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Kleenex sales went up last week

Wanna be inspired? If this news story of an autistic basketball player doesn't do it, seek immediate professional help. Can the screenplay be far behind?

John Mellencamp was right

americangothic.jpgI live in a small town. The population is around 50,000 but I swear they’re counting cows and sheep. Great Falls, Montana is basically a big farm town that feels like a much smaller place. And I like that. I’ve lived all over the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii, but I enjoy being off the radar. Here’s why:

1) We have one homeless man in Great Falls. His name is Larry. He lives on the street by choice, although he worked as an aircraft mechanic before he stopped taking his meds. Now he pushes a shopping cart around that looks like a helicopter. Every winter the downtown merchants get together to buy him a new sleeping bag and a snowmobile suit. And when it’s really cold, an anonymous donor pays for a motel for Larry.

2) My kids walk to school. They meet their friends on the corner and walk en masse. I’m sure a child molester could approach them. But twelve nine-year olds would savagely stab him to death with mechanical pencils.

3) People here are interesting to me. I think it’s because they have lives. A neighbor’s idea of a vacation was a weeklong horseback/camping trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness with her hubby. This was an 80-mile trek where you hang your food in the trees to avoid grizzly bears. Did I mention that my neighbor is 68?

4) I can be on the Missouri River with my fly rod in fifteen minutes. I can be in Glacier National Park in less time than my commute was in Seattle. Or head down to Yellowstone. It’s a different world in the wintertime.

5) I have time to read. Time to write. And time to blog.

The only downside is that it’s hard to find good sushi. Steak, we got. Tako poke? Nada.

Where do you live? Why do you live there? What do you like best about it? And is it reflected in your work?


Performance anxiety, and a strange coincidence

Performance.gifWell, I've written to the exclusion of all else over this three-day weekend (my thanks to George and Abe) and now I'm this close to finishing the 2nd draft of Surefire––only about 13 pages left. Add a tidy little epilogue that's been kicking around my brain and I can set it aside for a while. But. I just. Can't. Seem. To get it done. I'm dragging my feet. Finding other things to do instead. And I know what it is. It's performance anxiety. Because after this draft it's critique time. But, I've got eight hours left before my self-imposed deadline. Tick-tock tick-tock. My, look at all those dishes, and I really should clean the garage...

Also, for those who were wondering, here's a rough (very rough) pitch synopsis:

Surefire is a bittersweet fable about Edwin Gee, a recently fired news reporter who has the worst and best days of his life back to back. First, he signs his terminally-ill mother into hospice care then wins the largest lottery in U.S. history the next day. In a leap beyond faith, and with the urging of his uncle––a degenerate gambler, who also happens to be dead––he skips town and heads to Vegas to blow it all in one weekend, hoping to fulfil a promise he made long ago.

Okay, I’m still working on it, but that’s the gist. Now here’s the weird coincidence. My protagonist wins the largest Powerball in history--$365 million and skips town leaving the press to wonder his whereabouts and motives. So strange chills went up my spine when I read this headline on today's AP wire: Powerball Jackpot Winner Remains Unknown.

Damn spooky.


A white lie

AnotherSadLie.jpgDid a struggling white writer of gay erotica become one of multicultural literature’s most celebrated memoirists — by passing himself off as Native American?

That's the question posed by Matthew Fleischer of the LA Weekly in regard to the essay "The Blood Runs like a River Through My Dreams," which was published in Esquire in 1999 and later expanded into a memoir of the same name. It was critically praised. It garnered a small collection of literary awards and trinkets. And now appears to be shriveling under the same spotlight that bore down so heavily on James Frey.

So Frey exaggerated--ok, big deal. People do that. They augment the truth. Women get boob jobs. William Shatner has that rug on his head. I can accept that. But to co-opt someone else's culture? That's really sad. And it's such an ironic contrast to a wonderful multicultural author like Sherman Alexie, who writes fiction that is obviously autobiographical. (If you haven't read "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," you're missing out).