Posted: February 23rd, 2013 | Author: Matt | Filed under: personal | Tags: books, novels, reading, recommended, underappreciated | No Comments »
These are some of the books that I often find myself recommending to people. Usually these are people who have read David Foster Wallace, Cormac McCarthy, Don DeLillo, Cloud Atlas, and Moby-Dick (or whatever) and are interested in something a little more offbeat. But these aren’t too offbeat. You’ve likely already read at least one or more of these, too.
1. Log of the SS The Mrs Unguentine by Stanley Crawford
This short novel (novella?) tells the story of a marriage aboard a gigantic barge. Like most of these books, it’s hard to accurately describe. The narrator has a unique voice and the fact that it’s set aboard a ship calls to mind a postmodern Melville and Waterworld. It’s the kind of book that other writers read and think “Damn, I wish I’d written that.”
2. This is Not a Novel by David Markson
Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress got a huge plug from David Foster Wallace, but Markson’s index-card tetraology of Reader’s Block, This is Not a Novel, Vanishing Point, and The Last Novel, are to me, more rereadable. (I even started a twitter account dedicated to them.) Evan Lavender-Smith called them “like porn for English majors.”
3. From Old Notebooks by Evan Lavender-Smith
Speaking of EL-S, his book, From Old Notebooks, takes the form of Markson’s books (although he also traces the form back to Evan S. Connell’s Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel) and updates it, giving us insight into the modern mind of the writer. If you liked Markson’s books, you’ll love Evan Lavender-Smith’s. I can’t say enough good things about it. Read biblioklept’s review.
4. The Journalist by Harry Mathews
Mathews is best known as the only American OuLiPo member, and all of his work bears some formal mark of constraint, but this novel stands out to me as his best. It’s the story of a journalist trying to make sense of his life and organize his thoughts–and of course, he slowly goes insane. If you liked Wittgenstein’s Mistress and Pale Fire, I am sure that you will like The Journalist.
5. Live Girls by Beth Nugent
This book is seriously, direly under-appreciated. I remember the day the book came out and every year or so since then I go back and read a few pages of it and can’t believe how incredible it is. The characters are strange and quirky and completely original and the story itself is just incredibly heart-rending. By my accounting, Live Girls should be considered one of the best novels published in the 1990s. If you like Steve Erickson or Vollman’s The Royal Family, you’ll probably like this, too, but I wouldn’t limit the appeal of it there.
6. Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine
Chris Ware’s Jimmy Corrigan is now considered part of the pantheon of not just great graphic novels, but great contemporary novels. I agree and would g0 a step farther to say that fans of Chris Ware need to read Adrian Tomine. Summer Blonde is one of his best, but you can’t go wrong with Shortcomings, or any single edition of his Optic Nerve series. The latest issue of Optic Nerve contains an interesting allegory about art that deserves greater attention outside of comics circles.
7. The Lost Scrapbook by Evan Dara
This is one of the great “big” novels of the 1990s. It’s also probably the least known. Dara, almost certainly a pseudonym, plays with form and voices in a way that calls to mind Gaddis in his prime. The story is almost incidental, but part of it is an ecological thriller.
8. The Last Western by Thomas Klise
This is an obscure novel I learned about from Maria Bustillos on wallace-l. I looked for a cheap copy for years before finally picking one up on ABE for $25. Maria’s appreciation of the book is required reading. I’m certain that a publisher will re-issue it at some point and will make a good profit. The story is about an unlikely hero–a pope from New Mexico.
9. I Know Many Songs But I Cannot Sing by Brian Kiteley
Kiteley’s short novel takes place in Cairo during Ramadan. An American named Ib gets lost and wanders through an almost hallucinatory set of experiences. If you are a fan of Paul Bowles or Amitav Ghosh, you need to read this book. Also recommended is Kiteley’s masterful first novel, Still Life With Insects.
10. The Method Actors by Carl Shuker
Shuker’s novel immediately garnered comparisons to David Foster Wallace and David Mitchell when it was published in New Zealand. The voices and set pieces are dazzling. For me they call to mind the great Henry Green’s books full of characters in medias res, leaving the reader to sort out who is who and what is really going on. Shuker’s other books are also all highly recommended.
11. Super-Cannes by J.G. Ballard
Ballard may be known for Crash, but for me, this book best represents his critique of modern society. The picture he paints of Cannes is a mirror of almost every luxurious suburb and his eye for detail helps create an image that is compelling and abhorrent at the same time.
12. The Story of a Million Years by David Huddle
This one is a little different in that it is a love story, but Huddle deserves to be mentioned alongside Updike or Roth because he is more compassionate and able to craft believable female protagonists. This is not a book I frequently re-read (although it’s short), but one I’m glad I read when I did. I also liked his book La Tour Dreams of the Wolf Girl. My wife, Jordan, gets credit for introducing me to Huddle!
Posted: January 8th, 2013 | Author: Matt | Filed under: DFW | Tags: clips, DFW, wallace-l, writing | No Comments »
I recently wrote an essay about David Foster Wallace and my experience with the D.T. Max biography here on Fiction Advocate.
Posted: September 11th, 2012 | Author: Matt | Filed under: personal | Tags: blogs, clips, DFW, mentions, paleking, personal, streetview, writing | No Comments »
Here are a few things I’ve written lately, or places where I’ve been quoted or mentioned online.
Back in June I was quoted in this ABC News article about dad blogs.
I wrote a weird little thing about what Ringo Starr thinks about while he’s drumming. It was on the blog of the Missouri Review.
My most recent piece for Google Sightseeing was about Colima, a volcano in Mexico.
Several places have mentioned my Street View blog, Apres Garde, including this Italian newspaper (TMNews) and anrick.com.
I contributed a short piece on The Pale King to an Italian DFW site for their Pale Winter project. It was kindly translated into Italian by Roberto Natalini and Andrea Firrincieli.
On my Roberto Bolaño site, I wrote an essay about his novel The Third Reich.
Posted: May 17th, 2012 | Author: Matt | Filed under: personal | Tags: blogs, mentions, personal, writing | No Comments »
A lot has changed in the online world since I got my first email address in 1995. A lot has changed in my own expectations of a creative and successful career. My day job is working as a Project Manager for Pearson Assessment. My main job is being a dad to two little boys, and wooing my wife. All of my creative projects are thus relegated to “side” projects, pretty much all of them online at this point. The metrics for what makes a successful project (or even a good day spent online) are somewhat subjective and personal to me. I don’t go by pageviews or hits (unless they were all astronomical numbers & I had ads – then I would care!), so here are a few things that make me happy online:
- when one of my Metafilter comments or posts gets 100+ favorites
- when Emily Gould “likes” one of my posts on Tumblr
-when one of my Tumblr posts ends up on the Tumblr radar or Staff Blog
- when Hari Kunzru retweeted one of my tweets (though he doesn’t have as many followers as @sarahw or @goldman or @noradio who have also retweeted me). I’ve also had twitter interactions with people I admire like Craig Newmark, Anil Dash, and Rogers Cadenhead.
- any time my name appears on kottke.org
-a pic I post on mlkshk gets 1000+ views or 100+ likes
Maybe this is gauche to admit, maybe it’s not cool to admit you like “favorites” or stars or karma or whatever, but I don’t care. This is me.
Posted: October 6th, 2011 | Author: Matt | Filed under: DFW, personal | Tags: blogs, DFW, mentions, paleking, personal, quote, ransomcenter | No Comments »
I haven’t updated this site for a while because of a bizarre WordPress error, but all seems well now.
I’ve been busy the past six months! I’ve posted a lot of new things at SimpleRanger.net, tons of new images at Apres Garde, and started posting a lot over at mlkshk. I’ve started one mlkshk for Breaking Bad (new favorite show) and one for modern homes. I think I only have one new post up at GoogleSightseeing, but I have a couple more in the works.
I started a new project to build a wiki for The Pale King: http://palekingwiki.com
I was quoted in this CultureMap series about the DFW archives at the Ransom Center in Austin (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5).
And just a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Arlo’s first birthday!
Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: Matt | Filed under: DFW, personal | No Comments »
The Ransom Center event for The Pale King in Austin on April 15 will begin at 7pm (doors open at 6:30) in Jessen Auditorium. The readings will be held in conjunction with the New Fiction Confab. Readers include Julie Orringer, Jake Silverstein, Doug Dorst, and Kevin Brockmeier.
Before the event, we are going to have a wallace-l meetup at Scholz Garten, starting at 4pm. We’ll walk over to the auditorium from Scholz. There is no evite or anything. You can just show up—and you don’t have to be a member of the list to show up, all DFW fans welcome.
There will be a reception after the reading at The Ransom Center. They will have books for sale.
The next day, April 16, we will have another wallace-l meetup, ostensibly to discuss TPK, at Opal Divine’s Freehouse on Sixth Street at noon. If you are coming from out of town and want to RSVP or just chat about Austin, feel free to email me at mattbucher at gmail.com.
See you then!
Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: Matt | Filed under: DFW | Tags: DFW, paleking, simpleranger | No Comments »
David Foster Wallace’s posthumous, unfinished novel The Pale King will be published on April 15 and I am really excited about it. Of course, it’s the complete opposite reality of how I’d like to read it—without Wallace alive to finish it and talk about it. But the fact is, the book is being published in this reality and it’s the last novel of his we’ll ever see (I assume). When the book comes out, I’m going to be writing about it over on my site Simple Ranger. In fact, I’ve already written a couple of posts about it (The Pale King approaches, The Pale King so far) and there will be more posts about it over there before April 15.
Posted: January 10th, 2011 | Author: Matt | Filed under: DFW, personal | Tags: apresgarde, blogs, clips, DFW, interview, mentions, personal, quote, streetview | No Comments »
I’ve been busy lately! Last month I was interviewed for this article on the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog:
If the movement to which Eckert is alluding has a head, it is probably Matt Bucher of Austin, Texas, whose day job is editing textbooks at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. For the past eight years, Bucher has administered Wallace-L, the largest list-serve connecting Wallace fans across the United States. … Bucher explains that Wallace-L spun off from a Thomas Pynchon emailing list in the late 1990s. It has swelled from about 100 members in 1996-97 to 1000 at present. Bucher, who started monitoring the list in 2002, reports that there was a roughly 25% increase in membership in the months following Wallace’s death. Though generally pleased, Bucher complains that some of the information online has gotten less reliable.
Also, I was mentioned in this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Meanwhile, Sideshow Media Group, run by an independent Wallace scholar named Matt Bucher, just published Consider David Foster Wallace, a collection of critical essays born out of the first academic conference on Wallace, held at the University of Liverpool in 2009. (Another Wallace conference took place that year at the City University of New York.)
In Street View news, my Apres Garde blog was mentioned in this Italian news article: http://notizie.virgilio.it/esteri/blog-fotografici-da-google-street-view-fenomeno-web-2010_142053.html
Over at my other site, Simple Ranger, I’ve posted some things that weren’t right for Apres Garde:
Street View Essay – Macau
Vending Machines of Yokohama
And a bunch of “Best of” Apres Garde posts that collect thematic posts there:
Best of Apres Garde – People
Best of Apres Garde – Roads
Best of Apres Garde – Fields
Best of Apres Garde – Darkness
Best of Apres Garde – The Sea
Posted: December 9th, 2010 | Author: Matt | Filed under: DFW, personal | No Comments »
I wrote a short essay about David Foster Wallace’s undergraduate honors thesis in philosophy, out this month from Columbia University Press, titled Fate, Time, and Language.
Also, I interviewed one of the coeditors of that volume, the philosopher Steven Cahn, about Wallace’s work in philosophy.
The Texas Book Festival panel on Wallace I moderated back in October was mentioned in this article in the local NBC affiliate.
Sam Potts created an awesome poster of all the characters in Infinite Jest: http://sampottsinc.com/ij/
I’ve started a new site called Simple Ranger. Right now it just has “Best of” posts collected from my Apres Garde site, but I have big plans for it.
Posted: November 5th, 2010 | Author: Matt | Filed under: DFW, personal | No Comments »
The video of this event is now available here: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/multimedia/video/
I was quoted in a story about the DFW event here: http://www.dailytexanonline.com/content/fans-celebrate-late-author%E2%80%99s-works
My latest posts at Google Sightseeing are about Isla Mujeres: http://googlesightseeing.com/2010/09/isla-mujeres-island-week-5/ and the Tribal Art of Taiwu Township, Taiwan http://googlesightseeing.com/2010/10/tribal-art-of-taiwu-township-taiwan/ (did you even know Taiwan had aborignes??).