sequentialsmart asked:

Do you think it's possible for an artist create touching, meaningful art if they lived a life without tragedy? While I haven't had an ideal life, I'm still the product of a privileged, middle-class, suburban life that's never been exposed to the horrors of war, violence, addiction, abuse, sudden deaths of loved ones, or any of the tragedies that have befallen the great artists. While I feel incredibly lucky so far, it feels like the best art in our history came from some very broken people.

ruckawriter answered:

Absolutely. I wish I had the mental wherewithal right now to do a web search for the essay Joyce Carol Oates wrote on this very subject several years ago (I think it ran in The New York Times Magazine, but I could be mistaken), where she took on the whole “suffering artist” topic as an extension of an American/Puritan ethic.

Look, everything I say about writing is my opinion, and only that. I am an authority on my own work, barely, that’s all. But I firmly, absolutely believe that good writing rises from two, intimately connected, places: empathy and honesty. The extension of the argument “write what you know” — when taken literally — means that we shouldn’t have fiction. But that’s not what it means, at least, not for my purposes; rather, it’s write what you know to be true. That’s an emotional truth, a universal truth. Certainly, experience of trauma and other hardships will provide insight into those things, will, perhaps, provide an access into writing about them that others cannot achieve. But to deny imagination, empathy… that’s utter nonsense.

I will not deny that there are some beautiful, powerful works brought to us by some very damaged, tragic souls. But I do not — I can not — believe that personal suffering on a Grand Scale is required to create meaningful or lasting work. I do not, and cannot, believe that we must “suffer for our art,” if by suffering for our art we mean exposure to the cruelest and most inhumane experiences imaginable. Anyone who has struggled to put the right words on the page, the right line on the canvas, the right shape cut into the marble, etc… they have suffered for their art. They needn’t become heroin addicts to then prove it.

I’m sure there are many who will disagree with me. But from where I’m sitting, it’s your voice, your ability to imagine, to empathize, and to relay those things that connect us all with honesty and courage that will create great art.

I strongly agree with Greg Rucka on this, and would add Orwell’s statement that good fiction is written by people who are not afraid.

A few years ago, some drawings by Vince Larue appeared in Les Nuits blanches d’Édimbourg, the second collection of my fiction published in French. One of them was for my story “Get Out As Early As You Can.” The version of it above will be part of May’s exhibition, Mom!, at R. Pela Contemporary Art in Phoenix.
If you like Vince Larue’s art and my writing, check out the graphic novel we did together, Dark Heat.

A few years ago, some drawings by Vince Larue appeared in Les Nuits blanches d’Édimbourg, the second collection of my fiction published in French. One of them was for my story “Get Out As Early As You Can.” The version of it above will be part of May’s exhibition, Mom!, at R. Pela Contemporary Art in Phoenix.

If you like Vince Larue’s art and my writing, check out the graphic novel we did together, Dark Heat.

Reports of Manny Pacquiao’s resurrection are greatly exaggerated

I was right in my prediction for the Manny Pacquiao-Tim Bradley fight last night. This is the second time Pacquiao has done it, but the last time two of the judges outrageously gave the decision to Bradley.

This Guardian article, along with several others I’ve read, trumpets that Pacquiao has returned to “vintage form.” But he hasn’t. His steady decline is continuing.

Pacquiao was once a fearsome puncher. Punching power is the last thing a fighter loses with age. But Pacquaio hasn’t stopped any opponent since he gave Miguel Cotto a horrifying beating in 2009 (that fight went almost 12 rounds, but should have been stopped in the first third). All but one of the eight fights he’s had since then - against opponents of varying quality - have gone the distance. The exception was when Juan Manuel Marquez knocked him out in the sixth round.

Pacquiao was a great fighter. Bradley is a good fighter, but no more than that, and he’s a light puncher; only 12 of his 31 wins have been inside the distance. Once upon a time, Pacquiao would have walked through him. He has twice been unable to put him away.

It was good to see Pacquiao win this fight, especially after being robbed in his last encounter with Bradley, but to call it a return to form is wishful, almost magical, thinking. In actuality, Pacquiao is washed up, and ought to retire, or, if his ego doesn’t allow that, to keep fighting run-of-the-mill opponents. Another fight with Marquez would be a bad idea, and a fight with Floyd Mayweather would be a dreadful one. I think Pacquiao at his best would have beaten Mayweather, and I think Mayweather thinks so too, which is why he’s been ducking Pacquaio for years. But the Pacquiao who fought last night could reasonably hope for little more than not to get badly hurt by an on-form Mayweather.

'Four days later, Crowley was coming out of Evangelo’s, a bar just down the street from the Plaza in Santa Fe. The first thing he realized was that someone was sitting on his Harley. The second thing he realized was that it was the Kid.

“You know something? Some little bastards just can’t be told,” Crowley said.

“Nice bike,” said the Kid.

“Get your brown ass off of it.”

The Kid obeyed. Then he reached into his jacket and pulled out a Bulldog 44. He pointed it at Crowley.

Crowley cackled. “New toy, huh?”

“Yeah. Just got it.”

“You know how to use it?”

“Not really. But it holds five rounds. I don’t think I can miss you with all of them.”

“That what you’re gonna do, shoot me? Right here in the street, in front of people?”

“Yeah.”

“Better go ahead, then.”’

TOM MCGRATH AT 26

In this fascinating 1967 documentary about the counterculture in London, the Scotsman interviewed is my friend Tom McGrath, who was editor of International Times, a.k.a. I.T.

It’s a strange feeling for me to watch and listen to the 26-year-old Tom. I didn’t meet him until 1988, by which time a lot of hard living (including heroin addiction) had left him bearing no physical resemblance to the man in the film. His voice, however, was unchanged.