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Posts Tagged ‘Clancy Martin’

Ordinary Human Love: An Interview with Clancy Martin

February 12, 2015 | by

Martin, Clancy (c) Greg Martin

Clancy Martin. Photo © Greg Martin

I first encountered Clancy Martin’s writing in NOON sometime in 2006 or 2007. He became one of my favorite writers. I looked forward to new work from him, wanting to add to the world he'd created in my imagination—a world I found endearingly and distinctively full of vulnerabilities, awkwardness, psychology; bleak, funny, and extreme situations; emotional, considerate, out-of-control characters; and other things I enjoy. I liked his calm, detached, careful, slightly deadpan narrators, and the stories they told—in his novel, How to Sell (2009), and his novella, Travels in Central America (2012)—were dark and moving and, in certain moods, funny on several different levels. 

Martin’s new book, Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love, is moving and funny but not, in my view, dark. It’s actually very optimistic, though maybe not in the way one would expect from a book about love. “To choose to fall in love is, we might think, in some way to fabricate or even to falsify love,” Martin writes. “But that’s the very notion I’m combating. I want to challenge the idea that love forces itself upon us with all the strength of truth.” He expands his argument by examining Plato, the Kama Sutra, Nietzsche, Freud, Adrienne Rich, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce, and dozens of others, as well as his memories of his personal experiences with his wife, two ex-wives, and three daughters. I asked Clancy some questions about love and lies via e-mail. 

One of the quotes in your book is from Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—“Love is mutual loneliness, and the deeper the loneliness, the deeper the love.”

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche recognizes that we are alone, and that the need for love is a mutual recognition that we are alone. Both the desire for and the desire to love—giving and receiving love—spring from this profound, unavoidable, so often avoided fact about human life. We are alone. I can’t get into your head and you can’t get into mine. Many of my memories and thoughts and feelings remain entirely private to me. But it is precisely this fact that informs our need for love. In some ways, the more I love you, the more urgent my need to know you and to reveal myself to you, the beloved, becomes, and so our separation becomes that much more intense. In Freudian terms, it’s as though we all desperately wish to climb back into the womb. And I don’t think we should underestimate the profundity of Freud’s insight on these questions, even though it’s the tired, tiring fashion lately to take him less seriously than we used to do. Read More »

What We’re Loving: Ackerley, Reichl, Loy

March 1, 2013 | by

tumblr_lo80tnSz9z1qm2bmho1_1280There are moods in which even a used bookstore can defeat you, when you can’t imagine why anyone ever bothered, when every first sentence is an effort and a rebuke. Next time you find yourself in that mood, look under A for Ackerley (J. R.). His memoir My Father and Myself is a masterpiece of calm self-hatred. My Dog Tulip is the unforgettable true story of how he gave up on human beings and fell in love with a German shepherd. But the book I needed, and found, the other night is Ackerley’s one novel, We Think the World of You. This too is a dog book. Without having yet read the introduction (I’m a few pages from the end), I suspect it too is autobiographical. Set in London just after the war, it concerns a middle-aged gay man, desperately in love with a young prison inmate, who transfers his overbearing affection to the man’s dog, Evie. Ackerley was, by all accounts, including his, an unpleasant guy. The magic is how clearly he sees himself, with a clarity almost amounting to forgiveness. He is also very funny. Four chapters in, behind two pints at a quiet bar, I felt ready to face the world. —Lorin Stein

 I still mourn the loss of Gourmet—the exquisite photography, like eighteenth-century still lifes; the insane, days-long dinners that I never intended to prepare—but I’m grateful to have been directed to Ruth Reichl’s Twitter feed. Her entries are haikus of deliciousness: “Gray. Rain coming. Curled up with the cat, a book, and a comforting bowl of lemon rice soup. Edible sunshine.” “So cold! Tiny tug shoves a big black boat up the river. Bowl of butter-toasted oatmeal. Almonds. Apricots. Brown sugar. Heavy cream. Warmer.” “Cold. Sunny. Blue Tiepolo sky, dappled with clouds. Fluffy pancakes. Lace-edged fried eggs from Barry’s hens. Smoky bacon. Maple syrup. Yes!” —Nicole Rudick Read More »

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What We’re Loving: Tropical Paradise, Anxiety, Translation

January 18, 2013 | by

When the novelist Adam Thirlwell told me his idea, I was skeptical: to publish a work of fiction in many translations, each version being a translation of the one before. But Adam Thirlwell is Adam Thirlwell, “schemey like a nine-year-old,” as one collaborator describes him, with “weird vibes, as if he does unorthodox things to the books he carries to the bathroom.” Multiples, the new issue of McSweeney’s, edited by Thirlwell, is an unorthodox thing of beauty, a stunt that only a kid would attempt, and an absolute pleasure to read—though almost nobody on earth will be able to read every page. What Thirlwell has done is to assemble new or obscure works by Kierkegaard, Vila-Matas, Krasznahorkai, et al., translated (and retranslated, and retranslated) by a dream team of polyglot writers. So, for example, Dave Eggers translates a Spanish translation by Alejandro Zambra of an English translation by Nathan Englander of a Hebrew translation by Etgar Keret of an English translation by John Wray of a previously untranslated short story by Franz Kafka. It’s a game of pro-level Chinese whispers, and—thanks to Thirlwell's list of contributors—a wide-angle snapshot of our literary firmament, circa now. Plus, the afterwords by Thirlwell and Francesco Pacifico have persuaded me not only that it would be fun to read Emilio Gadda in Italian, but that a translator can have more fun with an untranslatable writer than I ever dared to dream. —Lorin Stein

The editors of the New York Times blog Anxiety recently asked Laszlo Krasznahorkai to contribute an essay on the theme. This is the writer who eschews paragraph breaks and short sentences because he feels they are artificial and whose subjects are often very bleak—which is to say, he’s their ideal contributor. The author himself describes it as “a lyrical essay about the terrible meeting between boorishness and aggressiveness,” but with Krasznahorkai, it’s so much more than that. There are paragraph breaks and the occasional brief sentence (one wonders if the former appeared in the original version), but this is a hard little gem, a Möbius strip of what feels simultaneously like madness and utter logic. —Nicole Rudick

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On Uncle Vanya: Part Three

July 5, 2012 | by

But the reason I was telling this story was because I was reminded of that night in St. Petersburg when I saw Annie Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya. Like Vanya and Astrov, I am middle-aged, a drunk, often despondent—perhaps I am having a midlife crisis—and yes, I am an adulterer. (Vanya and Astrov are only would-be adulterers.) At the time I was trying to pick up this Russian waitress—sitting drunk in the snow-covered park, watching a bear dance at the end of a short rope—I was already an adulterer. Two years before, I had left my first wife for my assistant, who worked in my jewelry store. I drank my way into that affair, and I would drink my way through the divorce.

But the sad fact was I did not get to sleep with the Russian waitress. This is what actually happened.

The man with the bear would not leave me alone. Read More »

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Part 3: Time’s a Goon

December 27, 2011 | by

We’re out this week, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2011 while we’re away. We hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!

The final installment of a three-part saga. Martin is hitchhiking from Kansas City, Missouri, to New York City in order to catch the last day of Christian Marclay's The Clock at the Paula Cooper Gallery. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.

“You got a way of making a man get to talking, friend,” Sam told me. We had slowly worked our way into his life story, which involved him being adopted by Tennesseans who were somehow heirs or related to heirs of the Pepsi-Cola fortune, dropping out of Emory University, working part-time as an industrial air-conditioning chemical cleaning salesman, and then opening his own air-conditioning cleaning company, which in less than five years and with several hospital, university, and prison contracts across the Southeastern and now Midwestern states had turned him into an independent multimillionaire. But he was having “woman troubles”—I had gotten lucky with that lie—“because, to tell you the honest God’s truth, Clancy, and I ain’t proud to say it, I’ve got wives in four different states. Kids with two of them, and the third one’s pregnant. Even with my income it’s spreading it a bit thin. Thank the good Lord for my trust fund.” I knew if I kept Sam talking we’d sail right past Newark, and sure enough, when we got to his turn he was in the middle of the sad love story of Sam and Sally, and the fight they’d had in Bali last year when she realized all of the international calls he’d been making late at night “for business”—I shook my head with the great sympathy and genuine feeling of brotherly love one married man has for another in such situations—and as we approached the truck stop where he planned on leaving me (I was close enough now that I figured I would just call a cab, it couldn’t cost more than a hundred dollars), he said, “Where’d you say you’re headed again? Hell, we made it in half the time we figured.” Sam does not believe in letting the speedometer drop below “a C note.” Most of the way he was swooping between cars on the highway as though they were parked and we were a very low flying F-16. Time slows drunkenly at that speed, especially in an opulent, muscular truck, with a charismatic Korean chatting amiably beside you while you cling with sore fingers to the handle of the door, the soft tones of the iPod switching randomly from Gun Club to Elvis to Gyptian to Chopin’s Nocturnes.

 

“Far as we’ve come I guess I can take you right into Brooklyn.” The truck stop is already a mile behind us. “I sure as hell hope we don’t get snarled up in some Friday traffic. Course it’s not even rush hour yet, and we’re headed into the city, not the other way ’round. But I’m gonna be cursing your name when I’m driving back the other way. Hell, you look like you could use a favor. You’re in a bigger hurry than I am.” And back to Sally, who morphs seamlessly into Joanne, who I’m trying to keep straight from Christine, and wondering how many times Sam has said the wrong name in bed.

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Part 2: Escape to Newark

December 27, 2011 | by

We’re out this week, but we’re re-posting some of our favorite pieces from 2011 while we’re away. We hope you enjoy—and have a happy New Year!

The second installment of a three-part saga. Martin is hitchhiking from Kansas City, Missouri, to New York City in order to catch the last day of Christian Marclay's The Clock at the Paula Cooper Gallery. Read Part 1 here.

“The thing is we gots to get my dog. I understand you got a bus to catch. But I can’t get my dog alone. You come this far, you gots to help me get my dog.”

My mouth is dry, we’ve gone through all the gum, and in gazing up the long reach of the highway as it ascends into the blue, late-morning sky I have achieved an atmospheric clarity with regard to the meaning of clocks. Marclay’s idea is to be at the center of things—that is the categorical imperative of the timing device, that is why the hands spin round. Being and time. Must check if Marclay is British neo-Nazi.

“But where was the center? I moved around a lot/ and thus from an early age,” I remember the line from John Ash, and quote it to Duze, who looks at me like “what the fuck” and wipes his hands on his jeans.

“We need some beers right about now, man, is what we need.”

“I am thirsty,” I admit. Suddenly I understand that we are out of luck, I have to get out of this semi as soon as possible. I’m Ratso from Midnight Cowboy and for three days now I’ve been sitting next to Jon Voigt. I’m sweatier than Ratso. I look to see if Duze has blood on his jacket.

 

I can count every sharp hair of his red-and-brown goatee. Duze is handsome but balding young.

“Pull over,” I say. My hourglass is filling with sand. I lick my lips. “I have to get out of this truck.”

Duze unsubtly accelerates. He swings into the left-hand lane.

“We’re up on Columbus now. But I’m telling ya’ we gots to head north. I need your help with my dog, man. My girlfrined ain’t gonna let me have that dog back lessun I have a buddy with me, someone she can trust. Not to mention if there’s another man there. That’s just like her. It doesn’t take her twenty-four hours before her legs are back up in the air. That bitch. That cold-hearted whore. She never appreciated my music neither.”

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