Saturday, November 26, 2005

Kill, kill, kill!!

The name, Davy Rothbart, has flashed across my radar screen several times over the past few months. The originator of the truly unique Found Magazine, Rothbart is a member of a new breed of writers.

In its most basic form, Found is a collection of snippets—love letters, notes, birthday cards, to-do lists, doodles—that give Rothbart and crew license to come up with stories based upon these random pieces that they’ve gathered.

The “kill list” that I’ve put up is from Rothbart’s site for the magazine. This note was found on NYC’s 6 train, during Fleet week. Obviously, the person who created it has some strong feelings about who and what needs to be eliminated to re-order his/her world.

Not only does Rothbart collect random scraps of everyday detritus—he is also a talented writer and has a collection of short stories out. The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas (Touchstone, 2005) consists of eight short stories, five of which were originally self-published by Rothbart. His talent has been recognized by Simon and Schuster, who have re-issued Rothbart’s book as one of their trade paperbacks.

I read Lone Surfer during my recent flight to Florida, in early November. Rothbart has an edgy style that pulls you in and makes you care about his characters. I found myself wishing that the book had many more stories, which is always a good sign for any book.

Rothbart and his DIY ways have been on my mind this weekend because my son is home from college. He has taken on his own project—a self-published zine that he’s been hawking himself around the Wheaton campus—ala Rothbart and other similar Gen X entrepreneurs. Mark’s project, GMBO, is beyond my ability to describe in the limited space I’ll allow in this post. Let’s just say it’s unique, and as such, has brought with it fresh controversy on the Wheaton campus and from selected regions of the Ivory Tower.

Interestingly, when I was reading Rothbart’s book in the airport in Portsmouth, waiting for my plane, I found myself thinking of my son, Mark. I realized that for most of my life, I’ve pushed him to succeed at athletics and have often viewed him first as an athlete and then secondly, as a unique individual, with original thoughts, ideas, etc. Since this fall, when he first started writing, only to see his work spat upon by the third-rate campus newspaper, I’ve started to see my son in a different light. I can’t tell you how much I’ve been enjoying reading his material, especially his zine, GMBO. It’s really made me appreciate the creative process even more and try to be as supportive as I can of what he’s doing, and to provide encouragement for his writing, something that I never received at his age.

If you are looking for an interesting read, something worth turning off the TV for, during November and December’s interminably long bouts of darkness, check out Rothbart’s book, The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas. It will entertain you and better yet, probably make you think about life’s paradoxes, ranging from random strangeness and tragedy, to epiphanies tinged with unsurpassed beauty.


weasel said...

So psyched- Mark and I had discussed something like this at your book signing and I'm glad he's decided to refuse to compromise. Good lad.

Jim said...

I'll have him bring some copies home over Christmas and I'll mail you some issues of GMBO; it's a zine in the truest sense, with some of it bordering on stream of consciousness and some of it just plain brilliant.

You watch over your children (or in my case, child) for most of their lives, wondering whether they'll be properly equipped for that crazy thing called life. Then, you see them morph into this adult, right before your eyes and you feel such a sense of relief that, despite your failings, and inadequacies as a parent, you did something right and some of what you did was irrelevant.