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Category: nonfiction

Six Random Days in May (newsletter)

This month’s assorted provocations include several commentaries, a story, a funding appeal, and news of recent publications. Two of the items are fiction.

5/5. Got an email saying, “Greetings everybody, I’m Oscar, your friendly spambot. I’ll be feeding you all sorts of incredibly delicious offers from exotic portals for your shopping enjoyment. You’ll want to read each and every one and clip the valuable coupons.”

How nice. I kept reading.

You would be foolish to decline my bountiful offer, but can opt out at any time by visiting my Patreon page and donating $5 to cover my monthly upkeep or just $50 for a whole year, and thank you in advance.

Welcome to my internet family!

Oscar.

At least it doesn’t want Bitcoin. Still considering what to do. Any ideas?

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On Making Literary Connections (newsletter)

Before I forget, Saturday 4/30 is Indie Bookstore day. You may yawn, but it’s a big deal in their struggle for survival. Find a local bookstore and go see what’s happening. Click the poster below to visit a store locator at bookshop.org. Click here to see the full size image. If you have a website or want to send out email about it, copy this section and paste it there.

Click to find a local bookstore near you

And while you’re there, why not browse at the Perfidy Press Bookstore. Thinking of adding a shelf called Friends Recommend... with books that you and others I know believe readers would enjoy. It’ll be limited to 10 titles, so don’t delay, send in your faves.


Scooping Book Reviews

Sometimes the magic works.

It isn’t normally possible for an author to get a new book reviewed in print before it goes to galley, which means you’ve got a publisher or you’re publishing it yourself and it’s all typeset. I’m in a pre-publication limbo, and rather than just twiddling my thumbs til my publisher does their thing, I decided to review my novel myself—but not by itself.

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On Making Black and Other Lives Materially Matter (newsletter)

Celebrating Black History Month reminds one that, like Dr. Martin Luther King, too many African Americans enter history before their time, felled by those sworn to serve and protect them. Their murders have fueled civil rights uprisings such as swept the country in June 2020, after police blithely took the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black martyrs. The Black Lives Matter movement these events crystallized may be changing things, but how much it has impacted communities across America is tough to assess, at least for me. I guess you have to be there to know.

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Remembering Forgotten Lore

As the year inexorably winds down to the orgies of consumption I sometimes call the holydaze, I find myself unaccountably nostalgic for the “old daze,” when my parents, grandparents, and perhaps an aunt, cousin or guest gathered around the table at my childhood home in Connecticut. Along with my parents and theirs, five of my twelve first cousins have since departed to their final destinations. Of the survivors, one of us lives close at hand and she’ll be with us on Thanksgiving, hopefully with stories. Her mom was a fabulous cook who threw large dinner parties I well remember that I’ll never upstage, even with Peking Duck as our main course. (Don’t ask why. It just happened that way.)

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“The freedom and exhilaration of moral insensibility” (Newsletter)

This is a difficult subject, but recently it’s been bothering me a lot and it’s all Steve Bannon’s fault.

Let’s say you hate something—anything from water pollution to child trafficking—with a passion. Maybe a kid you know got poisoned by PCBs or disappeared. You loathe it so much, you feel, that if you ever captured a trafficker or a polluter you would gladly torture him. Better yet, get someone else to do it and enjoy their suffering vicariously.

Maybe you wouldn’t get off on that, but mightn’t you titter at someone slipping on a banana peel? That’s a mild form of schadenfreude, and we’ve all felt it at some point in our lives. We’re talking about human

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The “Beautiful Madness” that is Exarcheia (newsletter)

Street map of Exarchia Neighborhood in Central Athens from openstreetmap.org
Street map of Exarcheia neighborhood in Central Athens from openstreetmap.org
“The walls here are like a daily newspaper, trying to make us get off the couch and roam the streets demanding all that is written on the walls.” — Níkos Tρavvós
Breathlessly stumble down the western flank of the Athenian tourist destination Mount Lycabettus and soon you’ll find yourself slack-jawed, taking in a part of the city that looks and feels a whole lot different from the tourist haunts just blocks away. You’ve entered the twilight zone, a compact triangular enclave called Exarcheia, home to artists, poets, intellectuals, immigrants, communists and anarchists, a creative churn of radical visions, defying authority, making its own rules, perpetually decolonizing itself. Wikipedia tells us that in Exarcheia:
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