Monday and sort of a normal work week; I don’t have to go in until later today, which is lovely, so I kind of have my morning free. I overslept–I’d intended to go to the gym this morning, but just couldn’t get out of bed. I don’t know what that’s all about, but I am tired of skipping the gym all the time. Skipping has become a habit, when going was developing into a habit. I am most unhappy about this development.
Yesterday I worked on “Don’t Look Down,” which was incredibly difficult; the story didn’t want to come nor did it want to finish. I managed to get about two thousand words, and finish the first draft; but I think the story is going to wind up being around eight thousand words long. This is actually fine, to be honest; it’s going into the short story collection rather than trying to be sent out for publication anywhere, and so length isn’t an issue for it. I’m going to let it sit for about a week or so, and maybe revise it over the next weekend. I am going to start working on Scotty again today; I am sort of dreading it, but I have to do it; I’ve been putting it off for far too long. I also want to get the Chanse story, now titled “My Brother’s Keeper,” revised this week. Once I’ve whipped “Don’t Look Down” and “My Brother’s Keeper” into shape and written an introduction, the collection will be finished, which is a lovely thing.
I’ve almost finished Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, which I am finding to be fascinating. I also started reading Bryan Camp’s The City of Lost Fortunes, which I am also really enjoying. It’s smart, well-written, and interesting. A rather impressive debut.
I also read some short stories. I actually finished the Kinsey stories in Sue Grafton’s collection Kinsey and Me–there are some other stories and an essay in the book, but I’m not finding it pressing to get to them or read them. I greatly enjoyed reading the Kinsey short stories, and they actually inspired me to try writing private eye short stories; these two Chanse stories I am struggling with wouldn’t have even occurred to me had I not read the Kinsey stories, along with the Ross Macdonald Lew Archer stories and Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan stories. The first of these last Kinsey stories was “A Little Missionary Work”:
Sometimes you have to take on a job that constitutes pure missionary work. You accept an assignment not for pay, or for any hope of tangible reward, but simply to help another human being in distress. My name is Kinsey Millhone. I’m a licensed private eye, in business for myself, so I can’t really afford professional charity, but now and then somebody gets into trouble and I just can’t turn my back.
I was standing in line one Friday at the bank, waiting to make a deposit. It was almost lunchtime and there were eleven people in front of me, so I had some time to kill, As usual, in the teller’s line, I was thinking about Harry Hovey, my bank-robber friend, who’d once been arrested for holding up this very branch. I’d met him while I was investigating a bad-check case. He was introduced to me by another crook as an official “expert” and ended up giving me a crash course in the methods and practices of passing bad paper.
And the second was “The Lying Game” :
This is my definition of misery. Pitch-black night. Cold. Hunger. Me in the wilderness…well, okay, a California state park, but the effect is the same. I was crouched in the bushes, peering at a camp-site where identical twin brothers, alleged murderers, were rustling up supper: biscuits and a skillet full of eggs fried in bacon grease. The only bright note in all of this was my Lands’ End Thermolite Micro insulation. On a whim, I’d ordered the parka from a Lands’ End catalog, little knowing that within weeks I’d be huddled in the woods, spying on fellows who cooked better than I did.
Both stories are satisfying reads–the second is only a few pages long, and very clearly a riff on the Menendez brothers–and move quickly. Grafton knew Kinsey’s voice and there was never a misstep in any of the novels or the short stories; which is, I think, part of what made reading the stories so enjoyable. I’ve always loved that character, and loved the way Grafton wrote her; it’s sad to think there won’t be any more Kinsey novels. I’ve been hoarding the last few, wondering what she was going to do when she finished the alphabet; sadly, she didn’t, and I know when I finish the series I will be done with Kinsey. That kind of makes me sad.
And now, back to the spice mines.