Thursday, June 09, 2005

Specimens

I recieved a rejection letter for my new short story tonight, and it was actually a nice letter explaining why they didn't like it. But there were a couple things that made me scratch my head. First, they described the story like this: "...humans trying (often in vain) to cope while the world is about to end." This isn't what happens! And then, this little nugget: "To get such a well-worn premise to work, the writing needs to be really brilliant, which yours--while being quite good--just wasn't." So not only did I not write the story they read, I didn't write very well. Ouch.

I rushed out and bought the new Michael Cunningham novel yesterday, Specimen Days. I've looked forward to this for quite a while. Polly has him as a teacher and when she told me a ways back that this would involve some sci-fi weirdness, I flipped. The Hours was a watershed book for me. I read it in two days in Dublin and it changed virtually everything I thought about what a poor boy from Iowa could write. I'll start reading it tonight.

I'm also reading the new biography of Patricia Highsmith, Beautiful Shadow, and I'm in love with it and her as much as Randa Jarrar is right now. I wish I had words as eloquent as hers to describe my summer fling with Highsmith.

I've been getting some revision work done on a novel and a short story the last few days while I just kind of chill out here in farmland (kind of hard to do considering the heat and humidity). The ducks seem to have taken over, along with mosquitoes that seem to get bigger every year. I start writing about 10 PM and then straight on through until I take a break at 2:30 AM to watch "What's My Line" on GSN Black & White Overnight, which aside from the panel's inability to not comment on someone's weight, is still the best thing on TV fifty years later. Then I go back to it until about four or five depending, whenever the sun spoils the mood.

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