Every Day Is Independents Day

Faulkner at Rowan Oaks.  Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson

Faulkner at Rowan Oak. Photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson

I unqualifiedly and unabashedly love independent bookstores.  I’m fortunate enough to live in an area where I have three to choose from, including my hometown store, The Regulator Bookshop (and honestly, there is no reason not to order a book online from a local store – you’ll get it the same way you’d get it from a giant retailer).  I’m one of those non-famous writers who has been greatly supported by independents from the very beginning of my career, so I owe them all a debt of gratitude.  Really, I’ve been supported by booksellers, including at the two major chains, so thanks to them as well, especially for handselling those books of mine that fell under the radar . . . by which I mean all but the first one.

My heart belongs to Durham, of course, until I’m on a book tour, and then I’m all Haven Fickle Pants.  You know how I feel about Books & Books in Florida, and in the comments I mentioned the amazing gift I was given by Liz at Big Hat Books in Indianapolis.  But if the Regulator has any real competition for my abiding affection, it’s from Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi.  Oxford, Mississippi:  that should be all I have to say.  It’s the home of F**lkn*r, Rowan Oak.  You can take a tour through the house and see, as if he were still sitting there, where he wrote notes on the wall for Light in August.  My heart skipped a beat the first time I saw his handwriting.  Here is his typewriter, also very moving to behold:

Oxford is the home of Ole Miss (I do know what happened there during the Civil Rights movement and it was gruesome – I’m just talking about the present, here) (Dylan has a great song about those events called “Oxford Town”), and is the hometown or birthplace of Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Elizabeth Spencer, John Grisham, Willie Morris, someone named Augustus Baldwin Longstreet, for a time the great Randall Kenan, and many others.  Jimmy Buffet is NOT from there – a common mistake! – but from Pascagoula.  One of my best students, Joel, earned his undergraduate degree at Ole Miss.  A friend who lives there, Ron Shapiro, once ran for public office with the slogan:  THROW THE RASCALS IN.  [Ed. note:  Ron, Haven received one of your campaign posters, thank you.  She tried to scan it but doesn’t know how.  Will work on it.] The store is in Mississippi, one of my three favorite states in the country.  

Square Books was opened thirty years ago by Richard and Lisa Howorth (Lisa is another Oxford writer).  Richard is a former president of the American Booksellers Association, a diehard friend of the First Amendment, and served two terms as Mayor of Oxford.  The store hosts a weekly radio show, featuring writers and musicians, called Thacker Mountain Radio.  It’s broadcast on Mississippi Public Radio and draws (literally) hundreds of people each week.  Lyn Roberts, who seems to manage everything at once – including the store, UNRULY authors, the radio show, my dinner – knows as much about books as anyone I’ve ever met.  Frankly, I love her. 

After my reading in Oxford a couple weeks ago I was talking to Richard and Lyn and mentioned I was thinking of getting a varmint gun.  Richard asked me why and I said because as soon as I bring the dogs in (on a number of afternoons) I’ve seen a rat mosey across the backyard.  It just . . . strolls.  Once in a while it hops.  The situation is untenable.  Having a rat that close to my house and my children is like having a shark in the bathtub, and forgive me, any Buddhists reading this, but one of us is going to have to go and I am much, much taller than the rodent.  I win this one.  Look at this monstrosity:

That one I took with my special night-vision goggles.  Here is one where I risked life and limb using the flash:


God above.  And then that rat, or another very similar to it, got in the barnyard and completely terrorized everyone, including my sister who continues to have her back to us.  She is wearing the yellow vinyl trousers.  As you can see, one goose and one pig are both down. 


Again, acting as a conservationist and friend to nature, I got extremely close to the dangerous animal:


So after I got home from that set of travels – I have more coming up, alas – I opened a letter with a strange return address, and discovered that Square Books in Oxford had given me a year’s membership in THE VARMINT HUNTER’S ASSOCIATION!  It’s totally official and comes with these special gifts, in addition to a magazine!

That’s my badge!  Oh, if I only still had my Mickey Mouse Club corduroy jacket, can you imagine how the two would look together?  Of course that jacket would fit my baby, but he would look great wearing this accessory.  I also got a card to carry in my wallet; I assume it’s what I show the police when they drop by to see why I’m firing my varmint gun within the city limits.  It’s like a FREE PASS.

Do you see my name on it?  There are many reasons to support your local independent bookseller – the staff, the stock, the years of experience and the genuine love of literature – but what you see above is the best I can think of.  The independents take a person like me seriously.  Booksellers and my dogs.  Aaaand that’s about it.  Thank you, thank you Robert and Lyn, for doubling the list with one graceful gesture.

Also?  When rodents invade your barnyard and study, why is it never THIS kind?

Published in: on September 18, 2008 at 11:38 pm  Comments (231)  


  1. That completely kicks ass…I want one!

    I was just thinking how nice that would look on my old brownie sash when you mentioned your Micky Mouse jacket.

    Is this where everyone gets to tell stories about getting attacked by rodents? Because once I almost SAT ON A DEAD RAT while waiting for the bus, and only my mother’s scream saved me.

    I stayed in my grandfather’s house once when it had been vacant for several weeks (he keeps a summer cottage) and while I was sleeping I heard a noise and oh hell to the no but oh yes…I turned the light on and a bat was CIRCLING MY BED. And being the incredible woman of strength and fortitude that I am I ran out of the room screaming and being the awesome mother I am I LEFT MY BABY ON THE BED.

    We decided I would sleep on the couch and wouldn’t you know it, a few minutes later A SECOND BAT or perhaps the same one flew down the stairs and started circling me again. My dad chased it into the kitchen and my mom and I made him sleep on the couch because I wasn’t going to have my baby turned into a vampire, oh no!

  2. And oh yes, as far as I know there are no independent bookstores in Evansville. Seriously, doesn’t that make you cringe? Oh wait…I checked, there are independent pornography stores…does that count?

  3. A SECOND BAT or perhaps the same one.


  4. Independent bookstore, independent pornography, it’s all the same First Amendment, I reckon.

  5. OMG! I love the last picture with the mustaches!

    I miss hanging out with everyone at the Regulator and Quail Ridge and McIntyre’s. I first heard your John sing at the Regulator. It was a Who song. And Randall Kenan was so funny on the Killing the Buddha Tour getting nuculah with JEE-zuss I almost had to have my lungs artificially reinflated. Good times.

  6. JohnM, come back! Come back!

  7. I knew you were gonna say that.

    I’m teaching all online courses next semester, so maybe I can skip the ridiculous winter here and do it remotely. I won’t stay at your house – too much taxidermy!

  8. So, the taxidermy thing is real. I’ve been waiting for more information, but I guess I have to ask. Do you do the work yourself or simply collect it?

  9. Jamie, is there such a thing as pretend taxidermy?

    I have changed my avatar again. It should appear soon.

  10. JohnM.! Winter in the Carolinas!

  11. Or. . . are they heirlooms?

  12. Ok, Haven, if you ever want to write a book where the protagonist is a taxidermist I will PAY for your correspondence course. As my Aunt Jane says “It’s ok, I’m working now.”

  13. Sorry, I meant real as in not a joke. And the question had already been answered in the post about taking the bunny on tour, now that I think about it. Anyway, I recognized it as a thing folks who know you personally understood and I’ve just been kind of waiting to get it.

  14. Question for the audience: Does one have to have a WordPress blog to have dominion over their avatar?

  15. Jamie, no one really gets it. Wait, is that right? Mom, you get it, don’t you?

  16. Kate, A TAXIDERMY PROTAGONIST. Good. Also a taxidermied protagonist: fascinating. I love this idea.

    How does one change one’s avatar? I have no clue. I mean, I can change my own because I special privileges here. I would change yours, Jamie, but whew, that seems sort of fascist.

  17. Yeah…I have a wordpress account that I never use anymore because I have my own domain name now but I sign into it just so I don’t have to be a quilt block. Such an elitist!

    Did you ever read that short story…I think it was in an Alfred Hitchcock Presents anthology about the funeral director who switched out bodies so he could have a perfectly preserved family scene in his basement??

    ps I get the taxidermy thing. I think.

  18. Good HEAVENS about that short story. I have NO taxidermied family members. Although the Daughter and I are in agreement that when the dark day arrives and Iorek passes over, twenty or thirty years from now, we should definitely have him stuffed. He doesn’t move much as it is.

  19. So, I’m not the only one who went from taxidermy to horror? I immediately thought of Psycho, which my husband re-watched recently. It’s a shame to think of it that way, as museums are improved mightily by the craft. Hmm. But, to back up a bit, PRETEND taxidermy is such an excellent concept! Dragons, chimeras, any kind of mythical creature, done up as realistically as possible, mounted like an ordinary specimen. . . been done I suppose, but how well?

    And by the way, best answer for kids who want to know if dragons or unicorns are real: Of course they are! There’s no fossil record because they are immortal and no death=no fossils. Also, if slain by do-gooders like St. George, they turn to dust like vampires, and again, no fossils.

  20. My favorite piece of pretend taxidermy:

  21. Nice one, Kate!

  22. Wow. Wow, a mermaid.

    Jamie, that’s the second reference to vampires in this post. Fascinating. And in terms of getting it? If my SISTER should happen to chime in on the subject, just ignore her. She wasn’t so brave there in the barnyard, was she? If she’d put up a little bit more of a fight, we’d still have that goose. Not to mention the pig.

  23. Okay, wait. Wouldn’t a vampire provide excellent assistance in taxidermy-ing your protagonist? What is the verb for that, anyway? And, if anyone could make vampire stories wonderful and new, you sure could.

    Sisters reveal so much even as they exaggerate and switch blame, don’t they? It’s usually hilarious at any rate. Bring it on, Melinda!

  24. Ha! Melinda, Jamie is kidding about bringing it on. Isn’t your throat sore, and aren’t your typing fingers rather tender from hauling about buckets of feed and whatnot? I’m certain you need a nap.

  25. NEW AVATAR! That’s a hat Tim gave me on my (The Used) World Tour. It’s a Jack Skellington cap.

    Hey, skellingtons, taxidermy — there’s a pattern here.

  26. Must dash! Have to look up skellingtons…

  27. That’s me, Jamie. I did the wordpress thing and now my name is my username. Ew.

  28. Okay, I see the taxidermy/skellingtons connection, but is it a coincidence about the band from NC? Marvelous.

  29. Yay for Jack Skellington…my boys are really into this movie right now. They have such great taste!

    I made a baby shower cake for my friend Rebecca…red velvet, trimmed in black tulle held with Halloween spider rings, and on the top, black prams holding tiny Jack Skellington babies that I made out of fimo dough. Her husband worried about his grandmother freaking out and switched the babies out for Care Bears, but left the spiders. That was a weird cake.

  30. Ah! Tim Burton! I wish we could enlarge the avatar photo. I would have gotten it instantly. It’s been years since I saw Nightmare . . . back when I actually worked at a video store and had to promote it. Much easier to sell than Pocahontas, I must say.

  31. Kate, you completely own this conversation.

    Jamie — a Converse high top? NICE. Which band from NC?

  32. Haven, when I googled Skellingtons I got this: http://www.myspace.com/skellingtons.

  33. *blushes profusely and curls up like an armadillo*

  34. Oh, and Converse high tops were my uniform as a young rebel. They were my ALL-PURPOSE SHOES and I wore them everywhere, for every occasion, including graduation. My family was very understanding.

  35. Kate, is it true armadillos can wait several months past their due date to give birth if they don’t feel safe. My sister says that makes it her favorite beast. If humans could do that I’d be carrying around a four year old fetus about now . . . they never talk back or flood the bathroom.

  36. If I could change one thing about my wedding, I would have my husband wear his chucks, and also a tuxedo t-shirt instead of a tuxedo. I might do that for our 10th anniversary where we renew our vows in an Elvis chapel.

    I don’t wear them myself, because I have 4 other people to keep outfitted in chucks and MERCY have they gotten pricey. I got my boys some at Gordman’s for $7…that was one of my most triumphant moments.

  37. Jack Skellington is my fave. He’s tattooed on my left leg. He adorns my den. He rules. The Skelly hat seemed so Haven. And H? I’d love, love, love a copy of that photo!

    Hi Melinda, wherever you are.

    Kate, the cake sounds fabulous.

    Haven, speaking of taxidermy, how is the baby baboon holding up?

  38. Hmm, I had not heard that, but now I am considering that I might be part armadillo. My second child was 16 days overdue. My belly looked like a torpedo.

  39. Kate, I no longer wear all-purpose shoes either. I need more support than they provide and, don’t they just eat your little toes? Breaking those shoes in made me cry.

  40. Man, I don’t even remember, it’s been so long since I had a pair. It was a sad, strange day I started looking for shoes with “support.”

    I need a bite of red velvet dead baby cake right now!

  41. I do believe you are speaking of Cletus, TT. He can be threatening (see blog post: Varmint Problem), he can eat small bananas. Many are alarmed by him. He continues to be my favorite in the barnyard, because he was my first primate. However, when Melinda last stayed here I had to hide him.


    I have acquired a particular . . . specimen that is so large we’re having a difficult time finding anyone who will ship it to me. That’s all I’ll say for now, but if I can ever get it across the country and into my barn WHAT A BLOG THAT SHALL BE. He’s too tall for my study — as he is now he’d hit the ceiling — so Scott suggested that John ‘lower the floor.’ That’s thinking is what that is.

  43. Cletus is just a little guy, right? What gives? Is he Scary? Is he so adorable she might steal him?

  44. Ok…I’ll bite…did you outbid Michael Jackson on the Elephant Man?

    He’s the size of an elephant…right?

  45. You’re trying to get a taxidermied (again, what’s the verb?) Sasquatch shipped to your barn?

  46. Oh, wait, that’s Pretend Taxidermy again. Sorry.

  47. News flash! It was a rubber gorilla suit, frozen in a block of ice.

    I know, I was disappointed too.

  48. I understand the alarm. I am fearful of primates in general, and Cletus in particular. I’ve seen enough movies on the Sci-Fi Channel about zombie primates and the like. Lipstick and a snappy frock do NOT make them any more attractive. And they always eat the bananas from their Carmen Miranda party hats. Unsavory beasts.

    To the Varmint Problem entry I go…

  49. Cletus is very small. Melinda has issues, clearly. Let us just say that the art of taxidermy was not as advanced 175 years ago. It may have been in Egypt, but not wherever this fella came from.

    An elephant or The Elephant Man are SO FABULOUS as guesses. But no.

  50. Where is my other Timmy? He’s the person who taught me that if you’re trying to be funny, put a monkey in human clothing and you’re halfway there.

  51. giraffe? bear? wilt chamberlain?

  52. Who the heck puts a rubber gorilla suit anywhere it might freeze?!? Do you know what that does to rubber? It’s just so careless.

  53. TT — no, no, and he’s still alive. So that would be less like natural history and more like a date.

  54. He’s correct. A Human in Monkey Clothing is also excellent. I have a correction…for my vow renewal I would like my husband to wear a gorilla suit and a bow tie.

    And Haven, we totally had that Zippy the Chimp doll with the molded banana, not only at my grandmother’s house but also in the church nursery. I would kill to find out where that thing ended up.

    Grandma also had the book with the birthday party…I am going to find it and sneak it out of her house before it turns to dust.

  55. Where is George Stuteville? I have to go to bed soon. Is he out sitting in the car again?

  56. There is no better monkey than the Zippy. Any animal that comes with its own food is the berries, as far as I’m concerned.

  57. Honey, Wilt the Stilt died 10/12/1999. Good heavens. We need to work on your useless sports trivia datafile.

  58. My husband just said “Why don’t you wear a gorilla suit?”

    Um no, I’m too SHORT.

  59. WILT CHAMBERLAIN IS DEAD? I can’t date him, then. I have to draw the line there.

  60. Kate, you can’t wear the gorilla suit! No one could see your excellent lipstick!

  61. EXACTLY.

    I’ll be Fay Wray…that dulcet, delicate thing…

  62. I’m hearing Warren Zevon singing “Gorilla You’re a Desperado” off in the distance.

  63. Speaking of taxidermy and Zip the Chimp…I hope this link works:


  64. “… that delicate, satin draped fra-hay-hame!
    As it clung to her thigh, how I started to cry-i-hi!
    ‘Cause I wanted to be just, just the sa-ame!”


  65. You totally get Cletus, Tim.

    Kate, when I first saw the King Kong remake with Jessica Lange in your role? I had the most tremendous crush on the ape. With that, I’ll just be taking myself off to prison.

    When George arrives (and where is Susan Cushman? Where is Linda? Whence Jodi? And others?) tell him I shall return in the morning.

  66. I’m also off to bed, and it’s not even 11:00 out here in the Wild West. Sleep tight, all of ya.


  67. I’ll be going to bed as soon as my husband finishes making his virtual band on ROCK BAND. I should be working, I have horrible data entry to do, but nay.

    Oh Haven, yeah, I have a bit of a fetish for Apes myself. Fatz the Gorilla at Show Biz Pizza? Yes. He rocked the gold lame jacket nicely.

    I once found an original animatronic Fatz on ebay, and boy if I’d had $2,000 to waste then I’d have a debonair yet scary gorilla in my living room instead of that chair from Goodwill (but I do love that chair.)

  68. OKAY.OKAY. I COMPLETELY LOST MY SHIT with the pictures on this post. is it only me, but i think Haven is GENIUS WITH MINIATURES. i mean, i was ROARING like a lion with laughter. my son pablo knocked softly on my bedroom door and said ARE YOU ALL RIGHT, MOM? and i couldn;t stop laughing so i just sort of choked out what i always say, which is, I’LL BE OUT IN A MINUTE. but i never am. ut in a minute. because everything takes longer than a minute, and if it doesn, perhaps it ought.

    BUT BUT BUT? Kate, A TAXIDERMY PROTAGONIST for the next haven kimmel novel? YES. (standing up with both my arms held straight in the form of a high V) YES. i myself suggested to Haven that she write a noveland call it The Taxidermist. and i am so not kidding. because it would fucking ROCK. i see it as very funny but also dark black. actually all i see is the title, but i know that anything haven feels deeply about (stuffed animals) she came bring CRACKLING to life. and i am serious. and i hope she does that. but NOT TONIGHT, HAVEN.

    people,haven can write a book in a month. do you know that? she can write several books ayear, a fact i may have mentioned a dozen or so times because i find it the equivelentof somoene having several babies a year, ONE AT A TIME. she is just…well, haven is a SHOOTING star.

    and yes to faulkner. may i admit that i have not read a single faulkner book? well i’m telling you, i have not. i hang my head and scrabble for purchase on something like an excuse…

  69. oh. ‘Scott suggested to John that he lower the floor.”

    you know, i just don;t think it gets any better than that. and i suspicion that John is right now devising a way to actually LOWER THE FLOOR. which makes me very pleased, very satisfied. ALL HAIL JOHN. HE SERVETH THE QUEEN,LET US ALL HAIL HIM.

  70. Ooh…read “A Rose for Emily.” It’s a short story, and the topic of the story flows perfectly with the subjects at hand…I won’t reveal anymore…

    Speaking of tremendous output…I was talkin’ bout Haven on Twitter and this girl I know googled her name and said she probably wasn’t a good writer because she writes TOO MUCH. THEM’S FIGHTIN WORDS. It was the stupidest thing I have ever heard it my life. We had quite the twitterfight, I tell ya.

  71. and i agree with haven: “a second rat, or perhaps the first one again..”? perfect. divine. i was THERE. uproarious, and so tight.


  72. Oh, Pshaw!

    *why am I not in bed???*

  73. oh yes.it can;t be any good if it happens too frequently. um, sorry. SORRY.WRONG FUCKING ANSWER. i hope you dealt with that mongoloid slattern quite severely, miss cake.

  74. well i for one AM in bed. it’s where i live. ask anyone.

    twain wrote in bed. colette wrote in bed. augusten writes in bed. i TYPE in bed.i type and i blog and i purchase marvelous items, some of them very reasonably priced, a bargain on ebay, a coup on overstock.com. so? s’cool. in fact it’s practically NOBLE.

    because as i once said to haven: “THOSE ALSO SERVE WHO SIT ON THEIR ASS AND DO NOTHING.”

  75. For me, I have to do it in the recliner, because it has very nice, wide arms. But if I got a simulatory bed pillow then maybe…

  76. Good lord, that sounded extremely dirty.

  77. it sounded positively lewd.my god, miss cake. REMEMBER YO’SELF

  78. I came on at 4:30 a.m. and sw tere was a new Haven post got all excited, thinking maybe I got in on the early end of the discuassion since Haven posted this at 10:38 p.m., and lo and behold you already have 77 comments. How to keep up wth it all?

    I miss Cletus. Does he get together with dead white bunny and vicious wild rat for play?

  79. Haven,

    You’re not famous? Who knew? 🙂

    My favorite independent bookstore makes me think I’m their only customer. They are so good to me, and they always give me a discount for absolutely no reason.

    I saw that taxidermy the pet dog thing in a movie once. Thinking, thinking, I can’t remember. I know I’ll remember it eventually. Probably, when I take my nap later.

  80. Good morning. First question- do the great writers all write in the middle of the night? I was fast asleep. My sweet dear son, Sam, has mono and it is exhausting me to see him in pain. Mental as well as physical pain. I think he believes he will not be able to get near a girl for six months. More on the later. Sorry for the hijack.

    When I started reading this post, Haven, I thought you were going to write about Independent voters. LOL How silly. We are all Obama supporters here, yes? But then I was reading it as my daughter, Emma, was reading the Get Fuzzy comic to me from the kitchen. Do you have that in your paper? It is her favorite. She reads it to me every morning. The smoking ferret has been visiting this week. Ferret! Ha. And, your rat looks like one of the guinea pigs we had when my kids dad and I got divorced 11 years ago. Long story, but suffice it to say I have a love/hate relationship with guinea pigs. We had two. One looked like your rat and was very sweet. The other, while also sweet, was jet black and so of course we called him Midnight. Somehow Midnight got an abscess (sp?) in one eye. It was horrible. Guinea pigs are too big to just let die (like mice or hamsters…sorry…) they are almost like small cats. So, I spent $50 (and remember, this was 11 years ago, I was then a single mom of two youngsters so money was kind of tight) yes $50 – to have the eye removed. And then one week later Midnight was dead. Death did come. Oh, now I am thinking of Suzanne’s blog. Which by the way is lovely. Well, I am hungry. My daughter is playing her mandolin in her bedroom. Pretty. I need to check on my sick boy before I guiltily (is that a word?) go off to work. Love you guys and gals.

  81. I love, Love, LOVE the taxidermy! Idea for a new children’s book: instead of using illustrations it can feature photos of your taxidermy collection. The Ermine should be the hero of course. Why? Because he’s my favorite thus far. Also, in case you’re interested in joining here is a link to the National Taxidermists Association. http://www.nationaltaxidermists.com/

    Odd. During my nursing days I could easily deal with blood, bile and exposed internal organs – literally – but I don’t think I could deal with gutting an animal. Why? I guess I like animals more than people.

    Linda – I, too, was fast asleep when this was posted. Sadness. I guess we need an alarm system to notify us immediately when there is a new post.

  82. Oh, I forgot to comment on independents! If any of y’all ever find yourself in Columbus, OH you simply must, MUST, swing by the Book Loft in German Village. 32 rooms of floor-to-ceiling books. I’m thankful that my house is only a few blocks away since I’m not so much a fan of chains or big box stores. http://www.bookloft.com/

    This makes me think of my irrational fear of libraries. Mind you my partner is a librarian and so are a number of friends [note: they do not currently work in libraries but for closely associated businesses]. I would rather buy the book than step foot in a library. I think it has something to do with a childhood incident involving a mustachieod, mole-faced, ancient female librarian and being in the “incorrect” section.

  83. Okay, it’s true — I am under the spell of Haven and The Blog. Here’s proof, witch’s honor this is true and happening NOW: I brought the new, 15th anniversary DVD of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” to school THIS MORNING for the kids to watch — which they are doing AT THIS MOMENT — and I open the blog for the first time since 10pm last night … and here you are, talking of Jack Skellington.

    To celebrate the anniversary of our first date together to the opening of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in October of 1993, my husband Jody (yep, we’ve got the same first — and last! — names) brought me the gift of the 15th anniversary edition of this movie just a few weeks ago.

    Haven, dear, please tell me none of those taxidermied specimens have PINS in them, because if they do I will fear that this is some HOO-DOO you’re working here, girl, and not just friendly witchery.

  84. Ohhhh, I LOVE the Book Loft. I’d live in a broom closet there if they’d let me. I lived in Columbus for bit and the Book Loft was one of my favorite places to go. I’ve not been there in forever it seems. It would be worth the drive just to go there and wander through the books.

  85. Regarding:(Dylan has a great song about those events called “Oxford Town”) in today’s brilliant blog …

    While temping in Manhattan years ago as a receptionist at a small ad agency, I took a phone call in which the caller asked for the head of the agency. Telling The Mumbling Caller that she was not available, he mumbled something more. I said, “I’m sorry. Could you please SPELL your name for me?” Mumbler: “mB – Ohm – mB. nD – Y – L – A – mN.” I wrote it down, along with his phone number, and did not realize who I’d spoken with until the agency head returned and I reviewed her messages for her. Which was when I said, “Ummm .. uh … was that …?” and she laughed and said, “Yeah. Friend of mine.” He talks like he sings.

  86. How does it happen that one such as Tim was awake at 2:00 this morning and also at 8:33? Even I was asleep at some point.

    Kate, my middle child, my 12-year-old son, LOVES the band the Gorillaz. This would be the same son, who, a few days ago, was standing next to me when I opened a package from China. I looked inside and said, “Oh dear. The Chinese aren’t so skilled as taxidermists.” O. said nothing. I took out the two . . . examples and said, “Why don’t you just keep these in your room.” O. backed away from me, palms out, and said, “I don’t want your dead poultry.”

    Columbus! I’m greatly fond of Columbus!

    Seriously, where is George? Somebody needs to head over and check on him. Does he have his own blog?

  87. I am now in the office – at work – but of course I don’t work yet because I need coffee and to read a little bit more. I beat everyone else in by a good hour and a half so I deserve it (I justify to myself)

    Anyhoo- look what I found on Salon.com to which I have an e-subscription (or e-addiction?) :
    How to Evict a Squirrel (A Drama in 3 Parts)
    I wondered, is the Jodi writer of this the Jodi on this blog? Probably not, I enjoyed it.

  88. Hmmmm, Linda, I don’t know how to take your final comment: “I wondered, is the Jodi writer of this the Jodi on this blog? Probably not, I enjoyed it.”

  89. Linda, O. and I had a hamster a couple years ago. I was crazy about her, and built elaborate habitrails for her. She got sick and I drove her to an Unusual Animal vet in Raleigh. The hamster was in her travel box, in which she had also gone to the beach with me the previous summer. I said to the vet, “I don’t care what it costs, just make her better. And oh, when you take her out of her clear plastic suitcase, you will note she has testicles. I’ve only recently discovered themself, but SHE IS A GIRL.” The vet said she understood, and only used the feminine pronoun.

    I gave the little thing antibiotics for a week through an eyedropper, but as with the ferret . . . let us close the curtain on those events.

  90. I was up at six to get Chris off to school. He doesn’t have to leave until 7:25, but my God, all of the prep to make himself presentable at the high school/fashion show/hairstyle event that some still refer to as “school.” He’s just in it for the chicks, man.

    I am surprisingly alert, having fixed myself an omelet without bodily injury or setting anything on fire.

    Jeez, I really should be working…

    RE: dead poultry. Reminds me of a song entitled “Ghost Chickens in the Sky.” By Tim Cavanaugh I think. There is a Colonel Sanders reference of course.

  91. Oh. Now I remember…. It’s ‘Hotel New Hampshire’. You know, John Irving.

  92. Particles — I’ve been sitting here trying to remember. It’s been a long time since I read that book. Also all Irving books got replaced with A Prayer For Owen Meany;
    it erased everything that came before it. God. Great novel.

    TT, so funny to hear you talk this way about Chris, Mr. Hottest Dude at Tri-High.

  93. H, I never took 90 minutes to get ready for anything. Well, maybe my grandmother’s funeral. But that was because of the damn tie. Men who do not regularly wear ties should NEVER be expected to wear one. There should be a law. I’m just saying.

    I’ll have to send you his tennis team photo. He’s looking very grown up. It’s frightening.

  94. Mississippi one of your top favorite states Haven? I used to lump it together with the other kudzu-eaten sweating states of the south until the summer of 2007.

    Our drum corps tour took us to the town of Tupelo. IT also happened to be the destination of our laundry day finally(you only get a laundry day every two weeks on tour.) Our laundry location was stinking hot, to say the least, and in the middle of nowhere. We all adventured down the street in the middle of the night like young adults always would and discovered a restaurant that was closing. As we ran to the door a young blond guy re-opened the door and said “Wait,” we all paused as if about to receive a scolding “are YA’LL with the drum corps?” We smiled gave an affirmative and went inside.

    We told the guy stories and he gave us free drinks. Southern hospitality one may say. But it definitely changed my opinions of the M i ss i ss double p i.

    My top favorite state though would have to be North Carolina, for certain =D


  95. A Prayer for Owen Meany is at the top of my all time favorites list.

    I’m glad they changed the name of the movie to Simon Birch to take away, a least, some of the association. I could never understand why they changed the plot of the movie so much.

    Did you happen to catch my commentary on The Solace of Leaving Early?


  96. Particles — thank you, truly. I left a comment on your blog.

    Sam S., indeed, Mississippi is an amazing place. Even the word Tupelo makes me happy. But North Carolina: paradise.

    Tim, you didn’t HAVE to spend 90 minutes getting ready. Good lord.

  97. Jodi- oh- no – that wasn’t meant in a good or bad way. I guess I was thinking wouldn’t it just be so funny that this funny piece by a woman named Jodi was written by Haven’s Jodi – but (and I am sorry- perhaps some of your other posts would tell me this) but I am not sure you are a girl or a guy Jodi. Oh my, I am getting myself into hot water here, but all this to say- Jodi on openSalon’s squirrel piece was funny, and you, Jodi of Haven’s world, are spectacular too. I shall go now…. 🙂

  98. Okay, so I’m a “long-time listener-first-time-caller” but I have to pretend to be doing some work rightthisminute or…or…I might get sh**-canned.

    I’m at work (which is where I do all my best internets) and read this post. Whereupon I made a true spectacle of myself by GUFFAWING so loudly, snorting so grotesquely and generally, behaving like an utter imbecile, that *everyone* had to turn & see if I had suffered a major medical event and they all saw the superb “rat” close-up photo on my 27″ monitor.

    Thanks, Ms. Kimmel. Now all my colleagues think I need to be committed. I swear I heard one of them whisper, “do you know if 911 is the number to call if you need a straightjacket?”

    As my dear, dear mother would say: you are a bird in this world.

  99. Linda,

    Never apologize!! I held your feet to the fire. =) I am NOT the Jodi of the Squirrel, but it matters not. I am, in fact, a girl Jodi. I have a husband who is a boy Jody, making us both Jodi/y Smith.

    Please don’t be mad at me, Linda. I was just messin’ witcha. Some of us on this blog do that …

    Your pal,


  100. …huh?


    was I summoned?

    just coming up from a post-two-Advil-and-chocolate-chip cookie-induced-12-hour snooze (the guy in the car finally came inside [Haven, is he a archetype]) and I am delighted to hear the cal of the good writer-witch and to see my son. Did I mention that he is brilliant? Brilliant! Plays a mean marimba, too. Yes, Sam, I agree with you totally about NC. An image that never ever ever leaves my brain is watching you sitting in the sand, idly dredging moats around your legs, diverting the edges of surf, a seagull behind the blanket stealing potato chips, a squeezed-out tube of sunscreen poking from the sand, a fighter jet overhead. Remember when Dennis, who was already impaired with a broken arm, fell over in his chair at Margie and Nick’s and I about cracked another one of his ribs when I shouted, Geez, I don’t know whether to call 911 or Triple A Towing? Yep, I love NC, too.

    But I digress…sorry…all of us parents here will understand.

    Gawdallmighty this blog’s been busy with observations about the wonderful, wonderful independent bookstores…alas, there is one in Manteo, NC I especially love. I bought Clyde Edgerton’s book, Raney, there….oh, but wait, what about the one in in Provincetown…

    And taxidermy…and varmits…and prepping 90 minutes…

    PRIVATE TO KATE: Load up the kids and go to Golden Rain Tree Books in New Harmony, Ind. Check and see if it is still there, firt. It is/was a fine indie bookstore, then go to the Red Geranium for lunch, and visit the Paul Tillich statue and garden. (I never quite “got” Tillich myself, but I did indeed enjoy going there.

    Ok, here is the truest statement I can make this morning before my third cup of coffee.

    I have written maybe a million words in my life — many of them actually published in newspaper form. Written and hidden a couple of poems, but I have NEVER written anything like a short story, novella, novel, or whatever.

    But Haven, this blog — and you, especially, though you don’t know this — have removed whatever caused this block (let’s call it by its name, shall we? FEAR)

    So, freed of fear and totally inspired by Suzanne’s exquisite meditation and expose’ of death, I am trying to write something about the death of my uncle and golf.

    The working title in my mind is Death and Golf or Golf and Death. But…I am way beyond the title in the writing. I have three really good sentences down! Four if you want to count a certain subjective clause that followed a semi-colon.

    Did I mention my son is brilliant? Actually both my sons and my daughter-in-law.

  101. All this talk of Cletus and daily taxidermic package deliveries reminds me of those immortal lines from our dear friend Leonard Cohen:

    I thank you…for those i-tems…that you sent me
    The monkey…and the plywood vi-o-lin
    I practiced every night
    Now I’m ready….

  102. there was a bear in Hotel New Hampshire, right? yeah, there was. taxidermy….what was up with that bear? i gotta re-read it.

    A Prayer for Owen Meany is my fave. that and To Kill A Mockingbird. hmmmmmm, Light in August–i would have screamed to see Faulkner’s typewriter or his REAL writing, like from his hand–shit, amazing. Come to think of it, I have a lot of re-reading to do

  103. george you do mePROUD. if i can make you write then i dont have to. YAY

  104. Oh, independent bookstores… There is a pretty fabulous one here in Columbus, Georgia (the birthplace of Carson McCullers — methinks you should take a pilgrimage, Haven…) called JudyBug’s Books. Books old and new, coffee, and records. Perfection. Their only flaw was that they carried none of your books, but after an extensive chat with Alex, the owner, he agrees that he needs to join the Kimmel Cult and has promised to spread the gospel. So he is forgiven.

    I agree on the statement that North Carolina is heaven. It has long been my favorite state.

    You are all so lovely. I can’t say enough how this blog makes my day so much happier.

  105. Here is how Haven-the-good-writer-witch exorcised the fear demon from me: Several of her characters have made Whitehead references in her narratives. Not just Whitehead, either, but just plain folks who were conversant — nay, COMFORTABLE — with Jung and Hegel and Aristotelian references.

    I always heard you should write what you know…this is what Haven knows…

    And she shows brass balls, no, titantim and diamond-studded balls, in giving voice to these truths through her characters.

    Sorry for referring to you, Dear Author, in third person (Batter my heart!)

    So, released from fear, with what am I left as I face the computer? Golf, I’m afraid.

  106. I would be remiss if I did not give a wee shout-out to my own beloved independent: Women and Children First.

    It’s a magical place (as most all independent bookstores are) that gives to the community in ways innumerable. They have weekly “story hour” for the tots. If you volunteer during their store’s-closed-annual-inventory, the hours you work = store credit!

    They have six different book groups/clubs that meet regularly. They host numerous author events (readings/ signings/performance) in their intimate space.

    They stock all of Ms. Kimmel’s fine books.

    If any of you find yourselves in Chicago, yes, by all means – go to Wrigley, see the view from the Hancock (better than Sears), eat the best hot dogs ever made, go to the Harold Washington Library, see a sunrise at one of our numerous lake-front beaches, get your pitcher taken in front of the Picasso, blah, blah, blah… but please, in the name of all that is holy, go to Women and Children First in Andersonville and buy a book or magazine.

    Thank you kindly.

  107. Look what happens when I go to nap!

    I think you ALL should be writing: novels, memoirs, poetry, cave haiku, everything. You’re all brilliant and thrilling. Tim, you should be writing and taking photographs.

  108. Exorcism en masse! We are released and unleashed.

  109. But do you still bite and have fleas? Because it’s important to stay at least recognizable.

  110. Whew. Y’all really go to town overnight, don’t you???

    When I realized (like some other lost latecomer above) that this post had nothing to do with politics, but rather sort of wandered off from booksellers to ferocious rodents, I couldn’t help thinking of this:


    It’s one of a series. I tremble to think of the dangers Ms. Vernon had to face to capture these images, just as I shudder to imagine the scene in Ms. Kimmel’s barnyard.

  111. May we please thank the Used Bookstores? The purveyors of second-hand, gently-used books that tell not only their original tale, but add a subtle one of their journies through the hands of many readers? Here in Fort Wayne we are lucky to have Hyde Brothers, where one must use a Dickensian rolling ladder to reach the shelves nearer the fifteen-foot ceiling; where books teeter in stacks on the floor; where the resident fluffy cat, flat of face and disdaining, is given the right-of-way wherever she naps. How sweet to hold a volume aged and heavy, printed and bound with a quality now vanished like vintage architecture of the same period. I count myself fortunate to savor the very book that someone, born and dead prior to me, lingered over and savored and pondered and loved. To be able to step back in time when I visit Sam Hyde’s fine vintage establishment is a rare delight. I’ll never be a Kindle girl. Never.

  112. Brandon, I just got that link to work (my computer, not your fault). There’s an ORGANIZATION. Really that’s what I need, because they could probably teach me how to keep my own collection organized. Right now there are four members of the weasel family in much too close proximity to one another.

    Also I am sad to report that I lost another Stumpy; I was outbid at the last minute, THANK GOD, because I was about to pay way too much for a squirrel. But for you, really, anything.

  113. LAWS, that deviant artist captured ARMED hamsters. That’s true dedication.

    Let us not forget the great independents that have been around a long time, doing God’s work: Elliot Bay in Seattle, Powell’s in Portland, OR, Politics & Prose in DC. It’s difficult to think of Powell’s in the same way as those small neighborhood stores we adore — it’s the rare community any-kind-of-shop with an elevator and the floors color-coded by genre.

  114. Any chance/hope/ of you coming up to Politics & Prose?

  115. May I make a quick detour here and say that, I believe on your recommendation, Haven, I picked up Jincy Willett’s “The Writing Class.” Flipping open the back cover, I took a look at her photo and wondered, “How much control does an author have over the picture published?” since I didn’t find the one of Ms. Willett very flattering. (We, the Non-Chosen, realize that Authors spend their lives in fluffy pink slippers and ‘jammies, but appear Garbo-esque on the dust covers of their books.) Curious, I checked out Ms. Willet’s website. Yee-haw. Hecate got nuthin’ on this one. Fill me in here — who be this woman?

  116. Jincy Willett, you say?

    Pray, tell on.

    I’ve heard this name, never read her & am quite curious. Someone told me she was quite good. I’d appreciate knowing where to start.

    And someone mentioned the prose magic of “A Prayer for Owen Meany” – I’d just like to join the rabble in saying this book is so good it makes me weep to think of it. I experience true green-eyed JEALOUSY of people who have not yet read it. This book *almost* caused a battle royale in my household. More than any other skirmish, ever. My partner had never read it (or any John Irving for that matter) and finally picked it up at my encouragement…okay, pleading. When she read the first few pages & pronounced it not to her liking – I swear, I yelped in pain and camethisclose to diborce. I tore it out of her hands, deemed her unworthy & returned it to the bookshelves. Where it shall sit forevermore.

    True story.

  117. George, DC is up? I always think of everything as ‘over.’

    Jincy Willet is one of those writers who appeared out of nowhere and to immediate acclaim when David Sedaris blurbed her short story collection, Jinny and the Jaws of Life. Her first novel was called, AWESOMELY, Winner of the National Book Award. Both of those books are first rate. And the new novel is utterly engaging and interesting and accurate.

    Shelly, I know exactly how you feel. I know people who have dismissed Owen Meany or criticized it for some idiosyncratic something-or-other and I want to say, “NO. I cannot hear you. This is one book beyond the reach of trivialities.”

  118. I, too, love North Carolina. Being a good Presbyterian, I have spent some wonderous hours at the Montreat conference center. It is at Black Mountain, just east of Ashville. My daughter- the senior in high school – is applying to Davidson. I have begged her to no avail to apply to about ten more schools in NC but I should know better. The best I can do now is pray that Davidson is the winner because it would make me so happy to have another reason to drive through the beautiful mountains of NC. Years ago, before children, my kids dad and I used to go to Highlands in the fall and hike and look at all the colors. That was lovely too.

    I am off to Kentucky in about 2 hours where I will be retreating with my fellow session members of Second Presbyterian Church. We are talking about discernment. Or are we discerning about discernment? Centering prayer is involved apparently. I am such a novice at all of this. I will give a full report when I return tomorrow night. I’ll miss y’all. Be good.

  119. Of course I remember Dennis teetering in that chair! Out in the middle of nowhere at that cabin-esque house. He yelped and the floor rumbled as the Lay Z Boy became a little less lazy.

    PA: remember my short story/ writing about golf and grandpa. Perhaps the collection you always mused about could be reality.


  120. *Winner of the National Book Award* is a fantastic title and I can match it with my favorite band name of all time: FREE BEER.

  121. Ms. Kimmel,

    With your permission, I will send the text of your kind response to me to my partner. This will, as they say, turn the tide. She’s sure to pick up “Owen Meany” now. There’s no way she can deny your words.

    You see, she is the reason I have read your glorious works. She is the one who said “whatever it is you’re reading can’t possibly be worth your time/attention with THIS book (“Zippy”, held high in her hands like a devotion) still unread by you!” (she’s given to dramatic overtures).

    She thinks the sun rises & sets on you.

    I say “amen” and “hallelujah” to that.

    Thank you kindly.

    p.s. can you help me to convince her to read “Anna Karenina”, anything by Tom Robbins, “The Mists of Avalon” and “The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” while you’re at it?

  122. I lived in North Carolina for 10 months once. It was my then-husband’s last 10 months in the Army and we lived off-post. The only place worse than a joe-town is a nasty little burg adjacent to a joe-town. We were so poor we hardly saw anything but Spring Lake and Fayetteville. Luckily, on two occasions we were able to leave town and go to Chapel Hill and Ashboro. We saw the University and we saw the wonderful primate habitat at the zoo (I was an Anthropology major at the time), but mostly, we saw how marvelously beautiful and lush the spaces between were. I think about it more and more lately as so many references to NC keep bursting in on my consciousness, on this blog and beyond. I guess the place gets inside you and takes root.

  123. tom robbins…Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and Still Life with Woodpecker—super, but i gotta say Another Roadside Attraction was my fave.

    i am still on Irving though. i almost forgot how much i love him. plus he is always writing about wrestling and how it shaped him as a writer/man. i dunno-that connection is awesome. maybe i just like it when i can learn about an author. i guess that is what makes augusten so damn interesting, and you too.

  124. Irving is our Dickens. His most recent novel laid me out. For some reason, I’m particularly fond of “A Son of the Circus”. I mean, I love all his books.

    It’s hard to pick a Robbins. “Skinny Legs & All” or “Still Life with Woodpecker”. yup

    I swore I’d never return to NC after my one visit there. Which happened to coincide with Hurricane Floyd in 1999. I enjoyed Raleigh, up until having to be evacuated from my hotel & stay in a shelter. Now I’m thinking I may have to pay a visit after all.

  125. Children, Children, Children–please consider going to bed at some reasonable hour–PLEASE. You are all mad, delightfully of course, but mad nonetheless (is that one word?)
    Yes, love, I get the taxidermy. Do I want a stuffed gorilla? No. But I was raised with an uncle who had every stuffed animal imaginable, including a gorilla, a bear, a lion and a wolf in various places in his department store in Bloomington. At his house he had a real bear rug in the library and I used to lie on it and rest my head on the bear’s head to read, and innocent child that I was I believed everyone had an uncle with a bear run in his library. So, I accept the blame for her desire for beautiful, lifelike stuffed animals. My animals are all living, beautiful dogs, but when they leave for Dogland, I probably will do something simple, like bury them.
    Hmmmm. Remember the cartoon with the woman leading the German Shepherd on a lease, and he was on wheels? I laughed my head off.
    I love my strange daughter. Now go to bed.

  126. PRIVATE (not relly) to DELONDA: My uncle Sonny had a bare rug, too, in his living room near Folsomville. I think I visited that store in Bloomington, way back in the early 60s with my other uncle, who was an IU grad student. Wasn’t there a wolverine there?

    My animals are living, too, bless their little hearts: Sadie, the bassador (bassett-lab mix), Gus, the Schnoodle (schauzer-poodle mix) and I swear to God this is true, my own little Zippy, a 16 year old cat who takes his walks with us.

    Hey Sammy-Sam. It’s there for us. Truly, it is.

  128. Hello Mother Delonda. I have just awakened from a good, long nap – an attempt to recover from being up half the night. THAT event was not on purpose. Call me Sleepless in Greenfield.

    You used one of my favorite words – nonetheless. I slip it into conversation and the occasional email. It just rolls off the tongue and onto the keyboard. And it’s also fun to say after a few beers. A British accent seals the deal.

    Your strange daughter is one of my very favorite people in this world. There is such a thing as Haven withdrawal for I have suffered throught it.

    Hope you are well.

  129. If this is still about book stores, my favorite ever is Powells in Portland. When I visit my sister there, who lives in a small town outside of Portland, this is what I do. I bring an extra suitcase and put nothing but a bed comforter in it. I use this comforter at the suspect “hotel” I stay at in my sisters town. Then I go to powells, buy every book I must have, and pack them in the empty suitcase. My sister, who has no problem with now suspect bedding, keeps the comforter.

  130. What the hell is that thing, an irradiated hamster somebody lost from the 1950?.Is it still growing. I’m glad to know that you and Elmer Fudd are members of the varmit killers club.Is he one of your gay boyfriends.
    wabbit tracks…
    Powells was better 20 years ago, when I could find all sorts of non published and used books. Still the best book store in town.
    PS Wanda Vin Weasel (non rodent)will be at your house shortly, she wants to steal your flip flops

  131. See, I knew I could count on Delonda. The minute I started collecting my natural history museum, she said, “Do you remember –” and I said, “GAH! Of course I do, I remember every single one of them!” I visited her uncle ONCE IN MY LIFE, when I was about six, and I just walked around going, “JKlwid7730!” I wasn’t bright.

    George, you said wolverine, which breaks my heart. There’s a wolverine on eBay right now, and it’s a Buy It Now for like $650.00. Of course it’s worth that, it was a living wolverine, for the sake of sense, but I’ve got babies to feed.

    And NO for anyone who intends to ask, I don’t consider how my collection came to be among the Not Living Currently. They’re way past my being able to help that, sometimes by a hundred years or more. My goal is to see the beauty in what remains, and I apply that to any ruin. I visited a taxidermist outside of Mooreland and he was in the process of tanning a HUGE coyote skin; the coyote had been hit by a truck. Now my feeling (and certainly of Mr. Ed, the taxidermist) is that two things can happen: the poor animal, already dead, can be left to rot there. Someone could bury it (of course no one in rural Indiana would do such a thing) (except my sister, OBVIOUSLY). Three things — it could be picked up by the county. Four, I mean. OR someone could give it something of a new life, where it is admired and given Beauty Parlor once a week, and truly truly loved and mourned. They are mournful things, I recognize. But having them here makes me feel like I’m cheating The Reaper a little bit, and cheating whatever brought them to this state. Because long after that hunter or trapper or accident has faded into oblivious, WHAT DO YOU KNOW. Cletus will still be here, bless his heart.

  132. Umm, Susan? If a weasel wants my flip-flops no stealing is required. I just hand them over.

  133. Tim calls me strange! I told you I’m considered the strange one, even though my sister wears the yellow vinyl trousers and talks to tombstones about the gays!

  134. Jodi, some friend of mine (I can’t remember who told me this story — if it’s someone reading this just leap in) answered a call from Elvis Costello in a similar way. As I recall he was very polite.

  135. I have a deceased turtle in the freezer out in the garage. He died in winter and I was supposed to bury him when I planted the new butterfly bushes. The bushes are lovely – the turtle still frozen. I get grief for this on nearly a daily basis. But if in the freezer I can simply open the door to get ice cream and say hello to him. It’s comforting somehow.

    Haven dear, you are strange only because of your penchant for this menagerie of the dead. And maybe a few other things. I love you NONETHELESS. There…I did it!!

  136. Part of the joy of being a weasel is being naughty, she has way more fun if she thinks she’s getting away with it. Sneeky and naughty are good. Don’t tell the republicans I said this, they’ll round up my weasels and arrest them.

  137. H, Kellie says hello and thanks for the good old Quaker lift-ups. She just finished a chemo treatment and is exhausted but positive nonetheless (I’m on a roll here!).

    Are you still in need of that sock monkey? It’s here…waiting longingly, as sock monkeys tend to do.

  138. Haven, You are right to follow your heart and collect taxidermied specimens. Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world. I collect and wear vintage furs. Like you, I figure the poor beasts are over the ol’ Rainbow Bridge now. Who among us has not watched a lion eats the guts out of an almost-dead gazelle on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom? One of the many better-than-humans qualities of animals is their lack of a “blame” gene. They don’t. No time wasted. Animals also have no “guilt” gene, unless they spend too much time around people.

    Humans get qualities all mixed up. An animal has been killed and taxidermied. Some time later, someone unacquainted with hunter and/or taxidermist becomes The Owner of preserved animal. Only a Dopey Human would say that it follows for The Owner to feel guilty and justify ownership of said preserved beast. (Happily, Haven, you felt neither. You continue to be my guiding light.)

    And while my husband is supervising a high school football game and I have a Friday evening to fill, can we give Big Points to animals for not making fun of humans? How many times has my dog walked into a room of our house and thought, “My god! Can’t they SMELL THAT?”

    Anyway, Haven, keep carting those creepy varmints with you without apology. I will be wearing my monkey fur cape, my Persian lamb coat with mink collar, my great-grandmother’s grey squirrel cape, or a honey-coloured mink stole I bought from my next-door neighbor, all winter long. Ask yourself, WWQEID? (What Would Queen Elizabeth I Do?) Give them a long, long, silent look. A Mona Lisa smile. Let them reconsider. Let them long to be you.

  139. Boy ya miss a couple days around here and there is 137 + comments. Back when this was all just fields I had some time.
    I really must get faster if I wish to remain in the loop.

  140. Jodi, I have exactly the same reaction to old furs. Anyone who wears leather or has leather furniture is engaging in taxidermy without the glass eyeballs. Cows are no less real or alive than the weasels that went into making your coat, and most people (not all, certainly) don’t think twice about EATING THEM. And you nailed me as an animal. As my mother will attest, I too am lacking the genes for guilt and shame.

  141. Michael T., I was worried about you. I tell you, you people.

  142. In my hometown of Rockford, Ohio, several years ago, a local man died and was embalmed by Ripley’s Funeral Home. Mr. Hawk (that’s the dead guy’s name) was laid out for viewing to begin later that afternoon when his nephew wandered in and asked Mrs. Ripley (mortician) if he could go on in and view his uncle. Knowing said nephew, he was allowed in and forgotten. Some time later, near time for viewing, Mrs. Ripley was giving the room a final check, and upon looking in at Mr. Hawk, discovered that someone had removed Mr. Hawk’s head. Turns out said nephew was hearing voices telling him to separate Uncle’s head from his body for the betterment of the planet. His perversity earned Rockford national headlines on the “You Can’t Un-Watch This” page. Mr. Hawk’s head was found and buried with his body.

  143. the first office i ever worked in as a copywriter had a bearskin rug. we all agreed it was a sign that we were most assuredly in the right place.

    and it’s well known that the design genius Helmutt Krone carried a stuffed fox up and down the streets of Manhattan. i just remembered this now. yes, it’s alllllll coming back.

    i understand about ebay. it is a labyrinth to lock a minotaur in once and for all. designed by Daedalus, it is all but impossible to escape. i am still waited for that stuffed minotaur to come up on ebay, at which time there will be much rejoicing!!

    haven, how wonderful to be outbid. many’s the time i wish i had been outbid on something i desired most deeply. it is the loophole of the gods, to be outdone.

  144. It is the loophole of the gods, to be outdone. This could very well change my life.

  145. Okay, Published Author-Types: what’s the deal with the Oprah’s Book Club picks? Are these writers selling their souls to the devil? Is Oprah (no WAY!) actually perusing and selecting books?

    The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (Oprah Book Club #62) by
    David Wroblewski is TA-DA! revealed as the latest Oprah choice. First time out of the gate for this guy, and Borders is promoting his book just inside their front door.

    Is there a line of continuity here I’m not following? Is there some sleazy business involved? Has anybody read this book yet, already? Please explain.

  146. you like that? oh, yay. i feel my day has been well spent. hurrah. i adore you miss haven kimmel, my secret girlfriend of the west.

    i have spent the day in san francisco, a beautiful city, and yert ui notice it is with great joy i fall back into my teeny double bed. i used to have a king siΩed bed with a sleigh bedframe, a massuve ship of a bed. my real estate agent whisked it out and cleverly replaced it with a double bed, so as to make the room appear larger to prospective home buyers. are people that eaily fooled? of course not. yet i have develloped an inordinate fondness for the double bed.i can pretend i am in europe, where a double bed is the height of luxury. i can project myself back intime, to when i was a teenager and a double bed seemed enormous, almost a promiscuity. and you know, the room doesn;t look ant bigger, but i can now clog dance allthe way around my bed, or dervish whirl and spout eighth century persian poetry,allin the comfort and security of my own room. if i continue to sleep in this bed, i will become a virgin and will be available for sacrifice. alert the others.

  147. Haven: Pay no mind to those who refuse to believe the in beauty of taxidermy. When alive we are not able to be physically near most of these amazing creatures. I’ll gladly take that chance when they’re dead and stuffed. At least that way we can play with them and they won’t try to eat our faces. As a side note when my partner and I first started dating I told him I was convinced one of his cats was going to kill me one day and eat my face. Wouldn’t you know that the very same cat now loves ME more than any other person. We share the same curmudgeonly demeanor so we understand each other. I told Erik that I’m going to have the other cat taxidermied when he passes on as he likes to drape himself on Erik’s shoulders like a mink stole. HOW precious is that?!

    Jodi: You should totally post pictures of the furs! I remarked in a previous posting that I don’t think women wear hats enough any longer and the same goes for furs. Please, please, PLEASE tell me you wear an occasional hat and by that I don’t mean a baseball cap.

  148. Oh, don’t fret too much over the Ebay Stumpy. You’ll win one on Ebay soon – I can feel it. I’m still trying to track down the original stumpy but have to go through my father’s 10 siblings and then their children and most likely the children of those children. I may never find him but it won’t be for lack of trying!

  149. you know, i have to admit i have edgar sawtelle on hold at my library. this book was “discovered” long before today. i for one am glad that once more, since the james frey scandal, oprah has begun to choose living authors again. i have to freely admit that i love oprah unconditionally. she plucked me from oblivion once or twice, though i’ve never been a book club pick, else i’d be writing this from a gulf stream jet as it banked over new orleans.

    and hers is the single women’s magazine that does not change WORD ONE of an essay or article without author permission; they also pay on time, a habit that is extraordinarily rare among periodicals: little thing called respect.

  150. it may be that we are the taxidermy of zeus. s’possible.

  151. Suzanne – I think you may be onto something here. Toys of Zeus. I imagine it’s one wicked fun game for the Gods. Me thinks Artemis may be having a bit of fun as well

  152. oh they’re all mad as hatters. as above,so below. WORD.

  153. correction: dervish poetry = twelfth century Sufis. GOD.

  154. Brandon,

    I have a small collection of hats, but I don’t necessarily wear them. I love classic handbags, too, and while I almost never carry handbags at all, I put the ones I own where I can look at and enjoy their beauty constantly. My largest collection is of vintage ladies’ compacts, of which I have about sixty. Knowing I am a huge fan of Marlene Dietrich, my pal Kathy thought it appropriate that I would own a mother-of-pearl compact — as Marlene would have — and that started the collection. As Myrna Loy remarked to William Powell when asked if she had a gown suitable to the occasion, “Yes. I have a lu-lu. Why?”

    At times I do carry the handbags and compacts, and I wear the hats with the furs. I have a monkey fur muff that matches BOTH (yes, I own TWO) monkey fur capes. Nothing keeps you warm in a winter wind like fur.

    I’d post photos, but I can’t do it here — doesn’t work. It’s fun to talk about vintage treasures with someone who also likes them. =)

    Maybe we could get Haven to model a few things while surrounded by her taxidermied varmints.

  155. I know. It’s a shame we can’t post photos in comments. I would love to see your collection. Haven keeps teasing us with snippets of her taxidermy collection. I cannot wait for more posts featuring the taxidermy.


  157. btw? criss-cross applesauce. haven has dibs on the taxidermy novel.

  158. Pardon the intrusion – completely off topic – but I have to ask George how in the world he found me? And to say thanks for the kind words of encouragement. (Sorry Haven… I’ve been moonlighting.)

    We live fairly (7 miles) close to the YATS on 96th. Is that the one? Didn’t realize they had expanded beyond Mass Ave.

  159. we’re veering dangerously close to being a cult, here. I FUCKING LOVE THAT.

  160. YES! The Kimmel Cult. Has a nice ring to it.

  161. Kimmel Kult.

  162. Touché, Suzanne. Not a fan of purple shrouds though.

  163. Jodi, unfortunately I sold off my vintage collection a couple of years ago, save some jewelry that I am trying to keep my daughter from destroying (she loves putting it all on), a few purses, and a truly fabulous black coat trimmed in black and white fur…but man, did I have a great collection of just about everything for a while. I also kept some dishes, and a few vanity items for when I ever have another table with a big round mirror.

    If I ever make money I am at least going to splurge on a few cocktail dresses, and a great pair of pumps.

    My husband was telling people at work today about my gorilla fetish, and then he told them we were going out on a date tonight. He was wary though…because I asked him out for Logan’s Roadhouse and The Dark Knight instead of, I don’t know, chicken salad wraps and The Women. “I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop” and his boss said “Maybe she’ll make you wear a gorilla suit.”

  164. Also Delonda, your uncle’s house sounds like HEAVEN.

  165. Jim,

    I’m an investigative reporter by training and Indy used to be my town. I still have my contacts, confidences I have never broken, people who still owe me. I called in a favor.

    Actually, I clicked on your name in Suzanne’s Salon of Sex and Sin, and you popped right up. Thought I would say hi. I just feel like I kinda know some people here where it’s possible to really open up…

    I do wish Indy would or could change, be just a little less hostile. Be more like Evansville or Bloomington. Once, when I was going over to Saudi Arabia in the first Persian Gulf War, I was at an Air Force base in Spain wearing a big red IU cap, hoping soldiers from Indiana and Indianapolis in particular would notice and start talking so I could more easily pick up quotes for the stories I was writing. At that particular time, the IU mojo wasn’t working, so, there I was in a mess hall, deadline coming up, and no local quotes. How the hell am I going to find some people from Indianapolis, I said to the photographer. Easy, just listen for the rudest fuckers in the room. So I did. And sure enough, they were from the 123rd ARCOM, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis. Boy was I glad to meet up with them, too. Saved my day.

    That rude deal only worked once, but the IU cap proved useful on many an event.

    Haven got to this phenomena in Something Rising, and it is this, we Hoosiers get drawn to each other and then we talk about the state, which, ironically, we have fled. Go figure.

    Something about stuffed critters about half scares the crap outta me. Not sure what this is all about, psychologically. Last summer I was wandering around in Provincetown, looking to buy a tie-dyed T-shirt and when I walked out of a shop on the main drag (yes, a cheap joke,) I saw this huge hairy beast with teeth on the sidewalk, one paw up and ready to leap. It was not a vactioneer, say from someplace like Indiana, but a perfectly preserved, stuffed, and taxidermied wolf. People were squatting down beside it getting their pictures taken…I calmly and quietly stepped away, lest it come to life.

    Suzanne is so wise about the loophole theory…but here’s the deal. The only time I ever got burned on E-bay was literally. I bought an alcohol stove for my boat some years ago and it had some leakage problems that I was not aware of after I fueled it up and lit a match.

    So…what are we talkin’ about here?


    Never say never, but I won’t ever go back to a double bed…the queen is all right, and I am mattressed with a Tempurpedic mattress. Gimme that mattress, that bed, this really boring book by Robert Penn Warren, two Advils, and I am out, baby.

    The Yats I mentioned is up on 96th Street.

  166. George, remember the Kodiak bear in the Evansville Museum of Arts and Science? When my mom was a kid that thing wasn’t even behind glass, so there was just this HUGE ‘EFFIN BEAR just standing in the children’s area waiting to devour you. And the wonderful mummified cat?

  167. Of course I remember that big freakin’ bear….I think i was in the fourth grade and this would have been about the time the beatles made landfall in NYC, our class went to the museum. There he was…that huge bastard. Someone though had thrown a wad of bubblegum at its mouth and it stuck!

    I have taken my boys there as a pilgrimmage and bored them with my abovementioned story….maybe I will drag my nephews there next time I am in town.

    …and what are you doing up so late?

  168. We are night owls. I am working on some stuff for work, and my hubby is blowing off some steam by playing ASSASSINS CREED.

    Sorry to turn this blog into a chat room!

  169. Are you working on a newspaper column? I still have a couple of friends at The Courier. A couple of years ago I did a piece for Evansville Living. I do miss it. OK, me and Robert Penn Warren are signing off.

  170. Not right now…I have just been offered my first column, and I have some features coming up, but right now I’m working on my other job, content for http://evansvillemoms.com.

  171. Churn it out…churn it out.

    You know, on second thought, I was a bit harsh about Indy. Two quick stories and I am really tired, so please read past the typos and tortured grammar. But two people in Indy said things to me that were the most beautiful and humanistic things I had ever heard.

    In the early 80s I was a police beat reporter on the night shift. We had a couple of murders of young men — gays — that bothered me and I did extra work on them, but they were listed as unsolved for months. About the same time, I was calling local sheriff depts. and the Indiana State Police and about couple months, I’d pick up a murder of a young man. Long story short, I had a computer at the time, so I started loading all the particulars in a spreadsheet and pretty soon, had a theory that a serial killer was picking up guys at gay bars and then killing them off on roads and seculded areas along I-70 between Indy and Terre Haute and Terre Haute and Chicago. By my count, I had about 14. Took this to the state forensic pathologist, who then empowered a police task force to do investigating.

    I was doing some investigating, too, in the gay community…getting to know some people…sourcing.

    One guy I talked to said this to me: George, it is important who you love. It is that you love that’s important.

    Just something that always stuck. It cracked me wide open.

    The killer was from Greencastle, Ind., and was convicted and died of AIDS on death row in Illinois. His name was Larry Eyler. (I always thought he had an accomplice in Terre Haute, but was never able to connect those dots. That suspect is dead from what I understand.

    The other life-changing statement came from Father Boniface Hardin, the founder of Martin University in Indy, where I am a graduate. I carried Sam in my arms when I got my diploma. Anyway, Father Boniface grew this wonderful school from a sickle cell anemia clinic on Indy’s north side to the wonderful place it is today.

    I took one of the last classes he taught…a course called Ethnotherapy, where we confronted the racism that pervaded our lives…We got to talking about our innate rage at injustice and inhumanity one Saturday, and Boniface challenged us to confront our rage with a positive force. Stupidly, I asked him what his response to his rage was. “Stuteville, he said, the school is my response to my rage. You’re sitting in it!”

    What he said melted me and confirmed all questions for me that good does trump evil — ultimately — that wisdom buries ignorance, that tolerance stifles bigotry. All those idealistic things are, in fact, facts. Hard as rocks. I cannot say how many times that voice of Boniface Hardin calls me back to true reality when I think the dark side is getting the upper hand.

    So…there are enclaves in Indy and I have to believe they grow one person at a time, and who knows where it will lead?

    Anyway…enough of me tonight.

  172. “Suzanne’s Salon of Sex and Sin” GEORGE. YOU KILL ME. never change, ever!

    so i slept the night shift and i’m relieving you and miss cake, here.

    congrats on your first column,miss cake. where is it??? please send link.

    i want to thank everyone who goes to my blog and comments. enlightening, for sure. and i realized something: i dont believe some of ths shit i’ve written, not any more. i am becoming more whole, i am scarring over in parts. i’ve been sober 1 year plus 2 months. it’s amazing what a process that is. epiphanies dont come easy. but? some of my hard edges are smoothing down,believe it or not. haven’s gift is that she is brilliant and compassionate, she is True. i aspire to this. we’re drawn to her like moths to light — well, i am. so i’ve removed the posts that don’t seem to match my self any longer, even though they may have been clever (may not have,,,)

    one of my favorite pat methaney songs is Yolanda You Learn. well Yolanda, she learns. thank you 10000000000 times 10000000000. you’re all very dear to me, very much like the kind of family we all crave. you are the speakers of truth and the lovers of words. i adore you.

  173. Oh Suzanne, you are a dear, dear person. Call me.

    I’m just taking over a q&a section in the newspaper, it’s just once a week. I haven’t started doing it yet. I am going to be able to inject a little personality, so that’s good. I have written features for a little supplement called Westside…all my stories available online are located in a column on the right of my blog. I am going to start writing some features in the regular newspaper soon, and I will link everything up to my blog. Thanks for your interest…it’s very humbling.

  174. well dude. give me your phone number,

  175. oh wait a minute: emailme at sfinnamore@aol.com. thats better.never know what trolls may lurketh….

  176. George,

    Indy HAS changed. Or else we wouldn’t have come back here to raise our daughter. Maybe that’s why it was such a shock to me. Outside of that one episode, people have been more than kind and supportive. Our neighbors have been friendly and gracious in our neighborhood here on the northside.

    Total strangers have commented on what a beautiful and lovely daughter we have. One woman came up to us in the Nora Target and said that she had seen us at dinner the night before at Iaria’s. Yeah, we kinda stand out – two white men with a daughter of color – and wanted to tell us how beautiful she is and how well behaved she was at the restaurant.

    That was our first week back. A great welcome home after a little worrying that we might have made the wrong decision. But we knew that Chicago wasn’t for us any longer. Indy is home.

    The point I’m making (I hope) is that most people ARE accepting here. And supportive. It’s just a few hold-over neanderthals making the biggest noise that trouble me the most.

    Oh, and the part about being an investigative reporter, calling in favors, etc… made me realize that I’d make a lousy criminal. I’d probably be one of those chowder-heads who loses his wallet at the scene of the crime!

  177. Re author photos: We have total control over them. What we don’t have these days is a “no-photo” option. Publishers, who have to worry about marketing, plead (tactfully) for professional head shots, and of course they want them to be as flattering as possible, but so far, anyway, refusing to market one’s face instead of one’s work isn’t a deal breaker. Some years ago I caved in and had my son take my picture(he was in middle school at the time). I haven’t changed much since, except to grow even older, so it’s still a likeness, and that, as far as I’m concerned, is that. Why anyone wants to know what an author looks like is a mystery to me.

    When I was young, I was crazy about James Thurber. He must, I thought, be the loveliest man. Turns out he wasn’t (not that I ever got to meet him), and my point is just that there’s the author and there’s what the author wrote. All we’re putting out there–well, all we should be putting out there, in my opinion–are the pages. Unless we’re also performers, our selves are beside the point.


    Sorry, all the rest of you. I didn’t sleep at all last night and I’m overcaffeinated, my head hurts, I gave my mother terrible medical advice because I misread a word of her e-mail at 1:30 this morning. All night I was worried, and finally wrote her back at 5:30 saying, “I figured out where I was wrong.” Ye gods and little fishes.

    IF THIS IS THE REAL JINCY WILLETT, God above: we salute you. Fine, fine writer.

  179. Also if I may address the author photo question: I’ve never wanted to have an author photo on my books, none at all — I don’t feel as if the books have anything to do with me by the time they reach the printer. They’re yours. Put your own face on the jacket. But I also know what that sounds like to a publisher: very, very Precious Agnes. So I’ve always cooperated, if painfully. I will take ridiculous pictures of myself all day to amuse my friends (all Augusten had to say to me after he sent me a box of gifts was, “Take a picture IMMEDIATELY of you in the hat,” and of course I did), but perhaps you have noticed that I’m not a fashion model nor do I pretend to be. I am, as I’ve said before, a complete idiot.

    So with this last round of pictures — by Roger Haile — which I think are gorgeous, I said, “No fixing of anything. It’s either me or not me,” and so he didn’t touch them. I’ve said that every time and it made no difference, I still get the “GAH! Why did you use such an uncomplimentary author photo?!?” I have to then point out that is my mastiff.

    George, would you e-mail me? I can’t find your address. Oh, and you were afraid of the wolf because it was a wolf, my friend. They remain what they were for a long, long time. I know this because after a few days away, my barn smells like a skunk. And there’s no live skunk in there, I promise.

  180. George, please please save what you’ve written about Father Boniface here. Your beating heart is in it.

  181. In the comment asking if we were addressed by the Real Jincy Willett, I invoked God twice. Rich for a heathen. I think of myself as calm to the edge of unconsciousness, but clearly I’m excitable.

  182. Dear Ms. Willett,

    What a dichotomy you seem to be! Upon Haven’s recommendation, I picked up “The Writing Class” yesterday. Not knowing your work, I read the dustjacket (including your photo), then looked online for reviews and author information. I found your website, and thought, “This is one in-your-face sort of woman!” (“God, you people make me sick” is a line from your home page that sticks in my mind.)

    But when I read your blog, you seemed the very antithesis of all that — kind, thoughtful, generous. As you also are here on Haven’s blog.

    All that aside, I’m delighted with “The Writing Class.” Haven says it perfectly, “the new novel is utterly engaging and interesting and accurate.” From “The Fat Broad” opening on, you had me. How you blend mystery, comedy, and writing instruction is a wonder.

    In response to your statement, “Why anyone wants to know what an author looks like is a mystery to me”: when what someone says or writes resonates with me, I want to know that person better. Especially when what resonates is humor. Had your writing and humor left me cold, I’d have dropped your book back in the library night deposit without another thought.

    In the same way that a book’s cover informs me of its contents, the font and the weight of the paper and how the edges of the pages are finished, the photo tells me about the author. From not knowing a thing about you 24 hours ago and now blogging a response to you directly, I’m not yet matching up your photo with your sardonic wit and savvy writing. But that’s okay with me. The Writing Class and I will be together on my deck this afternoon getting to know each other, and that’s what really counts.


    Jodi Smith

  183. Private to Haven: Holy Crap! Did we both just speak to Jincy Willett?? You ga’ da Power, girlfriend. Who else you be callin’ to yo’ website?

  184. I do wonder if my commenters are all out frantically reading Jincy Willett’s books? YOU OUGHT TO BE.

    I quoted her just last night. Daughter and I went to see my other Tim’s band play in Chapel Hill (my next blog post is about this amazing experience, but I’m too delirious to work on it). I was wearing one of my favorite shirts: a long-sleeved cotton shirt, ragged at the collar and sleeves, designed by my brother-in-law. On the front it says, in Gothic script: DEBTOR. On the back is a list of all the things we’re in debt for, including Breast Milk and I forget what all, The Kindness of Strangers. Daughter and I were standing at the bar and she said how much she loves those shirts (she has one, too) and I said, “Jincy Willett would tell me I am much too old to be wearing legible clothing.” Daughter laughed and told me there are exceptions. LIKE WHEN YOU’RE TOTALLY ROCKIN IT is what she meant, I’m sure.

  185. Jodi, right?!? Witchy.

  186. Haven,

    Speaking of witchy-weird stuff, when you said that our lists of Necessary Books were strikingly similiar, do you mean to say you know and love Elizabeth Von Arnim and Abbie Graham??? “All the Dogs of My Life” and “On Being Immortal”?


  187. I’m sure those are the books I meant, yes. Those and all the novels of Hilary Mantel, six different unread biographies of Proust, and three copies of one of my favorite novels ever, The Bear Comes Home, by Rafi Zabor.

  188. I just received this message from Rilke:


    Never will we know his fabulous head
    where the eyes’ apples slowly ripened. Yet
    his torso glows: a candelabrum set
    before his gaze which is pushed back and hid,

    restrained and shining. Else the curving breast
    could not thus blind you, nor through the soft turn
    of the loins could this smile easily have passed
    into the bright groins where the genitals burned.

    Else stood this stone a fragment and defaced,
    with lucent body from the shoulders falling,
    too short, not gleaming like a lion’s fell;

    nor would this star have shaken the shackles off,
    bursting with light, until there is no place
    that does not see you. You must change your avatar.

  189. Sweet Jesus, I go off to work on a shoe sculpture for a couple hours and both Jincy Willet AND Rainer Maria Rilke comment on your blog. The next thing you know, John Crowley will be here. “Permeable boundaries” and “thin veils”, indeed.

  190. Good Lord, I do need to read more carefully. I hit that part about the burning genitals, winced, skimmed the rest, and thought at first that the last line said “You must change your underwear.” Well no wonder, I thought, although I was a little surprised that came from Rilke…

    Then I re-read.


    And must I add, that’s a beautiful poem. (Especially the last line.)

  191. Why not invite him to our party? Haven? It’s your blog …


  192. Brandon,

    Here’s an ebay auction for a monkey fur jacket that is very nearly like those I own.


  193. Gah that is GORGEOUS…I would feel very at home in such a jacket but I never found one at Ye Olde Salvation Army when I worked there…

  194. Old fur coats kind of give me the willies. My grandmother had one and it smelled like cigarettes and when she died my sister got it and then it molted. But, it doesn’t really matter because if I tried to wear a fur coat here in Nashville I would die of heat stroke.

  195. I banned myself from the computer for 48 hours so I could do 15 illustrations . . . and we have 170 plus comments on taxidermy, heavenly writers, independent and used bookstores . . .

    I’m in withdrawal . . . I thought about this blog several times and just thought, no way.

    George you are astute and inspiring . . .
    Suzanne, we only become more fully who we are, you wouldn’t be you today if not for your yesterdays . . . but I have to admit, coming across some 20 year old journals while unpacking that I am ashamed of the self-centered, angst ridden 20 year-old I was . . .

    OPRAH is Sophia, the god of wisdom. Kimmel Kult will be my third. First there was the Kult of the Poisoned Mind (my anti-religious cult) and OPRAH said-Kult . . . I was astounded when she suggested Wally Lamb’s work as he has been a favorite for years and Alice Walker and Toni Morrison and FINALLy (after I suggested it 12 years ago, not that she replied) she does a movie on Zora Neale Hurstons’ THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD . . . I can say I have read most of the books she suggests and only a few have left me disappointed (but I am angered and throw certain books at the wall-such as, THEY WERE THE MULVANEYS) – what snivelling, wimp asses that family was – they just PISSED ME OFF.

    . . . It astounds me that Haven hasn’t been on the O book list yet . . . she is probably flooded with suggestions now . . .

    just now starting to work again . . . isn’t the night the only time you aren’t interrupted in your thoughts . . .

    except – the other night, thanks to the PHOBIA blog, I had the following nightmare:

    sleeping in my bed, looking out at the full-moon, lit tree out the window and JESUS CHRIST ON A POPSICLE STICK – there are GIANT “Little People” hanging in the trees looking at me . . .like 5 of them – the old style with round heads, painted faces, and cylinder bodies . and the cowboy one with the hat and bandana has this smirk . . . now I have a new phobia . . .to go along with my other 52 (believe it or not I didn’t list them all)….

    rats/potatoes go hand in hand . . .

    ya’all are nuts, and glorious, and ROCK . . . I missed you over the last two days . . .

  196. Sher,
    I wish I had your self-discipline. I just found this blog three days ago and my Monday morning deadline is in SERIOUS jeopardy. Although the taxidermy discussions kept me away for a few hours…my dad had two bear rugs in our basement when I was very little…and I KNEW that at night they got up and prowled around the house. Only mummy wrapping myself in blankets with a very, very small breathing hole kept me safe. I probably gave myself brain damage from oxygen deprivation.

  197. Jodi,

    That is a gorgeous coat. If I were a woman I would totally have a collection of furs. I never have any luck with Ebay – I’m always outbid. Except for the grand hat that I thought was perfect for Haven, but alas by the time I found it the auction had already closed. Drat.


    I can’t believe your self-discipline! I was without power/internet for the majority of this past week due to the hurricane-force winds that hit Ohio and I had serious withdrawal.

  198. Oh my gosh I am so *LONELY* for you people.

  199. I took a long bike ride and a nap and mayhem breaks out…and I dug deep into my stack of books to find the anthology Sedaris edited so I could read Jincy, that was Jincy, right?

    LINDA: Thanks for visiting my Facebook. I bet you have it figured out, now. I will send you more later.

    SHER: Once again, I am a STUTE eville. Haven paid me a compliment that is going in the all-time highest drawer. I’ll never forget Boniface Hardin. I was in Indy a couple of years ago when I last visited Martin University. In a class in creative writing, we had an instructor who met us in the library. We talked a little and then he went prowling through the stacks. He came back with a separate novel for each of us and told us to study our novel. It would show us what we needed to know about creative writing. The one he gave me was Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. I keep that in my compliment drawer, too. I bow to your discipline.

    SUZANNE: Took a long bike ride today and stopped by Olson’s Books to see if you and Haven were properly represented. You weren’t, but you shall be. Let’s just say I had a talk with the manager and leave it at that, ok? I wondered why a couple of your posts vanished. Just a question: are you sometimes really surprised when you find something you wrote a long time ago or a while ago and it doesn’t at all sound like you are now?

    HAVEN: I had a stuffed cabbage for supper. It’s gstute@gmail.com

    KATE: you still churning?

    …about deadines, I love them, hate them, NEED them.

    YOU AUTHORS. In need of a jacket photo. May I recommend my niece in Evansville. Who (KATE) lives on the west side. She is the best natural photog I have ever seen and I have worked with many.

    Time for some Advil dreams.

  200. There’s another Kate on the west side?

  201. …sorry…wasn’t clear. I was just making sure YOU knew she lived on the west side in case you needed a story. Erin’s photos. She is really excellent and doesn’t even know it. Best portrait photographer I have ever seen.

  202. KATE: Regarding your comment “Gah that is GORGEOUS…I would feel very at home in such a jacket but I never found one at Ye Olde Salvation Army when I worked there…”

    All of my furs were found at antique malls or Goodwill stores here in town, at prices so low their original owners should be haunting me. Keep looking.

    LINDA: EEEWWWW to your grandmother’s smoky molting fur. That would give me the willies, too. Hot climates and cigarettes are anathema to long-haired primates and their hides. Lucky you, living in Nashville. I spent three glorious summers there as musical director at one of the Opryland shows, before Opryland was turned into a MALL. Percy Priest reservoir in the moonlight, the Bluebird Cafe … another lifetime.

  203. Know thyself – I am “on lunch” from the studio and “checking” the computer – I had banned myself from today as well, but, alas, the pull of kindred spirits can be invigorating, so I can now wrap it in a veil of therapy/muse making . . .

    but if you will notice, I am on and then I am OFF . . . I got rid of my IM months ago because I could never get anything accomplished . . .

    George – Know thyself (I’m almost there at 40 years old)…. which is why I have also hired a trainer/nutritionist to guide me in my quest for my inner perfect body which has been lurking inside for 5 years (under the 25 extra lbs) – I admit my defeat and acquiece when defeat leads me to the ultimate goal (I don’t think that makes since, but it works for me somehow – something to do with surrendering for victory?)

    of course you have all noticed my lack of punctuation skills. It is actually a visual revolt because I think the parentheses and quote marks look lonely on the right side of the period mark – it just doesn’t work for the composition (visual) appearance. I must say that my lit professors didn’t let me slide on this, I do KNOW how to be proper, but I CHOOSE to NOT BE.

    John M – shoe sculpture? where can we view it – I have shoe and vintage garment sculptures – I love that whole rainment/trod theme . . .bliss

    Sandra – no doubt, you probably passed out inside the blankets and awakened later . . .

    Now, to follow my shot of Haven’s blog I will retire to the studio and finish the illustrations and a sculpture that is DUE at a MUSEUM on Wednesday and fix 2 sculptures that were damaged in the move that are also DUE on Wednesday – I think these triple deadlines were finally realized Friday night and I freaked out . . . um, you’d think I would be a bit more organized, no? I should have started my “discipline” which was so kindly lauded about a month ago and wouldn’t be cramming . . .

    Enjoy your blogging, will check in tonight!

  204. Blog Babies: I had a medical scare yesterday and was in the hospital until last night. Gak. I’m home now but I haven’t forgotten you.

    As for Oprah, it seems to me that she’s very independent in making her selections, and has taken real chances. Whatever gets people off the furniture and into a bookshop is good news — I’m proud of her.

  205. HK – hope you get well soon. Email John to bring you some of that special water – you are far too important to do it yourself. 🙂

  206. Sher – that all sounds very familiar. I am frantically trying to finish these sculptures and get them photographed by next week for a museum call. I am pretty much at the point of ‘ok – what can I skip that won’t show in the pictures??’ I’ll send a link to photos when these are ‘done’. I loved your ‘Sole Mates’ assemblage.

  207. Haven, Here’s something to make you feel better, or at least take your mind off your medical scare for a minute. I transferred my blog here to Jincy Willett’s blog, and she answered me there. (OMIGOSH, IT IS THE REAL JINCY WILLETT! Abra-ca-dabra Boo, Ms. Oh-Whistle-And-I’ll-Come-to-You-My-Lad Kimmel.) Here ’tis:

    Jincy wrote:
    Jodi, yes, it’s really me. (Shades of “The Best of Betty”….) Your “dichotomy” observation is interesting, and on-point, I think. What fiction writers do, basically, is make stuff up. Part of that entails assuming different personalities–inhabiting (or trying to) persona after persona. If you can’t do that, your characters won’t round out.

    The minute you put yourself out there–in the case of a writer, the minute you’re published–you become, in addition to the “real you” (whatever that is), a fictional character. It’s unavoidable, so why not, as that ugly old joke goes, enjoy it?

    Anyway, great to hear from you, Jodi.

    Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 10:20 am | Permalink

  208. Haven- so glad you are ok. My daughter and I were called to the hospital at 12:30 last night (or I should say this morning) as her boyfriend, who had dropped her off safely at home at 11:00, had dozed off at the wheel just a block from his house and crashed into a tree. His parents were in Atlanta so I was his surrogate mom for the night. It turned out that he had some internal injuries from the seat belt (talk about damned if you do , damned if you don’t) and had to be transferred by ambulance to Vanderbilt as we have a level 1 trauma center. So we followed them from his neighborhood out past the airport to Vandy where we spent the night watching him roll in and out of consciousness. I have mentioned before that daughter, Emma, and so also her boyfriend, whose name is Chance, attend Hume-Fogg academic magnet high school and there fore are smartypants. So, Emma sat in a chair holding a stuffed frog Chance had given her while reading Faulkner (I know! this post!) The doctor came in and commented on the Faulkner. Long story short (not really) Chance is now out of surgery- had to have a foot and a half of his small intestine removed – and will be in the hospital for a week. So, last week was spent playing nursemaid to my son who has mono and this week will be the daily visit to the hospital to check on the boyfriend. These things do not really come in threes, do they? Or, Suzanne, is it death that comes in threes? Funny how I needed to check in with my new special friends here. You all give me strength.

  209. The mere words *medical scare* completely made me freeze up and clutch the sofa arm!

    Yes, I’m praying for you, like it or not (making a winky face, even though I can’t wink at all. I am actually scrunching up my left cheek and my eye is still partially open, but the intention is pure.)

  210. TO GEORGE

    “Just a question: are you sometimes really surprised when you find something you wrote a long time ago or a while ago and it doesn’t at all sound like you are now?”

    Only constantly. Although, in Split, i was aware that i sort of leaned forward into the person i was becoming, esp. in the last chapter. Without evolution, the book would have blunted its own nail.

  211. I’m with you, Kate — “medical scare” made me bolt upright in my bed, hitting my head on the headboard. Haven, I hope everything is perfect now. You’re in my thoughts and prayers, as I’m sure you are in everyone else’s here.

  212. Haven – Get well soon, PLEASE! I fear we may all wither without your brilliance and wit.

    Linda – Our thoughts are also with you! My father believes nearly everything happens in threes.

  213. A FYI for all of you in North Carolina: GREENSBORO — Novelist John Irving will read at UNCG on Nov. 6.
    The event starts at 8 p.m. in Aycock Auditorium on campus. His reading is free and open to the public.
    Irving’s works include “The World According to Garp,” “The Hotel New Hampshire,” and “The Cider House Rules.” He won an Oscar in 2000 for his screen adaptation of “The Cider House Rules.”

    See you all there!

  214. Medical scares, accidents – will send some positive healing thoughts your ways – it is exhausting. The second week of school we went through 3 days of terror when Claire, our 5 year old, woke up and couldn’t walk . . . literally….

    we did the vandy tests, blood work, I mean this cannot be good . . . turns out she had a pulled tendon in one hip (probably from jumping off the huge boulders in our sloping yard) . . . three days of carrying her around from potty to couch, to . . . I am very thankful she has recovered and now ENJOY the sound of her jumping/stomping on the hardwoods (previously a pet peeve).

    Just watched When Nietzche Wept while working – great movie, Armand Assante plays Nietzche . . .

    John – don’t forget to send a link! I love discovering new artists . . .

  215. It does come in threes…my 2 year old niece has been hospitalized!

  216. Oh, Kate- I hope she is ok. Chance is in a room now but still has the neck brace thing on and is still pretty out of it. It really makes you wonder- if a seat belt can do this kind of damage I shudder to think what would have happened if he had not been wearing it.

  217. I believe in the threes thing. My wife, cousin, and a close friend were all diagnosed with cancer ON THE SAME DAY. I took the three off all my clocks in protest. The digitals were a bit more tricky but I prevailed.

    I got an email from our favorite author today and she will be back here soon I think. I can’t comment on her condition other than it didn’t involve taxidermy. I think we should all be thankful for that.

  218. Yes medical scare got my attention.

    I really hope this is not your arm (that damn story still give me shudders) or anything too serious.
    My wife and I are lighting a Summer Equinox candle for you.
    And her is a partial of one of my favorites for you

    “May the good Lord shine a light on you,
    Make every song you sing your favorite tune.
    May the good Lord shine a light on you,
    Warm like the evening sun.”

    Michael T

  219. Amen to that above, both here and beyond.

    Linda, thoughts and prayers go with your daughter’s friend.

    I don’t know if I believe in the law of three. I tend to think it is the law of three thousand. When one catastrophic thing enters our lives, it makes us more sensitive to the next couple of things.

    I do believe that the worst accidents happen on the most beautiful of days.

    With that cheery note, I am off to bed. Had anyone seen my bottle of Advil…my back is killing me from two long bicycle rides this weekend!

  220. George, you must have been in the room when Brian Doyle (Haven, heartbreakingly, was probably elsewhere at the conference, preparing to be starved into submission) said of 9/11, “Three of my friends were roasted to white ash that day — and you will remember that all over it country it was the most beautiful day in the history of the world.”

  221. RAMS: Brian Doyle’s comment was so searingly true. I wasn’t only thinking 9/11, but also my years of covering police exposed me to all kinds of disaster superstitions — many of them well-founded: bad things happen in threes, full moon = crime and mayhem, change of season = crime and mayhem. In police departments large and small, there was an expectation of nasty vehicle wrecks on beautiful days or moon-filled nights because every one was comforted and emboldened by the weather and not watching the road.

    …I won’t be able to shake the quote from Doyle from my brain for the rest of the day.

  222. PRIVATE (not really) TO TIM: I can’t imagine much of a worse day than what happened to you and those loved ones. No wonder you removed the threes. Sometimes I am tempted to just remove clocks…they rule so ruthlessly. Do you still live in Indiana? Curious about your photography, too. Do you still mess with Tri-X and chemicals or are you totally digital?

  223. George said, “When one catastrophic thing enters our lives, it makes us more sensitive to the next couple of things.”

    That is so true. Being emotionally raw as well as physically exhausted makes me feel as though I am doing walking meditation. I feel more and even seem to be more sensitive to light and sound. And, it makes me more easily distracted than I am normally, which seems almost impossible given my usual 1 second attention span.

  224. George, I’m with you on the removal of clocks. If I wasn’t a corporate drone I’d chuck every one of mine out the window.

    Yes, still in Indiana. We moved from Indy to Greenfield about 5 years ago. Except for a couple of years in Columbus, OH, central Indiana has always been home.

    As for the photography, I am by no means a professional. It is my coping mechanism. I went digital last June and have shot film only once since. It was disastrous and I parked my Pentax K-1000 for good. I shoot whatever makes me happy through the lens. I’m not so much for people, but I’ve been cajoled by a few for kids photos. Mostly it’s landscapes, nature, things that don’t talk back. Well…verbally at least. If you’d like to see some of my work, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/skinart920/. There are about 2700 photos there – or about 10 percent of what I currently have on hand.

  225. I googled Jincy Willett recently, after reading and loving The Writing Class. Came upon your blog and was horrified to read the comments re. her pic. Are you people kidding? Did it ever occur to you that the internet is not a private place? Did it ever occur to you that maybe she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about presenting a pretty face – which she could absolutely have done, with make up and lighting – that maybe her choice of picture had everything to do with her opinion of the requirement of putting a face to the work? How gracious she was to offer a response – I’m embarrassed for you guys.

  226. Iris, I e-mailed you privately. In the meantime, see this in my palm? It’s easy, take it.

  227. PRIVATE (not really) to IRIS:

    I think you are attributing a spirit of meanness to this group, which is simply not the case. Most of the people here are far more interested in what is on the inside of a person’s head than what anyone sees on the outside. Stick with us, read some of the blog replies, especially the ones in the Other Writers postings and you’ll see.

  228. PRIVATE (not really) TO TIM:

    There was a time when I thought I would like to be a shooter. I really, really love photography. I can go to exhibits and spend hours examining shots, particularly B&W. I am fasciated by how they capture not only the spectrum of emotions, thoughts and feelings, but they also snag and preserve time itself.

    I have my old Canon AE-1 parked, too. Been digital for years. I like it, but I am unnerved by it for some reason.

  229. TIM…I especially liked the sunset reflected in the car windows…deep shot, there, and your Shelbyville studies are evocative. I always liked Shelbyville — just has a good feel to it. Don’t know if the Shelbyville News is any good, but at one time that newspaper hummed like a bluegrass band.

  230. George-

    Toss the advil and switch to Naprosyn – you can take one in the morning and one at night – generic for ALEVE . . . as a previous advil junkie, it works out cheaper, an aleve a day keeps the creaks away . . . and wards off migraines, pms (which may not have to concern yourself with), and tics of the eye.

  231. Would’ve loved to hear how the kids at school reacted to the Nightmare before Christmas DVD?
    Did they fall in love with Jack Skellington, Sarah, Oogie?

    What’s this? There’s Children everywhere…

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