May 2008


I wasn’t there. I wanted to be. I’m a devoted Dylan admirer. I even like some of the Christian stuff, if you can believe it. His recent memoir, Chronicles, Volume One, was one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read by anyone. The song and performance selection here is dead-on. All the actors’ performances are good. Cate Blanchett is way cool. Hell, I even got into Richard Gere looking for his dog in Riddle. I “got” it all. I know enough Dylan minutiae to write my own multi-actor exercise in the self-conscious, but it felt too much like Trivial Pursuit: The Dylan Edition. It’s the victim of its own conceit. By giving us a half-dozen distilled Dylans, the film oversimplifies him instead of portraying his complexity. What’s fascinating about Dylan, about any of us really, is that he is who he is, a single person who changes and evolves. I’d be curious what someone relatively unfamiliar with Dylan might make of this film. I would imagine it would be unbearable. It had its moments, many of them, just enough to keep me watching until the end, but though there was a powerful, moving story to be told, buried under the busyness, it was emotionally flat, quite unlike Dylan’s art. I fear more to come. All those guys who used to mine Dylan’s garbage are probably putting together a traveling exhibit. The film makes clear the media have always stupidly mythologized Dylan, then jumps down that same rabbit hole.

People often ask me what it’s like to be a published author. Ed Schubert sent me this link, and I have to share: Book Launch 2.0

The good thing about being as obscure as I am—nobody begs you to write a sequel.

It’s school time again for me, with a new science fiction class starting last Monday. That means getting to reread old friends, The Stars My Destination and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? They keep getting better. Students are generally amazed how much they like Bester. I’m always amazed how much I like DADOES? I see new things, subtle nuances every time. I’m even starting to like his wacky adverbs. Scary thought—maybe I’m turning into Phil Dick. But God, thank God, hasn’t talked to me. Yet.

In reading about Dick on imdb, I came across these Dickisms:

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.

You would have to kill me and prop me up in the seat of my car with a smile painted on my face to get me to go near Hollywood.

I’m an obsessive writer and if I don’t get writer’s block I’d overload, short circuit and blow my brain out right away.

Sarah and I just got back from our honeymoon, a camping trip to several sites in southwest Virginia and a visit to old friends Randall Williams and Betsy Daniel on a mountaintop near Big Stone Gap. We started off in Galax for a bike ride on part of the New River Trail. Then we headed to Grayson Highlands State Park for three days of hiking in the area. There were lots of through hikers on the AT who would always greet us with a “nice day for a day hike” or something like that to remind us we weren’t lugging 50 pounds on our backs. Silly us. We went up to Mt. Rogers, highest point in Virginia, saw lots of wild ponies and gorgeous whitewater creeks, and generally had a spectacular time. The highlight, however, was visiting Randall and Betsy and their dog Maggie, a year old Great Pyrenees who is quite adorable and likes to wrestle. We spent three more days hiking the national forest with them. I have lots of photos of my fellow hikers’ backs but not much else. A few shots, however:

This colt was the most entertaining of the wild ponies. Shortly after this picture was taken, he tore about the clearing in a stiff-legged gait. The adults scrupulously ignored him.

Just listen to that. I love that sound.

Here, Randall and I are pulling duty on the space shuttle. Actually, that’s Randall and Betsy’s trailer where they reside while building a house.

In other news, I mailed the ms. of The Best Lucifer Ever to my agent today. Fingers crossed, everyone. Hell, pray for me if you want. Just don’t let on to God I’m not a believer. I’ve got enough troubles.

School starts in a week. I still have room in both classes.  Love to have you.