Odds and Ends, incl a great new transFem novel!

Hello friends! I know I’ve been slow in posting lately. I do have news though: after several phone calls and emails, my Cynical Guide is back online at Amazon. This also prompted me to upload it to other ebook stores, where it has thus far sold checks notes one copy. But that’s three dollars and fifty cents I wouldn’t otherwise have, so I say not bad.

I am also getting together a paperback version. I don’t expect anyone to buy it, but having a paperback gives you an air of legitimacy.

Writing is going exceptionally well. I hope to have good news for you soon! My reading life is going less well, I’ve had a very difficult time concentrating on words lately, but I’ve listened to a lot of stuff. First of all, a warning, I must rescind my "Not Intolerably White" label from Dan Carlin’s history podcast. It’s pretty white. I have a higher tolerance for that than most of my audience; a lot of you probably wouldn’t like it. The podcast is almost entirely military history, and there’s just…a whiteness to it. Nothing wrong with that. White guys have their culture just like everyone else. And part of that culture involves wondering whether the Assyrians could’ve beaten the Macedonians in battle and/or pondering what exactly made Alexander and Genghis Khan such fearsome conquerors. I went to an all-boys school, so there’s a part of this that’s still appealing to me, unfortunately.

I’ve also been listening to some literature podcasts, and I’ve been listening to some of the recommendations when there are audio versions available. Most notably I listened to Gerard Reve’s book The Evenings. It’s a book about a young man who lives at home and how he spends the ten evenings before New Year’s. He’s pretty insufferable, and he reminds me strongly of the main character from [Confederacy of Dunces], but the focus on interstitial time and the passing of time sets the book apart. Most famously, it’s a book about boredom, tedium, ennui, annoyance, all the small feelings that make up the greater part of one’s day.

I also read Anton Myrer’s Once An Eagle, which is an odd duck–an extremely long novel about the career of an officer who fights in WWI, stays in the army during the interwar period, fights in WWII and eventually dies while on a mission in Vietnam. The book had its high points, and it was stirring at moments. But I was most compelled by the human cost of a military career–the toll it takes on relationships–and by the conflicting motivations that career officers have. The main character longs for glory, at times, but increasingly hates the stupidity and waste of war. Don’t necessarily recommend the book, especially when you could read the much superior [Caine Mutiny], which has a similar feel and covers similar ground.

I’m also reading Jeanne Thornton’s Summer Fun. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this book over the next month, but it’s so good! It’s nuts! It’s such a weird novel! It’s told as a series of letters from a trans woman living in a trailer in New Mexico to a reclusive rock star who is definitely Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys. I first met Jeanne at the Lambda Literary conference in 2015. She was working on this book even then, and at the time I was like…this is one of the most random books I’ve ever heard of. This resembles literally nothing else in the world.

And that is true! But it comes together. That’s the crazy thing. TRUST THE BOOK. IT COMES TOGETHER. In my own writing, I am big on storytelling–I like everything to fit together neatly–even when there are ambiguities, I like to know what the ambiguities are. But that does mean I don’t leave room for that wild bolt of inspiration that has you going wow I didn’t know books could do this!

And now that I know the publishing world better, believe me when I tell you that you are lucky to be getting this book. Publishing doesn’t like what it cannot understand and neatly package, and this book is that. It’s also just fun and compulsive and terrifying and warm-hearted. Strong recommend (though it’s not out yet). Jeanne has told me she’s narrating the audiobook, which sounds incredible. Maybe get that =]

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