Trick or Treat

Well, it’s time for me to head out with my kids in the cold. If Maud doesn’t mind, I might hop back on later tonight with final thoughts regarding the holiday.

For the sake of posterity, I will tell you this: my son will be Batman Beyond, and my daughter will be a cow. Please, no angry email telling me about the subliminal messages I’m sending to my children.

And thanks for visiting.


Oh, hey, don’t forget to keep your pet safe tonight. I don’t know about you, but vampires knocking on our door doesn’t exactly put the dog’s mind at ease. Also, the tiniest crack of an open door is an invitation for the cat to rush out and dash under the car (apparently cats consider cars a kind of shelter, and have no real recollection of the car ever having moved or otherwise looking quite like a very large and noisy animal from which they must flee). Your cats and dogs might be at the very bottom of your list of concerns when your kids are clammoring to go out in the ten degree darkness in nothing but a tutu, but see if you can’t move ’em up a notch.

What Else?

Oh, it’s been a busy day and I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to.

Just a note here to let you know that though my blog isn’t currently blogging, it will be soon. I’ve got to put all the pieces together and then start it up. There’ll also be a You Are a Dog blog soon enough (have to finish writing the book first), so dog lovers should check back.

Is it okay if I hate the word “blog”?

I don’t know about you, but nothing scares me better (on Halloween or not) than a really good political cartoon, especially one with panels. is Scott Bateman’s site, and I love him because he just sort of says what’s on his mind, and doesn’t (almost never) draw the same damn cartoon every other lame cartoonist is drawing. I almost never laugh out loud, but almost always shake my head and mumble, “say it again, brother.”

He’s also got a lively LiveJournal and some odd stuff to buy. And some damn funny web-toons. And . . .

That’s enough of me telling you about it. Go see for yourself.


Okay. So I’m up. I’ve scratched my head (and a few other body parts) and I’ve been pounced on by my kids, but I haven’t had any coffee yet. This seems like an error, like a giant mistake on my part.

I’ll be back once I’m medicated.

Good Morning

Since I live on the west coast, I’m going to post a hello right now and say “hello,” and then probably be missing for awhile. Missing until I get up in the morning and have coffee and scratch my head and say hello to the family and hug the dog and walk my kids.

So, I’ll start your day with a brand new entry from my brand new book (not even finished writing it yet–won’t be released for a year still) right here:

Front Door

Why does the cat get to go out the front door? What have you done? You will not cross the street, which the cat does. You will not dig in the neighbor’s garden, which the cat does. You will not walk along the top of the fence, which the cat does. And by the way, how does she do that? Her powers are extra-ordinary. Too bad she is also extra-ordinarily stupid.

You do not envy her.

You do not.

Introducing Terry Bain

Terry Bain lives in Spokane, Washington, with his wife, two children, and one dog. After becoming acquainted online a little less than a year ago, we recently met in person, in a group of writers acquainted through Zoetrope’s online studios. Terry put everyone at ease from the get-go. He was concerned about Pia Ehrhardt’s grandmother. He held Shauna McKenna’s baby. He wasn’t pissed that no one was able to sit with him for an hour during his stint at New York is Book Country.

Bain’s You Are a Dog is forthcoming from Random House, and is based in part on “Ergo, You’re A Dog,” which appeared last year in Sweet Fancy Moses. His fiction has appeared in three separate issues of The Gettysburg Review, and in O. Henry Prize Stories 1994, Exquisite Corpse, Clackamas Literary Review, All-Story Extra, Book Magazine, GutCult, Opium Magazine, and All-Story Extra. These days he writes and teaches for Gotham Writers’ Workshop.

In The Gettysburg Review, Terry talks about the process of writing “Pediatrics,” which appeared in the Autumn, 2000, issue of the magazine, and started as a different story altogether:

I finally realized that if I was going to finish “Pediatrics,” I was going to have to separate it from its relationship with the original story. The two weren’t fitting together well anymore, and I was making concessions in both in an effort to manage the dual plot lines. So I made the son much younger, hid him, and forced myself to forget everything I knew about the characters, going back through the story and very nearly redrafting it from the beginning. And I was finally able to finish “Pediatrics” in the form you see here. As it happens, the original story languishes in a file folder.

Beyond writing, Bain designs book interiors and jackets. Samples are available on his site.

Given his experience with print and online publishing, you might expect Terry to have insights into the future of publishing. He does. In an interview with Wired about e-books, he said:

What I wish would happen would be more people reading better books. Hell, I wish more people would read anything. I also teach, and I can’t tell you how discouraging it is to stand in front of a classroom and ask how many of my students read and have one or two of them raise their hands. One or two of them. Maybe three. This is what nobody’s talking about. And the Internet and technology moguls don’t even approach this kind of problem — yet. This is my wish for the future –that they do approach this kind of problem with a fraction of the passion with which they suck money.

I hear that.

Some of you will recall that Terry stepped in briefly last Friday, since I didn’t have a guest lined up. He was kind enough to take over today, too. Happy Halloween, everybody.

Next up: Church and the City, a new series?

Chick lit gets holy. Upcoming titles include:

* … Kristin Billerbeck’s What a Girl Wants, about a 31-year-old patent attorney looking for a nice Christian guy who doesn’t live with his mother.

* … Sisterchicks Do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn. According to fiction marketing director Sandy Muller, the first “chick lit goes to church” novel was Hula’s prequel, Sisterchicks on the Loose, out in June. It is the tale of two women, friends for 20 years, who cut loose in Finland. Now they are off to Hawaii. The series “will grab any over-30-year-old female gazing nervously at the second half of her life,” says Muller.

* … Theodora’s Diary by Penny Culliford. The romance by the English author will be followed by Theodora’s Wedding.

* … Harlequin launches The Whitney Chronicles by Judy Baer about a 30-year-old heroine who struggles with her weight, bad dates and meddling relatives who want to know why she’s not married. Being active in her church doesn’t preclude searching for Mr. Right.

(Via Bookslut.)


The centenary of Evelyn Waugh’s birth passed on Tuesday (the 28th). In anticipation, critics and reviewers in the last year or two have released a flood of articles on Waugh and his place in the literary canon. Film adaptations have been in the works, including a controversial adaptation of Brideshead Revisited, and Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things, which was released last month in Britain. The Fry film is based on Waugh’s Vile Bodies, a send-up of 1920’s Britain.

On the strength of Vile Bodies alone, it seems to me, Waugh justly holds a reputation as a master satirist. A few Waugh links:

Brideshead Revisited is coming under attack in the Guardian:

What none of [the recent critics] considers, for all their supposed leftwing credentials, is the class politics expressed in Waugh’s most popular novel, Brideshead Revisited. It’s a book whose success made Waugh cringe, and yet it’s also one that expresses more eloquently, if unwittingly, a nostalgia among the English for a privileged stately home past that by definition only a negligible number of them enjoyed….

It’s one that reveals the self-hatred and inadequacy at the core of our postwar culture and it’s one whose persistence shows how distant we are from a truly classless society.

Some 1960 audio interviews with Waugh.

The Balance,” a short story.

Quotable Waugh: “Punctuality is the virtue of the bored.” (From the Diaries of Evelyn Waugh.)

Waugh on Paris: “Paris is bogus in its lack of genuine nationality. No one can feel a foreigner in Monte Carlo, but Paris is cosmopolitan in the diametrically opposite sense, that it makes everyone a foreigner.” (From Labels.)

Waugh on autobiography:

Don’t give your opinions about Art and the Purpose of Life. They are of little interest and, anyway, you can’t express them. Don’t analyse yourself. Give the relevant facts and let your readers make their own judgments. Stick to your story. It is not the most important subject in history but it is one about which you are uniquely qualified to speak.

From a review of Selina Hastings’ biography:

The question of Waugh’s Catholicism has always been a puzzle, especially for those who were not brought up in that religion. Waugh viewed existence with a Manichean eye, and feared for himself and his soul in a fallen and still falling world: the Church, Hastings points out, ‘offered a safe and solid structure, a discipline, an ordered way of life which, once adopted, held out a clear prospect of salvation’.

In the end, however, with the papacy of John XXIII, even that rock-like edifice began to totter, and Waugh sank into what the Church considered one of the gravest sins: despair. ‘My life is roughly speaking over. I sleep badly except occasionally in the morning. I get up late. I try to read my letters. I try to read the paper. I have some gin. I try to read the paper again. I have some more gin. I try to think about my autobiography, then I have some more gin and it’s lunchtime. That’s my life. It’s ghastly.’ Late on the morning of Easter Sunday, 1966, he collapsed and died in the downstairs lavatory at Combe Florey. He was 63.

Stephen Fry spoke at the Guardian Hay festival about his adaptation of Waugh’s Vile Bodies and “the perils of selling cruelly ironic British films to American money men.”

Somewhat related: George Hunka writes about the experience of reading the autobiography of Auberon Waugh, Evelyn’s son, on the New York City subway. He said it’s “like reading science fiction, so remote from our day is Waugh’s world of vanishing aristocracy, cheerfully irritable public intellectuals and private-school pederasty.”

Please Note: in my original post, Alexander Waugh was quoted and misidentified as Evelyn Waugh’s son. In fact, Alexander was Evelyn’s grandson and Auberon’s son. He is writing a biographical history of the Waugh family. Thanks to Mr. Birns for alerting me to the error.

Yes, that’s right, Wadsworth

The New Yorker is once again accepting unsolicited submissions. TMFTML offers some tips on breaking into the magazine with your nonfiction.

Mr. Nine Years, who as Mr. Maud has observed updates his blog approximately that often, has a clerkship interview with a federal judge in Texas on Friday. I would like to wish him luck by repeating a literary insight he now denies having or voicing:

When I was a callow undergrad, I chuckled over “Longfellow.” Now that I’m a bit older and wiser, I realize that “Wads’ worth” is actually much funnier.

From Cliffster Notes, by Darby Lawson (no permalink yet):

Frankenstein by M.S.:

A scientist builds a person. The built person kills the scientist’s family and friends because after he got built, the scientist freaked out and ran away like a little pansy-ass coward, and now the built man feels so sad and neglected that he wants to kill people. He asks the scientist to build him a woman because he’s horny. The scientist does, but she gets killed. Then the built person kills himself. The End.

Karen Sneider’s The Ghostly Passenger is a “ghost story with a hidden agenda.”

The longest-lived tempest in a teapot continues to rage

Here’s yet another article on the Great Snark Debate (background now available by clicking “Ctrl + F3 on Windows“), this time from the Canadian perspective.

The author, Kate Taylor, heralds snark and the criticism coming out of the U.K. She pokes fun at the kinder and gentler approach advocated by The Believer. Evidently she sees Tibor Fisher’s attack on the Amis book as representative of U.K. critics, while charging that Dale Peck “is a very unusual beast among North American fiction reviewers: He simultaneously writes [] vicious reviews and publishes numerous novels.”

Insults, idleness, and London’s idiosyncrasies

If you liked the Surrealist insult generator, try the Shakespearean Insulter. It selects actual insults from Shakespeare’s plays. One of mine:

Go, prick thy face, and over-red thy fear,
Thou lily-liver’d boy.
Taken from: Macbeth

(Via That Rabbit Girl.)

From An Idler’s Glossary:

Bartleby: Melville’s office drone who will neither work nor quit his job is both an inspiration to would-be idlers and a great puzzle. He isn’t lazy, nor does he seem to resent or hate his employer (or want a different job), nor does he prefer a life of sensual pleasure, nor is he interested in making a spectacle of himself in order to help others see the light. He just “prefers not to” do anything. He has lost faith in the goodness of the world; he is lackadaisical, in the most tragic sense of that word. This, it seems, is a form of passive resistance—against God. See: ACEDIA, BALK, DETACHED, INDIFFERENT, LACKADAISICAL, PASSIVE, QUITTER, SPLEEN.

(Via Wood S Lot.)

The second issue of Smoke: a London Peculiar, a magazine devoted to London’s idiosyncrasies, is out. Here are some excerpts from the new issue. (Via 3AM’s Buzzwords.)