I’m back

It’s been sort of fun not writing. And not the not-writing that you do when you’re supposed to be writing, but the not-writing you do when you have decided to do something else for a change–finishing a barn, working on my fleet of cars, helping your kid build his rock crawler, although every day he leaves me farther behind in the dust, skill-wise.

Not that it’s been all not-writing. I wrote a review for the Times Book Review.  And one for AMerican Scholar, of Leslie Jamison’s wonderful book, The Empathy Exams. An essay for The Believer, which is also sort of a book review, that will see the light of day sometime this decade, and another one that’s still only a twinkle in the eye of an editor at a journal that has “book review” in its title. I guess book reviews are what writers do when they are not-writing.

One reason I’ve been not-writing is that there is so much else to do, much of it gratifying in ways that writing can’t be. Hammer nails, saw a 2×4, put wrench to bolt, split wood–the rewards are so pure and immediate: a new building, a car that runs, a stack of firewood. And if you strip the bolt or muff the cut, you just fix that problem, no harm, no foul, no wondering whether you are stupid or senile or just a fraud. But another reason is that I would like to bust out of the psychiatry ghetto, and that’s harder to do than I wish it were.

Or it was anyway, until my neighbors handed me an opportunity. They didn’t mean to do that. They just meant to make themselves feel better about what they considered a disaster: a group home moved into town, and two of its three residents were registered sex offenders. Because I am the chairman of our local zoning board (or at least I think this is why), I was held responsible for their terror, and the result was a donnybrook of Hawthornian proportion. Which, naturally, I wrote about. It’s got a little bit about the mental health industry in it–mostly because my membership in that racket became part of the charges against me–but mostly it’s about other matters. Mostly it’s about the truth of the Sartrean maxim about Hell and other people.

The resulting essay constitutes my first foray into e-publishing. It’s a kindle single. I know, I know: amazon?! Well, don’t worry, I’m not going to be moving dead bodies for Jeff Bezos or attending his secret parties anytime soon. I consider this a long-awaited reach around, which is about all we lowly content serfs can expect these days, but is better than a sharp stick in the eye. Or in the somewhere else. And the folks at kindle singles have been very kind and helpful and competent, and they came up with a really nice cover. The essay is called Scotland (which is the name of the town that gave me my Hester Prynne moment), and it costs $1.99. You can find it here. I guarantee you it will be worth your two bucks to read it, and if it makes you feel any better (or less scornful), I get to keep $1.40 of that. (I know that makes me feel better.) And for your trouble I am throwing in, absolutely free, a an epilogue, right here on this blog.

OK. Enough justification. Next up, the epilogue.



Leave a Reply