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From Old Notebooks

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  77 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
From Old Notebooks is a memoir, a novel, a poem, an essay — a self-styled memoivel — which exemplifies how love of language and literature enriches our lives, and explores, often with great humor, the many pitfalls confronting a young writer and father on his journey to maturity. Each entry in From Old Notebooks is literally that — an idea written in a writer's draftbook. ...more
Paperback, 182 pages
Published March 11th 2010 by BlazeVOX [books]
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Mar 30, 2010 Sadie rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of From Old Notebooks through GoodReads first reads giveaways. I wasn't sure what to expect of a book described as a "memoivel" but I was eager to find out. I absolutely loved this book. The random musings of Evan Lavendar-Smith at times had me laughing out loud (see page 65 for a hilariously accurate description of changing dirty diapers), thinking introspectively about religion, America, philosophy. and cringing at some of his absurdity. My copy is filled with post-it notes t ...more
Apr 02, 2010 Gabriel rated it it was amazing
"The fact is that each writer creates his precursors. His work modifies our conception of the past, as it will modify the future."

-Jorge Luis Borges, "Kafka and His Precursors" [1:]

In the past two weeks, I have been completely engrossed in three books [2:]: David Shields's Reality Hunger, Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage, and Evan Lavender-Smith's From Old Notebooks. Obviously, this isn't coincidence.

Qua Shields: "The word essay used to describe that formally daring writing once described by the
Mar 29, 2010 Joyce rated it it was amazing
Don't take life too seriously.
Evan says everything I want to say about the things I'm thinking about.
Intelligent, and so funny that I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks. Kudos to Evan Lavender-Smith.
This book is not a one time read. If you happen to lose perspective on life it's a great reminder. This book is a keeper!!
Thank you.
Jun 21, 2010 Alisa rated it really liked it
Recommended to Alisa by:
Shelves: non-fiction
I learned about this book from the Goodreads giveaways.. I didnt win it but I was excited about reading it. So, when I looked it up at the bookstore, I was pleasently suprised by it. It was a great book about keeping things in perspective and had me laughing out loud to the point that people were staring. I'm thankful I found this on here and that I was motivated to read it. It is a book that I will surely read again and recommend to others.
Joe Ahearn
Apr 05, 2010 Joe Ahearn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry

This book is either a novel constructed of aphorisms, a book of philosophy constructed of flash fictions, a prose poem of enormous length, or a collection of jottings from old notebooks. Or all of the above. Or none of the above. I like (a lot) that the genre identity of this book can't be characterized, and I like the writing, sentence by sentence and paragraph by paragraph, better. A wonderfully groovy book.
Jesus Garcia
Dec 20, 2010 Jesus Garcia rated it it was amazing
Evan Lavender-Smith’s From Old Notebooks is a wildly self-aware collection of big ideas that obliterates distinctions between fiction, philosophy, poetry and autobiography. Witty, sweet and often brilliant, the book is structured around thematically linked one-liners, personal anecdotes, story pitches, self-reflections and ruminations on what it means to be intellectually alive in the new millennium.

Short story about someone living inside of a piano.

At its core, F.O.N. aims to come to terms wit
Oct 09, 2010 J.A. rated it really liked it
Possibility #1:

Evan Lavender-Smith keeps notebooks. Old notebooks. And in these old notebooks he writes snippets: movie plots, story ideas, funny things his wife or children said, potential inventions, et cetera. Evan Lavender-Smith writes these snippets in these old notebooks and, somewhere down the line, decides that he has a dozen or so old notebooks lying around and, instead of just chucking them in a storage box or, worse yet, the garbage bin, he compiles them into a single document, culls
Peter Tieryas
Review at HTMLGiant:

"It’s hard to analyze experimental works because the experience the reader has is so subjective and without making assumptions about the author’s intent, a huge part of the critique, for me, comes down to how the work resonates on a personal level. Explorations of infinity and thought stripped away from form involve literary techniques that are invented along the path of creation, and as a result, often defy formulaic definition. That is wh
Joe Milazzo
Jun 09, 2010 Joe Milazzo rated it liked it
Definitely some dog-ear worthy passages strewn throughout, particularly the ones that touch on the reader's experience while reading. But I ended up mistrusting the book's formal conceit, even as I admired the essential chutzpah of the guy pulling its strings.
Peter rock
i have not had a chance ta read it yet author i will get the chance g.o.d. williing....dr. phd peter rock treacy campbell...i am adding as a reminder ta 3:05 april 15th....2010
must get back ta work
May 16, 2010 Ben rated it really liked it
It is a tribute not only to the grandiosity of the writer, all writers, and the writer's belief that readers care about what they think, but the fact that we actually do care, and that we have to.
John Mullarkey
Mar 23, 2010 John Mullarkey rated it it was amazing
Excellent piece of work. My favourite line is 'I should like to teach at a university where the bathrooms are
stocked with two-ply toilet paper.'
Sep 24, 2010 Kate rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2010
"The great tradition of modern philosophy and letters, from Nietzsche and Artaud to Deleuze and Houellebrecq, has taught us this much: maintaining the old grammers, figures and style of humanist narrative wioll never allow us to think. While sustaining a beauty of textual expression Lavender-Smith has nevertheless created a new genre of literature and a new mode and style of thought. This work is at once intellectually compelling and creatively breathtaking. This is a book to be read slowly, car ...more
Peter Landau
Apr 02, 2013 Peter Landau rated it it was amazing
I plowed through this book faster than any other I've read since Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" when I was a teenager, and I think "From Old Notebooks" is by far the healthier choice. The format of aphorism-like short bits of collage that come together in a mosaic story, both erudite, moving and funny, was inspiring. Repeatedly, I was sent to my Twitter feed to offer my own serialized notebook. But my typing was nothing compared to Lavender-Smith's genre-less genre that de ...more
Jamie Iredell
May 15, 2013 Jamie Iredell rated it it was amazing
I read this not only because I wanted to but because I was teaching a nonfiction workshop and wanted to challenge myself and my students as to what nonfiction was or could be.

An essay written by the writer but told from a different point of view, and not your usual 2nd or third person POV, but, like a different-than-the-author 1st person POV. Is that an essay?

A review of a book that's aware of itself as a book and of an author aware of himself in the act of being an author but also aware of tha
Dec 18, 2011 Joshua rated it it was amazing
Evan is a friend, but what's glorious about F.O.N., which I have just read for the second time, is that he is your friend as well. That is, this book is a good friend to anyone of overweening literary ambition, who has ever been young, who has ever been uncertain, who has ever feared death or its cousin oblivion, who has ever dreamed that Leopold Bloom is his homeboy. There are a vanishingly small number of books that I go to for that highest and rarest of literary commodities, the thing Von Hum ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Tara rated it did not like it
Shelves: yikes
Here our author collected his every drunken or stoned scribble through his college years, and in retrospect, believed them to be intelligible enough to compile into this aptly named compendium. My issue then is with the publisher, that the ramblings be worthy of an audience. Lost early on while positing something along the lines of: 'If forced to choose between poetry and pornography...' I guess if most authors had this question forced upon them, we would have a rare few who would answer honestl ...more
May 04, 2013 Bruce rated it really liked it
I give this five stars for imagination and take one star away because the author didn't know when to quit ... it went from being a delightful read to being a trudge. I finished it but my time could have been better spent.

I'd like to see how this author develops over time. He shows real potential.
Sep 05, 2010 Tori rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-for-mommy
At the risk of name-dropping:
I don't want to say too much about how I love this book- I'm pretty sure Evan has plenty of ego, already, and enough hubris to carry it. And I can say that, since I know him. :) Good job, Evan. Really good.
Feb 20, 2011 Robin rated it liked it
Not too bad, however some of the thoughts could have been left in the old notebooks. It was somewhat freaky to realize I have had some of the same observations about life.
Nathan Graham
Oct 18, 2010 Nathan Graham rated it it was amazing
Great first book. Inventive and delivers on some of the energy and precision in his short stories. Highly recommended.
Admired the range of this book: cerebral, mawkish, tender, absurd.
Mar 22, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
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Evan Lavender-Smith is the author of From Old Notebooks and Avatar. He is the editor-in-chief of Noemi Press, the prose and drama editor of the literary journal Puerto del Sol , and a visiting assistant professor of English at New Mexico State University. His writing appears in many journals and magazines, including Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Evergreen Review , Fence, Memorious , The Mo ...more
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