Friday, January 30, 2009

A class action against the city of New Orleans?

I don't know how these things work, or if it is even possible, but I do know that I've heard a lot of talk in the past month or so that perhaps there will be a class action lawsuit filed against the city in response to their inability to effectively police their citizens. Certainly, it makes sense. In the past two years, in spite of increasing crime and unrest, virtually no action has been taken. The police are rarely seen outside of their cars. Records are not kept and not released. Police ignore calls or dispatch never bothers delivering the information. An independent report was commissioned and ignored. And so on...

But, given the level of inertia in city hall, would even filing a class action inspire anything other than a vigorous defense?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Memorial scheduled for Ellen Miller, February 8th

A memorial for Ellen Miller
Sunday February 8th, 2009
Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House
58 West 10th Street
New York, New York

I posted a few weeks ago about the death of my friend Ellen, who had a heart attack on December 17th and died on the 22nd. She and I had met in a writing workshop at the Westside Y in 1994--although actually we met for the first time in a workshop in 1992. In the first workshop, Ellen called me after the first week to ask if I would turn something in in her place the following week. It was a strange, dramatic phone call, and she kept talking to me long after the issue of turning something in was resolved. She never returned to the class, and there really is no reason that either of should have remembered such a brief encounter, but two years later we were sitting around another room at the Y, with another teacher, and Ellen arrived for the first class with a 30 page short story that was passed around the room for discussion the following week. The story was called "Water Sports" and when I saw the title, I looked back down the table to see who had written it. She smiled this wicked little smile that she deployed on a regular basis with friends, and later she said, "You know, we met before." But I remembered.

I went to Columbia. She went to NYU. I would take the train to meet her or we would talk on the phone late at night. She wrote big, long, heady scenes. I wrote short, clipped, minimalist stuff. But often what we were writing about was essentially the same. Later, when my collection came out and her novel was released in paperback, we toured the west coast together. She had cats. I had dogs. When we disagreed, we did it in extremes, but we were still friends. Once, when I visited her apartment, I found books exploded everywhere throughout the living room. In the middle of the night, the shelves had pulled away from the wall and deposited books across every surface. And it stayed like that for a while, so you couldn't ever sit down to talk to her without rearranging books. But that's what her life was about, after all.

Are pit bulls now acceptable in the publishing world

After The Dogs Who Found Me came out three years ago, I mentioned that I wanted to write a social history of the American Pit Bull. No one was interested. My book, with a pit bull on the cover, went on to sell over 50,000 copies and my publisher wanted another book. I suggested a social history of the American Pit Bull. They weren't interested. I met with another publisher, suggested an approach, almost agreed to compromise, and yet it was made clear that there was little support for the book, and I decided to wait til someone really understood what I wanted to do, and that there was an audience for it. A few months ago I started working on a new proposal on the same subject, and then, suddenly, pit bulls were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Now comes the news that the Sports Illustrated author has signed a deal to write "The Lost Dogs"--an account of the the Vick dogs and their lives after being rescued.

Is there still room for another pit bull book on the shelf?

I've disappeared into Facebook

It has happened. After months, even years, of people telling me I should be on Facebook, I broke down and signed up, and I haven't been seen since. It is a great tool for keeping old friends at your fingertips and engaging in passing conversation as if you still live in the same neighborhood. And, they make it very easy to share news stories and videos. So, you can find a page there for me, and a page for fans of my books who might want to receive updates or discuss my work, or for people who want to be involved with The Sula Foundation.

And, now that I've gotten over my first wave of infatuation with Facebook, you'll see me posting more often back here.