Live recording of the Austin Writing Workshop, a grad-level fiction writing meet-up held in Austin, TX. Approximate timestamps and topics are below.

0:00 Excerpt from “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” written by George Saunders, performed by Frank Marcopolos

1:56 Frank’s introduction to the podcast

5:21 Workshop analysis of a draft of the short story, “Eroticoffica” by Frank Marcopolos, including the theme of Rules, rules of storytelling and postmodern literary fiction, comedy of the story, accuracy of the sound of the dialogue, coffee rules, Austin’s coffee culture, the cult of the Castle, rules of the writing cult, erotica, pure enjoyment derived from the story, purpose of the footnotes (Track Changes), “hawt,” funny elements of the story, David Foster Wallace, “Infinite Jest,” explanation of words via Track Changes, options for using Track Changes, “The Place,” definitions of postmodernism, flatness, blending together of the two main characters, dialogue accuracy, writing in the style of an erotica story, sidebars, teasers of really good things, need for more conflict, white eyeshadow and lipstick, facility of the author with a change in writing style, understanding the narrator, enjoyable style, re-writing, sentence clarity and readability, flow, self-indulgence, winning over a non-postmodern audience, “trite” as an unfair criticism, gimmicks, surface theme, constriction of rules, the creative freedom, length of the piece, developing the right details of the story, the guy with his dick in the board, sex in the 1960s, side-notes as real stories, lack of clarity about setting, sci-fi, Kindle Millionaires, Joe Konrath, Amanda Hocking, characters with opposing characteristics, the intro, setting up a bunch of mistakes, experimental techniques, genre of postmodernism, relativism, flippy language, dry realism professors, Richard Ford, theme, Ernest Hemingway, pop and literary genre, George Saunders, short story classes in college, accepted academic stories and ones that are not, hating the story less the second time through, the thing that stands out being the dick in the board, story lacking hope or emotion, alt lit, Tao Lin, traditional techniques, blanching of the story, defending Frank as opposed to tearing him down, “trite” dialogue, gangster dialogue, “Whatevs,” story being easier to critique, unnecessary dialogue, being the bearer of good news, Michael Ward, Frank’s other stories, adventure stories, tarboosh, Track Changes coming in late, setting up expectations and then upsetting expectations, anything goes for postmodernism, the carrot of the marsh mallow at the end, discursiveness, rules for reasons, researching the origins of marsh mallows, Egypt, socially-enforced rules, juxtaposing two different positions, subtlety, foil for the marsh mallow, throw-away thoughts, the masculine principle and the feminine principle, subconscious ideas, authentic dialogue, too-authentic dialogue, fictional dialogue, and talking noises.

43:08 Workshop analysis of another member’s story, including huffing, Bukowski, Huffington Post, brain cells, enjoyment of the story, theme of class warfare, isolation and loneliness, understanding the era of the story, 1963, narrator ages, obsession with old money, Hawaii, the Hamptons, character empathy, shadows of grief, religion, hula shows, Nancy Drew quotes, Sherlock Holmes, gatekeepers, depth of the story, plot summary, boredom, getting felt up, variation of sentence length, confusing syntax, MLA Style Guide, fragments, The Elements of Style, Strunk and White, Chicago Manual of Style, editors, grade school in the 1800s, baronnesses, Hawaii as a state, Tahiti, rich people, old-money islanders, 1960’s airline-flight clothing, pilots, wearing wings, cookies, stale peanuts, and comedians on the P.A.

1:02:41 Workshop analysis of “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline” by George Saunders, including discussion of George Saunders as a writer generally, Discussion Forums, Saunders at Google Books, The New Yorker, “Puppy,” Old Yeller, German Shephards, getting the floor, Tenth of December, denoument, surrealism, taking the piss out of everything, hating the narrator, old-timey thinking, hilarity, tongue-in-cheek, Rules, slipstream, senior theses, literary fiction with ghosts and zombies, magical realism, playing with environment, notches in a penis, the Halloweenification of literary fiction, current events, politics, romance, PTSD, postmodern techniques, guilt, parallel point back to slavery, moral questions, the ghosts of our past coming back to haunt us, Ayn Rand hitting you over the head, penis notching, satire, “A Modest Proposal,” Jonathan Swift, Robert Redford, “An Indecent Proposal,” grappling with what it means to be a man, eating a pita, ham sandwiches, Frankenstein, genital mutilation, surreal gangs, Vietnam war reenactments, Richard Ford’s “Rock Springs,” solemnity, the American renaissance, the 1800s, struggling with modernity, being trapped, ghosts, and caring about characters.

1:30:30 Workshop analysis of Nir Paniry’s “Extracted,” including kung-fu movies, Bruce Lee, hard time getting the movie made, “Inception,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Hollyweird, Tom Cruise, epistomology, development of tension, plot-based storytelling, faulty memories, “Memento,” environmental factors, misremembering, objective reality, DNA, Jake Gylenhall, “Source Code,” technical screw-ups, believability, drugs, contrived characters, Christopher Nolan, who you know as the key to having a writing career, Scientology, and sleeping with a geologist a.k.a. “Love on the Rocks.”

1:38:49 End of Podcast

Posted by Frank Marcopolos

Frank Marcopolos founded "The Whirligig" literary magazine in 1999, which has been called "a landmark, demonstrating the power of the literary underground." It has been said that "you get this true lion-roaring sense that Editor Frank Marcopolos knows what he likes, and how to read, and how to publish, and he has guts, and eats insects on Wheaties with bleach." His long-form fiction has been reviewed with such praise as "thorough-goingly entertaining" and "highly readable...recalls the style of Michael Chabon or John Irving. A literary gem that should not be missed." A broadcasting-school graduate, his unique literary-audio work has been featured in movie trailers, scholastic environments, and on YouTube, with one of his audiobooks achieving over 100,000 "views" there.