Maltodextrin molecule
Maltodextrin molecule


Some essential reading for you: The opening section of a review of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s novel Where the Bird Sings Best in the Los Angeles Review of Books is a writer’s call to action. Call of the Siren does its best in various posts to ask you to consider the questions, Why do I write? Why do I want to write? Sometimes it’s best to just let other people do the talking, so…

Here, in the review, penned by novelist Askold Melnyczuk, you find more provocation … and inspiration.

I won’t rob you of the pleasure of reading this for yourself, my beloved friends, but I do want to steal a few of his lines for your benefit … and because it definitely makes this blog much smarter than its poor proprietor can do on his own.

All writers committed to their craft face a considerable foe: Askold identifies it as a culture in the West, especially in the U.S., that has created an atmosphere of “national stupefaction.”

He goes on to suggest the appetite that serious art feeds in this culture:

Art worthy of its name is life ablaze at full intensity. Not a transit space, but a place of arrival. Work that aspires to art gives us what we need yet can’t name until we meet it, like an unexpected lover.

How many times have you heard someone say they watched a movie that killed a few hours on a weekend afternoon? Or read a book that filled a long plane ride?

I think that’s what he means by art that’s nothing more than a “transit space” — a bit of entertainment to pass the time.  It’s filler with low nutritive value.  As you consider your own work and your goals, do you want to be the literary equivalent of maltodextrine?

Go here to read the Jodorowsky review in its entirety.



  1. Just back from spring break, now wandering through my email, I find this. Not quite feeling up to the challenge this morning. But if I must say something, it will be this:

    Check out Mac Barnett’s TED Talk:

    I don’t think Barnett’s talking just about children’s books, though.

    And also, I think many artists work to achieve a form of “duende.” It’s magic when it happens, but we rarely get there. It’s the striving to get there and then the glimmer of being in that zone that makes the work so addicting.

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