Brush With a Famous Writer

By Ann Conway

airportI was walking down a concourse in the Philly airport when I looked up to see the Famous Writer staring down at me. Actually at first glance I was sure I was looking at the British actor, Bill Nighy. But it was not. It was him, a well-known literary writer who had moved to Maine ten years ago.

I was stunned, but kept on walking to the food court, where I ate a seven-dollar hot dog and thought about the writer. It was strange to see someone famous, especially someone from Maine. I was already back there in my mind, feeling safe with all the stolid types waiting at the nearby gate.

I knew he traveled far and wide; his writing was all about looking for something—the American soul? About this, I was not sure. But I knew the search was his concern.

I had considerations about him. I had last seen him at a reading I attended years before when I lived in Portland. Perhaps that was how he remembered me, although the reading was full of other middle-aged women. Later I read one of his short stories, in which he remarked, “Women who go to lectures always want something.” [Read more...]

Watchmen and Dr. Manhattan’s Miracles

I came late to the DC Comic’s collected Watchmen, the groundbreaking graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I backed into it really, watched the movie first with my sons. Though I tell them it’s usually best to read the book first, it seemed okay in this instance to watch the movie because it’s based on comic books. Of course the word comic is not a good description of what we get.

Watchmen is the story of a retired group of masked avengers who are being murdered one by one. The setting is an alternate United States in which Nixon remained president, won reelection, and crushed the North Vietnamese army, and is now changing the laws so that he can remain president indefinitely. Also, Nixon’s finger is itchy to nuke the Russians.

First published in the late eighties, the specter of the mutually assured destruction of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., and basically the total nuclear annihilation of the world hangs heavy over this dark story. In that sense it is dated, but it is still a great read.   [Read more...]