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2.03.2010

There's MILFs, DILFS, and...WILFs...

I once read an article (I swear I read it, I just can't find it!) that said that if you have the looks, you should send a picture of yourself with your writing submission. The idea is that if you're good looking enough, people might give you more attention, they might even like you. I never took that advice to heart. To me, it would be like accidently slipping in a twenty dollar bill with your manuscript, or else a little baggie of drugs. And anyway, I wouldn't want to be known just for a look. If that were the case, I would've done porn, and there is a market for thin Asian guys yelling "Suckie, fuckie $2" and "Me so horny." But I'm not that. I'm more
sophisticated then that: I tell lies. Or, how those college professors like to call it, I write stories (and poems and essays and etc). I am a writer/liar. And overall, writers are not good looking people. We are recluses. We are social outcasts who rather stay home to write, or else if we do go out, it's with a note pad to make sure we capture the real world for the crazy piece of crap it really is. That's a potrait of a writer for you.

But then there are those who look like they shouldn't be writers. They look like they should work in modeling. Or at least, in retail, in a department store, spraying heavy perfume on you, but they could do that, because they're beautiful. Beautiful people can do anything. Writing not excluded. Here's my list of WILFS (Writers I'd Like To Fuck [and of course tongue in cheeky]), a thus far short list of some well-known authors, some relatively new ones, and of course, my comments on their writing. It's about looks, but it's all about writing. It was always about the writing.

Tom Rob Smith...Everyone loves a man with a British accent. Better yet if he's part British, part Swedish, and a writer. Everyone knows of Tom Rob Smith. He created that controversory in 2008 because he was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. It was less about the fact that he was gay (and yes he is!), and more about the fact that it's genre fiction: a thriller in a literary contest. Impossible! Just as impossible as a historical novel winning the prize...

I wouldn't say Smith is a stylist, but he writes genre fiction like a good genre fiction writer: with plenty of suspense and intriguing lines. Take the first line of Child 44: "Since Maria had decided to die her cat would have to fend for itself." You could only get that type of sentence after years of working for a Cambodian soap opera, which he did.

Smith is definitely a writer to keep an eye on. He--being half-Swedish--might gain the attention of half of the Swedish 5.


Daniel Allen Cox...used to be a porn star. He is also a Facebook friend, not that he knows that anymore. I told him I was working on a tranny novel or something like that. A couple of years later, I'm working on short stories because a couple of year later I am of the opinion that the great American novel is superfluous. But that's just my opinion. Cox did a good job pulling it off. His novel Shuck, a rather short novel, was nominated by for a Lammy and his next novel, Krakow Melt, will be released this year. DAC's writing is like Chuck Palahniuk. In fact, I think it's fair to say he's the gay Chuck Palahniuk. Wherein Palahniuk is scared about his sexuality (there was a big hoopla a few years back when Palahniuk panicked because he thought a journalist might reveal his sexuality. She didn't. He came out of the closet), Cox writes about it. His next novel, for example, is about pyrotechnics battling homophobia and transphobia (that goodness for that! Gay writers usually try to ignore transpeople, along with other people who are not like them, mainly gay white males). Along with his queer-centered novel(s), he also writes for Capital Xtra. Also, it's his birthday (2/3).

Christopher Rice...Our namesake's son--but of course! Rice seems like a fun guy. The type of guy you'd bring home to mother. He should be what you're looking for when you're looking for in a boyfriend.

Admittedly, I have not yet read a novel of his, but I did read "Mancatch" in Thriller. And admittedly I don't own that book, but I read it in within a couple of minutes in a bookstore. It was, I think, one of the first thrillers have read. I found it gripping. Not Amy Hempel-gripping, the type of gripping that you should sit in a tub (one of her best stories, by the way) during so because you know you're gonna cry, but gripping nonetheless. It surpises me how Rice easily gets along with straight culture, for a guy who writes about gay characters and gay issues. His last book Blind Fall, for example, tackles the issue of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and he tells the story in a popular genre in action-packed, Hollywood style scenes and sentences. In that light, as a writer and a queer activist, I admire Rice. He's doing good for his queer community by reaching out to those who may not even know about us. Like Sandra Brown, romance novelist and Texan, who gave a blurb for Rice's Blind Fall. And that's the power of literature right there. Kudos to Rice! His next book The Moon Lit Earth will be out in April.

Rick Moody...is the judge for the American Short Fiction contest...I may or may not be sucking up. Not that Rick Moody would ever stumble upon this little blog (but writers do frequently Google themselves). If Rick Moody was gay he would be a daddy. I first read Rick Moody in a creative writing class. Later, I read his Alantic article about the MFA factory and how it drove him to be an alcoholic, which is one reason why I never applied  to an MFA program. Moody is a true word artist who once wrote: "It's all about the sentences. It's about the way the sentences move in the paragraph. It's about rhythm..." This shows clearly in his work and for that admire him.

Michael Schiavone...It's funny how you sometimes re-encounter writers in the magazines you read. I first read Schiavone's story "Sweat Angels" in Narrative Magazine. I always liked second-person stories, it takes a lot of guts to write a second person story, and more skill to do it well. The only person I remember doing it notedly well was Lorrie Moore and her collection Self-Help. Second person stories, when done, can be a joy to read. Michael Schiavone's "Sweat Angels" is one of those stories.

It details a fighting match between two fighters, but Schiavone does so poetically almost, with lines that captures perfectly his characters. For example, one of my favorite lines in the piece is: "You roll because your job is hollow. Because you can’t afford alimony. Because visits with your children are supervised. You roll because you want to bang the barista at Starbucks, the lumber girl at Lowe’s. You roll because your teeth are turning yellow. You roll to accept the truth." And he uses the word "mancrush!" You have to hand it to a guy who can use the word "mancrush." What "Sweat Angels" lack, however, is a clear narrative line, which might be unsettling for some. But I still think the piece is beautiful.

The second time I read Schiavone was in Glimmer Tain with the story "No One Comes Here By Accident." Also a well-written story, but this one is less to do with martial arts than about a marriage gone wary. The story is perfectly paced for the right amount of suspense. The story is heart breaking and pitch perfect at conveying the relationship. Schiavone is a writer to watch. His debut novel will be released in 2011. His story collection, You'd Be Crazy Not To Love It Here, is not yet sold to a publisher.


Eugene Cross...does not have a book out yet. I first read his work in the latest issue of American Short Fiction, "Rosaline If You Know What I Mean." That story is perhaps one of the best short stories I have read of recent memory. Among other things, it deals with hamsters, beating up new kids, and BB guns; but like any other story, you can't sum it up, you just have to read it. (For example,if you try to summarize "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor, you get: Girl climbs up barn with boy, boy steals leg, girl is left alone). Cross's work is emotional and hits your heart. Hating Cross's work is like hating puppies; if you hate it you're just not human. Cross teaches the BFA program at Penn State, which must be terrible, because I had a cut-ish creative writing teacher before (she was cute for a girl) and the class nearly got no where because all the straight boys were hitting on her; it must be the same for Cross...Cross is a rising literary supa-star; I'll personally buy ten copies of his book when it comes out. Read Cross's "Hunters" here.

Above all, read these author's work, buy these author's publications. Then you'll know why I like them so much: and it's less about good looks than it is about good writing. But then again, it's about good looks too. Hence, no Philip Roth...

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm, Rick Moody...

    I'm just stopping by after reading your 50-to-1 story, The Facebook Friends, which I liked very much.

    :-)

    ReplyDelete