Saturday Show Podcast is a live recording of the Austin Writing Workshop, a graduate-level fiction writing workshop focused on literary fiction and led by a former professor of literature and philosophy. In this episode, the group discusses the methods of unwrapping layers of truth to get to the “REAL” through the work of Charles Bukowski and a member-submitted short story. Fans of Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Jennifer Egan, and Charles Bukowski would probably enjoy this podcast.
0:00 Excerpt from “Women” by Charles Bukowski
5:32 Frank’s intro to the podcast
6:23 Group discussion of “Women” by Charles Bukowski, including a brief discussion of the movie “Bliss,” waiting for the amazing plot turn, the theme of customs being bad, Portlandia skits about the devil, some plot summary, keeping track of all the women, repitition, broader questions about what the project is trying to do, Bukowski’s fame, fiction vs. poetry, comparison to Henry Miller and Ernest Hemingway, intentional lack of poetry, size of words, slippery salamanders of fate, popularity in Europe, tolerance of offensive materials, lewdness vs. art, American prudeishness, what is art?, Arthur Danto, aesthetics in art, Jasper Johns, the urinal piece of art, Duchamp, objective rules and criteria of artworks, measuring experiences of visual art, relativising, core of themes, Hunter S. Thompson, unreliable narrators, interviews with Bukowski, “Born into This” documentary, filtered realism, the tape recorder method, character arc of Chinaski, “Spring in Fialta” by Vladimir Nabokov, “Farewell to Arms,” Jim’s novel written for Texas State University, theme and surface events, universality of art, vomiting as a symbol, Chinaski’s blackheads, outting the real inside of Bukowski onto the page, literary decadence, Celine, Bukowski defending the novel, the screwed up moral culture, Friedrich Nietzsche, vulnerable and undercut characters, defining “undercut”, remembering Theresa, talking about how bad Chinaski is in bed, oral sex, the use of alcohol to get to the true Chinaski/Bukowski, George Martin,high-functioning alcoholics, being anti-Disney and Mickey Mouse, identity revelation, skin comfort, Bukowski’s upbringing and physical handicaps including grotesque ugliness, acne vulgaris, not trusting men with clean houses, recognizing insanity, Liza Williams, Elton John, hooking up with millions of women, German or Swedish twins, traits of childhood violence, Cory’s therapy session, getting tiresome, Thomas Pynchon, yeast infections, Henry Miller and his bicycle, the elitism of punctuation and rules, The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy O’Toole, the influence of Bukowski, David Sedaris drunk vs. David Sedaris sober, writing 4-5 stories a week, the theater version of Confederacy of Dunces, Steven Soderberg, Harold Ramis, John Belushi, Edward Zick, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifaniakis, suicide as an awards strategy, Jack Black, “Bernie,” porking up for a role, depressing movies, Melacholia, Ayn Rand Reference #1, and research mavens.
47:51 Group discussion of the member story, including loving the story, “The Crying of Lot 49” by Thomas Pynchon, artificial lakes, “Slaughterhouse 5” by Kurt Vonnegut, modern cities and commerce, Texas-bashing, hating Austin, tigers and Mike Tyson and tattoos on your face, moving to rural Illinois, East Saint Louis, going back to New York, Nero, green dust, the lake that sucks people under, black humor, second draft, awkward grammar, confusing narrative style, logistical issues, Thomas Pynchon, Cory’s dirty mind, realistic parts of the story, “Infinite Jest” by David Foster Wallace, “Idiocracy,” the historical figure of Nero, the symbolism of marrying one’s horse or the Eiffel Tower, the value of experimenting with style, writing what you know, zombies, stilted style, being boring via tape-recorder writing, thesis defense papers, John Steinbeck, simple titles, Michael Ward, capturing the authenticity, Frank Marcopolos’s writing, the pacing of the story vs. that of the novel, Borges quote, details not resonating, everything needing to do 50 things in a short story including resonance, anchors, Cinema Paradiso, Through a Glass Darkly, Frank Koonz, Ingmar Bergman, Fellini, “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, short story boundaries, Samira’s story, flash fiction, “Hills Like White Elephants,” dystopia, genre stories, Galt’s Gulch (Ayn Rand Reference #2), Ayn Rand References #3 and 4, the Chilean Galt’s Gulch scam, larger scale of the narrative, review of elements of genre story, Chinese Food Menus, main character having obstacles to overcome, hooking the reader with tension through obstacles, character vulnerability, wanting to know what happens next, world-building on a massive scale, “1984” by George Orwell, one-sidedness of the character including stereotypical, absurdist characters, awkward sentences, sussurus, onomonapoeia, authenticity, Stephen King’s ad executive story about the bus, George Saunders, Kelly Link, Kerri Russell, satisfaction of ending, the 6 elements of genre fiction on Frank’s Chinese Food Menu, THEME, literary stylings, the philosophy of art, the organic nature of literary theme, never understanding TRUE themes, sublime short stories, “1984” (again), Ayn Rand Reference #5 and 6, The Romantic Manifesto, scientific contributions to philosophy, Aristotle and objective reality, Ayn Rand Reference #7, babbling about things that don’t matter, Nietzsche, the Jim Scale of Storytelling, the Buke Influence, learning through metaphor, the postmodernist twist, pacing, goals for the story, femininity, motherhood, too many elements happening in real time, Ayn Rand Reference #8, living in a commune, and Ayn Rand Reference #9.
1:51:05 End of Podcast