Five for Today

  1. Ermita is a district of the city of Manila where I live. It has long had a reputation as a red-light district, so I was surprised to learn that the word itself “always refers to an uninhabited or isolated place, a location for spiritual retreat”: the sacred and the profane?
  2. I like jazz a lot, but if there was a musical genre I’m trying to integrate in my work, it would be (punk) rock. Still, Lauren Camp’s “What’s In The Notes: The Sound Of Jazz In Poetry” made for interesting reading.
  3. I’m not really too cozy with the work of Richard Wilbur, but “A Birthday Card For Richard Wilbur” is a nice piece that spends time talking about simile, which is not one of my strong points, and it reminds me that Wilbur has a poem called “Lying.”
  4. “The Sweetest Sounds I Ever Heard” is a short piece about what it means for a piece of prose to be poetic. I’d prefer a longer discussion, but it’s not always that you read an article for general readers that focuses on the sonic quality of language in prose. As someone specializing in poetry for my MA but also struggling through taking a fiction class this semester, I enjoyed reading this.
  5. Actually, I used to aspire to be a fiction writer, and one of my early influences was Patrick McGrath, which means I very badly imitated him. These days, I don’t read him that often anymore, much less imitate him, but I still enjoyed his short stories a great deal when I re-read a couple last year. I like reading his interviews, too. Here’s another.

Some Books I Want to Read

I plan to eventually read all of David Mitchell‘s books, but I sort of want to start with Black Swan Green, just because I want to push this envelope and write a piece entitled “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Swan.” (And speaking of Mitchell, the first pair of exchanges that begin this interview crack me up, in a good way.)

I plan to eventually read all of Jennifer Egan‘s books, but I sort of want to start with A Visit from the Goon Squad, just because it’s about punk rock. (And speaking of Egan, here’s a short essay she wrote about the literary Gothic for a home improvement magazine.)

I plan to eventually read all of Gary Shteyngart’s books, but I sort of want to start with Super Sad True Love Story, just because this excerpt had me laughing as much as the book’s title. (And speaking of Shteyngart, here’s the best book trailer I’ve ever seen.)

I plan to eventually read Rob Sheffield’s other book, but I sort of want to start with Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut, because Duran Duran was the first band I ever loved. (And speaking of Sheffield, here’s his playlist of 80’s summer cruising songs.)