A.C.O.T.M.

Idle Worship: Frederick Exley/F. Scott Fitzgerald

Posted on January 28, 2013 by

EXLEY

I discovered him this last fall, which any reader of Exley will know is the ideal season to discover his masterpiece, A Fan’s Notesa book heralded as the “best novel written in the english language since The Great Gatsby,” and loved by literary types and sports fans in America and the world over. I’d owned copies of Pages from a Cold Island and Last Notes from Home for several months as per Amazon’s guidance after ordering several works by Louis-Ferdinand Celine, not knowing that the two books comprised the finishing touches on the man’s trilogy, they sat on my shelf for just the right amount of time until I was ready to read something I knew next to nothing about.

Upon looking up his name, you’ll find very little: a few images, a few quotes, a few selections from the book and a sparsely-littered Wikipedia page informing you of biographical information (Born March 28, 1929 in Watertown, NY. Died June 17, 1992 and was buried in Watertown), won the Guggenheim Fellowship, drank like a fish, taught at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, and so on and so forth. It wasn’t these facts that concerned me, it was a recent rereading of The Great Gatsby and the juxtaposition of that quote on the cover of Amazon’s copy of A Fan’s Notes that drew me in. I ordered a copy, and after waiting several days sat down in the bathtub with a few cans of O’doul’s (I don’t drink, but it’s Exley for fuck’s sake…) and three hours later was 100+ pages deep into the book, ready to fall fast asleep only to wake the next day ready to read more.

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Idle Worship: Jim Thompson

Posted on January 23, 2013 by

THOMPSON

This week I’ll be taking a quick minute to reflect on the legacy of American pulp master Jim Thompson. Though I’ve already written a bit about one of his novels that happens to have shaped the movement of my life, POP. 1280, I haven’t exactly commented on the man himself and overall what he’s come to mean to me as a writer and an inspiration.

I won’t delve into much biographical material because that doesn’t interest me nearly as much as the faux-autobiographies Thompson wrote about himself, but I will say that the man lived a very classic, and tragic American life. Born to a wild man of a father, the sheriff Caddo County, Oklahoma, Thompson was no stranger to crime and the wrong side of the law from a very young age. He began writing at a fairly young age–nothing all that serious or indicative of his later work, mind you–and began drinking and smoking like a regular pro fairly early on as well. In his lifetime he suffered nervous breakdowns, family tragedies, worked any number of jobs and underwent investigation for communist affiliations.

(here’s a recent review I wrote of Thompson’s ‘The Killer Inside Me for HTMLGIANT)

His best known works are probably the aforementioned Pop. 1280, The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters, and Savage Night, which is still lauded as one of the strangest and most experimental works of crime fiction ever created. He also worked with director Stanley Kubrick on The Killing, Paths of Glory, and Spartacus, as Kubrick was a very outspoken fan of his work and heralded him as one of the great minds in fiction of his time.

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Idle Worship: Norman Mailer/Raymond Carver

Posted on January 13, 2013 by

Over at my blog, I used to keep notes regarding certain authors I was thinking about a great deal and compile them into posts called ‘Dead Writer Wednesdays’. I was looking through them more recently what with my new effort here at Delphian Inc., ‘Idle Worship,’ and decided that with a bit of reworking they’d make nice essays about literary fandom and idolatry to fit the template set forth in last week’s column.

I’ve decided to post these next two columns in pairs that–for me–reflect the periods in my life when I felt most indebted to the respective authors and their works. I also enjoyed the contrast of older/more contemporary scribes balanced together to illustrate the very scatterbrained pursuit of learning just what the fuck good writing is.

Anyway, this week it’ll be Norman Mailer, and Raymond Carver; two authors I’ve loved and will forever read for very different reasons:

MAILER

First, I wanted to show this picture, taken from this slideshow over at The New York Times, mostly to segue into my favorite topic relating to Mailer: isolation. 

Now Mailer ran for Mayor of New York City, published many massive books critiquing modern culture and made no apologies for standing up for them in the public arena right until the last day of his life. He went on talk shows numerous times, spoke out at rallies and marched on Washington–only to write about it, seemingly days after it occurred with Armies of the Night that won the Pulitzer–directed several films and even managed at the end of it all to guest star on an episode of Gilmore Girls; likely (hopefully…) to help out his son, who I think wanted to be an actor. And yet, I still proclaim that Mailer himself was one of the most isolated figures in all of world letters in the 20th century, but why?

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