Posted tagged ‘The Last Picture Show’

bits and pieces

February 15, 2021

Is it bitterly cold where you are? Relative to our norm and experience, my part of the country (Kansas City) has been in the deep, deep freeze for more than a week now. And it’s forecasted to continue for at least a few more days, with nighttime temps well below zero Fahrenheit. Even so, I still see people out running and even riding their bikes. I took last Friday off of work, and today is a work holiday, so I got to have some leisure time during this polar vortex. But maybe this coming weekend I can get out to the cabin if the warming forecast holds. The lake must be nicely filled with all of the snow that should be melted by then. I haven’t been to Roundrock yet in February and I only made one visit in January.

My neighbor down there raises beef cattle, and I asked him how the cows were coping with these dangerously cold days. He says they mostly stay out of the wind and eat a lot to keep the fires of their digestion burning. And I realized that in the winter, I, too, stay out of the wind and eat a lot.

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I’ve been working on a few short stories in recent weeks. I’m still lamenting the lack of some new big work that will grip my imagination the way Obelus did last year, but the short stories are filling the void nicely for now. They’re pretty good stories, I think. Worth rising early on the weekends to tinker with. Through the week, as I’m working for the man, I keep a notepad near me to scribble down story ideas as they come. Then in my weekend writing sessions, I work with those notes to jumpstart a new piece or enhance an existing piece. It’s a process that seems to work well for me. And I use it as a gauge to determine if a story is finished. If I am no longer getting thoughts about a given story, that suggests to me that it’s finished.

I have a few finished pieces in circulation, but they’re quirky, and finding the right market for them has been challenging. Last weekend I got slammed with I think six rejection emails. That’s part of the process, and I’m toughened up enuf to cope with it, but I’m sure there’s a home for them, and when they get declined it’s just frustrating to see I haven’t found it yet.

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Nilou says “Salaam,” y’all!

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I think I mentioned here that I’d read Lonesome Dove last year and really enjoyed it. The copy I have was given to me nearly 20 years ago by a friend who inscribe it to me. It’s a tattered paperback of more than 900 pages, but I raced through it. And I decided I wanted to read more of Larry McMurtry, so when I was at the used bookstore recently (note, I do not go shopping during this pandemic — I only go to essential places like the grocery store and the used bookstore, and I think I can cut back on the grocery store) I saw a copy of his novel The Last Picture Show on the shelf and bought it. I finished reading it last week and thoroughly enjoyed it. The tone is well managed and the characters are well drawn. I don’t think it’s for everyone (so much teen sex!), but it put me in mind of Kent Haruf, so I sent my copy to a friend who appreciates that writer.

McMurtry has a huge body of work, so I can dip into his fiction for a long time. The Last Picture Show, for example, is the first of four novels about the same characters and place. I’m always pleased when I happen upon a writer I like who has more stuff waiting for me.

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Currently reading: Platte River by Rick Bass. Oddly, it’s not engaging me.

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Like the Dude, my ponytail abides.