I have very few complaints in life right now, and those that I do have are ones predicated on the loss of some undeserving great fortune I’ve had–the sort of fortune that is the whim of fate and when it leaves you can only be grateful that it ever arrived in the first place. So on this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for all the wonderful family, friends and loved ones in my life, and for what seems to be a crack of light rising on the horizon, ever growing, that just may be the glow of a future whose doors had seemed closed for a long time. Here’s to those doors opening further for all of us, and for more grateful Thanksgivings to be had beyond those doors.
Happy Birthday, new book. It’s been a long time now that I’ve been home from Japan, but when I dip my head back into the pages of this book that I wrote there, it all comes back again.
I’ve heard it noted in the acknowledgements pages of many books, as well as in passing conversation, that writers always forget to thank someone in their books, and while I feel pretty good about the acknowledgements in my first novel, I have found that I’ve forgotten to thank a few really important folks in this second one. Remembered too late.
Thank you, Susan Groppi and Karen Meisner, for the most wonderful Christmas package I’ve ever received from anyone. I’d been missing home by that point for a while, and all the stuff you sent allowed me to pretend I was home for the Christmas season, at least.
And thank you to the Speculative Literature Foundation, who awarded me a travel grant to visit Kyoto for some research on the place for a section of this book.
I hope a belated thanks here instead will make up for a little bit of my forgetfulness.
Dear All You Youngstowners and those who will be hereabouts come this weekend,
This Saturday will be one big party downtown. Why? Because I’m throwing a party for the release of my new book, which comes out tomorrow, The Love We Share Without Knowing. There will be food (cross-cultural selections, since the book is set in Japan) and drink (wine and sake), and art (from the Artists of the Mahoning Commons), and though last year we also had music, this year we will be directing you down to the Cedars Lounge, where my favorite local band, The Zou, will be celebrating the release of their first CD, Archeopteryx. Together, it will be a celebration of the local talent that inhabits this little Rust Belt city.
The Love We Share Without Knowing Release Party will be held at the Oakland Center for the Arts, on Boardman Street downtown, from 7-10 PM. Come drink, be merry, listen to me read a section of the novel. Then head down two blocks to Cedars for the Zou’s New CD Release Party from 10 to 2 PM (23 N. Hazel).
It’s going to be a fun evening. I hope to see you out.
The other night, I was running in the university gym, and on one of the television screens above my head, CNN was running some segment that had something to do with Wall Street and the stock market plunging, and they kept cutting to different business-y looking people, who were obviously saying all kinds of stuff. I didn’t have earphones in, so I couldn’t hear what was being said, but it wasn’t hard to tell it was all about what’s happening with the American economy. What struck me, though, was the banner at the bottom of the screen. You know, the one that is the headline? It said, “Is Greed Bad?”
I have been perplexed, or baffled, or confused–something–since that evening. I keep thinking about that headline. Is Greed Bad?
For me the answer isn’t a hard one. What confused me was it being asked at all. I know it’s just CNN, and you know, news people are always writing somewhat silly headlines all the time, to make things sound, I don’t know, nuanced maybe, or freighted with meaning or importance. But this question? Is it really something that Americans are confused about to the extent that it becomes a serious question? Yes, I think so, and there is a lot of evidence of that historically, not just in the past eight years or so. I wish it were the kind of thing that wasn’t so confusing to people, though. I keep thinking some of it must have to do with not being able to recognize what greed even looks like.
I was interviewed by one of the local newspapers the other day. It was on the phone, though, so apparently when I was using the word “communal” and “communality” the reporter was hearing “commonality” which is fine, because there is that shared-ness in the word “commonality” that works just fine for the meaning I was trying to get at, too.
I like the picture of me and my books. The photographer was an older fellow who’s been a photographer on staff for decades, he said, and hadn’t been on my street in years. “I love these old North Side homes,” he told me, and promptly went to my dining room where he found the best lighting like a dog sniffing out a foxhole.
Less than a week to go. Fingernail-biting begins.
Life is busy, as usual, here. It’s the end of the semester, so school is actually coasting along from my point of view as a teacher; from my point of view as a student in a low residency MFA program, though, it’s still all uphill. Essays to write, business plans for hypothetical literary ventures. Eventually last of the term essays to grade for my own classes, and fiction portfolios to peruse for grading. And getting ready for my next novel to come out next week. On Tuesday. I can’t believe it’s time already. I’m looking forward to the release party I’ve been planning the past couple of weeks for down at the Oakland Center for the Arts on the 29th. If you’re around, stop by. 7-10 PM. Books, food, wine, sake, art, a reading. It should be a good time. And my favorite local band, The Zou, is holding a debut CD release party two blocks down from the Oakland, at Cedar’s, later that evening, so come over there afterward, and it’ll be an even better good time.
Today my car stalled on the way to work. It was out of gas. I’ve never run out of gas while driving. The worst thing is that as soon as I saw the gauge was on empty, I remembered seeing that two days ago, and somehow I never did anything about it. This, my friends, is surely a sign that I have too many things taking up my brain space, and not everything that needs to get done is getting done. I so look forward to the winter holiday. And New York City, where I’ll be between the 12th and 19th, doing a radio interview on Hour of the Wolf WBAI, and reading at KGB Bar with Alaya Dawn Johnston. So if you’re around the city at that time, tune in, or come to the reading, say hi. I’ll be enjoying not being at work or taking classes. Life will in general feel paced a little more slowly. A good thing.
Oh god, I’m in a Christmas play down at the Oakland too, the weekend before going to New York. Obviously this auto-pilot thing is not working and soon I will have to take control of my life by sequestering myself away from people, and becoming a recluse. I bet recluses feel like they have a lot of time on their hands. I can see the attraction.
Have good T’givings, all.
Another wicked good collection of short stories, The Drowned Life, by Jeffrey Ford. Ford’s short stories are some of the best being written today. The have the weirdness and fantastical approach to describing reality that we find in original practitioners of the American short story, like Hawthorne and Poe, as well as the gritty realism that readers have become accustomed to in the short story form over the years. What I enjoy most about a Jeffrey Ford story is that they always capture some essence of the human condition, or create a new way to understand something about our lives that, before reading the story, seems invisible. Take a chance on this book, even if you don’t tend to read short stories.
Also, I have not yet learned how to save images from websites on my MacBook yet, so I’m without a cover image here. Anyone want to tutor me? Feel free to send me a message or leave a comment.
A friend writes five minutes after Ohio has been called for Obama and says that he’s immediately fallen in love with my state now.
I feel the same way, with a small variation on the feeling, though. I feel like that unsure partner who receives a sign that perhaps it’s okay to put yourself back into this relationship wholeheartedly. In my house, everyone watching the election together burst into a collective cheer, then a huge sigh of relief. It seems something was settled for us.
I hope that feeling can last.
Another TIme Magazine feature in the same week, this time down the road from Kinsman to Youngstown, with my friends Deb Weaver (of Youngstown Moxie fame–see blogroll) and Jan Pentz speaking, as well as the mayor, a smart guy. A good portrait, once again, of people coming at this political dilemma from a variety of angles. I guess we’ll find out which angle wins for the next four years tonight.
I’ll be glad when the election is settled, but it’s certainly been nice to see the people of this place find some voices in the national media over the past year or two because of all this, and our part in it. I dare say I wonder if, like it has not been time and again after past elections, there might be some sort of continuing change here and in places like it after this election fades into our background again.