Tuesday, January 29, 2013

either a publicity stunt or a symbol of manifest destiny

1. My publisher emails to say that author copies of The Astrologer are on their way to my house from the printer. I'm happy about that.

2. A Lear of the Steppes and Other Stories was not a brilliant collection of Turgenev. I've also read his two famous novels (On the Eve and Fathers and Sons, which books I thought were great) and poked around in Sketches from a Hunter's Notebook, which isn't bad. That's maybe 25% of Turgenev's output; I can't say how enthused I am to dig into the remaining 75%. Sorry, Ivan.

3. I am currently reading The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima. It reminds me of Graham Greene in terms of mood and character, in that Mishima's protagonist is a teenage nihilist in a gang. He's a nasty little brat, similar to Pinkie Brown, but his gang is more like a violent version of the gang in Graham's The Destructors than the hoodlums in Brighton Rock. Mishima's prose, at least in this translation, is not pretty. This is something I have run up against a lot in translations from Japanese. Is it a weakness of the writers, or of the translators? The same sorts of clunkiness keep showing up, no matter who the writer is, and this confuses and vexes me.

4. More about The Astrologer. Apparently it's time for me to start shilling for my novel. My publisher and I are working on some readings around Seattle and possibly Portland. We are also assembling a press kit. I am informed that electronic review copies are free, available to anyone who meets my publisher's review policy. Contact me if you are interested in that. I apologize for the self-promotion, even if it's buried in paragraph four of this post.

5. I am a couple of days away from completing my first read-through of the first draft of Mona In The Desert. It seems like a fine book to me. I am not at all sure what sort of book it thinks it is, which is not a problem. Merely an observation. In a couple of weeks Mighty Reader will have a look at the manuscript and then I'll put the whole thing away for most of 2013. While Mighty Reader is casting her eyes over Mona, I'll be getting my hands very dirty with revisions to Go Home, Miss America. In a couple of months, at the very latest, my writer pals will get to see what that novel is. You know who you are, writer pals.

6. I have begun assembling research materials and an outline for my big project of 2013, a new novel to be called Nowhere But North. The premise is that in 1914 a Manhattan businessman mounts an American expedition to Antarctica, as either a publicity stunt or a symbol of manifest destiny and the superiority of American technology. The expedition does not go well. It will be a story of madness, love and sailing ships. Call me Ishmael Stevenson. I'm aiming at a Henry James prose style, I think. We shall see.


  1. Congratulations on all your exciting news. I would love to read The Astrologer, but I will gladly pay for it.

  2. Anne, I'll gladly let you buy a copy! My publishers will be glad as well!

  3. I was also planning to buy a copy of the novel.

    My opinion on #1 is that you have pretty much covered The Best of Turgenev.

  4. I hope you like the novel. Do let me know what you think, either way.

    That's sad about Turgenev. I really wanted more masterpieces from him. Fathers and Sons is one of my favorite novels. There is much to admire in that book. There is not much to admire in T's short stories. I still plan to read First Love. Melville House has put it out, and I have a weakness for Melville House.

  5. It's been many, many years, but I recall being very enthusiastic about "Fathers and Sons," and for a while I think I even counted it among my favorites. Can't recall ever reading any other Turgenev -- reassuring to hear I probably haven't been missing much....

  6. First Love is just the one I was thinking of recommending! It was hidden by the words "pretty much."

  7. Kern: On the Eve is good. Sketches from a Hunter's Album is good, too.

    Tom: good, thanks!

  8. I hope I'm one of those writer pals! I'm going to buy a copy of Astrologer. Or maybe I'll buy 3. :)

  9. I'll be curious to find out what you think of Mishima. I have tried to get through his books several times without ever getting very far.

    I'm exciting to be getting your book soon! And telling people about it! You should come do a reading in L.A. Tell your publisher that your housing will be covered. :)

  10. Michelle, you are one of the writer pals! Also, I'm sending you a signed copy of The Astrologer in thanks for the lovely blurb! So keep that in mind.

    Davin, just yesterday Mighty Reader and I talked about taking the train down to LA to do author events. We like the train. I'll have to work on some readings down there.