Archive for the ‘E Books’ Category
For a girl who spent nine years in Catholic school, John Updike was like a burst of sunshine in my sheltered black and while view upon the world. I first read smatterings of the “Rabbit” books in college. They made me feel as if, while attending a rural university, that I was part of something far more sophisticated. His writing sparked my interest in reading the New Yorker. I had dreams of finishing my international law degree and setting off to some big place, to get involved in the big world. While I sat under the cherry blossoms of Michigan State University, waiting for my life to begin, a small part of me had already left.
A few years later, with the realization that the world could do with one less lawyer, a major life decision sent me back home to small town America. I was going backwards; from back country to tiny suburbia. Life had happened while I was planning other things. While I packed Updike’s works in the move to my postage stamp sized life, staring at the spine of his novels made me depressed. They were a reminder of things I hadn’t accomplished. What had once been a ticket to something greater than myself suddenly became a reminder of what might have been. Updike had no place in the sleepy, low income summers of cheap beer and weekend back yard barbeques. I traded my subscription to the New Yorker for that of Parent Magazine. At one point, a friend who came to visit asked to borrow my copies of Updike’s works. Like most loans, the books never came back and I didn’t send notice for them either.
I didn’t rediscover Updike until later, after I’d moved out to my tiny, quiet suburban farm where long, high fences made good neighbors and the mail was delivered by rural route drivers. Since the move, I’d learned some new footing; placing one by way of short jaunts to Chicago via train and the other firmly planted in a solitude where the surrounding forest whispered. I was older, in my thirties and had my own thoughts. I’d given up regret as a useless pass time and replaced it with a slow and steady trek into forging my own path. Updike’s “The Witches of Eastwick” found a place at my bedside table. My husband’s work kept him away for weeks at a time and on occasion, longer. The “witches” were solitary women as well; raising their children in ways low income suburban America didn’t approve. They too had taken to farms and far away places where the whispers of the trees were louder than the gossip of town. The inspiring notion of these characters was that the witches didn’t care about the gossip either. They had each other. They had themselves. Independent, free spirited women who eeked out a meager wage, living off of their art.
While many critics, many of them femenists had complained that the witches were a negative representation of the modern woman, I whole heartedly disagreed. Updike had taken the real mix of the feminine mystic, the down to earth loving mama and painted her with a power that both seduced and frightened men all the while keeping an eye on the milestones of their children. He had worked his own magic on me. I again felt as though I were part of something bigger than myself.
When his interview on NPR aired a few months ago, I sat in my car, parked in a music student’s driveway and walked in the lesson fifteen minutes late in order to hear Updike talk about his sequel, “The Widows of Eastwick”. That same radio station just last week informed me of Updike’s passing away from a battle with lung cancer. In a way, those of us who delved into his writing, whether critic or fan, socialite or urban wanna be, are all widows now. The literary world has lost a bright voice in the darkness.
This spot on the website is typically dedicated to a review of what I’m reading, watching or listening to. On occassion, one finds that real life has a bit more to offer and while I do have this month’s book pick ready to upload, I did want to share the following. I hope it inspires readers to hit the keyboard running with their own warped version of the truth.
A colleague of mine was listening to my latest podcast, “Santa Claws”. She said she didn’t think a horror story could also be so funny and wondered where did I come up with the inspiration? Some writers may write from a muse; a source of inspiration; something civilized like music or a mentor. Then, there would be my source, the absolute bull dog fight to stay sane in a family that should have become a tv miniseries. I used to tell people that I didn’t start writing horror stories until I had teenagers. For the most part, that saying is true. Recently, I remembered that there is one exception to that rule of thumb….the holidays.
For years, I have secretly stolen away into the dark corner of my office around this time of year. All of the things I wanted to say to a well pickled relative at Thanksgiving dinner, who had indulged in three quarters of my $35/bottle vodka was set free in the confines of fiction. The stark contrast between the still life disfunctionality of family and the illusion of holiday sparkle and perfection which typically grinds my teeth is the perfect vehicle for plot twists as well as tongue and cheek humor in a story.
There is no sweeter revenge, dear readers than spending Thanksgiving dinner is a silent rage, going home and writing. That real life relative becomes a fictional character. Then, said character is at the mercy of my keyboard morality. Taking advantage of great grandma’s generocity? I think your character needs to fall prey to a demon possession that sucks your youthful vitality right out of you and then requires you to painfully escape a pit full of stinging insects. Passing judgement on someone at the table who is down on their luck while your own closet o’ skeletons is bursting at the seams? No problem! I can reveal a skeleton per chapter if you keep that up! By Christmas Day, when everyone is dreading the uncle who farts and belches, I sit happily thinking to myself about how I will make him a slug in my next podcast.
In years past, I have often written my holiday story in secret, felt relief and then deleted all of the lessons that I surely won’t be able to get across to the real lifers. That’s the difficult thing about family. You can’t change who you love and would you really love someone if you changed them to fit your own neat little niche in the world? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe there’s another story in the asking of that very question.
This year, bright and early came several instances of particular stress including my daughter’s secret tongue piercing that only wasabi and sushi could reveal. a new beau for my mother, a new law suit in the family and a music performance schedule gone wrong to bring about a story I decided to share. I know, I know. I never share!
Maybe I snapped. Maybe its the economy and two years of politics that helped me find my dark sense of humor. But no one was more suprised to find I could write both horror and humor simultaneously than me.
While the holidays still make me feel as though I am spinning uncontrollably downward in a death spiral whose only hope in January 2, I have decided to be thankful. Here’s my Thanksgiving resolution. I’m thankful for the absoulte whackjob, hard drinking, prudish, snobby, judgemental, illusional, delusional members that I call, reluctantly but lovingly my family. I raise a glass and toast red punk hair dye, youtube revelations, Motor City John Wayne, old age, wild youth, back stabbing and secret keeping.
You are all inspiration of a different sort. But remember this as you’re throwing back your sixth Grey Goose martini at my bar, whispering about how I ruined your son’s life or speculating as to whether or not my children will finish college and make something of themselves. I’m warning you now. I’m officially taking up the mantle of writer. And if you aren’t careful, you just may end up in my novel some day!
Here is a link to Santa Claws, the 2008 holiday short
Here is a link to Dark Matter, the sci fi/horror novel currently published weekly(almost) at my website and at I-tunes.com
Kitchen Confidential drips with respect, raw honesty and a style that inspires eveyone to think about what we eat and who is serving it. I’ll never look at a restaurant the same way. I’ll never take for granted the chef and the crew that create each plate I may tuck into on any particular night I’m out. Bourdain shows behind the scenes of the art of food, the nasty bits of business that always follow art and the heart and soul of the true artists who live by a code of passion