On the prole

The revolution as told to Robin S.C. Dodds

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The latest by Walter Mosley

Ahh, I love Walter Mosley's work. His words, his characters. I can't wait to see Easy in SF.
I am ashamed to say, I'm not at all familiar with the book that won Man Booker. Thoughts?

As I revise my own novel, I've just finished Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite and am still going through Slaughterhouse-Five. Corpse is intriguing; I admire her use of words, finding beauty in the grotesque. I'm glad it's not being made into a movie, though (it was in the process of being optioned, but she put the kibosh on the deal). Either it would be tame and lame, or it would be unwatchable.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Nobel laureates

All I ask is that they pick someone most folks worldwide have heard of. Not necessarily an American; I'm no literary jingoist. But someone who will blow away the patina of snobbery that does exist within the Nobel community.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

First Amendment Project

I couldn't resist putting this out there. Yes, absolutely, for the First Amendment, I would let someone name my character. And if I had thousands of dollars, I'd love to give this gift to someone as a present.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A new clip, and other miscellany

One of my reviews is showing up on this site. Not that they asked or anything, since the rights belong to me. I guess I should be upset, but I'm not.
The first draft of the magnum opus will be finished by the end of the week. Then, the long process of edits and revisions begins. Still, it's very exciting. Exciting to get my work vetted and reinforce my sincere belief that I'm on to something here; exciting to realize, as I read through those early chapters, that they don't suck.
We went on a reading binge last night, Vonnegut's A Man Without A Country. Good stuff.

To all my friends at the NYT and Globe, who face the possibility of the ax a-fallin': Courage.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Zadie Smith and Vonnegut

An interesting piece on Slate about an author I've been dying to read. Thoughts?
Also, they've got the Kurt Vonnegut list up now on TDS site.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Work notes, and Vonnegut

Saw Kurt Vonnegut on The Daily Show tonight. As always, like unto a god. The body is failing, the voice is shaky, but he's as insightful and prescient as ever. Will post a link to TDS transcript as soon as it’s on their site.
I’m hard at work on my novel. I hit a writing wall tonight – it’s been such a busy week, with PTSA, choir and children’s choir, two performances Sunday, Campfire, watching the neighbor’s kid, etc. etc. etc. – that I think I just couldn’t think no more. I’ve been writing at a frenetic pace. The rough draft should be complete by the end of next week at the latest, at which point I’ll sort of work backwards and make an outline. The synopsis is already complete. After I’m done with the outline, I’ll polish, polish, polish until I can’t see myself in it at all. Not that I really can right now. I don’t want to say much more about it; I’m afraid I’ll jinx myself, jinx the book’s chances, and I can’t have that. Watch this space.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


A few months ago, when I was in New Orleans, I wrote: "New Orleans must be the byproduct of a boozy one-night stand between Vatican City and Tijuana." And when both the sacred and profane elements of the city revere and call up their ghosts, you can't help but walk the streets there and feel as if you're walking in the valley of the shadow of death.
Of course, surely at no time does it feel more so than now. Talk about your city full of ghosts, and where those ghosts have brought out the good and the wicked alike. And I have thought to myself: If I lived in New Orleans, would I go back?
The answer is, of course, yes, absolutely, in a New Orleans minute. Ghosts are nothing new to the South. Think of the elemental characters of Southern Gothic: the demented oldster and her (always her) compatriot, the no-nonsense grandma; the sly shyster (usually from the North), the "simple" (read: "slow") girl next door. In literature as in all other things, the South proves itself a place to embrace and have sympathy with its grotesques, and no place exemplifies that more than New Orleans. The city will come back; and although a good many people never will return, those who chose the place so they could walk in the valley of the shadow of death will.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina and the waves

Poppy Z. Brite writes about her escape from Hurricane Katrina. And the bulk of her treasured items she brought with her? Books, of course.

I hate hurricanes. There are so many things I miss about home, but I don't miss hurricanes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Booker Prize nominees

Oooh, the Booker Prize nominees make my toes wiggle. I've got my fingers crossed for JM Coetzee. I loved Barbarians at the Gate.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Full disclosure

Full disclosure, people. Marianne Wiggins ought to know that. Not like her world turns on whether she writes reviews for the Post or anything, but, you know, credibility and all that.

I have so much to say about the move, about this new adventure and new chapter in my life. I must refer you to Mile High Apple, the blog I share with my friend Kathleen, who moved from NC to NYC at roughly the same time I moved here. That's where I do most of my spilling about the Denver stuff, the triumphs and trials.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Journalism today: What next?

What a sad story. And, having come from a newspaper background, I think the sadder thing is that DeFede's bosses didn't back him up.
Kudos to Jim DeFede for being honest and upfront with his bosses, for trying to do something to save a man's life; and shame on his bosses for sacking him. Just because it's against the law (although even that is in dispute) doesn't mean it was wrong. Sort of like the old "stealing bread for a hungry baby" high-school ethics dilemma.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

It was a dark and stormy night ...

So, at long last, the move has taken place. We are in Denver now -- have been for a while, but we FINALLY just got our online access up and running about a week ago. I am actively seeking work, writing and otherwise. This place is expensive, and we want to be able to buy a house in about a year.
I did find this, which I had to share with you. Especially inspired is this year's "junior mint" entry. Had I been drinking something, surely it would have shot out my nose when I read that one.
I will write more later about Denver. Have fun with the contest results.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Swears for Scares jar: $1.80. Yikes!

Got a letter today from out of the blue. A new clip! Some stuff I sent out last summer is being published, long after I had more or less written it off. Goes to show you that you should never, ever give up until it shows up in print (or you get that rejection letter).

Steve is gone now – he was here for one big day, a day in which we had much love, much fun, and a little sorrow in knowing how quickly it would pass. Tears flowed at the airport. He is in the air now and I am here, back on Earth, managing dinner and homework and bedtime and poopy diapers. Soon, soon we will be together again. I hope. My heart wants what it wants.

Elsewhere: Who saw “Dora the Explorer” today? Man, has that show jumped the shark or what? First, it was a cute enough show. Then they tried to make it high-concept. I could see it on its waterskis, headed for the jumping ramp, when they introduced those silly stars that follow Dora and Boots now. But now her mom has had babies! Twins, no less! There she goes – up and over, Dora. Good luck and Godspeed. And, it turns out – the babies are superheroes! Crash and splash!
Maybe there will be a series of episodes where Dora’s mom, exhausted and depressed, takes to her bed and sends poor, forgotten Dora into the woods with nothing but Twinkies squashed into the bottom of Backpack; Map, for finding sources of magic fruits and what-not; and those dorky stars to light her way through the cold, dark trees.
Or maybe it’s magical realism and I’m just missing it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rhymes with witch

Steve and I have begun to use language most foul. I realized this last night when he used three ear-reddening words in one sentence, and I responded with a simple one-word expletive. Egad! I thought. What happens when we get to talk to each other face-to-face again, in front of children?
So now we have a swear jar, and I will fill it on his behalf if he offends. The rules are:
1. We will not say words we wouldn’t want to hear come out of our children’s mouths. This rules out “effing,” “pissed off,” and any number of other borderline words.
2. On the other hand, euphemisms are fine. Schlitz! Tartar sauce! Barnaclehead! Son of a nutcracker! Mama Flibbertigibbet!

Based on the Mr. Show model of “Swears for Cares,” where the money went to good causes, our money will go to Liberty University. That’s the Jerry Falwell-headed school, the holy grail (so to speak) of Moral Majority education. It will be thrilling to send them the occasional check for 50 cents, along with a note explaining why we chose their cause (“You’re so ridiculous, we figured you’d make a good deterrent!”).

Elsewhere: E has been accepted into the county academically gifted program. This is a thrill for all of us, but especially for her. She’s so smart, such a hard worker. You’ve never seen a prouder parent.

Monday, March 07, 2005

y = mx + b

My eighth-grade algebra teacher flirted with the boys in the class and despised the girls. (She eventually was fired for “inappropriate conduct” with her male students.) Fortunately, my mother loved any opportunity to prove herself in an academic field. She had no ethical issues with doing my homework; and, as long as it got me through the class with a passing grade, neither did I. My mom got one of the best grades in the class.

This doesn’t mean that I actually learned anything about algebra. When I think about it, I feel a pinch in my spine, right where two epidurals went in.

So imagine my horror when I volunteered to tutor at an area housing development and the lady in charge said, “Great! Most of the kids come in with questions about Algebra I. See you then!”

Curses! Didn’t I remember to say I was an English major? That the last math class I took was fifteen years ago? That it was a rehash of high-school trig, the only math in which I have any proven ability? That it was the lowest-level math class my college offered? That I had to call my husband in Colorado to ask him a doofy question about percentages?

Thank goodness for math.com. I’m giving myself a crash course as we speak.

In other news: Packing is cruising along in earnest. I have a daily quota, and I’ve met it more often than not. My new review is up on Altar Magazine’s site. I’ve picked up a gig writing a monthly newsletter for a company in Maryland. I’ve been sending out queries. The children are slowly mending from this abysmal cold. We’re all still sad that Daddy’s not here. His job is touch-and-go, and he’s homesick. Been whining in MHA about the moving stuff – Kathleen’s entries are so elegant and neat and tidy, and mine seem more scattered. My whole mind is scattered nowadays. I’ve got to get it together in time to tutor!

Monday, February 28, 2005

Q: How committed am I?

A: So committed that I skipped the Oscars last night to work on my book review. This is a big deal. The last time I missed the Oscars, it was because I was in San Francisco, having an amazing evening. It was 2001; Julia Roberts won; I saw it in the paper next morning and I had no regrets. This morning, also no regrets.

The question has a double edge. I haven’t been committed yet, but that could change if I keep up this pace.
Steve left yesterday, and to celebrate, the furnace broke. It’s not too bad. It’s the first time all year. So I’m trying to get someone out here to fix that; someone to fix the fence, which was plowed into during the last ice storm; someone to fix the gutters; someone to fix and paint our front windowsill; oh, and I’m still polishing up the book review, and I need to clean out and pack stuff.
I’m sad. I’m lonely. Steve is my best friend. He’ll be back in three weeks, but only for a day. My goal, I think, is to be packed and out of here in six weeks. Can we do it? Watch this space.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Pterodactyls mess up a whole lot

That’s the name of the song E was singing yesterday. I can’t even begin to tell you what that’s all about.
So, only one sleep now until my beloved Steve leaves. I want to glom on like a barnacle. But, I can’t. I have children to settle, sad nerves to calm. Sunday, we’re going to church after Daddy leaves. We’re going to try to keep things as normal as possible.
Last night was rough. The emotional rollercoaster took him down, down, down. The Farewell Tour continues today; we’re going to see an old friend from high school who probably will cry and wax rhapsodic, because he does this even in the best of times. It will be tough.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Small Press Month

Small Press Month is coming up. And in April, you small press owners out there can hang at the Algonquin with the ghost of Dorothy Parker and have yourselves a nice confab. Don't forget to say hi to Kathleen for me!

Elsewhere: Cool contest here!

Fear and Loathing in Raleigh

Kathleen has taken the liberty of making the first posting in Mile High Apple. Check it out! Of course, her post made me cry, and I'm still working on my retort.

I'm so busy right now. I have a review for Altar due at the end of the month, and I'm still slogging through the book. I wanted to be nearly done by now. I've been waking up early to work on it, and I've been staying up late cleaning the house. So much to do. Jamie, our friend/Realtor/favorite mandolin player, is coming out tomorrow to look at the house. I think/hope it'll be ready to go on the market in about a week. I've got to clean out all the closets and ... what else? Yard stuff, I've got to get the kids to help me with some things and ... I don't know. More.
Steve is out of here in four short sleeps. He'll be back in about three weeks for E's birthday. Wouldn't it be nice if the house is sold by then, and we can just go back with him?
Elsewhere: I've got a lead on an editing job, which I'm very excited about. I need to get my tail in gear with some queries here.
And, for your reading pleasure, here's the last column by Hunter S. Thompson. The "Hey Rube" column could be erratic; this offering is no different. Not his best, but not his worst. Sometimes it could be searingly, painfully funny. This one, in hindsight, is a little sad. But it was the only reason I ever bothered with the ESPN Web site, that's for sure. Of course, I cried when I found out what he had done. The memories of Trif are, perhaps, fresher than I'd like to admit, and it's such a loss for the writing -- and reading -- world. But then, everything makes me cry right now. Dog food commercials. Reports on sewer board meetings. Doesn't matter.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Ineradicable stain

I love this site. Her view is so different, so deliciously skewed.

Meter All words c. 2005 Robin S.C. Dodds