I borrowed (cough:stole:cough) the idea of a “tapas platter” blog post from award winning writer Brian Fies.
I went into downtown Santa Rosa on Friday. For those of you not “in the know” about Sonoma County, a brewery on Fourth Street named Russian River Brewers releases its limited run IPA Pliny the Younger for two weeks in February. It started on Friday. There was line for three blocks. People bring lawn chairs and groups take shifts. People will put 2019’s release date on their calendars today. It’s a big deal.
After I got my printing done at Fed Ex (my printer died) I walked across the street to check out Treehorn Books. Then I went to a taqueria called Palomar for lunch. It was nearly empty after the lunch rush but while I was eating a couple came in. The woman said, “What’s going on? No, seriously, what’s going on? Are they filming a movie down there or something?” The counter man said, “Pliny the Younger,” but she didn’t understand him, partly because of his accent and partly, I think, because the title “Pliny the Younger” is not something you generally hear in casual conversation.
“What? What?” she said.
I leaned around the corner and repeated, “Pliny the Younger. It’s a beer release.”
“A beer release.”
“No, seriously? Beer?”
The news said that it was 76 degrees in Santa Rosa yesterday. My car thermometer read 79, but I parked on the top floor of the parking structure in direct sun, so that might have read high.
I haven’t written a review yet, but already, in January, I have read what I know will be one of my Best Reads of 2018. Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn West, is hard-headedly realistic, brutally naturalistic and filled with magic. No elves and unicorns magic here, but the supernatural; the influence of unsettled spirits and a deep connection to the earth. The book’s structure is a road trip, a terrifying one. West’s characters are complete, deep and nuanced, and perhaps the best example of that is Leonie, the character I wanted to hate. Leonie is the neglectful mother of the main character JoJo and his three-year-old sister, and believe me, “neglectful” doesn’t begin to describe her. I wanted to hate her, but by the end I couldn’t. I still didn’t approve of her, but I actually understood her. This is a writing triumph.
I will write something longer, but for right now, put it on your list. Warning: physical violence, foul language, graphic descriptions of animal butchery and torture of humans. Not a word of that is gratuitous.
Friday Spouse and I were sitting in the family room reading with the slider open because it was so warm. We heard a squirrel chattering. From the neighbor’s redwood tree, a jay started squawking. A crow answered, and another squirrel joined in. Then one of the hawks shrieked, three times, and the yard got silent.
Writing hadn’t gone well for a couple of weeks. Then I finished up a second draft of a story that was inspired by a writing prompt. A few days after that, I got an idea for a novella that continues “the adventures” of the characters in that first story. I have 5000+ words on the novella so far.
Locus has put out its reading recommendations from 2017. If you like speculative fiction you will like this list.