Week in review – Nomadland, Jack Harlow, Too Much Noticing

Just a quick update because it is 11 pm on a Tuesday night and I am still working. Or rather, I’m stealing a moment before setting my alarm early so I can get up early and work. I used to think of ways I could fill little gaps of time with writing. Now I strategize how to find more time for email.

I saw Elliot Wilson tweet something about Jack Harlow and remembered I had put “Tyler Herro” on one of my playlists. It’s a fun song. But who is Jack Harlow? Actually he’s appearing on SNL and in GQ and now he’s got a song with DaBaby and another one with Big Sean. Turns out he is quite well known, with a sweetly scruffy look like he could be Post Malone’s younger brother without the face tattoos.

Nomadland. I feel conflicted over this one. It’s absolutely beautiful with a great soundtrack and every little moment is riveting. I fell under its spell, even thinking, well maybe I should try being a camp host in a van somewhere in South Dakota. Looks great! I started watching thinking I would feel torn apart by a wrenching look at the displacement of American elders, families, vast numbers of unhoused being forced on the road and exploited by Amazon. And instead, found a bit of an advertisement for van life. Side note is this great article from the LA Times on the real star: Swankie.

I’m reading a book by a writer who’s talented beyond belief, but it’s not quite doing it for me. The problem is too much noticing. It’s exhausting. Every moment noticed perfectly. But who can tolerate such sustained attention? Especially when it’s clear right away these middle class people are the worst. There’s really nowhere for them to go except some sad, exquisite realization that their modern lives are built on illusion. I know from jacket copy that some plot does occur – but don’t know if I’ll be able to stick it out. Even if something bad happens, they’ll probably just notice it to death.

Ah it’s so easy and enjoyable to diagnose the deficiencies of others… In my own book, I’m really stuck. These last chapters are terrible. Part of the problem is I have scenes I’ve written, and I want to save the work because I’m tired. From my writing diary: I think part of the issue is I need to throw stuff away. I need to clean slate it, and I don’t want to because I think, aww, I wrote all this stuff, I should be able to use it. But every time I step into one of those files, it’s like I’m stepping into a straightjacket or padded room. And I beat my fists against the padded walls, waaah, I can’t see a way out. But the answer is right in front of you. Make the room disappear. Step into white space and make the bridge appear under your feet as you walk it. It’s actually easier with nothing there.