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Thursday 4/9/20

I walked seven miles yesterday. Wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News which I would assume will be out Sunday on what I call the Easter Challenge. It's good. Wall Street Journal assigned a sports op-ed. Short story "That Night" will be in the June issue of London Magazine. I did the final edits on short story "Post-Fletcher" for F(r)iction--unique, clever, touching ghost story. Learned who The Atlantic's fiction editor is and they now have "Six Feet Away." Edits should be in hand tomorrow for next feature in The American Interest, which is on Daniel Defoe and COVID-19. I'm writing a piece for them, too, on F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise and the college novel in the post-liberal arts world, with a stop at "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" and the foolishness--mindlessness--that dominates writing today where fiction has become a form of fake autobiography and identity politics where invention is shunned and discouraged.


I may also be writing about the upcoming Michael Jordan/Chicago Bulls docu-series The Last Laugh for them. I have to screen it first. Gave the people at Harvard Review a last chance to curb the discrimination before it's blog time. Had it. Had it years ago. Really had it now. This is Tuesday's Downtown segment. Renan/Christ essay will be in The Smart Set on 4/16. I have a piece in the April JazzTimes on McCoy Tyner. Began final proofing of the galleys for Meatheads Say the Realest Things galleys yesterday. Publisher wrote me to say in reading it again she was struck by how truly heart-wrenching it was. The funniest book is also among the most heart-wrenching. You can read it fast once (and we used a nice, big font; you whip through it page-wise, laugh often, and as you whip through it page-wise, the emotionalism accrues at its own rate, stacking and stacking; it's the deepest of literary and reading experiences in a book that is the easiest book to read that there is; that's what I was going for, and that's what I pulled off), and it repays many repeated readings.


There's nothing like it. Is that good? Is that bad? I used to think that was the best, what you wanted, but here we are in this culture where mediocrity reigns, and everything is a tired retread of a tired retread, and marketing is set up to celebrate tired retreads, and people are accustomed to tired retreads, and look only for tired retreads. Dave Brubeck cut Time Out in 1959, this masterpiece of a record that sold millions of copies, too, and the label didn't want to put it out. The marketing people had no clue what to do with it, they thought it was crazy, just because it was in different time signatures. It wasn't crazy. It made perfect sense as art and entertainment. Great art, mass entertainment. That's what I do. The marketing people and the record label thought it was crazy because they were lazy, unimaginative, autopilot robots, who couldn't bother to think, to apply so much as a single original thought to what they saw and heard. It's the same now, but worse. Marketers, publicists, they just spam email, they never think, and they say "this is like this and this," and that's the end of it. Maybe it gets the reaction that this and this got. There is no ambition, no drive, no effort.


Speaking of men writing about women--I spent all of today, from six in the morning until now, after ten, working on or thinking about a new short story, "Green Glass Door," another COVID-19 work, and it is that vein of "First Responder," "Fitty" and "Six Feet Away"--a story tied to something in the news cycle that is also a story for all-time, unified in action, time, place.


This is, more or less, what the back cover text of Meatheads will say. As per my policy, there will be no blurbs. Never again, even if I am selling millions of copies of my books, will there a blurb on a Colin Fleming book. I will not lick anyone's boots, I will not play their twisted, petty, arse-tonguing fish bowl, fiefdom, doll house reindeer games. There is nothing less sincere than their blurb culture, and if a blurb means anything to you you shouldn't be reading in the first place. Because none of that's real. There isn't a sincere blurb in the entire publishing world. And I am not going to share space anywhere on a book of mine with any other author who has ever lived, and I don't care if God takes up his pen and wants to write a blurb. Never again. My books, my work, my art, that's what you get. Bullshit-free zone.


“...in grammar school he was Rad Chad. At football with his teammates he was known as Chad the Gonad. Some science doofus in eighth grade called him Chad the Impaler because he hooked up with lots of girls but he didn’t understand that reference. Maybe it came from a book. Books could be problematic. Also, frightening.”

Meet Chad, a full-fledged Boston meathead—and gym-buff social misfit—whose shaky grasp of reality is anchored mainly by his unswerving loyalty to the New England Patriots. In twenty darkly hilarious chapters that follow Chad and his head-scratching brand of masculinity as he navigates through a perplexing post-#MeToo landscape of exasperated therapists, confused ex-girlfriends, symphony outings, art fairs, field trips, writing workshops, wine stores, and sexually transgressive ducks, Colin Fleming has created a devastating and uproarious meditation on the human need—and eternal hope—to be understood. 

Colin Fleming's work appears in The Wall Street Journal, Harper's, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Slate,The New York Times. He is the author of Buried on the Beaches: Cape Stories For Hooked Hearts and Driftwood Souls, and a 33 1/3 volume on Sam Cooke's Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963. Find him on the web at colinfleminglit.com where he maintains the popular Many Moments More blog.