Monthly Archives: October 2010

Five-star review for THE NIGHT MEN

THE NIGHT MENThe hardcover had its share of raves when it came out—including “one of the best” of the year from The Washington Post and “highly original” from Publishers Weekly, not to mention “frequently funny, and at times surprisingly moving” from Kirkus (who usually hate everything)—but the first reader review of the Kindle version of The Night Men is up on Amazon, and it’s good!

Snyder really tells three stories here, and interweaves them with lyrical brilliance. We see the modern Jason Keltner deal with solving a mystery in his usual Gentlyesque fashion, but at the same time we get both a formative story from his childhood and excerpts from a fictional early 20th century hardboiled detective novel. … accurately evokes that peculiar sense of teenage loneliness and camaraderie that so many of us carry into our adult lives; it would be hard not to empathize with fifteen-year-old Jason as he is suddenly and harshly rejected by his closest friend. An innovative and insightful read.

Thanks, Mcgorgomagan!

Read the rest of the review and buy the book (that’s not a rhetorical suggestion; seriously, click the button) here. I have it on good authority that it’s worth the $2.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under My writing, Self-promotion

Music in progress: A cue for DIAMOND RUBY

UPDATED NOVEMBER 4, 2010: Here’s the “medium-fine” second mix of the score:

You’ll get more out of this post if you put your earbuds in.
Continue reading


Filed under Film, Music, Other people's writing

Up a hill

Last year I learned never to think I’m done climbing a hill until I’m actually on my way down the other side.

Which I am not.

Daily word count, 2005–2010

Continue reading


Filed under My writing, Randonneuring


D.C.: Lloyd, why do you have to be like this?

Lloyd Dobler: ’Cause I’m a guy. I have pride.

Corey Flood: You’re not a guy.

Lloyd Dobler: I am.

Corey Flood: No. The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don’t be a guy.

Say Anything (1989)



Guys can eat stuff out of jars with their fingers.

Which men can do too. It’s not a subtle skill.

But probably not while feeling pretty.


I WROTE LAST about the things my boys bring out in me. There are also things I’ve lost. The relentless grind of this parenthood has moved me away from connection to the beautiful and toward acceptance of the grimly resolute. I’m 44 and short on faeries and I’ll take rye, neat.

Because that’s what the man in my imagination takes. Bogart, maybe, at a gray wooden bar in sidelight. The day is hard, the night is bad.

I decided earlier this year that maybe that particular dramatic gesture, the pouring, the raising, the glass clonking the table, I decided maybe not being quite at my sharpest wasn’t worth the elaborate show business of the first sip. Because that show business—it’s eloquent. It’s Goddamn, what a day, and Keep it coming, barkeep, and I am a man of constant sorrow. The day’s final act of assertion, maybe its first and final act of flair.

It’s also more of those same faeries. They’re just in porkpie hats, behind curling smoke, jaws set, a gun on the bar. We tell ourselves stories about what life is and what we are; otherwise we can’t fathom any of it. It’s all too inexplicable. So we’ll take stories, neat, and if it’s not these stories, then it’ll be those stories. But neither idealism nor fatalism is reality. They’re both just romantic tales of the supernatural, only one’s in pastels and the other’s black and white.

The second sip of rye doesn’t have any of that romance. It’s just for getting drunker.

So maybe less of that.



Gender, there’s a good one.

You’re either male or you’re female.

Actually, that’s not a very good story. It’s not even a good children’s story. At least the child’s fallacy of good guys winning and bad guys losing will correct itself as the kid grows up and reads headlines. But this one? It’s just as misleading and it sticks. We’ve got two basic kinds of bodies, and we’re pretty visual as a species, and most of us seem to really want to feel like we understand reality and don’t want to put off drawing definitive conclusions until we actually know what we’re talking about. So the story that there are two simple genders and here’s how you can tell? Yeah, that sticks. Here’s a penis, here’s the color blue, here’s a fire truck.

Here’s me going, Yeah…okay… and thinking there are better stories, less simpleminded stories, but they don’t really catch on. We want what we’ve heard before, whether it’s the Young Hero who’s introduced at the beginning of Act I, the Old Sage who’s killed at the end of Act II, and the Passage Into Manhood at the end of Act III, or that all people born with vaginas naturally want people born with penises, or that a hammer and a Philips-head screwdriver are really all you need.

The fictions are convenient, for sure. Until you grow up and want something a little less inaccurate. Because you’ve seen the victorious bad guys, the stable gay couple, and the Allen bolt.


CHILDREN DESERVE THESE lies even less than we do. Here’s your Philips-head screwdriver, honey. It’s all you’ll need. I’m going to die now. Do your best.



Since I have no problems accepting there are men in women’s bodies, I guess I can accept there are lunkheads in men’s.

Here’s what you who can’t see in more than one dimension are missing:

You have a set of sliders in you. On a mixing board, they slide from soft to loud, or from bass to treble. In people, they slide from male to female, or from attracted-to-males to attracted-to-females.

Let’s just take those two.

In your case, guy, those two sliders are pegged all the way to the same side. You are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT MALE, and you are also ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ATTRACTED TO FEMALE.

If you thought both those things were controlled by the same slider, then your insightful-to-dense setting is also pegged.

As to what male means, or female means? It’s internal, isn’t it. We know how we feel. Forget all the arguments about male traits, female traits…aggression, nurturing…those all have sliders too, and they all get set independently. We’re not talking about that.

Inside, where only you can feel it, where’s your MALE/FEMALE slider? Mine’s edged more toward the male since I had kids.

I don’t think, so much, that I like it there. There’s stuff I miss.

So maybe less of that, too.


SOMEBODY AT Walker & Co., my publisher, once said she wondered about my three straight male characters actually being gay. Because they were “kind of soft.”

Parsing error. Two different sliders.

(And they’re not New Yorkers. They’re Angelenos. Totally different head, dude.)


HERE’S ANOTHER BAD assumption based on parsing errors: Male sexuality is less complicated than female.

Okay, I’ll take your word for it that some significant chunk of the male population has its physical and emotional libido sliders connected, so they behave as one.

But you take my word for this: It’s not universal. Sometimes when they hand out penises, they run more than one set of wires.


I’VE TRIED TO be attracted to men.

It doesn’t work.

That slider’s pegged. If you don’t think women are the most amazing playgrounds ever invented, I don’t understand you at all.


MEN LOVE GADGETS. Women have color sensibility. Boys like trucks. Girls like dolls.

Men want sex. Women want love.

Man does. Woman is.

Yeah, okay. Except for that last bullshit, there’s some hazy aggregate truth going on here. Maybe. I guess. I don’t know. I haven’t researched it because I don’t care. But I don’t care. I am enough exceptions, me, right here. I don’t need to go anywhere else to find out whether there are exceptions. I don’t even know what most of my sliders are, let alone where they’re set, and I frankly don’t think you do, either. You’re a huge mixing console with a hundred sliders set all different ways, some of them grouped and paired, some of them moving automatically back and forth, some big, some small, some overridden by MUTE buttons, some static, some dynamic.

And if you don’t think so—

Really? You’re less complicated than a mixing board?


YES, THIS, OR some better-refined version of it, is what I will tell my children when they’re ready. It has room for them to be what they are. Whatever that is.

Even if they’re guys.


Originally ran at my Journalscape blog.


Filed under Family, Favorite, Gender

Tips for Fathers of Twins

Bringing this over from the old blog, from 2005…

Okay, dude. I know you’re there. You just googled some variant of “fathers of twins” and this journal entry was one of the only worthwhile results you got, so you clicked over. (It’s kind of amazing, how little there is on the web for fathers of multiples. Lots of stuff for mothers–depression advice and so on–but dads get footnotes, at best.)
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Family, My writing

New cover image: Laurie Harden’s illustration for DEAD GRAY

I’ve just received permission from Laurie Harden to use the illustration of Dead Gray that she did for Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine on the story’s Amazon page! (The illo looks sharper at Amazon because the graphics cruncher didn’t get to it. )
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under My writing, Self-promotion

Scoring Rubies

New project: I’m going to be scoring two Diamond Ruby short films for use in promoting Joe Wallace’s novel of the same name.
Continue reading


Filed under Film, Music, Other people's writing

Buy this book: THE RIDER by Tim Krabbé

This brief review will appear at Amazon once they’re done processing it. The book is available as both Kindle and hard copy. Click the graphic to visit its Amazon page.

Though I’m not a racer, I’m a randonneur (ultra-long-distance cyclist) and novelist, and I can’t see a way this book could be improved.

And though I haven’t made a point of exhaustive reading about cycling, what I’ve read generally seems to have been written by riders with a good command of language. THE RIDER is in a different category. Its first-person voice is that of a top-shelf novelist in complete command of his art, exploiting a deep and complete knowledge of his subject that can only come from experience and a true love of the race, not from even the most rigorous research.

I can’t think of a book in that genre that more deserves to be a classic. THE RIDER is intelligent, sharp, tough, and visceral. Get it.

(Yeah, I know this is a really short post. I was busy in 2010.)

1 Comment

Filed under Bicycling, Books, Other people's writing

TROUBLE COMES BACK (“a delight” —Booklist; “on my top ten list” —Mystery News) now on Kindle!

It’s up!

Last I checked, the rights to Coffin’s Got The Dead Guy On The Inside were ambiguous, and I’d rather push forward than get mired in that. So most likely, Show Control will be next.

I still haven’t decided whether to put Cupid & Psyche up, but I think I have the cover art concept.


Filed under My writing, Self-promotion

Ride report: Rockland Lake 15K petite brevet

October 3, 2010

The weather in Rockland County was ideal for a brevet, bright and cool, verging on cold. Prep and transport to the event start ran long, but soon the riders were fueling up, asking for reminders of route length, and getting themselves psyched:

“Daddy, tell me again what we don’t want!”

“A DNF.”

“Right, a DNF! I’m gonna try my best to finish this brevet!

Bikes had been checked and prepped in the hallway before leaving home, so all that was left was to have brevet cards signed at the first controle and weatherproof them for the ride.

Into the saddlebags they went, apple juice went into bottle cages, and we rolled out of the controle onto a route that would comprise three full circumnavigations of Rockland Lake. Total distance: 15 kilometers.

I didn’t see any randonneurs besides the ones I was riding with, but my companions claimed numerous sightings. So either I just wasn’t noticing things—always possible on a challenging endurance ride like this—or those were just people out pootling on their bikes.

The terrain of this ride is varied, ranging from long, level flats:

to fast descents:

to challenging climbs:

But the biggest challenge was the sheer distance. Spirits were sagging and a full third of the registered riders were seriously considering abandoning by the time we reached Controle 2, the first indoor controle on this route. As usual on these rides, the volunteers were ready with food and encouragement—though it was noteworthy how much the volunteers at each controle all resembled each other.

The calories and the short rest seemed to lift spirits—but once we were out on the route again, it became clear that one of the riders was suffering, lo unto torture. How this tormented soul managed to press on so courageously, so unendurably, so loudly in the face of unspeakable persecution and utter destruction, I will never know. But by the time we reached Controle 3, he was done—and his voice was gone.

After a brief refueling, my remaining companion and I pushed off and headed onto Leg 3, the final stage of the Rockland Lake ride.

Unlike the previous two legs, this one took place later in the day. Such striking variety is the mark of a thoughtful ride designer. Where before, we’d been riding in early afternoon, it was now late afternoon. Where before, there had been a tailwind on the way out and a headwind on the opposite (East) side of the lake, now there were crosswinds at the North and South ends. And where before, we had enjoyed overhead sunlight, now it was coming in at more of an angle.

The Rockland Randonneurs are understaffed, so this ride relies more on information controles than do most brevets of its length. Here, a rider double-checks how he’s answered the question “Who are you riding with?” before remounting and pushing toward Controle 4, Arrivée.

The rest of the ride was an easy lope, with good conversation, around a stretch of lake that seemed somehow familiar. My ride partner kept having to stop as people kept calling him on his phone—his ring tone sounds a lot like a five-year-old going “Brrring! Brrrring!”—so we barely made it to the Arrivée within the generously unspecified time limit.

This being my friend’s first brevet, I explained the Lanterne Rouge—the last finisher, named after the red lantern at the back of a train—and asked how he’d like to finish. Should he be the Lanterne Rouge, or should I? But he did me the unexpected honor of suggesting we come in exactly together—so with our front wheels lined up precisely next to each other, we rolled into the Arrivée as one. And once the brevet cards were signed and ready for homologation by La Ligue Des Pères Allants À Vélo, we were done. The Rockland Lake 15K had been completed.

Homologation is unusually fast in La Ligue. An award ceremony proceeded immediately.

In conclusion, the Rockland Lake 15K is a beautiful, challenging brevet through scenic lake country, with terrific organization and the awesomest ride designer I can ever imagine encountering. But it’s the riders who really distinguish a brevet, and in this case, I have to say:

This ride outshines them all.


Filed under Bicycling, Family, Favorite, Petite brevet, Randonneuring