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July 11th, 2007

John Wayne at Last Short Story

Ben Payne (benpayne) at Last Short Story (lastshortstory) wrote about 'John Wayne':

Ben Peek's John Wayne, part of his dead Americans series of stories, places John Wayne and his friend Orson Welles in contemporary USA. Wayne is well-characterised, rather than being a two-dimensional target of satire, and we are shown both his flaws and his strengths as a man, resulting in some fascinating contradictions. In Wayne's paranoias and the subsequent violence, we are given a strong critique of racial politics in the US today (and by extension in our own country, too.) Peek's strength in this story is in the fact that he allows the story to move beyond its social critique and to create moments of genuine pathos as well, resulting in a deeper and more compelling vision of contemporary society.


Of course, Payne was one of the editors who bought the story, back when it was titled, 'John Wayne (As Written by a Non-American)', so what you're probably seeing is the reason why he purchased it. Ah, but I bet he would have left the rest of the title there, too.

'John Wayne' appeared in the latest issue of Aurealis, with a neat picture of Wayne himself.

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Wednesday Morning Blah

Blogging has been light this week, and it'll continue to be so, since tomorrow I'm running a two day workshop. Privately, I call it the Teenagers Want to Fuck Workshop, since inevitably, I spend the two days watching fifteen and sixteen year olds try to pick each other up so they can fuck each other stupid.

I got an assistant, again, this year, despite the fact that I've stopped asking for one. They're nice enough, these assistants I get, but with the exception of one--the Beautiful Assistant, years ago--they're all some kind of useless. It's mostly my fault, I guess. I don't design the course so that there's something for an assistant to do, and since none of them ever have the faintest idea what I'm going on about, I usually just end up with an extra student in the workshop. Officially, assistants are just suppose to fuck off with the students during breaks so I can get liquored and stoned to continue teaching in the afternoon, but that's not exactly difficult. I can watch kids while drinking. Maybe I'm just a control freak. Or maybe I just don't drink enough coffee and need enough things photocopied to warrant an assistant.

Still, should this assistant not insist that one girl eat a sandwich when she is ill, which she'll puke up hours later, I'll be happy.

The assistant had left, fifteen minutes before she puked, I might add.

There was vomit everywhere.

Poor girl.

Anyhow, this time, I am running my experimental fiction workshop, and I think I'm going to actually replace one part of the shop with a part using tarot cards and Italo Calvino's The Castle of Crossed Destinies. I'm still working out the finer details of it, but I'll see how it goes. I'm talking out aloud, basically. The aim of the workshop is simply to present a variety of ways that you can write, and some of them, like the body art part, are not something that you can do for publication, but I tend to find that workshops get too caught up in that idea. Publication is nice, don't get me wrong, but there's a fuck load of ways to write and create that no publication is going to be able to print, ever. It's good to be able to indulge in that every now and then, I find, and I like throwing away the traditional narratives that are shown in the majority of fiction these days--there's a joy in watching sixteen people take work and completely fuck round and make a mess of it, and themselves, in the process.

In other teaching related news, I fired a kid last week when he wrote three pages of emo bullshit, designed entirely to piss me off. I looked at it, said, "That's nice, man. Very therapeutic for you."

Then I left.

Living the dream, y'know?