Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Leather Jacket exchange

It’s been raining, POURING, for two days straight. I spent all day and all night at work on Friday; came in just after nine AM and left just after midnight. I’ve got an early morning and a lot of work tomorrow, and then I’ve got jury duty on Tuesday, which also requires an actual 9:00 start, so that shit’s bugging me. But the two things that have permeated my dreams are heavy duty cut-and-paste on a 200-page sales document, and the next book, whatever that might be.

So it’s been raining, and I spent all day yesterday inside, doing nothing. I finally left the house a bit ago to go for a walk and a sandwich, and I came back with a new leather jacket. This is the third in line, of a now-old tradition. I like to wear those generic leather biker jackets that the Ramones and everyone else has that you can get at Wilson’s in the mall for a hundred bucks. I got my first one in 93, and an identical replacement in 97. Now, it’s time for another changing of the guard. These jackets are as tough as hell, and the shell could take anything shy of a nuclear blast with no problem. The real issue is the inside liner, which gets all ripped apart and starts to smell like ass after you walk home in too many rainstorms and sweat it out on the subway every day. These jackets are fairly disposable as far as the lining is concerned, and it would cost more to get a new one sewn in than to get a new jacket. On the way to Subway, I saw a leather shop that was closing down and having an “everything must go” sale, which pretty much every shitty store in New York is always doing. But I went in, found the jacket, and got out for only $99. It looks a bit cheaper than the last one, but I think the leather sort of firms up after you wear it a while. I did a side-by-side of the old and new to see if there were any other differences, but not much. The left inside pocket on the new one has a zipper, which the old one didn’t. And the new one is a bit bigger, but then so am I.

BTW the last time I did this exchange was on 4/23/97. It’s weird that I have a journal entry from then. I wonder if I will have one in five years when I need to buy another damn coat.

I watched a shitload of a lot of TV yesterday. I was so bored, I watched about half of the movie Over the Top. This movie was a total disaster, which makes it an excellent bit of comedy in my eyes. It has every bad 80s cliche you could possibly imagine, from the costumes to the acting to the Rocky-like plot curve. This movie really tries to cash it in like Rocky, the underdog-comes-back-and-kicks-ass angle. The problem? It’s about ARM WRESTLING. Rocky has all of this preparation for a serious fight, the drinking of eggs and running up the steps and punching the pieces of meat. And when he gets pushed back in the plot, he gets his ass kicked, and he’s all bloody and beaten. So they try to legitimize this sport where you essentially move your arm one way or the other, and in the final match, there is the infamous Stallone “preparing for battle” montage, but it’s just a bunch of fucking meatheads putting powder on their hand or strapping up their arm or yelling and posturing. It’s stupid, but I love it.

Pro Wrestler Terry Funk, the “living legend”, has a small role in the film as the bad guy’s bodyguard. I totally forgot about this, and when I saw him, I jumped off the couch and started yelling “Funk! Funk! Funk!” Unfortunately, it is a very small part, but it is funny to see him with his 80s hair. Also, the music in this was that really bad power-ballad inspirational rock shit you saw a lot of in this era. Frank Stallone gets a cut in there, along with Asia, Kenny Loggins, and Eddie Money. Sammy Hagar (pre-Van Hagar) has one of the main cuts, “Winner Takes it All”. The funniest part was when I saw the end, where they drive off into the sunset and the credits roll over this Larry Greene song “Take it Higher”. Before I knew the title and before the singing started, I thought “I bet they rhyme fire, desire, and higher. The actual lyrics: “something something desire, fight the fire, take it higher, over the top.” I about had a seizure when I heard that.

So last night I started reading Summer Rain again. I skipped around a bit and read about the last 20%. I always put down this book, especially compared with Rumored, but I really liked reading it, and I’m very happy with the prose in there. It’s been about two years since I’ve read any of it, and that’s enough distance for me to really look at it and enjoy it. I know it has some problems, mostly with small stuff though. If I had to do it all over, I would keep it the same size, the same pace and everything. It could have used another month of copyediting, but I really like the size and level of depth of the book. I can still get lost in it, read for an hour and forget I’m in New York and really enjoy the story. What was the true test for me was reading the final third of the book, the love story between John and Amy. The funny thing is, that is entirely fictitious. I made up the character of Amy because the previous Amy, based on a real person, wasn’t really working out. And now, I read the conversations and exchanges of emails, and I wonder where I got all of this shit, because it’s all fabricated, but it all looks real.

On that note… I woke up this morning from a nightmare, about not being able to write the third book (I shit you not.) And I thought about Summer Rain, and I thought about how I always say in interviews it was such a mistake to write a first-person book based on my life. And then I thought about how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading 200 pages of it last night as the rain fell on the sidewalk outside my window last night, and it really made me wish I could do it all over again, write Summer Rain from scratch to 660 pages available on Amazon. It was a lot of fun to write, it is a lot of fun to read, and it didn’t sell shit. But what’s really important?

So I’m back to this: I have five really good stories about Bloomington. Maybe I should write fifteen more, and have an arc of stories about Bloomington. I don’t know how it would work, but in the shower thismorning, I thought of at least four or five stories that would easily play through for 5,000 words. It wouldn’t be an entire novel like Summer Rain, but it would let me write some detailed stuff, some straightforward fiction, and it would let me get some stuff out of my system.

So that’s the plan, for now. And it isn’t raining, so my plan is also to go to the bookstore, and try out my new jacket.