Would that I’m ever as happy as the terrier I saw yesterday morning outside the greasy spoon down the street, nattily attired in his blue and white checked bandanna and enjoying some breakfast potatoes for himself.
I’m reading Alan Le May’s The Searchers. You can tell if someone can write—I mean really write, not pretend MFA program write—in the space of a sentence. Or less.
There are some bits at the end of chapters where it's hammy--as in the one that concludes something like, "he was in love with is brother's wife." It's just too bare, too on the nose, too thrown in. Blend it in. But make us know it. Don't stick it in. The account of the Comanche raid, though, is devastating writing. Measured, powerful.
There should be a piece this coming Saturday in the Wall Street Journal on Sam Cooke's My Kind of Blues, so I must keep my eye out for an edit and make sure I provide a bio that can plug the 33 1/3 Sam Cooke book, which itself comes out in a couple weeks.
Yesterday, which marked 1890 days without a drink, or 270 weeks, I ran 5000 stairs. On Saturday I set a personal best with 20,000 stairs ran in a single day. I kept going back and did them in groups of 5000 with each trip. I'm easy to find and to know. People are now coming up to me and making comments about my routine and having seen me repeatedly. If one were a romantic--and not a sociopath--I would not be hard to meet.
I was admiring a woman's sweater on Saturday at the Dunkin' Donuts. A patchwork job, with four distinct portions to it of robust colors. As she was leaving, she said she liked my Green Day T-shirt--it's my current workout shirt--so I said what I was thinking about the sweater. I don't often admire sweaters, unless they are Halloween or Christmas sweaters.
I also saw a man wearing a T-shirt that read, "The only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it." You don't encounter much in the way of pro-addiction attire.
Must have seen Sir Butterball outside smoking a dozen times over the weekend, two of which sightings involved him lecturing/fighting with his hot girlfriend. I would not care to have Sir Butterball atop me, pumping away.
I mentioned this Orson Welles horror book to a publisher. Just touched on it quickly. Watched 1953's Return to Glennascaul again Saturday night. I think it's one of the finest horror films ever made. And it runs but twenty-four minutes.
I am still working on "Upon Becoming a Ghost." Going slowly. For me. Which will mean it took four or five days. It's a major work. There's nothing being written or published to touch what this is.
The story is about the one physical characteristic a ghost has--retains--after crossing over from the human world. The way it normally works, we're informed, is that the ghost signs away this remaining physical component, as a mere formality. But this one ghost decides not to so, and that's going to mean something quite important. It's every bit as moving as "Fitty." I've been thinking about the narrator the last few days. When you find out who the narrator is. It's just about the most amazing thing I've seen in fiction. That you could have a story told by a narrator like this. In a way, I'm dumbstruck that someone would ever think of it. You don't find out for a while who the narrator is. It's close to the end. And no, it's not like one of those, "Who was that? Well, that was me! I was that ghost!" It's nothing remotely of the kind. And no one would ever see it coming. But you could say to someone, "there is this story, and the narrator is..." and they'd be like, "What?!" These are some words from the story:
Almost anything in this world can be overrated. Overstated. Did you know that? You can overstate the intelligence of the smartest person who has ever lived. You can overrate the goodness of the most decent person there has ever been. But what you cannot overstate, overrate, “over”-anything—and I have this on exemplary authority—is the scope and efficacy—in other words, the raw materials of greatest foundational power—between two people connected in how explicitly and implicitly, how totally, they trust each other.
It's a story to shred your soul, but make it stronger in the end. Works like this, as I make them, as I look at them again, it's like having the sun itself in this awful little room. Not some wretched pointless, formulaic, pretentious, prose-drool that I see in the New England Review or whatever. If the people who produce the prose-drool are doing writing, then I'm doing something completely different. We need different names.
The story will go into The Ghost Grew Legs: Stories of the Dead for the More or Less Living. I was looking at some comments someone made regarding the title story, regarding which they astutely said that what it was really about was what it means to have a soul. Yes. That is correct. Bang on.
I’m 1977, when he had one of the handful of greatest seasons by a catcher in baseball history, Carlton Fisk hit everywhere from 3-9 in the Red Sox’ line-up. Surprising.
I feel like Pernell Roberts—Adam on Bonanza—could have done great books on tape of the works of Melville and Hawthorne. Not that Melville and Hawthorne are similar writers. Hawthorne tells tales. Melville freights narratives. Do you understand the difference? Hawthorne is a New England wind in autumn--it passes through. Melville is a hurricane that has come to the northeast, which stays a spell.
Best three American dance bands: Duke Ellington’s orchestra, Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, the Grateful Dead.
I listened to the first volume of the Wills Tiffany Transcriptions, the whole of which I see I wrote about for The American Interest once, The Amazing Bud Powell, Vol. 1, Dean Martin's Dean "Tex" Martin Rides Again, Muddy Waters' At Newport 1960.
Awoke to learn that the Red Sox lost, which was fairly hard to do, as they were up 4-0 decently late when I last saw it. Patriots had their final preseason game. I think Mac Jones has a chance to be named the starter, regardless of Newton having started all three preseason games. I'lll give him a forty percent chance. I'm wondering how hurt he is with that knee brace he wears. If he's hurt already, that doesn't bode well. It may be the only reason he's not starting when the season opens.