Holding Out for a Hero

I finished reading The Sympathizer last night, and really enjoyed it. Calling it a crime novel is a bit of a stretch, but an argument can be made for it, and I can see either side of the argument, frankly. As I said before, it was interesting to read about the Vietnam War from the perspective of an actual Vietnamese-American, and I feel like Viet Thanh Nguyen did a really excellent job of showing how one could become a Communist back in the days when the small country was torn to shreds by war; and wind up playing a double–sometimes triple–game. I have Nguyen’s short story collection The Refugees; I am looking forward to reading some of his short fiction. And I have landed on James M. Cain’s The Cocktail Waitress as my next read. I am rather excited about it, as I love Cain.

I was in a mood yesterday; not really sure what triggered it, but am more than willing to blame it on heavy weather. It’s pretty much been raining every day and night this week; today I can see sunshine outside my windows through the condensation, and as such the humidity has been unbearable and that does affect me, even when I take a Claritin, as I did yesterday. I got home last night and we watched this week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, which gets more and more viscerally disturbing from week to week. It’s very hard to watch–I can’t imagine how women watch it, frankly–and sometimes so much so that I pick up my phone and scroll through Twitter and Facebook until I can look at the television again. I’ve not read a lot of dystopian fiction, nor seen a lot of dystopian films (I’ve never read nor watched The Hunger Games, or any of the really popular young adult dystopian novels, outside of Chuck Wendig’s Under the Empyrean Sky, and I never read the other two books in that trilogy), pretty much limiting myself to Stephen King’s The Stand, and the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome film (I’ve not watched any of the other Mad Max movies), and Harlan Ellison’s story “A Boy and His Dog”, along with the film. I’ve had, over the years, ideas for dystopian fiction novels of my own–I am often influenced by books, movies, and television programs that I enjoy; so after watching Thunderdome and reading “A Boy and His Dog” in a short period of time, my mind naturally moved to an idea for a book/story about a dystopian future where a young woman is competing in a cross country car race, across the blighted wreckage of the Great Plains (which sounds kind of Hunger Games-ish, doesn’t it?), which I called “Fox on the Run”–the drivers are called ‘foxes’ and the people trying to catch and wreck them, take them out of the race, are called “hounds”–which I’ve toyed with over the years but never did anything with. In the early 1990’s, I came up with another dystopian idea, in which fundamentalists have taken over the US government, the country had splintered into pieces, some of them at war with each other, and how the fundamentalists have started rounding up ‘indesirables’–gays, lesbians, transgender, mixed race, etc.–and putting them in ‘work camps,’ but there’s an ‘underground railroad’ of sorts to help the undesirables get out. That one was called There Comes a Tide, which was a direct result of the horror of the AIDS epidemic and the callous federal response to it. When hysterics–and this was actually happening, for those of you who don’t remember or weren’t there–were calling for quarantining gay men (and just how and when and where? Yup, concentration camps), it wasn’t hard to imagine that such a thing could actually happen. (That time was so scary, and so incredibly frustrating.) I also have yet another idea, one I’ve actually started writing, but haven’t gotten far with, and over time I’ve come to realize there’s a way to link all these stories together into a trilogy…but not sure I am the right person to write such a trilogy.

But it’s something I think about, from time to time–usually when I am trying not to work on whatever I am currently working on, which is when I usually get my best ideas for other projects, natch. Isn’t that always the way? So, of course, as I work on the revisions, all I can think about is the next Scotty book–and once I actually start writing THAT, I’ll start thinking about something else. I would love to get Crescent City Charade finished by the end of the summer, so I could go on to write Muscles this fall…but we’ll see how everything shakes out.

I’m absolutely delighted that today is Friday, of course. I am hoping to get to see Wonder Woman this weekend; if Paul doesn’t want to go I may just go by myself. On the other hand, maybe I should use that as a reward: if I get as far as I would like to in my revisions, I can go see Wonder Woman.

Hmmm.

Okay, back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Friday hunk to get your weekend started:

troy baker

 

Set the Night to Music

It rained all night; a wonderful downpour punctuated with lightning and rolling thunder that seemed to last forever. This morning everything is still gray outside, the windows covered with condensation and everything outside slick and dripping. It’s a short work week, and I don’t even have to go in until later this afternoon; I am bar testing tonight. I have some errands to run this morning, and also some things to do around the house that I kind of blew off and didn’t do over the course of the three day weekend, which is sort of shameful but I refuse to feel guilty about. I feel very well-rested this morning, and that really was the point of the weekend; the most important thing was for me to feel rested again once it was time to return to the office.

So, over all, the weekend was a win. I didn’t finish reading The Sympathizer, but have only a hundred or so pages left to read. I am really enjoying it. We finished watching Sherlock last night, got caught up with Veep, and then moved on to London Spy, which we are also enjoying; it’s nothing like I expected. I kind of knew the premise; everyone on Facebook was talking about it when it was originally airing, and of course, lots of people told me I should watch it–gay main character, gay romance at the heart of the story, and a mystery the main character has to solve. We’re two episodes in, and I have to say I am rather pleased with how it’s depicting Danny, the main character. It’s very Hitchcockian in that the main character is just an ordinary guy who gets caught up in something beyond his scope quite by accident; which is also something I rather enjoy. I’m looking forward to getting further into it–alas, tonight I have to work late, but there’s always tomorrow. (It also got me thinking about Colin, and what I kind of want to do with the next Scotty book.)

And before I run my errands and get things done around the Lost Apartment, I am going to get through some work on the WIP as well.

It is very lovely to feel rested.

And on that note, it’s time to get back to the spice mines.

Here’s a hunk to get you into your week.

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All I Need

I had a lovely, relaxing day yesterday of reading and cleaning, capped up with watching three more episodes of Sherlock; tonight we will finish that off and hopefully, there will be a new Veep to watch, else we’ll have to find something else. I am greatly enjoying The Sympathizer, am almost halfway finished with it so probably will get it finished today, which will then beg the question of what to read next. I’m leaning towards James M. Cain’s The Cocktail Waitress…but there are any number of other books in the running as well. The riches contained within  my TBR pile are simply mind-boggling; and it’s continuing to grow exponentially. Heavy heaving sigh. I also want to start doing some re-organizing of the storage attic today; that, along with some work on the WIP as well as some more cleaning around the Lost Apartment will probably account for most of my day. Paul will undoubtedly watch some of the French Open, and around mid-afternoon I will cook out for our late lunch/early dinner.

Another exciting day in New Orleans.

It feels really good to be so well-rested; and tomorrow is a late night at work for more–bar testing, so I don’t even have to go in until later, pretty much freeing up my entire day to get some more cleaning and organizing and writing done before I head to the office. I rather do think that three day weekends are much better than regular ones; the extra day off is really lovely. I wish there was a way I could rearrange my schedule to work four ten hour days and take a three day weekend every weekend….but that’s just not possible, alas. It would be lovely, though, wouldn’t it?

At least this will be a short work week.

The Sympathizer is, while a bit hard to get into at first, quite compelling. The first book to win both an Edgar (Best First Novel) and the Pulitzer Prize, it’s also the first time I’ve read about Vietnam from the perspective of a Vietnamese–which is certainly rather American of me, isn’t it? Everything I’ve read about Vietnam has been from the perspective of Westerners–from Graham Greene’s The Quiet American through Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War; and certainly the Western/white gaze has been pretty aptly explored on film and television (I should rewatch China Beach again); but this view, from a character who is not only Vietnamese, but a Viet Cong undercover operative implanted in the staff of a South Vietnamese general–to the point of also evacuating and spying on the refugee community in Southern California–is quite interesting. (I also have a copy of Vu Tran’s Dragonfish, which I am looking forward to reading.) I had an idea for a noir centered around a young man of Vietnamese/American mixed heritage, set in a small town on either the Gulf Coast of Alabama or Florida–writing this would require a LOT of research, obviously–but I think it could be interesting, and certainly would be fun to write.

But I need to get this revision done by the end of June, so I can spend the rest of the summer writing the next Scotty book.

Heavy heaving sigh.

And on that note, back to the spice mines.

Here’s a Memorial Day hunk for you.

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Big Yellow Taxi

Christ, it’s hot. I think this is the first day so far this year where it’s been hotter than ninety degrees and humid, and yes, in case you’re wondering, it’s miserable outside. I had Wacky Russian this morning, then ran to the post office, the grocery store, and Costco. So, I am both exhausted and drenched in sweat. I just ordered our weekend treat–a Chicago-style deep dish pizza from That’s Amore–and if I didn’t have to walk to pick it up and bring it home, I would be in the shower right now. As there’s no point to taking one now when I am just going to get sweaty all over again, I am holding off.

But I am miserable, even in the air conditioned comfort of The Lost Apartment, as am still wet and sticky. Blech. But…that pizza is going to taste amazing, and then I can take a long, hot shower…then repair to my easy chair with The Sympathizer and some fizzy water. We finished watching The Keepers last night (color me unimpressed; there was such obvious editorial manipulation–which, of course, is always necessary in a documentary, but this was so blatant that it was noticeable, and it raised some questions that it never even addressed), and now will have to find something to watch tonight. I cruised through Netflix, Hulu, and Prime before the gym this morning, and while I did find some things of interest, overall nothing that was oh, I can’t wait to watch this!

Ah, well, we can always rent movies from iTunes, I suppose.

As I was cruising around New Orleans this hot, muggy afternoon, my mind went back to the stalled Scotty book and I realized that, once again, what I was doing wrong was trying to force the original story into the Scotty book. I thought I had figured that out already, and I did to a degree, but it occurred to me that part of what I feel was missing from the series since Katrina can easily be remedied, and if I go back to Scotty’s roots, the book will be that much easier to write. I imagined an opening scene with Scotty having lunch with his sister, Rain, at her house–which we finally saw in Baton Rouge Bingo–and thought it made sense to delve into the family again. As Rain is friends with some of the ‘Grande Dames of New Orleans’, it only makes sense, plus it gives me an opportunity to get Taylor into the story as well. I also need to figure out a way to get Scotty’s parents into the story, and it’s been far too long since there’s been one of these where Frank and Colin both were present–I had developed a  very bad habit of sending Colin off on missions and sending Frank away for wrestling tours so Scotty was all alone–and I want this book to be longer than the others, as well. I want to really get deep into it, in a way I feel I haven’t since Mardi Gras Mambo. 

On the other hand, maybe I’m not the best judge of this. After all, Katrina kind of intervened, and that changed the way I look at things…so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that’s what’s going on here.

Heavy heaving sigh.

The revision of the WIP is also going well; I am very excited.

Oops! Time to go get the pizza.

Here’s a hunk for you, Constant Reader.

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You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Wednesday, and another late night of bar testing. But there is a three day weekend looming, which is an absolutely lovely thought. I do want to get quite a bit finished by Tuesday; I’ve been lazy and lethargic lately–I’ve been sleeping so deeply and well that I remain groggy throughout the next day, which is quite odd and is taking some adjusting. I am still reading The Sympathizer, which is extraordinary, and we are watching a rather frustrating true-crime documentary on Netflix, The Keepers. (It’s enjoyable, but I’m getting a very strong sense of documentarian manipulation; there are some fairly obvious questions no one is asking, and there are only two episodes left; which means it is either entirely possible those questions may not ever be asked–which is unforgivable in a criminal ‘investigation’–and if they are not asked until the last two episodes, well, it’s audience manipulation to stretch it out as long as possible. Either way, #epicfail.)

I am also enjoying American Gods. It’s been years since I read the book–which I remember enjoying, but none of the details; I do remember the over-all concept of the book, which the show is illustrating very nicely. I probably won’t reread the book–my TBR pile is still absolutely insane, and I feel completely defeated every time I see it, considering it’s most of the living room AND the laundry room–but I do want to reread Good Omens, which I think IS getting filmed as well. I read it a million years ago, and all I remember about it was that it was about the Apocalypse yet was hysterically funny. I am also enjoying my current non-fiction read, The Affair of the Poisons, which is giving me such a clear picture of what life was like at the French court in the seventeenth century that I may even be able to begin sketching out the plot/structure of a secret project I’ve been wanting to write for over twelve years.

I’m also getting a much clearer picture of how to write/restructure Crescent City Charade–walking away from it to work on the secret project was probably the smartest thing I could have ever done; the book is becoming much clearer in my head, and I think it’s going to be maybe one of the funniest and best Scottys ever. Once I get finished with the revision of the secret project, I am going to be able to dive head-first into the Scotty, and am betting I’ll be able to get through it rather quickly (always a plus). I have another book I want to write this year, so am thinking if I can get the secret project revised/rewritten by the end of June, I can spend the summer doing the Scotty and can spend the fall writing the other book, Muscles, which will be my first straight-up noir.

I am itching to get started on it…but time. Patience, Gregalicious, patience.

Okay, I need to get my errands done and some clean-up work around the house as well.

Here’s a Hump Day Hunk for you.

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Monday Monday

I slept so deeply and well last night that not only did I not want to get up this morning, I am still groggy, despite many many many cups of coffee. It’s generally not a good thing to start a week off groggy, but there is a three day weekend on the horizon (HUZZAH!) look forward to. You’ve got to love that, don’t you?

I started reading The Sympathizer yesterday, and got about fifteen pages in. It’s quite good, and like the Whitehead novel, I suspect it’s going to take me a while to get through it. It’s interesting to see the Vietnam War from the perspective of an actual Vietnamese person (thus far I’ve only see the white/American gaze on the war), and I’ve been wanting to write a noir with its roots in the Vietnam War for quite some time, so this book is kind of a godsend. There’s also a very large Vietnamese community in New Orleans East, which I’ve also always wanted to write about (Poppy Z. Brite wrote about the New Orleans Vietnamese community in his novel Exquisite Corpse, which I should probably reread). The idea for the noir is still swirling around in my head; I have some basic idea of what it will be about and the story, but it’s still in that amorphous state. I didn’t get much writing or revising done yesterday (I did get some done, though. Don’t judge me.), but I did have a great brainstorm about the WIP, which is told in a very rigid, third person point-of-view; maybe I should show it from the occasional point of view of other people? I’ve made a note about this, but I am going to try to revise it with the point-of-view as originally seen intact; or maybe try one chapter in another p.o.v., see how it goes.

See? Revising can be fun.

I do want to get the new draft of “Quiet Desperation” finished this week, and I found a place to submit “Keeper of the Flame” to, so I am most likely going to do that on Wednesday, when I have a late night and as such don’t have to come back into the office until later.

And on that note, best to get back to the spice mines.

Here’s a hunk for you.

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