Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is This a Bad Sign?

I'm writing in a Starbucks until it's time for tonight's meeting of the Main Line Writers Group.

This Starbucks is playing music so bad, so tinny, that I couldn't tell if it was coming from the PA system or the website I was looking at was playing music! Yes, it's THAT bad.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Author Breece D'J Pancake

I was emailing a writer in West Virginia, and got to thinking about that late, great West Virginia author Breece D'J Pancake. I wanted to ask her a question about his work, but she'd never read him.

Pancake - yes, that was his real name* - killed himself at the age of 26, despite an astonishingly successful debut as a writer of short-stories. His work was compared to that of Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. Chuck Palahniuk and Andre Dubus III (among others) have cited him as an influence. But Pancake shot himself back in 1983, and he seems to be largely forgotten.

My email question to the West Virginia author? "When writing in West Virginian dialect, Pancake used to write the word "it" as "hit." I've never seen anyone else do that. Is it a good approximation of a local dialect?"

I'm still looking for the answer, in case anyone knows. I was in Weirton, West Virginia, some thirty years ago, and I don't recall how they spoke. (Besides, residents in what passes for an urban center in West Virginia probably don't sound like rural folks.)

If you're interested, there was a nice appreciation of Breece D'J Pancake by Dwight Garner in The New York Times, on the occasion of what would have been Pancake's 55th birthday.

* The only affectation in his name was accidental: when The Atlantic Monthly published his first short story, they printed his middle initials as D'J instead of D.J. The error amused Pancake and he let it stand, both then and on his subsequent publications.

Book Review Ad

That's Still Edible!

My car is in the shop, so this is the second day I'm trapped at home. I didn't expect my brakes to go, so I didn't shop before my car went in for repairs.

Being stuck at home with a depleted pantry makes you re-evaluate expiration dates on food. I just found out that you CAN eat two-year-old pasta as long as you boil it thoroughly.

But if my car's not ready tomorrow, I'm going to do an internet search on how to eat cattails. (And my decorative cattails are only a year old!)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Launch of the CHESTER COUNTY FICTION Anthology

Yesterday we had the book launch of the anthology Chester County Fiction at the iconic (and appropriately musty) Baldwin's Book Barn in West Chester, PA. We jammed the back room with guests (luckily, the local fire marshal isn't a bibliophile) and sold half of our initial print run! Kudos to publisher Jim Breslin for arranging such a successful event.

Everyone who attended seemed to have a good time, with the possible exception of the hapless guest who got peed on by owner Tom Baldwin's dog.

I've autographed plenty of books in the past, but yesterday I learned that signing a paperback while standing up in a crowd requires a different skill set. (That's assuming you want to write legibly.) Thankfully, I already know how to avoid incontinent dogs.

Now I'm looking forward to the next group signing, to be held from 1 to 3 pm on Saturday, October 22nd, at the Chester County Book and Music Company. Hope you can join us!