James Wood’s lighter side

first_imgGazette writer Sarah Sweeney sat down with James Wood, a professor of the practice of literary criticism and a critic with The New Yorker, to discuss his new book, “The Fun Stuff.” Covering a range of topics — the rigors of writing, listening to and playing music, his resemblance to Pete Townshend — Wood was candid, incisive, and, most importantly, fun. GAZETTE: “The Fun Stuff: And Other Essays” is a compilation of work published in The New Yorker and The London Review of Books. What is your revision process?WOOD: When I revise these pieces, I try to make them a bit more timeless, and a bit less local. I take out specific references to books being new — because I’m often reviewing a new book by someone — or I might take out any other obviously trivial or small references made at the moment in the piece. Sometimes I rewrite them a bit so there’s a broader argument than I was able to do in the piece. In general, that would be the approach — to try to “essay-fy” the review.GAZETTE: What are your reading rituals? When you write do you listen to music or do you prefer silence?WOOD: I tend to write at nighttime — a bad habit I got into years ago when I was working at The Guardian and had to write lots of short pieces. I continued that bad habit when I came to the U.S. because I was still writing a lot for the U.K. and it was weirdly convenient to finish something at about 4 or 5 in the morning, so the editors in London would get it at around 10 a.m. Otherwise, I don’t have any rituals. I don’t generally listen to music because I find it hard not to listen to the music. When I write, it’s generally quiet and generally at home.GAZETTE: What do you read every day, in your general life?WOOD: I read what I write about. There’s not a lot of time for pursuing that kind of hinterland that we all want to pursue and be in. I just wish sometimes I didn’t have to always be writing about books and I could go off on a complete tangent and read a history book or a bit of travel writing. But there’s not enough time for that.GAZETTE: What writers are you excited about at the moment?WOOD: The short story writer Lydia Davis is one, and a youngish poet called Ben Lerner, who’s written a first novel (“Leaving the Atocha Station”) that I review in this book. He’s a really interesting, funny, lively, complex writer and I’ve been able to put a couple of colleagues in the English Department onto him, so that’s great.GAZETTE: What are you at work on?WOOD: Well, I’m currently trying to write a second novel. I wrote a first novel in 2003 (“The Book Against God”) and I don’t think it was especially good. I think it was all right, but it could be improved on, and yet I think the usual combination of fear and procrastination has stopped me from trying again, until this moment, which is sort of ludicrously long, really — 10 years now! But I feel finally I have the confidence to try again a second novel. And that’s what I’m working on when I’m not reviewing books.GAZETTE: You wrote “How Fiction Works.” What was your process when you were writing your first novel? Were you trying to abide by your own rules?WOOD: No. In “How Fiction Works” I did say that the novel is the virtuoso of exceptionalism, and I think that most people would probably agree that of all the forms the novel is the freest and most eccentric and it tends to make up its own rules. It’s not like, I think, building a chair — because if you fail to build a chair it won’t stand up, but there’s a way in which novels are full of flaws and failed bits, and they seem to be forgiven by most readers. So when I wrote my first novel it wasn’t that I was trying to follow rules, I think what was difficult for me was that I was very hampered by self-consciousness to some extent, and in this second novel I’m trying to let that go as much as possible and not second-guess myself too much.GAZETTE: Would you say that you’re a self-conscious person?WOOD: Actually I would say I’m not, particularly. There are certain contemporary writers — David Foster Wallace comes to mind — and I think he was someone who both in his fiction and in his personal life found it almost impossible to escape a kind of prisonhouse of self-consciousness. I don’t find that. I find it very easy to escape into music and a kind of non-thinking that happens when I listen to or play music. I play various instruments, drums and piano…GAZETTE: Are you in a band?WOOD: I am! This started in the last couple of years up at Bennington College where there’s a low-residency MFA program that gets together twice a year, once in January and June. And there was already a pretty good extant band up at Bennington among the writing teachers, some very good guitarists, very good bassist, a wonderful sax player.GAZETTE: What do you listen to?WOOD: What I try to catch in the title essay of this book, which is about drumming and Keith Moon, but also about being pulled between classical music and rock music, which was this illicit rebellion as I saw it as a kid. So, I do listen to both sides of the street, as it were. I listen to quite a bit of classical music and I have certain favorites like Bach and Purcell, and then I listen to quite a lot of rock music, jazz, rock-jazz fusion because it’s often there that you get really, really good drumming. And that can run the gamut from Natalie Merchant, Radiohead, Jeff Beck, plus some old favorites.GAZETTE: Do people ever tell you that you look like Keith Moon?WOOD: It’s funny you say that because when I was a kid, I had a terror when I was about 13 or 14 — and my face was changing shape and my nose was getting larger — that I was going to end up looking like Pete Townshend. I used to go to bed at night and tape my nose up because I thought that would stop it from expanding. I thought that I was going to end up as a guy who’s just a nose on a stick. And then for a while I didn’t look like Pete Townshend, and now at last I feel like I do look like Pete Townshend. Maybe I look like Moon and Townshend.GAZETTE: What do you like about teaching, and what do you find challenging about it?WOOD: What I like about teaching is that it slows down my reading process. What I find a bit challenging about it is that I prefer to have my thoughts formulated on paper, I prefer to see them once I’ve been able to think about them, and I don’t think I’m as good as some people are at thinking off the cuff. I’m aware as I speak that I haven’t quite been able to shape the phrasing the way I wanted it to be shaped.GAZETTE: What was the first thing you ever wrote?WOOD: Definitely a poem. Poetry is my first love and I wrote reams and reams of bad verse, and I wanted to be a poet before I realized I didn’t have the qualities of concision and refinement and all the things you need to be a good poet. And then at the same time I was getting more and more interested in narrative.GAZETTE: What was the last good book you read?WOOD: The Norwegian writer Per Petterson has this wonderful novel called “I Curse the River of Time.” I was put onto it because I have a writer friend who said to me one night that he’d become so obsessed with the form of this book that he’d copied out the book word for word in his own hand, trying to crack how this guy does his paragraphs and his sentences. The idea of writing out a whole novel is so crazy, so fanatical, that I thought, “I have to know what it could be, what a book is like that could torment someone thus.” So I read it, and I can totally see why.D.T. Max and James Wood on David Foster Wallace <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsbKT50ud04″ rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”https://img.youtube.com/vi/QsbKT50ud04/0.jpg” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> New Yorker writers D.T. Max and James Wood in conversation on David Foster Wallace at an event put on by the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University.last_img read more

Wehrs Machine renews IMCA special events awards

first_img“Wehrs Machine prides themselves on always staying on the cutting edge of new innovation to make IMCA racing programs more efficient and effective, and their support goes a long way in solidifying their position in the dirt track racing community,” commented IMCA Marketing Director Kevin Yoder. “Chad and his team are great sponsors and 2019 will be a great season as a result.” The Bangor, Wis., high performance parts manufacturer gives $50 gift certificates to designated top five finishers in all Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Model events, as well as at specials for IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars, IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks, Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods and Smiley’s Racing Products Southern SportMods. Wehrs is in its eighth year as an IMCA sponsor. Certificates will be mailed from the IMCA home office the week after official race results are received. BANGOR, Wis. – Wehrs Machine and Racing Products has renewed a program of awards for IMCA special events competitors.center_img “We are always proud to give back to our customers and look forward to another successful year with the group of IMCA racers,” company founder and president Chad Wehrs said.  Information about the complete line of Wehrs products is available at the www.wehrsmachine.com website, by calling 877 460-7211 and on Facebook.last_img read more

Akwa United to Macaibi Haifa: No Deal Yet on Ubong

first_img“This came after we personally advised Ubong to have patience that as a key member of Samson Siasia’s national Under -23 squad to the Rio Olympics in August, he is most likely to attract better offers especially from European clubs,” Bassey was quoted as saying.It is even on record that the chairman told Ubong’s agent that the timing of the visit was wrong as Akwa United is in the fore front of the quest of returning to Africa through the league, but was assured that though the star striker will miss the Lobi Stars match that he will return in time for the Enyimba clash in Uyo in week 13.“Should we decide to let Ubong go to Israel or any other club for that matter, you can bet that it will only be after the current league season,” the release announced.The Akwa United spokesman said that it was a rude shock to later learn that Ubong has signed a deal with the Israeli club.“Is that how a player’s transfer is done? Have we entered into any agreement? Has a contract been formalised, have they paid? This is ridiculous, to say the least.“As a club we will never stay in the way of a player who decides to move on in life by seeking greener pastures elsewhere but we owe it to our youth to advice them properly as the lure of the dollar can sometimes be deceptive,” the statement from the club’s spokesman observed.Meanwhile, Akwa United has taken exception to the unprofessional behaviour of Ubong’s agent and insists that it has no deal with the Israeli club on Ubong Ekpai. “If they want him, they should come to us and negotiate the player’s release.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side, Akwa United FC of Uyo, has announced that Under- 23 striker, Ubong Ekpai, remains a bona fide player of the team despite speculations that the player may have joined Israeli clubside, Macaibi Haifa.According to a press by the Media Officer of the club, Uwem Ekoh, at no time did Akwa United negotiate the signing or the release of the player to Macaibi Haifa, not talk of the payment of transfer fees and so on.The statement said that after undue pressure from the Macaibi Haifa and the player, Akwa United’s Chairman, Paul Bassey only consented to Ubong visiting Israel to “see things for himself before deciding on whether he wants to play in Israel or not.”last_img read more

EIRCOM: 500 DONEGAL HOMES STILL WITHOUT SERVICE

first_imgEircom says that fault levels in Donegal remain high as a result of the continued adverse weather conditions.There are currently over 500 customers without service, and this number could rise as the volume of reported faults continues to increase due to the unprecedented level of sustained severe weather during the past three weeks. Specifically, damage in the region has been caused by hurricane force high winds, lightning storms and flooding. Customers are encouraged to report faults as soon as possible. Due to exceptionally high fault volumes in Donegal it could to be three to four days before all existing faults across the county are repaired.The worst affected areas include coastal areas of the Southeast (Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford), the South and Southwest (Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare), the West and Northwest (Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Donegal).The sustained severe weather over the past two weeks has been unprecedented. During the past fortnight, eircom has restored service to more than 17,000 customers. However, they have received 9,000 new fault reports this past week and 22,000 faults in the past 14 days.A spokesman said: “Eircom would like to reassure all customers who are currently experiencing a disruption to their telephone and broadband service that we are working as hard as possible to restore service. “All available technicians have been diverted onto fault repairs.”eircom currently has 700 repair crews deployed throughout the country, with a plan to mobilise staff from the eastern half of the country to the west to assist with the worst impacted areas.All available technicians with repair skills have been mobilised to work on individual fault localisation and repair, as well as crews to deal with specific structural damage (cabling and poling).Customers should log faults on the “Log a Fault” section of our website (www.eircom.ie) or through our automated customer service line 1901. Faults can be reported to either service 24 hours a day, seven days week. EIRCOM: 500 DONEGAL HOMES STILL WITHOUT SERVICE was last modified: January 6th, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:EIRCOM: 500 DONEGAL HOMES STILL WITHOUT SERVICElast_img read more