An update on my garage (and my mental health)

Here I pondered what to do with myself after giving up on the American experiment.  Some updates:

  • My garage is much cleaner, thanks for asking.  Although not exactly, you know, clean.
  • I haven’t read A Theory of Justice.  But it’s on my Amazon wish list (hint hint)!  Also, it was mentioned in a good book I read about philosophers of the Enlightenment called The Dream of Enlightenment.
  • Following my brother’s suggestion, I have listened to Schoenberg’s orchestration of the Brahms piano quartet.  It was great.  Thanks, Stan!  Thanks, Amazon Prime!  Thanks, Brahms and Schoenberg!
  • I’ve speeded up my fiction writing.  I’m up to about 40,000 words of my first draft.  Theoretically, that should be about halfway through.  Unfortunately, I seem to have about a dozen point of view characters, and things keep getting more complicated.  Occupational hazard.
  • I haven’t read more Shakespeare.  On the other hand, I have listened to Ian McEwan’s Nutshell.  I’m generally conflicted about McEwan, but boy is this novel great.  It’s a modern retelling of the Hamlet story; in this case, Hamlet is the narrator, and he happens a fetus overhearing a plot between his mother (Trudy) and uncle (Claude) to murder his father.  It’s ridiculously well written, even if McEwan’s characterization of a third-trimester fetus isn’t always, um, plausible.

Is my mood any better?  Actually, no, despite the state of my garage.  Here is Charles Blow in the Times, summing things up pretty well:

We are not in an ordinary postelection period of national unity and rapprochement. We are facing the potential abrogation of fundamental American ideals. We stand at the precipice, staring into an abyss that grows darker by the day.

How should I spend my time now that I’ve given up on the American experiment?

So many things to choose from.

  • Clean out my garage.  You’ve seen my garage, right?  You haven’t?  It’s a mess.  Decluttering is all the rage.  Maybe I’ll start there.
  • Read A Theory of Justice by John Rawls.  Reading about his theory clarified for me why I’m a liberal.  But I’ve never read the book itself.  It’s, um, long.  And if I read it, maybe I’ll have to read all the books that have been written in response to it.  And meanwhile the garage will get messy again.
  • Listen to more Brahms.  How come I got to be as old as I am without listening to his string quintets?  They’re great!  What else am I missing?  I can listen to Brahms while cleaning my garage.
  • Finish my novel.  Faster.  Luckily, my novel doesn’t have anything to do with politics.  Of course, it’s entirely possible politics will sneak in before I’m done with it.
  • Re-read Shakespeare.  I’ve let that go for too long.  Now would be a great time to start it up again.  Also, there are a couple of Shakespeare exhibits at the Boston Public Library.  How come I’m not there right now?

Of course, there’s always the chance that at some point I’ll rethink my current attitude.  As that noted optimist Samuel Beckett famously said:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Failing better is the American way.

Broken

I haven’t been posting much here lately because I’ve spent all my time worrying if America was going to break in the election.

Well, the election has happened, and America broke, and my heart broke with it.  So what’s a fella to do?  Post a photo of a kid playing soccer with a very uninterested panda, I guess.

The paperback version of Terra is now available!

It’s $14.99 and worth every penny!  Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  (I have no idea how there is already a used copy for sale from a bookseller on Amazon.)

By the way, we’re in the process of coming up with a new cover for The Portal to give us continuity in the series.  I’ll post a draft when we have it.

Terra cover

First customer review of Terra

And it’s a good one!

A really intriguing and rather different coming of age story. Alternate universe, strange portals to travel through and a planet called Terra. Earth, but not Earth. A place where the Roman Empire never fell, although with some very big differences. The first being that power resides in the hands of the priests, who control the portal, the Via. A schism has developed in the priesthood with the head priest (pontifex) attempting to corrupt the ideals of the finder of the portal and original priest of the order.

This is the second book of the series, having not yet read the first story of Larry and his portal hopping I was concerned it would be difficult to follow. It wasn’t. There were enough explanations to give one a basic understanding of what had occurred in the first episode so that the characters motivations could be understood, without destroying the suspense and giving away the previous storyline.

The combination of alternate universe travel, the Roman Empire still existent, some wonderfully complex characters, a high level of suspense and many twists made for an edge-of-the-seat read.

Highly recommended.

One of the many tough things about writing a sequel is trying to make the novel intelligible on its own.  I’m glad to see this reader enjoyed Terra without having read its predecessor.

Let’s dance beneath the diamond sky for Bob Dylan

I once took a course from a Nobel Prize winner.  But this is the only Nobel Prize winner I’ve seen playing electric guitar while people shouted angrily at him for betraying folk music.

Here’s just one example of why Dylan deserves the Nobel Prize:

Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow

There are, of course, hundreds more.