Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

I need a Bunker Era

I’m listening to Motorhead’s fine album Ace of Spades right now – Dojo has re-released all of the old Motorhead albums, remastered with lots of bonus tracks and new liner notes – all at a cheaper price point of about $12 a CD. I’m going to try to buy up all of them that I can, a week at a time.

Last night was pretty relaxing. Karena and I went to eat at Marie Callender’s (Collander’s? Collenaderes? whatever). She had to leave, which was a bummer, but I didn’t want her to get caught in some windstorm at 11 at night in the middle of nowhere or something. I read the rest of On the Road and then started reading this book about Burroughs and the Bunker era – when he lived in NYC from 1974-1981. It was a decent evening because I was able to just read, and the TV set didn’t come on all night. I need to do that more often, if I want to get back up to speed with writing.

That’s my next big plan – I’ve been thinking I need to get off my ass and start writing again. I haven’t even been reading at all this year, and I haven’t really been seriously writing for a year. I have been editing, dicking around, cutting up, experimenting, and writing journals. But I haven’t really been filling empty pages since last April, when I finished the first draft of Rumored to Exist.

So I need to read first. And I need to think more about what I’m going to write. Not just the subject matter, but what I’m really trying to accomplish with the writing. When I read On the Road this time, I tried to ignore the urge to think of it as just an autobiography and really start to look at what Kerouac did with the book – the voice he used and how he had an agenda beyond just telling the story of a generation or a period of time in his life or a friend. There’s an underlying force that pulls you through the book, because if you really look at the plotline, it isn’t like your typical movie that has the whole rise-fall rollercoaster of plot. There’s a more subtle force pulling you from page 1 to 254, and I need to figure out what it is. It was also the reason I read all of Infinite Jest without giving up. Sure, I wanted to find out what happened to the characters, but the hooks were different than those pulling you through a Sylvester Stallone movie or something.

In thinking about all of it, I want to rewrite my book Summer Rain over the next few months, but I want to throw out everything I’ve written sofar. I want to start with the story in my head, take some notes, write a really heavy-duty outline, and start completely over. I have a lot of new ideas, and I think it’s time to throw away the old approach and start filling in the blank pages again. I’m going to start reading books that I think are similar to what I want to do, and start taking a lot of notes.

Ray interviewed Jello Biafra last night, over the phone. I’ve listened to his double- and triple- albums full of politics and humor and anger and punkness so much over the last 10 years, that it would freak me out to talk to him in person. It would be like going to a Pizza Hut with James Earl Jones or walking in a mall with Cheech Marin and hearing him say “gimme a dollar Jon, I want to go buy an Orange Julius” or something. Jello has such a trademark voice that you’d expect him to say a line off of one of his albums, not something that had to do with you. I guess when he talked to Ray, he was really nice and told this story about one time when he visited Goshen, Indiana on a whim – Goshen is right next to Elkhart, where Ray currently lives, and Ray’s girlfriend lives in Goshen. Anyway, it was also freaky to think of Jello in a town where I once spent a summer working in a factory dropping plastic pipes into boxes.

I got the address of one of the main characters fictionalized in my book Summer Rain. We sort of dated about 5 years ago, became just friends, and then she moved away like a year later. I don’t know what she’s been up to, and I have been always wanting to contact her, but couldn’t. Now that I have her address in my hands, I don’t know what to write her or tell her. It’s strange that the most significant females in my life are the ones I can’t find anymore. I guess the lukewarm relationships always end on good terms – the most passionate ones end with somebody moving across the country without a forwarding address.

I accidentally ate some avacado, and now want to go eat a pound of cream cheese to get the taste out of my mouth. I don’t think the taste of it is that horrible, it is just that it looks exactly like guacomole.