1. Read at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville last weekend. Hell of a good town. Had a great time. Thanks to Rachael, Cale, Katy, and everyone who came out. Thanks especially to Lisa at Nightbird. Also got to spend a little time at Dickson Street Bookshop. What a bookstore! Only had about fifteen minutes, but I found some great stuff. Impossible not to in that joint. Can’t wait to go back and spend a few hours there.

Reading at Nightbird Books.

Reading at Nightbird Books.

Haul from Dickson Street Bookshop.

Haul from Dickson Street Bookshop.

2. Thanks to John Stonehouse for this review of Gravesend, Gareth Price for this one, and Lee Durkee for this one.

3. My pal Jimmy Cajoleas interviewed Willy Vlautin over at Lent. A couple of choice quotes from Willy:

“You get beat up in life, and you get sucker-punched, and bad things happen. If you keep an open heart and don’t get bitter and you keep trying, then shit will break your way once in a while. I really try to believe that all the time. So I think the characters kind of reflect that.”

“And I tend to try to write as a fan. I’m a firm believer in being a fan of things. I try to write with blood, you know, with the things that haunt me the most.”

4. George Pelecanos is the guest programmer on TCM tonight. Showing two of my favorites, The Seven-Ups and The Outfit.

Here’s a thing I wrote about The Outfit for my ’70s crime movie blog. And here’s a thing I wrote about The Seven-Ups.

5. I’m reading Per Petterson’s I Curse the River of Time. Goddamn.

6. A few things I’m really excited about re: Record Store Day:
a) All that’s happening at The End of All Music here in Oxford (where I work part-time)
b) Songs: Ohia’s Journey On: Collected Singles
c) This 7″ from The Delines, Willy Vlautin’s new band (as well as their forthcoming LP, Colfax)

7. Jason Molina passed away a year ago yesterday. Still tears out my guts that he’s gone. Here’s an essay I wrote for The Rumpus about how much his work has meant to me.

8. Happy St. Paddy’s Day. This is just about my favorite song/poem ever. And this performance drops me every damn time.

9. Recently picked up one of my favorite movies, Rolling Thunder, on Blu-Ray. Watched it with pals Ace Atkins, Jack Pendarvis, and Megan Abbott for our movie night on Saturday. Ace’s wife, Angela, shared some North Carolina moonshine with us. Best thing I’ve ever had. No kidding. Was having some killer wisdom tooth pain and it got cured. After a killer dinner and the moonshine, we rewatched the Root Beer Guy episode of Adventure Time (Jack writes for the show and voices RBG). Then we settled in for Rolling Thunder – I think I was the only one who’d seen it before – and it was goddamn wonderful.  Shout!Factory did a great job with the Blu-Ray. John Flynn is a hell of a good director but there were times when the movie looked as beautiful as a William Eggleston photo. And Linda Haynes, well, we all got a little obsessed with Linda Haynes.



Linda Haynes in ROLLING THUNDER.

Linda Haynes and William Devane in ROLLING THUNDER.


Goddamn Good Days

1. Thanks to Will Byrnes for this kind & thoughtful review of GRAVESEND. Made my day.

Especially appreciated this part:
“While the bulk of the story is dark, there are some rays of light. Good can be found, although more in thought than deed. Hope digs its way back up to the surface, allowing for some second chances. Alessandra’s affection for a particular painting at the Met can be seen both as an artistic inspiration and an omen. Her participation in various forms of Manhattan life lifts her spirits. After all, she did manage to make it out to the west coast. But hope had better move quickly before another body lands on it.”

(And thanks so much to everyone who has taken time to write a review.)

2. My favorite writer in the world, Willy Vlautin, read here in Oxford on Thursday night. Got to meet him finally – I’ve been a huge fan since I found The Motel Life and Northline at a bookstore in the Bronx in 2008, and we’ve e-mailed back and forth over the last few years, ever since I interviewed him for the Yalobusha Review. Goddamn, he’s the greatest guy I ever met, and I was trying not to geek out on him too much. He read on Thacker Mountain Radio, which was great, but I selfishly wish he’d done a solo reading, so he could’ve read longer and played a few songs and done a Q&A. But he read one of my favorite scenes from The Free, Jo opening up to Pauline in the hospital, and he played “The Kid from Belmont Street,” (the first song he plays here), which is about Jo. (Also check out “43”and “A Letter to the Patron Saint of Nurses” from We Used to Think the Freeway Sounded Like a River, songs that reveal where ideas for The Free originated.) We hung out after the reading at City Grocery with Willy – pals Tom & Beth Ann, Jimmy, Andy, Brendan, Cody were there too – and then a few of us went to dinner at Bouré. Man, what a great night. We talked about Jim Thompson and David Goodis and Charles Willeford and Ann Patchett and Pink Floyd and Tom Petty and The Motel Life movie and so mu ch great stuff it’s hard to call it all back up.  Jimmy, Andy, Brendan and I walked Willy back to his hotel around midnight, and one of my favorite things was Jimmy asking Willy if Jo was alright. “No, man,” Willy said. “I don’t think she is.  I’m sorry.”

Here’s a picture that Jimmy snapped at Bouré of Willy, Brendan, and me:


3. I read at the public library here in Oxford on Thursday. Thanks to Laura Beth, Sarah, Andy, and everyone who came out – I had such a great time. I was nervous as hell about doing my first Q&A, but I think it went pretty well. Here are some pictures the library posted (my son, Eamon, was the real attraction as usual.)


4. I made a soundtrack for Gravesend on Spotify a while ago. You can find it here.


The Best Things

Pal & hero Jimmy Cajoleas interviewed pal & hero Jack Pendarvis over at Lent Magazine. I was there. It was a great night. We got drunk and talked for six hours and had a tape recorder going, which made it different from all the other times we’ve gotten drunk and talked all night.

Jack says so much great stuff about writing and living but my favorite thing is his response to my question about whether or not it’s wrong to encourage people who aren’t very good writers:  “I don’t really see the harm in encouraging someone who is not good. So what? Some of the best things I’ve ever read were not good.”


I’m reading at the Oxford Public Library on 2/19/14 at 12 PM.  Here’s the Facebook event page.

I’m reading at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday, 3/8/14 at 6:30 PM.

The new Angel Olsen LP is streaming on NPR this week. I’m melting in a puddle of boners.