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Author Updates

Friday, June 23, 2006

Have been searching bookstores for something to read this weekend. Seems to be a whole category of novels (apparently popular) that begin with a Tragic Event, almost always Involving A Child. Someone’s kid drowns in the swimming pool or falls out of a window, is kidnapped, or paralyzed in a diving accident, or killed in a drunk driving incident having something to do with the neighbors’ son. A child mentioned in the first sentence of one of these books has zero chance of survival beyond the first paragraph. Somewhat appalled by my own lack of interest in this genre. Suspect it reveals a serious character flaw. Have trouble reading past Tragic Event or, sometimes, even reading up to Tragic Event. Small child and a swimming pool, teenagers and a pier, anyone under the age of twenty driving a car—all fill me with a morbid sense of doom coupled with complete lack of interest. Surely not unsympathetic to Tragic Events in life. But at the start of a novel, they set in motion a formula, as in murder mysteries, that doesn’t engage me. I prefer the Insignificant Event, usually Involving A Middle-Aged Homosexual. Perhaps explains difficulty finding weekend read, not to mention limited appeal of own writing.

Posted by Stephen @ 12:27 PM EST

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Went swimming today in nearby lake. Whilst reading in the sun afterwards, was approached by attractive man in sunglasses. Cruising, I assumed, and made the appropriate adjustments.

He lowered sunglasses and said: “Didn’t you know the lake is closed today for high fecal bacteria levels?”

Raced home to bathe in everything remotely antiseptic in the bathroom, but cannot get imagine of Swimming In Shit out of brain. Instantly succumbed to a variety of imaginary illnesses and infections.

Hot and humid all week. Last Sunday, on catamaran back from Provincetown, cool ocean breezes gave way to blast furnace heat off the shore as boat pulled into Boston harbor. Smoke of commerce in the thick air and excitement of Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt taking off right above the deck. Watched assorted same sex couples on the boat casually holding hands and displaying physical affection. Two men, neither young nor old, clinging to each other throughout the trip. Happened to spot them again on the subway home, standing at a chaste distance while a boy and girl made out in the seats across from them. Instantly succumbed to a variety of melancholy ruminations, while listening to Marilyn Monroe on iPod.

Plans beginning to gel for trip to Paris in August to promote “Sexe et Dependence.” Already in major panic meltdown. Billed by editor as “speaking French.” True. Assuming the speaker is a mentally handicapped three-year-old. Slightly altered image of Swimming In Shit recurs.

Posted by Stephen @ 12:13 AM EST

Friday, June 16, 2006

In Provincetown for signings and, on Saturday afternoon, reading at library. Wrote to friends who come on weekends. General response was: If it’s raining, we’ll be in Boston; if it’s sunny, we’ll be at the beach. How can I find fault with that?

Spent summers here for many years, but haven’t been back in June for ages. Returning is a cluster fuck of memories—of a different decade of my life, of old boyfriends, of 12-hour love (?) affairs with waiters, of late afternoons on the beach at that hour when the crowds have dispersed and the wind shifts and the rest of the evening blows in off the ocean with the promise of endless possibilities. Most of all, of an aching loneliness, which in retrospect has a sweetly melancholy appeal.

Biked last evening along flooded trails through the dunes to Race Point beach. Miles of empty sand, a cooling breeze, a seal stitching the water 100 feet from shore. Headed back at dusk toward the purple glow of the lights of town, and the throb (largely imaginary) of music and sex.

Despite heavily publicized changes in the town—real estate boom, million-dollar condos, exodus of fishing families—the surface remains remarkably similar. Commercial Street a parade of tourists and tank tops, drag queens on scooters, maitre d’s luring diners with menus, couples holding hands and shopping bags. Smell of fried fish and chocolate.

Provincetown Airport wedged between sand dunes and open ocean. Sign at entrance to tiny terminal: “If you are carrying poppers, dispose of them now or risk arrest.”

Posted by Stephen @ 10:57 AM EST

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Reading/talk at Gay Center last week successful despite competition (stiff), in adjoining room, from opening of nude photography exhibit. That opening featured in-person presence of notable gay porn stars, many of whom turn out to be surprisingly short. My height, in other words.

Interviewed on stage by Bradley Jacobs from US Weekly. Oddly enough, most unnerved and defensive about questions regarding online journal/blog or whatever THIS is. Not sure why. Must have something to do with the If-I’m-doing-it-it-must-be-shameful syndrome. Or fact that despite regular and much-appreciated feedback from readers, I still view this as essentially private? Or perhaps it has to do with that clumsy word—“blog”—which gives the whole enterprise a nerdy, undergraduate aura.

Read “graphic memoir” (drawings) by Alison Bechdel on train to Boston. Fun Home. (Family term for funeral home where she partly grew up.) Favorite book in recent memory. Incredibly smart, funny, surprising, and sad. Had to leave the “quiet car” and call people up to rave and recommend—after making sure I still had free minutes on phone plan, of course.

Excellent news about tanking sales of Mary (Nasty-Piece-of-Work) Cheney’s spiteful memoir. (http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid32039.asp) Supposedly paid 1 million for book and sales will come in at 10 thousand-ish. Maybe I should demand a raise?

Posted by Stephen @ 09:59 AM EST

Thursday, June 8, 2006

On train to New York for second Manhattan visit this week. First was Monday to attend publication party for Sebastian’s novel, thrown by real estate heiress in immense Park Avenue apartment. Atmosphere celebratory, orchids impressive, food minimal. Astonishing array of summery frocks, big brooches, small handbags, and elaborate facial reconstruction. Immobile faces gave an interesting interplanetary atmosphere to the event. Book in strong position for commercial success.

Reading and talk at Gay (and L,B, T, etc) Community Center tonight. Nervous about audience—or, more to the point, lack of audience. Been more than a month since last reading and growing vague about characters’ names. Oh well. Staying at small inn in Chelsea. Among other amenities advertised, clothing-optional roof deck. Hopefully rain will stop before arrival: casual rooftop nudity less appealing with addition of fold-up umbrella.

Fascinated by recent brouhaha over no-fun anorexic Ann Coulter’s tasteless 9/11 comments on morning talk show. Equally by author’s decision to wear itty-bitty black cocktail dress to discuss “values” on early morning talk show. Watched clip on computer and kept adjusting resolution to try and reduce appearance of disturbing shoulder blades in itty-bitty black cocktail dress. Suppose she’s remotely sexy in that aging, I-live-on-white-wine-and breath-mints sort of way.

Handsome, overly-chatty conductor now getting phone number from attractive girl reading From Socrates to Sartre in seat across the aisle. For future philosophical discussions?

Posted by Stephen @ 04:50 PM EST

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Knowing of L & P’s aversion to Bed and Breakfast accommodations, booked them a room for their upcoming visit to Boston at a Hyatt. Then called and told them all hotels were sold out for their visit and had to book a room at a Small Inn close to the city. L. horrified by the announcement. Did my best to assure them that this was really a hotel—only smaller--and it wouldn’t be like they were staying in someone’s guest room. Then, avoiding work on new novel, wrote and sent them the following letter on elaborately cheesy, desktop-made letterhead from “The Bradley Family Inn.”

Dear Guests,

Just a little note to let you know that we are delighted you will be spending a night with us.

We have reserved the Country Curtains Room for you, one of our smallest, but most imaginatively decorated accommodations. The room was named for the wonderfully ornate window treatments over the three, large tromp l’oeil “windows” hand-painted by our decorator. I’m sure you’ll both enjoy the “view” which is of a field of lavender in the south of France.

The Country Curtains Room features a twin trundle bed complete with lace canopy and fifty-seven toss pillows. On the mantle of the faux fireplace, you will enjoy our collection of thirty-two Betsy Brindle Dolls in an assortment of period outfits. These are hand-made by an artist in South Carolina especially for our inn and the viewers of QVC. Please DO NOT TOUCH the dolls as they are one-of-a-kind works of ART. On the morning you are checking out, one of us will come to the room BEFORE YOU LEAVE to inspect the doll collection and make sure they are EXACTLY as they were when you arrived. You will then be escorted out of the room. Please DO NOT RETURN to the room or we will be forced to re-inspect.

Once again, we eagerly anticipate showing you the hospitality for which our bed and breakfast is famous. We don’t want you to forget for one moment that you are a guest in OUR HOME.

The Country Curtains Room features a bathroom which is for your private use between the hours of 11pm and 8:30am. The bar of soap in the soap dish TO THE RIGHT of the sink is for your use. Please DO NOT USE the bar of soap on the left as it is an expensive prescription brand I need for my skin condition. If you should require a shower, there is a sign-up sheet in the kitchen. Please DO NOT ENTER the kitchen between the hours of noon and 8pm as these are the FAMILY-ONLY times when my children and in-laws and I gather for meals.

If there’s any way we can make your stay in OUR HOME more pleasant or relaxing, please do not hesitate to ask.

The Country Curtains room shares a wall with my bedroom. As my husband and I get up each morning at 6 to practice (respectively) Kundalini Yoga and the tuba, we request that you REFRAIN FROM TALKING in your room after 9pm. The walls are “paper-thin” (part of the charm of these old houses, after all!) and do not go all the way to the ceiling. Even the softest whispers disturb us. We hope this doesn’t inconvenience you!

Breakfast is served promptly between the hours of 7am and 7:15am. Please DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ROOM before 7am. Our “difficult” daughter uses the hallway outside of the Country Curtains Room for her aggression-aversion therapy between 6 and 7am and it is VERY IMPORTANT that you do not interrupt her. We use a quaint old train whistle we found in the basement (one of the many authentic antiques you’ll find in OUR HOME) to signal. Two short toots means “all clear.” At that point, it is safe to come out. One piercing, extended whistle means “stay in your room until further notice.”

We expect that OUR linens and towels will be left as you find them: CLEAN. There is a Laundromat nearby, easily accessible by two bus lines.

To make sure no one tries to steal any of the Betsy Brindle Dolls, luggage IS NOT PERMITTED in the Country Curtains Room. I hope this doesn’t inconvenience you! Also, we do not allow photos of the Betsy Brindle Doll Collection, so we will be forced to inspect your room EACH TIME you go out. Any carry-in bags or large coats will be inspected AT THE DOOR of the Country Curtains Room when you enter. If there is no one home to inspect you, your room will be LOCKED. Please do not tamper with the door as it is equipped with an ALARM that will sound at the nearby POLICE STATION.

Well, as usual, I’ve let myself chatter on too long. We look forward to your arrival at 4pm SHARP. If I am not at home, please wait ON THE SIDEWALK and DO NOT ENTER OUR HOME. We have one or two simple rules we like to go over with guests before they are permitted on the premises.

Warmly---

Mary Bradley

Posted by Stephen @ 11:36 AM EST

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