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A Short Excerpt from Coconut Oil

Here is a very short excerpt from the “Wintertide” chapter of “Coconut Oil.”

Oh, and the jouissance of the creamy oil’s single flavor savors of favor, in the bath, kitchen, by the four-poster or berth, for dry skin, diaper rash, or when the dark knells for thee. No need to refrigerate. Oil squeaky hinges, refurbish dull wood finishes, fry Copper River salmon in cast iron skillet, remove warts (rub under duct tape), fly cats to the moon or snorkel under ocean kelp beds, race around the ceiling, the coconut salesman is at your door!

Be the first on your block to order a copy of “Coconut Oil”!

Paperback $8 … e-Copy $2.99

 

  • Paperback: 194 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (May 24, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1530995264
  • ISBN-13: 978-1530995264
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches

Coconut Oil eCover

 

 

Coming Soon! Coconut Oil, a New Novel by Joe Linker

Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay, “A Modest Proposal,” argues a single solution to homelessness that Swift proudly suggests would provide a host of beneficial side effects. Satire is sometimes hard to get, or hard to take, the difference between satire and farce being that satire aims at a target. One might today imagine a certain presidential candidate coming up with a proposal like Swift’s that many might take seriously, missing the satirical target – and that would be farcical.

Of the critical reviews appearing for “Penina’s Letters,” several stand out for their clear and concise but right-on insight into the book. Lisa, a family friend from the Vatican Hill days, posted a picture of “Penina’s Letters” being read in a swimming pool in Cabo with the comment:

“So this was a great read – hit on some serious issues – but I enjoyed the ride – and still can’t figure out where 48th Street is located.”

Lisa’s comment hits on significant aspects of the book – how do we treat serious issues in fiction that is also intended to entertain? And she joins in the fun by wandering around looking for a fictional street she knows doesn’t exist.

My friend Dan posted a longer review to his blog, and when I thanked him in an email, he wrote back,

“It’s a very good novel.”

Dan’s a reader, suffers no delusions about stuff, and is thrifty with his complements.

Meanwhile, over at Youssef Rakha’s Cosmopolitan Hotel site, Philippa Rees has this to say in a comment:

“Hugely atmospheric, and sharply conveys the sightly abrasive affection, the wind and the sand papering the uncertainty. Enjoyed the drive to the ocean.”

And under the “Penina’s Letters” excerpt published by Berfrois, Philippa wrote:

“An underpinning of real harrowing tension in this. Could hardly bear the savage exposure of the truly private in a ribald public arena. There are some crimes of insensitivity that merit the return of the stocks!”

Also meanwhile, my Facebook friends had a bit of fun posting pictures of their copy of the book, being read or held or posed at various locations, including Mexico, France (on a Kindle in Paris), Montana, airplane to Los Angeles, dashboard of car in Sellwood, Studio City, Minneapolis airport bookstore, in the woods above Los Angeles, on an office desk near the Willamette, a deck in Bend, Voodoo Doughnuts, a pool room in Portland’s Hawthorne neighborhood, a bike repair apartment in Seattle, outside the Mojave Cancer Center, a very cool San Francisco pad, a neighbor’s house on 69th, a laptop with Instagram photo in Aloha, another sitting out in the yard on a warm day on the west side, on a table with the rest of the mail in Ione, on a shelf at Em’s with her cookbooks, Warren’s place in North Portland, a desktop in El Segundo, on a quilt in Barstow, and please let me know if I missed one, because what a great marketing idea!

Anyway, I was encouraged by the reader response to “Penina’s Letters.” The novel may not be what many expected it to be. And most readers seem to intuit that we probably should not criticize something for not being what it was not intended to be. It’s also hard to finish everything we pick up. I get that. I’ve nearly always got a dozen or so books and magazine articles in disarray around the house in the process of being read, but then there’s always something that pulls you to it, and you wind up finishing it before anything else. That’s maybe a good definition of a good read.

And I was so encouraged by the reader response that I’m now announcing the sequel to “Penina’s Letters,” called “Coconut Oil.” Please don’t think I wrote “Coconut Oil” in a couple of months. Like “Penina’s Letters,” “Coconut Oil” is a final (Beckett said abandoned) draft of years of writing and reading work. As Cornel West said in “Examined Life,” “Time is real.” So I finally decided to “light out for the Territory,” though unlike Huckleberry, ahead of hardly anyone else.

I’ll let you know when “Coconut Oil” is ready to launch!

Oh, yeah, that bit above about Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” That has to do with “Coconut Oil.” You’ll see.

Meantime, thanks to the readers of “Penina’s Letters”!

IMG_20160417_143645
on Hawthorne Blvd

 

 

Penina’s Letters for $2.99!

The electronic version of “Penina’s Letters” is now available at the discount price of $2.99 (and free to Kindle Unlimited Subscribers).

The e-version can be read on any device – with the Kindle app, which can be downloaded for free (click link above).

We don’t recommend reading the electronic version in water, though that might be the best place to read this dynamic novel, but at the low, low price of $2.99, you can certainly read it with your device up on the beach, near the water.

e-Version Details

  • File Size: 2077 KB
  • Print Length: 291 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1530686881
  • Publisher: Joe Linker; 1 edition (March 28, 2016)
  • Publication Date: March 28, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01DJWPLUY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

Paperback Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (March 25, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1530686881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1530686889
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches

Lost on Me – Fables Sans Morals

Some time ago, a friend mentioned driving north on I-5 with California plates and being pulled over by the local highway patrol around Olympia. “In Washington,” the patrolman said, “we like to think of the speed limit as more than a mere suggestion.” Apparently, the self-satisfaction rewarded from this afflatus meant that all the more that was needed to restore calm to that section of his freeway was a warning. Was this a cop whose partner was a muse?

The first critical review of my poem “16 Tiny Camels Found in Wood Box in Garage Stale,” up Monday at VERStype, began, “Beyond me my friend! I love the first line but lost on the rest.” “Ah! fellow musician,” I replied, “we often get lost on the rests.” I had, no doubt somewhat obnoxiously, tagged a few friends on Facebook to bring their attention to the newly published poem. Why? We are surrounded by poetry. No wonder erasure has become popular. If poetry habitually obliterates meaning, this is because poetry speaks allusively. We might define poetry as what can only suggest. But must we erase ourselves out of every poem? New hazards require new signs, new designs.Do Not

To allude is to hint. To hint is to keep something hidden, perhaps from fear, or to play, or to tease, or because to point directly is either impossible or too dangerous (like looking directly at an eclipsed sun), or erases too much from the peripheral shadows. Maybe poetry is a peripheral device, necessary to navigate around meaning. A road sign does not have time to solve every ambiguity. Stop means stop. But after stopping, we can go. Maybe the ubiquitous Stop sign should read: PAUSE. But the idea (stop) is not up for discussion, for our consideration. But what does a bevy of signs mean? We are surrounded by instructions. It’s easy to get confused. Road signs are like poems; they speak allusively. But poetry may not be instructional.

Sign Stories.jpeg

But there are all manner of poems, and the function of poetry may vary with each poem. And language is an ogre whose sleep poetry tries not to disrupt, usually to little avail. There are a few one way streets in our neighborhood. Occasionally, a miscreant driver goes the wrong way, honking and freaking out at all the drivers going the correct way. That’s what the poetic experience is sometimes like – that sudden moment when you realize you’re the swine driving the wrong way down a one way street, the epiphany sending you up and over the curb, everyone honking and shouting suggestions. Every sign contains a moral. Poetry is amoral. The perfect poem traffics not in values but in virtues.

VERStype is a new venue devoted to a particular kind of poetry. How we say something is as important as what we say, and how we say something includes both shape and syntax, tone and style, font and CamelCase. Jazz drums used to be called the skins, and to skin is to zest, peel, flay. How do you do that in a poem? Moving toward a lyric that mobilizes concrete techniques to carry melody and choreography with images of surreal dream dance. “JAZZSKIN” was published a long time ago in the El Camino College arts magazine, Silent Quicksand. No quicker way to obscurity, my friend Tim quipped at the time.

jazzskin2 (1)

Titles in “The Reader” Series

         The Reader 
      and the 
Paywall Poem
         The Reader
      and the
Wally Moon Foul Ball
         The Reader
      and the
Pool Hall Doggerel
         The Reader
      and the
K of C Third Degree
         The Reader
      and the
Professor Who Knew It All
         The Reader
      and the
Screwball PCH Big Sur Rally of 1972
         The Reader
      and the
Walled Out Surf Cove
         The Reader
      and the
Beer Hall Jukebox Sing-along
         The Reader
      and the
Union Hall Layoff Sign-up List
         The Reader
      and the
Baloney Sandwich with Mayo&Mustard on Rye and a Glass of Milk
         The Reader
      and the
Red Clew of Yarn Mystery
         The Reader
      and the
Fans with the Giant Red White and Blue Beach Ball
        The Reader
      and the
Short Tell It All
        The Reader
      and the
True Tall Tale
        The Reader
      and the
Tall Boy PBR
        The Reader
      and the
Plumber's Helper

Why Read Poetry?

Much of modern poetry is unintelligible or seems incoherent. That’s not modern poetry’s problem though. The problem with modern poetry is the absence of a general interest reader of poetry. Cautious readers avoid the crafted, arched bridges called poems precariously balanced over esoteric estuaries. But was there ever a general interest reader of poetry? Well, who filled the pit of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre? Who did Walt Whitman write for? Why did Langston Hughes use the Blues? Who did Woody Guthrie sing to? Who listens to Bob Dylan?

A word about craft, to those poets who would sit down to “craft” a poem: One may write a poem, compose a poem, draw a poem, paint a poem, photograph a poem, fingerprint a poem, press a poem, memorize a poem, sing a poem, post a poem, but one crafts a toilet bowl gasket seal, crafts a kitchen cabinet, crafts a chair to sit on to scribble the poem. Let poets work for a living and craft their poems in their sleep. And let them be well rested and sober when they begin to speak.

Why would someone who does not read poetry suddenly start? Where would they begin? Any menu would look strange, even the crafted menu, maybe especially the crafted menu. Why would they taste anything on the table? It would look a strange feast: snake knuckles, chocolate covered roses. Most of the dishes the average reader wouldn’t even recognize as food. There’s little appetite for it, for poetry is strange. Yet here’s a poet craftily writing for an audience with a special hunger, Dylan Thomas, “In My Craft or Sullen Art,” writing for those “Who pay no praise or wages / Nor heed my craft or art.”

I packed Rimbaud into my duffle bag a long time ago. “The first study for a man who wants to be a poet is the knowledge of himself, entire…But the soul has to be made monstrous,” Rimbaud wrote in the preface to his Illuminations, where quickly things get “unbearable! and the Queen, the Witch who lights her fire in the earthen pot will never tell us what she knows, and what we don’t know.” What did that mean? I didn’t know, but the “hare,” who “stopped in the clover and swaying flowerbells, and said a prayer to the rainbow, through the spider’s web,” I wanted to talk to, and the words curled up on the cold grate of reason and warmed one another, and soon started to glow and illuminate like candles of beeswax.

Yesterday in conversation with a colleague I was asked why I read poetry.

I am thankful for poetry. In the beginning was the word, and the word was posted to a tree, and around the tree gathered listeners and readers who began to talk among one another, even as the word was forgotten and fell to the ground and was buried in the falling leaves, and in the spring a young man out walking found the word now obscured from weather and compost and thought it said wood, or wode. This was the first reader of poetry, and Rimbaud’s Witch.

Arthur Rimbaud. Illuminations and Other Prose Poems. Trans. Louise Varese. Revised Edition. A New Directions Paperbook, 1957, NDP56.

…more on the disappearance of newspapers

I walked out to fetch the morning paper this morning, and the news hit me before I had even slid the thin paper from its plastic sleeve, for the paper was so slight, surely the headline would say something more about the disappearance of newspapers. Almost. The headline in today’s Oregonian heralds the coming forced disappearance of the city’s elderly elms. But the paper continues to waste away, this morning much thinner than my MacBook Pro, possibly a record for the thinnest Oregonian newspaper ever.

Related: The amateur spirit in writingWhat we will miss when newspapers disappear

Bless me critic, for I have read…

So-called Easy Reads should not be confused with Easy Writes. There are no easy writes. “Writing is hard, even for authors who do it all the time,” Roger Angell reminds us in the “Foreword” to the fourth edition of “The Elements of Style,” the lately lambasted as prescriptivist poppycock handbook that nonetheless many still enjoy – but at least this Angell point seems unassailable.

Arthur Krystal’s “Critic at Large” piece in the May 28, 2012 New Yorker (81-84), titled “Easy Writers,” revisits the highbrow impulse to visit the literary gutter. He doesn’t mention “The Elements of Style,” but he might have. The literary gutter is where one finds one’s genre or formula works, potboilers, dime store paperbacks, Classics Illustrated, though Krystal seems to stop short of the romance novels, so even the critic at large granting absolution for partaking in “guilty [reading] pleasures” might still be seen separating the venial from mortal reading sin.

Krystal’s piece is behind the New Yorker paywall, so get it at the library or get a subscription. Krystal writes some choice lines: “Modernism, of course, confirmed the idea of the commercial novel as a guilty pleasure by making the literary novel tough sledding.” White, of course, would have struck Krystal’s “of course” as needless words. And there’s the rub to the whole nexus: Krystal’s audience. Who’s he saying “of course” to? He says, “…intelligence could be a hindrance to writing fiction; otherwise, every intelligent critic would be capable of writing a readable novel,” thus like a boxer at a punching bag left rights with stinging insult both writer and critic at once.

Ibsen said of Zola that Zola went to the sewer to take a bath in it, while Ibsen waded in wanting to clean it. Just so, the general interest reader goes to the literary gutter to play in the mud, not to tidy things up. Feeling guilty for some readers is no doubt part of the pleasure. “Apparently,” Krystal says, “we’re still judged by the books we read, and perhaps we should be.” And who’s the judge? Krystal shares critic Harold Bloom’s testimony against Stephen King, upon King’s winning a medal from the National Book Foundation: “The fact that the…judges [Bloom said] ‘could believe that there is any literary value there or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy.'” Maybe, but does that absolve Bloom of being in denial? Bloom has written a shelf load of critical works and one novel, which he has disinherited.

There are no reading sins, but if one needs to confess something, it might be for not reading anything at all.