Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike, Our Foremost Man of Letters, Has Passed

“I would write ads for deodorants or labels for catsup bottles, if I had to,” he told The Paris Review in 1967. “The miracle of turning inklings into thoughts and thoughts into words and words into metal and print and ink never palls for me.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In Homage to (William) Burroughs: 50 Ways To Kill A Squirrel

‘No one owns life. But anyone with a frying pan owns death.’
- William Burroughs

William Burroughs killed his beloved wife with an arrow. It was an accident. He lived to shoot arrows and junk again, as well as to write many fine books. I love William Burroughs. I would never kill anyone I was married to, had sex with, or knew in even a passing sense. I would also never harm a stranger. That said, I think I’d be lying if I said I never fantasized about shunning someone who had hurt my feelings or the feelings of others I love. Most people just have quick, fleeting thoughts, like 'I hate that person, I wish he/she would just go away.’

Being a writer- and a writer who spends an inordinate amount of time not writing anything that could even loosely be referred to as ‘literary product’ - I have had the opportunity to embellish my mental fantasies on ways in which murder might be accomplished. If you’ve ever killed a character in a fictional story, you know it is a most exhilarating feeling; certainly the creative process is a fine way of venting any unhealthy or aggressive feelings. I love men, but I do think that throughout history, some of them have frankly wanted killing - women, too, but not as many. Far be it from me to actually harm a hair on the head of anyone. In fact, I have never 'made plans' or written a homicidal checklist of any kind whatsoever.

Yet someone - a crazed individual who is very ill and needs immediate apprehension - has left a many-paged list in my mailbox, and the list was scrawled in a loose, feminine hand. I’m almost certain it was a woman who wrote it. It was balled up, and the final pages were smeared beyond recognition with something that may have been blood, motor oil, or a chemical compound.

As I transcribed it for local police, I found it just horrifying; I'm sure you will, too. In addition to notifying the local authorities, I’m posting it here; if any of these terrible things happen to anyone you know, I would urge you to contact the Twin Cities Police Department in Marin County, California.

50 Ways to Kill a Squirrel

Apparent Suicide

1.Invite him out for a cozy picnic on a sultry night; make sure he drives. During the al fresco meal of home made fried chicken and potato salad, tell him you can’t wait to get him to his house because you are going to ‘blow his mind.’ As he pulls his car into his garage, unbuckle your seatbelt and cuddle close to him, kiss him. Unbutton your blouse and make out with him for a few minutes in his car. Pull on a bottle of tequila as you pass four Nembutals into his mouth. Administer blowjob. When he dozes off, open the car door windows, turn his ignition on, close the garage doors and exit his property. (Leave a typed note in on his windshield that says, “Please forgive me. I can't bear one more day of wingtip shoes, suits and tues, when all i ever wanted was to wear a simple black dress, spectator pumps and a strand of pearls.”

2 Bring him breakfast in bed, having crushed 20 tabs of Ecstasy into his morning coffee. Wait until he comes onto it, and say you’re going to the store for lubricant. Nail him into his bedroom, disconnect the phone. put on a loud, continuous loop of Oklahoma! The Soundtrack on his sound system. hit Shuffle.

Household Tips / Deaths From Heloise!
Recipes for Success

Recipe no 1
For the bachelor with taste

Decaf Coffee
Ten Xanax (1 mg each)
Duct Tape
Surprise Handjob

Crush Xanax into his coffee. Slather your hands with lotion, sit in his lap and administer handjob. As he dozes, close and seal all the windows and doors with duct tape. As you‘re leaving his stylish flat, turn on the gas on his Viking stove all the way up .

Recipe no 2
For the simple, everyday man in your life; a gentle Rebuff

1 can red spray paint (permanent)
Dark of night

Go to his studio apartment where he is hidey-holed up. And on the exterior of his front door, paint: Tim G. is gay! He gave me AIDS!!!!

Recipe no. 3
All Occasion: Fun and Run


Mix together and put in a bucket perched right above his front door. Ring the bell and run.

Manners of Harm Which Make Even Seasoned Policemen Wonder

1 Fill a condom tip with exploding powder. Reseal carefully and place in nightstand drawer. Break up with him.

2 Using a long, thin surgical tube, inject finely crushed dynamite into his fine Havana cigars.

3 Coat his cigarettes with kerosine (odor free variety)

4 One week before the first of the month, place way too much acid on the sticky part of the envelope of his yet-unpaid mortgage bill. Send one live iguana to his home for the next seven days.

Deaths Of Psyche

1 Enlist him into the war on Iraq. (Get office stationary from local recruiter)

2 Call him under the guise of the IRS and tell him when he can expect a visit to his office. Ask him to gather all his receipts and tax records from the last eight years. Follow up with letter.

3.During sex, in a halting voice, describe a 'really crazy---like, pornstar crazy!' fantasy you know he’ll love. Give him a ‘Safe word’ to say if he gets uncomfortable or scared, i.e., ‘doorknob’. Dress in g-string. Attach regulation police handcuffs to his wrists and lock them securely over his head. Put a Mexican wrestlers mask on his face and tie it tightly. Dance and writhe and sing La Bamba. Tie his ankles to the bedposts with leather straps Tape his mouth shut and leave the room. Re-enter room. Begin to tape his nostrils shut, run out of tape. Send someone for more duct tape. After he’s exhausted and has stopped trying to say “doorknob! Doorknob!” call his immediate family and tell them that Tim needs them to come over, right away.

Cars And Motorcycles: The Handiest Weapons Around

1 One night when you’re leaving his place, ask him to stand behind you, to see if your brake lights work. Put it in reverse and gun it.

2 Cut the brake lines in his motorcycle (most have one). Slice his motorcycle helmet chinstrap and tape it together loosely with Scotch Brand Magic Invisible Tape.

3 Tell him you car’s been leaking oil and ask if he can look underneath. When he does, kick the jack out.

Most Accidents Happen In The Bathroom

1 The Phil Bronstein: At dawn, place one komodo dragon in the small half bath of his home. Leave super fast.

2 Dip his razor in arsenic/hemlock (research)

3 Place Drano in his showerhead. Grease the tiles under the shower with a thick layer of Vaseline or Crisco...be careful not to....

Man Collecting: A Worthwhile and Sustainable Venture

an unadulterated version of the essay running in More Magazine 08

I’d like to take a minute to discuss - in a sensible yet informed manner - love and lust and friendship and Internet dating. Someone has to.
The fact is we all need love or companionship or a reasonable facsimile. And everyone in America is looking online. It’s no longer something to be ashamed of, although I personally wouldn’t advertise the fact that you’re advertising. (Except to your closest friends, many of who will also be trawling for coffee dates, cocktails, foreign films and - oh yea - their soul mate.)

These days you and your friends can exchange digital photos of 18 to 121-year-old, Athletic and Toned / About Average / Slender/A Few Extra Pounds/Big and Beautiful men of all persuasions. You can choose among Single, Never Married, Currently Separated or Divorced guys who are assiduously sailing, mountain biking, surfing, skiing and staring soulfully into the camera. There are hundreds and hundreds, in your 25-mile radius alone. Worldwide, there are millions. It’s fun and harmless, as long as no one gets hurt.

Of course, people do get hurt, they get their hearts hammered all to shit every day of the year, 24/7. People have their egos stroked, ignored, bounced, caressed, and passed through a thresher. Others go on to marry. Each other.

I, for one, feel I'll not get (seriously) hurt (again), although as you all know I've been dramatically wrong before. I’ve been through a craven divorce, in fact I wrote the book on it...literally. So, that road’s closed. I now know about taking my time, boundaries, realism and how to protect my heart. I now suspect I’m precious and rare and worth loving in a sort of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle way - of course I do. I live in California, for God’s sake. I can spot a pagan, womanizing, emotionally withholding squirrel in a hot second. (I've already lived with, met, or married most of them; I'm almost completely joking.)

Yet it pleased me when I registered on Match.com and right away, within minutes, all these unique, one-of-a-kind, very collectible men started showing up. Boom boom boom boom BOOM. Eric, Stephen, John, Tony, Kevin. A plethora of Toms, Tommys and Thomases. There were lawyers, contractors, artists, and computer guys. There were policemen and professors and firemen and accountants--oh, my. This was Happy Hour at the buffet of groomed humanity. Suddenly everything from getting a parking ticket written off to having that hideous mauve carpeting ripped up and replaced with hardwood was within reach of my fingertips, so long as I wore a dress, skipped desert, hiked around and did my hair every six weeks...how banal, how glorious. It turns out that men of a certain age who aren’t husbands actually get tired of lying fallow. They want to be needed and adored and, well, used.

In my kid in the candy store phase, I went out with several eligible bachelors (are there two more beautiful words?) and often ran to the phone like a teenager. Everyone I met was somewhat tall and fantastic and interesting enough to date and maybe even make out with. (“Everyone loves everyone for three dates,” my ex husband commented dryly from the sidelines. He always did have a way of nailing a situation.) It was justifiable and even great, that crazed beginning: I hadn’t dated for five years as I raised our son. I was making up for lost time, time I gladly lost, but time nonetheless. I had to reboot my system, and so I did. Booted the system straight up.

In the beginning, I decided not to get too attached to anyone too quickly, nor to send any good men away. Naturally, I did both at once, immediately and with extreme prejudice. I knew what I should do, but I did what I felt like doing. (Something even great men have practiced for centuries.) It was a riotous coda. Yet in time, I settled into a groove. There were two or three men I liked a lot and who liked me. Marriage was out of the question for these particular guys and me, at this stage in our lives (ever) but that was no reason to discard them.

Ninety-nine percent of these men did not meet my son. A great deal can be done in private and without anyone knowing. I don’t have to tell everyone everything, and I don’t have to marry everyone I like the smell of and who makes me laugh really hard. But there’s no reason not to keep them around. You like them, they like you. Nobody asks a lot of questions unless they want to know the truth, and you’d be surprised how few people – myself included – really want to know the truth about anyone (unless it blossoms into a genuine long term relationship. In which case all of this is moot...in fact? None of it ever happened.) I just want to be treated well, respected, kissed and hugged a lot, and taken care of in the ways that are meaningful to me. I don’t expect men to save me or be perfect.

Naturally, I don’t have to have sex with any of these guys. Match does not require this; a woman can simply date and never, ever take a lover. I don’t know why she would, but it is possible and people do. Plus, as a supposedly mature adult, one is not handing out experimental sex vouchers, charity sex or guilt sex. We’ve gotten that out of our collective system; we’re done with all altruism. We're having sex as we see fit, and probably just with one partner. Probably. Mostly. Unless of course, there is overlap, which at times – as men have known forever – can occur. It never lasts long. Like a foot cramp, it swiftly passes. Like a rainbow.

Man collecting sounds mercenary and hedonistic, but it’s not. It’s sensible and practical, like not throwing away vintage clothing or rare prints or giving away one dog because you got another one. There is rarely any real reason to let anyone go. You’re not lying; they all know there are others. Think of Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment, only a little more entitled and less frou frou; Aurora would have gathered them all at the dinner table for four sumptuous courses of soup, duck l’orange, salade with cheese, and afterward there would be cake and coffee and brandy. Aurora understood the need to have several men on call, some of them exes and some of them presents and some of them futures. And now I too have the luxury of time, something I did not have while my biological time clock boomed in my head like a massive swinging bell with a hunchback attached.

Basically, I feel - and I still believe - that if you do it right, one month of Internet dating – 30 days - should yield a lifetime supply of men. But – and this is completely essential – when I say one month, I mean 30 days of having your Match.com Profile “up” -- exposing yourself to men’s eyes -- only for 3-day long, 72 hour periods, which are then staggered once a month, for ten months. Listen. Men don’t like anything they can get any old time. You have to parse yourself out to them and then snatch yourself the fuck away. Do it properly, maintain a fighting weight, get your spa appointments, and yes –for certain – this should yield a lifetime supply of men. (Unless you’re greedy and attempt to date everyone all at once. I don’t advise greedy. Get greedy, and pink ogres and gay pixie sprites start showing up as your dates. It’s God’s way of pulling your plug. You'll know it when it happens.) I'm not saying it's worth it,or that you should do it. I'm just saying.

Eventually, I realized that I needed not an endless smorgasbord of men who all have at least one fascinating aspect. So I began to whittle it down. I kept my Profile down. Some moved, some married, they dwindled. It came down to one man, who had evolved into my best friend (!), and then none. I had come full circle, but I was bouyant, serene, and I had kept my house and all my stuff, as well.

In the end, I cancelled Match.com. I was all full up on man collecting -- and dating is super strenuous in its own MataHari way -- I had no needs left unfilled, and just about everything on my romance and fun list was, in a round of high sport and drama, checked off. I felt fulfilled and content within myself. It’s a woman’s dream come true.

I quit Match forever. But I loved it.


Because it's where the men are, until the right one comes along. The right one being the last one standing.

Therefore, I suggest that collecting men is a fantastic option. Think of them as vintage Italian pottery with wallets and hammers and spatulas. Think of them as friends, which is what men have wanted all long, right? How many men (and husbands, even) broke up with us and then asked if we could be friends? Well, that time is here; my house is now. And it needs a new pedestal sink. Now we know that as a woman I could install a new sink myself, I could hire someone, I can do it all and still juggle plates and sing American Pie. But why? Why, at this stage in life when my son is 10 and I have a break – why would I try to be a hero? I have been taking care of men and children and co-workers and friends and relatives for several consecutive decades. It’s time for a little ease, and a little fun. Why should I volunteer to go without assistance, to go without succor, to go without?

Ladies, I can’t think of a single reason.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The UK's "DAILY RECORD" Runs Erratic Excerpt of Split in its Scottish paper.. Interesting.

This is the UK / Scottish/ Australian Paperback Edition of "Split." what you see below is the extract the Scottish chose to print.

Divorce Papers
Jan 21 2009

Mum Of One Reveals The Emotional Rollercoaster Of A Journey She Made During Split From Husband
Suzanne Finnamore Turns Diary Of Her Real-Life Marriage Break-Up Into Book About Surviving Betrayal

SUZANNE Finnamore had been married for five years and had a 15-month-old son when her husband suddenly announced he wanted a divorce.

She went from happy family to single mother when he revealed he was leaving.

Then she found out he had a girlfriend, then that they had a baby on the way.

Suzanne kept a diary of the events. The book it became, Split, details - with raw pain and humour - how she recovered from the end of their relationship. Here, she calls him simply "N" and their son "A".


At 6.10 precisely, he walks through the door and kisses my cheek. He tells me I look beautiful and walks swiftly to our bedroom to change his shirt, though we have no plans that I am aware of.
And yet here it comes.
"I deserve happiness," N says. I hear him say divorce - and then the word lawyer coming at me like a javelin.
I was being informed and he was leaving at once. I realise with a wave of nausea that this is what his "happiness" meant - a euphemism for my removal.
There were signs but I ignored them. He stopped calling me during the day and went out for long lunches.
When his mobile rang he would say: "I'll call you back." He never told me who it was.
He taught me not to ask.
I found a book of poetry with the inscription "To N x Me."
N calls one night and says he still loves me as a person, as the "mother of his child".
The kiss of death. Demotion. Mothers are not always wives.
"I miss Da Da," I say to A. He hands me his dummy. He always knows what to do.
My mother tries to warn me, asking: "Is there someone else?"
I say: "No, I don't think so, he was home virtually every night and we were still having sex all the time."
She adds: "Well, if I were you, I would prepare yourself. A woman may just pop out of the closet."
At the very next full moon, A tells me that Daddy and a woman took him to the zoo. Signs matter and the most dangerous ones are those you refuse to see coming.
One day, I will have revenge. I understand that I am expected to forgive N and his girlfriend and make this so much easier and more pleasant for all concerned.
However, it's fairly simple, my state of mind. I want N dead. It comes on suddenly, a meteor of repressed anger.
One day, I hope I can stop hating A's father, but not right now. He has betrayed and abandoned me.
I have to look it full in the face and say: "I was left and it's over." Two very hard truths to swallow, but both at once? Ghastly.
I can see why my mind took this long to process it.
My brain was simply waiting for me to be strong enough to bear it, and I can.
I am not going to die. I am far too angry to die.
N has been calling all day, leaving messages about how he wants to take A to Hawaii for Christmas with Her.
"A is too young to be away from home for Christmas. He will be here with my family as usual," I tell him.
"I can make that difficult for you," N says.
"Yes, I am sure you can," I say, "but why not let A have his traditions? After all, he has lost a father this year." I hang up.
I am involved in the biggest bargaining project of all - the very final divorce settlement.
My system is that I keep sending the agreement back to N's lawyer unsigned until I get what I want. I don't have a lawyer.
Why should I pay someone pots of money for something I don't desire?
Is this love? I wonder. Divorce is love's miscarriage, bloody and shot through with loss.
We hold hands. We confide. He spends the night, something he has not done since he left.
"This will never happen again," he says, emerging from the bathroom fully groomed. His mobile is apoplectic with missed calls.
I feel good. I'm kind of winning.
Then, without preamble, N announces that his girlfriend is pregnant. The news hits me like a blast of warm but potentially dangerous air.
I think about what this means. He is 52 and already has one toddler he cannot fully take care of, seemingly.
And I do something that is very unexpected, given my historical preference for tears - I laugh and laugh.
I want the prancing, ugly legalities done.
I grow tired of limbo. I intend to triumph in whatever way possible in such a banal and common situation where I get dumped like a sack of flour.
When I need him, he comes. Yet I notice I am always glad to see him leave.
In a just world, there would be a place where love and marriage go to die. There ought to be a body you can bury. One could visit the grave.
Instead, I am faced with an acidic sense of loss. Grief engulfs me. For the first time in my life, I feel truly spent and uncertain of the future.
Nothing can be done, I know. That desired, mutually conceived baby of theirs is coming. They're coming, three of them.
Now we're going, we're just two left over.
One night, I find a photograph where his whole face emanated an intense and gentle love.
He hasn't looked at me that way in years.
I am seeing a ghost, yet a person who is still alive and available in this fashion to someone else.
I go down to the cellar in search of other photographs, editing our entire marriage down to one box, a small box of memories and the wedding album for A. I drag the rest upstairs and begin to burn them.
I use our marriage certificate for the foundation and put his love letters on top.
All untrue. All trash. All burned into ash.
I gently dismantle my carefully dried wedding bouquet and drop the flowers, piece by piece, on to the blaze.
I walk down the street and realise I can smell leaves again. A simple contentment, not happiness, but a lack of suffering.
N has somehow missed our boat but it's all right for A, now three years old, and me.
It is enough.
N has a new family now and there is no going back for us, even if we wanted to.
N may have a deficient moral sensibility, but most people do.
I am leaving one life and beginning another, trying to take all the good, only that. Becoming whole again, even if some parts are maimed.
N brought firewood up from the cellar and fixed a few things round the house.
Divorce has its upside.
I miss his capabilities when he is unavailable. But those capabilities slew the marriage - as in, capable of anything.
But we are at ease with each other.
We have had an ugly divorce and I can still become angry with him, yet i can't hold onto the grudge for long. I muse on how difficult it is to completely, emotionally and psychically un-marry ... even with divorce ... especially with a child.
Despite the death of the marriage, ours is a blood bond: tenuous, but for life.


Friday, January 2, 2009

I Saw Mark Strand Read When I Was 19. Later Came His Pulitzer.

What To Think Of

Think of the jungle,The green stream rising.
It is yours.You are the prince of Paraguay.
Your minions kneel
Deep in the shade of giant leaves
While you drive by
Benevolent as gold. They kiss the air
That moments before
Swept over your skin,
And rise only after you’ve passed.
Think of yourself, almost a god,
Your hair on fire,
The bellows of your heart pumping.
Think of the bats
Rushing out of their caves
Like a dark wind to greet you;
Of the vast nocturnal cities
Of lightning bugs
Floating down
From Minas Gerais;
Of the coral snakes;
Of the crimson birds
With emerald beaks;
Of the tons and tons of morpho butterflies
Filling the air
Like the cold confetti of paradise

—Mark Strand


Men are running across a field,
pens fall from their pockets.
People out walking will pick them up.
It is one of the ways letters are written.
How things fall to others!
The self no longer belonging to me, but asleep
in a stranger’s shadow, now clothing
the stranger, now leading him off.
It is noon as I write to you.
Someone’s life has come into my hands.
The sun whitens the buildings.
It is all I have. I give it all to you. Yours,

--Mark Strand


The professors of English have taken their gowns
to the laundry, have taken themselves to the fields.
Dreams of motion circle the Persian rug in a room you were in.
On the beach the sadness of gramophones
deepens the ocean’s folding and falling.
It is yesterday. It is still yesterday.

– Mark Strand