Wrote a 1300 word story this morning called "Tomato Gates." Need to go over it. It's about this kid, fifteen-years-old, and he has this job--like this summer job--going through the 5000 books of this widow in his neighborhood. The books belonged to her husband. She's only thirty-seven. The husband was a professor, and the kid is supposed to catalogue the books so she can sell them. The guy taken a spike, hammered it into the grass in his backyard, and thrown himself on it in this arc. The arc becomes a big part of the story. Trajectory. She pays him a lot of money, which he doesn't accept. He only takes a 1/5th of it. The rest he stashes in an envelope behind a shelf of the books, because he knows she won't look there, and then when the job is is done, his plan is to leave the envelope out in the open, like on the coffee table next to the couch where they sometimes sit before he goes home. Anyway, in a corner of the garage, he sees this Fred Lynn model bat, from the 1980s, which would have been the late husband's, we can infer, from when he grew up. And there are also a couple of tomato gates there, that don't balance well against each other, which all but repel each other in fact, which you'll be familiar with if you've ever tried to store tomato gates. And finally, in this same corner, are two of these spikes. He thinks that maybe one of them is the spike that the guy actually used. There it is in the garage. We'll see. Like I said, must go back into it. Could get longer, could get shorter, could stay the same.
Ran 3000 stairs yesterday after just 1000 on Friday which I did simply to loosen my legs as I had not been able to go out for a few days. Will run some more shortly. Today marks 1925 days, or 275 weeks, without a drink of alcohol.
Yesterday I also went to the Starbucks and asked the young woman I'd given the Sam Cooke book to if she'd like to come out for a walk with me after work this week. She had been giving me complimentary drinks, which I hope is allowed, because I don't want to get her in trouble, and as I've said before, she's friendly and sweet and nice and she has good energy and I have always liked seeing her, and yes, she is stunningly beautiful. Truly striking. I wouldn't put it another way. Mentioned this to someone, and they were like, "You just asked her out at the Starbucks in front of people?" I don't know if it was asking out. I mean, it's a walk. Walks are good, yes? Walks in autumn in Boston with nice people? Wouldn't have bothered me at all if she said no. It's all good.
Yesterday I also wrote the preface to the Scrooge book, and additionally found all of the illustrations for the book, which total about twenty, and I wrote captions for each of them as well. I also completed an excellent new story called "Night Bowl," which is 1800 words long, about a haunted football stadium.
A man who is alone goes on these late night runs, past a football stadium of sufficient vintage--it's like a century old--that it's called a bowl. The stadium is located near a river. As he runs, he hears a game going on, with all of the attendant sounds. This kid, in full football attire, pulls up alongside of him, asking the man this strange question if he knows where the bowl is. He learns later about his kid, who was a sophomore who hadn't played his freshman year, and had been in the infirmary the night before, and he raced to join his teammates for the second half, and he ended up dying on the field, back in whenever it was--1934 or what not. The story is of course in part about all of that, but even more so, it's about this narrator, in the present day. A remarkable work.
I also completed, the other day, "A Start and a Place," which is 3700 words long. For me, it goes in that category of "Fitty" and "Upon Becoming a Ghost." The story is about this woman who is a drug addict, and this mid-thirty something guy who works across the street from the coffee shop that is her kind of base of operations in the morning, in part because it's next to her clinic. She doesn't go in though. And every day at half past nine, he comes out of his office to get a coffee. They make eye contact. They're very aware of each other. And we go into his life, his past, and her life, her past, and we also go, in a fashion, into her future. This is an unbelievably intense and beautiful story. It hammers me. Absolutely hammers me. They have this one exchange. And that exchange is seen at multiple parts of the story. The very beginning. The end. Everything becomes this brilliant jumping off point into these two lives, and more, and then it all knits up. The ending itself is just...I mean, it's almost too much. Too intense. I care so much about this woman. I can barely convey how much I care. And the ending is open-ended. It could be this amazing, amazing thing for her, or it could be the opposite. And you want it so much, after you read the rest of the story, for it to be the former. You are so invested.
I'm going to write about an upcoming book of Paul McCartney's lyrics for The Daily Beast, so that's two Beatles things I'll be doing for them this fall. Was having a hard time getting a review copy of the book, which is just one more problem to solve, because I can't shell out a hundred bucks for a piece I'm not getting paid much for. There are some legal papers I'll have to sign about non-disclosure, but hopefully that does the trick.
The Daily Beast is also supposed to run an excerpt of the Sam Cooke book next weekend, but that's proving difficult, too, because Bloomsbury is saying they don't want an excerpt of more than 500 words, and I'm all but begging them to let me do this. You can't have an excerpt of a book less than 500 words. No one will run that. You're going to get like half a million eyeballs on this brilliant excerpt, which I selected. You can't pass up that opportunity.
I see an excerpt by anyone else, and I know I never need to read that book. I think other people suck at writing. I don't think there's hardly anything of any value out there. It's all about other stuff. But that's not me. The more someone else shows you, the less you want to read what they have. Then again, you know from the very first sentence, the first clause, how it's the same old shit that sucks as much as the rest of the same old shit that anyone can do. But I think the thinking is like trying to trick people into buying stuff that is terrible. The used car salesman would prefer that you take a shorter test drive than a longer one with the old clunker so that the muffler doesn't fall off. What The Daily Beast does is run book excerpts as if they were stand-alone pieces, because they want congruity, length-wise, with the other pieces they do. Everything is attributed, you know what you're reading. This will sell more copies of the book. But everything I do, even "good" things I get, become these frustrating, draining, time-sucking, uphill challenges. Everything is a test by fire. Nothing is ever, "oh, yes, that makes sense, great." Imagine passing up 100,000 people, or whatever it is, seeing an excerpt? Saying no to that opportunity? You just can't. Then I have to argue why you can't.
Boston College let a very winnable game against an average Clemson team get away. The program gets to the corner, fails to turn it, slides back down. If they weren't playing their back-up, they would have beat the Tigers handily, I think. You have to rebound now. Beat NC State in a couple weeks. Or else it's going to be a 6-5, 7-4 thing, and that's not good enough, even with the back-up QB.
The Red Sox should be able to lock up the first WC slot today, with their best pitcher on the mound. Then you have the WC game itself at home, with your most consistent starter this season on the mound. That's the path into the real playoffs. There it is. All lined up.
Off to run stairs now.