Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy or,Updates of Sorts

It’s been months since I posted here. I won’t bore you with my take on current events. No, I just want to pimp some stuff here.

On the home front, I recently completed an interview for a podcast at The New Panic Room Radio Show. You can find out more about The New Panic Room by visiting their web site. We talked about Under the Bronze Moon, my fantasy novel published by Sinister Grin Press.

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I also answered eleven questions in which you can hear me talk about why I’d abolish the internet if I was God for a day. Also, I explain why I think Sling Blade (Mmm-hmm) is the worst movie ever. Okay, maybe I don’t explain it but I remain steadfast in my conviction. So give the podcast a listen. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole show you can fast-forward to the 58:00 mark when my interview begins.

There will be news soon about my next novel, To Dream the Blackbane (Between the Lines Publishing, 2018). It is a dark fantasy concerning a hybrid private eye (half-man, half-dog) who just can say no when it comes to taking on jobs, no matter how deadly they may be.  Stay tuned for cover reveal, release date, links to reviews, etc.

Where books are concerned, I recently read Chump Change by Dan Fante. The author was the son on writer John Fante (Ask the Dust). He died in 2015. Chump Change reads like Bukowski, but Fante portrayed the pain of addiction much better than Bukwoski ever did. I am also revisiting some other semi-autobiographical novels—Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer (and Capricorn), and some others in the coming months in preparation for my own semi-autobiographical novel that will be a foray into more realist fiction.

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Also, I recently succumbed to reading A Game of Thrones. I may or may not make it through the whole series. Don’t get me wrong. George R.R. Martin is good. It’s just that, like so many others, I watched the HBO series first. Over the years, people I know tried talking me into reading the Songs of Fire and Ice series. But I never got around to it.

Lastly, I recently watched The Hangover again. I’ve decided that there’s something inherently sad about the plight of those characters. My suspension of disbelief ended when Mike Tyson punched out Alan (Zack Galifianakis) and Alan ended up living through it.

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I’m joking. Alan needed to live.

More news soon…

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Franny & Zooey, Kenya & Holden

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Seymour once said to me – in a crosstown bus, of all places – that all legitimate religious study must lead to unlearning the differences, the illusory differences, between boys and girls, animals and stones, day and night, heat and cold.”

~J. D. Salinger, Franny & Zooey

So this semester I’m teaching Franny & Zooey by J.D. Salinger. Perhaps a more accurate way of putting this is that I am reading this book again along with my classes (two, actually; not a single student has read the book before now…it’s that…or they don’t want to admit as much).

There are variety of reasons why I love this book; maybe even more so than Catcher in the Rye and that novel, as it did for so many others around the world over many decades, stayed with me for a long time. With Catcher in the Rye, when I was young I identified with Holden’s take on phonies, etc. It wasn’t until I got older, of course, that two things happened. First, I realized that despite what a ton of critics may have written, Salinger was, and remains so at least for me, one fine stylist. Second, there’s great humor in Catcher in the Rye.

This little entry, however, is in part about Salinger and the Glass family. And I might as well put it out there now: Lane Coutell was a great example of ego and the type of personality that is furthest removed from communion with any sort of Absolute. Of course, at least how I see it, Franny & Zooey teaches us that getting closer to God—if any of us are truly capable of such a thing—will not happen through reading so-called holy books.

Having revisited these two long stories, I have become as of late enamored with the idea of characters that cross over from one story to the next. Salinger as an author was not alone in pulling this off. However, his characterization of the Glass family is one that is detailed and original and despite what some of my students think there are lessons to be learned in such a book as Franny & Zooey.

I am thinking that come fall, and the powers that be give me the green light, I want to pair Catcher in the Rye and Asali Solomon‘s Disgruntled on my next syllabus.

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These are two novels decidedly different books on the surface, but they both offer a look, in part, at disillusionment and alienation in adolescence. Moreover, these two novels deal with a young person’s place in the world—though the world Salinger presents in his novel and the one Solomon portrays in her novel exist on opposite ends of the spectrum, and while Salinger’s story of Holden Caulfield begins and ends in adolescence—a rather affluent adolescence, Solomon’s novel takes us on a journey with Kenya Curtis that is much more encompassing.

If you haven’t read Franny & Zooey, I urge you to give it a go. Chances are if you’re reading this then you may have already read Catcher in the Rye (by choice or it may have been assigned to you, even against your will, back in high school at some point). And if you haven’t read Asali Solomon’s Disgruntled please do yourself a favor. Disgruntled is a novel that, in my humble opinion, will be read for a long time to come. I can only hope that Solomon, like Salinger, offers us more stories concerning the people that populate this flawless work.