Friday, May 30, 2008

Help Yourself: Turning a Carver-Up into a Barthelme

The internet's preponderance of self-help evangelists makes me feel rather queasy. Professionally urbane's Since You Asked, by Agony Uncle Cary Tennis is rather different, however.

He mines a somewhat unconventional self-help seam, specialising in readers' queries about grad school, how to write, environmental conscience and new urbanism alongside more traditional relationships-divorce-parenthood fare. Tennis' advice column is something like Choose Your Own Adventure penned by Donald Barthelme. For someone whose favourite bits of Barthelme, Pynchon, DeLillo and Updike et al are not the postmodern pyrotechnics, but the heady domestic sublime contained therein, he makes very good reading.

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