Out dancing

Saturday, July 31, 2010

We were out last night; we were dancing.  With our friends (you see how beautiful they are).  With our one arm (my husband) and our stitched-up gums (that would be me).  It had been months since I'd seen many of these friends, and they all had stories to tell—a mother's tale about a baby's adventures with make-up, an inventor's tale about a phantom ponytail, a little girl's story about illness and wellness.  I go to dance, of course I do.  But mostly I go to be with those who are growing in dance the way I hope to grow in dance, and who laugh with me throughout the adventure.


Opening lines

Friday, July 30, 2010

My house is a storybook house. A huff-and-a-puff-and-they’ll-blow-it-down house. The roof is soft; it’s tumbled. There are bushes growing tall past the sills. A single sprouted tree leans in from high above the cracked slate path, torpedoing acorns to the ground.

Splat and crack. Another acorn to the ground.



“I’m off.”


“Be good.”

Be good. My mother’s instructions. Her rules. 


The Tell Me a Secret secrets

When Holly Cupala asked a number of writers to share a secret to help celebrate the launch of her engrossing first novel, Tell Me a Secret, I said (because I adore this woman) sure, having zero idea what I might actually say when the recording light of my computer eye went on.

Something, in the end, got said, a small secret revealed, but far, far better in this secret-revealing video are the pearly somethings unveiled by writers ranging from Melissa Walker to Lisa Yee.  Check it out.


After a hiatus, I consider writing again

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"You'll never even know that you are taking the antibiotics," the doctor said, and given my size (not quite 105 pounds) and my history with medications (abysmal), I thought, hmmm.

So that perhaps I am the only person ever on whom antibiotics worked a strange kind of un-magic, or maybe it's the heat, or maybe waiting for literary news plays tricks on my mind, but I have not been me for awhile.  Yesterday it took me seven hours to write a client proposal that should have taken half the time.  Two days ago, I was stumbling about in the opening pages of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (This is Benjy, I kept reminding myself.  You are not supposed to understand everything at once.)  Every night now, I have either not slept or had terrible nightmares when I tried.  And writing a book, or even a page of a book, seemed a task that only either a fool or an infinitely smarter person would undertake.

Today I am that fool (I know I am no smarter).  Today (give me an hour or three, to warm up even more to the notion), I am going to see what happens when I stare at a page and ask myself, Okay.  So.  What in the world happens next?


Dangerous Neighbors: An Indiebound Children's Pick Fall 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Well, here is some fabulous news, just in, over the wire:  Dangerous Neighbors is an Indiebound Children's Pick for the Fall of 2010.

Is it possible to hug the independent booksellers of America over the internet?  Picture me trying!


Dangerous Neighbors (the book) Arrives

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I could tell the story of this day, but I won't.  I will only say that after a journey up the road and back, and up the road again and back, and then onto the train and into the city and back, I came home to two boxes of books.  Those books.  My books.  My twelfth:  Dangerous Neighbors.

You tire, perhaps, of me singing the praises of Egmont USA.  Let me do it one more time, at least.  Dangerous Neighbors is an unusual historical novel, with crossover possibilities, twin sisters, and 1876 Philadelphia at its heart.  It is a book—perhaps I should start here—that Laura Geringer and Egmont USA chose to believe in.  They chose.  Subsequently they delivered unto it (the book) and me (its maker) the most gorgeous cover a writer could ever hope for.  They secured a copy editor who cared about Philadelphia and history and who asked me spot-on questions in an attempt to get the story right.  They sent me on my way not just to the BEA, but to ALA (treating me like part of their family at each venue), and they have now secured for me a wonderful spot on an upcoming ALAN panel.  They sent library copies of the book my way; in twelve books, I've never seen a library copy.  People are talking about Dangerous Neighbors because of Egmont USA (and Winsome Media's Amy Riley and Nicole Bonia).  Not only that, but Egmont's publicists talk to me:  They pick up the phone and they talk to me.

A writer cannot know the next next.  A writer dreams; some dreams are answered.  The journey that Dangerous Neighbors has taken with Laura Geringer and Egmont USA represents a pressing, percolating dream, answered.  No matter what happens from here on out, I am a lucky one.

Thank you Doug Pocock, Elizabeth Law, Greg Ferguson, Mary Albi, Rob Guzman, Alison Weiss, Nico Medina, Katie Halata, Beth Garcia (by way of Goodman Media), Neil Swaab (cover designer), Kathryn Hinds (freelance copy editor) and, of course Laura Geringer, where this book's published life began.  I remain in awe of all you have done.  One hears so much about what is wrong with publishing.  Egmont USA represents the right.

P.S.  The case cover is G O R G E O U S. And I can thank Nico for that. 

P.P.S. For a reading from the book, please listen here

P.P.P.S.: I have just learned that Dangerous Neighbors is an Indiebound Children's Pick for Fall 2010.


That Old Cape Magic/Richard Russo: Reflections

In this, the summer of my extensive, happy reading, I sit at long last with Richard Russo, who establishes himself as the perfect confidante from the first pages of That Old Cape Magic and never falters.  Russo is writing of marriage in Magic, and of the thwarting antecedents of parental influence and intrusion.  He is writing of the inability nearly all of us have to be the person we wish we could be (a theme that has repeatedly surfaced in this, the summer of my reading).  He is writing of academics and of ill-placed snobbery, of weddings, of daughters, of love's incalculable slipperiness, of Cape Cod, of Maine.  But mostly Russo is writing a terrific, well-paced story featuring Griffin, a man in the throes of a sad separation from his wife, Joy—a man who waits longer than men should wait to apologize for things unsaid and undone.  Can Griffin fix all that is broken within himself?  Can he grow up not being the very sort of people (for yes, it's like Griffin is at times two people) his most-confounding parents were?  Can he be himself, and not his legacy?

Magic is an amazingly well-made book.  No tangent is wasted, no storyline is developed simply to prove that Russo can.  Even the story within the story—a short piece that Griffin has been writing nearly his entire adult life—is telling and heartbreaking and abundantly alive.  It is also constructed, and Russo shows us how, embedding ideas in with his tale:
Stories worked much the same way, Griffin thought, shoving "The Summer of the Brownings" back into his satchel.  A false note at the beginning was much more costly than one nearer the end because early errors were part of the foundation.
I loved this book, couldn't wait to get back to it even as chaos yearned to rule in my household.  I loved the ease of its telling, the wealth of Russo's empathetic imagination, the kindness Russo ultimately showed to his characters.  Russo made me laugh out loud.  Not many writers do.


Getting it right (or not) with memoir

Monday, July 26, 2010

We bring out the old albums, and, remembering, they talk.  The long gone near again, curiosity alive.  I could almost imagine (listening to them remember) that the stories themselves had not yet unfolded, had not revealed their denouement.  When I wrote Still Love in Strange Places years ago, I was writing about my Salvadoran husband's family stories, about the capacity for reimagining, and about the pliable nature of marriage.  I was writing to get it right.  But listening again to his family tell his family stories this weekend, I remembered what perhaps I've always known:  You never get it all just right.  Stories mutate with time, and with the teller.


At my father's house

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Even before my husband's accident (see yesterday's post), my father had called and left a message.  He'd be out of town this weekend, he reminded me, and he knew that we were expecting guests.  "If you'd like to use my house to entertain," he offered, "it's yours."  We have but one downstairs air-conditioning unit in my own house; yesterday's heat was soaring toward 100 and humidity was pushing the discomfort zone farther.  I try never to impose on anyone, never to take advantage, but this time, I thought, I will say yes.  Once I brought my husband home with a splinted, throbbing hand, there was no question:  We'd get relief at my father's house.

So after a lovely if delayed restaurant lunch with my son, my husband, and our guests, I packed up the appetizers and glassware and drinks I'd purchased earlier in the week, and we set off—my husband's poor hand elevated in the passenger's seat beside me, his cousins and aunt (all three beautiful, for beauty runs deep in this Salvadoran clan) in the back.  I drove into horse country to show off the land I love, the rolling hills of glory.  Up and down the hills, past the old barns and the "Madison County" bridge, past fields high with corn, beneath a dipping sun, we went, and then I turned and headed for my father's house.

Inside, everything was the way my father keeps it—the dozens of rare and gorgeous flowers in bloom on the deep sills, the collections of rare and wonderful things smart on their shelves, the table polished and waiting, the counters spotless.  Outside, the gardens were weedless and the bird feeders were stocked.  In every inch of my father's house, my mother is honored—her affinity for beauty, her curiosity, her standards of care and cleanliness.  I can't explain, really, how much love I feel when I see what my father does, still, for my mother every day—there at their house, or at the cemetery, where he has built for her and maintained a garden.  But I can say that yesterday, in my husband's family, my father's house had its perfect guests—three women who are themselves peaceful and appreciative and dear, three women, who said, in their Spanish-inflected way, "It's really all so beautiful."

Because it is.


Glass shatters

Saturday, July 24, 2010

We were in the final ten minutes of preparing for the arrival of three members of my husband's family—earlyish in the morning, wicked heat of the day already arrived, my post-oral surgery face looking like a boxer's favorite punching bag.  I was in the shower, to which I had rushed and in which I was counting down the checklists, when I heard my husband's voice.  "Um," he said. "There's been an accident."  Something broken, I thought, but when I pushed the curtain back I saw his hand, or, I should say, I saw the arm that connects to the hand, embellished by towels soaked with red.

One has to stop and think about accidents.  What, I wondered, briefly, was that?

But of course it was his hand, and soon I learned that it had been impaled (or something like that) by the hummingbird feeder my husband had inadvertently dropped.  With guests arriving in just two hours, with the scrubbed house now looking most assuredly less white, more red, we were off—down the road to the emergency room, where we would spend the next four hours before my husband emerged with a mummy wrapped hand and the name of the surgeon who would be working on his severed tendons this coming week.

I've spent time in emergency rooms before, and of course, they collect, they distill stories.  Today there were many that came and went—stories I could imagine, stories I could not, and one story that I heard through a hung curtain—a wife telling the story of a husband's tumor, and how it had grown.  A wife, speaking of her husband with so much teach-able, unbreakable love.  The husband let her talk for him; he was exhausted, it was clear.  Later, while I paced, I saw the man fast asleep, the wife stroking his pale and trusting hand.

Love looks like that.


Dangerous Neighbors, a reading

Friday, July 23, 2010

A dear friend, who loves the river like I do, shared this image with me.  It originally appeared in Harper's Weekly, on February 28, 1880.  It depicts, like some of my story, skating on the Schuylkill River.

Dangerous Neighbors is an Indiebound Children's Pick for Fall 2010. 


Seeing Past Z, Singapore, and what a difference time makes

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Earlier today, while I was crawling my way back onto my feet, I was stopped by a letter originating in Singapore and come to me by way of W.W. Norton, New York City.  A handwritten, many-paged letter from a certain G, who was writing to tell me, among other things, that she had found my fourth book, Seeing Past Z:  Nurturing the Imagination in a Fast-Forward World, "at the corner of the library where suggested readings and new arrivals are placed—a very prominent place where every visitor would or could see." G went on, then, to tell me her story, about finding faith in the imagination within a country intensely focused on banking and finance.  It is G's story, and I shall not repeat it.  But I kept returning to the impossibility of this little book having made its way across the seas. 


When I published Z with Alane Mason in 2004, we were both swimming upstream, and we knew it.  I was writing about the importance of free time in an era when most children had anything but—when resumes were being finessed at five, and when intra-kid competition ruled (there is only ever number one).  I was writing about the aspiring writers who wrote poems with me or talked Jack London with me or dared each other to listen well to scene-inspiring music.  I was writing about "wisdom over winning," about "contentment over credentials, imagination over conquest, the idiosyncratic point of view over the standard-issue one."

I was writing, it must be said, unpopularly.  I was, among some, considered foolish.

Slow parenting has ebbed in since.  Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman have written, as recently as last week, a Newsweek cover story entitled "The Creativity Crisis."  Many parents have at last taken their kids off the fast track so that the kids could leave tracks of their own.

It is six years and eight books later.  It is me, perpetually ahead of or behind the times, not grabbing headlines, not riding the trend waves, watching books I have loved go remaindered.  It is also, today, G, in a blue-ink letter, on black-lined paper—G from Singapore saying this:  Your words have found their home.


The finch at my window (snapped moments ago)


Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It/Maile Meloy: Reflections

Though there was a period of time when I wrote and published short stories (in literary magazines like Alaska Quarterly Review or Sonora Review or International Quarterly), I never fooled myself into thinking I'd mastered the form.  In short stories big things (or ideas or discoveries or defeats) happen in small spaces; back story is many times a trick of innuendo; there's no The Passage-sized lean toward what is really going to happen.  Writers of short fiction have no veils behind which to hide.  The stories must leap, the dialogue must spark, the concluding lines must hit with the force of (good) poetry.

I've had an intense and welcome time, therefore, reading Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, Maile Meloy's national bestselling collection of eleven short stories.  Many of Meloy's characters are hardcore ambivalents, perfectly represented by or reflected in the words of the A.R. Ammons poem from which the collection's title is taken.  She gives us brothers who feud and perhaps hate each other, and yet cannot let each other go; lovers who don't love so much as need; near romance lanced by fateful uncertainty; tragedy muted only by recusal.  Many of these stories take place against big skies or in lonesome territory, at the top of mountains, or in the chambers of a hotel.  They give us people who talk like people who likely exist, but we (or at least I) have not met them before.

I have friends who teach dialogue at universities.  The dialogue in Meloy's stories should be taught.  A line or two, and we know who these characters are, we know what version of the truth they are stalking, we know whether or not they'll be able to convince or satisfy themselves.  Big things are at stake; small moments, often, reveal them.  And in those stories in which more familiar tragedies have occurred (the rape and murder, for example, of the protagonist's daughter in "The Girlfriend"), Meloy contorts the familiar idea of the story line, crafting characters haunted and chilled.

With the exception of perhaps one or two entries (I was not a fan, for example, of the somewhat supernatural "Liliana"), Meloy's stories aren't just wonderful individually; they are bound thematically, they equal more than their sum.  This says something, I think, about Meloy's purity as an artist—her willingness and ability to write toward the vast unspeakable and return with the remarkably well said.


Things don't always fall apart

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

As anyone who might have read my second memoir, Into the Tangle of Friendship, knows, I don't have the best relationship with my mouth.  Just about anything that could be wrong with it is (I'm talking about structure and soft tissue now, and not verbal emanations; there's much wrong with that as well).  And so, through the years, I've had small surgeries and big ones, I've had jaw bones bolted to jaw bones, I've had the mouth wired shut for weeks on end, I've had a root canal gone desperately wrong (a shattered tooth, a pain killer to which I had a nightmarish reaction), I've had gum grafts that have made me feel and look like a flying UFO. 

It's just my mouth.  It is not life-threatening.  People face far far worse things every single day—many people.  But still.  I woke up this morning and didn't feel like going to the periodontist who is perfectly nice and tres talented (his nephew is also high up on Obama's team, so he tells good stories).  I didn't feel like it.

Here's what happened to make the day sweet anyway.  My son woke up and said the kindest thing.  My husband offered to make me a late-night brown cow (something to savor while watching So You Think You Can Dance).  Matthew Quick sent along these generous words about The Heart is not a Size.  I heard from friends (I love my friends).  And.... the yellow finch that banged on my office window for months following the passing of my mother, the finch that launched Nothing but Ghosts (or its near cousin), started banging again the very instant I arrived following this morning of surgery and stitches.  It had not banged for months and months and months.  But here it was again—another message, I suspect, from my mother.

Life is good.


Dangerous Neighbors, the sequel?

My friend Adam (he of knowing all-things-garden fame) wrote just now about Dangerous Neighbors, a note that echoed my friend John's note of a while back, and Ed's note of even longer ago, and Mandy's, too.  What they said is their own business.  What it has all made me think is this:  Perhaps, if I am lucky, Dangerous Neighbors will earn its sequel (as I had always hoped Undercover would; I'd planned the whole thing in my mind).  And if it does, I know the story I will tell, I know where I would go, I know how much I would enjoy going and being there.

Time will tell.  I will wait for time.


This is not the hummingbird that sat upon my shoulder

or hovered there, if it is precision that you seek.  I'd been waiting all summer for its arrival.  I'd gone outside with a book. I heard the machinery of wings, and I turned.  Red-throated, westward-pointing, no more than six inches from my chin, speed fluttering, and then it was gone.  I had no camera.  It would not have stayed that long if I had.


I Curse the River of Time/Per Petterson: Reflections

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

They sit together now, on the edge of my desk:  Out Stealing Horses, To Siberia, and I Curse the River of Time.  They are the novels of Per Petterson, an author born in Oslo and translated around the world, a man whose work draws the almost impossibly delicate balance between the deeply specific and the mesmerizingly vague.  Petterson's characters recreate the past, live the past, want to change it; they cannot.  Their present ticks toward the future, which is to say it ticks toward death.  No one is ever the person he or she would have wanted to be; no one can bear the mirror they throw up against themselves.

One must be patient with a Petterson book; one is rewarded, deeply, for one's patience.  One must accept the fugue state that the author visits upon his readers.  We are in places we don't recognize, but we know them.  We are among strangers, yet we live inside their heads.  We regret just as deeply, we crawl just as lowly, we hope more than we can should:  Where are we?

In I Curse the River of Time, due out shortly from Graywolf Press, Petterson gives us a 37-year-man on the verge of divorce and on the verge of losing the mother he disregarded in his past (she had offered a way out of his working-class heritage; he threw it back in his face; can they recover?).  I say 37-year-old man, but Avrid is boy-like, in so many ways—heartbroken for himself and, when he de-shrouds himself long enough to escape his own self pity, heartbroken for his mother.  He has followed his mother to a place where she has gone for peace.  He is haunted by memories; he's often drunk.  He needs caring for, but he must prove that he has the capacity for caring deep within himself.  It is 1989, and all across Europe, things fall apart.

The sentences are long and particulate in River.  They are also embellished and soft, tumbled together.  Some give directions (past the quay, down the street, around the corner, up the stairs).  Some ask.  Some want ("... and you suddenly realize that every chance of being the person you really wanted to be, is gone for ever, and the one you were, is the one those around you will remember.").  All of them crash and hum together, leaving the reader (this reader, at least) somehow intensified.

Thank you, Erin, for sending me a copy.


Rainbow embers

The day began with a storm, which melted into heat, which remained heat until a new fleet of silver clouds pushed in, and then there was storm again, the skirts of trees immodestly blowing.  We were celebrating my son's birthday at a restaurant when the rain stopped, and when I looked outside, a rainbow was arching over the telephone wires.  A half hour later, the sky was this, lit from below, I suspect, by rainbow embers.


American Music/Jane Mendelsohn: Reflections

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sometimes all I want to do is run up and down the street, and then to the mall and through the mall, and then to the beach and across the whole of the coastal shore, and then through an airport (among all those airport-bookstore-book toting readers) and then across an ocean to proclaim, I have just read the perfect book. 

I have read a book that held me, moved me, stirred me, awed me, restored and redeemed me—I have read that book.  It's called American Music, and by all rights I should have heard about this book since it was released in June; it's been O blessed and New York Times Book Review reviewed, and this is an author (Jane Mendelsohn) with whom many are already familiar, thanks to her debut novel, I was Amelia Earhart.  But I didn't know about American Music; I just found it in a bookstore and because I loved Earhart, I brought Music home, after the most cursory glance at the jacket.  Mendelsohn is that good.

No. In Music, she is that great.  I don't even want to try to explain this book, how it works.  I can't imagine wasting a second explaining (all right, the briefest bit of explaining) how the story involves a 21-year-old physical therapist, Honor, and the young Iraq War veteran she begins to treat—her hands on his flesh, her strength in his muscles releasing stories from generations past that both can see and hear, that not he, not she understand for the longest time.  Did that just make any sense?  It doesn't perhaps, it's not possible, perhaps, but it is utterly convincing and powerful and so well made and by the end it does not matter, because all the fragments of the stories released tell a real and aching larger story, and because every single line of this book is something approximating perfect.  You know I love Michael Ondaatje and Colum McCann.  Mendelsohn joins that league of writer here, her Honor like Ondaatje's Hannah, her understanding of jazz music and the birth of cymbals and swing on a par with McCann's mastery of gypsy poets, say, or Nureyev ballet.

She pulled down the sheet and touched his back.  He listened closely to the music.  He heard the scrape of the recording and the piano like rain and the voice lifted above the music like a kite jerking and soaring above the trees.  

I said that I don't want to explain.  I simply want you to go out and buy this book—buy it and read it and see what literature can be, how a webbing intelligence electrifies and haunts and utterly defines the mood of a day, no matter how hot it is outside, how swampy.

As I write these words, thunder rolls in from some place north.  A storm brewing.  A prelude to your reading of Music.


My baby is turning 21

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Of course I have always loved him.  Of course.  Loved him like my life depended on it, because perhaps it does.

It is the mother's right, and purpose.

Happy Birthday, J.


In which she wears the blue glass snake

I mentioned a luminescent glass snake in my previous post—the work of the talented (and completely lovely) Madeline Smith.  She taught us so much last night in her lamped workshop—about implosions of glass and the conduct of heat and the varying properties of colored rods.  This is how you make a dinosaur's eyes, she said, as a 2000-degree flame emanated from the metal wand in her hand.  This is how you distribute a figure's weight across its head and feet.  In any case, I couldn't go home without having a piece of Madeline's art (she has so many pieces so beautifully displayed to choose from), and this morning I asked my son to snap a photo of the glass-snaked me so that you might see what I am talking about.  Madeline's web site is a work in progress, but you can find her contact information here, should you wish to talk with a glass master or procure a glass creation for yourself.


They grow up

Here is one of the benefits of being my age:  I have had the privilege of watching my friends' children grow up. 

Last night, following a garden party thrown by a dear and talented friend—she writes, she takes photographs, she teaches, she teaches me how to teach and listens when I fail—we gathered in her daughter's lampworking studio to watch two rods of Pyrex become a new breed of dinosaur.  I have loved my friend's daughter and her sisters since I met them years ago.  About sisterhood, music, joy, words, they have taught me.  This time the lesson was the taffy-ness of near glass, the neck stretch of a heated allosaurus, the power of passion for a talent accidentally discovered. 

I came home with an iridescent snake that I will wear with great pride around my neck. 


How do you choose the books you are going to read? she asked

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A few days ago, when Amy Riley and I were taking a wee break from techno talk (Beth:  HTML code?  Amy (long distance):  Okay.  I'm doing it with you.  Are you on the Feedburner screen?  Do you see the box next to the words ....?), I told her that I'd just returned from the bookstore with an armload of new books.  She, being a great reader herself, asked me which ones.  I listed Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, Richard Russo's That Old Cape Magic, Maile Meloy's Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It, John Green's Looking for Alaska, and Jane Mendelsohn's American Music.

There was a bit of a pause, as Amy searched (I imagine) for some pattern in my selections.  "Interesting," she said at last.  "How do you choose what you are going to read?"

In answering the question I realized just how many influences weigh upon me.  The fact that I work in multiple genres, that I teach, and that I care a whole lot about language has me scurrying after the books I hope will teach me—in every genre.  The fact that I sometimes wonder why the rest of the world reads what it reads (e.g., The Help, Girl in Translation, Loving Frank) gets me curious enough to buy.  Blogs influence me (hence my purchase of My Name is Mary Sutter).  Friends do (Kate Moses has led me to The Names of Things; Jane Satterfield to The Importance of Music to Girls).  Reviews do (The New York Times Book Review led me to Forest Gander's As a Friend, Kim Echlin's The Disappeared, and Chloe Aridjis's Book of Clouds).  I trust imprints, like Graywolf, because they publish friends like Alyson Hagy and so I read and not surprisingly love Jessica Francis Kane's The Report.  I trust editor friends like Laura Geringer, Jill Santopolo, and Alane Mason, and so I read, respectively, Virgin Territory, Between Shades of Gray, and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives and Nothing Happened and Then it Did.  Many, many authors send me their books, and I do all I can to read them.  On lovely afternoons, I drift through bookstores and find titles that appeal, and some of my favorite books have come to me this way:  Michael Ondaatje's work, The Book Thief, The Cellist of Sarajevo, to name just a few.

This time around, my reasons were thus:  Maile Meloy because my writing friends adore her work and because I've been impressed by earlier stories.  John Green because he is John Green.  Richard Russo because I always meant to read him and because bloggers I respect insist.  Libba Bray because two minutes in her presence and I adored her.  Jane Mendelsohn because I absolutely loved her first novel, I Was Amelia Earhart, which begins: "The sky is flesh. The great blue belly arches up above the water and bends behind the line of the horizon...."

Marketers would love to know the why behind book selling.  Pundits speculate (interestingly, following the recent New York Times story suggesting that book trailers are highly influential, my in box was full of readers saying they never watch trailers).  I can only tell you what I do.  I wonder what your methods are.


Not just a new banner, but a new blog

Friday, July 16, 2010

Well, you know I could not have come up with this one on my own.  I needed a trip to Chanticleer's lotus pond, so that I might find the photo.  I needed my husband to make that photo art.  But most of all, I needed Amy Riley and Nicole Bonia of Winsome Media Communications to patiently wade through my design hopes (can it be simple? can it be easy for me to maintain? can it be basically like it was but a million times better?), to kindly walk me through Feedburner and the Site Meter, and to be there, pretty much around the clock, to answer my profoundly unintelligent technology questions and to be their dear, helpful, knowing, calm selves.

Amy and Nicole, you are the best, you really are.

So what do we have here?  We have, at long last, an uncluttered sidebar.  We have my biography—the books, the awards, the teaching, the anthologies, the judging—all housed on one page.  We have review excerpts of books past and present; an interview revealing a little why, a little how; a YouTube channel that collects my various adventures on film (not all of them, indeed, I tossed many of them out; call it summer cleaning).

We have the blog, still—the photos and musings on the writer's life, the heat of summer (or the chill of winter, if we ever get there), and, mostly, books I've loved and other writers who have taught me.

The door is open.  Please stop by.  Please stick around.


Not my finest hour: book festival blues

Yesterday afternoon was not, shall we say, my finest hour.  It was hot—hair coiling, neck boiling, don't-get-lost-in-a-town-you-don't-know-because-you'll-end-up-asking-innocent-by-passers-for-help hot, and I was on my way to a gathering with other authors.  Book people.  A festival.

I had in hand (or in two born-of-plastic-bottles bags) a small collection of my books, a couple of bookmarks.  The point of the festival was to meet and greet and sell.  I stink at selling.  First-class bad.  They kicked me out of Girl Scouts for my poor cookie-selling record (I think, or maybe I just quit).  I want to talk to people, converse.  That isn't selling.  I am very, very bad at selling.

But yesterday, that was at least part of the point, and as I stood among my fellow authors, I listened in on stories by people who know how to sell.  I heard about methods.  Planes flying book banners across the shore.  Book advertisements slipped into menus.  House-by-house book club tours.  Here I am, thinking I'm fancy when I get a bookmark printed (would any of you like one?).  But my fancy is not 21st-century book marketing fancy.  At.  All.

There are many times in my life when I've looked around and been crowded down by the thought:  I am not prepared.  Yesterday was one of those days.  A better person would have stuck it out. 

I am not a better person. 


Barely holding on

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Adam," I said, for he was standing close beside me, "is that a dragonfly right there, and is he eating?"  I asked Adam because Adam knows pretty much everything.  Especially garden things, so many garden things, that later I wondered out loud how it would feel to be so smart, to know the names of things, Latin and otherwise.

He wouldn't tell me.


Encounters with Gerald Stern

I joined my father on an errand to Lambertville, New Jersey, yesterday—a very beautiful, very hip little place with just the right balance of old and new.  "You know," I said, as we drove down one narrow street, "I once interviewed Gerald Stern in a house right near here."  As I was saying the words, recalling that lovely afternoon with the National Book Award-winning poet whose fluid, smart, resonant work has actually been known to cure my migraines, I found myself looking at Gerald Stern himself—on his front porch, in a wide chair, deep in a happy conversation with what appeared to be neighborly kids. 

"Don't stop!" I told my father, but still I craned my head, and later I walked the canal path behind the garden of Stern's house, remembering the conversation we once had. Butterflies were out in force.  The spill of gardens toward rain-soaked gulleys. The white horizontals of brief bridges.

Do you know Gerald Stern's work?  For if you don't, you must.  The opening lines of "He Said," from This Time, here:

Thank God for summer, he said, and thank God the window
was to his right and there was a wavy motion
behind him and a moon in the upper right corner
only four days old and still not either blowsy
or soupy.....

(find the poem, read on)


The Abundance of John Green (in Looking for Alaska)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A few years ago, during fellowship hour at my church, a friend and her daughter began describing their most recent literary adventure.  They'd driven to New York, they said, to see John Green read.  The line to get in was at least a block long.  When the crowd finally fully compacted, when it contained its excitement and hushed, John Green wasn't just the funny, smart, wonderful, warm writer my friend and her daughter thought he would be.  He was infinitely better than that.

I believe it.  Like Libba Bray, John Green emanates a good Bigness, not just of talent, but of spirit.  Travels to his web site yield a glimpse of a guy whose humor, occasional gentle self-mockery, and unabashed love for World Cup Soccer have remained intact, through the tsunami of his success.  If you had a chance to visit readergirlz during their John Green month, you'd find the man waving with both hands, talking up playlists, and jiving his way through his infamous tweets (he hates the term social media, apparently, but he's textbook good at it). If you've read any of his books, or even just the acknowledgments in his books, or maybe the extras in his books, you get the aforementioned good Bigness.

This morning I've been reading the book that launched Green's career, Looking for Alaska, because it is a good thing, I think, to go back to the beginning with authors, to remember what was first for them, the platform that they built from.  Everything is right about this book—the tone, the relationships, the slow build of tension and mystery (slow, or fast, depending on how you take to the chapter "titles' which are all variations of "fifty-eight days before" or "one-day after").  Alaska has the intelligence of A Separate Peace and the wit of a Salinger.  It has something only this former hospital chaplain might have written about The Meaning of it All.

Green's work will, I'm certain, be around for a long time.  He is an author who makes me proud to be counted among the YA writers of right now.  Because Green's work is first-rate  no matter what genre label you give it, and that's what YA books must be, first and foremost—well-written, thoughtful, funny if the author can swing it, capable of leaving readers psychically richer than they were. 


Dangerous Neighbors, reflections on the Kirkus Review

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I always shake when I realize that reviews for a long-loved book have begun to come in, and so, when Egmont USA's Greg Ferguson sent along this Kirkus review of Dangerous Neighbors, I did breathe a sigh of relief—grateful, so grateful for the reviewer's compassionate reading of the story (thank you).  I was saddened by the final lines of the review, only because so much work had been done to check the in-vogueness of the language in the book.  The term narcissist, for example, which is questioned by the reviewer, originated in 1822, according to Merriam-Webster's (thank you, Greg, for re-checking that this afternoon, and thank you, the Egmont copywriting team, for taking such care throughout the copyediting process—even investigating, to my surprise and wonder, a certain baking ingredient purportedly but not provenly used during that era).

Nonetheless, I want to reiterate my gratitude for the kindness of spirit that pervades the review as a whole.  An author wants to tell a story rightly. But she also wants to tell the right story.  This review is full of gifts.
A young woman is lost in grief following the death of her twin sister in this tender, quiet work of historical fiction. Carried along by the character’s dreamily melancholy narrative style, readers will drift with Katherine amid the grandeur of Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Fair. At the novel’s opening, her grief has reached a breaking point. Employing an effective flash–back-and-forward technique, the author gradually reveals details about the girls’ relationship and the raw feeling of abandonment experienced by Katherine due to a clandestine affair Anna began in the months before her death. Eventually, the circumstances of her sister’s death are uncovered in an exquisitely crafted memory as lovely in its imagery as it is tragic. Ringing less true, however, is the modern feel of the dialogue, given the supposed era. For example, during an argument, Katherine calls her sister a narcissist—a term not yet coined in psychology at the time. While this may not jar all readers, teens with an eye toward historical detail will likely take notice. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

(Post-post note:  My wonderful friends are out there checking dictionaries of all sorts.  Narcissistic most assuredly appears in Merriam-Webster, as of 1822; in the OED, narcissism appears as of 1822, with narcissistic appearing in the early 1900s.  In either case, as I just noted on Facebook, this is all a brilliant reminder of just how mutating and ever-changing language is.  Perfection has long been beyond my reach (but never outside of my desire).  As a writer of fiction, whose protagonists are always smarter than I am, I'm going to grant Katherine her slight variation of the Merriam-Webster word, and let her sleep easy tonight.)


My Name is Mary Sutter/Robin Oliveria: Reflections

I have spent much of the last two days impressed into the world of Robin Oliveira's making—the immaculately researched and thoughtfully conveyed story of a Civil War midwife-cum-surgeon named Mary Sutter.  I hadn't thought I'd like this book as much as I most assuredly did.  I had wondered about its title, a first-person declaration that does not capture the close-over-the-shoulder third-person chorus that carries the story forward.  Within the first two dozen pages none of that mattered.  What mattered was how brilliantly Oliveira captures the details of that time, those years, when blunt artillery plowed through shins and germs were not understood, when amputations were performed on dirty, blistering battlefields with little more than chloroform, whiskey, a saw, and a needle to see both patient and doctor through.

We get cameos of Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix and John Hay in this novel.  We get Albany in winter and love at first blush and love at the end of too much knowing.  We get Mary Sutter's determination to enter into the ranks of surgeon, indistinguishable in talent and mastery from any male peer, and the price that is exacted for entry.

Oliveira lists her Civil War, history, and medical resources at the start of this book; she is graceful with her abundance of knowing.  The big, hard details of war, midwifery, and amputation are laid out, unflinchingly, before us; but so is the rising and falling of the sun, and the look and feel of Albany ahead of storm:

Now, in the distance, thunder rumbled. A day of contradiction: Mary's bonnet shaded her from a sun bright enough to strain her eyes. The alley percolated: a privy tilted a half block away; the neighbor's poorly kept chickens flapped in protest at the confusion. An ice wagon lurched into the narrow ruts and climbed the slow rise, its wintered-over ice blocks crusted with sawdust. The last of the last, before winter set in and ice would be everywhere. The verge of deprivation and plenty.

Beautifully done.  And did I mention this book has twin sisters at its heart.  An historical novel with twin sisters at its heart.  Just my kind of thing, as it ultimately turns out.


On books past (and on saying thanks)

Yesterday, in preparation for the re-launch of this very blog (which will be happening soon), I did something I almost never do—return to books once written.  I was in search of a few words about each, and in going back, all the way back, over 12 books and five genres, I stumbled across the generosity of authors like Buzz Bissinger, Jayne Anne Phillips, Andre Dubus III, Rosellen Brown, Ken Kalfus, Susan Straight, Kate Moses, Katrina Kenison, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sy Montgomery, Jennie Nash, and others; I was reminded of the kindness and illuminating intelligence of reviewers whom I've never met and likely never will.

Whenever I could, wherever I could, I have sought to reach out, to say thank you.  But yesterday, I realized, I haven't said thank you enough to those who have tried to understand.  What I see.  Why I write.  How I hear.  What I want.  There's an I in each of those fragments.  That selfish, big, bolded I.  I stood where I stood, and others circled near.  You can't say thank you enough.


Literary Inversions

Monday, July 12, 2010

So what would it take, you wonder (do you wonder?) to turn a YA novel into an A novel and an A novel into a YA novel, and to do both things at once to books you've worked on for years, so much so that, even though they have absolutely nothing to do with on another, they begin to float toward one another, and I ask myself (I do ask myself), What if Vin belonged not to Sophie, but to Kenzie, and what if Kenzie were not 18 by 30 and Sophie not 39 but 13?

(That was a question, or multiple questions, so I end it/them with the mark.)

Because everyone is one age at one point or another, and shouldn't a novelist know who their characters were, or who they will grow up to be?

Mind melds in summer.


Libba Bray and her rocking 2010 Printz Awards speech

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I have had, as I mentioned yesterday, the gift of time.  I've been watching and listening to other authors in part of that time, and yesterday I sat and listened to this utterly remarkable talk by Libba Bray on the occasion of her Printz Award win (for Going Bovine).  I had met her, but only briefly, at ALA, and been utterly charmed.  But one must listen to this entire talk to get a full sense of who Libba Bray is—gracious and wickedly funny, spontaneous and utterly prepared, entirely human and extra-stellar, a writer and a performer. 

This is speaking at its best and joy at its utmost.


How are you?

A funny thing happened when I returned from the Cayman Islands.  There was time, and it was mine.  I had work-work to do, but I got it done.  Writing projects were on hold, for the time being.  All of a sudden some windows opened, and I've looked out, and there are my friends.


I have, I think, some of the best friends in the world—thoughtful, reflective, alive with ideas and purpose, fundamentally interesting, and never overbearing.  How are you?  It's the easiest question in the world.  It can also be the most elusive.  I don't ask it nearly enough on this very blog, and so I ask it today:

How are you? 


The book trailer dilemma (and Dangerous Neighbors)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

In this weekend's New York Times, Pamela Paul tackles the topic of the "de rigueur" book trailer ("The Author Takes a Star Turn"), citing the recent YouTube moments of, among others, Mary Karr, Jeannette Walls, and Kelly Corrigan.  To quote from the story:

But in the streaming video era, with the publishing industry under relentless threat, the trailer is fast becoming an essential component of online marketing. Asked to draw on often nonexistent acting skills, authors are holding forth for anything from 30 seconds to 6 minutes, frequently to the tune of stock guitar strumming, soulful violin or klezmer music. And now, those who once worried about no one reading their books can worry about no one watching their trailers. (A mother still nursing her 8-year-old: 25,864,943 views; recent best-selling maternal memoirist: 5,124 views.)

I read the piece with great interest, as I read all stories about the marketing (and fate) of books with great interest.  I read it with a flush in my face.  Citing book trailer budgets of up to $15,000, I thought of my own budgets (no pennies, just my time, which I leave others to value), my own resources (the photographs I know how to take and the video I don't), my own technology (iMovie, after I lost patience with Final Cut during one particularly hot, sweaty day), my own music choices (severely limited by lack of budget and lack of personal composing/performing/recording capabilities, though I do hum a mean "Twinkle, Twinkle"), my own microphone (which is attached to my unportable computer, which sits on my glass-topped desk in my glass-surround office), my own vision (and how sorely it compares to the final product), my own un-desire to sit in front of my little Apple camera and interview myself (what a monumental bore, I think, to interview myself), and my own aims (to tell someone out there what the book is about in 90 seconds or less).

Had I thought, for example, about how hard it would be to create a trailer for my upcoming historical novel, Dangerous Neighbors, I might have thought twice (I'm saying might have, only) before signing up for all the difficulties that simply writing the book entailed.  Because how, in fact, does a woman like me—lacking budget, lacking video talent—recreate the kaleidoscopic quality of that book?  The skating on the Schuylkill River, circa 1876.  The digging for clams at the Cape May beach in the era's bathing costumes.  The fire that swept through Shantytown.  The massive grandiosity of the Centennial grounds themselves.  The Laurel Hill Cemetery in winter, as it was then, not as it is now.  How does one talk about twin sisters, when there are no 18 year old twin sisters in sight, and nothing late nineteenth century to dress them in?  Dangerous Neighbors is a book in which high color is thematic and the pace ever quickens; the images from 1876—still images—are black and white and grainy.  Dangerous Neighbors features a baker's boy who rescues lost animals from the streets of Philadelphia.  Can one let a pig loose in Rittenhouse Square?

The "de riguering" of book trailers is, I think, a fascinating development, and I myself watch many trailers—applauding and admiring and, yes, envying writers like Maggie Stiefvater—writer, artist, musician, film maker—who can do it all.  This is not to say that there isn't much I can still learn, much I can work against, much I must transcend.  I'm in the book business and so, alas, I must crack the code on video problems that have, until now, proved confounding.


The Last Station: Reflections

Last night (at long last) we watched The Last Station, a movie about Tolstoy's final days.  I have long been fascinated by this chapter in history—the battle over the rights to Tolstoy's work, the conflict between his ideals and his living, his flight from the world he created (and his complex wife), his dying—a media spectacle—at the Astapova train station.  Jay Parini, an author of many books, an elaborator on many moods, published the book in 1990.  The movie, starring Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, Paul Giamatti, and Anne-Marie Duff, came out last year.  I waited into the annealing dark of a hot day to go back in time and toward the artistry of a film that I found deeply moving.  I highly recommend that those of you who have not yet seen this film place two hours aside and watch.


Between Shades of Gray/Ruta Sepetys: Reflections

Friday, July 9, 2010

If I brought just one ARC home from the BEA—the glorious The Report (Jessica Francis Kane)—I was to have traveled home with two ARCs from the ALA convention.  The first, Caroline Leavitt's Pictures of You, did in fact make it into my bag.  The second, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, was delivered to me at the Egmont USA booth by a fashion-runway-worthy Jill Santopolo, only to be snatched by an eager reader when I oh-so-briefly turned my head.  I had to wait until yesterday, when another copy of the ARCs arrived by mail, to read this book that Jill had loved so much.  It had made her cry on the train, she said.  She had thought that I might like it.

She was right, as Jill so often is.  Between Shades of Gray is an important book—a story that captures the terrifying deportation of a Lithuanian family by the Soviet secret police.  Along with tens of thousands of others, 15-year-old Lina, her younger brother, and her educated, lovely mother are packed onto trains and sent toward the bitter cold of Siberia; their father, meanwhile, is sentenced to a prison-camp death. What will survival look like?  What will kindness look like?  Who is to be trusted?  The losses will be great; in an author's note, we learn that more than a third of all Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians were killed during Stalin's ruthless genocide.  Goodness, however, also prevails, for Lina is strong and she is faithful—losing and gaining, falling in love, making a record of the life she is living through drawings and words.

Simply and compellingly told, endowed with an honorable and serious purpose, Between Shades of Gray is the sort of book that wakens new knowledge in its readers.  Knowledge of a terrible time, absolutely.  Knowledge about the great capacity of the human heart:  that, too.  



One white, one black, and always together.  They waited for the sun to set.  Then they flew.


a happy-making photo

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This photo, taken by Tiff Emerick and passed on to me by Holly Cupala, makes me happy.  I had the privilege of sitting with Elizabeth Law through much of the YALSA coffee klatch at the ALA.  This is proof that it wasn't a dream.


Girl in Translation/Jean Kwok: Reflections

Oh, how I wanted to love Girl in Translation, the semi-autobiographical first novel by the entirely graceful-seeming Jean Kwok.  Girl is an assimilation novel, a tale of a young immigrant.  Kimberly Chang is eleven when she arrives to New York from Hong Kong with her mother.  She lives in an abominable apartment, helps her mother after school in a Chinatown sweatshop, and relies on her native intelligence not just to get through, but to be selected as a full-scholarship student at an elite private school.  Even her best friend, Annette, does not guess the full extent of Kimberly's poverty.  The boy who seems to love her can't imagine it.  And Kimberly and her mother get no help at all from Aunt Paula, to whom they owe their come-to-America debt.

Kwok herself was born in Hong Kong and immigrated to New York.  She, too, worked in a sweatshop.  She went to Harvard and then to Columbia, and certainly she knows the world of which she writes.  Though published as an adult novel, this book is an adolescent's story told with simple, straightforward prose, within an unyielding chronological structure.  This happened next is the operative framework of the story.  The unadorned language sounds, consistently, like this:  "I'd never had alcohol before.  I took a swig.  The taste was bitter and made my eyes water, but I managed not to show my distaste.  After my initial swallow, I sipped only a little from the bottle.  Matt drank as if he did it all the time."

A few weeks ago, after finishing a reading at Rutgers, one student noted that I was swaying the whole time I read.  It was if you were dancing, she said, and I realized, again, just how important music is to me—in what I write but also, unfortunately, in what I read.  I have to learn to get past that, to take pleasure in stories that are simply put, simply arranged.  I felt, reading Girl, that I would very much like to know Jean Kwok, for a whole spirit pervades her pages.  I felt impatient, though, about the story's voice, about the looseness of tension, about the plain-ness of effect.


High, Above

I like to fly about as much as I like to sit on a boat, but this time I wasn't dizzy.  This time I could look out above the horizon, or toward the horizon, I'm not sure which, and watch the purple clouds collect over the last light of the day.  Home.


Aunt Beth

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

In the raw, stormy world that has been the Cayman Islands these past few days, brightness defied.  I have had time with my siblings' children—Julia and her coconut shrimp, Daniel and his snorkeling enthusiasms, Claire and her solo version of synchronized swimming, Owen, with his quiet, witty presence (somehow Owen was endowed with great calm and great wit, in perfect proportions; plus, he only beat me at bike riding when I let him).

These kids are dear to me.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

As much as I love the architecture of boats and the idea of float, I have a terrible time staying right upon a watery vessel.  "Keep your eyes on the horizon," my husband says, but by then, I'm already done in for, already looking for an out.  There are none.  I'm reminded of that every single time.  "Julia," I told my niece, not turning my head, not lifting my eyes, "I am not being rude when I talk with you like this, but can I ask you for a favor?"


"Tell me when you see land."

She nodded her red-blonde head (my periphery vision told me).  She squinted (I could feel her focus intensify).

"Now?" I asked.

"Not now," she said.

"Closer?" I asked.


"Remember your land-spotting job," I told her, and she did.  It's just that it seemed to take forever.


Small headed

Monday, July 5, 2010

There I was, renting a snorkeling mask, standing among adults and near adults, waiting my turn.

When it came time to "fit" me, the snorkeling dealer took just one quick look.  "You have a really tiny head," she said.  "I'm recommending baby size."

"A baby-sized snorkeling mask?" I repeated.  "Really?"

"Tiny," she said, with her Caymanian accent.  She handed me a mask from the lowest nail on her long wall.  She asked me to try it on.  It fit.  "I have a baby-sized head," I told my husband, and later, to test the theory, I measured my mask against the mask of my delicate, rising-fifth-grader niece, Claire.

Mine measured a full inch shorter in width.

Everything was explained in that instant.  Everything.  Like why I have a hard time remembering names and why I always stunk at math and why I can know something intensely for a deeply intense time, only to lose that something in space.  Small headed.  C'est moi.  Don't ask me any questions.  Chances are the answers don't fit inside my head.


Of iguanas and parrots

Between tropical downpours and gale-ing winds, we walked through the Botanic Gardens, encountering these blue-faced iguanas, who were out in search of sun.  It is a raw place, an island upon which the legacy of a once-ago hurricane is still read in the twist of palm trees and the discouraged fronds.  Cayman parrots, high in trees, depart in arresting twosomes of brilliant green and beak orange.

In my mind, all this time, I am reconfiguring a novel.  Finding my way back in.  There are editors who care.  There is an editor who has asked.


I sat at the edge of a dock

Sunday, July 4, 2010

waiting for sunrise.  But the clouds were a shroud, protecting the memory of a storm.  So pewter became old sepia became the sweat heat of morning, and the day began before I could mark its start.  I took this picture anyway.


The Report/Jessica Francis Kane: Reflections

Saturday, July 3, 2010

I took just one book home with me from this year's BEA, Jessica Francis Kane's first novel, The Report.  It's a Graywolf Press title—Graywolf, a first-rate house responsible for such first-class books as Alyson Hagy's latest, Ghosts of Wyoming.  I don't think you can go wrong with a Graywolf book, and I can say, with absolute confidence, that you will not go wrong with The Report.  Smart, compelling, riveting, whole, The Report is a book about history and those who write it, about blame and the consequences of diffusing it.  It is a novel based on the real-life horror of a night in March, in London, in 1943, when 173 people seeking protection from a possible air raid, died on the steps of the shelter that was supposed to protect them.  No bomb had gone off.  No bones were broken.  All of those who died died from asphyxiation—from an inexplicable pile-up on the stairs.

How in the world had it happened?

Laurence Dunne, a magistrate, is asked to find out.  Systematically, he interviews 80 survivors.  He listens to those who blame themselves and those who cannot be honest and writes a report so novelistic, so empathetic, that it haunts him and others for a long time hence.  In Kane's perfectly well-imagined novel, that event, those survivors, and Dunne himself materialize, devastate, haunt.  I was a most captivated reader, a reader Kane kept wholly spellbound from the first sentence to the very last.

Kane notes that she got the idea for this book some ten years ago, and that her two children were born during its creation.  I believe that.  There's so much wisdom here, so many important thoughts quietly but compellingly collected.  Kane is a transparent writer, working with absolute clarity, allowing her reader to see straight through to the complicated heart of things.


Walking on water

Friday, July 2, 2010

How is it, here, that the water barely floats above the sand, and that one walks and walks (two young men walk) forever into the sea?

And isn't this what it is to write a novel?  To float and to float and to float until the story is finally known?

It can take years until the story is known.


Attitudinal adjustments

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My son, he says:  Always assume that you are going to have a good time.

Then find a way.


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