John Gardner, The Art of Fiction, originally published in 1983
Sunday, February 28, 2021
John Gardner, The Art of Fiction, originally published in 1983
Elections are won and lost on these disagreements. The so-called culture wars are fought over them. Given the passion and intensity with which we debate moral questions in public life, we might be tempted to think that our moral convictions are fixed once and for all by upbringing or faith, beyond the reach of reason.
But if this were true, moral persuasion would be inconceivable, and what we take to the public debate about justice and rights would be nothing more than a volley of dogmatic assertions, an ideological food fight.
At its worst, our politics comes close to this condition. But it need not be this way. Sometimes an argument can change our minds.
Michael J. Sandel, Justice, 2009
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch 22: A Memoir, 2010 (1949-2011)
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Officer De Coatsworth, following his medical recovery, was promoted to an elite highway patrol unit. In 2008, the National Association of Police Organizations named him that year's "Top Cop."
In February 2009, Vice President Joe Biden invited Officer De Coatsworth to sit next to Michelle Obama at the President's address to the Joint Session of Congress. The officer was seen on national TV sitting next to the First Lady in his ceremonial police uniform. In his brief law enforcement career, officer Richard De Coatsworth had achieved full hero status. It was at this point that his life and career began to deteriorate.
Just seven months after appearing with Michelle Obama, De Coatsworth was accused of excessive force after he shot a motorcyclist in the leg. In November 2011, the hero-cop was under investigation by the Internal Affairs Office for fighting with a fellow officer. A month later, after having amassed, during his brief tenure as a police officer, nine civilian complaints of assault, abuse, and misconduct, De Coatsworth retired from the force on full disability.
Two months after leaving the police department, De Coatsworth was charged with threatening a woman in the Port Richmond section of the city.
On May 1, 2013, De Coatsworth, after meeting a woman in a downtown bar, allegedly sexually assaulted her at the Day's Inn on Roosevelt Boulevard. At two in the morning of Thursday, May 16, 2013, De Coatsworth showed up at this woman's home in the Fishtown-Kensington section of the city. At her residence, De Coatsworth allegedly forced the 21-year-old and another woman her age to perform oral sex on him at gunpoint. The next day, immediately after the ex-cop departed the house, the woman he had allegedly assaulted at the Day's Inn called the authorities.
On Saturday, May 18, 2013, a prosecutor charged Richard De Coatsworth with rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, trafficking in persons, false imprisonment, and aggravated assault. At his arraignment, the magistrate judge set the defendant's bail at $25 million for each of the women. The judge added another $10 million bond in connection with an unrelated charge involving De Coatsworth's alleged May 9 assault of his live-in girlfriend. In total, the ex-police officer was charged with 32 felonies. His bail was the highest in the history of city, and probably the state.
Betsy Mitchell, Writer's Digest, 1999
That unsupported allegation about me will now become a part of my dossier at Newsweek. I ask you to put this letter in the same folder, so that more honest reporters than Mr. Prescott may learn the following about me:
I have never written with teenagers in mind, nor are teenagers the chief readers of my books. I am the first science fiction writer to win a Guggenheim, the first to become a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the first to have a novel become a finalist for a National Book Award. I have been on the faculties of the University of Iowa and Harvard, and was most recently a Distinguished Professor of Literature at CCNY.
Mr. Prescott is entitled to loathe everything I have ever done, which he clearly does. But he should not be a liar. Newsweek should not be a liar.
Kurt Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, edited by Dan Wakefield, 2012
Friday, February 26, 2021
The waiting list to get a job in prison industries is usually a couple years long, because that's the best way to make money. In any event, inmate pay for general labor is very low, a few dollars a week. Mopping floors pays about 12 cents an hour, and working in the factory ranges from 40 cents to $1.10. Remember--to the authorities, work for convicts is a privilege, not a right. In the outside world, you must work or starve. In prison you work to keep from dying of boredom.
Jeffrey Ian Ross and Stephen C. Richards, Behind Bars: Surviving Prison, 2002
Lee Gutkind, The Art of Creative Nonfiction, 1997
Nicholas Lemann, "Can Journalism be Saved? The New York Review of Books, Feb 27, 2020
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Alan Dershowitz, Letters to a Young Lawyer, 2001
The Writer's Home Companion (1987) edited by James Charlton and Lisbeth Mark
John Gardner, The Art of Fiction, 1984
Horace White, 1904
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Rachel Monroe, Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession, 2019
Ralph Keyes, The Courage to Write, 1995
Ralph Keyes, The Courage to Write, 1995
Charles Bukowski, Hollywood, 1989
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Ralph Keyes, The Courage to Write, 1995
Today, she'd be asked to haul it all home, boil it down to a two-page query letter, and get an agent.
Leigh Michaels, On Writing Romance, 2007
Monday, February 22, 2021
Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) Russian anarchist, writer
Erin Barrett and Jack Mingo, It Takes a Certain Type To Be A Writer, 2003
Meghan Daum, essayist, journalist, 2008
Sunday, February 21, 2021
The chemistry of the drug is ruthless: it is designed to disappoint you. Yes, once in a while there's a night when you get exactly where you're trying to go. Magic. Then you chase that memory for a month. But precisely because you so want to get there it becomes harder and harder. Your mind starts playing tricks on you. Scrutinizing the high, it weakens. You wonder if you're quite as high as you should be. Ah for the good old days when heroin felt wonderful. If I had to offer up a one sentence definition of addiction, I'd call it a form of mourning for the irrecoverable glories of the first time.
Ann Marlowe, How To Stop Time, 1999
Mary Jo Putney in Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, edited by Jayne Ann Krenz, 1992
L. Frank Baum in L. Frank Baum by Katharine M. Rogers, 2002
David McCullough, The Paris Review, Fall 1999
Saturday, February 20, 2021
law.com Legal Dictionary
In America, while 95 percent of writers make far below the minimum wage, the top five percent--mostly celebrity memoirists--make the good money. And because they are not real writers, celebrities don't even have to write their own books. Most celebrity-"authored" memoirs are written by ghostwriters. (Believe it or not, celebrities have even published ghostwritten fiction.) This is not to say that all celebrity memoirs are bestsellers, but on the whole, compared to their no-name counterparts, they do quite well. Is this the way book publishing should work? No, but this is how things work in a capitalistic nation where celebrities are worshipped. (For example, while traditional journalism is dead, celebrity "journalism" flourishes.)
In 2019, 27 percent of the adult population did not open one book. Although America is not a book reading country, it is a book writing country. Every year about 800,000 books are published, half of which are self-published. The average book, in its lifetime, sells less than 250 copies. A hardback book that sells 30.000 copies is considered a publishing success. In 2017, not one hardback book sold more than a million copies.
And now, the unreality of book publishing. On November 13, 2018, Bertelsmann's Penguin Random House Division published Michelle Obama's memoir, Becoming: A Guided Journal For Discovering Your Voice. Written "with the help" of a ghostwriter, the 448-page celebrity memoir was released in 24 languages. For her efforts, Michelle Obama received a staggering $65 million advance. (The average commercial hardback book advance in the United States is a paltry $5,000. And these people write their own books. Talk about income inequality.) In publishing, the bigger the advance, the more the publisher has to spend promoting the book and its author. For this reason, the vast majority of writers have to promote their books themselves, and never experience a book tour.
On the first day of its publication, Becoming, in the United States and Canada, sold 725,000 copies. Those sales shot the book to the top of every bestseller list in the country with a half a million copies to spare. Obama's was the second best first-day book launch in U.S. publishing history. (Bob Woodward's 2015 Fear: Trump in the White House, sold 900,000 on its first day.) In reality, there are not enough individual book buyers in the world to bring a publisher enough royalty money to cover a $65 million advance.
In America, if you want to become a bestselling memoirist without actually writing the book, become a celebrity loved by the masses and adored by the media. It's especially important to be adored by a media eager to promote you and your ghost-written memoir.
Truman Capote in Conversations With Capote, edited by Lawrence Grobel, 1985
Holly Cook, likesbooks.com, 2013
Friday, February 19, 2021
Jack Morgan, 2011
Renata Adler, Toward a Radical Middle, 1969
We have bad-boy chefs (Bourdain, Ramsay), bad-boy comedians (Russell Brand), bad-boy athletes (the demonic Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez). And it's possible, I suppose, that some young word-slinger could come along and wring a new twist from the tired repertoire of writerly naughtiness--be a postmodern literary bad boy. But in the end, who cares? Drink, divorce, insanity, firearms: all beside the point. The work is what counts. [If you like bad boy writers, try Charles Bukowski.]
James Parker, "What's Become of the So-Called Literary Bad Boy?" The New York Times, February 18, 2014
Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer, 2006
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Jonathan Yardley, Misfit, 1997
Julie Smith in Writing Mysteries, edited by Sue Grafton, 2002
Barry N. Malzberg, The Man Who Loved the Midnight Lady, 1980
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
In March 2013, after someone broke into his house, Mr. Wilson posted the following on his Facebook page: "To the scumbag who burgled my house--I hope I'm there to watch when Karma comes and screws you up."
Just after midnight on June 19, 2013, Tom Smith [not his real name], broke into Ross Wilson's house. As the 21-year-old burglar crept through the dark, he bumped into Mr. Wilson's corpse as it hung from the end of a rope. The thief screamed so loud, several of Mr. Wilson's neighbors called 911 to report a domestic disturbance. The terrified burglar ran out of the house. When he arrived at his own place of residence, Smith called the police and reported what he had encountered at the scene of his crime.
The Hamilton County police believed that Mr. Wilson had hanged himself a couple of days before Smith's criminal intrusion. A few of Mr. Wilson's relatives urged the local prosecutor to charge Smith with burglary. Because Smith had been scared witless, the authorities decided not to bring charges against him even though he had been in trouble with the law. The local police hoped that this burglar has been scared straight by his deceased burglary victim.
Federal transport and holdover prisoners travel in the clothes they wear and their one "federal box," which holds all of their belongings and is loaded in the cargo bay of the bus or plane. While in transit, which may last for weeks or months, prisoners normally do not receive mail, have access to phones, or opportunities for outside visits. They do not work, participate in prison programs, receive institutional pay, or have commissary privileges. They are forced to depend on the generosity of general population prisoners for necessary items--soap, shampoo, smokes--which may or may not be forthcoming.
In contrast to federal prisoners, who may be transported across the United States, state prisoners are usually subject to shorter trips. Generally, state prisoners are taken in police cars, school buses converted for prison use, or vans. These trips are usually from county jail to prison. Because state systems are smaller, these prisoners may serve time in fewer prisons; thus they are transferred less frequently.
Jeffrey Ian Ross and Stephen C. Richards, Behind Bars: Surviving Prison, 2002
Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review, May 18, 2014
Meg Wolitzer, Fitzgerald Did It, 1999
Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Peter Rubie, Telling the Story, 2003
Howard Fast in Writing For Your Life, edited by Sybil Steinberg, 1992
Monday, February 15, 2021
Ralph Sasson, legal blog, August 1, 2019
Blasick claimed the ghost returned to her home a month later, and this time, the assault was more violent. An apparent authority on rapist ghosts, a psychic named Patti Negri, informed the TV audience that Blasick's experience is a common occurrence that usually occurs when a woman is mourning the loss of a lover.
Psychologist Claran O'Keeffe believes the ghost rape experience is caused by sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis happens when the brain wakes up before the body does. The sleep paralysis victim, for a few seconds, feels that he or she cannot move or speak. There can also be hallucinations associated with the experience.
According to psychic Negri, 80 percent of ghost rapes are committed by a ghost who knows the victim. The psychic advised ghost rape victims to tell the invisible rapist in the strongest language that this is not consensual sex. Moreover, the victim should not be ashamed to report the crime to others. (Do not, however, report the incident to the police. That won't go well with people who deal regularly with real victims of rape.)
"You can never get 100 percent documentation on what a man or woman thought and did throughout a lifetime. Even if you get everything available, and that is what I strive for, you are still a way short of a full understanding of that individual because thousands of hours of interior monologue are unrecorded--many of the days, weeks and months of worry and anxiety and frustration and taking time to think through a problem. It is very difficult for the author to know what went on in that mind, step by step."
Kasey Michaels, likesbooks.com, 2005
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Joan Acocella, "The Rise and Fall of Arsenic," The New Yorker, October 7, 2013
But criticism hurts. A deep and pervasive flaw in human character makes all of us resistant to the one thing that can help us do better. The only solution? Learn to grow up. To hold your head high, develop a thick skin, and take it.
If a reader didn't like your work, that may be a matter of taste. But if she did not understand the work--or was bored--that's your fault as a writer, pure and simple.
David Brin in How I Got Published, edited by Ray White and Duane Lindsay, 2007
While the old convention was to set off thoughts by putting them into italics, I'm more of a fan of embedding thoughts within the narrative voice as simple, elegant exposition.
Jordane Rosenfeld, Make a Scene, 2008
Martin Russ, Showdown Semester, 1980
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Sarah Brown says a neighbor witnessed the shooting and heard the cop boasting about how "awesome" it looked when the dog's collar blew off from the blast.
Ardmore Police Captain Eric Hamblin said the March 2014 shooting was justified because animal control officers were unable to collect the dog after receiving phone complaints that a pit bull was acting aggressively in the neighborhood. According to Hamblin, the policeman who shot Cali has received death threats.
Brown says the neighbor told her the cop had laughed after shooting her 2-year-old dog. The pet joined the family as a puppy and had no history of bad behavior, family members said.
Deborah Hastings, "Oklahoma Family Says Cop Shot To Death Their Beloved Dog For No Reason," New York Daily News, March 25, 2014. There are no statistics regarding how many pet dogs police officers kill every year, but the number is in the thousands. The officer in this case was not disciplined.
Ann Rule in Writing Mysteries, Sue Grafton, editor, 2002
Philip Roth, The Guardian, September 11, 2004
Whether these stories are set in our world or a secondary world where magical creatures and/or people exist, they all share a common theme: the exploration of the human condition. Even the much maligned medieval/quest fantasies offer readers the chance to vicariously explore a wondrous world, battle evil and restore justice. Even a lowly Hobbit can change the course of the world by destroying the Ring.
That is the appeal of the tolkienesque fantasy. In our modern world where politicians prove corrupt, large corporations rip off customers and terrorists kill ordinary people going about their daily lives, the traditional quest fantasy provides an antidote to cynicism. Fantasy, deriving from the word fantastic, exercises our sense of wonder.
Rowena Cory Daniells, The Australian Literature Review, June 17, 2010
If you want to write, here's a secret: the writer's struggle is overrated, a con game, a cognitive distortion, a self-fulfilling prophecy, the best excuse for not writing. "Why should I get writer's block?" asked the mischievous Roger Simon. "My father never got truck driver's block."
Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies For Every Writer, 2006
Friday, February 12, 2021
Edmund DeMarche, Fox News, January 3, 2014
Charles Bukowski in Charles Bukowski: Selected Letters 1987-1994, edited by Seamus Cooney, 2004
Scott Donaldson, themillions.com, February 27, 2012
A story by credit will go to those who came up with the essence of a movie (such as the plot or main characters) and who might have written a treatment or summary, but who didn't write the screenplay. Similarly, those receiving a screen story by credit have adopted material from others' novels, short stories, or news articles for the film, often making substantial changes.
A written by credit will go to those who both conceived the story and wrote the screenplay, usually merging the meaning of story by and screenplay by.
Rod L. Evans, The Art of Nuance, 1997
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Officer Quinn, after he secured the stopped driver's permission to search her car, placed the suspect in the backseat of his patrol vehicle. A search of the motorist's car resulted in the discovery of a marijuana grinder. Officer Quinn advised the detainee that he could arrest her for possession of drug paraphernalia. At that point the patrol officer stunned the woman with the revelation that he had a foot fetish. If she allowed him to sniff and lick her bare feet, he wouldn't take her into custody.
Not wanting to be arrested, the motorist removed her boots and socks. But instead of availing himself of the woman's feet, officer Quinn asked her to remove and give him her underwear. Before the woman could comply with that request, the patrol officer changed his mind and let her go.
The day following her harrowing encounter with the disturbed cop, the woman reported the bizarre and frightening incident to the authorities. Detectives with the Harris County District Attorney's Office launched an investigation.
Police officers arrested Patrick Quinn after detectives identified him through his latent fingerprints on the victim's insurance card.
The Cypress-Fairbanks School District fired Mr. Quinn after a Harris County prosecutor charged him with two counts of official oppression. In the course of the investigation leading up to the arrest, detectives had found three other women who had been victims of the officer's deviant propositions.
On October 22, 2015, in a Houston Courtroom, Patrick Quinn pleaded guilty to one count of official oppression. The judge sentenced him to a year in the Harris County Jail.
Norman Mailer. Mailer wrote the introduction to Jack Abbott's In The Belly of the Beast, 1981 Not long after Mailer and other bleeding-hearts lobbied corrections authorities to release Jack Abbott from prison, this violent criminal, without provocation, stabbed a New York City waiter to death. The victim was a total stranger to him. How brave was that?
Charles Bukowski, Hollywood, 1989
Hallie Ephron, Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel, 2005
Except it often does. Sure, there are veteran authors who have to do nothing than hit "send" on a manuscript before the Time magazine cover gets scheduled and the royalty checks start pouring in; others, thanks to whatever particular combination of timing and talent, seem to skyrocket into the public consciousness out of nowhere. But they are the exception, not the rule
Then there are the rest of us. As the editor of two well-publicized but by no means best-selling books, it would make sense for me to deem aspects of book promotion frivolous--sales of my first book were proof that multiple appearances on high-profile public radio and morning news shows don't always move the needle--but I do believe promotion is a necessary, if often exhausting endeavor.
Anna Holmes, The New York Times Review of Books, May 25, 2014
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Patricia T. O'Conner, Words Fail Me, 1999
Bruce Balfour in The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists, Andrew McLeer, 2008
Georges Simenon, Paris Review, Summer 1955
Andrew Breibart and Mark Ebner, Hollywood, Interrupted, 2004
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
During a court session in Viera, Florida, when Judge Murphy asked Mr. Weinstock to waive his client's right to a speedy trial, the public defender refused. The courtroom confrontation was captured on video.
In the hallway outside the courtroom, Judge Murphy grabbed Weinstock by the collar and started punching him in the face. A Brevard County sheriff's deputy stepped in and stopped the assault. The video showed the judge being applauded when he returned to the courtroom.
The participants refused to press charges, and no arrests were made.
Peter Prescott, Never in Doubt, 1996
Movies have been dealing with aliens for much longer. Invasions of giant spiders and such have long been a staple of low-budget horror films, while occasionally a film would try something a bit more sophisticated like H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The same novel inspired Orson Wells' 1938 radio broadcast that literally terrified thousands of listeners.
Printed science fiction has also featured a great many aliens, often with more care and finesse than they've usually received in the visual and broadcast media.
Some writers have made a specialty of creating fascinating, believable aliens, along with their cultures and the worlds that produced them. Intelligent nonhumans have been an important element in literature much longer than what we now know as science fiction. Gods, demons and talking animals appear in the most ancient mythologies. The folklores of many lands have produced elves, dragons and trolls that have persisted in some form into the written fantasy of today.
Stanley Schmidt, Aliens and Alien Societies, 1995
Monday, February 8, 2021
Some say the assassinated man was an unwitting stand-in by the name of Charlie Bigelow. Others announce that there were in truth two Jesse Jameses: one, the true Jesse Woodson James, and the other, Jesse R. James, who was a Jesse Woodson James look-a-like who could fool even Jesse's older brother Frank. In life and death, he passed himself off, it is said, as the authentic Jesse.
Jesse James died on April 3, 1882 in St. Joseph, Missouri when he was shot in the head by a single bullet that did not exit his skull. In light of scientific findings, the claims of those who say that someone else died in Jesse's place, and that Jesse lived on to father additional children, are worse than nonsense. They are ludicrous in the extreme.
James E. Starrs (with Katherine Ramsland), A Voice for the Dead, 2005
The book buyer's suspicions are more justified. The critic, after all, is being paid to read. Consumers must spend their hard-earned cash for the same privilege. Then there's the question of time. Prospective buyers have every right to ask: "Do I really want to give two weeks of my reading life to this novel? Can it possibly be worth it when there are so many others--most a good deal shorter--clamoring for my attention?"
Stephen King, "Flights of Fancy," The New York Times Book Review, October 13, 2013
Michael Snyder, "20 Completely Ridiculous College Courses Offered at U. S. Universities," theeconomiccollapseblog.com, June 5, 2013 (See my post, "Ridiculous College Courses: Majoring in Stupid")
Most fiction writers end up deciding that discretion is the greater part of critical valor. Some recuse themselves from reviewing any contemporary fiction at all. Others review only those novels they can praise in good faith. Still others adopt a tactful, discursive reviewing style that allows them to write about books they don't rate without actually copping to an opinion.
Before we rebuke these writers for their intellectual cowardice, we ought to acknowledge the genuine difficulty of the task they shirk. The literary world is tiny. The subgroup represented by novelists is even tinier. If you're an author who regularly reviews other authors, the chances of running into a person whose novel you have criticized are fairly high. It may not be the worst thing in the world to find yourself side by side at a cocktail party with the angry man whose work you described as mediocre in last Sunday's paper, but the threat of such encounter is not a great spur to critical honesty. [If you're interested in literary courage, read B. R. Myers' book Reader's Manifesto where he rips apart several so-called literary giants. A great book and a wonderful read.]
Zoe Heller, The New York Times Book Review, September 26, 2014
Sunday, February 7, 2021
Charles Duff, A Handbook on Hanging, 2001 reprint of 1961 edition
If we consider originality almost non-existent, then what shall a writer strive for? Characterization. Living, vibrating human beings are still the secret and magic formula of great and enduring writing. Read, or better, study the immortals and you will be forced to conclude that their unusual penetration into human character is what has kept their work fresh and alive through centuries, and not because they may have a new "slant" which seemed to many to be "original."
Lajos Egri, The Art of Creative Writing, 1990
What's more, as has often been pointed out, writing is a very lonely occupation. You can talk about what you write, and discuss it with family, friends, or editors, but when you sit down at that typewriter, you are alone with it and no one can possibly help. You must extract every word from you own suffering mind.
It's no wonder writers so often turn misanthropic or are driven to drink to dull the agony. I've heard it said that alcoholism is an occupational disease with writers.
Isaac Asimov, I. Asimov: A Memoir, 1994
Andre Acimen in Writers on Writing, edited by John Darnton, 2001
Kurt Vonnegut, Palm Sunday, 1981
Saturday, February 6, 2021
I try to adhere to the doctrine of fair play in the plot. That is, I put in clues so that the reader could conceivably identify the murderer. Having said that, I bury the clues by making them hard to spot. Many of these clues are embedded in seemingly innocuous details. [In real life, most murder cases are not mysteries. However, true crime readers find them interesting because they really happened.]
Robert Goldsborough in The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists, Andrew McAleer, editor, 2008
Gretchen Brinck, authorsontheweb.com, 2002
Friday, February 5, 2021
Reid Meloy, forensic psychologist in Details Magazine, April 2013
B. R. Myers, A Reader's Manifesto, 2002. This is an outstanding, groundbreaking book.
Joseph Wambaugh in Janet Malcolm's The Journalist and the Murderer, 1990
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, 1994
The second remark has as much truth as the first--which is to say, some truth. Of course, many a young man has put himself in danger to pick up material for his writing, but as a matter to make one wistful, not one major American athlete, CEO, politician, engineer, trade-union official, surgeon, airline pilot, chess master, call girl, sea captain, teacher, bureaucrat, Mafioso, pimp, recidivist, physicist, rabbi, movie star, clergyman, or priest or nun has also emerged as a major novelist since the Second World War.
Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art, 2003
Stephen King, Adelina Magazine, 1980
B. Traven, the pen name of the mysterious author of dozens of novels--notably, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre--believed that all books should be published anonymously. He based this belief on the notion that readers, by knowing in advance who the author is, will expect and demand a certain kind of book.
Modern publishing is all about fame. Gore Vidal once said that an author should never turn down a chance to be on television. (Vidal, Truman Capote, and Norman Mailer were notorious media whores.) Today, book publishers pay publicists to get their authors in the news and on radio and TV talk shows. (Publicity, by definition, is free advertising.) Publishers also like celebrity authors who are already famous. Fans come to celebrity book signings not to acquire the book for reading but for the writer's autograph and a photo op. Moreover, it doesn't seem to bother anyone that celebrity authors do not write (or, possibly, even read) their own books.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Excited Delirium Syndrome
According to Dr. Deborah Mash, the University of Miami neurologist who coined the term Excited Delirium, men who are high on drugs and/or alcohol, and are mentally ill, can fly off the handle when placed under stress. Their body temperatures soar to 103-5 degrees, and their hearts race. When in this state, these men also possess supernatural strength, and can be resistant to taser shocks. Many of these men, often overweight, die of cardiac or respiratory arrest when fighting with the police. Among forensic pathologists in the United States, Canada, and England, Excited Delirium Syndrome is becoming a recognized cause of death.
At two in the afternoon on Saturday, May 26, 2012, Larry Vegas, while riding his bicycle on the MacArthur off-ramp to Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, saw a naked man on top of another nude man on the pedestrian walkway. The area under the causeway, populated by homeless people, was littered with cardboard mats, personal belongings, syringes, and broken bottles. The person on the pavement wasn't moving as the man on top chewed away at his face. The witness on the bicycle yelled at the attacker to stop. This man, with pieces of bloody flesh hanging out of his mouth, raised his head, looked at Mr. Vegas, and growled.
Mr. Vegas, now joined by other horrified witnesses, flagged down a Miami Police officer who ordered the attacker to desist. The attacker, paying no attention to the cop, the rubber-necking motorists, and the witnesses gathering at the scene, continued to tear away his victim's face. Obviously stunned and repelled by what he saw, the officer shot the attacker. When the bullet didn't stop the gruesome assault, the officer fired again, three times, killing the flesh eating predator.
Paramedics rushed the bloody, badly mauled victim to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. The homeless victim, whose face had been chewed beyond recognition, was in critical condition.
The man shot to death by the Miami police officer was a 31-year-old man named Rudy Eugene. Police theorize Mr. Eugene had been under the influence of "Cocaine Psychosis," a condition which causes the body to heat-up. Perhaps this was why the attacker was nude.
Forensic pathologists, police officers, emergency room doctors, EMS personnel, and people who treat drug abusers, had been aware of Cocaine Psychosis since 1987. Cocaine causes dopamine levels in the body to rise, causing euphoria. The dropping of the dopamine level when the drug wears off can cause schizophrenic-like symptoms, and/or extremely violent behavior. Cocaine Psychosis was common in longtime drug abusers.
At two in the morning on the day of the attack, Rudy Eugene, while at his girlfriend's house, rifled through his clothing and hers, then drove off in his purple Chevy sedan. He told a friend he was going to Miami Beach to attend a Memorial Day party. Later in the day, his car broke down, and as he walked across the 3-mile causeway he stated taking off his clothes. Police found his clothing and his driver's license along the road.
As the investigation progressed, detectives began to suspect that Mr. Eugene had been under the influence of a LSD-like synthetic drug called "bath salts." His former wife, Jenny Ductant said this to a reporter: "I wouldn't say he had mental problems but he always felt like people were against him."
The authorities identified the victim as 65-year-old Ronald Poppo, a man who lived under the causeway, and had been homeless for 30 years. He was a 1964 graduate of New York City's elite Stuyvesant High School. Before hitting the skids, Poppo had worked in the guidance officer at Stuyvesant. He had lived in Florida 40 years, during which time he had been arrested for petty crimes. Before the Miami police officer shot and killed Rudy Eugene, the attacker had been chewing on Poppo's face for 18 minutes. When the ambulance took the victim from the scene, he had lost 80 percent of his face including his nose, cheeks, lips and an eye.
Rudy Eugene's girlfriend told detectives that she met him in 2007. Since that time she and Rudy Eugene had an on-again, off-again relationship. The man she portrayed, a guy who read from a Bible he carried everywhere with him, did not comport with a man who had eaten a stranger's face. While the girlfriend admitted that Eugene smoked pot, she believed that on the day he was shot by the police, he had been unknowingly drugged. She also floated the possibility that someone put a Voodoo curse on him.
In 2004, Mr. Eugene had been arrested for battery after he threatened his mother and smashed furniture. He had also threatened the responding police officer who shot him with a taser device.
Toxicological tests revealed that Rudy Eugene, when he attacked the homeless man, was not under the influence of bath salts. He was, however, high on marijuana. Exactly what caused Mr. Eugene to do what he did to a complete stranger went with him to the grave.
To make electrocution as efficient and expedient a process as possible, certain techniques of preparation have been developed. Like a patient being readied for surgery, the prisoner to be executed goes though an exacting process before the actual procedure occurs. Very important is the maximizing of contact. The prisoner's scalp is shaved down to stubble; a safety razor is used to clear a spot at the center of the head. This is the place where the soaked sponge of the death cap will make contact. Similarly, an area approximately six inches above the ankle is shaved, to make the optimum connection with the ground pad.
Everything possible is done to ensure that the mechanism works as desired. The connection at head and leg soaked with conductive Electro-Creme or paste-like brine solution--is the most efficient way of transferring electrical current into the body. Voltages and amperages are finely calibrated. The system itself is checked and rechecked, tested and inspected. Hundreds of previous executions give the prison personnel a good idea of what to expect. A controlled environment, witnesses, accurate analytic tools, the frequent presence of doctors and nurses lend the execution the air of a scientific experiment. But the body is always a variable.
Th. Metzger, Blood & Volts, 1996
Donald Maass, The Career Novelist, 2001
Margaret Atwood, novelist, 2013
Lee Gutkind, Keep it Real, 2009
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
The New York Times just published a feature article entitled, "Why is Big Tech Policing Speech? Because the Government Isn't." In a democratic country, the only thing policed should be crime. It's bad enough that Big Tech has taken it upon itself to police speech. It's even worse when the government does it. Information monopolies and governments should protect and encourage free speech, not restrict it. It's more than a little odd to see such an anti-free speech article in a major newspaper.