Now I can finally mention it

Because it was in Publisher’s Weekly this week:

Megan Lynch at Riverhead has acquired world rights to Wendy McClure‘s new book, The Wilder Life, via Erin Hosier at Dunow, Carlson and Lerner. This humorous first-person narrative exploration of the life and work of Laura Ingalls Wilder retraces her real and fictional pioneer journeys, while also reporting on the phenomenon of Wilder’s contemporary fandom. Riverhead published New York Times Magazine contributor McClure’s I’m Not the New Me in 2005, and will publish the new book in 2010.

This is all to explain what I’ve been up to the past couple months (writing, thinking, proposal-writing, and selling), and what I’ll be doing for the next year (writing, writing, traveling, writing, churning butter, writing).  You might have guessed from my most recent BUST column that I’ve had Little House on the brain, and I decided to do something about it.

I’ll say more about this when I get a chance, but I have to go grind some wheat flour now. Happy Friday!

Books, beans & barrels of FUN

Lampo #1

You guys, please buy books for Christmas. I know times are tough and the economy is horrible and soon we’re all going to be going around wearing barrels with suspenders, but that’s all the more reason to buy books, so you should buy books.

(Though, just to digress for a moment, how did wearing a BARREL come to be the classic visual shorthand for being destitute anyway? What is the origin of that exactly? Chris and I keep discussing it, and really I would’ve looked it up on the internet by now if I didn’t also suspect that the actual history of barrel-wearin’ involves some icky tar-and-featherish kind of tradition that’s just unpleasant enough to ruin the cartoon fun. Chris did submit the question to “Ask Dr. Maddow,” though, and I’m sure Rachel could relate the gruesome truth quite adorably, because that’s her job.)

(Edited to add: while I was working on this entry, I went over to read Comics Curmudgeon, and Josh is wondering the same thing! Ha.)

But anyway, about the books: buy them. You need to buy them. Even if there’s only one book on your holiday shopping list, buy it new, and even better, buy it from a brick-and-mortar bookseller that you’d miss if it weren’t around, because it’s been coming to that lately for a lot of places. Booksellers might have to wear barrels, people! You don’t want to see that, not even on Barnes & Noble, who would need a very big barrel indeed and massive suspenders to hold it up. So buy books. If you can’t think of any books to buy, I’ve got some that I contributed to recently, and for each one of those books you’ll notice there are links to a whole slew of places where you can buy them, or buy other people’s books; really, I don’t care whose books you buy as long as they’re books and as long as they’re new (as in “not used”). Maybe the book thing is on my mind more these days because my job involves books, but really, people need to buy more books, okay? Thank you.

Like everyone else, I am pretty underwhelmed at how this America’s Next Top Model cycle turned out, even though McKey seems perfectly nice and frankly more modelesque than most of the contestants on that show. The best thing about her is her boxing skills and the fact that she likes to grab people and pick them up like the Hulk, so Chris and I are very much hoping that all her My Life as A Cover Girl commercials next cycle will involve punching and feats of strength, i.e., lifting entire pallets of lip gloss product; holding up runways; etc. We’re going to need something to look forward to in Cycle 12.

In other news, it was cool to get mentioned (on page 3)  in this Onion A/V Club article on blog books. (Buy those books, too! Well, maybe you don’t need to buy Tucker Max’s, not now at least, because if the publishing and book retail industry falls the hell apart and becomes one creepy company, you can definitely count on being able to buy a Tucker Max book with extra big Helvetica print at the Tucker & Max Bookstore in every airport terminal in America WOO HOO AWESOME and then you can prop up your copy on the edge of your barrel and read to your heart’s content. I’m just saying! Buy BOOKS.)

Finally, I’m hosting Thanksgiving this year. Does anybody have a good green bean recipe? The fried onions are standing by…


4/21/08: Out of nowhere

So about a month ago I quietly snuck away for another two weeks of Writey Camp to work on something. (Okay, there is a book. At least one book and maybe another book.) I guess I didn’t say much about it (the book, and the maybe-other book) because I didn’t want to give anyone the impression that I would be returning with a book, a finished and fully realized entity with a title cover page printed with that classy Garamond font, because that’s still a long time from happening, people. This thing (the book) is really only a few months along and not yet viable outside parentheses, so please continue to go about your business, because, well, it’s gonna be awhile. Right now all that exists are some printouts that frankly looked a lot better when I was at Writey Camp, because apparently there’s something about artists’ colonies that gives you literary beer goggles when you read your own stuff. But still! It’s progress. And it felt good to be doing more than flailing around, or at the very least flailing around on a consistent schedule and in a picturesque location. Somehow by 8 am every morning I managed to be at my desk, showered and dressed and working. And holy crap, just the thought of that is so stupidly inspiring it makes me want to close my browser and work on the you-know-what, but just for you I’ll carry on.

In the middle of my time at Ragdale I woke up one night feeling something weirdly alive going on under the floorboards and hearing things in the house softly rattling. I had the vague sense that there was a lot more going on there than ought to be in a very old house in a semi-rural neighborhood in the middle of the night. I thought, well, that was something, and I went back to sleep. In the morning I found out it had been an earthquake. An earthquake! That means I got felt up by the world and you better believe I’m thrilled.

But now I am back in civilization, where my windows rattle from the boomy bass Albany Park cars driving through the alley, and I am working to get caught up with the rest of my life, in addition to being deep in the middle of doing a column and critiquing manuscripts for a writing conference in Portland next weekend. So I’ll post here when I can, but I feel like I’ve been tuned to a somewhat different frequency at the moment, one that isn’t much good for public broadcast. So please stand by. Before too long there will be another little seismic shift that will bring me more fully back to you guys, but for now I need just a bit more time to do my real world work, as well as listen to the things that are softly rattling in my head.

Slowly ascending

Early colors

If you’ve been looking on my Flickr account you’ve noticed I’ve been off frolicking among big jolly hot-air balloons somewhere. Last week I was visting my dad in Albuquerque, and one morning we attended the Balloon Fiesta, which I believe is Spanish for “Party of the Swellings.” And swell it was! We got up at dawn during the first Sunday of the festival to watch the mass ascension. Apparently you can go right up to the balloons as they’re inflating, and touch them, and pull on their ropes and stuff, and they will not collapse into Hindenburgish balls of flame. Who knew? (Oh, everyone there except me.) It was one of the most awesome things I have ever seen, and I don’t mean awesome the way I usually mean “awesome.” I mean I watched those things and my mind emptied out, and propane torches roared in the void, and whoa. For about two hours of whoa. There were also plenty of specially-shaped novelty balloons (bees, an elephant, a Darth Vader head, etc.) and I tried to think up freaky new novelty balloon shapes of my own (anvil, giant Vicodin tablet, Black Power fist, etc.), but I never got tired of seeing the regular old balloony balloons take off. It was just what I needed after the past couple of weeks at work, which were, hard, like weird back -of-the-eyes-headache hard. I’m cutting back on my hours in a couple weeks, but there are many things to finish first.

So I’m back, and I’m still trying to catch up on job and life and all this new stuff going on. Chris got a new job and it’s close enough to my workplace that we drive in together. I’m trying to work on all these new writing projects. The days have changed their shape and feel and color. I’m slowly getting hooked on Diet Coke again. I’m hanging in there, baby, like that damn cat in the 70s poster.

Oh, and speaking of Friday (which is really what we’re all hanging-in-there-baby for, isn’t it?), I’ll be reading at the Book Cellar with Stacey Ballis, Elizabeth Crane, Jen Lancaster, and Claire Zulkey. Come see us! You can get wine! Maybe we’ll even braid each other’s hair and prank call Witty Male Writers at their readings.  BE THERE.

I've been meaning to get back to you about these things


The New York and Boston thing: Oh jeez, so much fun, though what I saw of New York this trip was pretty much limited to Williamsburg and Midtown, and what I saw of Boston was limited to the Great Scott and the neighborhood thereabouts. But I did get to drive around the block once in Brooklyn, because Jami had double-parked her car to get coffee and while I was waiting a cop drove up. Don’t Wait Until the Cop Comes Up to Yell at You is an important driving rule around there, I believe, as well as Hasidic Dudes in Minivans Always Have Right of Way. But then I let Jami have the car again and she drove it up to Boston, where she and Janice and I read to a couple dozen people. And I didn’t throw up. (For a minute there I thought I would. Don’t ask why.) And then the three of us held a competitive read-off where we read snippets of the most lurid parts of our books. Obviously I lost, since I’m Not the New Me is not so much about the sex and drugs than it is about awkward makeouts and binging on white bread. But I did my best against Ms. Stories and Ms. Tales of Clubs and Cocaine, and I had a blast trying, at least.

The bike thing: Chris bought himself a bike a couple weeks ago, which means that we can ride together, which means that I can worry less about falling off my bike and breaking something and lying in a ditch all wounded and covered with ants for days and days. So on our first day out we headed up the North Shore Channel Trail, which goes through Lincolnwood and Skokie. We went as far as Dempster, which in my mind is so far north that it’s nothing but tundra and fur traders (but no, it’s Skokie), and then we got lunch and turned around. When we looked at the map later we realized the round trip was nearly twelve miles. Twelve miles, and we were not even remotely dead. Last night we went out again, but we could only do about seven miles before it got dark. This Sunday we’re going to try the work route.

This Thing thing: Oh, ho ho, I say, because the other night I had a big Argentinian steak after the wedding of some friends of ours, and that ponderous Steak Feeling is with me still, and it sits, like a giant cat, on the metaphorical keyboard of my good intentions. No, I tell it, you can’t has cheezburger. That’s just how it is at the moment.

Reading thing: Friday night I’ll be reading with Jami (again!) and Alpana Singh at the Book Cellar. You know that means there will be wine, right?