"When I write, it’s as if I no longer exist.”

#1

Hi folks,

Thanks again for signing up. This newsletter will be something like Austin Kleon’s weekly newsletter, but with half as many links and more extended quotes from the linked sources. Here goes nothing:

1. Manjula Martin’s interview of Austin Kleon in Scratch. Kleon gets at why I’m trying out this newsletter in the first place:

How do you share yourself and your passions in a way that’s interesting and helpful to others? Think about you and your writer friends. What do you do when you get together? Well, you probably bitch about how you don’t have any money. But after that, you talk about books you love. So when I talk to young writers, I tell them, You should be keeping a reading log online. And every book you read, post some quote from it or say something about it that’s interesting and just, like, become a good citizen.

2. Lynne Tillman, in conversation with T. Cole Rachel, on what it means to be a writer:

There is no secret password to being a writer. There is no secret code. You just do it.

And on what to write about:

It’s like Gertrude Stein said, composition is explanation. She wrote what she needed to write. That seems like a good thing to consider—what do I need to write?

Another way of putting it, per The Complete Madame Realism and Other Stories:

…stories do not occur outside thought. Stories, in fact, are contained within thought. It’s only a story really should read, it’s a way to think.

Tillman gave an inspiring reading at Columbia’s School of the Arts last week, covered here by the Columbia Spectator.

3. Daniel Mendelsohn recommends 5 great books of criticism, including Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag, whose

[greatness] was twofold: first, her aphoristic style, which owes much to Wilde and which gives even her earliest essays an amazingly strong kick even today; and second, her willingness to subject any aspect of culture—high, low, Thomas Mann, drag queens, sci-fi movies of the 50s, Godard, whatever—to the powerful spotlight of her intellect.

4. I saw Todd Philip’s Joker and Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite in the last two weeks, and enjoyed both—especially the latter. Ari Aster, whose Midsommar was one of my favorite movies of the year, wrote a stellar review of Parasite in Film Comment. Anthony Lane, too, wrote a rave review in the New Yorker. And I enjoyed Nick Pinkerton’s review of Joker in 4Columns. Richard Brody, who was less than pleased with both films, compares them in a New Yorker essay.

5. I’ve been reading—and very much enjoying—Namwali Serpell’s Seven Modes of Uncertainty, in which she argues that “structured uncertainty can refract—rather than merely reflect—an ethical disturbance” (2). Here’s an interesting bit she quotes from Nabokov on the moral/political function of reading:

Art has too often been turned into a tool to convey ideas—whether political or moral—to influence, to teach, to improve and enlighten and what not. I am not telling you that art does not improve and enlighten the reader. But it does this in its own special way. (7)

Till soon,

Angelo

Welcome

The impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes. —Annie Dillard

I think it is necessary that there be literary criticism—without accident—in our countries, not ten lines about an author the critic will probably never read again. That is to say, it’s necessary to have criticism that mends the literary landscape along the way. —Roberto Bolaño

You’re only as good as your record collection. —DJ Spooky

What’s Between Parentheses?

Between Parentheses is a collection of essays by the fiction writer Roberto Bolaño. Crack open that book and you’ll find the columns he wrote in the last five years of his life. Because I’m a sucker for Bolaño’s work, and because I steal like an artist, I have stolen this title. I think of this newsletter as an informal arts column where I share my thoughts on the stuff I’m reading, listening to, watching, and looking at. I’ll also occasionally share with you info re: my upcoming shows, songs, stories, schemes, etc.

Who are you?

My name is Angelo Hernandez-Sias. I’m a college student who left a rustbelt town in west Michigan to stare at the Manhattan cityscape through library windows.

You might know me as Qixote, the name I use to make songs. Or maybe you know me from my stories and essays, which are sometimes published. More likely, I’m a classmate, a friend, or—god help you—a stranger you’ve decided to put up with by subscribing.

Whatever the case, welcome to Between Parentheses. I hope you have as much fun reading as I do sharing.

Why are you doing this?

  1. See quotes above.

  2. I write essays about books sometimes, but most of those don’t see the light of day after I submit to my professors. This is a place for me to publicly think about the art I consume in real-time.

  3. I’m usually a hermit and want to show my work more.

How often?

I’ll shoot for once a week. During the busier parts of the semester, I’m guessing I’ll post less often.

Does it cost?

No, and I have no plans to charge folks. I might some day, if the newsletter blows up and I put more time into it, but that’s Future You’s problem. In the meantime, the only price you’ll pay is your precious time.

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