In the Snow
5 February 2020
Bonjour Dear… Ubriaco:
So you crazy bastard, life has been treating you okay? Still, I bet you’re drunk as you read this. You probably just recalled that “Ubriaco” means “drunk” in Italian.
Last year, we were here in La Clusaz too, but with an Irish friend and her 14 year old daughter. This time it’s just the Mrs. and I. So I’m sitting here in our favorite French village trying NOT to write anything for my next book. A stupid idea that is? It is. But I’m just enjoying NOT writing for a few months.
But I find I’m thinking ahead. You can’t say you are a writer and not be writing or at least planning to write. When I’m between novels I’m always worried I’m about done; that I have nothing left to write about. Then I think of it…
A writer always says this about the latest, but I do believe it about this one. You have no idea how proud I am of this:
I could die now. I think it is the best thing I have ever written. So no pressure then on myself with what follows, right? LOL!
Speaking of pressure on someone else. This overheated nonsense over that “American Dirt” book. Yeh, we agree. That’s what you get when you play with fire. Immigration. The southern U.S. border. Drugs. Gangs. And now she’s getting blowback. But we all know if you are gonna write contentious stuff, you are gonna get hit. Yet isn’t that what we are trying to do – write “hard-hitting” stuff that gets half the world annoyed at us?
It is probably about 180 years since Americans honestly embraced a foreigner in writing about America’s troubles: Tocqueville, and mostly because the French dude clearly liked America overall. We should be the best of friends, but because of idiots on both sides of the border, it seems impossible. We can forget that much like some Americans some Mexicans are relentless flag-waving nationalists too. Never even imply to them their country isn’t heaven on earth, because if you do they go as nuts as some Americans do if, say, an Englishman dares to whisper on the BBC that… maybe a Kindergarten teacher should not need to carry a 9mm; in response to something as mild as that, those latter-day “American patriots” are usually within about 30 seconds re-fighting the Battle of Saratoga and burning George III in effigy like it’s 1777 once more.
So some critics, the Mexican ones in particular, were always gonna eat an American like Cummins alive for writing what she wrote and if she didn’t see that was coming she was seriously naive. I read some writer in Texas – who bravely writes about not people but about gargoyles – tweet that Cummins didn’t know the “very basics” about Mexico and Mexicans. Uh, huh. In a country that sees an average of 10 women murdered daily, usually by men, in writing a Mexican woman main character fleeing to the U.S. from murderous thugs, is that daily body count fact one of them?
My uncle you remember appeared as a guest on Oprah’s original TV talk show in the late 1980s. (I now recall my mother laying into him afterwards for wearing a sweater, not a suit.) He thought Oprah was brilliant, so I admit that influences my opinion of her: I’m biased. Since then her stature has become interstellar. Oprah loves “American Dirt.” If Oprah likes you as a writer now, you have f-cking MADE IT. You are a SUCCESS now! So lots of middling writers are gonna hate you with the blazing heat of 50,000 suns and look to pick apart every word and sentence you write, and probably drunk tweet you at 4am about how some sentence lacks a period on page 142 and no one caught it. Ah, ha! they snap. Got you! You fraud!
Too many writers you and I both know are a jealous, nasty herd. Unless you are really friends like we are (well, most of the time anyway), all of this being “supportive” of other authors rubbish you see on Twitter is just that – rubbish. Some new writers actually believe the “supportive” stuff until they find out that nothing makes some of their “colleagues” feel better about their own c-ap writing than seeing someone else go down in social media and book sales flames. Why do you think they pile on other writers such as that woman writer from near Buffalo who simply deigned to tweet that she doesn’t like seeing authors glibly writing “f-ck” because she feels that’s not exactly imaginative. OH! MY! GOD! EVERYONE DRAG HER TO THE TWITTER TOWN SQUARE, PUT HER IN THE STOCKS, AND PELT HER WITH CAT S-IT! What a bunch of literary geniuses. Any 14 year old can say “f-ck.” And all of those cat s-it throwing future Man Booker Prize winners damn well know that. So what the hell is the big deal about her tweeting that opinion? #WritingCommunity my you know what. Some are no better than trolls. F-ck ’em. There, what stunning imagination I just used in writing that there, eh?
That pic? We bought that for my last few nights here. I could use a cognac or two, but if you were here I wouldn’t offer you any, I’d hide it. I want to come back here again. You know as well as I do you’d end up hanging over the apartment balcony rail plastered and trying to sing to the bewildered French below “Frere Jacques” to the tune of “Paperback Writer,” or even, god help us all within hearing range, “La Marseillaise.”
Oh, and I’m sure you’ve heard that the UK has left the EU. Mass civil disorder, and continental cheese import and new BMW shortages, seem not YET to have hit the UK. Ironically the country where protests and even rioting against the government has been occurring for months in Europe has actually been here in EU-stalwart France, as workers protest pension reforms. (Seems they don’t want to work beyond age 62 or something. Vive la France!) The feared UK post-Brexit toilet paper and Marmite shortages seem not to have YET materialized either. (I never liked Marmite, so couldn’t care less; but we are bringing back some toilet rolls to England and I’ve already asked my dad to ship me some from America if need be.) An even bigger fear, though, I hear is now arising among many British, says the BBC, and it has to do with our America: that Trump has already approved U.S. farmers secretly feeding British children chlorinated-water-washed chicken craftily diluted and then injected into U.S.-exported Oreos.
About your former Mrs: so she has indeed left you for good? Well, you know you deserved her walking out on you after Scotland and that you know that she had a right to leave you makes you a rare guy. Go now find some nice woman who will hit you over the head with a baseball bat if you step a foot wrong. You need that from a woman. She’s out there somewhere.
Take care of yourself. And get to writing the new novel… like you keep telling me you intend to! Write me back only when you are sober enough to compose a paragraph that makes some damn sense.
UPDATE: Oops. I thought I was writing an email? But I was using WordPress?
Gee, it’s good I have nothing to hide from you guys… LOL!
You get I was having some fun there. That is the sort of email or Facebook message my (now late) uncle – whose 80th birthday would have been February 29 (he was literally born on a leap year day, another reason we all thought he was nuts) – and I often exchanged over the years. I miss that. We all need someone in life upon whom we can privately unload without fear.
Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂