The Tango Singer

I can still recall the virtual experience of this book in the end, as if I myself were lying at the bottom of a stairwell staring into the dark void, watching the universe expand from the Big Bang in all directions. Perhaps it was the Borges story that imprinted this imagery on my brain. The Tango Singer put me in the same cosmos.

The Scalpel and the Soul, Allan J. Hamilton

This book is a fast-paced read. I recommend Hamilton’s memoir to those reviewers who seem to not like memoirs that are too revealing about the author

Toxic Stories, how to purge them

With all the skimming of Web stories, surfing the Net, speed reading my mind gets to feeling so gorged, I long for the virtual-room equivalent of the Romans’ vomitorium.

Deconstructing Mary

We discovered how Karr could break rules—going off-story and on tangents but that she did it so well, as one reviewer put it, “her narrative meanders through tangents that sometimes more entertaining than the point she’s getting to.” We also admired Karr’s “time management.” Again, borrowing from another reviewer: “schoolyard rape gets little more than a footnote. Karr faces it down as she does cancer, madness, alcoholism and a vicious dog—with humor and a scrappy genius for survival.”

Perish or Publish?

Then be prepared for editors with notions, who often know less than you, write less than you, but who are totally necessary and worthy of being listened to. You want to learn to dialogue, to discourse with your writing, so you will have to answer what seem like silly questions about your meaning and intent. And over explain things.

Flash Fiction (511 words)

Blood Shadow Entered in NPR three-minute fiction contest. Rules included the word count had to be 600 words or less and about a president. I’m a pitbull on the pantleg of popportunity. George holds off to the perimeter, sharpening his diction. “It’s a remarkable piece of equipment,” Karl says brightly. His eyes glance off Colin […]

A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole My rating: 5 of 5 stars The reader either gets this author or is bored to a DNF (did not finish). I re-read this book every few years. What I love is the character Reilly, the way Toole captures the culture and times of the 1960s like […]

Solar Light, Lunar Light book review

Solar Light, Lunar Light: Perspectives in Human Consciousness by Howard Teich My rating: 5 of 5 stars Howard Teich’s groundbreaking new book, SOLAR LIGHT, LUNAR LIGHT, Perspectives in Human Consciousness, courageously challenges the cherished assumption that masculine and feminine traits represent opposing forces. In fact, Dr. Teich shows how that entrenched belief has led to […]

The Gammage Cup, Carol Kendall

The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall My rating: 5 of 5 stars I read this book at about age 11 or 12 and it helped shape my understanding and attraction to society’s outcasts. Perhaps it urged me always to think outside the box and to live most of my life in unconventional, but personally shaped, […]

The Grass is Singing, Doris Lessing

The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing My rating: 4 of 5 stars I’m not big on mysteries or whodunnits and this novel has a dose of both genres. But given that Doris Lessing is the author, you get not only an edge-of-your-seat read but a deepening understanding of the Apartheid culture of South Africa. […]

Reformed Self-Pubber back pedals

Today, I’m overwhelmed by the process and choices of ebook publishing. As book designer Joel Friedlander describes it, the process looks like an “out-of-control spaghetti party.” Doubt creeps in when I look at the number of romance, mystery, thriller, and erotic books on the do-it-yourself site.

My baby is none of the above. It’s literary mainstream. It doesn’t have too many adjectives and adverbs. The F word appears in it exactly 0 times. Hey, I better stop trying NOT to sell my book here. It’s titillating in other ways—ways that complex thinkers, literati, and others in the formerly rarefied air of publishing can appreciate. It’s lonely at the top.

OK, I’m coming back down now.

Memoir: Faithful Narratives are Boring

Nobel-prize winner, Eric Kandel talks about how the time we spend remembering far outweighs the time we spend living. Kandel describes two brains, two bodies—one that experiences and one that remembers. The one that remembers, according to Kandel’s research as I understood it, uses a different clock, one that is what I’ll call qualitative, as opposed to the clocks that measure precise seconds, minutes, hours. So for example: as a child my family spent anywhere between three and five days of each summer down the shore. But Down the Shore dominates the map of my memory, extends and flows over all else that happened during those three humid months. The rest of my childhood summers were spent longing or feeling restless (to escape NJ). Indeed, if I probe and look deeper, I find the other stuff.

What can writers learn from the presidential campaign?

Developing the “narrative,” staying “on message”—these are oft-used phrases in politics and in writing. Just as writers are advised to know their reader, politicians only stay in office if they speak to their constituents’ interests.

Self-Pub Skeptic reforms

After taking Carla King’s Self-Publishing Boot Camp. Her schedule is here, I fell down off my horse. Yes, I’ve been a skeptic for a long time, but I saw the light. If all goes according to plan within a week or so I should have my 2000 novel, The Last Cannoli (currently available only in hard copy) published as an eBook.

TEDx Does Tango

Many months ago, Todd, a young man from Manhattan called to gauge my interest in being part of a TEDx Talk—The Hero’s Journey (à la Joseph Campbell). He had read my book, Tango, an Argentine Love Story, and thought my tango journey fit the theme.

Memoirist, let the ‘dogs of narcissism’ in

Listening to Terry Gross last night interviewing J.R. Moehringer who is the author of the memoir Tender Bar, I was captured by his phrase—keeping “the dogs of Narcissism” at bay when writing his own memoir. He was explaining that when he ghost wrote the memoir for Andre Agassi he didn’t have that concern. He had […]

Heresy: Why Outlines are Counter-Productive

You don’t get to the guts of your story or memoir and the reason you think it’s so important to write and share with others by a linear approach to surface events or a timeline. You get to it by (cliche alert:) spilling your guts. You get to your memoir or story through an entry point, by deep resonant honesty that let’s you into your story as a trusted, detached, at times un-sentimental (not disinterested or dis-associated, but detached) observer.

The Art of Writing Memoir

• Does the observer (writer) really alter the outcome? Or does the outcome retroactively alter the observer (writer)?• In the Self-fulfilling-Prophecy dynamic what comes first? The Self or the Prophecy. Or is there a third option, as in Buddhist thought: dependent co-arising (or co-dependent arising)? • As in life, a developed Sense of Time is all-important to writing memoir. Once you tap the archetypal current (time eternal) of your story, you know how/when to dilate or contract Time.

Oregon Coast, Los Angeles Times

Read the original article here. August 26, 2012 FLORENCE, Ore. — My mind drifts back to Ken Kesey’s 1964 novel, “Sometimes a Great Notion,” as my friend Rob and I drive west from Eugene to the Oregon coast along scenic Highway 126. The curling two-lane road sweeps through views of the Cascade Range cloaked in […]

Journaling Jogs Memory

Although I resisted forever turning the practice of keeping a journal into a verb—journaling, for instance—I like the slight alliterative value of the above title. Whether you journal or keep journals, as I have since age 11, they can help you retrieve details that would otherwise fade into the ether and they can unveil the tricks memory plays.