I loved this essay by my friend Stona Fitch, who is one of the most wickedly subversive novelists you’ll ever encounter. He knows his way around a keyboard the way a jazz master knows a piano — a metaphor that pops to mind because in Stona’s novel “Give + Take” the protagonist is a lounge-act jazz musician who moonlights as Robin Hood.

Stona has written an essay on the writing life, and it’s hilarious and dark. It’s about an uncle who cranked out paperback thrillers, and for whom literary success led nowhere good. Here’s an excerpt (and I’m sorry I haven’t figured out how to do block text yet with Methode....someday I need to figure out photos, too, especially since I’m going to Aspen on Monday):

Left alone at home, I would pull over a chair and climb up to retrieve one of Uncle Bill’s reputedly dirty novels, seduced by their inky perfume. When I was about ten, I turned to a scene about a devious pervert who had gathered up a thin gay junkie and a busty young whore – and forced them to wear scuba suits while having sex for his amusement. Then, much to their surprise (and definitely to mine), the devious pervert plugged in a hidden cable connected to electrodes in the scuba suits and ffffssssstttt.

They were electrocuted via their smoke-spewing pudendum!

I closed the book. This was sex, which everyone seemed to want to do? Where was I going to find a scuba suit? And what about those devious perverts and their electric cables?


Von Drehle, master of disaster, has a fine dispatch from Joplin in the latest Time.


Lots of blogging in recent days about tornadoes and climate change. I know you saw the Bill McKibben piece. Bryan Walsh at Time takes exception, as does climate scientist Judith Curry. Joe Romm of Climate Progress rounds up the coverage. PLENTY of material here with which to start an argument at your weekend barbecue.

And by the way, disasters aren’t new. Check out the Wikipedia list of U.S. disasters by death toll.


Long form journalism isn’t dead. See this great piece on Paul Krugman in New York magazine. Love this quote from Larry Summers:

“Paul may be the smartest and most creative applied economic thinker of this era,” he says, “but there is some element of him that is like the guy in the bleachers who always demands the fake kick, the triple-reverse, the long bomb, or the big trade.”


Mark your calendar: Sept. 24 and 25 is the National Book Festival — I hope to see you there.


Two corrections to the Neil Armstrong blog item last week: I mentioned a recent “open letter” by Armstrong, Lovell and Cernan to the President, but it was just an essay written in response to the president’s NASA budget. It was not directly addressed to Obama. Also, although the Augustine panel was often referred to in the news media as the “Augustine Commission” (as I did in the blog item), it was officially the Augustine “Committee.”