Everything Unfinished

Everything Unfinished is a literary blog out of San Francisco, by James Warner.

What Short Stories did you Read as a Kid?

I’d like to hear your answers to this question – my own experience is doubtless atypical. Short story writers I relished as a “tween” include P.G. Wodehouse, Saki, James Thurber, Roald Dahl, Giovannino Guareschi, John Wyndham… this was 1970s England that I was growing up in… I also remember stories by Bertrand Russell and by […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |1 Response

The Fate of TriQuarterly

We were all probably expecting this recession to snuff out some literary magazines.But the news about TriQuarterly is disturbing and kind of weird. Here’s the spin from Northwestern University. Celeste Ng reports here. Not all of us are upset that TriQuarterly is shifting from print to online publication. More troubling is that the editors have […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |1 Response

How Does Description Work?

Samuel R. Delany, About Writing — “During a recent conversation I was having with a friend, he picked up his well-read Vintage paperback of Ulysses, opened it to page 36, and said, ‘Listen to this: “On his wise shoulders through the checkerwork of leaves the sun flung spangles, dancing coins.” Now, I love that sentence. […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |Leave a comment

In Defense of “Like”

Few expressions are so often denounced as “like” – as in “Suppose we like, just turn that idea upside down…”After I first moved to California, I started saying “like” a lot. I think it’s unfortunate that spoken British English has no real equivalent. One British friend, after I started saying “like,” asked me in bemusement, […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |3 Responses

Douglas Hofstadter on Translating Francoise Sagan

Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach inspired me greatly when I was a teenager. Reading Hofstadter’s essay “Translator, Trader,” last night, I learned that I can still be blown away by Hofstadter’s combination of vast enthusiasm and sheer intelligence.In “Translator, Trader,” Hofstadter describes having to “internalize” a book before translating it. Before translating Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin,” he […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |3 Responses

More on Citationism

Somewhat related to yesterday’s post, Jonah Lehrer has a post up about musical mash-up as a model for the production of new ideas in working memory.Which made me think about John Livingston Lowes’s book The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of the Imagination, a study which traces phrases in Coleridge’s poems to […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |1 Response

Damion Searls and Writing Like Someone Else

Soon after reading Damion Searls’s short story collection What we Were Doing and Where we Were Going, I read his translation of Rilke’s “Interiors,” in “Paris Review” 190, and felt some uneasiness. The voice in the translation was Rilke’s, yet I felt it was also Damion Searls’s voice.Writing fiction can be a way of filtering […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |Leave a comment

Some Signs of the Times

Last Friday I celebrated PARK(ing) day for the first time. This idea started in San Francisco and has since caught on worldwide. A friend of a friend rented some sod, enough to fill the parking place outside his store in North Beach — these are apparently good times for the sod business, because when a […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |Leave a comment

More Perspectives on Publishing

Samuel Johnson’s birthday today.Here’s a link to some thoughts from Daniel Menaker on the publishing industry, including “Publishing is often an extremely negative culture,” and “Genuine literary discernment is often a liability in editors.” Those are the cheeriest bits.Mike Shatkin responds here, pointing out among other things that —“Each new book today is competing with […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |Leave a comment

Six Months Have Flown + InsideStorytime EXILE

I’ve been doing this blog for six months now. Persistence furthers, says the I Ching. Here’s a Viktor Shklovsky quote I found online:“You have to store up books, becoming acquainted with human experience; let them lie around your thoughts, becoming yours—ring upon ring, as a tree grows, let them rise up from the depths like […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |Leave a comment

Works of Art Whose Agenda Doesn’t Include Me

“And the grafitti alongside the Amtrak: The rails head north out of Penn Station under the streets, almost as through a tunnel, alongside the passing logos of gangs and solitary hit-artists who use the patches of sunshine that fall into the brief spaces between overpasses, their fat names ballooning into the foreground of their strange […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |1 Response

David Foster Wallace and “Clicks”

In an interview, David Foster Wallace told Larry McCaffery this — “For most of my college career I was a hard-core syntax wienie, a philosophy major with a specialization in math and logic. I was, to put it modestly, quite good at the stuff, mostly because I spent all my free time doing it. Wienieish […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |1 Response

Interesting Versus Believable

“The trite and the extravagant are the Scylla and Charybdis of writers who deal in fiction,” Coleridge wrote in 1794, in a review of Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. Thomas Hardy once made a similar point —“The whole secret of fiction and the drama –in the constructional part — lies in the adjustment of […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |5 Responses

Software Algorithms That Predict What Books You’ll Like

Future-of-publishing experts believe these will come to be useful for purposes of selling books. So far I’m skeptical. The books Amazon predicts I’ll like seem completely random, although that may be because such books as I’ve bought from Amazon are either very obscure and hard to find, or else gifts for overseas relatives. The last […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |Leave a comment

The Ending of "The Singers"

Turgenev’s “The Singers” is discussed here by Daniyal Mueenuddin. Mueenuddin comments “when writing short stories, the hardest part is the ending,” and raises the question of why “The Singers” ends the way it does. Charles May suggests an answer here, adding, “I think just about any educated person can read a literary novel if he […]

Posted in Everything Unfinished |3 Responses