Archive for the ‘John Dufresne’ Category

Norton to publish new Dufresne novel Requiem, Mass

January 13, 2008

According to the blurb at Amazon, John’s novel, Requiem, Mass. due out from Norton on July 18:

takes us to Requiem, Mass., heart of the Commonwealth, where Johnny’s mom, Frances, is driving in the breakdown lane once again. She thinks Johnny and his little sister Audrey have been replaced by aliens; she’s sure of it, and she’s pretty certain that she herself is already dead, or she wouldn’t need to cover the stink of her rotting flesh with Jean Naté Après Bain. Dad, truck driver and pathological liar, is down South somewhere living his secret life. And Audrey, when she’s not walking her cat Deluxe in a baby stroller, spends her time locked in a closet telling herself stories. Johnny, meanwhile, is hell-bent on saving the family from itself.

For some reason Amazon says you’ll like this book if you liked Ratatouille. I’ll have to ask him if he knows why. Something is kerflewy with the page at Norton–when you
search on the title, the link takes you to three books on militant Islam. Evidently it has something to do with the ISBN. I’ve let John know by email and will post a link, once it’s working properly.

As regular readers know, I’m a fan of John’s. I upgraded the Wikipedia stub on him to an article in August 2005 and his books made it to my top ten list in my post “Books That Meet the Gold Standard” from December 7, 2007.

Ten days after that entry, John had to start a new blog after his site crashed. Somehow he lost the archives to his old blog which he started in 2004. When I checked the for him, there were entries posts for him that year covering the periods:

The last crawl that captured anything was for the period July 1 – August 31, 2006. After that, the links for webcrawls bring up this message:

Not in Archive. The page you requested has not been archived. If the page is still available on the Internet, we will begin archiving it during our next crawl. Try another request or click here to search for all pages on See the FAQs for more info and help, or contact us.

Obviously, something is wacky and a promise to crawl again is too little. too late. Similarly, with Yahoo about to bail on my blog at 360, I’m not much comforted by the Internet Archive covering me only at great intervals in 2006, with none of the links to prior entries having been recorded. Sigh. Joe Dunphy tried to download my entries to his Dad’s computer, but he can’t seem to email me a copy. I did discover tonight that I can backdate any entry that I transfer manually, but haven’t yet figured how to get them to archive by anything other than year.

I did find a link there to a television interview I hadn’t known about on cable access:

One of John’s readers and now mine since April of 2007, Joe from Cheese, TX sent along a link you might enjoy, to the Salem, Virginia (since 1936) meatpacker Valleydale’s archive of

TV commercials created in the late 50s featured animated pigs working or marching in a parade, playing band instruments and singing the “Hooray for Valleydale” jingle.

As I told him in my thank you note,

Valleydale’s ham comes to me by way of Cheese. Now all we need is Rye. (Maybe wry will count.)

Speaking of the 50’s he answered with a description of growing up on what he’s called in the past the “dark side of the [Mill Mountian] star”:

ya gotta remember i went to a 2 room school…
an iron stained Howdy Doody glass (water from a pump in the schoolyard) and we stayed warm
by taking turns carrying coal in to a stove in the middle of the room.
(sign of bigness was to be perceived to be big enough to carry the bucket WITH COAL.)


Bless you, Mr. Vonnegut…

April 12, 2007

Photo of Kurt Vonnegut by Fred R. Conrad of The New York Times

I learned at John Dufresne’s blog that Vonnegut had died at 84 after a fall. So as to pass muster with the library cyberpatrol which sometimes blocks John, I ‘ll merely say, “Durn!” Katherine Graham died the same way and at the same age almost six years ago. In Vonnegut’s memory, here’s the saga of the faux 1997 commencement address from James S. Huggins (email–if you delete “FIXME”). And here’s a poignant memorial from (2005, 2006), which is maintained by silkscreen artist Joe Petro III. (email)


John is thinking of travelling to a spa with fish in the bathtub to cure his psoriasis after reading this article in the Guardian. He may want to go grab some olive oil and/or vitamin E ampules to alternate with an aplication of Pretty Feet and Hands after he looks at this virtual tour of “Kangal psoriasis fishy treatment center” which Blue World Travel – Deren Koray Tourism–mentioned in the article–posted at its site. Or it could be a Short Story Waiting to Be Written. Here’s its description of the accomodations:

A first class section having private bath, a minibar, ground based central heating system, spacious and well furnished rooms, internal telephone communication system is widely preferable for staying. A second class section rooms has also private bath however the rooms are more smaller, and having lack of features that A class offers. As a recommendation of our company, we encourage our patients to stay at A class section of the treatment center.

Unlike the other accommodation types, the center can be called as hotel however due to the strict rules of the treatment, patients must take healthy precautions like bringing their own belongings necessary for overnight stays such as towels, sleepers, soaps or shampoos. Those can also be obtained from mini market placed at the base level of the building….

Treatment center also boasts with the fresh and very clean weather all year round thanks to the isolated location from the main city. Also visitors and the patients gets the advantage of high altitude (1650 mt from the sea level), the sunny sky during the 280 days of the year. Due to the high level of altitude, the UV rays which is essentially good for the skin, gives a physical and side effect for the derm having psoriasis of the patients.


Speaking of sunny skies–it’s cold and rainy as I write this–it was almost Spring on March 8 and House Commmittee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos (D-CA)’s thoughts must have been turning to the growing season (of discontent with the Administration) in this statement at the “Foreign Assistance Reform” hearing (video). I think this qualifies as the Quote of the Day.

Mr. Ambassador – in Administration policies by individuals who come from the corporate world, where the top-down approach is the preferred modus operandi, and are thrust into a Congressional climate where persuading members of Congress, recognizing its function as a coequal branch of government, is a more accepted modus operandi.

I call this “tycoonitis” – people who come from the top of the corporate ladder who consider Congressional suggestions, requests for information, and participation in decision-making as intruding on their turf.

Ambassador Randall Tobias, as the first-ever Director of Foreign Assistance, you have been on the job for over a year. Your task was to reshape — carefully, delicately — and to bring order to our country’s tangled thicket of assistance efforts overseas. Instead, it appears to many members of this committee, you took to it with a weed-whacker. And the results are predictably unfortunate….

We are not a potted plant watching the Administration function. We are part of the decision-making process.

Wonder what Lantos thinks about the recess appointments?

Of Pharisees and Plotto

January 26, 2006

I was pretty amused that the pop-up ads at (dedicated to the Holy Heart of Mary) were all directed at those of us of the Jewish faith–a Jewish dating service, a Jewish High School, a Jewish t-shirt company. Yes, a Jewish t-shirt company,–their slogan, “Jews Kick Ass!” (see above)

I was on NewAdvent to check out the Catholic Encylopedia and its definition of “Pharisees”.

A politico-religious sect or faction….[when the] monarchial form of government had become a thing of the past; in its place [was created] a community which was half State, half Church. A growing sense of superiority to the heathen and idolatrous nations among whom their lot was cast came to be one of their main characteristics.

Sound familiar? Writer John Dufresne in an email today, asked me about Alito. I will be surprised if isn’t a done deal. The problem lies with who’s in the White House. Many in this country seem to cave to the right. Take the example of even that mildly amusing television program, the Book of Daniel. The American Family Association crows about its power of the pocketbook quoting its chairman Donald E. Wildmon:

NBC didn’t want to eat their economic losses…Had NBC not had to eat millions of dollars each time it aired, NBC would have kept ‘Daniel’ alive. But when the sponsors dropped the program, NBC decided it didn’t want to continue the fight.

AFA claims 2 million supporters online. Does that mean they count me, since I registered for the newsletter, just to keep an eye on them? These are the same folks who are reminding their followers to call for an up or down vote on Alito. Someone should remind these Pharisees that it’s too soon to use that slogan after their treatment of that “closet liberal” Harriet Meyers.

It seems Mazeltough posts a lot of ads. One blogger, Vampirical, (Jeff Marion) actually questioned the addition to his site by Google ads on November 30. Through his site I learned about (Global Network of Dreams), the cool site artificial intelligence experiment of Marek Gibney of Hamburg, Germany. In his subsite, Gnooks, type in any three names of authors you like and it will recommend a fourth.

John Dufresne

Ed Falco

Bobbie Ann Mason

yields John Yount. I haven’t read him, but I just may. Am on my way over to the library for the writer’s practice group. By the way, substitue Marc Estrin for Bobbie Ann and you get Richard Russo. William Stafford for Bobbie Ann and you get May Sarton.

By the way, did you know that for folks who can’t type, there’s actually a site, That’s a good thing, because I can’t. In fact, I just went back to this entry and corrected Bobbie Ann’s name. (Yes, I know her from the Hindman Settlement School, where I walked her back to the Quiltmaker’s Inn, but maybe I should still call her Ms. Mason.)

When I originally typed it Mason’s name, Gnook suggested “Bobby”. Since John Yount seemed on target and I lack confidence in both my spelling and my memory, I acceded. (Which I had to look up to get the spelling–did you know it also means to take the throne? That threw me (pun intended.) Then John Dufresne wrote me back, that Gnook mispelled Alice Munro’s name. Maybe because the creator’s German?

John’s blog has a new feature, excerpts from Plotto: the Master Book of All Plots. He cites this one on January 25:

Involved in a Hopeless Love Affair, and Seeking to make the best of a Disheartening Situation: “A, and his friend A-2, traveling together, meet with a tragic accident in which A-2 is killed. Before he dies, A-2 requests A to carry the news of his death to his sweetheart, B. A proceeds with his mission.”

Evidently, screenwriter/director Don Roos has a copy of Plotto. Consider his minor movie, Bounce: A man switches plane tickets with another man who dies in that plane in a crash. The man, feeling guilty, goes to check up on the widow and falls in love.

Is anything starring Ben Affleck except Good Will Hunting and Dogma minor? Roos also wrote The Opposite of Sex, Boys on the Side, and Love Field.

By the way, I wonder if John knows that the original author of Plotto, Michiganer

William Wallace Cook, prolific writer of dime novels. Heroes such as Frank Merriwell, Nick Carter, and Buffalo Bill were his specialty. Employed by Street and Smith, serial publishers, Cook’s problems in turning out quantities of material on a tight schedule were described in the autobiographical account, The Fiction Factory. He later systematized his writing technique in Plotto, A New Method of Creative Fiction.

By the way, evidently Plotto is also a board game. Which is seredipitous, because, I was just about to pass on something about games which I got from the Guardian’s news alert today.

I subscribe for its superior news coverage, not games. Yes and you bought Playboy for the interviews? You can now now download authentic Japanese hand drawn “addictive” sudokus, rather than their computer-designed imposters at its site.

(Sounds like a poem form). Dell used to call them Number.Places until a few months ago. I used to work them first in every issue of their Math and Logic Puzzles. They are addictive.