The only thing I ever wanted to do was write my way through the crowded sidewalks of America. I couldn’t have inherited that, and that I aimed for New York specifically was nothing but chance. My parents were born in the midwest, met in Buffalo, and moved to a nice suburb in central New York to raise a family. The closest, best place to get a gallon of milk where I grew up was the dairy farm at the bottom of the hill. My Uncle Louis bought me a New York Mets pennant when I was eight, and what I liked best was its geometric skyline of the city. I’ve been a Mets fan ever since, but the only part of their logo I could draw with a gun to my head would be those little rectangular buildings, and the orange and blue, and the sky.
I know I shouldn’t have written this book. It’s not supposed to replace anything for you. I’m not doing this for kicks. It’s not easy to tell a story that everyone knows. And it’s not much fun to tell one you’ve told a million times already. What may not be immediately obvious is that as difficult, painful, and stupid as this must seem from where you’re sitting, it remains the only solution to a serious problem. What began as writer’s block has become quite the opposite. I can’t stop writing about it, no matter how much I try. This isn’t an attempt to repeat yet again the same story we’ve all heard before, it’s an attempt to write myself out of the thousands of pages and days of explanations, to try to reframe the confusion that’s been pouring out of me for the past several years. If I don’t stop the momentum of it, it’s going to chew me up or swallow me whole—it wouldn’t matter much either way.
...And so it begins. I'm no Kerouac, but on December 26, 2009, I sat down to write the novel that had been stewing in my brain for the previous eight years, and three weeks later I had a first draft ready to go, and I started shopping it.
Now, six months and several drafts later, I'm still shopping it, and, frankly, I'm running out of time, so I'm taking the show on the road, as it were. After all, if there's one thing America promises, it's the open road ahead. And since I cant afford much gas and god knows when my clutch or coils are finally going to give out, the information superhighway is the only road I've got.
So buckle up.
I'm not here to talk about the wreckage I've left behind. Thats a whole other story, and, much like the flattened possum on the roadside with its snarly sharp teeth frozen in anguish, not one fit for public consumption. Suffice it to say, I'm not pitching my personality. I'm pitching my book.
I'm also not here to bitch and complain about how impossible it is to sell a vampire-less, self-deprecating, semi-autobiographical novel about the American dream to a nation full of idiots and the literary agents who love them. Thats the kind of thing that can be accomplished in a single sentence, so it's hardly worthy of this kind of attention.
Nor am I here to reproduce the entertaining but hedonistic crimes of my past that, for so long, kept beautiful readers, sports fans and freewheeling leftists on the edges of their seats. Gone are the chocolate jesuses, the serpent-haired pimps of freedom, and poop sketches. At least for now. Those were for more carefree days, when jobs were plentiful and I had an easy excuse for my madness.
No no—now it's time to grow up and get serious.
So stay tuned for more brilliant commentary about writing, literature, truth-in-fiction, recurring fads, spiritual enlightenment, and—best of all—exclusive excerpts from "The Light That We Can See," a new novel by yours truly, about how our worst nightmares can sometimes fix our most broken dreams, as long as we can keep our eyes on the road, and not the rear-view mirror.