January 24th, 2012

I actually wanted to call this post “Signal-to-Noise Ratio” but couldn’t find a good visual.  Anyway, it’s a potpourri, a grab-bag, a buffet, a thought piñata.  Those in search of continuity might want to look elsewhere.

First thing: in a couple of days we return to those thrilling days of yesteryear with another installment in Robb’s meandering but enormously readable story of Life Before Bread.  (For those of you who are new –as if — Robb Royer was a founding member of the smoothest musical group of the seventies.)  He says he’ll be leading up to the band’s formation in the next few pieces.

Second thing: the Newt hoot was great for me — allowed me to blow out my political pipes and focus on the parlous state of American politics without sinking into despair. So thanks, all.

Third thing:  I’ve survived the edit of THE FEAR ARTIST, which my Soho editor, Juliet Grames, greatly improved, and I assume the manuscript is now in the hands of my absolute wizard of a copy editor, Maureen Sugden. Maureen knows much more about the first four books in the series than I do and will inevitably find dozens of inconsistencies, along with mindlessly repeated words, sentences that go nowhere, stylistic head-on collisions, etc.  Then the thing will once again land on my desk, for me to do the yay-or-nay act on Maureen’s catches, to which I almost always respond with a yay.

Fourth thing:  The new Junior Bender, THE FAME THIEF, is unrolling itself in my mind and onto the computer screen. This one is quite different.  For one thing, the crime happened in 1948 and everyone involved is either dead or in their eighties. For another, patches of the book aren’t in Junior’s first person.  I wrote a paragraph yesterday that I liked.  It’s the opening to a chapter titled In Real Life, He Smiles When Somebody Gets Hit By a Car.

I go months without setting foot in Hollywood, and I can’t say I miss it much.  Whatever enchantment it may once have had vanished down the black hole of time long ago, and all the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into glitzy redevelopment just make the rest of the place look even more decayed.  I think of Hollywood’s lost glamor as a kind of urban phantom limb syndrome; it’s been gone for decades, but every now and then the city of Los Angeles feels an itch and reaches out to scratch it, and up goes another ugly building.

Okay, it’s not Hemingway, but I like “urban phantom limb syndrome.”

Fifth thing:  WRITING TO FINISH, my writing book, is in the organizational stage, and I’m getting permission to use pieces about plotting that were written for this blog by a dozen very good writers.  Should be a pretty good book, although longer than ATLAS SHRUGGED if I don’t get it under control.

Sixth Thing:  THE BONE POLISHER, the sixth Simeon Grist mystery, will come out as an ebook sometime in the next 5-6 weeks, if I can ever finish proofing the text of the ebook conversion.  It’s really complicated to read something I wrote so long ago, with the commitment not to rewrite it but to release it pretty much as was, warts and all.  But there are chunks of it I like.

Seventh Thing:  The sixth Poke is percolating.  I’ve got probably 50 pages of warmup stuff — just stray thoughts, and paragraphs that wrote themselves, and themes and characters are beginning to emerge from the void.  I should be ready to sit down to Page One within a few weeks.

Eighth Thing:  A few of you have written to inquire about my diet/fitness plan.  This is the last day of the sixth week, and since I weigh myself only on the final day of each week, I can say that as of now, I’m down exactly fourteen  pounds. Additionally, I’ve gotten my daily jog up to 45-55 minutes (seven days a week) and am doing literally hundreds of situps every day, although I cheat by using an ab-roller.

And Finally:  Anyone know about The Internet Archives? It’s at, and it’s a cornucopia of presumably legal downloads, including movies (I’ve downloaded most of the silent Hitchcock, all the great D.W. Griffith, and a dozen others), live concerts (for the past three days I’ve been jogging to a kickass concert by Warren Zevon and a great, blistering, almost three-hour set by Drive-By Truckers, back when Jason Isbell was still with the band, and a wonderful Ryan Adams set in Germany–he allows people who want to record to plug right into his sound board).  Plus old-time radio shows, hundreds of thousands of documents, etc., etc., etc.  An amazing resource that gets richer as I explore it.

Robb Royer, coming up.

8 Responses to “Patchwork”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    Thanks for the update, Tim. 14 pounds is no joke! Really happy to hear all is going well with your work, and love that you are putting together a book on writing.

    Looking forward to more Robb stories.

  2. EverettK Says:

    Wow, sounds like you’re really BUSY! (So, how come it’s been almost a year since we’ve had anything new to read from you? Sheesh, talk about a starvation diet…! We’re wasting away out here.)

    Really looking forward to the pieces from Robb, The Fear Artist, The Fame Thief and Writing To Finish. The coming year or so should be great!

    Congratulations on the diet! May your output continue to outpace your intake until you find your point of balance.

  3. Dana King Says:

    You’re right: the “urban phantom limb” line is a keeper.

  4. Annie Says:

    “urban phantom limb syndrome.”

    Very William Gibson-esque.

  5. Tom Logan Says:

    Congratulations on both the writing and the weight loss. Remember, please, that it is much harder to KEEP it off than to TAKE it off. One of your motivators should be letting us know from time to time how you’re doing. Hard to wait for the new books.

  6. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    I’m looking forward to all your new books, and wishing you luck with your physical fitness. I hear it becomes automatic after a while.

  7. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, everybody, and thanx for the comments.

    Lil, the new books seem to be coming fine right now, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be that way tomorrow, so I’ll just be content with the present. I’m being very consistent with the running — only missed four days in six weeks, and I haven’t screwed up on the food at all, so fingers crossed.

    Tom, I actually lost a huge amount of weight (almost 100 pounds) about 20 years ago and kept it off for 15 years — until I quit smoking. But you’re right, and I’ll be checking in with physical status updates from time to time to keep myself on the straight and narrow.

    Annie and Dana, I like the line myself. That book, which is the new Junior, is suddenly taking me into some very interesting territory –synesthesia, a ghost, long sequences set in 1948 — and it’ll either work or be a total bust.

    Everett, LITTLE ELVISES came out in August, which is six months ago, so there. I’m also waiting to see how the other ones will come out. I don’t usually know whether they’re actually any good much earlier than you do.

    Zanna, the pounds keep stealing off into the night, and Robb’s new piece will be online soon.

  8. michael hallinan Says:

    WTF ! Where’s Robb ? Novels have been written in shorter time. You have a public to think about. SO THERE !

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