Life With Mr. Dangerous and Other Stories


A friend wrote “What is this frenzy of activity?” Answer: I made a deal with myself that all posts drafted over 1000 words had to be considered as possible essays and finished as such and sent out to magazines and sites.

This has created something of a backlog in my life, but in any case, that’s what’s happening. It doesn’t feel like a frenzy, though. More like the I Love Lucy episode where the candies keep coming faster but there’s no time, writer’s edition. I think this is just life though. In the meantime, I am reading September 28th at How I Learned To Survive in New York at the Happy Ending, and at Penina Roth’s Franklin Park on October 10th. The Franklin Park event will be fun, and I’ll preview the novel I’m finishing.


Other things you may wonder about: the novel I am finishing, perhaps. In any case, I’m working toward finishing this draft by Oct. 3rd and sending it to her. Some of you who are regulars here leave me great messages of encouragement, asking where it is sometimes. Thank you for this. This is helpful.

Do not lose hope, I will tell you, though, I nearly did, but around the time that I did, it was James Baldwin’s birthday, and I thought of all he wrote while the world was so terrible back then, and I realized it was lazy to use the idea of a terrible world as a reason to stop making things. Thre’s a word for this, accedia, also known as the sin of despair. It would only make the world more terrible to be someone who gives in to it, because, why be one more person who is like that? Why put even one more person on that team?


This is of course also the topic of an essay I’ve been writing off and on for years, and have never finished thus far because each time I think about despair, it is, well, difficult.

Yes, irony.


In the meantime, I direct you to this beautiful trailer for Paul Hornschmeier’s new book, Life with Mr. Dangerous. He is a genius, and you should get this book.


Other things outside of writing: For two weekends this month, I went to weddings. The first in Buffalo, the second in the Catskills. Both left me deeply moved. An essay idea I gave up on came back to me while on one of them, and I thought of a story for a story cycle also on another (now we are back in the I Love Lucy episode). I took notes and moved on back to the other commitments. But more importantly, congratulations to Jeb and Janice, and Keith and Chris, and long may love reign over you, your lives, your loved ones and all of us who know you.


Something I discovered to the side of both weddings: If you wonder what will happen in New York state if a disaster hits, the answer is, terrible things, for now. New York is not remotely prepared. On our drive to Buffalo earlier this month the levee outside Binghamton broke and flooded the town. We were caught in the evacuation traffic. The method of getting road information that was most successful involved standing in convenience marts and listening in while 17 volunteer EMT guys tried to give directions to one attractive young woman. No one else had any information whatsoever. Not on the radio, not on the web. A friend recounted calling the Sheriff’s office and listening as they yelled at each other about roads that were closed.

Worse, the information we got this way turned out to be wrong. Only by second-guessing the volunteer EMTs did we get around the flooded roads on the way back and avoid massive delays that would have come from taking their bad advice. But this, of course, was just part of the Republican fantasia that exists now, it seemed to me, something turning us into a people wandering across a crumbling infrastructure trying to escape dangerous waters released by melting ice caps that are now in the storm cycles, with no public services due to austerity cuts, all while these right wingers make us argue gay marriage as the world burns. This is why, for example, the volunteer EMTs were the one offering directions. There were almost no policemen on the road, and the ones we saw were directing traffic silently, and looked impatient to get away themselves. They said nothing to us as we passed them slowly on the highway.


Other things on the surface of my mind: Troy Davis would be alive if he was a white man. I can only hope his death brings with it real change in our country for the better, because his death happening as it did, with him waiting strapped to a gurney for hours while the Supreme Court met on his emergency appeal, dishonors us all. My heart goes out to his family. Gary Trudeau’s review of the Palin biography is genius. I’ve long known that Homophobia turns all boys against each other, for the way they fear being gay, whether they are or not, but here’s a study proving how this crushes their relationships with each other, friendships they desperately need. If you were thinking meanwhile “How can I get an ebook edition of that study from an indie bookstore?” here is a list of indies that sell Google editions. And if you want to escape the Republican fantasia with me tonight (the debates are on, and they’ll likely applaud the death of Troy Davis like, oh, I don’t know, Orcs?), I’ll be at Pete’s Candy Store, watching Emma Straub read with her idol, Jennifer Egan, who is a hero to me also.

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