Thursday, December 20, 2012

Next Big Cock on the Block and Stuff

Note: This is the blog I'd intended to post last week, but put off after the events in Newtown. To remain consistent, I'm a day late again this week. Anybody who follows my writing knows this is a habit. A bad habit, but fuck it. I apologize to those I've tagged. They're free to say bad shit about me.

So, if you have any writer Facebook friends, especially those who write speculative fiction, you’ve probably seen the “Next Big Thing,” blog gang bang that’s been passed around like a cheap hooker at a bachelor party. And guess what? It’s my turn. Thank you, John Mantooth! I call sloppy seven-hundred and seconds.

Anyway, the idea is I answer a few questions about my work, and tag a number of authors who I’m interested in and they do the same next week.

Confession, like everything I do, I’m a day late. For some reason, I must have missed the day they taught how to read a calendar. I apologize to my vast sea of readers and to those whom I’ve tagged (not in the nasty way).

Without further adieu:

Question: What is the working title of your book/work in progress?

Answer: The Nines. Which is significantly more tame than the last project I finished in November – Mondo Blood Presents: Escape from Shit Town.

Q: Where did the idea for the book come from?

A: It’s a story that fits into my Money Run mythos (see American Gomorrah or, ebook). I’d realized I’d set stories in the southwestern desert, the Nevada desert, the corn fields of the heartlands, rural Louisiana and an unnamed large metropolitan area from the northeast, but nothing in my native Colorado. Thought it was time to write about someplace I’d actually seen.

Q: What genre does the book fall under?

A: While I’m probably mostly known for darker speculative fiction, I’d have to say it’s a magical realism piece with crime/suspense components. And no, magical realism doesn’t mean elves and unicorns. The explanation given to me is that magical realism deals with an element or elements that are bordering on outrageous, but treating them like they’re perfectly normal and socially acceptable in your setting. Of course, the person who explained it to me coulda been full of shit, too.

Q: Which actors would you choose to play the characters from your book?

A: There’s a lot of viewpoint characters in the book. It’s kind of actually how I structured it – for each chapter to be told from one of a cast of rotating characters.

He’d be too old to play them now, but Warren Oats (Sergeant Hulka in “Stripes”) would be perfect to play the dual roles of Henry and Artimus DeVine.

Tien Howard would be ideally suited to Lost’s Yunjin Kim, and Tien’s husband, David Howard, reminds me of Judah Friedlander.

The easiest one to pick out of all these would be for one of my favorite Money Run characters – Sister Dazy. Way, way easy – Christina Hendricks. Anybody who’s read any of the Money Run stories is going to immediately agree with me on that one. Let me take a second to catch my breath.

There’s several others, but in the interest of time and your attention span, I’m just going to move on.

Q: What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A: Like synopsis aren’t bad enough, but one sentence? I can make it a run-on sentence right? Fuck it, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to.

A down-and-out “cop” is charged with keeping a vital highway clean from "complications" so a very special shipment can go through with no interference or witnesses, but a mishap leads to complications and the assorted characters must deal with trying to secure the cargo reaching its destination, the possibility of a domestic terrorist permanently closing down their critical highway, and with every other characters’ competing (and usually not-so-savory) motivation.

Q: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agent?

A: The plan is to try and lure one of them agent thingies. I’ve published several things in the small press, cracked several pro markets with short stories, but if I want to put on the big-boy pants, I’m going to have to try the agent route sooner or later. If it doesn’t work out, I do have a couple of publishers who have already expressed interest.

Q: How long did it take you to write the first-draft of your manuscript?

A: I’ll let you know when I’m finished. I have about ten chapters left – they’ve been coming in at an average of about 1200 words. So, literally, I could be finished any day now. However, I think I began the thing over four years ago.
I’ve put it aside several times to work on other projects that, you know, pay and stuff.

The story started out as a flash fiction piece, then I decided I needed to show a little more and it was going to be a short story. Then more – novella. Finally, I said fuck it, let’s go for the whole enchilada. I know these changes in structure tripped me up more than they helped. And I had one character that my instincts told me to stay with, but her story wouldn’t reveal itself to me. I ran into a wall on that several times. However, I know the rest of the story now. I’m past most of the difficult parts to write.

Plus, I have an odd disadvantage on how I write when it comes to first drafts, but because my process is that way, final drafts aren’t usually far behind. That’s a story for another blog post, though. The one where I celebrate finishing this damn thing.

Q: What other books in your genre would you compare this story to?

A: I’m not so sure if they’re in the same genre, but I’d say it’s a mix of Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD, Palianiuk’s INVISIBLE MONSTERS and Hunter S. Thompson’s FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS.

Q: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A: I’m not a big believer in inspiration. If you want to write, sit down and write. To this point, I’ve been more of a short story guy. I believe that maybe I’m a sprinter and not a marathon runner (although I’d probably have a heart attack if I actually tried either of those right now). But I couldn’t go without giving novel writing a try. This is that try. I’m hopeful I’ll like the result enough to give it another shot – especially since I’m excited as hell about my next idea (but I have three short stories due first – see how that works?!).

Q: What else might pique the reader’s interest in your book?

A: Oh, it’s got something for everybody. Well, the depraved side of everybody – hookers, nuns, alcoholics (and that’s all one character), lot lizards, car crashes, sex slaves, ‘roid rage, explosives, speed knitting, strippers, dudes shot from cannons, dudes not shot from cannons, Winnebagos, nest eggs, domestic terrorism, hand puppets, explosive dildos and Nipsey fucking Russell. That should cover it.

This concludes the first part of our show. If you need to use the bathroom, now would be ideal.

Cue intermission music - doobie-doobie-doo...

You back? The second requirement to this is I tag five writers. It wasn’t made clear to me that I can tag people who’ve already participated, so I went with some that haven’t been. And yes, I can count, but I only went with one less. I figured if I’m going to be a day late, might as well be a writer short. That’s how I roll.

With even less further adieu than before:

First, Jason V. Brock, an opinionated, conflict-loving writer and editor and film maker and...all that stuff. His most recent work has just been released from Bad Moon Books, but I'm sure he'll tell you about that.

Brett Williams is a very promising and prolific young writer, and a hell of a nice guy. FROM MURKY DEPTHS is his latest release, but at the pace he writes, there might be six more available by the time I post this.

A guy whose been banging around the small press for years, John Paul Allen, is a veteran writer with a ton of "street cred." Good effin writer.

The wild card here is Cindy Leimgruber. She's new. She's young. She models, she acts, she sings, she writes paranormal romance. She'll also be interesting to follow.

And, with that, ladies and gentelmen, our show concludes. Thank you for your patronage and drive safely. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!


Friday, December 14, 2012


NOTE: I was a little late with my "Next Big Thing" blog post that was due a couple of days ago. With today's events, I'm postponing this until next week. My apologies to those whom I've tagged, but bad taste and all.


Where to start?

With emotion, I guess. Isn't that where you're supposed to hit a reader? And there's a myriad we're experiencing. Enduring, actually. Maybe just suffering through.

Numbness, sorrow, anger, confusion. There are a lot of different people affected by today's events. There's a lot of different ways for them to deal with their emotions, to react, to cope.

Two emotions dominate me right now. Not anger - because that's not strong enough. Rage, though. That's one. A rage that left me screaming in my car, punching the steering wheel. Rage at the asshole or assholes responsible (as of this writing, it's still not clear). Rage that we allowed it to happen.

The second emotion is disgust. We knew this was coming. What, there was no evidence? Aurora wasn't enough? Minnesota wasn't enough? Oregon, just fucking yesterday, wasn't enough. And I'm disgusted by all of us for our apathy. I'm disgusted with me.

But, somehow, it's never the time to talk about it. I understand many who are complaining that this is being politicized are trying to cope with their emotions, to simply put one minute after the other, make sense of complex events a little at a time.

I will not wait anymore to discuss this, though. I waited, out of respect, after Columbine (that happened less than five miles from where I lived at the time), and then it got too far in the past and wasn't the right time again somehow. I waited after Aurora (That happened about five miles from where I live today) and after Virginia Tech and after Arizona and after Minnesota and after - fuck it, pick an incident, because you can come up with five on your own. I waited and waited and waited and now we no longer have the luxury to wait. Now is the time to FUCKING ACT!
These events are so prevalent today, news shows have "go-to" people for massacres. How fucking sick is that? I waited, and we waited and what did we get? We got today. And I will not wait one more fucking second. I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN AGAIN TOMORROW BECAUSE I DID NOTHING TODAY. It is time we act, we actually do something about gun violence, about massacres of innocent people now instead of procrastinating out of "respect for the victims." Let's not wait until the children are buried because maybe we have another story tomorrow. How about we act out of respect for possible future victims?

Honestly, when was the last mass shooting before this one? Think hard - oh, you don't have to. It was actually yesterday. At a mall. In Oregon.

This is it. Today is THE final fucking straw. Many of us have culpability. Many of us knew gun control, and let's call it what it has become and should be known as - massacre control, was something that needed to be part of the public discourse. Those in this camp ignored it. Ignored it because there was an election to win. Ignored it because it's a hot topic and might sway swing voters to vote for the other side, and in the end, the big picture would be lost. I let the "big" picture get in the way of the actual bigger picture.

I will be culpable no more.

It's been widely reported that the shooter used a .223 caliber rifle. The Aurora theater shooter had an M-16 with a 100 round barrel magazine and a .40 caliber semi automatic hand gun. The asshole that shot Gabby Giffords had a 19mm glock w/ a 33 round magazine. These are not weapons for hunting or self defense. These, the ammo used in them, are designed for mass assaults.

You want a handgun for self defense? I disagree, but I do think it's your right. A handgun, as in singular. If you want a couple of rifles to go hunting, I disagree, but I think it's your right. You want assault rifles and are clearly obsessed with weapons, then you are the exact person to not have them and it is no longer your right. One's need to compensate for the size of their penis does not grant them a right to have weapons only the military should access to. Where do you draw the line? The Second Amendment only says "right to bear arms." (And for the moment I'll ignore the militia provision to do this and the fact that the Supreme Court has consistently said that the actual right is only allowed to members of the National Guard.) Isn't a rocket launcher an "arm?" A nuclear warhead? Mustard gas?

There is a right to draw the line, and that line was drawn today. Those that have been complacent will not stand for this any longer. People who didn't even bother to vote in one of the most contentious elections in our history are calling their congresspeople and senators. Those who waivered for one second on gun control are looking at it again. The tide has turned because of today. Because me, and people like me, will no longer allow the NRA to allow this shit to happen. To lobby to almost ensure it will happen again.

And if you think today isn't the day to talk about it, if you think the NRA is not to share in this blame, then I point to dozens of dead kids who did nothing but go to school. Your argument is invalid.

My disgust is.

Make no mistake. I understand it's not simply weapons that led to this. There's an entire litany of shit that needs to be addressed. But we can no longer afford to deny that people with guns are behind these events. And those people need to be stopped.

Those who want to do something, call your representatives.

Sign the petition for the president to open up debate and begin the ending of these events: Petition

I will not wait any more.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Tom Piccirilli doesn’t know me from Adam. I know this, because he’s told me on several occasions. After about the third time meeting him at one of his readings, I was a little over-sensitive about this. I mean, c’mon, who could forget me? Answer: Pic. But at that third meeting, I’d noticed a trend. A group that seemed to show up at all of his readings here in Colorado. And he didn’t remember any of them either.

It was that third meeting that his bad memory illustrated itself in full force, though. He had a meet-and-greet at the Windsor Library that had just reopened in Windsor, Colorado – about five miles southeast of Tom’s home in Loveland. A little background is required here – I love Tom Piccirilli’s writing, more on that later. As an aspiring writer, his opinion meant a lot to me, so I’d pretty much harassed his ass to read something by me…something that wouldn’t exist without him. And, as a best-selling author with many pokers in the fire, he told me very politely to “fuck off.” Didn’t stop me, though.

So, we’re back to the third meeting. Tom was engaging, answered a ton of typical writing questions with grace and patience and then took a much needed break. During this break, a guy from the front row sprung into action and corralled Pic for its entirety. As he and Pic continued talking, the expression of discomfort on Tom’s wife’s face grew.

By the time the intermission was over, said guy was gone, actually creating a bit of a scene in his exit. Afterwards, in my true stalker mode, I cornered Pic. Again, he didn’t remember me. But I felt better as his wife explained that the guy who’d left in a huff was their next-door neighbor for about seven years. The reason he was mad because Tom didn’t remember him.

Also, that night, Tom finally agreed to read my story.

Now, I have a point here, I’m just wordy. At every meeting before and since, at each time I’d gone two months between emails and he wouldn’t remember me, he has always been a gentleman and patient and answered any question I had in a thoughtful way. I imagine somebody who’s had as much success as him gets a lot of clowns like me hanging around. But Pic has always been himself – at least the self I’ve known. Bottom line, Pic’s one of the good guys.

The first reading I went to of his I met in person for the first time Kim Despins, who might be the best writing friend I have on the planet now. But that’s a different story.

The reading was at Westside Books in the trendy Highlands Neighborhood here in Denver. Support your local bookstores, people! Anyway, Pic shared the bill with Brian Hodge, and the emcee was the venerable Ed Bryant. It was at least five years ago, but I still remember most of Ed’s introduction.

Ed explained that the nickname “Pic” not only came from Tom’s last name, but because when Tom was coming up, everybody knew he was “it.” He was, barring some unforeseen circumstance, going to be the next big thing. The “pick.” And everybody was right.
I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without Pic. Don’t know how he’d take that, but…it’s fucking true. My most popular story among readers is “Tossing Butch, Saving Theodore” (although it’s not that popular among publishers – see “If Mama Ain’t Happy.”)

I almost quit on that story. It was just too fucking odd. And two days later I started THE CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN. And I knew I was all good. Pic drew the roadmap – how to be absurd but caring, how to want to hate characters but not help but love them. I’m not Tom Piccirilli, but he’s one of the most influential people in my life. So much so, I finished that story. And I spent last weekend at KillerCon talking with numerous people about it.

To this day, I still refer to CHOIR when I get stuck writing. I have it highlighted like a textbook. "Sarah wants to be eccentric but just doesn't have the stomach for it;" "She left her nose on some Manhattan surgeion's floor and didn't quite get what her father had paid for;" "He zooms in on her, trying to get beaver shots;" "Her youth hangs off her like baby fat." This...THIS, This is how I want to write. I'll never find his voice, but I'd like to hint at it at times.

We never know who we’re going to influence in this world. We never know what that result will be. We never know what a chance encounter can lead to. My interactions with Pic amount to innumerable emails (which he’s undoubtedly forgotten), more readings than any other author I’ve stalked (which he’s undoubtedly forgotten) and an interview with my writing group (which, guess what, he's probably forgotten). But his brief reaction to my story, which amounted to "this is good, but you need to work on description," completely changed the trajectory of how I write and how I look at writing.

I was waiting for a table at a franchise casual dining restaraunt last night when I read his Facebook update. I had to excuse myself and went outside and threw up.

Pic has a brain tumor. Fuck. I blew off his last few readings because there'd always be another. I'd passed on his last couple of books because I'd been catching up on his backlist. Now, he has an operation tomorrow that will probably be the most important day of his life.

So, this is another reminder to remember what's important. Not what might be, not what we all want things to be, but what things - good things - are. I'm an atheist motherfucker, Pic, but I'd pray if it'd help. You're in my thoughts. Kick this thing's ass because I need you to. Yeah, I'm selfish. But for the fanboy you never remember, the wannabe writer who you helped so much without even knowing it, do me just one last favor. Kick its ass.

Friday, September 28, 2012

I could do better...but I probably won't

Yeah, another blog! I know, who'd a thunk it?

And what to choose from the myriad of topics available? The election? The replacement refs? Project Runway cutting its early season favorite? KillerCon review (hint - it was The Awesome!)?

Yes, I'd love to write about all of this, but, I'm lazy and I won't. I will talk about something near and dear to me, though.

This month Gallows Press released my new collection, AMERICAN GOMORRAH: THE MONEY RUN OMNIBUS. This contains all the Money Run stories in a single printed volume. If you're unaware, The Money Run is a setting - the vast black market underground across all of the United States. It's the back alleys and forgotten highways, the abandoned warehouses and empty airfields that we all drive by and rarely give a second thought to.

My stories focus on the minutia of this world, and while that might hint at boring, it's actually the details of this world that make up the more interesting stories. How would such a world work? What kind of fucked-up people would populate this place? How many midget handjobs can I describe? (Answer - you don't want to fucking know.)

I'm really proud of this collection. I think it's really, really good. But, what do others, like, you know, writers with readers, think? Funny you should axe:

Wow! Sam Anderson is one REALLY messed up dude! When I first started reading AMERICAN GOMORRAH I honestly thought he'd gone out of his mind, but the more I read and learned about the Money Run I started to realize the genius behind it all. The stories are seriously twisted but that's a good thing here. Fans of Warren Ellis' Crooked Little Vein and David Wong's John Dies At The End will go gaga over this unique collection. Highly recommended!


"The Money Run is a place I'd love to visit often, but living there might be for the stronger hearted. This place is a wasteland on the outside, yet within, follows its own chaotic path to establish order. It's a brutal land, yet simulataneously hilarious. It's twisted, at times perverted, but somehow manages to save room for real human sentiment. It's a world where pyrite has value and gold has none, where horror is lovely and where happiness is sad. Only writer Sam W. Anderson could come up with such a confusing, upside-down setting with perfectly matching stories. I am now and forever a fan of Anderson's Money Run stories. We should all make a point of bugging him for another installment the second he announces he's done with writing them."

--Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Bram Stoker Award® winning author of BLACK & ORANGE and BOTTLED ABYSS

"Sam W. Anderson’s writing feels warm because there’s human blood flowing through it. Whether I like his characters or not, I always feel in some way connected to them. No matter how dark, frightening, funny or bizarre his fiction is, it never loses its humanity."


The Money Run--that under-the-radar-black-market of sex, drugs and bootleg Rock 'n Roll DVDs--may technically tie together all the eight tales in AMERICAN GOMORRAH. But of course it's the multi-talented Sam W. Anderson who is driving the eighteen wheeler on this trip with his biting wit and absurd sense of humor. There is no literary juking in this collection; but make no mistake, characters are three-dimensional, the prose engaging and precise, the plotting very sharp and compelling. This is indeed first class writing. Snag a copy of this collection, thank me at the next convention; or better yet, do yourself a favor and search out all of Mr. Anderson’s body of work. Highly recommended.


"Sam W. Anderson's AMERICAN GOMORRAH is one of the strangest books I've ever read, and I mean that in the best possible way. Weird, wild, and wonderful! Sam W. Anderson delivers a set of tales that will take you places you have never been before. Great stuff. I'm gonna keep my eye on this guy."

--Rick Hautala -- author of GLIMPSES and INDIAN SUMMER, HWA Lifetime Achievement recipient

So there. Maybe I'll try another of these bloggy things someday, too! Don't hold your breath, though...unless you're into that sort of thing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why the hate for LeBron - An answer.

I don't write much on this blog, and have found most times that if I write about any other passion besides writing, there's very little response. But fuck it - I love sports. The plan was to be a sports writer at one time, but better things - like an uber-hot wife - found their way into my life and that idea died long ago.

But, while I don't care near as much, can actually do other things on Sunday besides watch football and not care nary a lick about anything in the sports world if it doesn't involve my team, I still pay attention to the sports world. BTW - my disillusionment with sports is another subject altogether that might be a blog that bores the few who pay attention in the future. A large part of this paying attention is listening to sports talk on the radio. Since my local baseball team might be the worst in franchise history, the local hockey team failed to make the playoffs, my beloved Nuggets bowed out in the first round AGAIN!, there's not a lot to talk about on these local shows except the NBA playoffs.

For a few weeks now, The Drive with Big Al and DMac, the show that's on during my evening commute, has had an ongoing question on why is LeBron so reviled. What has he done to be so disliked by everybody but Heat fans?

Interjection - I fucking hate LeBron James. And on a personal level, it's for a simple reason - he doesn't play for the Nuggets. Sports are great for great moments and the simple morality of it - my team's the good guys, all other teams are the bad guys. I hate bad guys. I hate LeBron James. End interjection.

The show today featured an interview with some dickhead from a Miami talk show who seemed absolutely appalled as to why anybody could possibly dislike LeBron James. We'll call said talk-show host Mr. Smokesdickalot. The Denver local host, DMac, gave the short, simple answer why for the LeBron hate - he's arrogant.

Mr. Smokesdickalot's reply? Wouldn't you be? If you scored thirty points a game and were revered as one of the all-time greatest players ever, wouldn't you be?

Yes. And I'd expect people to dislike me. Arrogance is not a quality that I admire, that most people admire. It's an attitude that says, "I'm better than you, I deserve more than you, and there's not a fucking thing you can do about it." Nobody likes that. Does LeBron deserve to be arrogant? Yes. Does he have to be? Fuck fucking no. Humility? That's a quality we, or I at least, admire. Arrogance means you’re a dick who's better at me at something, whether it's sports or science, or bank account, it still makes you a dick. Just because I can admire LeBron's athleticism, doesn't me I have to change my inherent hatred of arrogance. Arrogance is a quality to be disdained. You have arrogance, you will be disliked by a large number of people. That's why non-Texans hate Texas. That's why people hate the Yankees. That's why the world hates America...well, part of that one.

So, Mr. Smokesdickalot goes on to whine about the perceived injustice to LeBron and his reputation by stating LeBron's never broken the law (although, he didn't bring up the Hummer ownership in high school that might have broken the law), and insists, all LeBron has done is maybe bend an ethical code that only exists in the world of sport.

Here's where the vein in my head starts to pulse. LeBron James barely graduated high school. He's earned over one-hundred-million dollars before he's thirty playing basketball - a sport. Everything this man has is due to the "world of sport." If one is to benefit so from this environment, then one must live by the so-called "moral code" of this environment - OR BE VILLIFIED. He benefits from sport, if he can't live by the etiquette of such sport, then he reaps disdain from those who consume said sport. Seriously? If some motherfucker pulls some crazy shit in a D & D game - and I'm so proud of myself that I haven't any idea what an example of this could possibly be - that motherfucker would be sent to D & D purgatory.

Imagine being an outcast from even the D & D crowd. Sorry...sidetracked.

One other point on the subject, although it falls into two parts: The acerbation of the LeBron hatred is the hype machine that ordained him before he did a damn thing in the NBA. I'll expand on this more later, but people hate to hear what you're going to do with no proof you can do it.

The height of the hype machine? LeBron James won the ROY of the 2003-04 season - and had no fucking business doing so. He's had a better career than Melo, and personally, I hope Melo falls out of a taxi, tears his knee to shreds, and while doing so, kicks his horsed-face wife in the face. Did I mention, if you don't play for my team, I hate you. And if you diss my team? You're dead to me, except I want to piss in your open-faced casket at your funeral. Okay. Maybe I do still really care about sports.

If the same station that airs The Drive wants to go back and listen to the interviews with sports writers who voted for LeBron in the ROY contest, they could see the insanity of it all. The sportswriters consistently said, "I had to vote for LeBron because he lived up to the hype that seemed unattainable." While I put quotes, those aren't direct quotes, but it was the consensus. Yet, who created they hype? THE FUCKING SPORTWRITERS!

Melo rookie year - 21 ppg, 6 rpg. The Nuggets went 43-39 after winning only fourteen games the year before (identical record to the Cavs in previous year). They were the eighth seed in the Western Conference (see the record above), and won both contests against the Cavs.

LeBron rookie year - 20.9 ppg and 5.5 rpg. Lost both games to the Nuggets and was outscored by Melo in both games by a total of 26-40. LeBron had more rebounds and assists in the head-to-head, but Melo had four blocks to LeBron's zero.  Oh, and LeBron's team missed the playoffs in a conference where four teams made the playoffs with a record of .500 or worse - He played in a far worse conference, and his team was still far worse than Melo's.  Who can win this argument? 

Oh - Me.

But the hype machine was on. Sorry for the boring statistical backing up of my argument. I could just write "fuck" a few more times to keep your attention.

Now, onto part two of the hype machine. While "The Decision" was distasteful and reallllllly stupid, it's not the major problem in my mind. The major problem? LeBron ordained him-damn-self. The "we're not going to win one..." but seven promise, that's where the loathing moves to a new level. Put up or shut up, bitch. He opened his mouth wide enough for a Ron Jeremy/John Holmes double penetration - now he has to back it up. And so far - Oh-fer (and that's really a reference that one makes to a Jeremy/Holmes dp).

I want LeBron to lose. I want him to find humility.

Then someday, even though he's not on my team, I could root for him to "win just one." Because he is great. But great is not a license to be an asshole.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Onward! To Each Their Darkness by Gary A. Braunbeck

I hate Gary A. Braunbeck.

Never met the guy. Almost everything I've read before now has been a short story of his. I hear the legend of him, the stories about him - the kind of super nice but still a little morose guy. (There should be a whole lot more hyphens in that sentence, but I'm kinda too lazy to type them.) Maybe flaky. Maybe not there when you're talking to him. But I've never met him. I can't confirm nor deny these accusations.

What I can confirm is TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS fucked me up. It messed me up like Jeff Strand's PRESSURE, and probably more impact to Mr. Braunbeck, Ketchum's THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.

DARKNESS, as it shall be now known for purposes of this writing, cuz - as stated - I'm lazy and shit, is the first book that actually made me cry. Conlon's THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, is the only book that raised the hair on the back of my neck, a phenomenon I thought but a construct of fiction until I'd experienced it. But, again, Braunbeck fucked me up. Like THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, I know I'll be thinking about this book on a daily basis for the next few months.

It's not fiction, but has fiction in it. Braunbeck's fiction. And one of the reasons I hate him is because it's sooooo damn good. The man who purports to be a reader of elementary understanding, writes literary, beautiful prose like few can, and has received the accolades and awards to prove it. I'm a writing geek. The "I used run-on sentences here for this reason and I used three-word sentences here for this other reason" is the type of thing I could talk to people about for days. I love the ins-and-outs of writing. The craft. The art (more on that to follow). The experience.

Gary, and I shall call him Gary because, again, because I'm a lazy fuck and am tired of making sure I've spelled his last name correctly, breaks down the craft on the nuts-and-bolts level while still showing the macro side of writing.

However, to think this is a book about writing, about horror in all its various media, is to sell it short. What this book is about is a writer, and possibly one of the finest writers of genre fiction in the past fifty years.

There's a section where Gary explains how a character has the benefit of explaining his motivations through dialogue - be it in film or on the page. The Definition of the Self. He gives an example of "The Messiah on Mott Street" from Serling's NIGHT GALLERY, and wrote his passage so well about it that I sought out the episode. Then he spends most of this book defining the DOTS by exposing himself in a rare, touching and emotionally draining fashion.

I cried, yes, like the pussy I am, when he wrote about his sister at the ELP concert. Afterwards, I felt even more like shit when I realized, it was the one episode in his life where things could have, should have, must have went wrong, but everything turned out okay. But the way he conveyed the anxiety over the incident hit me hard. Suffice it to say, I wouldn't wish his life on anybody.

So, for Gary...

When I was nine, I killed my brother.

Not in a way I could be convicted of, nor a way an adult would blame me for, but now that I'm almost forty-five, a way I still will never deny.

Daniel Patrick Anderson was my parent's favorite, and my sister and I would've hated that except we knew he had the right to be. He was the one who gave affection even after we laughed at him. He was the one that was far more outgoing. He was the one that you couldn't help but like.

And I killed him.

My sister and I always had a heated sibling rivalry. A rivalry that in later life, I got my ass handed to me. I struggle to take care of my family, she could take care of mine, hers, and a small city in Nicaragua. Yet, in 1977, I was winning. I was older, stronger, and damnit, Danny liked me better. I made sure of this by taking him to walk with me to school.

That was a no-no.

We lived two miles from the school and had a special city bus designated to take us to and from Spangler Elementary. But I wasn't as cool as Danny. Nor as tough. I was the smallest kid in my class except for my mouth. I got in a lot of fights. I never won one. So, I liked walking to school. I even more liked walking home from school - after a day of bullying and being so quiet that I'd almost rather piss my pants than ask for a bathroom pass. As such, being Danny's older brother, I often, and by often,I mean daily, mocked him for not walking home.

So, on April 20, 1977, my mother was five minutes late picking him up. And he walked. And he ran across Seventeenth Avenue. And he didn't make it. And I killed him.

Well, that's not what I intended when I started this silly blog.

I write, though. I want to write as well as Gary, but probably never will.

Which brings me to Gary's arguement about art. He contends that art can't be created, but it happens as a happy circumstance. The fact he shows his first brush with art as a friend who can fart a song, I believe, kind of underminds his hypothisis. I agree a lot with what he says here. Art is a happy circumstance, BUT, it usually occurs when somebody is trying to create art. Gary writes at length about Van Gogh - well, maybe not at length, but he discusses him. Van Gogh created art that few can deny. He also did so while trying to create art. The idea that art is happenstance doesn't work for me. Most of what artists try doesn't turn out to be art, but almost all art is the result of somebody trying to create it. So there. That's my main bitch.

I just want to express, I read a book that touched me - and not like one of the later passages in the book. For those that write, all we hope to do is hit a nerve - touch an emotion that means something. Gary has succeeded like no other non-fiction book I've ever read.

I hate you, Gary A. Braunbeck. And that's the nicest thing I can say.