Alright, so, I never post.
I went to AWP this past weekend-- this annual writing conference that generally functions as a vehicle for a bunch of writers to get drunk together. There are panels and readings and the like; the panels tend to be fairly awful, the readings fairly good.
The two panels ended up being mediocre and awesome, respectively. The former was interesting in its own right (a bunch of authors discussing how New York culture has affected the gay literary community over the years), although the presentations tended toward anecdotal conversations instead of really heavily thought-out speeches.
Oddly, though, I ended up with what I think is my first literary obsession. I don't know how to explain it, but I've never been very good at keeping up with the names of contemporary literary figures because, honestly, even big names in the literary community are nobodies everywhere else. Gleaning through all the different potential authors in search of an idol is difficult, because it generally involves searching out obscure books printed from small presses.
Anyway, as it were, I walked into this panel and one of the authors caught my eye immediately. The author, T Cooper (who, being some form of transgender without the hormone use and operations, prefers not to be referred to with pronouns at all), ended up talking about this book spanning multiple generations of Jews, from a woman obsessed with Charles Lindbergh to her grandchild, a transgendered Eminem impersonator. I picked up the book (Lipshitz 6 or Two Angry Blondes) at the bookfair, and while I haven't started it yet, I'm looking forward to it.
A few factors really fascinate me about Cooper:
A) I did read one of Cooper's stories that appeared in The New Yorker last year, about a man who accidentally kills his son and moves to Cambodia. Fabulous stuff. OMG. Cooper weaves together the threads of the end of the narrator's marriage, his affair with a new woman in Cambodia, and the woman's cousin's whale-killing business in this magically non-melodramatic narrative.
B) Cooper and Cooper's girlfriend have managed to achieve this celebrity status in the gay community, even garnering a photo spread in Curve magazine. I think the reason this interests me is because writers, much less writer couples, get little attention in the mainstream media when they're not authoring best sellers. Generally speaking, the authors who do get the attention have work that's easily accessible, which, from what I've heard, Lipshitz 6 is not.
C) Cooper used to be in a boy band. Hello!
D) Androgyny = attractive in my book.
From the writing stand point, I like have somebody who awes me with their skill. "Swimming," the story from The New Yorker, was more carefully constructed than anything I could fathom piecing together on my own at this point. At the same time, since Cooper's still only thirty-something, it makes me feel like I have a specific level of ability I can strive for-- Cooper definitely has a lot of experience on me, but unlike with the demi-gods of contemporary writing (read: people my parents' age), it still seems achievable; I only need a few more years' experience to see results, not a lifetime.
I haven't been submitting since I came to grad school, which is something that bothers me. At the same time, I don't feel like any of the stories I've written have been worthy of the magazines I enjoy reading-- nothing I write really strikes me as something I'd want to read. I'm finally putting finishing touches on a story that I DO like and could see myself reading for fun if another person wrote it. The submission envelopes are stacked on my desk, labeled to go to my favorite magazines. After spending the first half of my grad school career feeling as though I'm floundering, I'm finally reaching a solid level of confidence in my current ability and how I can continue to grow as a writer.
|comments: Leave a comment|