1) I ate Jimmy Page’s French fries and a bite of his steak. 2) “I have never been lonely, cause me so cool.” 3) Misplaced efforts to connect are carved enthusiastically and sometimes desperately from the dearth of options offered by a cultural context that relegates honesty to marketing, which it to say, largely omits the option for its expression in any significant way.
Just the other day I received a letter in the mail from my friend James who, at the time, was completing a writing fellowship in Moveen, Ireland–a remote town that from what I’ve been told boasts scenic green pastures, writerly solitude (with the exception of an occasional peeping-tom-type visit from the neighborhood goat), and complete radio silence. That’s right… it’s a technological freezone… a place to escape the quick and easy distractions of cell phones and the internet so you can focus on reading and writing. As I read James’ letter, I realized something: It was the first real letter I’d received in years. It wasn’t mail sent for an occasion, not a birthday card or a baby announcement. It was just an honest to goodness, hand-written letter to say, “Hey. What’s up? I’m in this great place doing this and that. What are you doing?” Granted, the letter was written on 3rd of the month and I didn’t receive it until the 19th, so “this and that” probably changed quite a bit. But as I held the paper in my hand, I knew it was something I’d keep forever–not an email that would get filed away into the virtual abyss–but a paper letter marked with a culturally relevant stamp redeemed at the Cork Mail Centre, flown across the Atlantic Ocean and hand-delivered to my Chicago address. It’s a painstakingly slow process–but I think this time makes the writing and sending of letters precious and it’s sad to think that the fast-moving electronic age may be putting an end to this careful, age-old craft.
As opposed to wit, which is often just pedantic cruelty, more ingenious than funny, rarely instructive or heartening, Aphorism is, historically, a manly form, laconic, from the Spartan polis of Laconia. Spartan men were said to hold the rhetoricians and the poets in disdain; the Laconians valued bravery, austerity, and, as anyone who’s seen 300 knows, a direct and very un-pedantic sort of cruelty. The first “Laconisms” come from accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae, the bloody contest that pitted a small band Greeks and Spartans against a superior Persian force. Grotesque, frightening, often hilarious, these early Laconisms make the battle out to be a bloody lark. My favorite: when a Persian envoy sent to Sparta asks for a tribute of “some soil and water,” the Spartans throw him down a well; “Dig it out yourself,” they say.
Our new website and blog have been up for a couple months now, and here’s a taste of what folks have been saying: Fiction Writers Review reviewed the new MQR website, and Randall Mann’s “The One Sentence Review” buzzed around Book Forum, The Poetry Foundation’s Harriet: The Blog, and The Rumpus. In addition, posts have been tweeted about on Twitter and posted on Facebook. In short, the conversation is on the move. There’s only one problem…
A few years ago, the poet D.A. (Doug) Powell and I, in a fit of industry, embarked upon a project called The One Sentence Review. This was our call for submissions:
“Have you ever wanted to review a new book of poetry, but you felt like you might not have enough to say? The One Sentence Review doesn’t need you to blather on and on about how life-affirming or ground-breaking or challenging or redemptive each book is. On the contrary, we want the true essence of the book, cooked down into one encapsulating, qualitative, complete thought. Or less.”