Just in time for Christmas . . .


An Amazon short, “Gabriel.” Would say something about it here, but I think it’s all allready1 there. Only thing I didn’t say to/for them, I guess, was that, when I read their guidelines and saw that there was a 10,000 word cap, I of course scoured my story directories for something just a touch over that, on the idea that more words for two quarters is a better bargain than less words for two quarters. Kind of the same way two scoops of ice cream for the price of one scoop is more attractive. Not that I eat ice cream, or condone the eating of ice cream, or am even peripherally related to the ice cream industry or any of its many corporate sponsorship opportunities.

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One Character in Search of a Novelist

as always, spoilers abound.1

Man, mix even parts Adaptation and The Wonder Boys, let Will Ferrell shake it, and you’ve got something a lot like Stranger than Fiction. And of course, as all movies about writers of whatever kind have to end, Stranger than Fiction pulls the same trick those two do. Or, that Get Shorty does. So that, when Ebert says that the ending is a compromise, I don’t know: I’m kind of inclined to disagree. Or disinclined to agree, whichever works better for you. But yeah, I mean I agree with him that it’s a very compromised ending — the novelist sacrifices her art for a person (in writer-speak: because she got too attached to her character). And that’s not satisfying. But, too, we have to understand that what we’re watching, it’s nearly got to be that rewritten version the novelist promises to do at the end (thus the Wonder Boys end . . .).

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I don’t have nearly enough time to devote to this now — I’m in the early stages of a study that hopes to finally conclude whether the Bulletboy’s old “Smooth Up In Ya'” song1 (1989) really had hidden sexual overtones or not (next up: Warrant’s “Cherry Pie”) — but I feel I’ve got to say something anyway. And, I’d meant to frame this in some “Open Letter to Hollywood” or something, along the lines of that other thing I did, but then, no matter how I twisterized my brain, I just couldn’t figure out who’s consistently responsible for the poor quality of today’s trailers: “Hollywood” would seem to be the catch-all, I suppose, and I could always break it down to distributors or production companies, nevermind those few directors (I think) who insist on not farming out the trailer making, but the more I thought about it . . . I don’t know. Are we to blame — the audience? I mean, Hollywood’s a puppetmaster, sure, telling us what we like, what we don’t, but, too, we’ve got the real strings in our pockets, in the form of money. So, I guess I just don’t know. And like I said: with “Smooth Up In Ya'” cycling through my head, I don’t really have the brainpower right now to track it down.

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The Good, The Bad, and Demon Theory

toxic universe

Looks like, in pre-celebration for TURISTAS1, Demon Theory pulled two reviews this week:


[ click em to hit the rvws ]

Cool places each, though the reviews are kind of opposites of each other.

Anyway, it’s none other than Mike Bracken on the Toxic Universe one. Which, I mean — for my first novel, I remember telling somebody that it would only be complete when I knew that Gerald Vizenor had read it. And then, bam, it was suddenly complete before it was even published: FC2 had somehow got Vizenor to blurb it. About the coolest thing in the world.

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A Red Shirt with Flowers


hey, way down in that Halloweenie post I wrapped up by lamenting that there were no pics leftover of my shirt. Turns out it was a lie. There’s this one (click it to enlarge):

The farthest-back person in the room’s my friend William J Cobb, and the frontmost is Jay McInerney. I’m in the middle of an imaginary line between them, posing with a coke (there was no sweet tea). Right in front of me’s Amanda Eyre Ward. Or, hey: just look for the guy in the goofy red shirt, maybe.

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Man is in the Forest

and his freezer’s now spilling over with elk. which is to say dancing days are here again, all that.

and, because all this can’t seem to organize itself any other way, a list:

  • That 32 Poems (Fall/Winter 4.2) with my story “Lunch” is out and about now.
  • Just had “The Sadness of Two People Meeting in a Bar” accepted at Red Rock Review.
  • That end of November reading I was doing at Texas Tech has now been moved, tentatively, to March 1, 2007.
  • WORLD WAR Z rocks. Especially the Megatron footnote; it made my day. As did that . . . I don’t know: ending epigraph? envoy? Very cool (I love you, Mom). As for praise for WWZ: a lot of things I read, I think (or lie to myself, whichever) ‘C’mon, I could have written that.’ Not so with WWZ. Brooks is 6000 times more cued into the geopolitical machine than I can ever hope to be. I mean, if I were going to hijack the conventions of non-fiction (‘literary journalism’ may be the better term here) to tell a patently fictional story, I’m pretty sure I’d still end up localizing it to a neighborhood or something. I mean, all these places he talks about — some of them I recognize from the RISK! board, but most might as well be Mars. Which is my own failing, don’t get me wrong. What I’m meaning to say is, man, I really respect that somebody can both have all that in their brain and still spin out zombie lies. Which I guess reveals my prejudice that the two are supposed to be somewhat exclusive of each other. But maybe that’s precisely the magic of WWZ. Now I’m going to have to go back and read the ZOMBIE SURVIVAL GUIDE too, of course. Just in case.
  • Counting down the days until AGAINST THE DAY here. I plan to savor it for three or four weeks, while I’m writing this new horror-thing. Maybe two new horror things. They’re each making a complete and total mess of my head right now.
  • And, was counting down the days until CASINO ROYALE, but it’s here already. All hot to watch FREAK OUT too, which was waiting in my mailbox for me last night.
  • It very much hurts to write with fingertips all sliced to ribbons (skinning all kinds of elk and deer).
  • People at the airport give you plenty of second looks when you stand out front with your hair down and an elk skin wrapped around you (it was cold). But they don’t say anything.
  • Reading now: LISEY’S STORY. And man, it’s a top-notch writer writing at the exact top of his game, near as I can tell. Not a single misplaced word. Cool too having Chabon on the back cover, he of, if I’m recalling correctly, “The Arsonist’s Daughter,” just because in LISEY’S STORY King has “The Coaster’s Daughter.” I also really like his (King’s) “latening skies.” Not sure I’ve ever heard that before, or as well, anyway. Then of course this goes straight to the heart: “Scott takes a book with him everywhere he goes, there are absolutely no exceptions.” Only thing I haven’t liked in it so far (100 pages from the end), is that it makes some quiet fun of wallet chains. Just on principle, of course, I have to resist this kind of humor (though I’ve got to say, searches like this make me question the whole culture of wallet chains . . . ). Anyway, the structure or ‘layering’ of LISEY’S STORY, it’s exactly what I usually hate — flashbacks cutting back and forth with a couple of more time periods — but, man, King, he’s making it sing. And, more important, I suspect it’s one of those rare cases where that ‘layered’/simultaneous way of telling the thing is directly related to the content of the story. Which is cool. It’s why he’s king, I suspect.
  • Friends’ newish books, which I mention not because they’re friends, but because they’re each very strong writers: GOODNIGHT, TEXAS and NEWSWORLD
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    . . . But the Party Never Ends

    the road goes on for five hours

    Bleak. Unremitting. Is to the road trip book what THE HILLS HAVE EYES was to the family vacation movie. And as far as post-apocalyptic stuff goes, Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD makes you see what a happy fantasy A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ was, how tame DR. BLOODMONEY was. That that road in THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER was gold brick.

    Anyway, though this is a non-review like all the others, still, some steering if you’ll take it: read THE ROAD in five hours or less, all in one sitting. That way you don’t have to be sad and/or suicidal for the whole afternoon. Not that it doesn’t stick with you, but, just to sanitize your mind, you can try to poke holes in your memory of it anyway: if the wheelbarrow turns back into a cart for no real reason, does that make this all not real? if the apostrophes aren’t perfectly consistent, does that make THE ROAD a more constructed thing? Not really, no. It is fun to try to resist it, though, this book. To say it’s all just set-up — that, in a landscape this dark, even a spark seen from miles away can be enough to melt your heart once and forever. That it’s all about that spark, really.

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    Torn to Pisces (by that Leftwrist Twist)

    OR via Amazon

    everyone dreams the dream
                      but we are it

    It’s like a word problem: If two ribbons, one gold one green, approach each other at a rate of eight pages at a time in a three hundred and sixty page book, will they ever meet? Because of course one-eighty isn’t a multiple of eight — you’re either four short or four over. Which kind of makes it a double-true middle, yeah, and, as you get closer and closer to it, can tell it’s going to be a hinge, a whirlpool, a peak, it gets hard not to cheat and page ahead. But wait if you can — it’s a weird tension to have a in book, right? Waiting to get to the exact middle? That’s ONLY REVOLUTIONS for you, though: all the conventional trappings of reading, the things we take for granted, don’t even acknowledge anymore, haven’t since never, Danielewski takes them away and then reimagines the book for us. Not ‘story’ or ‘narrative,’ but that simple up/down=>linear thing that we maybe all assumed was just the way things were, and should be.

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    Showed up at the wrong bookstore Halloween night to do a DEMON THEORY signing — kind of awkward when you’re wearing a Jason mask, carrying a big fake knife — but finally found the right one, had a blast (notice all the LISEY’S STORYs behind me there, yeah?). Rented FEAST that night as well, though of course had to watch HALLOWEEN instead, just because I’m sentimental, and half-trying to study it, I suppose, to see where there’s room for Rob Zombie to redo it. Of everybody out there, though, he’s maybe the one who can.

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