Mr. Snorkel here, writing from Culebra PR. I got in last night (Casa Resaca — resaca means undertow), with the surf still ringing in my ears, and found this email waiting for me. It’s from Jason Lucarelli, the same who wrote the wonderful essay on Lish and literary compositon in the current issue of NC. I thought it best to just give you the uncut report.
Sorry for the half-crazy phone message I left you. I had just found out about Gordon Lish speaking at Columbia on the 21st and I figured I would try to see if I could convince you to go.
A few choice quotes:
“I’m willing to make an enemy of anyone here over the lightest pretext.”
“Take heart to the statement: Form is all.”
“If it cannot be framed, it just isn’t there.”
“I’m not here to talk about literature. It’s not about literature. It’s about staying alive.”
“The wound becomes, if you’re lucky, the life.”
“You have to be determined to make your craziness profitable.”
“We are helpless in the sway of all we have read.”
“Those who use the language have a lot to answer for.”
Sam Lipsyte and Ben Marcus escorted Lish into the room, and Richard Ford sat next to him too, which was surreal enough for me. You’ll be happy to know I approached Sam after the reading, talked a bit about Venus Drive and one of the stories I am looking at for my lecture. (Hopefully I wasn’t too much of a fan.)
Hope all is well with you. Attached is a creepy photo I took from the lecture.