'I have known Lucia Berlin’s work for more than thirty years—ever since I acquired the slim, beige 1981 Turtle Island paperback called Angels Laundromat. By the time of her third collection, I had come to know her personally, from a distance, though I can’t remember how. There on the flyleaf of the beautiful Safe & Sound, her 1988 novel, is an inscription. We never did meet face to face.
'Berlin, who was born in 1936, in Juneau, Alaska, and died in 2004, on her sixty-eighth birthday, based many of her stories on events in her own life. One of her sons said, after her death, “Ma wrote true stories, not necessarily autobiographical, but close enough for horseshoes.” Although people talk, as though it were a new thing, about the form of fiction known in France as auto-fiction (“self-fiction”)—the narration of one’s own life, lifted almost unchanged from the reality, selected, and judiciously, artfully told—Lucia Berlin had been doing this, or a version of this, as far as I can see, from the beginning, back in the nineteen-sixties. Of course, for the sake of balance, or color, she changed whatever she had to in shaping her stories—details of events and descriptions, chronology. One of her sons said, “Our family stories and memories have been slowly reshaped, embellished and edited to the extent that I’m not sure what really happened all the time. Lucia said this didn’t matter: the story is the thing.”
'Berlin’s life was rich and full of incident, and the material she took from it for her stories was colorful, dramatic, and wide-ranging. The places she and her family lived in her childhood and youth were determined by her father—where he worked in her early years, then his going off to serve in the Second World War, and then his job when he returned from the war. Thus, she was born in Alaska and grew up first in mining camps in the west of the U.S.; then lived with her mother’s family in El Paso, while her father was gone; then was transplanted south into a very different life in Chile, one of wealth and privilege, which is portrayed in her stories about a teenage girl in Santiago, about Catholic school there, about political turbulence, yacht clubs, dressmakers, slums, revolution. As an adult she continued to lead a restless life, geographically, living in Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, New York City; one of her sons remembers moving about every nine months as a child. Later in her life she taught in Boulder, Colorado, and at the very end of it she moved closer to her sons, to Los Angeles.
'She writes about her sons—she had four—and the jobs she worked to support them, often on her own. Or, we should say, she writes about a woman with four sons, jobs like her jobs—cleaning woman, E.R. nurse, hospital-ward clerk, hospital-switchboard operator, teacher.
'She lived in so many places, experienced so much—it was enough to fill several lives. We have, most of us, known at least some part of what she went through: children in trouble, or early molestation, or a rapturous love affair, struggles with addiction, a difficult illness or disability, an unexpected bond with a sibling, or a tedious job, difficult fellow workers, a demanding boss, or a deceitful friend, not to speak of awe in the presence of the natural world—Hereford cattle knee-deep in Indian paintbrush, a field of bluebonnets, a pink rocket flower growing in the alley behind a hospital. Because we have known some part of it, or something like it, we are right there with her as she takes us through it.
'Things actually happen in the stories—a whole mouthful of teeth gets pulled at once; a little girl gets expelled from school for striking a nun; an old man dies in a mountaintop cabin, his goats and his dog in bed with him; the history teacher with her mildewed sweater is dismissed for being a Communist—“That’s all it took. Three words to my father. She was fired sometime that weekend and we never saw her again.”
'Is this why it is almost impossible to stop reading a story of Lucia Berlin’s once you begin? Is it because things keep happening? Is it also the narrating voice, so engaging, so companionable? Along with the economy, the pacing, the imagery, the clarity? These stories make you forget what you were doing, where you are, even who you are.
'“Wait,” begins one story. “Let me explain . . .” It is a voice close to Lucia’s own, though never identical. Her wit and her irony flow through the stories and overflow in her letters, too: “She is taking her medication,” she told me once, in 2002, about a friend, “which makes a big difference! What did people do before Prozac? Beat up horses I guess.”
Beat up horses. Where did that come from? The past was maybe as alive in her mind as were other cultures, other languages, politics, human foibles; the range of her reference so rich and even exotic that switchboard operators lean into their boards like milkmaids leaning into their cows; or a friend comes to the door, “Her black hair . . . up in tin rollers, like a kabuki headdress.”
'The past—I read this passage from “So Long” a few times, with relish, with wonder, before I realized what she was doing:
One night it was bitterly cold, Ben and Keith were sleeping with me, in snowsuits. The shutters banged in the wind, shutters as old as Herman Melville. It was Sunday so there were no cars. Below in the streets the sailmaker passed, in a horse-drawn cart. Clop clop. Sleet hissed cold against the windows and Max called. Hello, he said. I’m right around the corner in a phone booth.
He came with roses, a bottle of brandy and four tickets to Acapulco. I woke up the boys and we left.
'They were living in lower Manhattan, at a time when the heat would be turned off at the end of the working day if you lived in a loft. Maybe the shutters really were as old as Herman Melville, since in some parts of Manhattan buildings did date from the 1860s, back then, more of them than now, though now, too. Though it could be that she is exaggerating again—a beautiful exaggeration, if so, a beautiful flourish. She goes on: “It was Sunday so there were no cars.” That sounded realistic, so, then, I was fooled by the sailmaker and the horse-drawn cart, which came next—I believed it and accepted it, and only realized after another reading that she must have jumped back effortlessly into Melville’s time again. The “Clop clop,” too, is something she likes to do—waste no words, add a detail in note form. The “sleet hissing” took me in there, within those walls, and then the action accelerated and we were suddenly on our way to Acapulco.
'This is exhilarating writing.
'Another story begins with a typically straightforward and informative statement that I can easily believe is drawn directly from Berlin’s own life: “I’ve worked in hospitals for years now and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that the sicker the patients are the less noise they make. That’s why I ignore the patient intercom.”
'Reading that, I’m reminded of the stories of William Carlos Williams when he wrote as the family doctor he was—his directness, his frank and knowledgeable details of medical conditions and treatment, his objective reporting. Even more than Williams, Berlin also saw Chekhov (another doctor) as a model and teacher. In fact, she says in a letter to Stephen Emerson that what gives life to their work is their physician’s detachment, combined with compassion. She goes on to mention their use of specific detail and their economy—“No words are written that aren’t necessary.” Detachment, compassion, specific detail, and economy—and we are well on the way to identifying some of the most important things in good writing. But there is always a little more to say.' -- Lydia Davis
Lucia Berlin Website
'Smoking with Lucia'
'A Roundtable on Lucia Berlin, the Greatest American Writer You've Never Heard Of'
Tom Raworth's Lucia Berlin Tribute Page
'Short Story Master Rediscovered'
'THE RISKY BRILLIANCE OF LUCIA BERLIN'
'Friends', a story by Lucia Berlin
'Stars and Saints', a story by Lucia Berlin
'Angels Laundromat', a story by Lucia Berlin
'11 Years After Her Death, Lucia Berlin Is Finally a Bestselling Author'
'Lucia Berlin’s Roving, Rowdy Life Is Reflected in a Book of Her Stories'
'Best Kept Secrets: The Fiction of Lucia Berlin'
'Lucia Berlin: Literary genius who transformed my life'
'LUCIA BERLIN AND A TALE OF TWO BOOK COVERS'
Audio: Lucia Berlin Writing Workshop
'Out of the Dark: A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin'
Lucia Berlin @ Citizen Film
Buy 'A Manual for Cleaning Women'
Lucia Berlin: Pen Pals
Lucia Berlin: Mama
Lucia Berlin: Unmanageable
Lucia Berlin: My Jockey
Lucia Berlin: Angels Laundromat
to August Kleinzahler
Boulder itself getting on my nerves. It’s sickeningly sweet and rich and white and every single resident has a golden lab. I’m rigging up a pit on the corner. Clerks don’t say ‘enjoy’ anymore they say ‘thrive.’ My masseuse has really helped my back but she’s pregnant, which is great, except that she claims she knew the kid in another incarnation. The receptionist there is going through the change of life and while she talks on the phone she’s rubbing a sweet potato (oestrogen source) on her stomach, for hot flashes. Plus both of them [put] crystals up their private parts just like when the ladies in Candide used to hide their jewels.
You really should start to think of settling down. Serious. For later … Sometimes I wish that I lived with someone I had loved for a long time, had comfort with. Wake up with his hand on my ass etc.
I’m sorry your bartender is dying. This sounds rude to wonder about but [it] must make it difficult to just go have a drink . . .
I actually know fenestration. Not personally, but the first time I looked it up was reading a 19th-century English architect’s review of another architect, ‘Balsley has a particularly witty way with fenestration.’
Reason I don’t like teaching is same problem I had with marriage – I lose myself.
Where are you? I get disoriented when you go to Germany or Australia. I’m sad that you don’t go to New Jersey any more. Did acacia & plum trees bloom already? We haven’t had winter yet. Deer are confused. Six young bucks hang out in my backyard – scuffing the dead grass, slouching, smoking – sneering at labradors & joggers disaffected deer . . .
I have no news. I am boring old lady. Have to stop myself from talking to grocery clerks about my grandchildren or my cat.
One of my classes gave me a fabulous gift. It is a cup, with Denver skyline & a moon – When you pour hot coffee in it the pope appears in the sky!
So dear heart – my new address as of May 20 – will be . . .
Cioran & Hazlitt have lots to say about envy, writers’. It’s pretty scary. What makes it scarier is that often ‘They’ put you down & haven’t even read your work. Like Gide with little Marcel. Didn’t even open the ms. I think women are the worst.
His ex-girlfriend got millions of $ in palimony because she ‘gave him the best years of her life’. Hey, how about me – I gave him the worst of mine!
OK, so here I am in these terrifying schools and my daddy is in the war, my mother, grandpa and uncle drunk, my mother and grandpa abusing me, sexually and physically (not at the same time, they weren’t sickos or anything). My grandma knew about grandpa but instead of protecting me she decided I was a sinner too and was mean to me, meaner than the others really. I felt bad because she took care of my sister and wouldn’t even let me in the kitchen with them. I was in constant terror of mother and grandpa and awful school torments too. I was expelled from two schools and ran away from one in first year. However in El Paso I met my first and dearest friend, Hope … and was semi-adopted by the Abrahams, was hugged for the first time in my life, kissed and combed and hollered at, part of a family that saved my life, I think. I also became a religious fanatic at Catholic school and worshipped the Virgin Mary, who took care of me … Fight with Hope devastating. Only person I had then was Uncle John who was rarely there or sober. The disillusion when he hit the kid and dog was Awful for me. The year or so left was lonely hell. Only reason i’m telling you this is that i know i have dealt with these few years ad nauseum. Problem is everytime I am scared, hurt, miserable, lonely or in trouble I go straight back to El Paso.
Now it turns out that the flu is carried by wild ducks.
I thought ‘the flu’ didn’t really exist at all, & was just a euphemism alcoholics used when they called in sick.
My first cigarette really was lit by the Prince Ali Khan.
My new computer not only points out in red misspelled words it highlights in green ungrammatical sentences. Everything I write is Greened. I’d check it out but I’d find out what it is I do Wrong and I’d stop. So here is the key for your article. I can’t write a proper sentence! Either verbs or nouns or those helping words are missing, or who knows what I do? And all this time I thought it was Style!
Miles Davis: ‘Those dark Arkansas roads. That is the sound I’m after.’
Turner and Caravaggio are the painters that please me, but Bacon and Alice Neal’s portraits speak to me as a writer. I read their portraits like novels or poems.
More than anyone though is Rothko. Again as much for the effect his work had on me in the 50s as the work itself. Blizzard in NY, no cars! Walked, pulling kids on a sled, to Moma for a Rothko retrospective. Few people, the light from the skylights dazzling, his colours pulsated from the walls, pure, as, well, Arkansas roads.
I can’t wait to hear about your love life at Brown.
It’s hard to get used to the Atlantic Ocean though because the sun doesn’t set in it. But that won’t be an immediate problem … Boots for the snow and you need a truly long great scarf.
Good to hear from you. I laughed, remembered how feverishly I prepared for my classes the first semester. I suppose I still do but without the sense of being an impostor. You’ve probably realised by now that we have a jump on our more seasoned colleagues because we still love literature . . .
Big problem here. The zopilotes, turkey buzzards, pass through here in August on their way to Culiacan or Tijuana. Hundreds and hundreds of them in one old tree … But right about the time they usually head south there occurred a plague that began killing off prairie dogs, and since there are so many of them there are fresh corpses every day. Leaves turning yellow, snow in the mountains and the buzzards are still here. The magpie tree in my backyard has been taken over by stellar jays. Apparently the enormous racket is being made by fledglings who don’t want to feed themselves.
As my mama used to say … life is fraught with peril.
Hope you have some good snow boots.
How can I get you settled down if you don’t do right … So I don’t think you’re hopeless – please make me worry less in my old age about you in yours – find yourself a nice girl and stick around, so to speak.
Now see here you whippersnapper. I don’t want you pestering me any more with all your fol-de-rols & hullabaloos.
You know how sad it is to get no attention? Well, I do want attention. But all these things I said or wrote sound goofy – I don’t even know if they are true. Do I love Chekhov’s work? Yes, no that’s not the problem – Problem is I have never never given any thought to my writing. I get started, & then it’s just like writing this to you, only more legible . . .
Yes I love Raymond Carver’s work – before he sobered up & sweetened his endings – (& before that bitch pimped his work to Short Cuts – awful thing to do). I wrote like him before I ever read him. He liked my work, too – we had good talk. Recognised one another immediately. Our ‘styles’ came from our (similar in a way) backgrounds. Don’t show your feelings. Don’t cry. Don’t let anyone know you … more than exquisite control blahblahblah.
Fine short story in this month’s Harper’s. By Mehta. An old fashioned love story, such a sweet surprise. I loved the Narib Magoub piece in Grand Street, bought some of his books which were not as beautiful, maybe got the wrong ones.
Postman is in sight. He put that Grecian formula on his hair and moustache, now looks diabolical and decadent, which is a vast improvement. I don’t mind him now when he says ‘Enjoy your mail.’
A million New Yorkers at Garth Brooks concert in Central Park. Wow. New York is where I’d live if I could.
Naropa is a scam, really. They give students little soundbites of ‘classes’ every week … Allen [Ginsberg] gave the place a humour and warmth in the summer. He could chant and carry on because he wasn’t taking himself seriously but ______. At a certain age we women are supposed to stop wearing blue jeans or long hair. In her case it’s time she stopped howling around the stage and stamping her feet. It’s like Gravel Gertie having a tantrum. And she’s old enough to know who Gravel Gertie is, if you aren’t.
But the classes are going great, and the thesis students very good. Except this one guy with a book about baseball and magic realism. Why do men think these two are a good combination. Baseball should remain uncontaminated and magic realism … god that solution for no real content reached its nadir when President Salinas on national TV announced that he was going on a hunger strike and it lasted only an hour.
Latin men are so fun in movies. They cry and sigh and say ‘Que Lindo!’ out loud, punch you in the shoulder etc.
Hope you find a lady before the snow sets in.
I was once in Storm Lake, Iowa, for a week. Very in love with a wonderful anthropologist who was divorced. We went there for me to meet his three children, who were living with his parents in Storm Lake. (His wife, an ex Miss Iowa, had run away from home.) I was so happy in Storm Lake. His parents, children and I all got along great. We decided there to do it, get married, combine our seven children. Incredible drive home to Albuquerque, reading aloud a Uruguayan poet, Herrera Y Reisseg, making love by those praying mantis old derricks, big old stars. The day after we got back he didn’t call, and didn’t call again and so I didn’t need to hear anything to realise he had thought better of the whole idea. I was so heartbroken I never even wrote about it, except for one line in some story. ‘And that cad, Harrison.’ Sorry, I digress. All I meant to say about Iowa was that I never saw so many basketball hoops in my life.
Seems to me the kids are just too darn healthy nowadays … get the same pleasure from flossing their teeth, jogging five miles or fucking and a shower. I mean, doesn’t anybody muffle sobs in pillows anymore? Get dizzy with desire in phone booths?
I wrote about sex in the 40s in the story ‘Sex Appeal’ … ‘Sex itself seemed to have something to do with being mad. Cats acted pretty mad about the whole thing and all the movie stars seemed mad. Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck were downright mean. Bella Lynn and her friends would slouch in the Court Café, blowing smoke from their nostrils like petulant dragons . . .’
In my day it was dangerous and wicked. Father Haley, a Jesuit in Chile (in fact the first hard-on I ever saw was in a cassock. But I digress . . .), he told us that a kiss on the mouth was a venial sin, but a kiss on the neck was a mortal sin. It took Freddy Greenwell, an alto sax player, to convince of the latter, later.
Only you can possibly understand this sad story … I’d never tell a woman friend, they are so bitchy. Well, I’ve been very sick. Collapsed lung, near death, 12 blood clots in lungs, ICU etc. Now hobbling around with a cane, on 24-hour oxygen, for rest of life, ugh . . .
I mean was way depressing but the worst moment was one day when I unhooked the damn hose for a minute while I was combing my hair and suddenly remembered this dear lover, Terry. Hmm, I said to my reflection … how come I’m thinking about him? Because the air from the oxygen was breathing on my neck, like a kiss.
Hope this reaches you before you go east. Please don’t take a job. It breaks up the week.
'A Manual for Cleaning Women compiles the best work of the legendary short-story writer Lucia Berlin. With the wit of Lorrie Moore, the grit of Raymond Carver, and a blend of humor and melancholy all her own, Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the cafeterias and Laundromats of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians.
'Lovers of the short story will revel in this remarkable collection from a master of the form and wonder how they’d ever overlooked her in the first place.' -- FSG
Most of the time I feel all right about getting old. Some things give me a pang, like skaters. How free they seem, long legs gliding, hair streaming back. Other things throw me into a panic, like BART doors. A long wait before the doors open, after the train comes to a stop. Not very long, but it’s too long. There’s no time.
And laundromats. But they were a problem even when I was young. Just too long, even the Speed Queens. Your entire life has time to flash before your eyes while you sit there, a drowner. Of course if I had a car I could go to the hardware store or the post of office and then come back and put things into the dryer.
The laundries with no attendants are even worse. Then it seems I’m always the only person there at all. But all of the washers and dryers are going . . . everybody is at the hardware store.
So many laundromat attendants I have known, the hovering Charons, making change or who never have change. Now it is fat Ophelia who pronounces No Sweat as No Thwet. Her top plate broke on beef jerky. Her breasts are so huge she has to turn sideways and then kitty- corner to get through doors, like moving a kitchen table. When she comes down the aisle with a mop everybody moves and moves the baskets too. She is a channel hopper. Just when we’ve settled in to watch The Newlywed Game she’ll flick it to Ryan’s Hope.
Once, to be polite, I told her I got hot ashes too, so that’s what she associates me with . . . The Change. “How ya coming with the change?” she says, loud, instead of hello. Which only makes it worse, sitting there, re ecting, aging. My sons have all grown now, so I’m down from ve washers to one, but one takes just as long.
I moved last week, maybe for the two hundredth time. I took in all my sheets and curtains and towels, my shopping cart piled high. The laundromat was very crowded; there weren’t any washers together. I put all my things into three machines, went to get change from Ophelia. I came back, put the money and the soap in, and started them. Only I had started up three wrong washers. Three that had just finished this man’s clothes.
I was backed into the machines. Ophelia and the man loomed before me. I’m a tall woman, wear Big Mama panty- hose now, but they were both huge people. Ophelia had a prewash spray bottle in her hand. The man wore cutoffs, his massive thighs were matted with red hair. His thick beard wasn’t like hair at all but a red padded bumper. He wore a baseball hat with a gorilla on it. The hat wasn’t too small but his hair was so bushy it shoved the hat high up on his head making him about seven feet tall. He was slapping a heavy fist into his other red palm. “Goddamn. I’ll be goddamned!” Ophelia wasn’t menacing; she was protecting me, ready to come between him and me, or him and the machines. She’s always saying there’s nothing at the laundry she can’t handle.
“Mister, you may’s well sit down and relax. No way to stop them machines once they’ve started. Watch a little TV, have yourself a Pepsi.”
I put quarters in the right machines and started them. Then I remembered that I was broke, no more soap and those quarters had been for dryers. I began to cry.
“What the fuck is she crying about? What do you think this does to my Saturday, you dumb slob? Jesus wept.”
I offered to put his clothes into the dryers for him, in case he wanted to go somewhere.
“I wouldn’t let you near my clothes. Like stay away from my clothes, you dig?” There was no place for him to sit except next to me. We looked at the machines. I wished he would go outside, but he just sat there, next to me. His big right leg vibrated like a spinning washer. Six little red lights glowed at us.
“You always fuck things up?” he asked.
“Look, I’m sorry. I was tired. I was in a hurry.” I began to giggle, nervously.
“Believe it or not, I am in a hurry. I drive a tow. Six days a week. Twelve hours a day. This is it. My day off.”
“What were you in a hurry for?” I meant this nicely, but he thought I was being sarcastic.
“You stupid broad. If you were a dude I’d wash you. Put your empty head in the dryer and turn it to cook.”
“I said I was sorry.”
“Damn right you’re sorry. You’re one big sorry excuse for a chick. I had you spotted for a loser before you did that to my clothes. I don’t believe this. She’s crying again. Jesus wept.”
Ophelia stood above him.
“Don’t you be bothering her, you hear? I happens to know she’s going through a hard time.”
How did she know that? I was amazed. She knows everything, this giant black Sybil, this Sphinx. Oh, she must mean The Change.
“I’ll fold your clothes if you’d like,” I said to him.
“Hush, girl,” Ophelia said. “Point is, what’s the big deal? In a hunnert years from now just who is gonna care?”
“A hunnert years,” he whispered. “A hunnert years.”
And I was thinking that too. A hundred years. Our machines were shimmying away, and all the little red spin lights were on.
“At least yours are clean. I used up all my soap.”
“I’ll buy you some soap for crissake.”
“It’s too late. Thanks anyway.”
“She didn’t ruin my day. She’s ruined my whole fuckin’ week. No soap.”
Ophelia came back, stooped down to whisper to me.
“I been spottin’ some. Doctor says it don’t quit I’ll need a D and C. You been spottin’?”
I shook my head.
“You will. Women’s troubles just go on and on. A whole lifetime of troubles. I’m bloated. You bloated?”
“Her head is bloated,” the man said. “Look, I’m going out to the car, get a beer. I want you to promise not to go near my machines. Yours are thirty- four, thirty- nine, forty- three. Got that?”
“Yeah. Thirty- two, forty, forty- two.” He didn’t think it was funny.
The clothes were in the final spin. I’d have to hang mine up to dry on the fence. When I got paid I’d come back with soap.
“Jackie Onassis changes her sheets every single day,” Ophelia said. “Now that is sick, you ask me.”
“Sick,” I agreed.
I let the man put his clothes in a basket and go to the dryers before I took mine out. Some people were grinning but I just ignored them. I filled my cart with soggy sheets and towels. It was almost too heavy to push and, wet, not everything fit. I slung the hot- pink curtains over my shoulder. Across the room the man started to say something, then looked away.
It took a long time to get home. Even longer to hang everything, although I did find a rope. Fog was rolling in.
I poured some coffee and sat on the back steps. I was happy. I felt calm, unhurried. Next time I am on BART, I won’t even think about getting off until the train stops. When it does, I’ll make it out just in time.
p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. He was a big something great, that's for sure. ** N, Hi, buddy. Glad you liked it. Ha ha, I too wish he'd been born with that voice. Well, it's not impossible, is it? ** Jamie McMorrow, Hi, Jamie. Oh, I saw your email. Thank you! I'll get to check out your gif story today. I'm excited. Thank you, thank you so much! Yeah, he, VP, was huge-isa in scale. Not sure about the TV show's language yet. It'll likely depend on who buys it, if anyone buys it, i.e. a network in France or Germany or UK/US ... don't know. It's written in English, obviously. I think in English would be ideal. What's the concentration of your English Lit. class? I mean, what period or country or bent or ... ? Oh, and how did the writers gang meeting go? Fun. My day was another packed one: finished my end of the draft of the script of TV show's first episode, and this morning Zac and I will meet and work on it together to hammer out a version ready to give to Gisele, 'cos we have to give it to her before we head off on our Montreal-centered trip tomorrow. Then the 'TVC' show last night. More of the exact same today plus packing and all of that. Cool, all the best to you too on this hopefully fine, fine day. ** Sypha, That's something. ** Schlix, Hi, Uli! Welcome to Paris, if you're here! Oh, you are, aren't you? In fact, you're on your way to Versailles. Check out the Anish Kapoor whirling water vortex piece. The rest of his stuff there is kind of blah, but that's a seductive thing. Damn, I wish I could have seen you! Enjoy everything! Love, me. ** Etc etc etc, Hi, Casey. Ah, great, Ive been jonesing to read your piece on Mark's book for ages. Can't wait. Everyone, very fine writer of many stripes Casey Michael 'etc etc etc' Henry has written a big, no doubt brilliant piece on Mark Doten's extraordinary novel 'The Infernal', easily one of the best novels to have reached the world this year, and I strongly urge you to read said piece, entitled 'Apocalypse of the Vanities'. So easy too. Click. Thanks much for the clue in, man. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yep. Well, yes, you are utterly correct regarding my and this blog's mega-interest in never-made and imagined metropolises. So take some envy. And I'll find that book asap. Thanks a bunch, Ben. Good, even more excited now for the Wheatley film. Fantastic! ** Krayton, Hi, K. You de-posted it? Oh, then please do. Nice about the love-related descent. I was just trying to figure out why the sentence-slash-exclamation 'Eat that booty like groceries' is so appealing, and I think it's the interplay between the 'ooh' sound of the first 'o' and the 'oh' sound of the second 'o'. ** Misanthrope, Hi. Abortion ... where did that topic come from? I'm okay with abortion. I don't fetishize it though. Why not, though, I guess. A demon, eh? I would say you're easily intimidated, my friend. Never heard that 'wedding prick' thing before. I don't like the word/term 'prick' re: penises. I don't know why. It's appealingly violent and everything. But when someone says 'prick' about a penis, I immediately imagine a penis that looks like some kind of fork or something, which I guess I don't like? McDonalds? That makes sense, I guess. Yeah, that makes sense. ** Étienne, Hey, man! You're back over there! Good to see you, far away pal! So Paris really did end up sticking in your craw, as my grandpa used to say. Where in the world did that saying originally come from, I wonder? Well, Rome isn't too, too far from Paris. So, it could be your getaway-slash-second home-ette or something? 'Faerie Tale Theatre': Wait, that was the series hosted by the sublime genius Shelley Duvall, isn't it? If so, yes I did. Mainly to watch her intros and occasional appearances. Or they're what I largely remember. I think 'LCTG' has some Malick-ish-ness, and I know that Zac, its director, loves Malick like I do, so that seems very likely. Oh, you are, or you were, a 'Tree of Life' hater. That always interests me. 'ToL' blew my skull completely off and caused me to be unable to speak for hours afterwards, and it's maybe my favorite of his films. Quite possibly. That or 'The Thin Red Line'. Never been to Mont St. Michel. One of these days, for sure. Rohmer fucking rules. Have a great day over there! ** H, Hi. Oh, Tim Dlugos was one if my very, very best and closest friends. And he was huge influence on my writing and on my life. We met originally because I really liked his poems, and I wrote to him and asked him if he would give me a poem for my magazine 'Little Caesar'. Amethyst Press was originally an offshoot of this gay soft-porn magazine whose name escapes me. It was bought late in its short life by some rich gay guy with the idea of making it a bigger press, but the rich guy turned out to be a dilettante jerk, and he basically killed the press off when running it wasn't fun enough for him. Sad story. I sympathize, utterly and totally, with the visa/immigration stuff. I went through complete hell with that stuff for years because Yury wasn't granted a visa repeatedly, and so ... very best of luck with that. ** Steevee, I don't think I've seen any Wheatley films unless I'm spacing out. ** Okay. Lucia Berlin is an amazing writer. She was largely unknown, a writer's writer for years. Recently her work has been 'rediscovered' and published by a big press, FSG, and people are finally finding her work, unfortunately post-her death, as is so often the case. Anyway, there's a thing about her up above. Hope you enjoy it. See you tomorrow.