Posts Tagged ‘American Splendor’

Book Links 10/16/12

October 16, 2012

A couple of tributes to the writer Harvey Pekar are taking shape in and around Cleveland libraries over the next few weeks. The statue looks impressive, and I’ll probably make a trek over there to check it out. I like Pekar’s work, his focus on real people and the every day ins and outs of just getting by. If you’re in the area, check out the statue. Buy some American Splendor gear. Watch the incredible movie starring Paul Giammati. It’s all worth it.
Something I’m a little less sure about: someone using Holden Caulfield in their novel. In the end, it should stand on its own merit. At the same time, it’s choosing not to by hauling Caulfield into its structure, opening the door for such criticism.  I have mixed feelings on it (for the record, not thrilled with pretty much anything like this, from Ahab’s Wife to the various Classic Lit + Monsters mash-ups), but I thought it was worth putting out here.

Harper Lee writes a letter to Oprah. I don’t know why she hasn’t put anything else into print since To Kill A Mockingbird, but every time she does put something out before the public, I can only think her voice is one we needed more of over the years. She is smart, she is truthful. It’s an old letter, from 2006, but this is the first time I’ve seen it. So I’m sharing it.

Finally, Ben Masters (author of Noughties)(which I haven’t read) has a nice article up NYT about literary excess. I’m somewhat ashamed to say I don’t read a lot of literary criticism, though I had to sit through a lot of talks about it as the wife went through her MFA program and everyone talked about what gets published, what’s “in,” etc. And from what I’ve gleamed, Masters is right that there does seem to be a preference for pared down prose that goes straight to the point and goes on to the next point (just the facts).  I think people who actually buy books might agree with Masters, too.  In the world of wallets doing the talking, the average best-seller hovers just under 400 pages.

Harvey Pekar – RIP

July 14, 2010

I had no idea about this until taking a walk with my g/f and kid this afternoon, we were turning a corner when I glanced at a newspaper box and saw a big picture of Harvey Pekar plastered across the front of the paper, above it two years boxing in a dash. I don’t know why it came as such a shock or why it even struck me as hard as it did but I forgot for a moment where I was and who I was with and uttered a loud “oh shit!”

It’s not as if I’ve ever met the man. I’ve read a few of this things, saw the stunningly good movie based on his graphic novel, American Splendor, and have seen/read a handful of interviews and that’s really the extent of my knowledge of him. Maybe it’s living in Cleveland, some weird local thing where he just feels like a neighbor because he’s famous and lives somewhere in the vicinity of the same city I live in, hell, who knows. Whatever I was feeling probably wasn’t exactly rational. But there was something about Harvey Pekar that seemed, not so much a force of nature but more like a rock. He was nature itself and seeing him pass was like seeing a rock pulverized. How could anything take down a rock?

I liked his writing. From what I’ve seen and heard of and from him, I liked him, too. While I continue to get caught up on his older stuff, I regret the loss we have of not having future works by Pekar. I haven’t seen anyone quite like him, nor do I expect to. We have lost an original.