Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Off to Bouchercon if I actually get there. NW just cancelled our flight home and had to shuffle fast to get another one on Sunday. Why doesn NW never do anything nice? It's always something to inconvenience you? They cancelled the flight because the crew had worked too many hours. Didn't they know that before now? Hope this is all worth it given my stomach flu, my mother's health problems, and now this. Argh. At least I get to see my daughter and maybe a few good panels.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ThugLit is out

Steve Allen reminded me on his blog of all the people who read your story over time. The Imprint won a second place award at the North American Auto Show seven years ago. At that time my writing class read it and especially Chris Leland, the instructor and a wonderful writer. Then my first second writing group read it: Jane, Dennis and Bill. A few years later my third writing group read it: Anca, Anthony, Claire, Carol, Robin, Patrick, John, Jane, Suzanne and perhaps a few I'm missing. Then my fourth group read it two years ago: Dorene, David and Ksenia. Along the way my husband and daugher have read it. As well as my son, a prosecutor.
It is now the central story in my novel in stories although it ends very differently.
Thanks to these people who don't even know I'm thanking them here.

Monday, September 25, 2006

War Tapes

We saw War Tapes yesterday and it was moving, provoking and completely devastating all at once.
Three guys in the NH National Guard were given videocams to tape their time in Iraq. Now these guys were all, to some degree, invested in the US military or in Bush or in the U.S. They landed in Iraq with very little training and immediately are guarding supply trucks from Haliburton and being exposed to every form of unpredictable violence. They return broken men although still harboring some admiration for Bush or the military or America. It was hard to watch but not nearly as hard as to be there. None of the three will lead normal lives after this. Even the most sane, the most articulate, was destroyed by his time there. The few minutes of cheering that greeted their return to NH was not a just reward for one minute in Iraq. Their experience will be articulated by their physical and mental problems, which the government will try not to acknowledge.
God forgive us for ruining another generation of Americans.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Internet

An interesting article in Atlantic Monthly by James Fallows on positive changes the Internet has brought about--mainly access to immediate information. He ponders if this will somehow affect our memories since we no longer will have to remember things, but concludes the Internet acts as an eyeglass, freeing us for more creative endeavors. Rote memorizing, such as on Jeopardy, is really not that valuable in moving things along.

We saw Live Flesh last night at the DFT. I bet Ruth Rendell's novel was not nearly as overwrought as the Almodovar version but maybe not as much fun. What a palette he uses and its operatic by its conclusion.

Got a nice email from the editor of Murdaland saying it may not be out in time for Bouchercon but maybe we could say hi. I'm still feeling a bit sick being amongst Woodrell, Bausch, Gaitskill, Bruen and others but hey, better than not being there.

Friday, September 22, 2006


There was an article in the NYT this morning about the fall-off in reading that has been going on for many years now. More books are published but fewer read than ever before. Aside from the distractions of technology, I have a few other ideas about why my reading has fallen off.
I used to read a lot more when I smoked 18 years ago. There was nothing more relaxing than sitting down with a book and a pack of cigs. The cigarette made me docile. Now I seldom read for more than ten or fifteen minutes without interruption. Right now I have twenty books reserved at the local library. I will probably only finish 2-3 of them and not because they're not good books. That doesn't take into account the pile I have bought. Taking the bus to work means I get a little more reading done but sometimes my own stories take over and I realize I haven't read at all. Reading the Clair Messaud book right now and still working on the Prose book.
I had another idea about why my reading has fallen off but I forgot it. See how distractable I am.
Oh, yeah, I remember. I read a lot more stories on the web and from my writing group. So there fleeting memory.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Just got a story (The Imprint) accepted at Thuglit. They give out a tee shirt for payment. I will wear that baby with pride. I love their stories and their website and didn't think I wrote tough enough stories to get one accepted. The story is sort of the pivotal chapter in my novel. I have now published three stories from that wasted effort so I guess it is not a wasted effort. Let me at that tee shirt.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose

This is a good meditation on how to read and how to write. I especially liked her observation that beginning writers are too often advised to show rather than tell, which leads to long scenes enacting dull action that could have been conveyed more economically by just telling. Not everything needs to be played out. She also speaks lovingly of language. The sentence. The word. Her examples are thrilling.
This is what I love about writing, finding the perfect way of telling, the perfect word, the perfect phrase. In short stories, you have the luxury of doing this. Not as much as in poetry but there's time. And that's why I hate writing novels. You simply can't agonize over every word.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Stratford, ON, CA

Every year the town of Stratford in Ontario, CA puts on a six-month festival of plays. Usually there are about 4-5 Shakespeare plays and maybe 7-8 others. Choosing what to see is a source of friction, albeit good-natured friction. And since we go with friends, others are involved. There is also the question of where to stay and where to eat. Lots of opportunities for trouble. Thankfully it usually is avoided by everyone's good sense. This year we saw Henry IV Part One and South Pacific. Now I like many of Will's plays (all right a few) but the histories just make me fall asleep.
He is such a snit too. Making fun of the lower classes whenever he could. Why should we be interested in Prince Hal and not his servant? Ask Will.
To my mind, South Pacific was the meatier play. Its theme of racism was certainly more relevant. Tell my husband that. And the music was sublime.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Novel Thing

Right now I am supposed to be working on a novel for an agent who expressed interest in the project as a novel in stories but didn't think it worked that way. But I am not doing it. I don't know if it is just I am resistant to changing it. Or that I don't know how to change it. Or, that as I look back on it, I don't believe it quite works and so don't want to spend more time on it.
I never wanted to do it to begin with. I don't feel I need to write a novel. I love short stories. I am happy I have had a couple dozen published. That's enough for me.
Or am I just a coward?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Book groups

I have belonged to a book group for about five years. We have seldom read a book without any literary merit. I can only think of one book actually. We read more fiction than non, but not exclusively. We have read poetry (1) and plays (2). We have read polemics (What Happened to Kansas) and memoirs (Personal History and Made in Detroit).
Mostly good or great books., right? Yet every month I find myself resistant to whatever the choice is. This month is impossible. Lonesome Dove. 847 pages of which I read not one word. My favorite book was Bel Canto (Patchett). The other ones I really liked, I had read before. Many I had read before actually.
About 25% have been classics like Pride and Prejudice, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Madame Bovary, East of Eden.
I stay in the group because I like the women. They are Democrats and thoughtful, caring people. That seems like a pretty good reason.
They read Megan Abbott's book "Die a Little" and came to her reading.
What more can I ask?

Monday, September 11, 2006

9-11 RIP

I have nothing profound to say about this date; I wish it had never happened; I wish we didn't respond to it through the agency of George Bush. I can't imagine a worse response. We went from victims to victimizers within months. We are now the most feared nation in the world.

The Kerrytown Bookfest was fun because I got to see three men and a woman I'm fond of: Tribe, Mrs. Tribe, Mitch Bartoy, and Bryon Quertermous. The actual panel was a bit predictable although to be fair, the crowd seemed to want answers to all those old questions. Crime writers are very entertaining and I am looking forward to Mark Billingham at Bouchercon already. Are the English born witty and urbane or do they learn it in school?

Thanks to Stephen Allan and Stephen Blackmoore, I think my rewrite of Monkey Justice is finally taking shape.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


The DFT in Detroit is having an Almodovar festival this fall and we saw Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown again. Very lively movie that holds up well, especially the lead actress and the pacing. Also saw Hollywoodland, about which I have little good to say. The acting was not good especially Adrian Brody who seemed to be acting in a spoof at times. Even Diane Lane seemed awkward playing a femme fatale. It looked good but even that didn't really produce the ambiance it should have had. I think a biopic might even have worked better. We should have felt Reeves' struggle to be a legitimate actor more fully. Why did we need to know so much about Brody's home life?

Went to my first University of Michigan football game . We were there for three plays when they postponed the game due to weather. We were on the second row and it took more than a half hour to climb to the top. I think that will also be my last game in The Big House.

Shocking to go into the original Borders in Ann Arbor and find only one copy of Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone and no copies of his other books. We must live in a real microcosm. To me he is a huge writer, but obviously the public is still reading Evanovich, Patterson etc. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

You tube

Does it make any sense that I love you tube? It's like a great treasure hunt, never knowing what you'll find there. Little clips from a million years ago. Some new video someone who loves The Office or Lost has made. How generous are these people who take the time to share the things they love with the rest of us. Just watched videos from Company with Elaine Stritch. How cool is that? Just don't tell anyone I do this. Please.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Katie Couric

I watched the first night of Katie and thought she was taking a moderate stance. The story on the debacle in Afghanistan seemed fair-minded. Thomas Friedman was his new more moderate self. Night Two was just to the right of FOX. The story on the agency tracking terrorists made it sound like there was one in every Bush and only this administration stood between us and anihilation. The interview with the President was even worse. Maybe she was trying to balance last night's broadcase, but it seems like she is going to use soft stories where she can take a caring stance to allow her to be a right winger on foreign and similar issues. Too soon to tell and it may be CBS more than Katie but it's worrisome. Esp when she said 20,000 people emailed her a signing off phrase.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Great Lines

Cornelia Read's got a ton of them in A Field of Darkess. I don't know if the crime part will pan out, but boy, this lady can write. She could be a contender for writing an updated version of His Girl Friday. She could be the queen of chick lit if there was any value in that.
I've even gotten past my disdain for books about the rich--well, almost. I had a specific line in mind when I started this, but lack of sleeps makes finding it difficult. Maybe later-or maybe not. Why should you get it for free?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Approaching The Fifth Anniversary

It occurred to me flying back home yesterday, we’ve got to get over the idea that Sept. 11th was an earth-stopping tragedy or we will never move forward but instead continue to wreak havoc in at home and abroad. Almost every nation in the world has suffered such things. Even Katrina wreaked more havoc for Americans in the long run. Unless we can put this behind us, we will continue down the path of destruction.Yes, it was a terrible, horrible thing but must we let it set our agenda forever.We are not exceptional except in our sense of entitlement.

It also occurred to me that these airlines are getting away with murder. Charging $2 for a bag of crap they used to give away. I'm 5'2" and can barely get my knees in front of me. What do the six footers do?

The Kerrytown Book Festival is this Sunday. I hope to go. Want to hear Mitch Bartoy and other notables. I pray the Free Press reviews Mitch this time out. Speaking of which, where has their book reviewer gone? They are using canned reviews of late.

Oh, the Detroit Tigers. Must they always break our hearts.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

La Moustache

Terrific movie although very enigmatic. I think it was about a man who loses his identity and invents a way to reclaim it. Maybe not. I live French movies. They are always both ordinary anbd extra-ordinary.

The Phila. Art Museum was terrific. Two photography exhibits-one on summer vacations, the other on photos which appeared in a famous gallery over the years. Forget the gallery owner's name, but lots of great stuff by Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans , etc. Photos tell stories. I guess that's what I like about them. This gallery has so many wonderful period rooms and lots of Impressionism. Wait till the Barnes Foundation joins in.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Sometimes I tell myself that Detroit and Philly are similar in their state of deterioration. And though Philly has some awfully sad sections, there really is no comparison in the downtowns. You can walk for a long time here and still find vibrant shops, restaurants and housing. There's no place like that in Detroit. No where. No decent shops at all in the city. People who live in Detroit must leave the city to shop. Or to walk.
Went to the Brandywine Valley today. Quite lovely. Amazing they haven't ruined it with modern housing tracts. The Wyeth Museum was interesting although there is something too staid in their painting. No surprises, No risks. No vivid colors or themes. Lovely like the flower that looks the same each spring.


Sometimes I tell myself that Detroit and Philly are similar in their state of deterioration. And though Philly has some awfully sad sections, there really is no comparison in the downtowns. You can walk for a long time here and still find vibrant shops, restaurants and housing. There's no place like that in Detroit. No where. No decent shops at all in the city. People who live in Detroit must leave the city to shop. Or to walk.
Went to the Brandywine Valley today. Quite lovely. Amazing they haven't ruined it with modern housing tracts. The Wyeth Museum was interesting although there is something too staid in their painting. No surprises, No risks. No vivid colors or themes. Lovely like the flower that looks the same each spring.