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Kirby Gann Interview

Kirby Gann (Our Napoleon in Rags)--one of my recently discovered favorites, both writerly and personally--is interviewed by Dan Wickett at Emerging Writers Network.

Do you hope to help readers form conclusions, or just to get them thinking about certain aspects of life around them?
No no no, there are no messages I’m trying to impart to readers. If you have a message to deliver, write a sermon. Novels aren’t meant for messages, nor are they particularly good at developing insightful conclusions; what they can do -- at least what I try to do in mine – is hover around, stimulate, even prod useful questions.

Due to prior commitments, I was unfortunately unable to attend Kirby's reading in Chicago this week for the Bookslut Reading Series. Really sorry I missed it.

September 30, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Sincere Thank You To...

NAYs - 22
Akaka (D-HI), Bayh (D-IN), Biden (D-DE), Boxer (D-CA), Cantwell (D-WA), Clinton (D-NY), Corzine (D-NJ), Dayton (D-MN), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Harkin (D-IA), Inouye (D-HI), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Mikulski (D-MD), Obama (D-IL), Reed (D-RI), Reid (D-NV), Sarbanes (D-MD), Schumer (D-NY), Stabenow (D-MI).

September 29, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Defining Literary Fiction

In discussing Nuala O'Faolain's The Story of Chicago May, Rosellen Brown makes an interesting distinction between literary fiction and popular fiction (the passage in quotes is O'Faolain's):

"I had forgotten that the autobiographies of crooks are all plot and no theme....It brought me face to face with the tedium of the picaresque and reminded me how unsatisfying it is, nowadays, to read an account of experience that is propelled by event, not character."

This, of course, is the dilemma all of us face who fancy ourselves literary, as opposed to popular, writers: We are trolling for the subtleties of the inner life, while many readers seem only to be interested in what happens next. May--whether attending to an imagined market or betraying the shallowness that has allowed her to live a life of sensation, of getting and spending (and little of it legal)--casually yields the stage to her biographer to interpret and analyze.

I had been trying to think of a good definition for literary fiction for a while now, and Brown's version (fiction which focuses on character and theme, rather than plot) seems as good as any.

September 29, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Rather Dusty Meme

Well, apparently Golden Rule Jones tagged me for this meme way back in April, but I only just discovered it today. Without further adieu...

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be saved?
Knut Hamsun, Hunger

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Irene Adler from the Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia", who was the only woman to ever outwit the great Holmes. And his admiration for her seemed more than just intellectual, which, coming from the otherwise asexual Holmes, suggests she must have been quite a looker, as well.

The last book you bought was...?
Davy Rothbart, The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas

The last book you read was...?
Joe Sacco, Palestine

What are you currently reading?
The next five in the queue:
Herbert Asbury, The Gangs of Chicago
Chicago Noir
Davy Rothbart, The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
William Trevor, The Story of Lucy Gault

Five books you would take to a desert island...
Knut Hamsun, Hunger
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Who are you passing this stick on to and why?
Al, whom I presume (hope!) has a rather warped reading list.
Shaz, whose literary tastes are undoubtedly as interesting as his daily missives.
Ibrahim, because anyone whose profile mentions the otherwise forgotten Pär Lagerkvist is a-okay in my book.

Julie, even though I pretty much know her list already, just from glancing at the pile on the nightstand.

September 27, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (2)


What a relief. I have finally finished putting together my first short story collection, Rising Above: Stories. I did the final edits over the weekend and had it printed and bound yesterday, and will be submitting it this week to the University of Iowa Press for their Iowa Short Fiction Award.

This project was a rather bold undertaking for a hesitant procrastinator such as myself, given that I only found out about the contest in late August and was facing a September 30 deadline. Only seven of the twenty-five stories were already in finished form when I started, with the rest requiring extensive revisions. And one story, "The Way Business is Done," was only partially written at the time.

I'm pretty pleased with the results, less for the quality of the writing itself than the fact that I took on this big project and got it done in time, in defiance of my general nature. I think the writing is pretty decent, but I'm under no illusions that it's publishable in its present form. A lot of the pieces are more sketches than full-fledged stories, and one or two of the stories need more work that I didn't have time to complete before the deadline. I really don't expect to win the Iowa contest, but I'm glad I had the learning experience of working diligently under a deadline. This story collection remains very much a work in progress--before I submit it again elsewhere, I'm sure I'll be deleting several of the shorter pieces, adding new stories and refining what's already there.

That being said, I'm rather burned out from the whole editing process--I really don't enjoy editing very much--and I'll be taking the month of October off from fiction writing to recharge the old batteries.

September 27, 2005 in Fiction | Permalink | Comments (2)

Operation Outrage

Compassionate conservatism rears its ugly, bloody-fanged head once again. Pretending to suddenly embrace sound fiscal policies, the conservatives are proposing budget cuts to "offset" the reconstruction costs resulting from Hurricane Katrina. (Rolling back upper-class tax cuts apparently not being a viable option.) The proceeds will go, as always, primarily to politically-favored federal contractors like Halliburton (which has already been awarded a billion-plus no-bid contract, despiteits woeful performance in Iraq), and will come out of the pockets of everyday Americans, many of them needy.

From MoveOn.org:

A full reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region is generally estimated to cost around $200 billion. We could more than meet this cost by rolling back Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for just the wealthiest one percent of the country, which would save us an estimated $327 billion.

"Operation Offset," however, calls for an astounding $949 billion dollars in cuts over 10 years to vital national services—almost five times the full cost of reconstruction. To further put that in perspective, it's also more than 4 times what we've spent in Iraq.

This plan is not about "offsetting," or rebuilding—it's about exploiting this crisis to push their longstanding goals for America. As conservative movement leader Grover Norquist has often put it, the goal is to get government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." This proposal is their latest attempt to drown the public sector.

The excess of the Republicans' proposed cuts is almost unbelievable. You can read the full proposal here.

Here are just some of the most egregious cuts:

$225 billion cut from Medicaid, the last-resort health insurance program for the very poor.
$200 billion cut from Medicare, the health care safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
$25 billion cut from the Centers for Disease Control
$6.7 billion cut from school lunches for poor children
$7.5 billion cut from programs to fight global AIDS
$5.5 billion to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
$3.6 billion cut to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
$8.5 billion cut to eliminate all subsidized loans to graduate students.
$2.5 billion cut from Amtrak
$2.5 billion to eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
$417 million cut to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency
$4.8 billion cut to eliminate all funding for the Safe and Drug-Free schools program

Sign MoveOn's petition, scream at your Senator or Congressman, write a letter to your local newspaper editor, or just rant on your blog. But please do something. Your country thanks you.

September 26, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

George Galloway Interview

British MP and antiwar hero George Galloway is interviewed at Clamor, offering some interesting points about the Iraqi insurgency against the U.S. invasion. His comment about Paul Revere is something that has crossed my mind as well.

Q: Can you support those who resist the occupation outright, or are there tactics that make it difficult?

Galloway: All resistance to all occupation contains horrific acts of violence, whether it’s in Palestine or in Ireland or in Vietnam or in Algeria or in America. Let me tell you, if you study the annals of the British coverage of the American Revolution, Paul Revere was a terrorist! You were all terrorists! You were conducting a terrorist campaign against the lawful government of this colony. But there are not many people in the United States who believe Paul Revere was a terrorist. On the contrary, he was, if you’ll forgive the pun, revered as a revolutionary fighter against the foreign occupation of the country...

There’s an international legal right enshrined in the Geneva Convention for all occupied people to resist their occupation. This is not even a matter for debate. And frankly all would and will. If my country was occupied, I would resist it by any means necessary and any self-respecting person in Britain would do the same.

September 26, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Signs of Life on North Michigan

Several interesting literary items in yesterday's Tribune:

Rosellen Brown wrote a strong review of Nuala O'Faolain's The Story of Chicago May, a legendary 19th Century "badger" ("the name for a con woman who entices a man to a bedroom where the amorous preliminaries are interrupted by an accomplice playing a cop, or an outraged husband, or a landlord, and where in the ensuing panic she or the accomplice steals the man's valuables"). Golden Rule Jones first brought this one to my attention a few weeks ago, although it should be noted that the book is a bio, not a novel. But that's splitting hairs. With a character like May, truth is stranger than fiction--and also more interesting.

Donald Weber reviewed Steven Kellman's biography of a great and tragic novelist, Redemption: The Life of Henry Roth. This review's appearance dovetails rather nicely with Nextbook's recent podcast feature on Roth, which includes an interesting interview (mp3, 4.6 MB) with novelist Jonathan Rosen about Roth, along with a reading (mp3, 2.4 MB) from Roth's classic novel Call It Sleep, read by Ron Cohen. A fifty-year case of writer's block. Egad.

The regular news section reported on Colombia's effort to restore the birthplace of Gabriel Garcia Marquez to preserve the writer's legacy and, more importantly, to turn the city of Aracataca into "a tourist Mecca for literary enthusiasts" by "refurbishing a dozen zinc-roofed buildings that date back nearly a century and creating a small library and audio-visual center for Garcia Marquez scholars."

Jimenez envisions Americans, Germans and other tourists walking Aracataca's quiet streets, pausing at the Garcia Marquez home, the primary school where the writer studied and other locations.

Apparently they've got a lot of work ahead of them.

The sparse interior is decorated with a handful of odd items, including faded photographs of the writer, a couple of wicker chairs and, tucked into one corner, a wooden statue of a saint with her hands missing. The acrid odor of feces wafts in the air.

"Bats have infested the roof," explained Rafael Dario Jimenez, director of the house museum. "I've fumigated three times and they return. The smell is awful."

If my writing career finally takes off and I become a literary legend, I hope to someday hear tourism-hungry Chicago officials saying similar things about my first apartment in Lake View.

(Trib site requires registration...if not already registered, use "blurb@sofort-mail.de" to log on, with "noblurb" as the password. Thanks to bugmenot.com, as always.)

September 26, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Durbin: Nay on Roberts

So the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmed John Roberts yesterday for Chief Justice. Not surprising, given that the Republicans hold ten of the eighteen spots on the committee. Even less surprising was the fact that the Republicans voted firmly along party lines, with all ten voting Yea. But what's troubling is the fact that three of the eight Democrats broke ranks and voted for Roberts.

Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Joseph Biden (DE)
Edward Kennedy (MA)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Dick Durbin (IL)

Patrick Leahy (VT)
Herbert Kohl (WI)
Russ Feingold (WI)

So much for the idea that Feingold is the next great liberal hero. Unless the Democrats extracted the administration's solemn vow to nominate a moderate to replace O'Connor, I really can't understand Leahy and Feingold's thinking. The fact that the Democrats still can't present a unified front against Bush's policies, despite their small numbers in Washington, is very disconcerting.

Dick Durbin is to be commended for taking a stand against Roberts. And I'm heartened to hear Barack Obama say he'll vote against Roberts as well. ("When I examined Judge Roberts' record, and history of public service, it is my estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak," Obama said.) We're in pretty good hands here in Illinois.

September 23, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Terkel Reads Algren

My oh my, what could be better? The inimitable Studs Terkel reads "The Silver-Colored Yesterday" (from Chicago: City on the Make) by the equally inimitable Nelson Algren, from a 1999 broadcast on WBEZ. It's the first Algren piece I ever read, way back in my distant youth, and is still one of my favorites.

(If somebody could capture this stream for me as an mp3, I'd be eternally grateful.)

September 22, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ehrenreich on RadioNation

Barbara Ehrenreich talks to The Nation's Marc Cooper about her new book, Bait and Switch: The Futile Pursuit of the American Dream, in RadioNation's latest podcast. (The mp3 is a big one, at 13MB; Ehrenreich's segment begins at the 14:00 mark.) Very interesting conversation; I was particularly struck by the bitter irony of Ehrenreich interviewing with the health insurance giant AFLAC, and being offered a job which did not include health insurance coverage.

September 20, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

My Daily Smile

Okay, enough of all this political outrage. I direct your attention to Ron Slattery's treasure trove of found photographs at bighappyfunhouse.com. Warning: highly addictive.

September 20, 2005 in Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)


You'd think that at some point I'd cease to be amazed and appalled at actions of the Bush Administration. But you'd be wrong. Case in point...

New twist on aid for Iraq: U.S. seeks donations
By Cam Simpson
Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau
Published September 18, 2005

WASHINGTON -- From the Indian Ocean tsunami to the church around the corner, Americans have shown time and again they are willing to open their pocketbooks for charity, for a total of about $250 billion last year alone.

But now, amid pleas for aid after Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration has launched an unusual effort to raise charitable contributions for another cause: the government's attempt to rebuild Iraq.

Although more than $30 billion in taxpayer funds have been appropriated for Iraqi reconstruction, the administration earlier this month launched an Internet-based fundraising effort that it says is aimed at giving Americans "a further stake in building a free and prosperous Iraq."

Contributors have no way of knowing who's getting the money or precisely where it's headed because the government says it must keep the details secret for security reasons.

But taxpayers already finance the projects for which the administration is seeking charitable donations, such as providing water pumps for farmers. And officials say any contributions they receive will increase the scope of those efforts rather than relieve existing taxpayer burdens.

(Full story)

Sorry, Dubya, but you already have my donation, in the form of every penny of federal income tax I've paid during the last twenty-two years. While I'm at it, why don't I cut out the middle man, and just send a check directly to Halliburton?

(Trib site requires registration...if not already registered, use "blurb@sofort-mail.de" to log on, with "noblurb" as the password. Thanks to bugmenot.com, as always.)

September 19, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rothbart, Erdrich and N'Awlins Lit

The Tribune had a pretty good weekend, literary-wise. Davy Rothbart's debut story collection The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas surprisingly made page one of the Books section. I had read almost the entire review, thinking of how well-written it was, effortlessly putting across the book's tone and theme and clearly expressing the reviewer's enthusiasm, before I read the byline. Alex Kotlowitz. One of my favorites. Of course it was a well-written review. Kotlowitz's summation...

It is storytelling at its simplest and at its finest, the characters filled with their own peculiar ticks and contradictions, the writing a blend of melancholy and bravado.

...inspired me to buy the book that very evening. Normally I hem and haw while endlessly debating a book purchase, and end up rarely buying a new book before it's been out for six months or more. But having already thoroughly enjoying Rothbart's stellar work with Found, Kotlowitz's praise made it a relatively easy decision.

Louise Erdrich also enjoyed a page one profile and a strong review of her latest, The Painted Drum.

Over in the Arts section, Julia Keller had a nice piece on New Orleans literature, focusing on John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces and Kate Chopin's The Awakening. Of the latter, Keller writes:

Chopin's is a city of old charms, stately mansions and the steady oppression of family rituals. Most everybody's uptight and corseted by convention. Heat pervades all -- not languid, sensual heat, but yucky, punishing heat.

As a character complains to Edna Pontellier, "It is really too hot to think, especially to think about thinking."

(Trib site requires registration...if not already registered, use "blurb@sofort-mail.de" to log on, with "noblurb" as the password. Thanks to bugmenot.com, as always.)

September 19, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Another Update on Rising Above

The short story collection is moving nicely into the home stretch. I've been on non-traveling vacation this week, and I've gotten a lot of work done on the book. I've done two rounds of editing on all 25 stories (actually, it's only about eight genuine stories, with the rest being creatively bloated sketches) and have the order of stories pretty much set. The only two questions left are: a) whether or not to edit the whole damned thing one more time; and b) whether to print the final copy at home and burn through an ink cartridge and a ream of paper, or have Kinko's deal with it.

The submission deadline is September 30.

September 16, 2005 in Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0)

So Darned Proud!

The lovely and talented Julie is rapidly making a name for herself as a knitting designer. Here's a brief interview with her at New York Knits.

September 13, 2005 in Personal | Permalink | Comments (0)

Richard Hell

Punk legend and author Richard Hell, interviewed at 3 A.M.

"I like making records, but I left the music business because I'm not really cut out for it. You have to rehearse with a band, deal with record companies. All the elaborate business around making records. You are required to go out on tour in support of them. There's a lot more required of you than writing songs and recording them. Not to mention finding a way to sound a way you can stand when you're not a natural-born singer. As an author, I just sit down and write."

Rock on, Richard. Or write on, as it were.

September 13, 2005 in Books, Music | Permalink | Comments (1)

Flashback to 1983

Here are the Top 100 songs from the year I graduated high school. Unlike David, who inspired this exercise in nostalgia, I'm not going to comment on all the dreck that was better left forgotten. Instead, here are the only worthwhile tunes on the list.

13. "Come On Eileen," Dexy's Midnight Runners
This one has had a remarkably long shelf life, particularly at wedding receptions. Love that fiddle.

19. "Twilight Zone," Golden Earring
And this one disappeared off the face of the earth. Can't really explain why, but I always liked this song.

26. "Back On The Chain Gang," Pretenders
That fake "hooh! hah!" swinging-an-ax sound was always good for a laugh in Senior Hall.

42. "Stray Cat Strut," Stray Cats
I still find myself crooning "I don't bother chasin' mice a-rou-ound" during private moments.

52. "Rock The Casbah," Clash
The Clash in the Top 100, along with Hall & Oates, Kajagoogoo and Laura Branigan. I'm not sure whether to smile or cry.

53. "Our House," Madness
Ska, or just ska-flavored pop, that was regularly played on AM radio back then. Wow, those were indeed different times.

63. "Come Dancing," Kinks
A wistful ode to a bygone era. I can still picture the video with Ray Davies and his pencil-thin moustache, portraying his sister's date.

(Note: The title to this post is a line from an obscure Pavement song. The first person to leave a comment with the correct answer gets a signed copy of one of my story manuscripts. Signed by me, that is. Not Roth. Not Updike. Not even that other renowned author named P. Anderson.)

September 9, 2005 in Music | Permalink | Comments (10)

Photo of the Year

I just might get this one framed for posterity.

(Via DailyKos.)

September 9, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Chris Mooney

Oooh, this book sounds like a good one. Might be just what my indignant liberal soul needs...right after finishing Åsne Seierstad's first-hand account of the bombing of Baghdad, of course. From the Chicago Reader:

Journalist Chris Mooney described his hometown's unique vulnerability to hurricanes a few months ago, in a May 23 article for the online edition of The American Prospect that sketched a cataclysmic "Atlantis scenario" for New Orleans. But the Bush administration--with its lethal claims of ignorance of such a possibility--is only one of Mooney's targets in his new book, The Republican War on Science (Basic Books). Choosing to disregard long-standing scientific advice for political reasons is bad enough, he points out, but it's nothing new, and at least it leaves the process of scientific investigation itself intact. The outright suppression and distortion of science now going on throughout the federal government, he argues, is without precedent. On stem cell research, evolution, ballistic missile defense, climate change, condoms, the morning-after pill, and more, the White House and its religious and corporate allies reach predetermined conclusions regardless of evidence. To do so they redefine words, misstate facts, stack advisory commissions, gag government employees, alter scientific reports, set varying standards of proof, and manufacture controversy where there is none. Thus, lacking support in peer-reviewed journals for its denial of global warming, Chicago's Heartland Institute cites the authority of fiction writer Michael Crichton on its Web site. Of course, Mooney acknowledges, some Republicans know better--and liberals' hands aren't totally clean. But their problems with science rarely rise to the level of systematic falsification. Bush and company may not destroy science, but they're doing their best to drive it from our shores. Thu 9/15, 12:30 PM, Barnes & Noble, DePaul Center, 1 E. Jackson, 312-362-8792, and 7 PM, Borders, 830 N. Michigan, 312-573-0564. --Harold Henderson

September 9, 2005 in Books, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wow. Wow. Wow.

At TomPaine.com, E.J. Graff has a brilliant, blistering essay which says everything that needs to be said about the Bush Adminstration's role (or non-role) in the Hurricane Katrina debacle. Read it immediately.

You want moral values? This government doesn't have them. That lack is visible in the fetid Third-World swamp we've all been watching in horror. What we're watching is not the consequence of a corrupt government or even an incompetent government. It is the consequence of an immoral government.

And no, this is not simply a case of liberals politicizing human tragedy. True, the federal government could not have prevented Hurricane Katrina from hitting the Gulf Coast. But it could have done everything in its power to mimimize the damage, whether by adequately maintaining the levee system, coordinating wide-scale evacuation efforts beforehand, immediately getting in troops to maintain the peace, taking over search and rescue missions, and providing relief and medical attention to the survivors. Instead, this adminstration, forever blinded by "small government" ideology, did as little as it could until public opinion turned on it so vehemently that it had no choice but to grudgingly get involved.

Hurricane Katrina is a horribly vivid illustration of just what a morally bankrupt regime the Bush Administration has been all along. They should be ashamed of themselves, but that sort of sensitive self-reflection is probably just wishful thinking.

September 8, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3)

U-M Writers Rake in the Cash...

... courtesy of Helen Zell; her husband Sam is the renowned real estate mogul and--ahem!--founder, chairman and major owner of my company.

That kind of success story, repeated over and over, is what U-M alumna Helen Zell ('64) had in mind when she made her recent $5 million expendable gift to the program, with the instruction that it be spent quickly and specifically on making Michigan’s program the best in the nation.

Sam, baby, that's a wonderful bequest and all, but you've already got an aspiring writer rotting away down on the 12th floor. Toss a few shekels his direction!

September 7, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Callous Indifference Runs in the Family

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality...And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."
--Barbara Bush

Yes, of course...all those poor people were lucky, truly blessed, to have been forced from their appalling little shacks in that sinful little city, barely escaped death by drowning in floodwaters which were the direct result of fiscally prudent federal budget policies, and relocated at public expense to a domed stadium in the great State of Texas.

Now hurry up, people. The next shuttle bus to the Galleria leaves in five minutes. It's your patriotic duty to get out there and shop.

September 6, 2005 in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Update on Rising Above

As I mentioned previously, I'm scrambling to assemble a short story collection for entry in the Iowa Short Fiction Award competition. I've pulled together 25 stories in various stages of completion--7 which were fully completed (and thus require no additional work), plus 16 which were first drafts which had yet to be edited and 2 which were not yet fully written. After a flurry of holiday weekend work, as of today those latter 18 have been through their first edits and are all typed up, ready for proofreading and the next round of revisions. Fortunately, all the stories that still need work are much shorter pieces that will probably end up constituting only about one-third of the entire collection, so there's not an overwhelming amount of revisions yet to be done. I'm facing a September 30 deadline, so time is rather tight.

I think I've solved the arrangement question that I mentioned in my earlier post. In lieu of an overriding theme, I've decided that the book will be divided up into sections--"Aging," "Growing," "Striving," "Relating," and "Coping"--with each story in a section adhering to the respective theme. (Some adhere faithfully, others tenuously.)

September 5, 2005 in Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0)

A Little More Love for Ralph

The Tribune ran a nice little article on Burbank's local hero John McNally, who reflects on the writing of The Book of Ralph.

"The more I wrote about it, the more it came back to me," McNally said of those times. "It was an oddly nostalgic book for me because it caused me to think about all the idiosyncrasies of the place where I grew up."

McNally also reveals that he's finishing his third novel, America's Report Card, which will be set in present-day Burbank.

(Trib site requires registration...if not already registered, use "blurb@sofort-mail.de" to log on, with "noblurb" as the password. Thanks to bugmenot.com, as always.)

September 5, 2005 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

(Your Ego Here)

Hey, I'm into ego gratification just as much as the next guy...but 500 bucks? With over nine days left in the auction? I was intrigued by the idea, but it looks like I'll have to settle for naming one of my own characters after myself instead.

Here's a thought...the first person to donate to the American Red Cross gets their name forever assigned to one of the pilgrims in my novel-in-progress, Eden. And I promise it won't be the pilgrim who murders the dubiously messianic leader, unless you really want yourself to be immortalized that way. All I ask it that you forward me the Red Cross' confirmation email (personal and credit card information deleted, of course) so I can confirm you were the first to donate.

September 2, 2005 in Books, Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Choosy Writers Choose Pete Lit

This humble blog is increasingly attracting the attention of actual, living, breathing writers--a group I greatly admire and hope to join one of these years. Below is a list of writers who have been kind enough to leave comments on Pete Lit or email me.

Caveat: This is by no means a comprehensive list. There may be many more that I'm not yet aware of (dammit, McEwan, drop a dime!) or have inexcusably slipped my mind...so if you're a writer who reads my blog and don't see your name, my deepest apologies.

Kevin Guilfoile (Cast of Shadows)
Paul Anderson (Hunger's Brides)
Patricia Storms (illustator, Fifty Little Penguins)
Adam Schuitema ("New Era, Michigan")
Peter Selgin (Life Goes to the Movies)
Mike Newirth (Bridge Magazine)
Erin Keane ("Science Fiction")
Richard Grayson (The Silicon Valley Diet and Other Stories)
Andrew Ervin ("Diz Lives", Chicago Noir)
Ibrahim Abusharif ("Tribute to the Last Aisle")
Jonathan Messinger (writer, raconteur & literary entrepreneur)
Dana Kaye ("Red Line Reeducation")
Chris Akeley ("Victory")
John McNally (The Book of Ralph)
Richard Lindberg (Return Again to the Scene of the Crime)
Tony Fitzpatrick (The Wonder, Bum Town)
Christine Sneed ("Optimism")
George Murray (The Hunter)
Kirby Gann (Our Napoleon in Rags)
Ron Hogan (The Stewardess is Flying the Plane)
Steve Kistulentz ("Home From the War: An Appreciation of Magnum P.I.")

September 1, 2005 in Books, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2)