Melinda Camber Porter in Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates 1987 Princeton University ISSN Volume 1, Number 6: Melinda Camber Porter Archive of Creative Works by Melinda Camber Porter and Joyce Carol Oates Blake Press

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“Certainly feminism in the past decades has been very idealistic and has definitely modified the culture, not as much and perhaps not as permanently as we would like, but it has had some alteration of consciousness.”

I snapped this up on Netgalley because Joyce Carol Oates writing is wonderful. She has a way of disturbing me, always provoking the reader to question their morality, and the world. This is an intelligent conversation, focusing on boxing (the sport) at the beginning, it’s interesting to see Carol draw parallels between boxing and smoking. The violence of a sport, the violence we do to ourselves that doesn’t even inspire a mention. I chewed on the topic of poverty, prostitution, the under-privileged and the violence that arises, such as boxing. Yet she doesn’t claim to want to abolish it, is it even possible?

There is a section, where they are discussing celebrity and the weight of their opinions. in the sense that authors aren’t really listened to here in America. Celebrity though, I wonder how much that has changed since this interview with different platforms now, outlets for their thoughts to be spread. I still don’t imagine writer’s opinions are followed as much as say… a singer or actor. I would hope we would’t vote a certain way now, based on any celebrity, sadly I am guessing some people will sway their opinion based on a celebrity, which is sad to me. Should we ever align our thoughts with a celebrity,  Donald Duck or otherwise? (Read the interview) Lord I hope not.

“America has this long tradition of anti-intellectualism.” I wonder if it’s changing now, as more praise is heaped upon our trailblazers, but it does seem people are suspicious still of intelligence. We weren’t taught to ‘think for ourselves’, mostly to just memorize, regurgitate. I agree with Oates too about putting writers, or celebrities, in the spotlight of politics then as now, because it really is about dedicating to understanding politics, it’s not just ‘opinions’ and it’s a heavy burden to ‘thrust the microphone’ at them when their understanding isn’t as strong as those in politics. How many have ‘put their foot in their mouth’, maybe meaning one thing and not seeing the bigger picture?

The topics discussed resonate today, interesting as this conversation took place in 1987. I am always curious about the writers whose work I devour, what they think about certain subjects, how it relates into the creation of their characters, what they’re trying to say about the world through fiction. Not because I have to agree with them or disagree, simply I enjoy feasting on the food of their thoughts.

Publication Date: November 15, 2017

Blake Press

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David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones

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“David loved oddities, loved people who were somehow different.”

Dylan Jones has written a biography overflowing with insight and stories about David Bowie as told by his friends, lovers, rivals and so on. There was so much I had never known, and I think many of his fans grew up with a different Bowie. Growing up an 80’s kid, he will always be my Goblin King, Jareth. The only problem with writing about a person through collective thoughts and memories is you can lose the person. It steals the romance and the mystery of a celebrity. On the other hand, you sort of feel like you’re in a room with a bunch of people gossiping behind his back, or gushing about him, it is all very dizzying. I’d known nothing about his family, his upbringing and this book delves deep into all of that- and particularly David’s interest in his brother Terry, who had schizophrenia. David, I think, was someone who was always something ‘other’, beyond charm, beyond individuality- and it’s evident through every story on these pages. The rivalry between Jagger and Bowie was a bit fun to read, particularly why David Jones decided to become David Bowie, maybe this healthy competition helped keep their stars shinning for their fans.

From an early age, it seems everything influenced Bowie- from the books he read to fashion, american culture, jazz, and the beats, it all comes together and explains what nurtured such an amazing artist. His brother’s ‘madness’ seems to have been channeled through David, in his work. One wonders how much his brother had an effect the Bowie transformations through the ages. But you can’t think you understand that aspect of a person’s life, simply from stories or interviews. I felt protective of Terry and David reading what happened.

In all honesty, I most enjoyed reading all of David’s words, not everyone else’s. I can imagine he lit up a room, was his ‘most beautiful’ just around people, not just bursting with brilliance on stage. What you come away with is his genius, but also that he controlled what you are allowed to see and it should be kept that way. There is a lot of insight from people very close to Bowie and those on the periphery, the reader treks through so much information, as so many of the people who crossed paths with David get their say. I think David Bowie, even with his humor and charm, was a lot more serious than fans realized. No one says it better than Iman, his wife “I fell in love with David Jones, I did not fall in love with David Bowie.”  I think the world needs to keep Bowie and let his loved ones keep David Jones. Bowie was a beautiful creation by a hell of an intelligently talented man. I don’t think you can understand a person through everyone surrounding him, it’s too distorted because just when you think you have a grasp of who he was, another story contradicts it. Bowie remains a mist you just can’t hold. This book will feed his fans, because it covers many decades and you can get the feel that you were along for a bit of the wild ride. It’s Bowie in other’s eyes. I cringe a bit, wondering how mangled I would be if people I brushed shoulders with, alongside those who knew me best painted a picture of who I was when I am gone. What sort of Frankenstein’s monster would be created? In itself, it would just be another ‘creation’ not capturing the reality. This novel comes close to the real David with intimacy but then pushes you away, but isn’t that the celebrity way?

There are many facts, it’s a hell of a collection but I hunger for Bowie in his own words. He lived in his own world, the rest of us were just visiting.

Publication Date: October 3, 2017

Crown Publishing