Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Snowed in

We’re snowed in. I think it snowed like two feet in the last 24 hours, which doesn’t mean much, since I’m sure the subways are running. I haven’t left the house all day, so it’s been nice to watch the total wall of white swirling outside the window. It won’t be as nice tomorrow morning when I need to hike through it to get to work.

I’m still scanning slides, although the worst of it is probably over. I have maybe 60 more to do, but I’ve stopped for now. It’s very strange to take a look back at my very early history. It’s amazing to see all of my relatives who are now gone, and see my other relatives in a much thinner version, with full heads of hair and skin still tightly affixed to body. Seeing my parents in their mid-twenties, dressed in bad 70s fashion, is also a trip. I also enjoy getting a look at the little house in Edwardsburg, Michigan where I spent my early childhood, until 1978. It was a total dump, a cinderblock square with a roof and a very rough interior that my parents managed to buy for something like ten grand. But they spent a lot of time and a lot of spare marked-down, leftover building supplies adding onto it, painting things and enclosing a porch, and putting in new windows. I never thought about any of this as a kid, since I didn’t know any better. I thought everyone had a bathroom vanity made out of spare lumber and a set of living room furniture that came straight from a garage sale. It’s interesting to look back and think about how rough things were when my parents were starting out, and then look at how easy I have it here.

Speaking of old school, I read John McNally’s The Book of Ralph and greatly enjoyed it. It’s yet another one of those coming-of-age, back-in-the-day, I-was-a-childhood-loser sort of books, but it’s done with a real charm and finesse. It’s basically about a kid named Hank who reluctantly hangs out with this guy Ralph, who has flunked two grades and is basically a real version of Nelson from The Simpsons, except with much more hilarious lines. It reminded me a lot of Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned, and oddly enough, it takes place in about the same neighborhood, so there are some common landmarks. McNally really developed some characters that were the same exact ones you went to school with, or the dad character which is either exactly like your dad, or you had a friend with a dad just like him. But once he got the base of common events and characters, he punched it up with the greatly uncommon and insane that made it a great read.

I’m still chipping away at the next book, which is now above 50,000 words, of mostly just notes and observations, and little finished writing. At the very low end, I’d like to scrape by with 100,000 words and call it a day. An average guess is to have three books of 50,000 words for a total of 150k. The pie-in-the-sky goal is to write another book like Summer Rain, which was just over 220,000 words. Anyway, the book is underway, and is going good.

I forget what else. I should clean up the millions of slides all over my desk.