Tag Archives: Geek Love

Goodbye, PDX Writer Daily. Hello, Propeller.

This morning I discovered that the venerable (blogospherically speaking) PDX Writer Daily has closed shop and many of its perpetrators have begun a magazine, Propeller.

propeller1coverA project of the Portland State University Writing Center, PDX Writer Daily had taken a long summer sabbatical that stretched into fall, and so I hadn’t checked it in a while.

The new magazine, which you can flip through online, looks good, and I wish it well. But I’ll miss PDX Writer Daily, too. It was witty, just a little gossipy (in that discreet academic way), often insightful and usually entertaining.

I did a little random scrolling
and discovered this post, from April 11, 2008, the first anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut’s death. An excerpt (although you really should call it up yourself and read the whole, not-too-long thing):

“We’re also upset today about our discovery of the winner of the Diagram Prize, given by The Bookseller magazine for the oddest book title each year. We noted the list of finalists recently, and were clearly rooting for I Was Tortured By the Pygmy Love Queen. The winner, however, was a book called If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs. We’re not even going to dignify that with a link.”

Plus this, from April 14, 2008, in a discussion of American Book Review‘s list of 100 Best First Lines from Novels, which pegged the opening of Portlander Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love at No. 83:

“When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,” Papa would say, “she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.”

imagedbThat’s #83? Hmm. Well…okay. It actually does feel kind of 83rd-ish, doesn’t it? They might be right on that one.

Personally, we would prefer to see a list of the “100 First Drafts of the Best First Lines from Novels.” Where is the piece of paper on which is scrawled: “There was a really loud sound way up in the air, moving kind of toward us through the sky.” Around which peasant campfire, after a long night of drinking, did Leo say (and Constance Garnett immediately translate): “Man, happy families are all pretty similar, really, but unhappy families seem to have totally unique ways of getting so screwed up, which is kind of interesting, don’t you think?” On which napkin might we find: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. By which I mean playing golf. I am developmentally disabled, by the way. I want to be clear on that, so you don’t get confused.” We want to see those 100 lines.

Art Scatter will add the link to Propeller to our links list on the right. But we’ll leave the PDX Writer Daily link, too, for your occasional strolls down memory lane.

Sunday scatter: It was a dark and stormy night in the Rainy North Woods …

Our friend Rose City Reader has a running feature on her lively lit blog she calls Opening Sentence of the Day, and it’s just that — a first sentence that, for some reason, catches her eye and ear and compels her to pass it along.

hotIt’s a great idea, and it’s hers, and no way am I going to steal it, because that would be so wrong. But just this once I’m going to borrow it, because after putting new shelves in the office I’ve been restocking some books that have been sitting in boxes in the basement, and that includes pretty much my entire collection of mysteries, which I’ve now been taking out selectively and re-reading with pleasure.

One of my rediscoveries is Gore Vidal’s three murder mysteries from the early 1950s featuring suave public-relations man Peter Sargeant (Vidal wrote them under the pen name Edgar Box) — Death in the Fifth Position, maybe the best backstage ballet murder mystery ever written; Death Before Bedtime, a maliciously funny evisceration of power, sex and corruption in the nation’s capital; and Death Likes It Hot, a mystery about — well, I can’t remember exactly, because I haven’t read it in a long time and I’ve just begun it again. But its first sentence is so delicious that I just have to take a cue from Rose City Reader and pass it along. (I can’t resist adding the second sentence, too, because it underscores the method of Vidal’s elegant wry comedy):

The death of Peaches Sandoe, the midget, at the hands, or rather feet, of a maddened elephant in the sideshow of the circus at Madison Square Garden was at first thought to be an accident, the sort of tragedy you’re bound to run into from time to time if you run a circus with both elephants and midgets in it. A few days later, though, there was talk of foul play.

Ah, the wonderful tastelessness of it all! Isn’t that what we long for in a comedy-of-manners murder mystery, even moreso than an alibi-proof plot?

And that got me thinking of my old friend and fellow ink-stained wretch Vince Kohler, who died too early, at age 53, several years ago, but not before creating his wonderfully seedy reprobate of an amateur sleuth, Eldon Larkin, an “overweight, oversexed reporter” on a daily newspaper in a mythical town on the southern Oregon coast. (Kohler, who when I knew him was a reporter for The Oregonian, where Berkeley escapee Eldon hoped a good scoop might someday land him a job, was once a reporter at the Coos Bay World.)

Continue reading Sunday scatter: It was a dark and stormy night in the Rainy North Woods …