I am thrilled and honored to have four more of my books selected by the Library of Congress, accepted into General Collections, and assigned Library of Congress Control Numbers:
I didn’t get much writing done in November. For the first time since pre-Covid, I was doing booksignings, talking about writing, the usual marketing stuff. The holidays came and went and we were busy with those. Also preparing Search for release (the second-round print format is on my desk for review. still waiting for the final cover).
In short, busy.
But I did lots of pissing and moaning about The Alibi in November, mostly to myself, some to others. Lots of plotting and strategizing. Realized a plot point isn’t going to work last night, going to take it out this morning.
Don’t worry, it about twenty chapters from where you are now. You’ll never notice it’s absence. I hope.
Anyway, on with the show!
Cranston nodded at the crowd control officers who waved him through the gawkers, news crews, and internet-wannabes shoving and jumping with mobiles in hand. He spotted Rhinehold moving slowly through the crowd, alternately TXTing and talking on his mobile, and generally paying no attention to anything but the emergency services vehicles, triage units, and crowd control. Once or twice Cranston saw Rhinehold dip his head towards some people pointing at the destruction and talking but otherwise paying attention to nothing at all.
Cranston nodded. Yeah, Marete was right. Tonto handled this kind of undercover pretty well.
Cranston walked up behind a petite woman covered head to foot in a white Tyvek forensics suit. “Mary Frances.”
The petite woman turned, removed her right glove, her mask, offered him her hand and smiled. “William.”
“What’s a good looking woman like you doing at a crime scene like this?”
Mary Frances kept her eyes on Cranston and nodded in Rhinehold’s direction. “Today’s Tonto?”
Cranston snickered. “John Rhinehold. Shall I introduce you?”
“Won’t that blow his cover?”
Cranston watched forensics personnel come and go from SkyHook’s garage. “When will you be able to talk?”
“Maybe five, ten minutes. They know what to do. I’m just here for the unexpected.”
“Buy you a coffee?”
“Large double-double. And from the coffee shop around the corner, not from Starschmucks.”
“Meet you there.”
Cranston sat on a concrete bench outside the coffee shop, a large double-double and a bag containing a single maple-cream donut beside him.
Rhinehold ambled up with an iced something-or-other from the same shock and sat on the other end of the bench. He took a few experimental sips and tossed his cup in a floral pattern painted city trash can a few feet from where they sat. “Should’ve stuck with real coffee.”
Post the (US) holiday food coma (for those so fortunate. it’s a pity people don’t realize two-thirds of what they consume could go to the orphan, the widow, the hungry, the weak, the infirmed…
…but this isn’t the time for preaching…) it’s good to remember the joy we had with good friends gathered around the table.
In my case, that was at the Campbell’s in Middleton, Mass. My family would gather there every year for good food and great stories, a game of Chinese Checkers or Scrabble, perhaps Mrs. Stockton would play the piano and play for us.
I didn’t know at the time that Al Campbell and my dad met working in Boston and became friends. It never seemed odd to me that this New Brunswick, Canadian immigrant and my first-generation Italian-American father would hit it off.
Years later Al, who was heavy for as long as I knew him, lost an amazing amount of weight. I didn’t know if it was health or something else. Blanche, his wife, was also a large woman and lost some but not all of her weight.
Mrs. Stockton, Al’s mother, once confided that Al and Blanche would never have children because they were cousins.
My mother understood. I, somewhere between five and nine years old at the time, didn’t.
One day Blanche called us to let us know Al had left her for some woman in northern Maine. How he met her, I don’t know.
Blanche received a letter (handwritten. ah, those were the days) from Al asking her to box up some of his things and to leave them somewhere he could get them.
She did. Being Blanche, she also included an apple pie. Al loved apple pie.
Years later she received another letter from Al telling her how much he treasured that pie. It was one of the kindest things anyone’d done for him in years, he wrote.
My mother made sure we – especially my father – knew the woman Al “shacked up with” beat him regularly, as did her two sons, and that he had to eat that pie in the outhouse because the woman, if she’d known he got it, would’ve taken it from him and beat him all the more.
My mother made sure my father knew this because (as I found out much later) what brought Al and my father together wasn’t work, it was whoring.
Al, according to mom, even hit on her once. While she was pregnant, too! Oh my!
Such are family stories.
Blanche and Mrs. Stockton were good Christian women. Years later I studied biblical matters and they invited me over for dinner. I hadn’t seen them in years.
They were still Blanche and Mrs. Stockton, still knew how to cook, still gracious and kind people.
I would like to say I stayed in touch with them, but I didn’t. My path took me elsewhere.
I hope their Christian belief brought them peace.
And meanwhile, the family dines with friends.
Yeah…well…I’m at a point in my writing career where I know I can write better and am actively looking for something to show me the way.
Sadly, this book wasn’t it. For all the philosophizing and too-long monologues about which authors are unique and why, it pretty much comes down to what I wrote about re The Almanac of the Dead – truly experimental writing is favored by those who want to be experimented upon. The experimental writing examples given in the book don’t seem that experimental to me or are so…experimental(?)…that only an…experimental(?)…person might enjoy them.
Architectures of Possibility: After Innovative Writing taught me many things and mostly about myself.
Learning about one’s self is often the beginning of wisdom. Time will decide if that’s the case here.
One thing I learned is I’ll probably not be an innovative writer as far as Lance Olsen is concerned.
Consider some of his examples of innovative writing:
Shelley Jackson re-conceptualizes the page as human flesh in “The Skin Project”, a 2095-word story published exclusively in tattoos, one word at a time, on the skin of volunteers, while Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv’s “Text Rain” transforms the page into a three-dimensional room you can inhabit-i.e., an interactive installation in which participants lift and play with falling letters that appear to exist all around them. Participants stand or move in front of a large screen, on which they see a projection of themselves in black and white combined with a color animation of the alphabet tumbling through space that seems to land on their heads, arms, outstretched legs. In”The Xenotext Experiment”, Christian Bök (in collaboration with Stuart Kauffman) undertakes what he calls “a literary exercise that explores the aesthetic potential of genetics in the modern milieu” by literalizing William S. Burroughs’ assertion that language is a virus from outer space, Bök encodes a short verse into a sequence of DNA and then implants that sequence into a bacterium to observe its mutations. To put it differently, he uses a primitive bacterium as a writing machine. His wish is to rocket the organic result into outer space some day, thereby sending language back where it came from while creating an ever-changing poem that would outlive, not only the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Joyce, but earth, the solar system, and the entire galaxy as well.
Not my idea of a good bedtime read, that.
Not my idea of a good any time read, that.
What’s most amusing (to me) is that, when all the “Oh My!”s are out of the way, the writing advice is the same I’ve encountered in far more accessible volumes. There are some gems in here, yes, and that’s the case with any writing text I’ve read.
But on the whole? Far too much effort for far too little reward.
Hopefully the next entry in these The Alibi previews will be new, fresh, exciting…or at least recycled differently.
See you next month.
Leddy sat across from Penny in the Boston Public Library’s Johnson Building. Leddy always thought she and Penny’d look like tower salt&pepper shakers if Penny could get on her shoulders. Leddy, stocky and dark like her father, Penny thin and fair like her father if he didn’t get to his Bermuda home for a weekend.
Out the window she watched firetrucks and ambulance race towards the waterfront until people crowded around her and blocked the view. She switched her tablet from screen to dVids, a gift from Penny’s father, and guided her drone with a specialized pen she designed inside MIT’s Media Lab as part of the after school study program. She couldn’t stop actionable ideas from coming to her. Her advisors wondered if she were adopted. Grad students and professors attempted to copy her designs. Penny’s father, Briggs, told Penny to keep an eye on her and bring any things she came up with to him.
Briggs had Penny and Leddy to lunch at least once a month and Leddy on her own fortnightly. He ate little, a salad if anything and rarely more, bottled water on the side, made sure Leddy ate like a queen, and probed her about anything Penny brought to his attention and then conversationally asked about things Penny missed, but gently so she wouldn’t catch on.
Leddy thought him a playable fool. He could get her hands on tech even her Media Lab buds knew nothing about and Leddy always let him think something profitable would come of it.
But gently, conversationally, so he wouldn’t catch on. After their third chat she started picking at her food.
She’d order everything and anything, then have it boxed up to go and pass it around when she got back to the lab.
A lot of her labmates were just getting by.
And Leddy liked to pay it forward when she could.
She tapped Penny’s tablet. “People will see what’s on your screen.”
Penny laughed. “I’m going inside. I’ll be able to sell this, create a bidding war. We’re the first on the scene.”
“You take too many chances.”
Penny kept her tablet active. “You don’t take enough. What are you doing?”
“Watching vehicular and foot traffic.”
“Do you listen to yourself? You sound like your father.”
“You sound like yours.”
“Yeah? How ’bout you give those dVids back. Briggs won’t mind.”
“I’ve never heard you call your father father, dad, pop. He’s always Briggs to you.”
“That’s the way he likes it. Good business practice. He’s grooming me to take over for him when he retires.”
Leddy smiled and nodded. You don’t have the horsepower to takeover for a snail.
Penny nodded with her friend. “See? Even you know it.”
Leddy continued smiling and nodding. I’m agreeing with myself, you wonker.
Penny cocked her head over her tablet and frowned. Her long blonde hair fell forward and partially covered the screen. She brushed it away. “I swear Briggs has the right idea, shaving everything off. Nothing gets in the way.”
Leddy noted Penny’s blank screen. “Problem?”
A woman with a nametag hushed them from the window.
Penny’s tablet sounded an odd ping.
Leddy reached for it. “Did it die again?”