsucker Proxy/The Big Lebowski. Miller's Crossing/The Man Who Wasn't There. Fargo/Burn After Reading. And so on.
greygirlbeast
Apr. 20th, 2010 12:42 am (UTC)

Also, it occurred to me that what's in the box in Barton Fink is Schrödinger’s cat.

Yes! Exactly.

But I'd still pair Barton Fink with Miller's Crossing.
poesillchild
Apr. 19th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
a serious man
I laughed out loud at much of the film. My wife sort of understood it yet really didn't get it.

It helps to have been raised in a Jewish family. The outright acceptance of bad/unacceptable events fit like the perfect puzzle piece into the way Jews lived during the late 60's. That is what life is like when you use the Old Testament as your life guide, God's wrath will eventually make your life miserable.

Lucky me. I;ve been a practicing Jew.

greygirlbeast
Apr. 19th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
Re: a serious man

I laughed out loud at much of the film.

Just so long as you didn't "lol."

It helps to have been raised in a Jewish family.

This thought occurred to me.

God's wrath will eventually make your life miserable.

At one point, I said to Spooky, "God's a sadistic bastard."
relby
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:35 am (UTC)
Re: a serious man
I watched it again on Saturday, this time with my dad, who pointed out a few bits that were straight-up old-skool Catskills shtick (as when the protag asks what happened to the goy with the letters on his teeth and the rabbi replies, "Who cares?"

And I realized this time what the rabbi was doing when he was "thinking."
alvyarin
Apr. 19th, 2010 09:49 pm (UTC)
Will you tell me where to find "Rats Live on No Evil Star"? I don't believe I've read it...and would like to.
greygirlbeast
Apr. 19th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC)

Will you tell me where to find "Rats Live on No Evil Star"? I don't believe I've read it...and would like to.

It's been included in all three editions of Tales of Pain and Wonder, but nowhere else.
alvyarin
Apr. 20th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
This is one of your books that is no longer available unless you auction off a copy on eBay, right? I need to print oout a bibliography of yours so I can keep better track. =)
greygirlbeast
Apr. 20th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)

This is one of your books that is no longer available unless you auction off a copy on eBay, right?

Unfortunately, yes. eBay, used copies on Amazon.com, etc.
mellawyrden
Apr. 20th, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC)
Did you think the Dybbuk and the great Rabbi who gave the kid his things back were the same person? He had so many things in his study that made me think he was. He wasn't played by the same actor though.
greygirlbeast
Apr. 20th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)

Did you think the Dybbuk and the great Rabbi who gave the kid his things back were the same person?

It was a tempting thought. However, as you point out, different actor. Also, the Coens have said the only connection between the prologue and main story is thematic, that it's mostly there to set mood.
lavendartime
Apr. 20th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
Tolkien
Tolkien hated interview too. He detested the need to connect a writer psychologically to the writing. Let it stand on it's own, become it's own, and blossom to what it will be! I feel ya...

From a Fellow Writer,

Rachelle
( 14 comments — Have your say! )