Alex Kudera Alex's Comments (member since Jul 14, 2011)


Alex's comments from the The Next Best Book Club group.

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May 31, 2013 07:01AM

1218 Thank you, Lori, and thanks for everything you're doing to help the indy book community!
May 30, 2013 05:09AM

1218 Joe, I won't forget you, and when I'm back in the states I try to post regularly at The Less United States of Kudera, and these blogs get sent and posted to my goodreads author page. But I'll let you know, no doubt. Thanks for your interest!
May 29, 2013 11:40PM

1218 I'll be here if anyone has anything else to ask, but otherwise, have a great summer!
May 28, 2013 05:48PM

1218 No, Joe, I don't really have rituals although I do require coffee, and if I have a lot of free time, I'll combine writing with walking and briefly lying down. The lying down, but not staying down, can actually help a lot if I was getting to that "brain freeze" point. Internet access is the curse, and I have disabled my home internet at times in the past, and I haven't had access to cable TV, and thus most or all TV reception, for the vast majority of my adult years. For TV, I've found internet video and all the TVs everywhere on college campuses (eating areas, stationary bicycles, common rooms, etc.) give me more than enough time to watch. Social media and teaching my classes are my two greatest obstacles to writing.

Also, I do a lot of drafting on lined notebook paper, which I then type into a Word doc, and often during this initial typing, I begin to edit and improve what was handwritten. As I stated before, I also correct off typed (word processed) pages, so I have ample opportunities to improve my work in progress outside of the house--as long as I have a notebook or the printed draft with me.

Thanks for asking, Joe.
May 27, 2013 09:42PM

1218 I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday weekend, and I'll continue to check in to see if anyone has questions about FFYLD or writing and reading in general. Have a good week!
May 25, 2013 08:32AM

1218 Okay, I just followed Lori's link, and it looks familiar. . . but I don't think I've read it. But it is somewhat of a classic, maybe?

On a slightly related note, on classics, I don't remember Harold and the Purple Crayon at all from my childhood, but I found it this past year in the library, a new 50th edition or something like that, and my daughter loved it, asked for it again and again. It's a fun book!
May 25, 2013 08:25AM

1218 Thanks, Lori, and I'll try to put something together for Where Writers Write. About twenty minutes ago, close to 11 p.m. on Saturday, I just finished a new round of corrections, that I'd begun in early May. Another thing, for me, is that I have to do some corrections off paper. I can't only work off screen, so in fact, I have 450 pages of draft of Cartoon Bubbles with me as well as 180 pages of draft of another book. . . Typing in corrections can be tedious, of course, and I have to make big circles around the tiny marks, like adding a comma, and also draw horizontal lines in the left margin, so I can see where to go when I'm back on the computer.

I'm interested in all different kinds of writing and drawing, but lately these novels I have going are such a huge preoccupation that when I take a break to write something else, it is almost invariably just informal blogging, something like this, or interview questions for another author. I did just post some First Impressions of Xi'an at When Falls The Coliseum. . . not the most amazing work of literature but fun to write.

I don't know Hope for Flowers, but I'll check it out.

Thanks, Lori!
May 24, 2013 07:27PM

1218 Thanks again, Donna, and I hope everyone has a wonderful reading and writing weekend!
May 23, 2013 01:49PM

1218 Thanks, Donna, and yes, I have a title and it's Cartoon Bubbles from a City Underwater. Also, yes, I have thought of writing a children's book, not to the point where I've outlined on paper, but I do get ideas. . . I like picture books a lot, particularly the oversized hardcovers I bring home from the library, and we read many of the typical ones, but mainly thinner, portable paperbacks right now. Most recently, Barenstein Bears Trouble With Friends, Week at Grandma's, Forget Their Manners (doesn't seem to make a lasting impression--haha), and Sitter as well as Fancy Nancy books get read a lot around here. My hunch is that even if a strong portion of adult fiction moves to e-readers, the traditional books would remain for children. By the way, I don't have a kindle or e-reader.
May 23, 2013 04:12AM

1218 Thanks, Joe. On the subject of jazz, which I know very little about, I almost always teach "Sonny's Blues" and also a great introduction to it found in the out of print anthology You've Got To Read This. . . used copies are around, though. This usually means I play a little Charlie Parker to get things going, and this past spring I added a little compare and contrast with Herbie Hancock. It impresses the students, I think, that the "rebellion" music of the Baldwin story is played by a guy wearing a jacket and tie.
May 22, 2013 06:54PM

1218 Wendy, thanks, and I better clarify that I think Joe wrote that he is 41, but in fact, I'm 43. . . don't worry, I hide that info on facebook! Haha.

The second novel is far more a "work of the imagination" in the sense that there are few if any scenes that have a foundation in real life. FFYLD is extremely exaggerated and altered, but there are scenes in there based upon real experiences. When I was writing FFYLD, I didn't really think of it as a researched novel, just one based on ten years of teaching in Philly and reading the news.

Joe, I missed your earlier question, but I never listen to music when I write. . . in fact, there's some kind of annoying string instrument from another apartment right now, and I'm having a Jack Nicholson urge, from As Good As It Gets, to storm over there and put an end to it! Haha, sort of.

But seriously, I usually need silence when I read or write, and, alas, often it's so bad that I can't be in the same room as anyone I know (in libraries, among strangers, I'm fine, though). I should say, I've adapted to having a 4-year-old, soon to be 5, around, and so now I do break these rules and scribble a little while she is drawing right next to me. But that is very different from what has worked for me over the years.
May 22, 2013 06:54AM

1218 Thanks, Joe, and Cartoon Bubbles is in fact the title of the whole book and the title of the first part. And FYI, if anyone seeing this is a Philly native or occasional visitor, then this is my surreal early '90s University City novel, and Spark Park, which is the name of a tiny park in that neighborhood is in fact a somewhat hallucinatory version of Clark Park at 43rd and Baltimore, a city park about two blocks wide which has about what you'd expect--a lot of dogwalking, a short but full b-ball court, some playgrounds, etc. But this book had a different title for years and years. . . I'm pretty sure Cartoon Bubbles from a City Underwater will stick. I feel the book is very different from FFYLD although there could be some thematic overlap. It's just a crazy battle to finish any book, to get in those final edits and also find a publisher or strike up the nerve to self-publish. . . or, that's how it feels right now. By the way, although I haven't done any true self-pub, I don't frown upon it, and I recognize that some of the great writers of all time self-published some of their work. Thanks again, Joe.
May 22, 2013 06:45AM

1218 Chelsea, I'm definitely more of a figure it out as I go person, and then I add new little scenes or dialogue right up to the end. . . this is possibly a bad habit as I could be sacrificing some of the original flow. For most of my manuscripts, and some of these are quite rough, I did have an original burst of energy over several months that led to a very early rough draft. FFYLD and Cartoon Bubbles are the only two I have in a completed state or close to a final draft, but I have two others for which at least I have substantial rough draft, enough writing, that I can pretty much see the structure. But in that original burst of rough-draft writing, usually, the more I can write each day, the easier it is for me to write more the next day, and then new scenes, relationships between existing scenes and characters, and more ideas just begin to appear and make sense. . . if I'm working a lot, it is very hard for me to ever get to the state I describe. . . I need a stretch of free days, and these I had much more when I was younger. Thanks for asking, Chelsea!
May 20, 2013 01:02AM

1218 Wendy wrote: "Hi Alex! I think that's good advice for any project that you might be working on. Walk away for a day or two if you must, but then work on it in small bites until you develop a passion for it agai..."

Thanks, Wendy, and of course there are also the problems that cling to us, that stick around for our entire lives! Haha. But that is a great feeling when something that had us completely flummoxed is solvable a few days later.
May 20, 2013 01:00AM

1218 Yeah, Joe, Libra is a gripping novel, and I think a great first choice for someone who has never read Delillo. Lot 49 is fun; it might even seem slight compared to all the volumes written about it. The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth is another one of my all-time favorite postmodern novels although I'm not sure I'd have the time to tackle that one these days. I do have Rushdie's Midnight's Children with me, one of my closest reading friend's favorite novel, and we'll see if I can get to it this summer. I'm actually getting really serious about final corrections of my next novel, Cartoon Bubbles from a City Underwater. That's supposed to be my main project this summer. Enjoy your reading!
May 19, 2013 06:11PM

1218 Thanks for asking, Chelsea, and Joe, yeah, it's funny, now that I'm past 40 it makes perfect sense to me that I should have made Duffy 2 days away from 50. Haha. Anyway, I have a lot of books added to goodreads, but some of them, like the Nietzsche, Melville, Pynchon, and Delillo, are books I read 15 to 25 years ago. For FFYLD, some books I had on my mind, when I was writing it, were Saul Bellow's Mr. Sammler's Planet, John Gardner's Mickelsson's Ghosts, Dan Fante's Chump Change, and Fred Exley's A Fan's Notes. When I teach lit, for novels, I've enjoyed using Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project, Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, Delillo's White Noise, and Chang Rae Lee's Native Speaker. For short stories, I enjoy using Bharati Mukherjee's "A Wife's Story" and "Orbiting," Ha Jin's "After Cowboy Chicken Came To Town," Sana Krasikov's "Better Half," and some all-time greats like Jamaica Kincaid's "Girl" and Delmore Schwartz's "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities." I just tried to post the link to my goodreads ratings, and I don't rate a book unless I can give it at least three stars, but it doesn't seem like URL links can be added. Anyway, I'll friend anyone here. . . I wouldn't say I'm the biggest Philip Roth fan, but I'm enjoying I Married a Communist a lot right now. . . interesting look at the 40s and 50s, the Red Scare, blacklisting in entertainment industry, radio in particular, race relations. . . maybe more humane than some Roth. I read a lot of nonfiction, too, mainly online at this point, political stuff from moderate right to far left, I'd say, and there have been years when I read very few novels but enjoyed reading memoirs. Don Snyder's The Cliffwalk, Paul Auster's "Portrait of an Invisible Man," Nancy Peacock's A Broom of One's Own, and Roth's Patrimony are some I like.
What are you reading? (30020 new)
May 18, 2013 03:59AM

1218 I wish I could follow Pirsig's classic with something along the same lines, but in fact, I'm not enamored of all Philip Roth, but I'm currently reading and enjoying his I Married A Communist. . . good detailed look at 40s and 50s America, the period of the red scare, etc. I've also recently read and enjoyed my first David Lodge novel, Changing Places, which has a lot of good satire on 1969 at UC Berkeley as well as what is most likely Birmingham, England.
May 17, 2013 07:10AM

1218 Dee, Please, please, please, as best you can, prioritize your dissertation. It doesn't save everyone in academia, but it's likely a way to improve your situation. . . and there is also the satisfaction of completing a manuscript, getting past it, etc. I guess you know that already. Anyway, thanks again and good luck. Fiction isn't the same as academic writing of course, but I do get stuck or stalled, and sometimes, if I just force myself to look at writing in progress for ten or fifteen minutes every morning, even if I'm working a lot, that gets it in my head in between classes or other obligations, and then helps me get back into the flow, make progress, etc.
Yours encouragingly,
alex
May 17, 2013 06:41AM

1218 Yes, Dee, thanks again, and Duffy is two days away from the big 4-0 of course. I was also, in a comically exaggerated way, trying to show that for millions of American workers, women and men and including Cyrus, earning money could be so arduous and time consuming that he might not have time or energy left to cultivate a "normal" relationship. . . so the young student is very much his escape fantasy, escape from the long day, loneliness, etc.
May 16, 2013 07:37PM

1218 Maybe I'll see what readers thought before I respond, but, yes, good note, Lori, and great word choice--"horndog"! Haha.
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