The Sex of One is the Half Dozen of Another

It’s just my two sense, but when I hear from guys who can do it half-a-dozen times I want to say it’s all in the I of the beholder, and there’s no I in beholder. It’s quality that counts, and now that I’m older than I was, quality’s up and quantity’s down. But for all intensive purposes, my writing this year’s on a different plain altogether, as my first novel came out (which is 100% more than nothing) and I’m working on the next, which writers on writing universally agree will be less inspired than my first (though saying it’s cutting off my nose despite my face). But it’s all a right of passage to craftsmanship, which takes (the wisdom is) 10,000 hours. I’d be a bold faced liar if I told you that wasn’t a sentence, and a bunch of consecutive sentences, too.

Sexual Orientation: How Do Gays Play the Scene?

The great and powerful Google, ubiquitous in my blog, browser, calendar, e-mail and research, is apparently allowing me to forget to remember, so reliably does Google know my needs. So, when I see that omniscient Google has targeted an ad atop my gmail inbox that says, “Considering Bankruptcy? - Get a free consultation at our law offices in downtown Charlottesville,” well, it makes one pause. Am I? Like Google, Christopher Isherwood has that quality of restrained authority, with the slight English crankiness of an irritated GPS when you take the wrong turn off the traffic circle. In Isherwood’s A Single Man, George thinks that he “would like to abandon his shopping-cart, although it’s already full of provisions. But that would make extra work for the clerks, and one of them is cute.” George is gay, as was Isherwood. I do a double-take on “cute”, not one of surprise, but reinterpretation. With the unreliable assurance of one who spoke British-English in his youth, I relay BBC idioms to my wife, “banger’s a sausage, Dear.” It’s not the same with “cute,” we all know “cute” when we see it, except I see Audrey Hepburn (apologies, Dear), and George has (we’ll say) Cary Grant in mind. In my novel, Boiled Peanuts, Paul is a young heterosexual man who’s a peeping Tom. There’s some titillation in Paul watching a woman (I think), but what does a gay person feel who reads the scene? What gets reinterpreted? Does the reader alter a character’s sex, so that what’s cute to Paul will feel cute to the reader, or does the scene rely on its humor or drama and the sex is a bore? I’d be interested in hearing from gay or lesbian readers.

Gritty, or the Place I Grew Up?

I grew up in Tottenham, a northern suburb of London, which, according to several news reports of the August riots, is a “gritty” and “disadvantaged” neighborhood of the English capital. From London, my family migrated to Sydney, and I moved on to Denver, Lansing, and Lexington, each move, to a smaller city. The U.S. cities came, it seems, through little of my own volition, as is surely often true of big decisions. I’ve expended more thought over omelette or waffle than in deciding my final move (to Lexington, Virginia, following a job that randomly occurred.) Being only a jot, I had no choice with Tottenham, but I thought it a good place, to the extent I thought of it at all. It was the park with my best climbing tree; the slope for the makeshift skateboard (a loose board on a single skate); the field where we boys sieved sandy soil into buckets for an important reason I no longer remember. So it’s a shock to me, that Tottenham is gritty, but I’d left by the age of twelve and, in childhood, the sharp whiff of gritty dust on the tongue is more precious than gold.

On Marketing Books

Okay, the people are interesting in this picture of my booksigning for Boiled Peanuts, but it's the background that captures your attention. All those books! Granted, without anyone in the foreground (a reader), the books would be pointless. You remember the Twilight Zone episode with the solo super-short-sighted survivor smashing his spectacles. All books became instantly worthless. Taking up space is evidently not enough, some kind of interaction is needed to be non-pointless, which makes me nervous as I tap for hours alone in my study where I'm theoretically interacting with future readers. It's potentially comforting that in theory I'll have more point in the future. Even with his thick lenses intact, how many books could the Twilight Zone reader have consumed in his lifetime? Not enough to save the N.Y. Public Library from almost total worthlessness. I'm guessing your average author feels like the N.Y. Public Library. Over a million books a year are published in the U.S. Yours may be the most exquisite leaf in the woods but it's destined for compost unless it's noticed. It's dark down here on the forest floor and my Boiled Peanuts novel is already leaf litter turning to humus. I received my first print copy on June 15th. On June 24th one reviewer told me my book might be too "old" to review. Won't anyone save me from worthlessness and buy a book? Even better, read it and recommend it. That wasn't too begging, was it?