Posts Tagged ‘To Join the Lost’

Where to buy Among the Lost

November 3rd, 2016

I’ve received a couple of queries – stop fiddling with your cell phone and listen up, Jon Lonoff! I’m talking to you! – about where you can get a copy of Among the Lost for your very own. It’s distributed online at Amazon, Ingram, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords. I don’t even know what some of those are. Once my web site is updated, you can get it from me, but that may take a little while. At this web site,you also can order copies right now of the previous volume in the series, To Join the Lost. My publisher, Fomite Press, is reissuing To Join the Lost, so you will be able to get it at all the venues I’ve mentioned, but that may take another month before it’s ready.

Yippee!

May 29th, 2014

fireworksI was going to title this post “Yahoo!” but that might have been misinterpreted.  So much of our language has been commercially appropriated.  Eat more kale, says I.  Anyhow… I am pleased and proud and tickled and relieved to announce that the second volume of my poetic trilogy, which revisits Dante’s Il Purgatorio in much the same way that To Join the Lost revisited L’Inferno, has been accepted for publication by Fomite Press, a publishing house after my own heart.  Visit their site and you’ll see what I mean.  The “relieved” is because I took some risks with this one, and they seem to have paid off.  Both of the editors who have read it so far have liked it enough to want to print it.  Projected publication date is some time in the first half of 2015.  So… if you haven’t bought a copy of To Join the Lost yet, now would be a good time to do so, so that you can be all read up and prepared when Goldfish Rising (or whatever we decide to call it) hits the streets!  You can get your very own copy of TJTL here; if you ask, I’ll autograph it for you.

Down the Tube

March 31st, 2014

Queets_River_Douglas-FirSo… a little less than a week ago I finished my revisions to Goldfish Rising and sent the mansucript off to the publisher of the first volume of the series, To Join the Lost.  (Which, if you haven’t bought it, you should, in preparation for Goldfish Rising.  Not from Amazon.  From this site, or from this one.)  I am old enough to remember when that would have meant packing a neat stack of pages into a special box, wrapping it with bubble wrap and butcher’s paper, addressing it in permanent marker, and taking it to the post office for the ceremony of buying stamps and handing it over to the clerk and watching it disappear into the mysterious rooms in the back of the building or (with some detriment to the sense of occasion) get tossed into a big bin.  Now it was just a matter of clicking on a “send” button.  I am no luddite, but that is definitely less satisfying.  I clicked the button, stared at the screen, and let the inevitable feelings of emptiness and “what do I do now?” sink in.

What I do now, in the evenings at least, is not what I intend to be doing for much longer.  Someday in the not too distant future, the publisher I like to think of as “my” publisher will respond to my manuscript, I hope and expect with acceptance and, if so, also with a list of possibly as many as several hundred comments, questions, and recommendations for change, which will keep my evenings happily occupied for weeks or even months.  Right now, however, I’m at loose ends.  Used to be, for the past several years, most evenings after work would consist of making dinner, eating dinner, washing up after dinner, an hour or so of brisk walking, and then working on the book. Take the book out of the equation, add in weather that is not very conducive to walking outdoors, and you get some long hours to fill between dinner and bedtime.  So, being a good American, I watch TV.

I want to tell you about two shows I saw last night.  Channel surfing, I happened across the series Nature, and enjoyed an hour-long episode about recent research into the social life and behavioral characteristics of plants.  Anybody remember that movie Steve Wonder did the film score for back in 1979, The Secret Life of Plants?  It was about plants’ responsiveness to stimuli and was generally regarded at the time as highly woo-woo and far out there.  Well, apparently not so much.  Plants engage in highly specific forms of communication among themselves and with other classes of being, engage in foraging and aggressive behavior, exhibit aspects of self awareness, create social networks for mutual defense and assistance, and even, it appears, nurture their young in some cases.  What I particularly liked about the show was the careful description of the experimental and observational bases for the scientsts’ conclusions.  We got images of scientists washing the dirt off seedlings’ roots and looking at pictures of rootlets in action and holding geiger counters to baby douglas firs.  Not only did we get to hear what the scientists thought they were learning, but what led them to think so.

After that I watched Cosmos, the remake of an old Carl Sagan miniseries.  Very flashy visuals, lots of special effects, and constant reminders to the audience of how “incredible!” it all is.  It was very unsatisfying.  I am sure that Neil deGrasse Tyson, the genial and soft-spoken physicist who hosts the extravaganza, did not intend it this way, but the only real compelling element of the series is his evocation of his own personal relationship with Sagan, who was something of a mentor to Tyson and started him on his scientific career.  Oh, and Tyson’s occasional slaps at fundamentalist religious dogma, such as that the universe is 7000 years old, are amusing if disheartening when one realizes that in America in 2014 this is rather daring.  Other than that, it is all “gee whiz! look at this!” and incoherence.

The real difference between Cosmos and the Nature program, I decided, is that Nature told us as much about the process of arriving at a new perception, as it did about the new perception itself.  Cosmos presents us with a jumbled bunch of Revealed Truths.  At the end, I found myself thinking about what I had seen on Nature, and finding my worldview subverted and transformed by it.  Plants and the forest are not what I had thought they were, but they are much more like what I had dreamed and suspected.  I have not thought much about what Cosmos presented to me, at least not substantively, because Cosmos did not give me much substance to work with.  Again, I am sure Tyson did not intend it this way, but it is the difference between science reporting and scientism; between new perceptions of the world, on the one hand, and something that can take the place formerly occupied by Holy Writ, on the other.

Unsurpisingly, Nature is brought to you by PBS, and Cosmos by Fox and the Koch brothers.  The one show teaches us something about science, how it works and what it’s like to do it and what kind of humble but startling understandings it leads us to.  The other teaches us a new wowie zowie mythology suitable for use by workers and consumers in a technologically sophisticated oligarchy.

 

It’s Spread to Europe!

October 27th, 2013

harp guyI am thrilled to announce that To Join the Lost now is available at Shakespeare and Company, the wonderful English-language bookstore in Paris.  Yes, that Paris.  They accepted a few copies on consignment when I was there last week.  It was a rainy afternoon.  I sat outside under the awning for about forty-five minutes afterwards, waiting for the drizzle to subside and basking in the thrill of having my book on those bookshelves.  There also was a pretty good view of a chunk of Notre Dame.

Shakespeare and Company is a place steeped in literary history.  Well, sort of.  A bookstore by that name opened in 1919 on the Left Bank.  Through the 1920s, expatriate American and British literati hung out there: Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein. Its owner, Sylvia Beach, published Joyce’s Ulysses.  The original store closed in 1940, during the German occupation.  It never reopened, but a second store was opened in 1951 (the year before I was born) by George Whitman and it bears the same name; its current owner, Sylvia Beach Whitman, was named for the original store’s founder, and she has worked hard to maintain the same spirit and commitment to writing and writers that made the first store legendary.

I didn’t really expect my book to find a place there, and I am thrilled that it did.  But now I find myself in a bit of a quandary.  It is there on consignment.  That means, if it doesn’t sell out in the next six months (unlikely as that may seem) I need to retrieve the copies.  I don’t think I will be able to go back there so soon, although I dearly would love to do so.  There are items on the menu of Au Bascou that I haven’t tried yet.  I need a contact in Paris who can handle that for me (the book, not the restaurant) next April, if necessary.  Volunteers?

In Praise of Water Purification

June 13th, 2013

I hesitated to share this poem, because I’m unsure how good I think it is, as a poem, but I think it might at least be an interesting expression of some thoughts I’ve had.  It is one of the many fruits of the years I’ve spent pondering something my mother said one Thanksgiving: “It didn’t begin with me and it doesn’t end with me.”  In some sense this seemingly obvious observation has become central to my outlook.  One aspect of these reflections is captured in To Join the Lost, where the essence of hell is belief in the opposite proposition.  Goldfish Rising, the next volume in the trilogy, will carry the thought forward.  Geniuses tell us things that look simple but contain the world.  My mom was like that.  But this isn’t a poem about my mom.  It’s more about dads:

Yesterday, while scrubbing the sink to a

depthless, flawless white the chrome tap

hung across like a space vehicle (that’s

the kind of thing I think about while

scrubbing sinks) it struck me: my death,

if my son holds for me what I held

for my dad, will rip the poor kid a

hole in his guts, the same as my dad’s

ripped for me; and this is the cost the

love that I want now for us imposes.

Would it be better not to be beloved,

than to inflict that daily absence?

Then (this being the kind of thing

I think about while scrubbing sinks)

I saw, in the dimensioneless whiteness

above which swam the tap, the hole that

runs through my son’s life connected

to the hole that runs through mine,

and that ran through my father’s life,

and that pierced (I believe) the core of

his father’s before him, all the way

back to… when?  To some miserable

bastard, lost in heartlessness, whose son

greeted his last departure as merely

or less than just another sunset?  Could

indifference cap such a pipe-line?  Then

I thought of what might flow through such a

conduit, what umbilical nourishment

besides what filth and waste, and I knew,

it does not begin or end with me.

 

Hello, Lewiston!

March 30th, 2013

If you’re going to be in the Greater Lewiston-Auburn, Maine, Metropolitan Area the evening of April 26, 2013, and if you are not otherwise unbreakably committed by reason of social or business engagements to spend the evening elsewhere than the Lewiston Public Library, and if as a visitor to this site you have more than a passing interest in the wit and wisdom of me, you might find it well nigh irresistible to check this out.

Yes, I’m available to do readings!

February 6th, 2013

I’ve been involved in a nascent writers’ co-op, here in Burlington, and this past weekend we had our first public event.  I thought it was a grand success.  Apparently this reviewer thought so, too.  In case anyone was in any doubt, I am available to do readings at just about any venue – libraries, schools, theaters, stadiums, meadows, NASCAR rallies.  I promise you it will be a different kind of thing.  I might even bring along Dante himself!  Just contact me through this web site.  While you’re at it, you can buy a copy of the book.

Erratum

January 29th, 2013

To all of you who have bought a copy of To Join the Lost, I am sorry to report an error.  Page 178, line 1 should read “Archimedes” not “Aristotle.”  Can’t imagine how I let that slip through!  To all of you who have not bought a copy, what are you waiting for?  You can order one right here.

Paging Dr. Kubler-Ross

February 16th, 2012

Due to current events in my personal life, I have been thinking again about how poorly our culture prepares us to deal with death and with people who are dying.  Not strange, I guess, for a nation founded on the pursuit of happiness.  People wonder why I put Thomas Jefferson in hell in To Join the Lost.  Mostly, it’s because of his hypocrisy as a slave-owner who not only knew that he was doing wrong, but knew the degree of evil that it involved.  But I could have put him there for this seemingly benign phrase as well, which shackles the body politic to a warped, limited vision of the human condition, easily subverted into greed, lust, and the quest for satiation.  A people dedicated to the pursuit of happiness is not going to have a lot of time and thought to spare for such unpleasant things as death.  They’re going to shove it aside into hospitals and nursing homes; prettify it in funeral parlors; hide it in closed caskets that no one is allowed to welcome home from Afghanistan and Iraq; have broadcast journalists censor it from Syrian twitter feeds as too upsetting for the average viewer.  We have no emotionally satisfying

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He’s Baa-aaack

December 11th, 2011

Evil Kenyan Socialist Muslims, Beware This Man!

Long-time readers of this blog will know of my affection for Charles Dickens, class warrior extraordinaire and the greatest wielder of snark and outrage the English language has ever known.  Often, reading Dickens, I am struck by the feeling that except for the funny costumes he is talking directly about contemporary America.  Apparently the wonderful blogger Lance Mannion feels much the same way, likening New Gingrich to the evil schoolmaster Wackford Squeers from Nicholas Nickleby.  I would quibble with only one thing.  Nobody named “Lance Mannion” has any business making fun of “Newt Gingrich” as a moniker Dickens might have invented.

In this same vein, and with a nod to Newt’s claim that whereas most people think in terms of relatively short periods of time, he himself habitually contemplates vistas of 500 years, I would like to direct your attention to a fairly recently published book, one of whose themes is the unvarying nature of malevolence over the centuries.