Monday, June 30, 2008

Reflected light

Here's what may be my favorite photo from the WWA Convention at Scottsdale, and it was taken by my friend Red Shuttleworth with a disposable camera. I'm with my daughter, Meg, outside the convention center just before the Spur Awards banquet. Red is a poet from Moses Lake, Washington. A few years ago, he was the very first to win a Spur for poetry. He also has 1,320 friends on My Space. I have 18, including some guy named Tom. He blesses all of his friends with poetry bulletins. Here's the first couple of lines of his latest:

Buffered with cheap whiskey, an old man carries a 1960
Pee Wee Soccer Championship medal in his pocket.

By late afternoon he will hand it to a weeping boy
abandoned on a baseball diamond by his friends.

Go make friends with Red. He's a compulsively likeable fellow and true. And, he'll tell you a story. Or take your picture with your daughter when you need to see yourself reflected in the eyes of someone you love.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Scribo* goes silent

My friend Phillip Finch has discontinued his blog, Scribo* -- although I had already suspected as much, because the blog has been down for some time. Phil confessed during the annual Tallgrass Writing Workshop that had pulled the plug because it was a time sink. I've had the same fears about this blog. Whenever I post, I feel guilty. There are so many other things to do. And while I started out wanting to make it a photo blog, it has devolved into some weird cross between marketing and journaling, and does neither well. But, I won't give up just yet. Now that the hellish schedule of traveling and conferences that is June is all but past, I can see some time at the end of the tunnel. So, as a farewell (I hope temporarily) to Phil's blog, here's the cover of one of his novels, Sugarland, released in 1991 by St. Martin's Press. It is a first-rate book.

Voynich News reviews PHILOSOPHER'S STONE

Here's one of the more surprising reviews I've come across. It was posted last month in the geeky Voynich News blog, a sort of pop culture monitor of things related to the mysterious manuscript. If you don't know what Voynich is, then nevermind. You wouldn't get it anyway.

Review of Indiana Jones and the Philosopher's Stone...

No, not the
2008 film (though that too has a crystal skull-based storyline): I'm talking about the 1995 book by Max McCoy, which Bantam have just (May 2008) reissued apropos of nothing (apart from perhaps trying to surf the wave of the film's gigantic marketing spend?)

The Voynich Manuscript makes its appearance very early on (p.27, actually the first page of Chapter 1): McCoy manages to present its history very lightly and not bog the reader down in too many details. But as the book is set in 1933, there wasn't a whole UFO angle to cover (or other such modern confections). Instead, you get a little bit of Newbold, Bacon, alchemy, Major John M. Manly (!!!), John Dee, Kelly, the Shew Stone, and even a quick reference to Wilfrid Voynich in New York: basically, everything moves briskly along in the kind of proper screenplay-like way you'd hope from an Indy novel. Yes, there's even the occasional snake (for readers playing Indy buzzword bingo, I guess).

I'll admit it: I was charmed by the book. It's small (293 pocket-size pages), no larger than you'd imagine a Japanese commuter squeezing into a pocket, and reads so quickly that at some points (most notably in the end sequence past the oasis) I deliberately closed my eyes to slow the pace down so that I could properly picture the scene in my mind.

Historically, the book has a deliciously light touch throughout, in particular when Indy and his companion are improbably rescued by an elderly French couple called Nicholas and Peronelle (p.200) - and if you can't work out who they are by that stage in the story, you very possibly deserve to be shot.

Thanks, Voynich News, for noticing. And sorry for calling you geeky.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The Spur Award I was given for Hellfire Canyon on Saturday, June 14, at the Western Writers of America convention at Scottsdale, Ariz.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Scottsdale signing

Here's a photo taken by my daughter Megan at the Western Writers of America book signing Saturday night at the Barnes & Noble at Scottsdale, Ariz. I'm sitting with Spring Warren, who is signing me a copy of her novel, Turpentine. Spring's novel was a Spur Award finalist. They placed us in front of the magazine rack, which seemed to annoy some customers. Spring comes by her name honestly, by the way -- she says her siblings are Meadow and Summer.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Five Points

A few days ago, on my way to a writing workshop at Gunnison, I paused at Five Points along the Arkansas River. It was a rainy, overcast day, and there were a few rafts on the river, and I took this photo with my Canon EOS 10D with a 70-200 2.8 L-series lens. It was just a grab shot, but I like the expression of the girl in the front of the raft. This apparently isn't everybody's idea of fun.