It seemed like a good idea at the time, to take a break from my back breaking cat wrangling/book writing duties. I’ve worked very hard, very very hard on my rehab to get my busted knee to bend j-u-s-t enough to be able to sit in the front seat of our car so off we went, for a little trip down the New Jersey Turnpike!!! My first car trip in six weeks!!!
I call (above) this “Turnpikin’ in Pink”: pink sunglasses, pink watch band, pink polka dots on her GODDAMN CELL PHONE.
And, inspired by watching this girl text for about fifteen miles I call this, “Another Reason To Never Leave the House Ever Again”.
No thanks to my fellow Americans, I survived the journey to Washington D.C. and back (Yay! I got a new brother-in-law!!!). It never hurts to get some distance on your work in progress, but next time I’ll know better and pack a blindfold to get me through the Garden State.
Last week I mentioned a narrative concept I call Irving. Along those lines, this week I want to show you a visual columnist called Paul Madonna and his art journal titled Everything Is Its Own Reward:
Paul Madonna produces two weekly strips, ALL OVER COFFEE in the San Francisco Chronicle and on SFGate.com, and SMALL POTATOES on TheRumpus.net, where he is also comics editor. This book is a collection of his one-panel drawings from 2006 – 2011.
As you can see, his book is bound horizontally so that his narrative scrolls from top to bottom, an interesting way to reproduce the experience of his internet work:
Paul Madonna has deliberately set out to write stories (he calls them stories; I call it narrative because I like fancy words) that have no Irvings. His stories are designed to hold his readers’ attention for just a few seconds, engage them in a very fleeting but profound experience that incorporates image with a message that is personal, sincere, and above all mutual between the artist and the reader. Some of his stories are longer than the few sentences you see here (above), but none of them carry over from one page to the next, so no need to write those workman-like sentences (Irvings) to link one scene to another.
It’s very tricky to pull this off — no, your own melodramatic stream-of-consciousness will not suffice — so to see how Mr. Madonna achieves this for 220 pages is like being given a road map on how to take your art journaling to another level. Also, there’s a lengthy Afterword by the author that explains in detail what his goals are as a storytelling artist.
Here’s my favorite page:
She squinted into the sun to avoid
the recurring and overwhelming fear that
when the aliens came, they’d land in a city other than her own.
Or worse — not in her lifetime.
How could she go on, knowing that another generation might experience what she herself could only dream of?
When it comes to delivering a reading experience it’s obvious that my strategy is very different from Mr. Madonna’s strategy, but this does not mean that I can not admire, value, and learn from his work. Above all, he has that rarest of writerly qualities, a point of view — and that is worth respect. You might want to check out Everything Is Its Own Reward, even if only to see what it’s like to read out of your comfort zone. It can’t hurt.
And now for something completely different:
As you might have noticed, this is the Prize-Giving Season (MacArthur Genius, Nobel, National Book, Pulitzer, etc.). I check my email every five minutes to see if I have been recognized for my contribution to the culture YET but so far all I’ve received are the usual invitations to meet fellow Christian Singles or recover a multi-million dollar inheritance in Nigeria. Frankly, the snubs are beginning to get on my nerves.
Dear Readers, I need a prize. Even if it’s for Best Work of Hand-Lettering by a Left-Handed Artist in the Tri-State Area, or Order of Merit in Gratitude For Not Writing Poetry. I want to send out a press release alerting the media that Some People Think I Don’t Suck. I want to forever after add the words “Prize Winning Author” in front of my name.
What’s Elfriede Jelinek got that I haven’t got? Besides a Nobel Prize for Literature, I mean.
So, if anybody out there feels like awarding me a prize, you know, because you like the stuff I do, please feel free to alert me with your Comment below. My acceptance speech is already written.