Posts Tagged ‘religion’


Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Fans of Kafka and kittens may (must?) enjoy the following:

My intern was particularly impressed by the artistic use made of the hairball: clearly something “in the air” at the current historical moment.  See, for example, the recent excellent article in Modern Cat on how to Celebrate National Hairball Awareness Day in Style:



Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

Satiated readers!  Please join me in getting excited again about The Possessed, in honor of next week’s UK launch! Conveniently, the book now looks completely different. I thought I would never like any cover as much as Roz Chast’s FSG paperback - but check out the new Granta hardcover, designed byMichael Salu:


FSG paperback, $15

Granta HC, £16.99

I love the original paperback, because it’s so scary and cheap, two of my favorite qualities.  But I also love the new hardcover, because it’s so trippy and classy, two more of my favorite qualities.

The new cover illustration is based on the dream sequence in “Who Killed Tolstoy?”:

I dreamed I was playing tennis against Tolstoy. As Alice in Wonderland plays croquet with a flamingo for a mallet, I was playing tennis with a goose for a racket. Lev Nikolayevich had a normal racket. I served the ball, producing a flurry of fluffy gray down. Tolstoy’s mighty backhand projected the ball far beyond the outermost limits of the tennis lawn, into the infinite dimension of total knowledge and human understanding. Match point.

It is, as Salu explains, “a dual cover, with either Elif or Tolstoy winning the rally depending on how the book is held”:



front (Elif winning) back (Tolstoy winning)

Common Threads

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Forsaken readers!  Please excuse the long silence of a C-list writer who has spent the past few weeks in a dark, dark place. Not only was I immersed to an Orwellian degree in the life and work of you-know-which master of the Kafkaesque (hint), but there was literally an enormous cloud sitting on top of my house.  Honestly it’s a mystery to me why I still live on this godforsaken mountain.  At least it was a mystery until I realized it was probably so I could convert Friday to Christianity.  Now I can say, with the immortal Crusoe:

when I reflect that, in this solitary life which I have been confined to, I… am now… made an instrument, under Providence, to save the life, and, for aught I know, the soul of a poor savage, and bring him to the true knowledge of religion and of the Christian doctrine, that he might know Christ Jesus, in whom is life eternal… a secret joy runs through every part of My soul, and I frequently rejoice that ever I was brought to this place, which I so often thought the most dreadful of all afflictions that could possibly have befallen me.

Friday, as you can see, was able to find great comfort in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior:

I too am slowly returning to normal life and, as a first step, I am happy and honored to report that I will be a guest tomorrow (Friday) on “Common Threads,” an open-mic show hosted by esteemed reader and San Francisco beat poet sensation Diamond Dave Whitaker.  Those who are in the neighborhood and not gainfully employed should please come at 3pm to the Pirate Cat Radio Cafe, 2781 21st Street (between Florida and Bryant); others are warmly encouraged to stream Pirate Cat Radio live or download the podcast.



The travel issue

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Since the publication of The Possessed, I have occasionally received emails from readers in exotic locations, offering to send me things.  To such readers I have been replying that what I would really like is a picture of my book in said exotic location(s)—much as George Clooney’s sister in Up in the Air asks wedding guests to take pictures of a cardboard cutout of herself and her fiancé, as a substitute for the honeymoon they can’t afford.  It’s like double-entry bookkeeping: I have to stay here at my desk, but at least my book can have some fun, right?

Well, dear readers, today I am really happy to share with you the first such pictures I received, from Israel via Avi Steinberg, author of the forthcoming Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian.  I’m reading Running the Books now, with great enjoyment, and also with increasing amazement at how simultaneously extremely similar and extremely different it is from The Possessed.  In both books, an unemployed Harvard graduate, having attempted unsuccessfully to write a novel, is driven by lack of health insurance to seek a semi-permanent position in a hermetic community where books are taken very seriously, leading to seriocomic adventures.  In Steinberg’s case, the hermetic community was, not graduate school, but a prison library.

up-in-air3 swine2
At the St. Louis Airport At Gadara, Israel


Victory for T. Mercer!

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Inexorable readers!  I write to you with wonderful news!  It looks like FSG finally caved under the pressure of all those 3-star reviews… because The Possessed is now available on Kindle!  My one regret is that there is now pretty much no incentive to develop the S W Foska’s brilliant idea about making the paperback edition convertible into a Brita filter.  I guess it’s proof that great minds think alike, because my my smartest intern, Friday, who is also in charge of R&D here at My Life and Thoughts, actually explored this idea a few months ago by spilling a large glass of water onto my copy of The Brothers Karamazov, which promptly expanded to approximately 250% of its original, already non-negligible, size.  Notwithstanding these spectacular results, there are still a few bugs that have to be ironed out before we can go commercial—e.g., the water that actually made it through the “filter” looked sort of gray and unpalatable (I guess these are the visible traces of literary knowledge).