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Author Updates

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Email today from A.M., reader of Alternatives to Sex who originally wrote two years ago, announced herself as stalker, and then showed up in Provincetown (from Georgia) with gay “husband” to attend reading and treat for several expensive meals. She and “husband” predictably let down that author way less interesting than character in novel. (Why else write novels instead of memoirs?) “Your sobriety is becoming an issue in our relationship,” said she, among other things.

Still, was touched by gesture--even after discovering “husband” gets free airline tickets through work--and spent weekend largely with them.

Today’s email announces that whilst on vacation this month, she read “fantastically funny” new book and has shifted affinities and stalker tendencies to Author #2. New author, however, much less responsive. First reaction was delight: That’ll make her appreciate my friendliness that much more.

Now have begun to realize that aloofness of Author #2 makes welcoming tendencies of Author #1 look desperate and slightly pathetic. Should have played harder to get, or at least refused one of the dinners.

In state of sleeplessness for past week. Have tried putting waking hours to good use but instead end up watching videos of Elvis on YouTube. Last-ditch, late-in-life attempt to fathom sex appeal of icon. Viva Las Vegas was first movie ever taken to. Traumatized?

Posted by Stephen @ 09:10 PM EST

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Discussion of Eliot Spitzer’s hooker habits more out of control than the habits themselves. Sanctimonious outrage and stunned surprise. Lots of unrealistic blathering about fidelity—a concept about as strictly adhered to as priestly celibacy. Most sensible comment came from former prostitute interviewed who said that if every elected official who’d paid for sex stepped down, government as we know it would grind to a halt. Also enjoyed Charlie Sheen who said he hadn’t paid prostitutes to have sex with him. “I paid them to leave.” Not, apparently original to him, but contains some kernel of truth about male sexuality. (In gay world, coming and going so routine, most men I know who hire male hustlers pay them to stay.) Now that interns are off limits, high-priced hookers seem the most sensible option. Love, by the way, that escort’s real name (Ashley Alexandra) more hookerish than hooker name (Kristen). An aspiring singer. If only she’d made it to American Idol, Spitzer might still be in office.

Posted by Stephen @ 09:50 AM EST

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spent last few days dealing with lower back pain. Too much yoga or not enough yoga or merely being “42” or turning over in bed in a certain way or possibly breathing?

Immediately grabbed at quick fixes. Randomly called massage therapists. (Not entirely randomly. Pictures on websites count for something, after all.) Ended up in cold, claustrophobic attic room of handsome masseur. Skilled and (alas) completely professional, but initial pain relief led to worsening muscle spasms.

Called L. –whose bathroom rivals CVS—for advice. She arrived minutes later. “Take six of these,” she said, referring to muscle relaxants. “And six Advil.” Recalled recent incident of junior high cheerleading squad in hometown taking muscle relaxants for recreational purposes and resulting long-term hospitalizations. Took three. Immobilized for 12 hours.

Rifled Yellow Pages next morning in search of acupuncturist. First person to answer phone herself had an appointment “in half an hour.” Large, cluttered house. Clothes and empty boxes on floor. Wastebaskets overflowing. Not much to inspire confidence, although the fact that house happened to be across the street from a hospital inexplicably made me feel better. Treatment done on massage table with rumpled sheets. Acupuncturist made disparaging comments about my “chi,” which I took personally despite not knowing what “chi” is. Implanted needles, covered me in ratty blanket, and went to adjoining room to watch television. In spite of concerns about staph infections, felt happy to live in place with so many available alternative treatments.

Woke up next morning completely cured. Spent day investigating “chi.” (Which is spelled Qi or maybe Ch’i.) Determined to improve mine, provided it doesn’t involve abstinence or green tea.

Posted by Stephen @ 10:42 PM EST

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Heard latest entry in the fake memoir hall of fame on radio one week before fakery was revealed. (Margaret Seltzer, white girl from privileged background who claims to be half Native American and to have been raised by gangsta foster parents. Sold drugs at age 12, carried a gun, the usual.) Was driving home from yoga class and heard her on NPR call-in show. Was so gripped by what she was saying and by passages she read from book (horrors catalogued in cool, clean prose) had to keep driving around the block until end of show. Guilt over carbon footprint added to guilt--in face of Seltzer’s miserable childhood and struggles--over self-indulgent yoga class at 9:30 in the morning. So moved by her story, wept real tears. (Tears only partly related to back spasms after too many “down dogs” in 105-degree room.)

Five days later, news broke that memoir is fiction. Favorite detail is that Seltzer (or whatever real name is) was turned in BY HER SISTER who called the publisher to expose her. Would kill for a seat at that family’s Thanksgiving dinner next year. “Seltzer” obviously compulsive liar since birth and sister finally had opportunity to get back at her, in big way, for childhood deceits and exaggerations. Sister perhaps offered book contract already.

To put positive spin on story, proves once again that fiction is ultimately more compelling than the truth. The superiority of art’s obfuscations. Should take away from news stories drive to be more inventive in own fiction. Tend to stay within parameters of own life, even when NOT writing autobiographically. While memoirist invent wildly while writing autobiography.

Posted by Stephen @ 10:59 AM EST

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Something in the air? In cosmic alignments?

A. has finally come out to his wife, with predictably disastrous results. X., with whom he had been having an affair, so freaked out from feeling responsible for the marital mess, called off affair with A. Now A. left with prospects of nothing but random hook-ups and a grim, lonely life in a condo in Waltham.

B. in love with man she met in a Starbucks. Felt compelled to report news to husband BEFORE SLEEPING WITH NEW MAN. Starbucks seems to be focus of husband’s ire. (Have suspicion that B. actually met new guy on Craigslist, but keeping mouth shut on that.) Now more difficult for B. to actually sleep with new man. Warned her about this, but she never takes advice. New man apparently

C. – 52 years old – fending off multiple offers from assorted 20-somethings looking for “daddy.” (Looking-for-daddy phenomenon in gay community mystifying, perhaps owing to own complicated feelings about father.) C. really wants age-appropriate boyfriend, but impossible to find at 52, especially in Boston, rife with colleges. Feels he must “settle” for a 23-year-old. Had to let his hair go back to gray in order to salvage sex life.

Enjoying weekly calls from each, although had to up minutes on phone plan. Like reading an interactive serial novel. Trying best to manipulate outcome of each to my liking, but not having much success. A bit like process of writing new novel. Characters adhere to essential qualities despite best efforts to direct plot in more “plotty” directions.

Heading to Richmond (Virginia) French Film Festival at end of month. Will give talk with Sam Karman and Catherine (his wife and singer in film) on adaptation and work process, followed by showing of film. 3-day festival with many films, French directors and actors. Best news: being put up in swell historic hotel with French crew. Possibilities for plotty new directions?

Posted by Stephen @ 12:34 AM EST

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