Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Do I hear what you hear?

One of the dominant characteristics of declining cultures is self-indulgence. What else could you call a society who elects an amoral narcissist for their leader? Some in the media have been blaming Trump on hard-up working people who were denied a voice by the establishment. One might make a more convincing case for old white people with money and property resisting the erosion of their privilege.

Perhaps the worst side effect of a self-indulgent populace is the loss of communal perspective. It leads to absurdities that amount to burning down the house because you don't like the carpet. Great music is performed by people who listen as well as they play.

I'm taking time between my own books to do a little reading of other folks' stuff, and finding there is a lot of self-indulgent fiction out there right now. There are a few great writers, too, bucking the trends, not buying into the current medicine show, able to hear voices that don't echo their own. When you're writing a story, or reading the news, never quite trust a character who talks just like you do.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Drovers Gap...

Easing into a new project, aimed for late 2018 or early 2019, depending on when Slick Rock Creek launches. Drovers Gap (working title) will be my second book of short stories, containing some favorites of mine previously published in the UK by Alfie Dog Fiction, and some new tales, written expressly for this collection.

Some light, some dark. Nothing fancy. Place-rooted, character-driven. Stories that allow space for Grace among the shadows. Among them may be the seeds for the next novel. So far, all of my long fiction has sprouted out of short stories.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Privilege. I got a lesson in that during my recent little medical adventure. At the hospital, and at the doctor's office, I showed my insurance cards, and I got the care I needed. No talk at all about money.

This week, when the bills began coming in, I realized why. So far, insurance and medicare has paid everything. They knew as soon as they saw me coming that they would get their money.

So I'm wondering now, what sort of care did the people get who waited around me in the E. R. and didn't have insurance? What will their bill look like?

It is not just a question of economics, but a moral issue. Healthcare for profit is just as immoral as religion for profit. Stockholders and politicians shouldn't decide who gets care and who is excluded.
Of course, my privilege doesn't end with my medical care. I'm white. I live in a town where moneyed folk have been hanging out for a hundred years. I attend a church frequented mostly by that same sort of folk. People make assumptions based on that, and treat me accordingly. For the most part, it works out in my favor.

Over the years I've cultivated simple wants, and learned to live comfortably within my means, so I'm not quite the propertied man I might appear to be to some who don't know me. But there's no escaping the fact that I am privileged. I can deny that. I can feel guilty about it. Or I can give thanks for my undeserved good fortune and look for ways I can spread it around.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Summer for sure. A wet one, so far, with showers daily. The weather forecast says we might get our first ninety degree days of the season this week. Time to slow down, take stock, check our bearings.

A pause in the action. Like the intermission in a play. Take a little refreshment. Stretch the legs. Clear the mind. When the curtain parts again, the scene will have changed.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Living in place...

Travel wonderfully narrows the mind, according to Malcolm Muggeridge. Whether he thought of that himself, or was quoting somebody else, I don't know. Certainly, he got around enough to know what he was talking about.

To be sure, there are lessons plain to homefolks that visitors to a place are not privy to. The more places you see, the more they all look alike. Some great poetry may have been written on a train, but I can't think of any.

Saluda is a great place to visit, but I'd rather live here. It isn't the sort of town you can catch on the fly. It's different with big cities. There's always too much of too much in such places. I get my fill of New York or Atlanta in about two days. Two years in this town is barely enough to get my bearings.

You can't marry a crowd. You can't love a mob. You can't make more friends than you can remember names.

Friday, July 14, 2017

All the difference...

Not always have I been such a settled lad. Domesticity sort of crept up on me through the company I kept. The Main Muse has been gently persistent over the years. Somehow, she has won my heart without breaking my will.

But even that last summer of my discontent had a certain charm, and a wee place of belonging amid the chaos that was my life, and sometimes, when a thunderstorm wakes me in the dark, in that instant between sleep and awareness, I almost miss it.

Then my present happiness seizes me, and I embrace anew all the difference between being free, and just being loose.