A Crack-Up at the Race Riots: A Novel in Pieces

A Crack-Up at the Race Riots: A Novel in Pieces

by Harmony Korine

Paperback(1st Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385485883
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/06/1998
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 175
Product dimensions: 5.54(w) x 9.19(h) x 0.47(d)


On Wednesday, April 8, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Harmony Korine, author of A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS.

Moderator: Welcome to the barnesandnoble.com live Auditorium. Author Harmony Korine is joining us tonight to chat about A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS. Good evening, Harmony Korine. We're so glad to have you online tonight! How are you this evening?

Harmony Korine: I'm fine, thank you.

Joy from Ann Arbor, MI: Your book sounds like it's pretty hard to explain. I'm curious to read your description. How would you describe A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS?

Harmony Korine: I probably wouldn't. I'd probably just read it. I think any attempt to really describe something or to categorize it would just fall short of my intent.

Hally from Brooklyn, NY: Many of the short pieces in your book are in the first person. Are you the "I" in these, or are they scenes where the characters are unnamed? Is this book an autobiography?

Harmony Korine: No, it's hard for me to say. Kind of the idea was that there would be no real authorship. With every turn of the page, what you're reading, the voices are coming from all directions. Every page is different. Who knows who wrote it? I don't know.

Tom from Athens, Ohio: I read in your bio that you were raised in the carnival. What was your upbringing like? How has this influenced your writing and other work?

Harmony Korine: My upbringing was carnivalesque, and I can't really comment on how it's affected my work. I see it when I visit a carnival now; I see it in the goldfish bowl when people are throwing ping-pongs into them.

Samuel P. from Georgia: A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS seems to do several different things at a time on a page -- from scenes to Q&As to quotes -- and many pages seem to have individual titles.Is it meant to be read from start to finish, or a page at a time, or jump in anywhere?

Harmony Korine: I don't think it's really meant to be read. It's more meant to be viewed, and it's meant to be skewed; and I would definitely say it is a novel -- it does tell a story, it is a cohesive work. So I wouldn't advise anyone, but if someone asked me my opinion, I would say read it from the end in the order of the pages. I mean, I cut up all my books and read them in a different order.

Souris from Santa Monica, CA: Harm, I know you just finished A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS, and I'll be sure to buy it, but I'm more curious about your next screenplay. Have you started it yet? And what's up with "Ken Park"? Peace out.

Harmony Korine: Yeah. I've been away, kind of -- I've been away in a cabin with no heat, and all I had was a stopwatch and my computer, so I think I just finished the new screenplay...or am getting close to it. It's a lot like THE CATCHER IN THE RYE if it was more unleavened.

Sam from Oregon: Where did you get the title for your book? Was it ever on the list in your book of "Titles for Books I Will Write"?

Harmony Korine: No, I just kind of had this vision.... I was reading about Enoch -- he lived til a ripe old age -- and I had this idea, and I think in a strange way it was sent by him or in the reading of Enoch. That's kind of where I got it, but it seemed pretty apparent -- I couldn't name it anything else.... Enoch named it.

Leslie from Hanover: I get the sense from reading this that it is actually full of snippets from a notebook or working journal. Did you write all of A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS with the idea that they would be part of one book? How did you begin writing it?

Harmony Korine: It goes back to everything -- it goes back to my films, it goes back to my banjo playing, it's like a unified aesthetic. I got it from everywhere, and it wasn't necessarily taken from journals. It's like the way I think about films or cinema I don't really differentiate between any of the things I do, my writing or my movies, or my art or my banjo, or if I jump out of a window -- it's all the same vision. And I think with the book it's more or less writing down either banter I heard or would make up or appropriate. A lot of the book is reversed in that way. A lot of it is taken from other writers that are given no citation, and a lot of the writing which is mine is given citation to others. And then I begin to forget or care.

Gregory C. from Chicago, IL: I haven't seen "Gummo" yet, but "Kids" was unlike any film I've ever seen. What do you try to do in your films? What makes a good movie for you? What are your favorites?

Harmony Korine: I can't really answer any of those, it's too private. I don't try to do anything.

Rio from Ft. Lauderdale, FL: In A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS, some of the lines are drawn through with a black "censor" line. Are these actually censored, or is it a form of editing? Also, why the black line instead of retyping the pages?

Harmony Korine: I think a lot of it were things that I wasn't allowed to write, and instead of retyping it.... The novel is a visual thing, too, so I did it because every time I just thought that the black lines added up, and if you can look at the edges of letters that go above the lines and below the lines, then that's reading between the lines. That's why I kept them.

Chris from California: Are we going to see scenes like the ones described in A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS in some of your movies? How similar was writing this to writing a screenplay?

Harmony Korine: Yeah, it goes back to that other question. I don't know if you'll see the exact scenes, because these were written for the book. I don't differentiate between any of it.

Joe Brunetta from Santa Rosa, CA: "Gummo" got terrible reviews from critics who said it is all exploitation and no point. Are you going to give in to such criticism or make films that raise points and not just ones that are "a slice of messed-up lives"?

Harmony Korine: Yeah.

Melody from Galway, NY: Hey, Harmony -- you didn't answer that other guy's question.What's up with "Ken Park"?

Harmony Korine: Sorry, I was speaking so quickly that I forgot a whole question. "Ken Park" I wrote even before "Kids" was financed. It was the second script that I had written, and I was like 19 when I wrote it. I was very vulnerable at the time, I had no money, so I signed a really bad contract with two different people and each party would own 50 percent of the script, and I have no say-so over the script...the ownership isn't mine. But after those kinds of things you just learn that you don't want to work with other people. No one should have any say-so over the work except for the author, at least regarding myself.

Jim from Boston, MA: Your film "Kids" was banned in several states across the country. What do you think about this kind of censorship?

Harmony Korine: You know, I don't really think about it much. I just think probably that's the way things will always remain, and I just don't think about it. Your only duty is to do the work and put it out there, and I just try to go on and not really think about it. That's if, in fact, you're kind of indoctrinated.

G. T. from Binghamton, NY: I read that you are self-educated. Does this mean you never attended a formal school? What was your education like, and what are the benefits of it?

Harmony Korine: I don't really know what self-educated means; I was trying to figure that out myself. I've read books and I have done most things on my own. I can't really say -- I just follow what I feel, and I wasn't so interested in school, but at the same time I attended school. I was interested in what the teachers didn't say, and what the teachers were hiding under their skirts and pantaloons.

Jessica from Queens: Having had a taste of the publishing world, how would you compare it to the film industry? I'd like your honest opinion, Harmony.

Harmony Korine: My opinion is always honest, and I would definitely say that the publishing world, at least in my experience, is like a sapling, whereas the film industry is like a grieving widower who rides his horse and can shoot a bullet through a deck of cards. Which is to say that most definitely I prefer the writing -- the business part of it, at least. Cinema has the most potential as far as being the greatest art form. The novel has been around for so long, it's already done everything it can do and then done it some more. But cinema is still in its infancy, and that's why people get upset at actually seeing things in films. I don't think anyone really cries out when they're reading. I don't even know if people read. I don't read contemporary fiction. I don't know why anyone else would.

La La from La La Land: Is A CRACKUP AT THE RACE RIOTS a singular event? Will you continue to make films, or do you see yourself also publishing future books? Have you experimented with other media as well, like the studio arts or music?

Harmony Korine: Yeah, but I wouldn't really call it experimenting. I've had art shows and music -- I just do it because that's the only thing I know and that's what takes up my time. My house is covered with things and messy, and instead of just cleaning it, I go through it and play with what I find, and then that becomes the work, I guess. I never really think of it as a job. I started to think of it as a job, and I felt like I was defeating myself, or defeating the purpose. I just don't like to think of it like that. But I'll definitely continue to write and to make films and to do everything as long as I can hold up under the physical pressure. It's quite difficult.

Karin from Boulder: There seems to be a spiritual theme to your philosophy regarding work. Are you a spiritual person? Do you practice any sort of religion -- Buddhism, maybe?

Harmony Korine: Definitely not Buddhism. I'm aesthetically opposed. But as far as spirituality, there's definitely a belief that comes more in the form of a girl who was a child when I saw her last, who doubtlessly used to watch me from a window or a door. And I probably just passed unaware. But I guess everything within her view belonged to me, too.

Penni from Petersboro: Who do you think are other young filmmakers to watch today?

Harmony Korine: I haven't seen many interesting films lately. I like Léos Carax -- I don't think he's all that young, but he's made pretty interesting films in the past.

Souris (girl) from Santa Monica, CA: Slayer is going on a promo tour at the end of May through mid June. At one point you (might've) mentioned an interest in directing a music video for them. Does directing music videos still interest you? Your music selections seemed so varied in "Gummo," as opposed to Lou Barlow's selections for "Kids." Do you add your two cents to the music selections? Because at some points they make the scenes in "Gummo" brilliant.

Harmony Korine: Well, I directed "Gummo"; I didn't direct "Kids." "Gummo" is really my first film. The director holds the power in making a film, and the decisions are up to him. Before I just would never bother to do anything unless I couldn't control it as a total. No, I don't have any interest in directing music videos. I'd rather direct a Ford commercial.

Green from Nashville: Are the things you write about the same things you care about in life? How has success changed you, and can you still relate to your old friends and family? You've got a God-given talent and vision -- use it.

Harmony Korine: Well, since he's coming from the same place I come from, and he's probably thinking the same thoughts I once thought, and I've probably even been in the same spots that he's in, I would say that the last part of his question answers it all, if in fact it's true. If the question is how do you relate to friends and family, I don't think I ever could. I was always more of a relative than a dam builder.

Rob Turetsky from Rutgers: I heard rumors that Jim Carroll was around when you were born. He said that he wasn't, or if he was, he couldn't remember. Any chance of the two of you collaborating on something soon?

Harmony Korine: I'm not sure. He's a good friend of mine. I'm not exactly sure how two writers collaborate in the formal sense, but I appreciate all he's given me.

Andrea from Golden, CO: The press made a big deal about the rift between you and The New York Times's Janet Maslin when "Gummo" came out. Was it really that big of a deal? Do you even pay attention to what critics write about you?

Harmony Korine: It wasn't a big deal for me in the sense of what she was saying about the film. Right off the bat, she has a political agenda, and I'm not a politician. The only reason I paid more attention to that than the others is because she's more like an ogre and I'm more like a barking lamb. But it's hard to say what I pay attention to and what I don't.

JM from Missouri: Oscar Wilde was one of the strongest proponents of "art for art's sake," and I can't help but think this doesn't apply to your work. It seems as if you are working toward some other motive with your art -- to disturb, to shake things up, to draw attention to aspects of our society? What are your motives in your style of art?

Harmony Korine: The purpose makes it holy. I don't really like those kinds of questions.

John P. from Hoboken, NJ: From whom do you think you have learned the most about writing?

Harmony Korine: Probably from Daisy Ashford. She wrote a novel called THE YOUNG VISITORS when she was nine. She was an English writer from a different era, but THE YOUNG VISITORS taught me the most. And her first book, that she wrote when she was seven, was called LOVE AND MARRIAGE. And her sister, who was two years her junior, wrote a text on guinea pigs.

Uli from Los Angeles, CA: I am sure you have heard this far too much, but you are very young -- as far as most filmmakers and authors go. How long have you been doing this? How did you have the advantage to begin so early when many people are still looking for their break much later in life? What got you started?

Harmony Korine: I guess I never looked for the break. I was more broken in the sense of the word as it relates to a horse. I would just say I don't really give career advice. I discourage careerist motives.

Oren from Philly: Your stories and writing seem to deal with parts of people that people don't always want to speak about -- drugs, abuse, sex -- and many of society's more unattractive qualities. My question is, what do you like about people? What do you intend to show when you expose these aspects of society?

Harmony Korine: I don't really think I'm exposing anything, because it's fiction. If it exposes something, that's specific to the person that's watching. For me, it's all there up front. What do I like about people? I don't know. I'd have to ask.

Moderator: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, Harmony Korine. We wish you the best in your multifaceted career. Do you have any final words for the online audience?

Harmony Korine: You're on the right track if you can play the slip-rock fiddle that if played out of tune ruins a swastika's meaning and deafens the most eager dog's hearing. A true octoroon prince.

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A Crack-Up at the Race Riots: A Novel in Pieces 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
gazzy on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A pastiche of intellectual dishonesty highlighted by the interwoven suicide notes the author probably thought would be cool. This collection of sentences makes the author's film Gummo seem like It's A Wonderful Life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'a crack up at the race riots' is a good book. you can read it from any page, in any order, much like his movies. harmony korine is now and forever will be my idol. he has done something to save literature, and movies. he is very smart. i loved this book. i can read it over and over. you seem to always find something new. this book goes through all kinds of emotions. i loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Harmony has created a whole new style of writing.I find this book funny and intelligent.It's like taking a peek into someone's private journal.If you loved Kids and Gummo,you'll love this book.Harmony Korine is true genius.