I used a hand sanitizer at the supermarket a while ago, and now my hands smell faintly of band-aids. But that’s not important right now.
I’m pleased to report that the Spawn has made her professional bones. Her Appalachian crime story “Any Deadly Thing” will be appearing in All Due Respect‘s online magazine (a genuine paying market) in February, and will manifest in print form at year’s end with the publisher’s anthology. I’ve read it — it’ll be worth your while. I’ll make sure to point you in that direction when it comes out.
I made a run to Real City a few days ago, and picked up a copy of The Getaway Man, a 2003 novel by Andrew Vachss. The Mad Dog introduced me Vachss’s Burke series in the early 80s, not long after it had started. I read it through Down in the Zero, the seventh in the series. He’s done eleven since then, but I wandered off in other directions. Maybe I should get back to them.
Getaway Man is a standalone, and as the title suggests, it’s the story of a man with an obsession with driving, and with the moral code he develops in the reformatories and prisons along the way. With the possible exception of a couple of sex scenes, the book could have been written in 1963 as easily as 2003 (which is a compliment), and Vachss’s style remains terse without crossing the line into Ellroyesque gnomic telegraphese. I almost get a Paul Cain vibe from it at points. I have to admit that I caught a couple of the cards Vachss palms during the novel, but it was still an enjoyable read. Recommended for a quick afternoon.
One of my favorite colleagues has announced his retirement this summer, and it reminds me that at this point, I’m closer to the end of my career than its beginning as well. I used to think I’d do this until I was 70, but Mrs. M has suggested that may not be necessary, and an eight- or ten-year timeframe might be a better one. At the same time, my department will be hiring for a tenure-track gig this semester, and I have students and former students asking about the profession as well.
If you’ve read “Alt-AC”, my story in LB’s Darkling Halls of Ivy, you’ll have a pretty good idea of my take on that idea. I’ve said elsewhere that I suspect that I’m among the last or nearly last generation of the professoriate. Bousquet’s and Childress’s books do a pretty good job of explaining why. Bousquet is a commie, but he offers a pretty sound explanation of the theory behind the decline in tenured positions and the rise in the administrative class in academe. Childress (whose book is much more recent) offers a more accessible look at the current scene and what it has cost both in educational and more general human terms. I may start lending it to my more promising students when they ask me about getting into this racket.
Well, I think that’ll tide us over for a bit, so I’ll close. The Vipers (not the Irish ones, the ones from NYC) were at the forefront of the ’80s garage/psych revival, and this track (along with their “Tears (Only Dry)”, both of which are included on the Children of Nuggets box set) shows us why. The triplets leading into the key change never cease to thrill me. From 1984, here’s “Cheated and Lied.”
See you soon!