Ornament is crime (klepted from biblioklept)
In my forthcoming book, a bunch of engineers gather and “singalong” to the following apocryphal cassette tape, which to my knowledge came from a cable tv office answering machine in Kingston, ON, Canada back in 1988. Other people have other origin stories, of course — it’s been making the rounds, first slowly as copied casettes, and then as mp3s. I claim to have a “true 2nd generation” copy of course!
Saunders is an American writer in the same way that Chingiz Aitmatov is a Kyrgyz writer or Robert Service is a Yukon poet. He speaks for the place. He especially speaks for the lower-class white part of the place. And if, like me, that is a part of America you know well, but from which you have become estranged in later life, then it can be particularly gratifying to see Saunders describing it with such great power of observation. The encounters in “Puppy” and in “Home”, between the benighted, marginalized lower classes, on the one hand, and the equally benighted, but vastly more self-satisfied, so-called ‘middle class’ on the other, seem to tell the whole story of America, and a good part of my own life history in America. When the middle-class mom goes to pick up the puppy from the white-trash family, and sees “the dry aquarium holding the single encyclopedia volume, the pasta pot on the bookshelf with an inflatable candy cane inexplicably sticking out of it,” I swear I have known both sides of this encounter with equal intimacy, and love, and desire to get away.
1. Decide when in the day (or night) it best suits you to write, and organise your life accordingly.
2. Think with your senses as well as your brain.
3. Honour the miraculousness of the ordinary.
4. Lock different characters/elements in a room and tell them to get on.
5. Remember there…
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