ROW80 Check-in 1/29

Well, it's been a helluva couple of weeks: the wife and I swapped head colds and I lost two relatives, (uncle and cousin). I'm sincerely tired of sickness and death. I've given some thought to this writing life and art in general and will share those thoughts soon. I've also been reading Padgett Powell's latest and I'll talk more about him later as well. But, for now, I'm ready to get back in the saddle and back on task. Hope things have been going well for my fellow ROWers. Talk to you soon.


ROW80 Check-in 1/20

"Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans." 
--John Lennon

"It's been so long now, but it seems now
It was only yesterday
Ain't it funny how time slips away."
--Willie Nelson

See you Sunday.


ROW80 Check-in 1/15

Just posted my list of books read in 2011.

Started reading Will Rogers autobiography.

Still working on the First Line story.

Happy Sunday to everyone!

Books Read in 2011

1.    Ray by Barry Hannah
2.    Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
3.    B is for Beer by Tom Robbins
4.    The Mulching of America by Harry Crews
5.    The Sunset Limited by Cormac McCarthy
6.    Lightning Bug by Donald Harington
7.    The Widow and the Tree by Sonny Brewer
8.    The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting by Lee K. Abbott
9.    Hell at the Breech by Tom Franklin
10.  All We Need of Hell by Harry Crews
11.  Edisto by Padgett Powell
12.  Zombie Spaceship Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
13.  Spooner by Pete Dexter
14.  The Flash: Rebirth by Geoff Johns & Ethan Van Sciver
15.  Jesus' Son by Denis Johnson
16.  Twilight by William Gay
17.  Dreams of Distant Lives by Lee K. Abbott
18.  Gringos by Charles Portis
19.  Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
20.  A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
21.  The Knockout Artist by Harry Crews
22.  Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
23.  The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams
24.  How to Write Science Fiction by Paul Di Filippo
25.  The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams
26.  When Gravity Fails by George Alec Effinger
27.  Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
28.  A Fire in the Sun by George Alec Effinger
29.  All Star Superman Vol.1 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quietly
30.  All Star Superman Vol.2 by Grant Morrison & Frank Quietly
31.  The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
32.  The Exile Kiss by George Alec Effinger
33.  Feet on the Street (abridged) by Roy Blount Jr.
34.  Fuddles by Frans Vischer
35.  When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach
36.  The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
37.  The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
38.  Red by Warren Ellis & Cully Hamner
39.  Budayeen Nights by George Alec Effinger
40.  God, No! by Penn Jillette
41.  The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
42.  Ubik by Philip K. Dick
43.  The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted by Elizabeth Berg
44.  Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut
45.  Dirty Work by Larry Brown
46.  Under the Wheat by Rick DeMarinis

These are the books I read in 2011. Just like Buckaroo Banzai, I went in many directions at once: a little non-fiction (essays and memoir), a little fiction (novels and short story collections), some graphic novels (which include trade paperback collections of issues) and a couple of children's books. I listened to some of these on audio which counts as reading in my book.

Of these books I'd have to say my favorites of the year were The Family Fang, Catch-22, Ubik, When Gravity Fails, Lightning Bug, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, Ray, Gringos and Dirty Work. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed all of the books I read, if I didn't I wouldn't have finished them--that's not strictly true, now that I think of it, I wasn't too fond of Twilight, but I liked Gay's short story collection I Hate to See That Evening Sun Go Down. I wanted to like this novel, and perhaps it bears a re-reading, but the ending was wrapped up too neatly for my taste.

I have to confess to knowing the author of The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson. I first met Kevin back in '09 when his short story collection, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, came out. He was giving a reading at the late, lamented Carpe Librum and the collection sounded like my kind of book, quirky, funny and especially weird. Weird is good, let no one kid you about that.

I read that book in a week, which isn’t something I do very often anymore, and went to meet the author. Suffice it to say, we hit it off. Kevin is a really nice guy and one talented writer. I urge everyone to pick up Tunneling and The Family Fang. They’re very good books and worthy of all the praise they’ve been given. And look for him online, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, on the right side of his blog is a list of his recent publications many of which are online. Kevin’s one to watch. I think he just gets better and better.

All right, enough sucking up.

I don't re-read very much anymore, either, for the simple fact that I have waaay too many books. More than I might possibly ever read...nah, I'm gonna live forever, so no worries. But I did manage to re-read one of my favorites a couple of times. That book, Breakfast of Champions, is the Vonnegut book for me. It took my (literary) virginity, it is my longest lasting love and it still does not disappoint after all this time. I had the added pleasure of hearing it read by Stanley Tucci, who gave a stellar performance. 

Well, enough of this blathering, I've got books to read!


ROW 80 Check-in 1/11

So here we are once more.

Still working on my Books Read in 2011 blog post.

Still reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

And something new, I'm working on a story for First Line Journal, deadline for which is Feb. 1. It's a fun exercise.

See you all Sunday!


ROW80 Check-in 1/9

Ah yes, a day late and a...well, you know the rest.

Anyway, I published my first non ROW80 blog post of the year. And that's about all I've done on my goals thus far. Where does the time go?

I'm not going to whinge--I love the British and how they don't let go of their old words, don't you?--about how hard writing is or how hard making time to write is. It is all that and so very much more, but if it weren't then it really wouldn't be worth doing, let alone blogging about or joining a group like ROW80 or getting up in the morning and so on.

So, as Mort Sahl used to say: anyway...onward.

My First 50-Year-Old Book for 2012

As I mentioned in a previous ROW80 blog post, one of my goals this year is to read books that were published 50 years ago this year, in other words books published in 1962. I’m doing this because I inadvertently read a 50-year-old book last year, Catch-22, not realizing that it was, in fact, its fiftieth anniversary. Upon reading many articles and blog posts celebrating this fact, I came across a post that mentioned that not only Catch but Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer turned fifty in 2011. Now, I’m a big fan of ol’ Walker and had never gotten around to Moviegoer, so this was the perfect excuse to rectify that oversight.

Then I got to wondering what other books turned 50 in 2011, this list helped me out a great deal, I couldn’t believe that not only Catch, but Thunderball, Borges’ Ficciones, Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and The Stainless Steel Rat, (a book I adored as a teen), were all turning 50 in 2011. Sadly I soon realized that the year was coming to an end rather quickly and that I’d never get to these other books before it did--I am the Deliberate (read: slow) Reader, after all. So, maybe I could read books published in 1962 during 2012 instead. Another list got me going with some old favorites and some I’ve wanted to read, but never got around to like A Clockwork Orange.

And by happenstance, one of the first books I’ve started for this year is turning 50: Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I’m a big fan of Jackson’s. I’ve always loved “The Lottery” and “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts” and The Haunting of Hill House, but because I’m a reading magpie I’ve never gotten around to much more. Then I was having a conversation with a friend about books and she mentioned that she’d just finished Castle and made it sound like vintage Jackson, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m halfway through and it’s as good as I hoped it would be, thanks Diana! I’ll discuss it further once I’m done.

Though Castle is the first 50-year-old I’ve started this year, it’s not the first I’ve finished. That honor would belong to Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day.

I’m not averse to reading children’s books. After all, that’s where I began my path to a lifetime, so far, of reading. (I’ll never forget you Barney Beagle!) I was even tempted to read The Phantom Tollbooth last year because of its fiftieth birthday, but “time is fleeting/madness takes its toll,” etc.

So, when I saw this post on Metafilter, I thought I’d look up Snowy Day and give it a try. (Some reading this may not know that I work in a public library and thereby have access to just about everything). It’s a charming picture book about a little boy experiencing the first snow of the year. I was fascinated at the fact of it being one the first picture books to show a non-caricatured black main character...in 1962. That certainly was ground-breaking for its time. This article will tell you more about Keats and Snowy Day, as well.

The Snowy Day is not only the first 50-year-old book I’ve finished this year, but the first book also. My next post, hopefully, will be about the books I read in 2011 with a few of my scattered and smothered thoughts about them.


ROW80 Check-in 1/4

Aw, bloody hell, it's Wednesday already??!! I ain't done nuthin'.

Well, I did add to my goals, but these are more for the year then just this round, though they fall within my Round 1 goals also:

Read more of the books I own and buy less. (I own a lot of books, I mean, a lllllot). I'll post a picture some time.
Read 50-year-old books, i.e., books published in 1962. (This stems from having read Catch-22 and The Moviegoer last year, both their 50th year since publication - a fact I was unaware of when I started Catch, but discovered later about Moviegoer).

There'll be more on Sunday, no, really, there will--with progress, too.


Round 1 Goals

Hello to my fellow ROWers!! Here we go again! This time I'm actually going to start at the beginning.
These are my goals for this round:

  1. Make a new blog post once a week, (not counting the ROW80 check-ins). 
  2. Continue work on my book.
  3. Research my Waldrop story, (Will Rogers and Wiley Post in Shangri-La).
  4. Read and work with DeMarinis' "The Art and Craft of the Short Story."
Wish me luck and good luck to us all!