Hello friends, I still haven’t ended my love affair with my electric type-writer doohickey. I don’t expect this to last forever. All things lose their charm eventually. Or, as John Cougar Mellencamp would put it:

life goes on
long after the thrill
of living
is gone

Do I owe him money now? I’m still not sure if I’m allowed to quote lyrics or not. They say you can’t do it in published books, but blog posts must be fine, no?

I’ve been on a writing and submitting tear lately, but my consumption of writing hasn’t really kept pace. My last ‘serious’ book was John Dos Passos’s 42nd Parallel. The novel is great, really interesting, I love the characters, but you know my secret sneaking thought: "Stand on Zanzibar is better…" For those who don’t know, SoZ is a science fiction novel by John Brunner. He essentially lifts all of the USA Trilogy’s collage techniques wholesale and applies them to a dystopian science-fictional world. But that world is so alive and interesting that I think it honestly works better.

I meant to immediately start the next book in the trilogy, but instead I’ve sort of faffed around. I’ve read a bunch of volumes of Adam Warren’s superhero spoof Empowered, about a young woman superhero who loses her powers whenever her suit gets torn. Yeah, she ends up bound and gagged a lot. The comic started, I think, as a bunch of commissions for soft-core bondage comics? Or something? The superhero spoof is old hat, but the characters in the book, the eponymous Empowered, her roommate Ninjette, and her boyfriend Thugboy, are all just really sweet and human. It’s like a much lighter version of THE BOYS.

I’m watching the fifth season of David E. Kelley’s legal drama, The Practice. I loved this show as a kid, and I watched most of it during its original run. What I hadn’t fully appreciated at the time was how deftly the various relationships are handled. The show has an office sit-com element, with the characters having various tensions and difficulties with each other, but in contrast to say, The Good Wife, where after a while it seemed like everyone hated each other, the people in The Practice never quite cross that line. They really do seem to like each other. I think it helps that they are all misfits: overweight, perpetually single Eleanor; PI-turned-lawyer Eugene; Jimmy "fired from his last job for fraud" Berluti; Bobby "chip on his shoulder from going to a bad law school" Donnell. They can only work with each other, and they know it.

What isn’t good is the absurd plotting. The show is a bit like SCANDAL (but not as bad) in that they up the stakes way too quickly: stalkers, murders, stabbings–at one point Bobby has a guy killed!–it’s just way too much, it strains believability and it harms the narrative fabric of the world.

On the other hand I am impressed with their season-long arcs, and how they managed long-form storytelling on a network show in the early 2000s! Nobody was asking for that, and they handle it thoughtfully and with courage.

The pandemic is worsening. Yesterday two thousand people died, and we had 187,000 cases. It is appalling. I think people are basically on their own for this one. It’s like the AIDS crisis: something is happenng and nobody cares. But…it’s happening to everyone. The whole thing perplexes and depresses me.

I genuinely don’t know what the literary world will look like when this is over. Imprints have been shutting down, editors losing their jobs. The company that owns PRH is trying to buy Simon and Schuster, which will turn what used to be the big Five into the Big Four. At that point it’s hard to imagine that two of the remaining three won’t figure out how to merge. We’ll see what happens. There will always be books, but it’s a depressing time to be an author. But you know what? 2008 was MUCH WORSE. So at least there’s that.

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  1. grrlpup

    I love the theme music for The Practice, now playing in my head after reading this post. 🎶

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