The party goes global...

Free counters!

Monday, March 31, 2008

BUDDY GUY rules. But, you knew that already, right?

In case you never heard of him, Buddy Guy is the greatest guitar player alive right now, and probably has been for a while. Uzee and I has the chance to see him play on Saturday night, and man, he was great.

Buddy's 72 years old and has been playing since the '50s, so he has, as they say, chops. For my money, his records Stone Crazy!, Damn Right I've Got the Blues, Feels Like Rain, Slippin' In, Heavy Love and Sweet Tea are some of the best records--not just blues records--ever made. He played for about an hour and a half on Saturday night, not a very long show, but what the hell, he's a senior citizen.

He also rocked. He played any number of great songs, like "Fever," "Love Her With a Feeling" and "Drowning on Dry Land," and ended with a somewhat sloppy version of one of his prettiest songs, "Feels Like Rain" that led into Ray Charles' "What'd I Say." In between he jammed on long guitar solos and played around with his keyboard player his other guitarist and even brought some child prodigy onstage for about fifteen minutes. Oh and he sings amazingly too. Halfway through "Drowning on Dry Land," he walked off the stage and up the aisle--singing and playing the whole time--stopping to flirt with the women, then walked out of the auditorium and upstairs into the balcony, where he kept it all going. They went, needless to say, nuts.

In case you need more convincing, check out some of his pages at Amazon and listen to some clips:

Rock on, Buddy! Here's hoping you play another 50 years...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Odyssey Books

First of all, a big thank you to Odyssey Books in South Hadley for hosting me, and especially to Emily their events person, who made sure that everything went off all right. It was not a huge event, there were maybe 10 or 12 people in attendance, but people were interested and lively and I think we had a pretty good conversation. I read a bit and then people asked questions, about the new book, about the book I'm writing now, about Pakistan, about the last book I wrote and so on. So it was fun, and thanks everyone for coming out.

My next "event" will be at the Borders Bookstore in Farmington, Connecticut--yup, my hometown--on Sunday afternoon, April 20th, at 2pm. This will be followed on the weekend of the 25th by an appearance at the Newburyport Literary Festival, something for which I still have no information whatsoever. I'll post it when I get it. But if anyone is in central Connecticut on April 20th, come on over to the Borders near the Westfarms Mall and say howdy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Saw Doctors!

Last night (St Patrick's Day) Uzee and I went to see and hear The Saw Doctors at the Calvin Theater in Northampton. Great venue, great crowd, great band. If you don't know them, and chances are you don't, they play rock & roll with a vaguely Irish twist. For my money, their best songs tend to be the slower ones. But don't take my word for it--check these YouTube videos. (These are, I should make clear, not from the concert I attended, but they did play both songs, and they give a fair idea of what the band is like.)

Bless me father for I have sinned
She has big brown eyes & silky skin
Bless me father, I couldn't resist
Father, you have no idea what you've missed...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Uzee's letter to Barack Obama

Uzma Aslam Khan has written a letter to Obama in which she asks a number of questions which, needless to say, no one in the US media has bothered to ask--but which many people both inside and outside the States would love to have answered. It's posted on the always-lively-sometimes-shocking alternative news site, Counterpunch. Take a look:

Or there's a link from her own blog:

Please take a look... even if you're a supporter of Obama. Maybe especially then.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A hopeful sign, maybe.


I wake up this morning and it's cloudy. I go to the market to shop for groceries and it's actually flurrying snow, and by the time I get out of the Big Why the snow is coming down fairly thick and I'm thinking, "Man, I thought we were done with this." More fool me. And I know I've only been here for a month and a half or so, but I've already had my year's fill of winter, I think.

So I put the food away and start walking down to the library which is about 35 minutes from the house. Still snowing but as I walk the snow segues into drizzly rain before petering out altogether. And then I'm downtown and five minutes away from the library and what do I see pecking around in the front yard of someobody's house? Robins. Red bosoms and all, two of them no less. Male and female? I dunno. But there were two, and were strolling around in the recently-fallen-now-melting-but-not-yet-fully-melted snow, looking like they expected things to get much nicer very soon. And I thought "Aw shucks. Spring is on its way, maybe."

It was nice.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Washington Post gives thumbs-up

Here's a link to a very positive, though brief, review of Monster, published in today's Washington Post:

And for those of you in western Massachusetts, don't forget that I will be appearing at Odyssey Books in South Hadley (on College Street, right across from Mount Holyoke College) on Thursday, March 20 at 7:30pm. This is a reading/q+a/book signing event. So come on down and tell me if you think the Post got it right...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Page 99 Test

Okay, here's an interesting idea.

Ford Madox Ford apparently once said something like: "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you." This is a fun idea and maybe even a true one, since certainly there are propensities that a writer will reveal on any given page, as well as particular strengths, weaknesses and so on. But is it true? Well I don't know. It's kind of like saying that any two minutes of a movie will show the quality of the whole movie, which is patently untrue (or else trailers would never give an inaccurate view of the film). Or like one joke will tell you whether you'll enjoy the comedian, or whatever.

On the other hand, there are books of mine--I'm thinking of Samson here--which do have a kind of unity in their tone and outlook and treatment, such that if you did open randomly to page 99, well, maybe you would form an accurate impression of the whole thing.

As it turns out, there's a fellow named Marshal Zeringue, and he has an entire blog devoted to this idea. He asks writers to comment on their own books' page 99, and decide whether Ford's axiom holds true or not. What a great idea. He asked me to do this for monster, and I did, and he posted it, and here's the link:

If you read it and then hit "Home" at the bottom of his blog, you go to his homepage, which has not only my essay but many others by many other writers talking about their books. What's interesting o me is that there's a real range of responses to this page 99 idea. And you thought the internet was only good for You Tube...