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Now, EU, "Field," "Sumall," shelves, sweat, spermatic

Monday 9/13/21

At London's Alexandra Palace in November of 1989, the Stone Roses took the stage with frontman Ian Brown saying "the time is now, do it now."


I say this to myself presently. Buckle down. Push. Be brave. You are the just cause. This is how we beat these people. Dents are being made. Make more. Something is going to give.


Granola is always underrated. And when I eat it, I feel like I’m Meriwether Lewis taking a well-deserved break on the side of the trail. The kind of fellow with a rucksack and the feathers of a bird on his person.


The fall issue of Post Road has this short story of mine in it called "The Last Field."


This is the Downtown interview from last Tuesday, which covers a short story of mine called "The Captain's Walk," radio adaptations of "The Tell-Tale Heart" and The Devil and Daniel Webster, the 1934 film The Phantom of the Monastery, and 1961's The Innocents.


There's been a development. I've had this story in my head now--and I've had the two main characters of this story--for about a year. I've put off writing this--well, I haven't put off writing it; I've been waiting to write it--because I know it's going to have a unique power. I'm going to be rocked to my foundations. I am in for the most intense creation. I've also delayed because I've had a different feeling. That this was going to be something else. What that something else is going to be, I now know, is a novel. I could do both--a story and a novel--with these two characters, and maybe I will. But how should I put this? I feel summoned. I feel like one of the reasons I exist, why I was put into this world, was to write this novel. I have to figure it out. I have this particular story of these two individuals. That was the story. This is going to be more than that story. Then again, their story is the story, and it's the novel. I know these two people intensely already. I was saying to someone that it's hard for me, because I create these characters--and I guess you could say they create me--and we have this limited amount of time together. Often we only have a day. And these are the truest, deepest connections there are. Or it's four days or whatever it is. And then we go our separate ways. That's hard for me. I don't look back, because I only move forward. And you know what? They do, too. Wherever they are going in their journey, their lives. Because they are more real than real. Then I have to create more, and be created by more. But to leave something like "Fitty," or "Dead Thomas," or "Upon Becoming a Ghost," is not easy. It's a ripping. A ripping that has to happen, but a ripping all the same. I don't mean, "oh, fly little bird, fly my little story." I mean that you can't avoid being so close to these people if you come to them openly, free of bias, and let them into your life. I want to spend some more time with these two. This particular two. At the same time, I'll be doing everything else. Let's be honest--I'll probably be writing other novels at the same time, too. I'm not going to put up any excerpts from this novel on here. I am not going to share any excerpts with anyone. There won't be emails to the Inner Circle with a page or two. I'm not even going to share the title. For the sake of this record, I'll simply refer to it as EU each time, starting now. And one day--which isn't going to be so very far off--I will step forward with the full book. It will just be done. I also need a new challenge. I know the final lines on the final page.


I have to finish Musings with Franklin, and really focus on this first Beatles book. Of course, I have about twenty books right now (Cheer Pack, Longer on the Inside, Glue God, The Ghost Grew Legs, The Root of the Chord, There Is No Doubt) for which I'm ready to put my name on a contract. The book on To Walk the Night and the publishing industry/current state of writing could be written in two weeks, and also the follow-up to Meatheads. And the book on walking/stair running.


Yesterday marked 1904 days, or 272 weeks, without a drink. On Saturday I ran 2000 stairs. Yesterday I walked ten miles and ran the BC stairs ten times. I was waiting for the bus with a covey of college women to get myself back to Cleveland Circle to grab the T, when I just could not stand dripping any more, so I took off my Bruins beanie, and for the first time, I rung it out. Goodness the amount of sweat that flowed out of that hat and made a puddle on the ground. It was quite shocking, actually. Then I looked up at the watching college women, and did some version of a smile, but I am not sure the exact kind. Definitely had a "behold my liquid!" aspect, though. Then again, that gets us into "there's more where that came from" territory, which has a slightly spermatic vibe. Still.


Text a few nights ago: "Even though this is harder than ever, I feel like I'm becoming more successful all the time."


Letter from a couple days ago:


"This is a masterpiece I wrote this morning, that you should read today. It's a 9/11 story, but without being anchored to a day or event or series of events. You want to touch on something with enough clues that people can think it's about that something (while being about other things as well), but you also don't want to brand a work with the limitations of a fixed point in history. You want to make a sweeping wave with the arm, rather than point with a single finger. People can surmise what you're talking about, but it also doesn't have to be that--or not 'just' that, if will. Not to downplay tragedy. The story is 1600 words long, and is called 'Sumall.' The language is so limpid and efficient. It's powerful."


That was on the morning of 9/11. I'd gone to the diner to get some coffee, not having a working coffee maker at the moment. There were these two older women outside, and one of them said to the other words to the effect of "I have no choice now," and as soon as I heard that, I thought, "right, got it." I had an entire story I hadn't planned to write. All just by going to get a coffee. The story was complete--and it's masterful--while the coffee was still warm. The title refers to what the protagonist think of that time between summer and fall. She creates this word, along the lines of brunch. And there's also the mathematical corollary of the sum of all. The toll corollary. How far the sum really goes in the impacting and changing of lives. For each year this woman makes a phone to someone it would have seemed so unlikely that she ever would have phoned at all. It's a beautiful work.


Listened to a lot of Radiohead, the Beatles at the Beeb, the Vaccines' new album, the Grateful Dead in Europe in 1972, outtakes from Dylan's Blood on the Tracks sessions. “Idiot Wind” is “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” in reverse and faster. The latter is a kind of willing freighting, the former a must-go-for-it unburdening. Radiohead's I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings is similar to the Who's Live at Leeds--the original release--in that the live experience has been boiled down to an essence. The Who album is a portion of a show; the Radiohead album is comprised of selections from several shows. Their lengths are similar, their intensity similar. That's an interesting debate: how best to make a live album? Present everything that happened on that evening? Take selections to create a different kind of whole? The experience of listening to Radiohead at Oxford in 2001 is much different from listening to I Might Be Wrong, which features material from the former.


I acquired a pumpkin. One of those medium-sized ones. As I do each year, I hope that it is a pumpkin of great sincerity, and thus my fortunes will change, for that is how my variety of the Great Pumpkin would work.


On the way back from BC, I stopped at Coolidge Corner, and went into the Brookline Booksmith, and discovered this on the shelf:



The book was the #1 new release in Soul and R&B on Amazon the other day. This morning I wrote a 1500 word guest post for the 33 1/3 blog. I'll do a bunch. I proposed a book on the TV series Cheers.


Let's run some stairs, son. And then back to write an op-ed.