The party goes global...

Free counters!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cooking Tips for Bachelors: Hurricane Sandy Edition

Listen, I hate to brag, but I invented this entirely ass-whoopin' butternut squash soup recipe the other night, and -- no -kidding -- it just might be the best soup I ever tasted. So here you go. In honor of the storm of the century (um, we're only 12 years into the century, kids), I present to you Dave's Entirely Accidental and Amazingly Tasty Butternut Squash Soup. Whip up a pot, fire up the propane stove, and enjoy the blackout.


2 onions
2 cloves elephant garlic
2 small golden potatoes
Bulb of anise
Butternut squash
7 cups veggie stock
Salt + pepper
Cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp butter
Chopped up cilantro, rosemary
Red pepper
More salt + pepper

Fry the onions on highish heat till pretty brown. Chop the garlic into chunks and throw it in there, along with the peeled and cubed potatoes. While the potatoes are cooking, chop up the anise bulb and mix it in. While that’s cooking, peel and cube the squash and throw that in. Add maybe a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper and mix everything up.  After the squash has cooked a bit and absorbed some of the other flavors, add 7 cups of water and bouillion cubes/stock powder. Bring everything to a boil and let it simmer a while until the veggies get soft, then take it  off the heat and let it cool a little. As it’s cooling, drop a cinnamon stick in the mix for 10-15 minutes.

Take out the cinnamon stick, then puree the soup in the blender bit by bit. It will be quite soft and should smoothen right down. Put it back in the big pot and add some more salt + pepper along with the butter, then the chopped rosemary and cilantro and the red pepper. Don’t heat it but let it sit a little so the pepper warms through.

Serve with crusty garlic bread. Yowza.

This is not my dog. This is my co-worker's dog. He is named Rocky. He looks like a bat, or perhaps a fennec fox. He has never tasted my butternut squash soup, but all evidence points to the likelihood that he would devour it as he devours everything else.

He is about the size of my hand and is willing to eat or hump pretty much anything he sees.

He is a small rodentlike creature but he is also, I  have to admit now after many days of resisting, quite cute. I fought this realization for several weeks but I must now admit defeat. He is very cute. The batlike ears have a lot to do with this. I do not call him Rocky, however; I call him Yoda. He is starting to recognize this name, and respond to it, much to my delight.

Tonight we are awaiting the arrival of hurricane Sandy together.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

We Live in Financial Times


My good buddy, playwright Julia Lee Barclay, is responsible for writing and directing some genuinely offbeat, out-of-the-box theatrical experiences. One of them, entitled We Live in Financial Times, is going to be performed as a stage reading down in Washington, DC on November 5. You can get a bit more info about the performance at this site here.

I've read the play, and I have to say it is a mind-bending piece of work, replete with audience participation, meta-referential bits, free-floating weirdness, and plenty of good old-fashioned bolshy agitprop attitude. It's pretty much unlike anything I ever wrote, with the possible exception of Monster, 1959, which is probably one reason I think it works so well. It manages to be by turns hilarious and infuriating, and if it usurps one's expectations of how theater is supposed to work--well, good!

It is, in other words, well worth a night out. So if you're in the area, drop by 5th and K Street and check it out.

Julia also maintains an ongoing blog, which isn't so much about her playwriting as it is about some stuff going on in her personal life, and also about the book she's working on now (which is inextricably tied up with her personal life, as you will see if you check out the blog).

Some links to her work, and/or reviews of it, can be found here and here and here. There are more links on her blog.

She's a good egg, this Julia person, and I've known her, on and off, for 32 years. If she' can put up with me for so long, she must be a very nice person indeed. So take a look!

Below, here is what Julia herself has to say about the evening:

"Dear friends of reality,
If you live in or near Our Nation's Capitol and don't want to spend the Monday night before the elections biting your nails, pacing, drinking yourself silly or watching endless political prognostications most or all of which will prove wrong, here's another option:
Come to a staged reading of my play We live in financial times, Part 1: Blackberry Curve at the estimable Busboys & Poets on 5th & K in Washington, D.C.. Performance Monday, November 5 at 6:30pm in The Cullen Room. For details go to:

"We Live in Financial Times is a darkly funny theatrical shell game wherein the conventions of character and story (in the form of Mike and James, investment bankers alone with an angry female voice they do not understand) collapse and attempt to frantically reassemble. Global capitalism as tragic farce."

The fabulous actors include Phil Dickerson, Marietta Hedges and David Paglin. I'm directing this one...

We are especially excited to welcome the economist Dean Baker along for a talkback. He's the guy who predicted the 2008 crash before it happened and guess what? No one listened. I think we best be listening to him now...yes?"

Friday, October 26, 2012

"Listen to silence, not to others."

The always compelling Uzma Aslam Khan has a lively and engaging interview posted here in Pakistan's news weekly The Friday Times, in which she talks about writing, her new novel Thinner Than Skin, the state of Pakistan (as well as the State of Pakistan), husbands (ahem) and life in general. It's a terrific interview and well worth a look, so please, go take a look!

Thinner Than Skin is, as mentioned elsewhere on this blog, a terrific book, so if you or your book club are looking for something to read, well...

Here's an extract from the interview:  

"AA: Being an English novelist of Pakistani origin writing for an international audience, do you feel pressurized into conforming your writings to the themes of so-called 'South Asian fiction'?

UAK:You can't think about this while writing. Not only does it have nothing to do with story-telling, but I doubt many people can know what the market wants, even if they wanted to know, which I don't. That said, though we can't guess the demand, we can examine certain patterns. Some years ago, I wrote an essay titled "Brown Man's Burden". In it, I say that today's 'Asian' novelists face an unspoken list of dos and don'ts. The most insidious rule on the list is the "freeing" of Muslim women by the West, an obvious draw in the current political climate, in which the West seeks to justify its wars through feeding the public the same hackneyed image of "oppressed" women-in-veils.
          Some years ago, a publisher tried to put a cover of a veiled woman on my novel, Trespassing. I fought that cover and finally had it changed. But at some cost to myself. So, to answer your question, do I feel pressured to conform? No. Does the pressure exist? Yes. And the particular type of pressure outlined here is put on writers who happen to be women. Slurpy tales with sensational titles like "Married by Force" still adorn the front displays of major bookstores, and covers with eyes behind a veil continue to multiply like bunnies. It makes it harder for those trying to fight these trends to be heard."

The entire interview bounces around numerous topics, all of which manage to be fascinating. You don't need to have read Uzma's books to be interested, although by the time you're done, you might want to!

For the book's Amazon page, click here.

For the entire interview, click here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

New England Mobile Book Fair this Friday!

Hot on the heels of my Strand event in New York City comes my reading at the New England Mobile Book Fair in Newton, MA at 7:00pm this coming Friday, October 26. For more information, check out NEMBF's own site here.

The Mobile Book Fair sounds like a terrific bookstore--they reportedly have over 1,000,000 books in stock, all new, all discounted, which makes it sound like my kind of place. (I mean, I looove used bookstores too, but as a guy who only gets paid for a new book, I appreciate the focus here.) This will be my first visit to the shop, but I suspect it won't be my last, and I'm really looking forward to it.

I'm also looking forward to seeing some folks who may have missed out on the NYC events but are able to come to this one. If that's you, well, see you there...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Am I really that twitchy?

Camera don't lie, kids...

Unbeknownst to me, the Women's National Book Association and/or The Strand Bookstore decided to videotape the entire author panel event on Wednesday, and also unbeknownst to me, they posted the whole darn thing--all 86 minutes and 52 seconds of it--on YouTube for all to, err, enjoy.

As an exercise in humility, I present this warts-and-all version of myself and my fellow panelists as we introduce ourselves and answer a few questions. If you're lucky you might hear me say something borderline enlightening, but y'know, keep your expectations low.

I don't expect anyone to actually sit through this whole thing, but if you do, you'll get extra credit. So there's that. Also, count the number of times I say "Um," and if you get it right I'll PayPal you a dollar for each one.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

WNBA event was a blast

Okay, so you probably can't tell by this picture, but the event last night at the Strand Bookstore, sponsored by the Women's National Book Association, was great fun. Despite the fact that I look about as animated as someone delvering his own eulogy, the crowd was appreciative and the energy was palpable:

And yes, I'm wearing my hipster T-shirt from Brooklyn pop-rockers The Mast.

Check out those stacks o' books! This was held in the rare book room up on the third floor, which is stacked floor-to-ceiling with, well, rare books, or at least books that are too valuable (being first editions and so forth) to just leave in stacks on the floor or shelves downstairs.

And as you can also see from this photo, there were actual human people in the audience last night, listening to what we were saying or at least sitting upright and laughing at all the right moments, which is pretty much all I ask of any audience. I'd guess there were about 50 people there, including maybe 6 o 8 from the WNBA, which is a hefty turnout indeed by Dave Maine standards.

There were five authors there, and we each stood up and introduced ourselves for about 5 minutes, talking briefly about our most recent books (which was, in my case, An Age of Madness). Then we all took questions from the lively and likeable moderator, Roz, and after that we took a couple more questions from the equally lively and likeable audience. Then we signed books, drank cider, and shmoozed for half an hour. A fine time was had by all.

I was particularly entertained by fellow panelist Ben Ryder Howe, who talked about his nonfiction book My Korean Deli. Ben is a WASP-y Boston guy who somehow found himself in possession of, yes, a Korean deli in New York City, which he ran for several years with his wife (Korean-American) and mother-in-law (Korean, now living in America). He is hysterical and the book looks pretty great too--a funny reflection on serious things, which can be an effective approach to such material. So take a look if you're interested.

Questions ranged from conversation-starters like, "How do you decide how to begin a story?" to considerations of things like how technology affects the way one writes. There was a question about revising and one for me about writing a first-person women's point of view. (My answer: it's not that tough, because we basically all want the same thing. I don't know if that's true or not--though I tend to think so more often than not--but it went down well and a couple of people even came up to me afterward to tell me that they liked what I'd said.)

So thanks again to the WNBA, and to the Strand, and to everyone who came out last night to hear us. It was a good time, and maybe one we can repeat at some point down the road...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My latest web obsession

So, what am I listening to right this moment? I’m glad you asked.

Right this very moment, I’m listening to 200 More Miles by the Cowboy Junkies, a double live album that came out in the mid-90s but which I only recently picked up. Actually, I got it for free, in the mail, when someone sent it to me. Cool, right?

I can hear you right now: “Dave! Tell me more!”

So, okay, my latest web obsession is this site called You can probably figure it out from the name. Basically, people join the sit in order to mke a list of all their old CDs that they no longer want. Once they’;re posted, other members can claim them (or, if they are listed already on their Wish Lists, the claim is made automatically). Once claimed, the person posting the CD is asked to print out an address label to the person who has requested it, wrap it up nicely so it doesn’t shatter, and drop it in the mail. Once the person receives it, s/he marks it as received. At that point, the sender gets credited with having sent it, and then s/he can request a CD from any other member. Hey presto—socialism at work, or something!

So, it’s not exactly free. In addition to the original cost of the CD, you need to pay postage to mail it, which will be roughly one or two dollars, depending on how much packaging you use (and therefore how much postage you need). Plus, the SwapaCD site charges 49 cents per transaction—that’s how they make their money. So, two to three dollars altogether. Is it worth it? Sure.

So far I have received the Cowboy Junkies record, plus an Oasis album (Heathen Chemistry), and I have a handful on their way—Ziggy Marley, Astroqueen, Vivaldi flute concertos, Carmina Burana. The site is great for swapping out old stuff you never listen to anymore for new stuff you might listen to a bit. It’s not good for stuff you absolutely must have right away—there’s quite a wait for popular titles, and even if the disc you want is available immediately, you’re still at the mercy of the other person to get it in the mail, not to mention the Post Office who needs to deliver it. (I’ve been waiting for Astroqueen for two weeks; it was mailed from Maine and should’ve taken five days at most.) But still, there’s much more fun than not-fun about the site, at least so far. And hey, if you want to stock upn on old Norah Jones albums, you’re in luck—there’s something like 156 available copies of her first record, so, no waiting for you!

The other potential negative thing is that you’re at the mercy of the sender as far as the condition of the discs goes. So far, the two I’ve received have been pristine—they look brand new, like they were gifts that just didn’t do it for the sender. But I’ve been told by others that CDs can run the gamut, condition-wise, from brand new to unplayable. Of course, there’s an option on the site to say “I received an unplayavble disc” and then you won’t be charged. But it’s not fun, I imagine, when it happens. Fortunately for me, it hasn’t happened yet. We’re all in the same boat, right? We all want stuff to be in good shape.

So I encourage everyone to go join. The more people there are involved in this thing, the more records there will be in the mix, and the more to choose from, and the shorter the wait for what we all want. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

More info about the Strand Bookstore event in NYC

Check out this link for photos and thumbnail sketches of all 5 of us authors who will be appearing on Wednesday night at the Strand Bookstore. Looks like a colorful bunch!

Thinner Than Skin is great; reminder of NYC event

Ho there, just a couple of reminders for today. First: the lovely and talented Uzma Aslam Khan's latest novel, Thinner Than Skin, is out now and widely available at such outlets as If you haven't read her other books, you're in for a treat, as this one's a scorcher. If you have read her other stuff, well, you know how good she is, so go have fun.

And yes, it's a great title. And a great cover too!

On a completely unrelated topic, my appearance at the Strand Bookstore in NYC is looming large--just four days away now as I type this. I will be there on Wednesday, Oct 17 from 7 - 9pm, along with a number fellow writers Ben Ryder How, Elizabeth Nunez, Marisa de los Santos, and Alix Kates Shulman. We'll be discussing our books and the state of the publishing industry (I guess), along with whatever else anybody wants to ask. This is all part of the National Women's Book Association's events for October, which is Reading Group Month, and An Age of madness has been selected as a "Great Group Read" by these fine, discerning readers. So there you go!

Tomorrow I will perhaps write something about this addictive new sit I have joined, called You can probably figure out what it does. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reading groups!

It's been brought to my attention (by my hard-working and much-aapreciated publicist, Billy) that there are any number of reading groups scattered across these United States, some of whom might have an interest in reading one of my books--particularly An Age of Madness, given its recent publication and its involvement with National Reading Group Month. So let me take this moment to say to any potential reading-grouper (groupie? No, probably not that): Hey! I'm available! Give me a shout.

In the past, reading groups have read one or the other of my books and then, through the magic of email, they have submitted to me questions which I then answered and returned, spurring (I hope) some converation that might have gone in an unexpected direction. That was fun, and people seem to enjoy it.

These days, however, I'm here in the US, meaning that through the magic of Skype or--at least in the NY/NE area--through the magic of the internal combustion engine, I can come face-to-face with people, either by arriving in person or Skyping over the internet. I'd be happy to do this. I would in fact be thrilled to do this. Writing books is a strange, somewehat isolating discipline, and having the opportunity to interact with people who have taken the time to read something of mine is very gratifying.

So, if you're involved with a reading group and you'd like some face time, give me a shout. Leave a comment here and I'll get back to you. Or just email me directly at If you're in NY or New England, there's a good chance that I'll be able to make the drive to see you in person (if that's something you want). Don't be shy. It's fun...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Don't Open That Door! #17: Tarantula

Hey, remember that great giant-spider movie from the '50s where there's this huge hairy tarantula on the prowl in the desert and these guys are watching it next to a truck, and when the spider comes their way they get all panicky and try to start the truck but the truck won't start and they keep trying and trying as the spider gets closer and closer and everybody's freaking out and you're watching all this trying not to piss your pants? Well, that's this movie.

It's also the latest in my PopMatters column, Don't Open That Door!

And it's also the first screen appearance of noted actor-director-guy-who-talks-to-empty-chairs-at-political-conventions, Clint Eastwood. Really! (Though you won't see him, because he's wearing a fighter pilot's mask, but he's under there, promise.)

Here's the opening paragraph:

"Small-town Arizona mainstay Doctor Matt is concerned when a horribly disfigured body turns up in the desert, bearing the signs of an obscure disease that takes years to develop. The body’s former employer, reclusive hermit and crackpot Professor Deemer, declares that the man did indeed die of acromigalia, despite having no symptoms only days ago. Doctor Matt argues that the disease, whose Latin name means “death due to a really atrocious makeup job,” couldn’t have developed so fast, but Professor Deemer—you can tell he’s a scientist by his British accent, and besides he’s got a lab rat the size of a golden retriever—remains adamant. Doctor Matt gives in. Local lawman Sheriff Jack takes the opportunity to rub Doc’s face in it, too, and that’s that."

There's a lot more laughs and chills, so please, mosey on over to PopMatters and read the whole article. And if you're so inclined, give it a Like on Facebook, or a Tweet or a G+. The more the merrier!

Event update: Better than a reading

I just received word from Rosalind Reisner, the woman who will be moderating the Oct 17 event at the Strand bookstore in New York City, and it looks like my understanding of the whole she-bang was slightly off base. This will not, it turns out, be a reading. (The crowd roars in appreciation.) Rather, the four of us writers will be given a few minutes to introduce their books, then Rosalind will ask questions in an attempt to spur a lively and spirited discussion about -- oh I don't know, writing and books and the state of the publishing industry and whatever.

Mixed in with all of that will be the chance to take questions from the audience, and of course some time at the end to shmooze and sign books.

This all sounds pretty fun, and potentially a lot livelier than just a serial reading, in 20-minute chunks, from a bunch of worthy authors. The event runs from 7:00-9:00pm in the Strand's Rare Book Room, upstairs on the third floor. Here's some more information about the event, and about the Strand in general.

See you there? I hope so.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thinner Than Skin available now!

Hey all, Uzma's newest novel, Thinner Than Skin, is now on sale at Amazon and some other outlets, including Booklink in Northampton, MA (where I took the picture below). It's a terrific book and a real page-turner, so please check it out and support independent aithors (yay!) and publishers, like Clockroot (double yay!).

If you can't find it, look toward the top third of the photo. It's facing you.

For more info from the publisher, take a look at Interlink/Clockroot's page for the book.

I've said this before, but: Cool cover, eh?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordstock event cancelled

It saddens me to say this, but I will not repeat NOT be appearing at Wordstock in Portland, Oregon later this month, as originally planned. This has nothing to do with any problems with Wordstock or its organizers; it's just that I am unable to get out to Portland as I'd originally planned.

My apologies to anyone who might have planned to see my event. It's unlikely that this will be too helpful, but I will be reading at the Strand bookstore in New York on October 17.

My publisher and publicist are working to line up some other events on the west coast, so fingers crossed that they work out... 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Library Journal shines a light on An Age of Madness

Hey-oh, take a gander at Library Journal's announcement of "Twenty Great Reads for National Reading Group Month" -- and guess whose book they decided to mention by name (and cover).

Reading Group Month is October -- as in, right now, yee-hah -- and I'm excited to see what happens as fallout from it. Apart from my reading at the Strand Bookstore in New York on October 17, and at the New England mobile Book Fair on October 26, there may well be more events lining up. Stay tuned for details.

Meanwhile, Library Journal gives this background for the whole concept:

"Titles were selected on the basis of their appeal to reading groups as a means of stimulating conversations about a range of topics from family dynamics to world events. The committee also chose to focus attention on titles from small presses like Red Hen, Other, and Grove and lesser-known mid-list releases from major publishers. A starter packet includes a flyer and a WNBA/NRGM bookmark, and librarians, booksellers, and reading groups are welcomed to use any of the materials found on the NRGB website for 'October is National Reading Group Month' purposes."

The Journal goes on to call An Age of Madness "a penetrating story," which just goes to show what terrific taste they have over there. Thanks, folks.