Wednesday, December 17, 2014

End of the year message, and happy holidays to all of you

Hi everyone, and thank you so much for your continuing support and messages and commentary from all over the place including, most recently, Latvia. I appreciate it. Just wanted to ask for your patience. My year-end hibernation is coming up.  I am heading toward a summer turn-in deadline for my new book, the same nonfiction project that has taken me into the Everglades and into the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, and also into the Sierra Nevada. And yes, this is the same project that involved a bare-naked campout in mountain lion territory that you've probably heard about by now. Gives me the chills just thinking about that one. When the time is right, I'll tell you all about that, too.  I am now getting myself ready for what could be the last research campout for this book -- although there is a chance I'll add yet another one in the coming months. That's the main reason we haven't been having beers together recently or meeting for coffee. It's also the reason that I've flaked out on analog birthday cards lately and have resorted to Facebook birthday greetings. Sorry. I've had some exciting news lately. It was great to be added to the roster of Catamaran literary magazine's upcoming literary conference in Pebble Beach, my first ever, and in such great company. I had a great talk for about an hour and a half with Toni Morrison this year, and that was pretty surreal. I am a recent convert to her books and a brand-new super-fan, so it was wonderful to hang out on the phone and ask her everything I wanted to ask. Here is the abbreviated 'feature story' version. There was some great stuff that had to be left on the cutting-room floor because it just didn't fit into the rest of the piece. She kept me on my toes for the entire time. Also, thank you to all of you who have told me they are just discovering The Cactus Eaters: From Found to Lost On The Pacific Crest Trail, my first-ever published book. OK -- that's not the actual subtitle, but I like the sound of it!  Some of you have said you feel like I've written that book for you in particular -- and I know that's true. If you are just tuning in and would like to know more about that first book, here is the updated list of frequently asked questions and apocrypha, acknowledgements, etc. and here is a link to reviews and summaries and all else.  Anyhow, I just want to express my gratitude for all the support -- to the book editor who believed in my second project enough so that he took it with him when he moved to another publishing house, and to every one of you who has been helping to get the word out.  if I have a book tour, I would love to meet you all in person. If you are contemplating a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, yes -- it really is worth it. But if you're craving just a bit more elbow room, you could always take on one of the lesser-known through-hiking options. Ice Age Trail, anyone? Thank you, and I'll see you in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Straight out of Santa Cruz: Elizabeth McKenzie's story in the New Yorker

Our friend, the talented fiction writer Elizabeth McKenzie, the author of a well-received novel as well as a story collection, showed a short story to our writing group out in Santa Cruz early this fall. It gave me chills; reading it was a waking dream, and I could not stop thinking about it afterwards. Her story made me think about families and the way nostalgia and loss can warp the way we view the past. It also made me think about the way writers cannibalize memories. Anyway, after reading it, I thought, "wow, if only the world could see this story."

Well, now it can. The story, "The Savage Breast," appears in this week's New Yorker magazine. Congratulations, Lisa, and here is a nice review that just rolled in from the literary blogosphere. The author of this piece is Majnun Ben-David.

And if you're thinking that you're about to hear more from this wonderful fiction writer, your hunch is correct.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

My first-ever interview about my post-Cactus Eaters book covering bare-naked camping and much more

The talented arts writer (and fiction and nonfiction writer) Wallace Baine interviewed me recently about my nonfiction book-in-progress for Henry Holt & Co.  I've been keeping mum about a lot of this, and trying, (to quote a former roommate), "not to let the cat out of the bottle" so it was fun to talk about this with him. Here is the story.  This is not a camping guidebook -- although I will share some ideas and suggestions -- but an affectionate look into camping's strange and beguiling past.