Diagnosis: Bitterary Disease

I have removed myself for the time being from the Twittersphere because I’ve been feeling unwell, not myself.

Although, “not myself” might not be such an awful thing to be. Or, not be. But first, Adele dropped her new video. Why do they say “dropped”? Whatever. I love this. LOVE THIS.

Okay, that was to prove I’m not completely involved in my own lugubrious dwelling on my illness. Yes, illness.

Oct 2015

Me – looking like my ridiculous, exhausted self – and Momma – impatiently waiting to be broken out of hospital last Friday. She is my hero. My rock. My role model. Rock & role-model; Mommy.

The illness I thought had been diagnosed, drugged, and done away with, returned. I spent much of last week attending to my dear Momma during and after her surgery and contending with all the family dynamics such events roil; it went remarkably well on every level, about which I would write were I feeling better, more certain I could tell the story without offending any family members or other characters who showed up during the course of those days. In my current condition of physical exhaustion and the emotional upheaval the fatigue brings, I think it better not to tell those stories right now. Rather, say this: Many different kinds of healing took place before,during, and after my Mom’s surgery, and it was not just her carotid artery scraped clean of debris; Mommy managed to bring us together again, as always, by example rather than lecture or harangue. She is effortless in her Love, plugging along, accepting, doing what was best and right, without rancor or accusation or judgment.

So, she was released on Friday and later that night, I got the back of the neck chills feeling that means I have a fever, tossed and turned in fugue-half-awake, can’t stop obsessing on an imaginary event, night-sweat, no sleep sort of night. By Saturday morning I was crampy and afraid my own personal plague was returning, and by Sunday, it had, with full-on, gastrointestinal terrorism. I was (sorry to be blunt and disgusting) unable to do anything but evacuate every fifteen minutes or so, ugh, oh no, losing two pounds a day, sick, sick, down for the count again.

Long/short: Called physician Monday at 8 when they opened. No one answered – including a machine – until 8:45. No one could (or would) see me in until Thursday. I suggested this was a relapse of same illness which had JUST required MANY appointments and testings for them to figure out, that the antibiotic course had not been sufficient to kill the parasite and couldn’t they just prescribe another round? I was informed that ALL OF THE PAs I HAD SEEN DURING THAT ADVENTURE FROM HELL WERE NOW ABSENT FROM THE PRACTICE. Thus, no one was willing to re-prescribe antibiotics AND I had to come in to get a new referral for my specialist appointment on Monday AND no one could do ANY OF THIS UNTIL THURSDAY!

So, friends, staying sane has been – well, that’s not even an option, rather, it has been difficult not to go TRULY nuts. Speaking of nuts . . .

Warwick Rowers 2016 Calendar from Low Fat Media on Vimeo.

Yes. The Rowers, because, well, English and French accents and the countryside and the wardrobe (and lack of) and I want an English-accented-lover and well dammit just LOOK AT THEM . . .

I am emotionally on edge because I am exhausted from being unable to actually digest food and take in nutrients. I learned from last go-round with this disease (parasite?) that horrifying as the cramping and bathrooming every fifteen minutes are (would that I were exaggerating) it is worse to follow one’s instinct and stop eating so as to avoid the bathroom trips; not eating only results in worse weight loss and weakness so intense one can barely walk up and down the stair from the Batcave. Thus, forcing myself to eat and hydrate; I spend much of the day in the bathroom (and then cleaning the bathroom, because that is who I am); and, trying to read.

There is where my patience has worn even thinner. Truth: when it comes to bitter, I am most easily annoyed by things going on in Literary World – I suffer from Bitterary Disease: a malady of the wanna-be-writer who cannot believe the things that get published, get popular, win prizes. Or, don’t.

clegg, did you ever

Click cover for Mr. Clegg’s site and book information

I have not recovered (will likely never recover) from Bill Clegg’s Did You Ever Have A Family not having won the Man Booker Prize, for not even making it from Long to Short list. I was further annoyed when it didn’t make the cut for the National Book Awards shortlist.

However, I promised myself when I started book blogging that I would always be a cheerleader for literature, not a hater. So, I picked up the winner of the Man Booker, Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings (click on title for more information). I started reading its 700 pages. Yes, 700 pages. First of all, when a novel begins with a cast-list of more than 70 characters divided into six sub-divisions, I should know myself well enough to just stop right there. Second, when a novel is written with large sections of dialect and patois, much of it impenetrable and without handy glossary, then I should, well, know myself well enough to stop right there. But, this was a Man Booker winner so, I didn’t stop until page 200 – where I had to stop, because one can’t really read a book one has just thrown across the room.

I am sure this is my shortcoming. I am sure this prize-winning novel, lauded by people with MFAs and jobs in the literary world is an achievement of heft and writerly acumen the likes of which I can only dream about. And I am equally sure that most of the judges didn’t even really read the whole damn thing. AND I AM EVEN SURER that these prize-awarding-committees ought to have NON-INDUSTRY, real readers – like, perhaps, ME – on the panels. This is the second of the Man Booker (and, not so coincidentally, National Book Award) shortlist tomes I have read and had to stop reading in frustration, abashed and flummoxed. Oh well.

Capture Kerry McHugh

Click pic to explore Kerry’s blog – you really should

Here’s the thing, happy for Marlon James success. Happy for anything that inspires more people to read (and write) and, as the very wise bloggist and Shelf Awareness writer, Kerry McHugh (click here for her blog, Entomology of a Bookworm, you really should check it out) said to me recently — and I’m paraphrasing, she said it far more elegantly — “It’s okay not to like a book. I love books other people hate, and I hate books that lots of other people like. That’s what makes literature so great, there’s room for everyone, everything, and it’s okay to disagree and discuss.”

city on fireShe is so right. My cavil is that I think some books are the lit-world equivalent of The Emporer’s New Clothes. Someone in power (or a really good publicist) decides a book is brilliant or buzzy or the next big thing, deigns it so, deems it so, and the rest of the Woolf-pack jumps on and agrees. For example, the latest example of this is that 900 page first novel that earned a $2 million advance and has been twice-reviewed in The New York Times, multiple mentions in The New Yorker, New York, and every other book-y blog, Twitter account, and publication – before it was even RELEASED to real readers.

Am I bitter? Yes. I guess I am. Literary bitter. Bitterary. Like I said, the REAL illness from which I suffer.

And I own that. I am bitter because I’ve not come up with the pitch or cover letter or connection (I don’t actually DO connections, not my thing – I would NEVER ask someone to read my book, to give my book to an agent, to anything – not an asker, never have been, never will be – some of us are just here to answer) to sell myself. I’m not that person. And, in some ways, I am content with the thousand or so people who check in here each day — although, truth, lots of those hits are searching for dick-pics, thus the Warwick Rowers, I know my audience and I like a naked ass and English accent as much as (well, probably way more than) anybody else — and I’m not so bitter that I haven’t reserved that buzzy book at library (I’m next in line, by the way, so, it isn’t all that buzzy here in Frederick). I am just hoping that I can make it past page 200 without throwing it across the room and screaming, “WHAT THE HELL DID THOSE PEOPLE READ WHO LOVED THIS THING?!?!?!”

Okay, going, time for some pro and antibiotics and tons of water and coffee and hoping my guts calm a bit today.

P.S. Not sure who reads this, not an issue, but yesterday in my non-Twitter-ness time, I wrote letters to Cody, Rachel, and TwitLit folks, Hope and Nandini – mailing this morning, watch your mailboxes!

READING: Books are my religion . . .a lesson from Ann Patchett

A LONG INTRODUCTION . . .

Charlie Smith 3

I am inserting this picture, taken the day AFTER I posed with Ann Patchett, because in THAT photo I look HUGE and AWFUL — and so, I wanted to prove I am still a hipster cat-burglar who gyms it up 6 days a week.

Apologies (and thanks) to those asking if I’m okay and why my entries have been so infrequent. I’m immersed (not to say, drowning) in yet another edit of “LIBERTYTOWN” and, too, a couple of other writing projects which came banging at the doors of my brain/heart/soul, even as I hid away, weeping, whispering, “There’s no one home!” Somehow, the stories and words inside me, or, floating around me, or, something, will not let me do what I’ve been trying to do, which is to surrender to the fact that in the same way I was not a Broadway star, not the first American Pope, not someone who was ever going to be successfully in a love relationship, not someone with an actual income and home of his own, I was also NOT A WRITER. Which, is an overly long (SURPRISE!) way of saying, “I’M TRYING TO WRITE AND I CAN’T BLOG WHILE I’M DOING THAT!” I spent hours yesterday trying to finish ONE SENTENCE, and I never really did – it is slow going, my dears. In the meantime, I am reading. And, since this is sort-of, sometimes, supposed to be a Book(ish?) Blog – thought, “Ok, I’ll catch up with that!” So, here I am, going.

CATCHING (YOU) UP ON MY READING . . .

Ann Pachett and Charlie

This is Ann Patchett after I told her I stalked another writer, and still, she bravely posed with me. She is a wonderful, lovely person – radiates warmth, wit, intelligence, and a glowing goodness.

Monday, March 23, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Ann Patchett. She was the featured speaker at Frederick Reads, and not only was she smart, charming, funny, brilliant, engaging, and fun, she gave book recommendations and said (far more eloquently) “Books are my religion.” Mine too. In the days since, procrastinating while I ought to have been editing, I ventured to her Parnassus Books site [click here], and from there, her blog [click here], and in doing so realized I’d not spoken about what I’ve been reading since January when Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You [click here], rocked me. I am still talking about it, talked about it and wrote down the title for Ann Patchett even. But, I have read 23 books since then, and here, in brief, we go, highlights only.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LAST 23 BOOKS

M.C. BEATON’s AGATHA RAISIN SERIES

I am a huge fan of the Agatha Raisin mystery series, written by M.C. Beaton and edited by Hope Dellon of St. Martin’s Press. I read #6: Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist; #7: Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death; #8: Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham; and #9; Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden. Every visit with Agatha is like Continue reading