I've been meaning to get this up, but as usual, I am always creating and moving forward with what I am moving forward with, and that takes precedent. Just a few notes on what has been going on and what is going on. There may be a little overlap, but most of this will be new for these pages.
Here's an essay on Joan Harrison, one of the first female film producers, from The Smart Set. This is another Smart Set essay on Otis Redding's two Christmas recordings. Here's a Daily Beast feature on the 1971 animated version of A Christmas Carol. This is a radio interview discussing Dragnet, M.R. James, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Grateful Dead. This is another radio interview discussing the Beatles, Thoreau, a painting by William Holbrook Beard, a Rankin-Bass special, and the radio program Lights Out. This is a piece on the 33 1/3 blog about Sam Cooke and Christmas. This is a piece on Cooke and his blues that ran as an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Here's a radio interview about the Cooke Christmas and Joan Harrison pieces, Orson Welles, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, and a ghost story from 1905. And this is a radio interview from Tuesday about my new book, Scrooge.
I've written and/or completed five stories so far in 2022: "The Fight Is Real," "Two-Ghost Job," "Thunder and Lightning," "Thunder and Lightning Go Grocery Shopping," and "Ticks of the High Seas."
The proposal for the genre book on British rhythm and blues is now complete. An excerpt from the sample pages went up on here earlier.
Half a dozen or so other stories are about to be completed. Additionally, there are four major longer works in various stages of undertaking: "The Hornet," "Aisle Seat," "Progress Report," "Birchback."
The jazz book will be finished soon.
This is different from the Billie Holiday book, the formal proposal of which I'll be working on this weekend, to get to the person who is waiting on it.
Same Band You've Never Known: An Alternative Musical History of the Beatles is also getting close to being ready to show.
I should have Glue God: Essays (and Tips) for Repairing a Broken Self all fully finished in the next seven to ten days.
Two other stories, "Daughter Bear" and "Complete Set" should be done imminently.
I'm really focusing in on Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Infinitely Human Lives and There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness. The big, focused, dialed-in, push on both. For the latter, I must complete a story called "Up the Sea," compose another called "Pre," and there are six or seven other stories which need rereading and are contenders for inclusion. For the most part, though, I have the book, and the order of the stories. All of these stories feature a female narrator and/or protagonist. The Longer stories formulate an entirely new kind of writing. There has never been anything like it. The stories are novelistic, and usually less than 1200 words. They are not shorts, nor microfiction, nor vignettes. They are each longer, in their way, than anything else, any novel by anyone else.
What I need is a publisher with vision. Someone who gets that I am unique. That there has never been anything remotely like me. What someone should do is put out both of these books on the same day. Play up the event. Play up that no one else could do this. As I've said here before, it's like having done A Hard Day's Night and Sgt. Pepper simultaneously. Unfortunately, no one has a clue, and no one has any vision. They go by the book. The book that is dictated by what other writers, with no ability, do. You have the greatest writer there has ever been. Play it up. Focus on that. Have faith that you will be rewarded in future, especially when you are laying out so little actual money right now. What is the risk? I'm the only one you have who can actually go anywhere and do a damn thing in this world. Who can change this world. Vision. Not the same old, same old.
I've created fresh copies of the novels The Freeze Tag Sessions (which is at 57,000 words presently) and Musings with Franklin to work off of, and I continue to work out EU, which will shortly be more of a focus once I get these nonfiction book proposals in. So, it will be a three novel year.
I'll finish the essay on the Beatles' love songs soon. I have to do a piece on Jelly Roll Morton. I'll be writing a lengthy feature on Thelonious Monk's first Blue Note date for JazzTimes for the summer. I have a piece to finish on New Grub Street. I wrote that football op-ed and hopefully will sell it soon. If You [ ]: Fabula, Fantasy, F**kery, Hope, publishes in a couple weeks. I'll ask someone about running an excerpt. That will be book #8. If I was not blackballed, I'd be up around twenty-five books right now (that's a real number, a factual number, a number based on what I have here; I never toss out random numbers, and I do not exaggerate; everything is precise), but I am, and I just have to keep going until I have defeated these people and then books will be coming out every month because each one will be different from the last and in a different category.
That I have not moved Cheer Pack: Stories yet--that being the volume with the works from the VQR, Harper's, Glimmer Train, etc.--is maddening, especially at three years out. Total discrimination and the industry-wide effort to lock me out is a lot to overcome, and it's but one thing I need to overcome. But I will.
And remember: this is with me spending most of my life dealing with bigots. That is where my time goes. What you see here is what I do in the remaining 2% of my time. What is this going to be like when I am free to create 98% of the time?
Some nice entries on here coming in the Everything Wrong with Publishing series.
I'm giving some podcast interview about the Sam Cooke book, though I need to check the date, and also a talk about it on Zoom for some library that will at least net a little money.
There will be a short story in Salmagundi called "Read the Ice," which I had previously discussed on the radio and which is in Longer on the Inside. I have essays to write on Thoreau, Chimes at Midnight, birds, The Andy Griffith Show, Lovecraft, the Rolling Stones' unreleased 1968 number, "Still a Fool." Essays are due out on Freddie Redd, the Three Investigators YA series. Later in the year there will be JazzTimes pieces on Sun Ra and Louis Armstrong.
I wrote two stories called "The Girl Who Couldn't Cry" and "There Is No Young and There Is No Old." The former will be in There Is No Doubt. You cannot write better stories than these. As one writer said to me upon reading "The Girl Who Couldn't Cry": "Incredible piece. The section on page three over to four is truly astounding. This is what Blake meant, I think, as the true power of imagination."
And, of course, an Emily Stokes of The Paris Review, a Sy Safransky of The Sun, are so clogged with hate, that they will not let you see it. But a Safransky will publish this piece called "The Donkey at the Gates of the Kingdom of Heaven."
Have you ever seen a more pointless work of fiction in your life? Imagine writing that piece and, again, thinking, "This is awesome! People need this! They'll love it!" But, lo, you send it to someone who is that broken, that crazy, and they're like, "Sure, I'll pretend your piece of shit is great, and I hate that Fleming so much." Further, he bought two such pieces at once. (And yes, as I had to specify a couple days ago with the Lydia Davis dreck in The Paris Review: that is the whole thing.)
As I've said many times, that's what we're dealing with: a subculture of broken freaks. Go ahead, read it. Don't just take my word for it. Give them the click, it's fine. You should also know that a creepy editor at The Sun, who was married to a creepy editor at The Oxford American who molested the interns--which the creepy future Sun editor had no problem with, and nor did Sy Safansky, who hired her, after the creepy editor and this enabler of the creepy editor were busted and ousted from The Oxford American--told me that you have to make Safransky cry. "If you make Sy cry, he will probably buy the story." Hilarious. Can you imagine reading that donkey piece and weeping? What more can you say about these people? My time with Safransky, by the way, goes back twenty-five years. So it's been twenty-five years of this. A quarter of a century.
I'll say it again: Subculture of broken freaks.
Also: you know if I'm talking about you, and you know if I'm not. Because not everyone is included in these statements. The people who are know they are, and they know that I know what they're all about. I am glad there are other people who are not like these people. There are just not nearly enough of them in publishing right now.
An excellent new story called "Movie Night" is also underway. One story from way back--this would be August--which I never noted on here (there was a period when I was writing about a dozen stories which I didn't have a chance to touch on in this journal; "Everything on Them" was another, which a bunch of people wrote me about I saw later), but that I do want to cite is "The Winter Meal," because I think it's excellent. A nature story, about a frozen over world, or what may be a frozen over world. We're not sure, exactly, if it's a world-wide issue or just how it stands in one person's portion of the wilderness. But the story is about a coyote, who has lost a mate, can find no food, and a man who with a baby who has also lost a mate, and the relationship between the baby and the coyote. Or what may be a relationship.
I sent it to Orion, but, as usual, it's a case of, "Hmmm, you have not given me the secret handshake of us bigots, sir, why would I let you in if you don't know the secret bigot handshake? Why, the ultimate bigot in our bigoted brother John Freeman gave us several versions of the bigot handshake, having mastered so many of them, so of course we poured in his slop!"
Won't even respond. Masterpiece though. But as we've seen, and has been proven over and over and over and over again, these people do not care at all about the writing, no matter if they were offered the best work ever composed, and precisely when they are offered it. All they care about is their power, such as it is, their fragile egos, and only letting in the right kind of person. They care about perpetuating their diseased system. Nothing else. It's all they have, and all they are.
Me, I'm something else. And so we will keep fighting.