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Posts Tagged ‘Moe Tkacik’

The Spring Issue: Joshua Cohen

March 17, 2011 | by

In our spring issue—out now—Joshua Cohen’s short story, “Emission,” tells of the comic misfortune of a drug dealer turned felon whose lewd past is exposed, against his will, on the Internet.

Okay, so: mostly what I loved about this story was a meta-thing, which was that it was not true.

“Meta-thing”—that sounds like a nefarious robot, or a late-night omelet. Anyway, I’m with you; it’s not true, it’s fiction.

But I am still too traumatized from the daily onslaught of interactions with Internet people and their tsunami of experiences and opinions and consumer preferences to know how to fashion prose from anything other than what I know or feel at any given time actually happened and/or was true. Which is to say, I know for a fact this story, “Emission,” about a twenty-something exposed on the Internet as a sexual deviant, is based, partly, on “real-life events,” because you admitted in an earlier e-mail to being inspired by a terrible night we spent with that dreadfully boring coke dealer someone inadvertently brought home one night after an n+1 party, a Tunisian I’ve been condemned to wonder about repeatedly, unimaginatively, since Tunisia spread the Facebook meme of democracy across Arabia.

And yet, what I see as a composite sketch of an unremarkable, ruined evening becomes a vivid fable almost by magic once the characters have been outfitted with better names. There is Richard Monomian-cum-Dick-cum Mono—conjuring up onanistic activities (su mano); dread diseases contracted through insanitary contact with adolescents; the lone son too simpleminded for his father’s polynomials, his solitary life and single Google hit, et cetera, et cetera. And Emmanuelle and the unsavory fumes of her Emission blog, collateral damage of the benevolent reign of the omniscient God that is the Internet; fearless, prolific Emmanuelle who is crucified merely for delivering truth. May she rise again in the sequel?

There won’t be a sequel, I don’t think (unless you decide to write one and post it online without approval). But as for “inspired by”: yes, Methyl, the dealer in “Emission” is half based on that “Tunisian” (read: New Jerseyan) coke dealer we brought home that night, who so mercilessly hit on you and, I believe, stayed for breakfast. My man’s other half is another dealer who calls himself, seriously, Blo J. When I used that name in the story, Lorin suggested, “Change it. No dealer’s called that.” Good edit, bad sense of reality. Let that be the slogan for the “new” Paris Review.

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Staff Picks: Walt Whitman, Air Guitar, Laurie Anderson

July 16, 2010 | by

What we've been reading this week.

Lorin Stein

  • The June issue of the Columbia Journalism Review continues to float around the office. Maureen Tkacik's cover story, on the career facing a young journalist today, is the best thing I've read on the subject.
  • To my shame I had never read Dave Hickey’s Air Guitar: Essays on Art & Democracy until this Monday. The essay “Shining Hours/Forgiving Rhyme” moved me to tears in the barber chair. There are four different friends to whom I want to send my copy of this masterpiece—right now—but I've marked up so many favorite passages, I'll need to copy them out first. Plus I can't decide who needs or deserves it most.
  • I have left a copy of the new Open City in the bathroom that others might discover Samantha Gillison’s wry, wistful story “The Conference Rat.”
  • Also this week I read Stephen Burt's Close Calls with Nonsense, a collection of his reviews. Over the last dozen years, Steve has taught me more than any critic about contemporary poetry. The book is kind, wise (at times, exasperatingly wise) and full of insight. The last pages, a series of aphorisms, made me love it.
  • Caitlin Roper

  • Smithsonian magazine is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year. I’m enjoying their rich, deep “Forty Things You Need to Know About the Next Forty Years.” The magazine’s founding editor, Edward K. Thompson, said it “would stir curiosity in already receptive minds.” Mission accomplished. Favorite articles include: “6. Oysters Will Save Wolves From Climate Change,” “21. Science Could Enable A Person To Regrow A Limb,” “26. Novelists Will Need A New Plot Device” (poet Rita Dove on the future of literature), and “36. Goodbye, Stereo; Hello, Hyper-Real Acoustics” (Laurie Anderson on the sounds of the future).
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