For me, books have always been like portable escape hatches: “open covers in case of boredom, awkward social situations, bus rides, parent-son bonding attempts, etc.” I always seem to be toting one around or have a perilous stack on my bedside table/nearest branch library, like a literary leaning tower of Pisa (no wonder I can’t sleep). True, my New Yorker subscription has taken a fatal bite out of my book reading (seriously…they send me some ludicrous subscription offer and I take the bait then find myself taking sick days just to keep up) but I still have the overwhelming need to “have a book going,” meaning, a story parallel and preferable to my own available at all times.
Reading is like writing in reverse, only I don’t get paid much for reading either. In those gaps between writing projects I like to fill up the depleted gas tank of my mind with a book, but those gaps are—lately—as hard to find as a baby pigeon.
I had over a year to write my first book, Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go, and could take my time, sitting back, waiting for the ideas to fall into my head. But with the follow-ups, I have only a few months, and it’s like wringing out a wet towel. Everyone has a book in them (maybe more if they’ve swallowed a Kindle). But when you sit down everyday staring at a blank screen and somehow come up with a book, then I guess you’re a “real” writer. Not that one-time authors aren’t real authors…I mean, just look at God with the Bible….
Anyway, I’ve been asked to write this blog about books in this sliver of time I would otherwise devote to reading. But, as you will soon discover, my attention span has not healed properly since my last book, so here are a few attempts.
Blog Attempt #1:
One day, Dale E. Basye was asked to [verb] a blog for Nerdy Book Club! The only problem was that Dale couldn’t think of [pronoun] to write about! So he decided to turn the [adjective] blog assignment into a Mad Lib! What a [adjective ending in -ing] good idea! That way, he could [verb] actually writing a blog, and just turn it into a pretentious [noun] in avoiding coming up with something original! But the gimmick proved [adjective] so he decided to bag it and come up with something else, much to the unabashed [noun] of the reader.
Blog Attempt #2:
My Ideal Reader:
• Is always game for a good read.
• Only kills time in self-defense.
• Has never read Ulysses and doesn’t pretend he/she has.
• Owns the following albums: Revolver, Pet Sounds, and Piper at the Gates of Dawn and has read the liner notes.
• Is totally okay with the fact that I often repeat myself, occassionally missspell words, repeat myself; and am constantly misusing punctuation marks.
• Will arrive at a book reading early but not creepy-early, and—after asking interesting questions to which I have interesting, witty answers at the ready—buys a butt-load of books and has me sign them all but not with personal anecdotes or dedicated to people with names that sound conventional—Jane, for example—but are really spelled as if by a disturbed Dutch kindergartner—Djayghnne—and then leaves promptly, not asking me to read his/her manuscript or go for a drink somewhere or walking me to my car and me having to pretend that I have a car.
Blog Attempt #3:
An Internal Monologue Regarding the Dozen Comic Books I Just Bought.
Why did I buy a dozen comic books? ! If I quit wasting my money on junk like this I could save for my son’s college fund—please, please have him get a scholarship—and perhaps retirement…geez…retirement… What kind of grown man even buys comic books? I mean, besides the guys that hang out at comic book shops, which I just did—and do—but, I mean, I’m not like them. Or am I? Maybe I can give them to my son…when he’s 30 because these comic books are kind of intense. I just hope my wife doesn’t do any online banking tonight. Maybe I can justify Japanese Blood Sorority #36 as a research expense…yeah, that’s it…Naaah…she’ll see right through that. Why did I buy a dozen comic books? It’s not like I have anything approaching a disposable income. Charity? To a children’s hospitable? Hmmm…I don’t know how Necromancing the Stone #117 would fly in a children’s hospital. Maybe I can read them then sell them on eBay, though I never, ever sell anything on eBay. Plus there’s always some obsessive-compulsive guy that asks a million persnickety questions, wasting my time, and doesn’t even bid on my item. Man…why did I buy a dozen comic books!?
Blog Attempt #4:
Crime and Punishment and Ponies: A Work in Progress
Excerpt: “‘Good God!’ Raskolnikov cried, ‘can it be, can it be, that I did really take an axe, that I struck her on the head, split her skull open… that I tread in the sticky warm blood… Good God, can it be? Tell me it was all just a terrible dream, Cinnamon!’ the tormented man pleaded as he combed the Appaloosa’s braided floss-silk mane.
Cinnamon whickered, nipping the collar of Raskolnikov’s sweat-soaked peasant’s blouse, her mane tossing up like the crest of a breaking wave in the moonlight.
Tears leaked down Raskolnikov’s haggard face as he stared into his pretty pony’s eyes, like twin embers glowing in the darkness of his eternal midnight. How he longed to ride his prancing foal, her pace as swift as light, her coat glistening, clutching her long neck, feeling that lithe graceful power between his legs.
‘To be loved by such a horse fills me with an awe I do not deserve,’ he murmured as Cinnamon playfully nudged her nose against Raskolnikov’s blood-spattered pocket, knowing that—inside—lay a lump of sweet, sweet sugar…”
Blog Attempt #5:
Question: What are you reading?
Answer: I am currently reading the writing on the wall, while my wife reads me the riot act.
Question: How do you approach your writing?
Answer: I generally approach my work in a crouching position, low to the ground yet—with knees bent—poised to strike at the slightest provocation.
Question: Who is your favorite new author?
Answer: My favorite new author is the author that is really good but not too good.
Question: What is your favorite book of all time?
Answer: My favorite book of all time is whatever book buys me a summer home.
Question: What writers have influenced you?
Answer: The writers that have influenced me the most are, in no particular order, Kurt Vonnegut, Roald Dahl, Tom Robbins, and whoever wrote the “Do not open hatch while aircraft is in flight” sign, which has saved my butt on more than one occasion.
Blog Attempt #6:
If you’re like me, you probably wonder what popular literary characters would leave as their outgoing messages on their answering machines.
• Hello, this is Miss Havisham from the novel Great Expectations. Sorry to dash your expectations, but I’m not here right now, as I died from severe burns suffered when my dress caught on fire. Please leave your message at the sound of the Pip.
• Good day, this is Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I’m either engaged in lively yet guarded flirtatious repartee with Mr. Darcy, or out killing zombies, depending on how old you are. Please be so good as to leave your message at the sound of the beep.
• This is Dr Watson, you presume. I am out fetching violin rosin and “snuff” right now. If this is Sherlock, well, then you know where I really am, and what my deep psychological motives are for being there. Oh, and from what school did Sherlock actually graduate? Elementary, of course. Elementary. And what’s another name for intestine? The alimentary canal, of course. The alimentary. I could do this all day. Please leave your name and message after the blood-curdling howl of the hound.
• Blorgh! (Hello!) Brrreaaaachhhellaaddawhoo! (This is Moby Dick: a symbol of God, nature, and all aspects of life that are out of human control.) Kreeeachanor! (Please leave your name after the harpoon.) Gloorrrmphrgggrr! (And please, don’t call me Ishmael.)
• Hello. This is John Yossarian from Catch-22. Please leave your message and I will get back to you, although I’m right here and if you leave a message and I don’t pick up, that means I don’t really want to talk to you and therefore I won’t call you back but if you don’t leave a message I won’t know who it is to either pick up or not call back so the only way to guarantee I won’t not call you back is if you didn’t leave a message which then means I won’t know who called in the first place. Sort of a no-win, there. Anyway, give it your best shot. Meanwhile, I’m going to catch 40…winks, that is. Beep!
• Thank you for calling Narnia. We don’t really exist, but wouldn’t that be cool if we did?
When Dale Basye isn’t attempting to write guest blog posts on books and reading, he writes the Random House series Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go. He has never been to Heck, Rapacia, Blimpo, Fibble, or Snivel. He actually spends most of his time in Portland, Oregon. If you’d rather not visit Portland, you can find him online at http://www.wherethebadkidsgo.com/ or on Twitter as @Go2Heck.