“Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos.” On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.
Not highbrow, not lowbrow, not even middlebrow – is American culture now dominated by the upper middle brow?
Allan Gurganus commemorates the 100th anniversary of his teacher and friend John Cheever’s birth. “Cheever, now unfairly known as the gloomy, sodden satyr of suburbia,” Gurganus writes, “was at least rarely gloomy. Fact is he was more fun per minute than is legal in a nation this Republican.”
In a longform piece for The Atlantic Diane Saverin writes about Annie Dillard‘s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, the predominantly male tradition of wilderness-writing, and how Dillard found and wrote about the wild while living in suburbia. She also wrestles with the question: “if the author conveys a resonant truth, does it matter what experiences led to the realizations?”
Karl Taro Greenfeld‘s story collection, NowTrends, is out this week. For a sample of Greenfeld’s writing, I recommend checking out “Tincture — Part One” at Five Chapters. It’s also worth noting that several other Short Flight / Long Drive books, such as Adam Novy‘s excellent Avian Gospels, are now available as e-books for the first time.
Yesterday, our own Elizabeth Minkel pondered if Twitter fiction could be real art. She cited Teju Cole, a literary Twitter master, but what does he have to say about how Twitter affects his writing? “My memory is worse than it was a few years ago, but I hope that my ability to write a good sentence has improved,” he told The New York Times.