published by Thom Dunn on September 18, 2013 - 10:13am
Oktoberfest is the annual German harvest festival, a citywide fair in Munich full of beer and bratwurst that takes place over sixteen days leading up to the first weekend of October. It’s awesome, or so my German friend tells me, and given my affinity for all things beer and meat and revelry, I tend to believe him (although I am mostly indifferent towards lederhosen).
I realize, however, that not everyone shares my love for such delicious gluttony. But rather than rudely asking what the hell is wrong with you and how could you not love malty lagers, tasty bratwurst, and lots of drunken singalongs, I’ve come up with a list of three alternative Oktoberfests for you to enjoy in those first days of autumn, all of which have been inspired by my other favorite thing that’s not booze, meat, or music — which, of course, is books.
Gimlet & Raymond Chandler's Mystery Novels: Philip Marlowe, the primary character in Raymond Chandler’s mystery novels, helped to cement the classic noir archetype of the hard drinkin’ detective. In The Long Goodbye, Marlowe spends an awful lot of time drinking gin gimlets with his new buddy, Terry Lennox. According to Lennox, “‘What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice and gin with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”
2 oz Gin
2 oz Rose’s Lime Juice
Be a totally badass detective and get wrapped up in all kinds of crazy, violent, and convoluted conspiracies involving sexy women with guns and even more alcohol.
published by Thom Dunn on December 11, 2012 - 10:33am
Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation
Note: In writing this, I realized that I appear on film with 2 of these writers, which is starting to make me wonder if I'm actually a fictional character myself. My girlfriend insists I'm real, but I'm still not entirely convinced, despite the fact that she poked me a lot and it really hurt.
It’s generally accepted that there’s a fine line between reality and fiction, but sometimes it gets particularly difficult to tell just where that line is -- and these authors don’t help. We’re told not to confuse the artist and the art, that a first-person voice is not necessarily that of the author, that the views and opinions of the characters do not necessarily reflect those of the person that created the characters.
But then sometimes, the person who created the characters is a character, and then things just get all like super confusing and meta-heady-wackiness ensues and you’re not really sure where one thing starts and the other begins. And so without any further ado, I present to you 6 real-life authors who are also fictional (by their own pens, no less).
Jason Schwartzman as (fictional) Jonathan Ames
Jonathan Ames: Jonathan Ames the writer first appeared on the literary scene in 1989 in his debut novel I Pass Like Night, which recounts the narrator’s various sexual exploits in ways both shocking and hilarious. Some of these encounters are later recounted (albeit with some differences) in his debut graphic novel The Alcoholic, which explicitly features a protagonist named Jonathan A, who is also a novelist.
Later, Jonathan Ames (the writer) created a TV show called Bored To Death (based on his own short story of the same name) which focuses on the misadventures of a novelist-turned-amateur-detective named Jonathan Ames, whose debut novel is called I Pass Like Night (also you can totally see me in the Season 2 finale at the Brooklyn Comic-Con). As Ames himself has said in many interviews, “Whenever I wrote fiction, people always seemed to think that what I wrote was true, that it was entirely autobiographical. And when I would write non-fiction, they often accused me of exaggeration and fictionalization...so I decided to give it a try and thoroughly confuse my few readers.”
And I think he has succeeded at that.
Kurt Vonnegut: Much of Vonnegut’s work features, or at least alludes to, a fictional sci-fi writer named Kilgore Trout, who is generally believed to be a fictional image of Vonnegut himself. But then sometimes Vonnegut himself also ends up in his own stories -- occasionally even accompanied by Kilgore Trout. He appears as a character in the novel Breakfast of Champions, observing and even interacting with several other fictional characters in the story.
But it’s Vonnegut’s final novel, TimeQuake, where things get trippy. As explained in the first chapter of the book, the original idea for the novel TimeQuake was that the universe began to momentarily shrink, but then changed its mind, forcing everyone to re-live the last 10 years (give or take) of their lives, precisely as they happened the first time. According to Vonnegut, he had some difficulty turning this into an actual interesting narrative, so the idea was scrapped, and the book that ultimately became TimeQuake was a combination of autobiographical anecdotes, and elements of what would have been his original intended story (with Vonnegut essentially telling readers what would have happened in the book he was trying to write).
However, Vonnegut still recounts the autobiographical parts of the book in terms of the timequake from the original plot -- rather than simply recounting memories of the last ten years, he tells these personal stories in terms of having re-lived them on autopilot, thanks to the effects of the fictional timequake. And so, one presume that while the stories themselves are non-fictional, the timequake itself was a piece of fiction...or was it? (Image via Letters Of Note).
published by Thom Dunn on November 30, 2012 - 8:54am
Author's Note: I assume that some day, this article will serve as an invaluable guide and warning for our time traveling ancestors-to-be (who will of course be unable to read books and learn these lessons for themselves, either because [a] all the books will have been burned, or [b] kids will have stopped reading books entirely, because grumble grumble, god damn kids, when I was your age, video games, blah blah, detriment to society, buncha hooligans, kids these days, no respect, etc). In the meantime, just enjoy it for all of its delightfully entertaining/convoluted/paradoxical pleasures.
As anyone who’s anyone who’s read any time travel story ever could easily tell you, time travel is a tricky subject. Temporal paradoxes might seem simple and straightforward at the start (no they don’t), but they always devolve quite quickly (linear time-wise) into some sort of trippy, philosophically complicated, timey-wimey conundrum that makes even the most convoluted middle school relationship make sense by comparison. Come to think of it, maybe the reason that all those cool kids in middle school suffer from impossibly complicated and melodramatic romances to begin with is because they’re all too “cool” to read time travel stories in the first place, which would obviously teach them the benefits of temporally linear dating, if nothing else.
I’m looking at you, River Song.
For the most part, any paradox related to time travel can generally be resolved or avoided by the Novikov self-consistency principle, which essentially asserts that for any scenario in which a paradox might arise, the probability of that event actually occurring is zero -- or, to quote from LOST, “whatever happened, happened,” meaning that no matter what anyone does, they can’t actually create a paradox, because the laws of quantum physics will self-correct to avoid such a situation. Still, I’m wary of such a loose explanation for things, and so below, I’ve compiled a list of a few of the more popular time travel paradoxes -- and what to do to avoid them.
published by Thom Dunn on November 26, 2012 - 11:33am
Since its inception, rock and roll has always had a unique relationship with fiction and pop culture.
From Elvis’s famed white fringe jumpsuit, aping the Captain Marvel comic book, to the great rock operas and concept albums such as The Who’s Tommy, or David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars, and to the modern-day “jukebox musicals” that line the streets of Broadway and beyond, the link between rock and roll music and both literary and genre fictions are undeniable. Even heavy metal, and its various subgenres, has often been obsessed with the imagery of horror stories and fantasy.
As such, it’s only fair that fiction started taking its cues from rock and roll. Below, you’ll find some of my personal favorite fictional bands (some of whom may or may have broken their way through page/screen and found a way into our own reality).
The Archies: This one is way too many levels of meta. The Archies were a garage band formed by the cast members of the cartoon The Archie Show, which in turn was an adaptation of the long-running comic book series Archie. The songs, which featured heavily into many episodes of the cartoon series (but also the comic book, don’t forget), where actually written and performed by Ron Dante and Andy Kim, who themselves were neither cartoon nor comic book characters but rather real live flesh-and-blood human beings (weird, right?). Are you still with me? Good.
The Archies -- under the guise of Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones -- scored a number of Top 40 hits, including “Sugar, Sugar,” which was named the Billboard #1 song of the year in 1969, and still remains a popular icon of 60s bubblegum pop. How many other fictional bands can make a claim like that? Also check out this fantastic cover of “Sugar, Sugar” by Mary Lou Lord and Semisonic.