Janet Fitch's Blog

December 19, 2014

Very exciting time for Paint It Black--the feature film is more than a gleam in Mama's eye now, it's wrapping! Written and directed by Amber Tamblyn--and what a force of nature! It's starring Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) as Josie and Janet McTeer (yes, OBE--Tony award winner, two time Academy Award nominee) as Meredith, Alfred Molina (whew!!) as Cal, and the list goes on.

I've been able to drop in on the set, and the intensity of this drama is blinding--sometimes I can't even breathe. Just saw them shoot the confrontation between Josie Tyrell and her best friend Pen (played by Emily Rios) at Meredith's house, it was as good as anything I'd ever imagined. Such a strange feeling, visiting the set on one's novel adapted as a film. Like being in a dream where you know it's your parents' house but it's not quite your parents' house…

Can't wait to see the finished version. As I'd said in the author questions, a movie can never be the book, it has to make it as its own work of art--cannot wait to see the work that Amber's making right now. It's really going to be something.
 •  flag
0 comments
11 likes · like  • 
Published on December 19, 2014 12:51 • 142 views • Tags: page-to-screen, paint-it-black

October 7, 2014

A brilliant book is being published this October, the final work of the Hungarian-American author Les Plesko, the ultimate literary craftsman. If you want to see beautiful writing from an author absolutely committed to his art, read his magnum opus. No Stopping Train ,

About this short, exquisite novel, Library journal said "Plesko's long-awaited novel is a powerful meditation on his own country's history and the expansiveness of humanity... serious readers of literary fiction will rejoice.,"--Library Journal

Set in Hungary, beginning in World War II and ending with the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, No Stopping Train shares certain stylistic and thematic elements with the great Eastern European authors Herta Muller (whose work Les introduced me to back when Land of Green Plums was first published in English,) Imre Kertez and Milan Kundera. His romanticism is flavored by his gentle pessimism, his lyricism by literary rigor.

In my introduction to the book, I said: "One cannot read quickly through a Les Plesko book--don't even try. It's not meant for speed-reading... Les wrote for those of us who can hear a confession, who know how to hear behind halting words to the depths of soul revealing itslef. Reading Les Plesko is like listening to a broadcast late at night, an urgent communication textured by distance and static. It's a lover's reception of an intimate call in the middle of the night. You hold your breath for the cadence, wait for the meaning to unfold."

I never wearied of his vision of writing, never stopped admiring his dedication to the art. He could throw out 100 pages and save only a single sentence. When you read No Stopping Train , you’ll see the greatness of this prose—not merely the taut, suspenseful dialogue, the emotion in the landscape, but the music of the sentence. There's an unmistakable poetry in the language in a Les Plesko line which is simply irresistible--it's a book to be savored rather than swilled.

The Nervous Breakdown has just published the opening of the book, if you want to taste a bit of its prose: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/tn...

And if you’d like to know more about Les Plesko, his ideas, his philosophy and writing prompts (he taught writing for 20 years at UCLA, guiding more than 1000 writing students on their literary journeys), memories and pages with his edits, colleagues and students have set up a collaborative website in his honor, “Pleskoism: Don’t Have Ideas” at www.pleskoism.wordpress.com. His amazing reading list can be found there—and how better to know a man than through his books.

And if you're in Los Angeles on October 19, please join us for the launch party at UCLA: https://www.facebook.com/events/36529...
 •  flag
0 comments
2 likes · like  • 
Published on October 07, 2014 23:01 • 79 views • Tags: eastern-european-fiction, hungary, modernism, no-stopping-train

March 20, 2014

My story "A Shrine For Unbelievers" is out in Black Clock 18--actually a chapter from an early version of Paint It Black when it was a three-voice novel. This from Michael's (then 'Mitch') point of view. Black Clock 18 is "The Director's Cut" --they asked a number of authors to contribute “alternate versions, deleted passages and excised chapters—the resurrection of cherished artistic detours abandoned for the sake of the whole.”

For those in LA, there's a reading on Sunday April 6, 4 p.m. at Mandrake (21+) 2692 S. La Cienega.

Also I'll be doing two panels at the Los Angeles Festival of Books on April 12 and 13--L.A.'s explosion of literary minds on the campus of USC. Tickets are free, headspace is endless.

I'm moderating a panel on Saturday, 12 p.m. on "Degrees of Fictionality: Representing Truth Across Genres" where we'll be talking about 'truthiness' and veracity issues in memoir, biography and autobiography, history, creative nonfiction and historical fiction, fiction--with Dana Johnson, Mark Jonathan Harris and Leo Braudy.

On Sunday the 13th, at 3 p.m. I'll be participating in a panel on L.A. Stories, with my fellow novelists Alex Espinoza (The Five Acts of Diego Leon); Matthew Specktor (American Dream Machine); and Antoine Wilson (Panorama City). Our moderator will be the fabulous aussie LA transplant David Francis (Stray Dog Winter, Great Inland Sea).

And in May, there's a humorous Writers Round Talk Show at Beyond Baroque, that venerable Venice Beach literary venue--4 writers, each read for 7-9 minutes, then answer crazy questions. Should be fun. May 18, 5 p.m.
 •  flag
0 comments
1 like · like  • 
Published on March 20, 2014 10:57 • 120 views

March 17, 2014

Hello to you GR friends who've recently joined me here! I always enjoy checking out your books, reviews and comments, trading impressions and insights. Glad you like what I'm doing here.

As some of you know, I am finishing a big Russian novel, and don't have much time for outside projects. But I do sometimes get the itch to work on something short.

So I've been writing short-short stories (sometimes even a poem) and posting them on my blog, stories based on an exercise I use with my students: pick a word--usually it's a simple one that can be either a noun or a verb-- and write two pages double-spaced, using that word as a jumping off place. You also have to use that word somewhere in the story.

I have a new one up now, 'Two Bags Full', from the word 'Home.' The next one is 'Plaster' if you'd like to post yours in the comment section! Drop by if you like:

www.janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com

I wish you good reading!
all best, Janet
 •  flag
0 comments
2 likes · like  • 
Published on March 17, 2014 14:27 • 78 views • Tags: short-shorts, writing-exercise

October 21, 2013

A month ago, my friend and colleague, the superb teacher and best unknown writer in America, Les Plesko, committed suicide in Los Angeles.

He left behind quite a legacy, between his friends--we had all studied together with the writer Kate Braverman--and the over 1000 students he taught at UCLA extension.

We created a blog site for him, 'Pleskoism', and his students have begun to share handouts, syllabuses, stories and notes from his 20 years of teaching. Among these was a compendious, stunning reading list that I could not help but share.

https://pleskoism.wordpress.com/115-2...
 •  flag
2 comments
11 likes · like  • 
Published on October 21, 2013 09:12 • 283 views

February 24, 2012

People have asked why all my books seem to bear four or five stars. Simple! I try not to post books here that I didn't love. There are so many that I do! (Unless I really hated them, or they were really popular and I differed from the norm, then I might go down into the ones or twos.) So you won't see a bunch of books I wouldn't recommend to people, only books I feel very strongly about.
 •  flag
10 comments
36 likes · like  • 
Published on February 24, 2012 12:12 • 831 views

May 28, 2011

Review of Michael Cunningham's novel By Nightfall, among other things that have been on my mind--in the new Los Angeles Review of Books! Imagine the moxie, in this age of the disappearing book review section, to START one. They post an essay every morning at 6 a.m. CHeck it out: The Middle Years: A Meditation on By Nightfall by Janet Fitch
 •  flag
2 comments
2 likes · like  • 
Published on May 28, 2011 11:21 • 558 views • Tags: cunningham, fitch, la-review-of-books

December 4, 2010

A former student asked if I had any advice for parenting writers. Oh, a few...

"Parenting Tips for Writers"
at
www.janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com

write well,

Janet
 •  flag
0 comments
1 like · like  • 
Published on December 04, 2010 16:50 • 323 views • Tags: mothers-who-write, parenting-and-writing, writing-tips

September 18, 2010

Just saw Jonathan Franzen speak in Los Angeles, thought I'd write it up for those of you unable to make it... Memorable and, yes, inspiring.

www.janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com
 •  flag
0 comments
1 like · like  • 
Published on September 18, 2010 10:46 • 271 views • Tags: fiction, writer-interviews

July 18, 2010

For all you brave souls who've decided to do some writing this summer, I've boiled down the best things I know about writing and put them up on my blog.

janetfitchwrites.wordpress.com

Wish you lots of inspiration, and have a great summer!

Janet
 •  flag
1 comment
1 like · like  • 
Published on July 18, 2010 08:51 • 501 views • Tags: writing-tips