What We Read at Our Reading

First, as an introduction, our inimitable One Story cocktail hour and reading series host Hannah Tinti gave a dramatic reading of our Styles section announcement (thus alleviating all my capsule bio concerns).

Then I read (and sang) the last five and a half pages of the first chapter of Emily‘s awesome first novel, The Testament of Yves Gundron.

Then Emily read “The Possibilities Are Endless,” which I wrote originally this past fall for the other blog to which I make occasional contributions of a highly unreliable frequency, and “An American Casanova in New York, by Balthus Poindexter: A Reading Group Guide,” which is live, as of today, on Yankee Pot Roast.

It was so much fun! (As I mentioned before, One Story, a.k.a. the best literary journal ever, has posted some pictures from the reading here.)

Disconnected Archives

Last Friday, January 12, Ron Hogan wrote a really nice post on GalleyCat about Emily’s and my reading that night. Ron’s mention drove more traffic to this Web site than any other link ever has in a single day, which put me in a somewhat frantic (Unexpected guests are coming over! Quick! Better clean the house!) frame of mind. So for the past ten days or so, whenever I’ve had a spare moment, I’ve been trying to tidy up this Web site. I’ve been checking to make sure I’ve used the same editorial standards across all two hundred or so pages—e.g., my use of italics and bolding, quotation marks and block quotes, parentheses and brackets, ellipses and em dashes, etc. In other words, I’ve been applying—or trying, slowly, to apply (I’m certainly not done yet)—a jury-rigged house style, retroactively.

I’ve also been deleting posts, recategorizing posts, and making occasional copy edits. I’m pretty sure that according to some theories of blogging, or schools of blog thought, this is not okay (i.e., a blog should be a static record), but to my mind, it’s kosher; I think you can lightly clean up copy you wrote a year and a half ago on your own Web site and still be maintaining a public journal in an ethical manner (or to put it another way, I think a personal site ought to adhere to certain standards, but that those standards are somewhat less rigorous than the ones that apply to journalism).

The most miserable task I’ve self-punishingly chosen to take on in this whole project, though, is checking for dead links. Anyone with a web browser and a set of bookmarks will be familiar with this experience, but really, it’s amazing how quickly pages get moved, or torn down completely; how often Web sites get redesigned, or site architectures or file hierarchies get totally revamped; how suddenly entire Web sites stop getting updated, or go blank; how many domain registrations lapse completely. (Speaking of editorial standards, I ordinarily try to follow Strunk and White’s advice about the passive voice, but it feels appropriate here; there’s a kind of anonymity to dead links, like something has mysteriously happened to these pages. The designer, writer, owner—the one responsible for a link’s deadness—seems, somehow, invisible.)

Earlier this past week, for example, I noticed that Michael Chabon‘s “about” page was gone, and his home page said something, if I remember right, about how he’s had difficulty typing lately; it made me wonder if, and hope that, he’d noticed Richard Powers’s piece in the NYTBR about speech-recognition software. But now, only a few days later, that note is gone as well, replaced with an image of the Indian Head test card. I’m not sure what all this means; but I suppose that, in the future, whenever I read something on the web that I know I’m going to want to read again sometime, I’ll make sure to print it.

Pictures from our reading are viewable—as of this writing—here.

A Brief History of Recent Autobiography

I’ve been wondering if I should update my bio on the One Story Web site for the special “just married” edition of the One Story Cocktail Hour and Reading Series that my wife and I are doing this coming Friday. I originally wrote it to appear at the end of issue #74, accompanying my story “The Samoan Assassin Calls It Quits;” the story is, in part, about driving from Cambridge to Gardner, Massachusetts, which is why the bio has that business about Route 2, which I worry is potentially completely baffling outside its original context. The reading is now only two days away, though, so clearly I’m just going to let it stand as is. (There was a part of the bio that I did ask One Story to cut, a “forthcoming” credit that was no longer true, which is the kind of experience that always makes me enormously glad that I lived my entire childhood before the invention of the World Wide Web, and thus am spared—at least until all high school newspaper archives everywhere are uploaded for all to see—the neverending humiliation of sports scores, reviews of musicals, etc. being preserved in perpetuity.)

All of which made me think about some of the bios I’ve written for a few of the readings I’ve done in the past year or so; they’ve all met very different online fates, which made me want to preserve them all in one place. (At least until such time as the Internet is replaced by something—what’s the Douglas Adams line I quoted in my high school yearbook? “[S]omething even more bizarre and inexplicable”? Yes, that’s it.)

There are redundancies, obviously, and the odd self-referentiality of compiling things that were, in part, intended to inspire people to visit this Web site; but I hope the following are nevertheless entertaining.

The Back Room, Literary Death Match III (May 22, 2006):

Thomas Hopkins used to eat writers like you for breakfast before he even got his baby teeth. The threat this man poses to his Death Match competitors, and to polite society in general, will be underestimated at their peril. Do they love the social contract? Do they treasure their bodily integrity? Ought they not ensure that their limbs, and their ability to sleep at night, will remain intact at the end of this competition, and just bow out now, sneak out the back way? Learn more at the barely legal Web site of this lady killer, this literary giant, this hot-headed menace, this public enemy number one: tomhop.com.

KGB Bar, Quickies (May 6, 2006):

Thomas Hopkins looks forward to a bright future world of elegant brevity. Or have we already arrived? Gadzooks! Learn more at his snappy Web site, featuring a sublimely compact address: tomhop.com.

Lucky 13, Atomic Series (April 2, 2006):

Thomas Hopkins is totally psyched to be spending almost the entirety of the month of April on a working cattle ranch in northern Wyoming, where the western edge of the Great Plains meets the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. When hiking in those foothills, he plans on wearing a bright orange vest and yodeling as loud as he can to avoid getting peppered in the face with buckshot from the guns of Wyoming-based politicos who may or may not drink beer and eat human flesh for breakfast. His stories have appeared in the online edition of Pindeldyboz, the current issue of Quick Fiction, and the anthology Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader. He has also written for Poets & Writers. He wishes he knew how to quit you. His Web site, which he tries to keep lively and entertaining on a weekly basis, is tomhop.com.

Stain Bar, Sunday Salon (December 11, 2005):

Thomas Hopkins is a recent graduate of NYU’s Creative Writing Program, which nominated his work for Best New American Voices 2007. His stories have appeared in the online edition of Pindeldyboz, the current issue of Quick Fiction, and the anthology Homewrecker: An Adultery Reader. He has also written for Poets & Writers. His drawings and photographs have been published in the online journals Flâneur, La Petite Zine, and Unpleasant Event Schedule, as well as in the print publications Black Book, Alternative Press, Quill and Quire, and The New York Times. He enjoys Barthelme, Borges, Calvino, Cortazar, long walks on the beach, quiet nights in front of a roaring fire, and just all kinds of music, really. His Web site is tomhop.com.