Saturday, October 6, 2007

Paul A. Toth

Paul A. Toth's short fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best American Mystery Stories. He is also the author of the novels Fishnet and Fizz.

A few days ago I asked him what he was reading. His reply:
Right now, I'm researching my next novel, and all of my reading is related to that project. First on the list is Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution. While ostensibly about evolution, as the title so obviously suggests, the book is more interesting for Bergson's insights into how we can't help but misinterpret the world through generalizations and black and white thinking. Gertrude Stein must have been influenced by Bergson, in that he sees nothing as being repeatable; each apparent repetition undergoes some change. For example, I might say, "This is a bottle. This is a bottle. This is a bottle." If nothing else, the first sentence is the first, the second is the second, and the third is the third: beginning; middle; ending. It's probably impossible to absolutely correct perception no matter how thoroughly one digests these ideas. However, if nothing else, it certainly makes one aware life is infinitely more interesting and complex than we imagine, and Bergson goes a little way towards improving the ability to more fully appreciate our time here.

I'm also reading The Cubist Poets in Paris, edited by L.C. Breunig. This is a very broad overview of its subject but provides a nice sampling of the various Cubist poets, depending on one's ability to believe a poet can be a true Cubist. Pondering that question makes me long for the days when ambition was not immediately relegated to "pretension."
About Fishnet, from the publisher:

If a man believes he’s sinking, can he muster the strength to resurface?

Maurice Melnick, failed painter, is lost in the underwater world of his imagination. Struggling with the notion that he is devolving, Maurice wants nothing more than to paint a portrait of his wife Sheila. But Sheila’s found the self she abandoned in marriage, an apparition who wants to come home for good. All the while, their post-industrial town of Mercy, California seems to succumb to a decades-old curse wrought by Mercy’s own ancestor. Can a marriage be rekindled alongside a crumbling and barren coast?

The Page 99 Test: Fishnet.

Read more about Paul A. Toth and his work.

--Marshal Zeringue