The "Fix" Newsletter - News You Can't Use Edition
March 28, 2020
Greetings Fellow Bibliophiles!
I hope this newsletter finds you healthy and hanging in there as we go through these surreal times together. For those who are struggling or ill right now, I wish you strength and healing to come through this and recover quickly.
I know I've been looking for ways to escape and keep the anxiety at bay, so if it helps at all, here's some news you can't use to lighten your day.
For this month's lightning round of updates:
1. From the Spam Folder:
We all know that most email programs like to tell you what's important by categorizing your emails. Outlook prioritizes between "Focused," "Other," and "Junk."
After I almost missed out on an author interview because the email wound up in "junk," I decided it would be best to give the folder a look on a regular basis.
Being a child of the 70's, I still struggle with social media, cell phones, and computers. I remember phone booths. Does anyone else remember phone booths? Vinyl records? I still miss my word processor. My word processor never gave me the blue screen of death. My word processor didn't perform endless updates and mock me with a spinning circle that never ends. My word processor turned on, I typed what I needed to, and I saved the information to a floppy disk. And by the way, does anyone remember floppy disks? But I digress. The point is, I use computers, cell phones, and social media, etc., but I'm not really comfortable with them. I amuse myself by imagining I am a low-key, mostly offline, anonymous individual.
That's so cute, isn't it?
So, now I look through the Junk email folder and realize, all of these people, whoever they are, have my email address. I'm out there. They are sending me messages. Who are these people? And why is it they think I need to Get Matched With Singles, Invest in Gold, Get a New Mattress, Fix My Arms, Waist, and Thighs (gee, thanks for noticing), Get a New Mortgage AND a Walk In Safety Tub. I need printer ink, a time share, and someone named Emery offered to be my "present" for the evening. Thanks, but not tonight Emery, I have to wash my hair.
Then you have the Lex Luthors of the world sending phishing emails for personal information. The urgent notice from not UPS with an update on a package I never ordered is not going to get me to open the email, but it is going to make me wonder if I'm suffering from early on-set dementia. Did I order something? When did I do this?
I am not as anonymous as I would like but I'm not ready to go John Malkovich from the movie Red. So, what to do?
I'm not sure. I still check the Spam folder every day or so, just in case there's an email telling me my book won a contest. Nothing yet. Just a notice from Jeffrey scolding me not to waste time on advertising that doesn't work. Umm, take your own advice Jeffrey. Maybe you shouldn't waste time on emails that don't work. Just saying.
2. Off the Bookshelf:
Did you ever borrow or buy a book and you instantly bond with the characters, the writing, the scene, the story? This is the book you've been waiting for your whole life. This author is amazing and how is it I didn't know about this author before this minute that I picked up this book??
I recently had that experience. I am on Facebook and although I'm delinquent as far as posting, I do get good stuff in my feed. I often see articles from Crime Reads and they had compiled a list of the best crime fiction writers. Authors Donald E. Westlake and Richard Stark were included on the list; except they is actually him; they are the same person.
Under Donald E. Westlake, the author wrote the John Dortmunder novels. Here's another "child of the 70's" throwback for you: does anyone remember the movie The Hot Rock? One of my Robert Redford favorites, I had no idea the movie came from a book. I took out what was available in my library, found it was out of series order but didn't care as I happily discovered there are 14 novels in the series. (14! Yay!)
Westlake's books are a master class in writing the comic crime caper. Well-developed characters, narrative that snaps, crackles, and shines, it's a writer's dream to read these books and go over the sentences again and again to examine the words he chooses and how he paints pictures of New York City. John Dortmunder is a smart thief who can't seem to catch a break, but it's so much fun to watch him try. I especially admire how Westlake managed to continue writing the series over the decades and included the small, necessary updates for time and technology and yet the characters never aged. The author never missed a step.
I am so lucky that the local library system makes it possible to get library books from any library in the county. I had promptly requested and received the next five books. Ever since the pandemic struck it's been pretty hard to concentrate, but it's still comforting to have them and I try to read a little very night before bed.
The author passed away in 2008 but there's still a website available here: https://www.donaldwestlake.com/
You can also learn more there about the Parker novels that he wrote under the name Richard Stark.
Have you come across a book series that grabbed a hold of you and you can't put it down? I want to hear about it! Get in touch and let me know!
3. Poetry: I saw this on Instagram from Nikita Gil. Love this description of women, reminds me of Katerina:
Difficult Damsels by Nikita Gil:
Not all girls are made of sugar
and spice and all things nice.
These are girls made of dark lace
and witchcraft and a little bit of vice.
These are daughters made claw first
and story-mad, tiger roar and wolf-bad.
These are women made of terrible tempests
and savage storms and the untamed unwanted.
These are damsels made of flawless fearlessness
made of more bravery than knights have ever seen.
These are princesses made of valour and poison alike
and they are here to hold court as your queens.
5. Odds and Ends:
I'm hooked on a new song that sums up Kat and Winter further down the line of the series, Maren Morris'
I've been thinking about the meditation training course I took a few years ago. I never get on the cushion as much as I should. The course used the book Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana.
I do remember one of the lines of the recitation before the practice begins.
May all living beings be well, happy, and peaceful.
Lovely thought to send out into the universe.