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Showing posts from September, 2014

Some First Sentences are Meaner to Their Mamas than Other First Sentences

On the last song on side two of what I believe was The Smiths' finest album, The Queen is Dead (though long may she live!), Morrissey made the obvious, but still amusing, observations that "some girls are bigger than others" and "some girls' mothers are bigger than other girl's mothers".  Here is the song, if you like, for your listening (dis)pleasure: "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others".   I believe the same obvious (hopefully amusing?) observation can be made of first sentences in certain iconic novels. 

Consider what is arguably the corpulent mother of all first sentences, from The Life and Opinions ofTristram Shandy, Gentleman ...

"I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing; - that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, bu…

Rachel Resnick's autograph (Love Junkie: A Memoir)

There's a shocking and downright revolting scene of self-degradation in Gravity's Rainbow that almost made me gag the first time I read it — the only time I will ever read it, it was so gross, thank you very much, Mr. Pynchon! — that I never thought in a gazillion years I'd see another variation of in serious literature again, until reading Rachel Resnick's riveting memoir, Love Junkie, chronicling the years of her harrowing sex addiction and self-destructive spiral into increasingly exploitative (if not abusive) relationships the like of which cost her so much psychologically and emotionally I'm frankly floored she came through the chaos with what was left of her shredded sanity and self-esteem intact enough to write so rationally and well about the ruinous experiences that might have driven anyone else not as resourceful to suicide.  Her lust for sex and acceptance almost killed her.  But she survived.  And I have her autograph and inscription to prove it! See?

Meeting My Grandfather on Route 66, Vol. V (Kansas & Missouri)

Into Kansas at
1:05.  Baxter
Springs thru
"archway" of lake
Yalena, Kansas


Only six lines for Kansas.  Route 66 barely cut through the southeast corner of the state for a handful of miles, as it angled increasingly northeast toward Chicago and into Missouri.

Into Missouri

at 1:34.  Into
Joplin¹ at 1:45.  In
city, a young boy drove
up by car and
ask where we
were from.  Said
he was from
Redlands but
had been back
here about 6 mo.


Into Carthage
Leave U.S.
66 here for
first time
since leaving
California.  And
take 71 U.S.

as far
as Nevada
Came by camp
Clark Missouri
National Guards
south of Nevada
Leave U.S. 71
and take U.S. 54
out of Nevada, east


over terrible rough
detour and had
a flat tire.  Stopped
to fix it at 6:05
start on at
Happened to be in
shade to change
Car registers
29937 when
he² put on
new Riverside
tire.  Back on
54 at 7:12

Seems like Heaven
if it can just


last on pavement
Stop at Bolivar
Mo. at Bolivar
Camp at 7:20
Had drove 418 mi
miles today
To bed…

Archaic Review Copy Paraphernalia; or, How Publishers Once Actually Routinely Marketed Even Unknown & Unproven Literary Talent (case in point: The Night Letter by Paul Spike)

Interesting find today.  Tucked into the front flyleaf of Paul Spike's first novel published under his real name, The Night Letter (Spike also authored Jabberwocky under one of his noms de guerre "Ralph Hoover"), was his promotional shot (replete with typewritten credits); an official postcard from G.P. Putnam's Sons for reviewers; and an 11"x17" tri-fold gushing letter of praise from a member of their marketing department (a publisher with an actual marketing department with a budget for new writers -- who knew?) mailed to every major and minor book reviewer in the U.S.A. and to several prominent others around the world.

These days, even established writers (some National Book Award winning writers), find themselves on their own when it comes to marketing their latest novels.  They must approach venues like Goodreads or LibraryThing and hope some amateur reader will "interview" them regarding their new book.  Or, if they're (un)lucky, in lieu…