January 2010


Sarah had a couple of days off for Lee-Jackson Day and Martin Luther King Day, and we needed to get away.  We both read The Big Sleep, stayed in a fabulous old downtown hotel for way cheap, and relied entirely on public transport, except for the bikes we rented in Santa Monica.  What a great town LA is, in its sprawling California way.  We went to Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice, Griffith Park, MOCA, La Brea tar pits, the market—the whole tourist experience.  Public transport was cheap, plentiful and efficient.  We found Californians incredibly friendly and helpful.  We had one spectacular crazy on a busride home.  Truly eloquent.  In Venice we resisted the Kush Doctors being advertised but rode with a herd of pub crawling med students who emanated a manic contact high of their own.  I’m contemplating putting them on the same bus with the crazy in some fictional busride.  The weather was luxuriously warm and exquisite until the very end when we were rained on a little, but we found great shelter in Birds on Franklin Avenue, a terrific place.  The bookstore down the way had a 1st edition hardback of Circuit of Heaven I signed for them.  Don’t have too many of those myself, but the price was too high for me.  Some pictures:  Me with a Short-faced bear at La Brea, the Griffith Observatory and LA from Griffith Park, and the Santa Monica Pier.

I don’t need to include a picture with this.  You already know what the blue people look like.  They eat at McDonald’s.  They’re noble savages.  We earthlings are assholes.  No surprises here.  I was prepped for this movie by friend Len Krueger who suggested I think Dances with Wolves, maybe even Pocahontas.  The bar was way low in other words.  I went by myself, probably the best way to see this movie so that whatever you like won’t be too embarrassing right after.  It doesn’t have a brain in its predictable head, but it totally sucked me into its 3D world, so that by the end I loved those 9 foot blue people.  I was never bored.  Whether this is art or mind control I don’t know, but I enjoyed the ride.  Get in touch with your inner earth goddess and surrender to the software.

Last year, April 27th, around 10:30 am, I almost died.  I had a burst artery in my heart, and I was losing consciousness.  I distinctly remember peering over an abyss, thinking, I’ve got to stop this.  I put my head between my legs and found the one aspirin in a bottle in my backpack and dry swallowed it.  I was sitting in this chair.  I remember that moment every single day, sometimes several times in one day.  I’ve made some changes since then, lost about twenty pounds, started running, see my life as a much shorter narrative than I had before.  We all like to think in terms of a series of trilogies.  Nobody wants to be a novella.  The quality, however, is what counts.  I love my life.  As 2010 begins, my first novel Wilderness is being reissued 20 years to the day after my agent told me she’d sold it.  The next issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction will contain a story of mine—a dream since adolescence.  And two stories I have a special fondness for, “Texas Beach” and “Healing Benjamin” will appear in terrific anthologies (Richmond Noir and Tails of Wonder and Imagination).  I wrote both these stories, both involving beloved pets, as I was struggling with the decision to euthanize Alice, a most wonderful dog I was privileged to share a life with.  I’m revising a YA novel, Cloverleaf, and have completed a draft of a thriller, The Recluse or The President’s Dog.  A favorite weird story, “The Art Disease,” will be appearing in John Klima’s excellent Electric Velocipede.  My kids are well and happy, I love my wonderful wife, and the new young pup is a joy.  Life is good, every single moment.  Happy New Year, everyone, and many more.