Mostly (not) on McSweeney's!

A blog for my academic ideas, more or less.


I’ve been reading Frederick Bartheleme’s collection Moon Deluxe this week. It’s good. It’s mostly about a guy thinking about girls.

Thre’s one story (‘Pool Lights’) that has the protagonist working on a project. It reminds me of how I’m feeling with my PhD a bit. Here is part of it:

At midnight Friday you go into the small living-dining room and click on the overhead light. There, in neat low stacks along three walls, is the summer project: piles of Time, Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated, Money, Road & Track, Stereo Review, American Photographer, Skin Diver, and Vogue. All from American Educational Services at a terrific discount. When they started piling up unread, they became a collection. After better than a year, the subscriptions got cancelled. And after two moves–one across country, one across town, the project was born: maybe save an article or two, a peculiar picture, a curious headline, and toss the rest. Reading every word seemed at first a possibility, but finally the idea was exhausting.

The project isn’t far along.

The project isn’t really mentioned in the rest of the story. I think it gives the guy an aimless quality. I empathise with this. Am I meant to like him? Suburban drift. Using disconnection from the materials of a culture to show existential disconnection? A plenitude of potential sources. A practical difficulty in navigating/negotiating these.

I need to get back to my project. I am in the library. I am logging off from Facebook. I am logging off from Twitter. I am posting this to Tumblr and then looking at the window with my current chapter in it.

Filed under: reading

About Me:

My name is Kevin O'Neill and I am in the fifth year of a part-time PhD in the English Department of Goldsmiths, London, UK. I used to teach undergrad classes there (now: not, because there are other PhD students who need teaching experience). I work (most of the time) in the Oxfam shop in Dalston because few people get paid to do humanities PhDs.

My research centres around the literary journal McSweeney's. My interest is developing into what McSweeney's tells us about two separate (but I guess related) fields: 1) literary institutions 2) American cultural production, more broadly. This blog was initially about my PhD but is now a more general thinking space.

See right for my flickr/twitter/delicious feeds, then below for other versions of me.

Email is looceefir on gmail.


March 2010
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