Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

I hate it when the government kills the main characters in my books

Like I said before, I have a moratorium on “here is what I did last year”/”here is what I want to do last year”/”here’s how horrible the year was politically, even though I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about” posts. I’m pretty sure you can read that at any other blog or site on the web. The one bit of politics I have is to mention that Hussein hanging. One, it sure hasn’t had as much coverage on the web. I thought for sure there would be a million weepy posts about how this won’t help anything blah blah blah and/or “ding dong, the witch is dead”, but it’s been very quiet.

The whole thing pisses me off because I am 36,000 words into this book, and there is a small sub-plot involving Saddam, and now I’m forced to either change it, remove it, or maybe add in a “no, that hanging was staged bullshit, he’s still around” or something. I seriously thought he’d be around for thirty years amidst a clusterfuck of appeals and technicalities. Hell, Charlie Manson’s still dining at the Corcorcan Hilton on the government dime, and his little helter skelter attempt was almost 40 years ago. But I suppose someone writing a fictional absurdist book about Elvis back in ’77 wouldn’t need to change much after he keeled over on the shitter, right? Maybe I should add that Sadaam and Elvis are hanging around somewhere in a Tijuana bar, trading stories and shots of codeine. Stranger things have happened.

As an aside, I was never any huge fan of Gerald Ford’s, but I do feel bad about what’s happening with his funeral. Because of the timing, pretty much everybody is out of town and they’re probably going to have to hire some homeless people to be his pallbearers. Nixon had five presidents to carry his casket; everyone’s too busy watching football to haul away Ford. I think the next Pauly Shore comedy show will have a higher attendance than Ford’s funeral. I always felt bad for Ford because he not only inherited all of Nixon’s shit, but he was the only person appointed the presidency, and I always thought that maybe he didn’t entirely want it. As a person who often gets appointed shit jobs that nobody else will take in my career, I can sympathize.

I now have so many books to read, I can’t really decide on any single book to read. In addition to the armful of Christmas gifts, I also decided as part of a solution to the population control problem on my shelves, I would pull all of the books I have never read, and that I want to either read, or maybe dump in the future. I have a lot of books I bought in the last year or two that I shelved but never read and then forgot, and I have other books that have been following me for over fifteen years that I have never read and might never read at all, which need to be dealt with at some point. So I now have this “to be read or eventually ditched” queue now. I also have a pile of books that are the “dead and gone” pile. I know at least one of you regular readers will mention the greatness of dumping this shit on eBay or Amazon used or whatever, but I’ve found it’s much easier to drag them to the library a block away, donate them, and make up a bunch of semi-inflated prices per book and take it as a tax writeoff. (I am now in the income bracket where I am forced to file long-form and take deductions, and since I don’t have a house, kids, a religion, any political party I’d give one fucking red cent to, or anything else, deductions are more than welcome at this point.)

The one thing I am reading now is the Portable Henry Rollins, a gift from Sarah’s brother-in-law Matthew. The book isn’t part of the Viking portable series (I wish it was so it would match my other ones) but it’s a similar concept – take the best of a dozen books and put them in one place. I think I own about 80% of the books anthologized in this tome, but it’s nice to see them all in one place. It also really reminds me of how I got started on this whole writing thing, almost 15 years ago, which was the Rollins spoken word tapes. Those escalated to his books, and the desire for me to start keeping a journal, and eventually trying to write my own stories and books. Some of the stories in the anthology are ones from his tapes, and that brings me back to that period when I was trying to define myself as a writer, or at least capture something on paper. The book is also printed with the ragged right paper (I don’t know the technical term, that shit they use in arty books and wedding invitations), which typically drives me apeshit, but it reminds me of some of the artsy paper and notebooks I tried to use when I was first starting out. For a little while, I thought the type of paper and type of notebook and type of pen would radically change my ability to keep a journal. Later I realized that Mead college-rule and a ball-point stolen from any bank or hotel would work just fine, and all of the “special” journaling stuff was just bullshit.

The Rollins stuff is interesting in a few different ways, once you strip away the typical egomaniacal layer that usually obstructs people. Below that, there’s this part that originally caught me, this thought that loneliness and despair are not only a pure form of pain, but they are also essential to the human condition. He always talks about the need to be alone, the times when he grew up in DC and worked at the ice cream store, how he didn’t drive or take the bus, because he needed to walk across the city in the night alone, to have the pain and pleasure of not being around any other humans. He would walk and relive the horrors that happened to him in the city, the times he got mugged or saw a dog in the street get nailed by a bus, the pieces he could not erase. I identified with that to an extent, because I would walk across campus alone at three in the morning, and would see the million layers and landmarks of what happened to me over the years, and that time at night was when I was most alive, and most depressed. But I also thought Rollins was full of shit, that he was a millionaire that could get any chick he wanted, and he was obviously crazy because he wanted to go back to that period when he was a lonely, confused little punk living in a shithole apartment and living on nothing. But now, 15 years later, my memory always pulls back to those times, and I realize that even though I’ve gained so much, I have also lost that overwhelming pain that defined me back then.

Anyway, this is starting to sound like some kind of new year’s bullshit, so I’ll leave it there. I am actually going out to dinner tonight at Alias. I could pretty much live on their BBQ ribs and onion rings (at least until I keeled over from a heart blockage.) Until then, I need to keep working on the still-unnamed next book. I think until it has a name, I will simply call it Book Three from now on. Anyway, Book Three is going good, and I hope to at least get the first third done in the next month or two so I can let some other people read it and see if I’m crazy or not.

(BTW, still thinking about that ten-year journal book. I’m thinking a good title would be “This is not a Blog”. From 4/10/97 to today, I have 702 entries and about 496,000 words. I think War and Peace is about 550,000 words, to give you an idea of magnitude. Of course, once I edit out all of the stupid shit, it’s like 32,000 words. I’m also thinking of pulling in some bits from my paper journals, and there will be a certain amount of new content, essays explaining things and why the hell I did this anyway. But I need to work on the aforementioned Book Three first, so this is a side project, as if I have time for side projects.)