top of page


Sunday 3/5/23

A book I'm working on right now--it's about eighty percent of the way done, I estimate--is one that has put a bounce in my step when I think about it. When I simply think about the work. How exciting and special it is. The bounce goes away when I think, as I inevitably do, about these people and this industry. They are who you have to go through. You know how at the end of McTeague, the guy is handcuffed to a dead guy in the middle of the desert? That's like what it is in publishing. You're handcuffed to a dead person in the middle of the desert. It's not a lot different.

But a few words on what I have and what I'm making. I mentioned a 3000 word introduction for a special book the other day, and obviously I was talking about this book that is called The Solution to the World's Problems: Surprising Tales of Relentless Joy.

The title comes from a line in "Best Present Ever," which is the first tale in the book. I envision "BPE" being many things. One of them is a stand-alone gift work. A book that is the size of a stocking-stuffer to be given and shared between people and friends and family and passed down and read together. To be part of people's lives. Another thing I envision it as is the first tale in this book. I see it as a film. An animated production. A play.

It sets a tone--does it ever--for this book, which is about something no books are. Think about this: Everything is miserable, right? Or a lot of what's out there is, when it comes to work that tries to be, or wants to be, or positions itself as literature. Writers think that in order to make "proper literature," everything has to be miserable. They equate that with depth.

But you also have people of immense privilege, who've never had to earn anything in their lives, with no life experience, and a crippling fear of reality and the real world and real world experience, who have never risked anything, known anything, and have no insights into humanity and human nature, or even just suffering, pain, tragedy. So what can they possible deliver?

You just get these mopey, narcissistic works, or where an author tries to be shocking and edgy, and you giggle at them for how slight and forced it all is.

There aren't really any books where joy features. Joy as the staple. Not books that are adult books. This isn't just an adult book, and that was another idea. It is definitely an adult book. But it's also a kid book. And it's a book for both at the same time. There is nothing sexual. There is not a single swear word in the book. There's so much magic in it, though. It's a book of human magic is what I'd say.

"Rosa" is in it. It ends with "There Is No Old and There Is No Young." "My Nickel" is in it. "The Fallen Leaf." "The Day I Met God." "Big Bob and Little Bob." "The Speaker." "Outlast the Earth." "Ready to Go." "How Dark Does Night Get." Many others.

But isn't that neat? A book about joy that embodies joy. Which isn't the same as fun. Or happiness. One can be in pain and not be happy, and have and know joy. Or one can be happy and know joy. Joy is a fascinating concept. And it can do so much. Doesn't that sound freeing and liberating? Not having to go through these motions of pretending that significance and misery are the same.

The book approaches the life force that is joy from all of these different angles and directions. Puts joy forward in different models and forms. In these life experiences. These people. These tales.

And I don't think there's a whit of false advertising in the title. None at all. As with "Best Present Ever," the title doubles as a descriptor. That's what that was, and this is what this is.

bottom of page