Archive for the ‘Ethan Canin’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: THE EXTRA LENS-“Only Existing Footage” (2010).

I listened to this song on NPR’s All Songs Considered without knowing who the band was. And while I listened to this song I kept thinking it sounded like someone, but who?  Who?

And it took me reading about them on allmusic to realize that this is a side project between The Mountain Goats and Nothing Painted Blue (who I don’t know).   My friend Andrew gave me a bunch of Mountain Goats albums which I have enjoyed but which I haven’t written about yet.  However, I can’t say how much this sounds like a Goat’s album (as I’m not an expert yet).

Nevertheless, like a Goats’ songs, it is simple (with one simple guitar accompanied by another simple guitar) and incredibly catchy.  At 3 minutes it makes for a perfect delicate pop song.  The chorus builds wonderfully (even if, really it’s not that much fuller than the verses).

Charming seems like a condescending word, and yet this song feels charming  (even if lyrically it’s rather dark:  “oblivion’s been calling since it found out where I live.”)

[READ: October 20, 2010] “Vins Fins”

Ethan Canin is the penultimate writer in the 1999 New Yorker 20 Under 40 collection, but his was the last story I read.  I was really intrigued by the excerpt that was in the main issue, but I feel like the full length story disappointed somewhat.

At eleven pages, this was one of the longest stories in the collection and it felt to me like it was simply too long.  There were a lot of things, not details, or even dead end plots, just aspects of the story that seemed extraneous.

I am fond of fiction set in the 1970s.  In some ways it seems an easy decade for mockery, and yet really any decade, if limited to a bunch of stereotypes, is ripe for easy mockery.  But there’s something about the 70s that lends itself to fun story concepts.  And this promised something similar.

Under the shadow of Watergate, on the Western edge of Cape Cod, a young man grows up.  The narrator’s father feels that Nixon will get through Watergate unharmed.  His father is a chef and restaurateur who, despite his skills, seems to make most of his money by flipping restaurants (to use a recent term…it’s not used in the story).  His specialty is French food, which is convenient since his wife is French, as in actually from France.  We learn a bit about how they met and a lot about her (and I think perhaps this is where there is too much story as she turns out to be a fairly minor character in what I think of as the main plot).

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While I was looking around for Jonathan Franzen pieces in the New Yorker, I stumbled upon the first 20 Under 40 collection from 1999.  Since I had received so much enjoyment from the 2010 version, I decided to read all of the 1999 stories as well.  It was interesting to see how many of the authors I knew (and knew well), how many I had heard of but hadn’t read, and how many were completely off my radar.

I initially thought that they had published all 20 authors in this one issue, but there are five stories (including Franzen’s) that were just excerpted rather than published in full.  And I will track down and read those five in their entirety.  But otherwise, that’s a lot of fiction in one magazine (a few of the stories were quite short).  And it features a cover by Chris Ware!

So here’s the list from 1999.

**George Saunders-“I Can Speak™”
**David Foster Wallace-“Asset”
*Sherman Alexie-“The Toughest Indian in the World”
*Rick Moody-
“Hawaiian Night”
*A.M. Homes-
“Raft in Water, Floating”
Allegra Goodman-
“The Local Production of Cinderella”
*William T. Vollmann-
“The Saviors”
Antonya Nelson
-“Party of One”
Chang-rae Lee-
“The Volunteers”
*Michael Chabon-
“The Hofzinser Club” [excerpt]
Ethan Canin-
“Vins Fins” [excerpt]
*Donald Antrim-
“An Actor Prepares”
Tony Earley-
“The Wide Sea”
*Jeffrey Eugenides-
“The Oracular Vulva”
*Junot Diaz-
“Otra Vida, Otra Vez”
*Jonathan Franzen-
“The Failure” [excerpt]
***Edwidge Danticat-
“The Book of the Dead”
*Jhumpa Lahiri-
“The Third and Final Continent”
*Nathan Englander-
“Peep Show” [excerpt]
Matthew Klam-
“Issues I Dealt with in Therapy” [excerpt] (more…)

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