Wednesday, July 11, 2007


...and the living is easy.

So easy, in fact, that Sally is snoring, just having returned from a kick-ass encounter with a coyote in the upper fields of Hale Park. There is something about a snoring dog...

In the market to pick up some over-priced fruit (because the summers in many places have been inhospitable to fruit), I run into Jim Buckley, publisher of the Montecito Journal, which carries my weekly review. A shrewd business man and a pretty solid copyeditor, he reminded me of the time he and the now departed editor, Guillaume Doane (off to seek his journalistic fortune in Europe) argued whether to allow a sentence of mine that had run seventy-six words, or to ask me to break it up (or down?) into more manageable declarative sentences. Then JB drops the bomb that got me thinking about tonight's entry. Some time in the next few weeks, he will send me the opening chapters of his mystery novel. "Everyone," he calls forth, "is writing a mystery novel."

This, I reflect, is true. With all of the things I should be working on more diligently, I, too, am playing with the idea of a serialized mystery which I will think to inflict on the Montecito Journal, circulation twenty thousand.

The mystery is popular this time of year because we are all trying to guess the identity of the persons who leave packages of zucchini on our doorsteps as we are out leaving packages of our own zucchini on the doorsteps of others. Indeed, in the parking lot of the market, I met a neighbor who asked me if I'd seen her clever solution to being banned by a local ordinance from leading the Fourth of July Parade with her horse. Her second question went right straight to zucchini, as in, was I the one who left so much.

I know it is a digression but I can't help it. The entire Santa Barbara area, largely peopled with conservatives (and grouches), is a hive of bureaucratic building and zoning regulation, to which I think it would be funny to add a restriction on how much anonymous zucchini we can leave on the front entry way of a neighbor.

We do like to solve puzzles, particularly since so many magazine features for the elderly suggest how healthy it is for us to be doing crossword puzzles. My dear chum, Digby Wolfe, developed the notion that one advantage of a failing short-term memory is the potential for organizing our own Easter-egg hunts. Well, why not solve even more intriguing crimes? And so, the better writer can make us identify with the fictional Hawkshaws, allowing us to imagine how we would track and carefully interview suspects, then put the facts together, which allows us to assemble the evidence, which allows us to feel quite superior.

It disturbs me that more readers don't recognize the skills of Thomas Perry, and to my knowledge, the only local who is even aware of Gaylord Dold is J.F. Jerry Freedman, and Jerry is often too busy writing new books to wonder too much about why Dold is not as well read as he ought to be.

It gets worse before it gets better, because Gaylord Dold is one of the favorites of Daniel Woodrell, whom I first found about from Dennis Lynds who, prolific as he was, was also woefully under-read, and don't ask about Daniel Woodrell's figures. I should work Tim Gautreaux into this equation, but even though he is not widely read, he has had things in the New Yorker.

Hi, you've reached Unknown Writers' Press. Because we're so unknown, it's difficult to imagine anyone calling us except for people who are calling to remind us to pick up milk or cat food on the way home. If you're one of these, press one. If you really do know us and are calling to ask a penetrating question, press two. If you stumbled upon us by accident, press three. If you're looking for a short cut to MySpace, press four. If you'd like to be outsourced to India, where there are hundreds of authors you don't know, press five, and remember to speak slowly.

1 comment:

Lori Witzel said...

Found you through Mr. Pod, and I think this post qualifies you for my new-favorite-witty-and-erudite-blogger-of-the-week.

In other words, it brought a wry smile to my lips, and (best of all) kept it there right 'til the end.