Friday, December 26, 2014


So you want to write a Pulitzer Prize winning novel?  First, you should know that you only get ten grand, which really isn't all that much, in fact, it seems kind of lame.  Second, there are some motifs you really need to cover.  Now if you don't know what a motif is, you are already doomed, so don't even bother.  Anyway, if you do know what a motif is, you will need at least three of the following: a coming of age story, the immigrant experience, a multi-generational tale, the novel should be relatively large, the protagonist should have to go through some serious difficulties (especially as a child), your main character should also belong to some ethnic or religious minority group and suffer some kind of lasting ennui.  Got it?  Just sit down and write it.  Oh, by the way, it will take about 4 years and but then $10,000 will be all yours. That's $2,500 a year---moneybags.

Middlesex, which won in 2003, has a lot of these.  It's like Eugenides had some kind of bet going, just how many of these motifs can I fit in one novel?  The answer is most of them.  It think there should be some kind of writer's grab bag.  Like your friend lists some things, then you reach into the bag and you have to create a novel using all them. "Hey, I got zebras, hepatitis and Vichy France!" "I got elephantitis, religious persecution and Eskimos!"  I'm telling you, it would cure your writer's block and make a for a good movie.  Because, obviously, winning the Pulitzer Prize is for chumps.

Middlesex is a fine novel but beefy and sweeping.  That sounds like a janitor that bodybuilds on the side. Be warned, while it's just over 500 pages it reads like a 800 pluser.  If you don't mind that Eugenides got Intersexuals, Incest and Detroit in his grab bag, then read it if you haven't already. 

Ok, this is about a Greek family so it seemed appropriate to have a Greek cocktail, but frankly ouzo scares me a little.  Maybe I've never had the good stuff.  My policy is there are no bad liquors only bad quality liquors.  Anyway, try this one (which is like a Greek mudslide): Greek Cafe: 1 part Creme de Cacao, 1 part Kaluha, 1 part Frangelico and 1 part Metaxa.  Combine ingredients and shake with ice.  You can serve in a shooter or small cordial glass.  What is Mextaxa, you ask?  It is a brandy-based Greek spirit. (it gets a tiny shout-out in this book).  No Mextaxa?  Apparently you can substitute brandy with a little bit of, that kind of takes the Greek out of it, just like the 1988 presidential election. Zing!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Slow Regard of Silent Things

If you put people on pedestals, you could be looking at a whole lot of nose hairs.  Patrick Rothfuss even wrote a disclaimer as a forward to this book, which warned us that you might not want to read it. (FYI it has no plot).  The reviews on Goodreads are kind of intense; they range all over the place from gushing to crushing. Some fans are so angry that he's messing around with this little novella when he should be finishing his Kingkiller Chronicle series.  I'm like, has George R.R. Martin taught you nothing?  Just deal with it.  I mean, learn to bake bread, improve your push-ups and if that's too much effort, at least order some sea monkeys. Just take it down about 20 notches.

He is right; you may not want to read it.  This is a quirky little book about a semi-feral woman that lives in the catacombs of the magic university, an important place in the Kingkiller Chronicle series.  Auri, who is either a simpleton or has child-like qualities, has some "mental problems" that seem "fun" now because she's young and cute but once she gets older she'll be sent to an institution.  Let's face it, this chick has a bad case of OCD, a possible eating disorder and attributes sentient feelings to inanimate objects. How fun is she! 

Even if you are a fan of his series, I would skip this.  It really is just a glimpse into the life a minor, but mentally unstable, character.  Think of this as a fantasy version of reality TV (with less alcohol, boobs and cat fights--in fact it has none of these--she does have a fight with a blanket--seriously, a blanket).  Anyway, getting this story out of Rothfuss' system will probably make the last book better. That book is apparently in the editing stage.  That being said, I would like to read the last book in my lifetime. (*bakes bread*...*doing push-ups*) 

Whether you read this of not it's Christmastime and chilly so read this while drinking Hot Milk Punch: 1 oz. dark rum, 1 oz. brandy, 1 tsp superfine sugar.  Stir well then pour into a mug very hot milk add a whisper of nutmeg.  Pass out.  

Monday, December 15, 2014


I cannot imagine having a new boss that said, "Well, even though my real name is John, I want you all to call me Control." I would think, great, there is no scenario where this is going to be good.  Like, can I even joke with him about this?  No, you cannot, because Control is the director of a super secret agency called the Southern Reach, which is an agency inside the super secret government.  Heads of super secret agencies do not get irony or kitschy humor.  They do not have plush vampire bats on their desks or give out Mexican jumping beans to visitors.  Of course, I would say, "What's your middle name, Tool?" (But I wouldn't say it to his face because c'mon, super secret government benefits.  I would probably start a super secret twitter account called The Control Panel).

Authority is the second in the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer.  I didn't like this one nearly as much as the first book. Much of it is Control trying to second guess why each character said what and which ones are trying to stab him in the back.  Hey, Vandermeer, this is fantasy, not reliving my junior high experience.  Here's hoping the last book in the series is more like the first ( maybe even better?) Fingers crossed. 

Apparently when people come back from Area X, their memory is a  Why not drink with a Brain Duster? 1 ounce rye whiskey, 1 ounce absinthe, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 1 dash Angostura bitters.  Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  This looks so good, it seems worth it to get a little scribble-scrabble.