Seeing Brightly in a Dark Tunnel

I’m short-tempered and self-obsessed.

I’m addle-brained in some things, and at other times as efficient and focused as James Bond.

I’m sleeping deep and hard, except on those nights when I can’t get my brain from running loops of 60s pop songs.

I’m frightened and lethargic and giddy and morose and secretive and proud and happy to be where I am, doing what I’m doing, except when I’m not.

All that means: I’m trying to get a new novel started.

Of course, getting it started is something along the lines of Buster Keaton getting the house plans from Sears and then losing the directions. But there’s only one thing worse than pushing through the fog and chaos that comes with a story a-borning, and that’s staring at the walls without a single idea in the world about what I’m ever going to do with my life. So I’ll take this state of mind, as unnerving as it is. I just hope I don’t run someone over in the car while I gaze off into space.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have an idea of where this narrative is headed. Just look at the timeline below. This will actually help me to keep all the facts straight. I just have to fill in the right side of the curve with “stuff” (as we writers say).

As Bozo Might Say, We Now Have 3 Pulitzer “Almost Winners”

Those who follow the publishing world intently (which means basically, the people in publishing and journalism, and maybe a bookseller or two) already know that the Pulitzer prize for fiction was not awarded this year. The three-person jury passed their three nominated books to the Pulitzer board, who then failed to rally behind a single winner and opted not to give the award this year.

I like to imagine that the reason for their decision was really the fact that the whole committee had stayed up late reading Honk Honk, My Darling, and didn’t have time to plow through David Foster Wallace’s salute to the boredom in an IRS office. Such delusions keep me alive like Nick Fury and his Infinity Formula. Please don’t deny me my lifeblood!

So I spoke on the subject at the Paper Machete, my newest fave reading series in Chicago that tries to attack the big stories in the news every week. The MP3 for the performance is below. If you’d like to hear the entire show each week, you can subscribe to it at iTunes or catch individual performances at

Would You Read a Book that Was Almost a Pulitzer Winner?