The Kindle Version of My Novel, “Amends,” Now Available: Mysticism, Sleaze, Good Times and Bad Advice

You can purchase it (or the paperback, if you prefer books for mammals):A month in rehab would be stressful enough without a television audience. When the ramshackle cast checks in for "Amends," a new reality series about alcoholism and recovery, they don't know if they've been cast as villains or potential redemption arcs. Over the course of the show they learn what God sees when he shuts his eyes, how to appreciate the comforts of hallucination, and what it looks like when a wolf fights a … [Read more...]

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“Amends,” My Novel About Reality-TV Rehab, Is Available in Paperback

now! A month in rehab would be stressful enough without a television audience. When the ramshackle cast checks in for "Amends," a new reality series about alcoholism and recovery, they don't know if they've been cast as villains or potential redemption arcs. Over the course of the show they learn what God sees when he shuts his eyes, how to appreciate the comforts of hallucination, and what it looks like when a wolf fights a troll. A conservative journalist woos a homeless Ethiopian visionary. … [Read more...]

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From David Foster Wallace, “The Pale King”

This remains largely theory, but my best guess as to [my dad’s] never dispensing wisdom like other dads is that my father understood that advice — even wise advice — actually does nothing for the advisee, changes nothing inside, and can actually cause confusion when the advisee is made to feel the wide gap between the comparative simplicity of the advice and the totally muddled complication of his own situation and path. I’m not putting this very well. If you begin to get the idea that other peop … [Read more...]

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The Proper Basis for a Friendship is a Mutual Misunderstanding: Iris Murdoch’s “The Book and the Brotherhood”

The setup for The Book and the Brotherhood seems like one of those survivor's-guilt campus novels I love. Back at Oxford a group of idealistic young Marxists came together and agreed to pay for one of their number, Crimond, to write a book which would change the world. They'd support him for however long it took to compose this thing.But it took years. The rose-lip't lad of the group died, as such lads often do, and the survivors mostly drifted away from actual Marxism into (even) more … [Read more...]

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Take the Guns, Leave the Cannoli–Unless the Cannoli Is What You Need!

I'm a compulsive giver of advice. Despite my demonstrable lack of ability to run my own life like a person, I appear to believe that I could do well running yours. Now and then my friends have to basically say, "That's great and all, stop helping." I have the stereotypical guy thing where the wife just wants to be heard and commiserated with, and the husband insists on trying to solve the problem.Because of this, which I'm trying to present cutely but which can really become a character … [Read more...]

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“Advice for Couples: Give Less Advice”: WSJ

Here's a feature article on one of my many obsessions. And yes, I hate "studies have found" too, but much of this rings true. I wish they'd elaborated more on the problems with simply recasting advice as, "When something similar happened to me, I..." storytelling. I've found that people giving advice on how to give advice typically think that will "work," but in practice it often causes offense (how dare you suggest that my occasional extra Snickers bar is like your drinking problem?!--not a … [Read more...]

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From “Middlemarch”

And now within all the automatic succession of theoretic phrases--distinct and inmost as the shiver and the ache of oncoming fever when we are discussing abstract pain--was the forecast of disgrace in the presence of his neighbours and of his own wife. For the pain, as well as the public estimate of disgrace, depends on the amount of previous profession. To men who only aim at escaping felony, nothing short of the prisoner's dock is disgrace. But Mr. Bulstrode had aimed at being an eminent … [Read more...]

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