Friday, September 21, 2001


In Venice. The One in Italy. Honest. A man tried to sell me a paper Mickey Mouse that danced on the air today. He said, showing me a paper-doll, that it worked by magnets and was activated by music. I said I thought it worked by hanging the mouse on a piece of monofilament that went from his bag, with a little motor in it that jiggled the string, to the boombox. He showed me that he had a knife, so I went away, feeling I had won the argument but lost the war. Nobody likes a smartass.

So, now it's god-knows-when in the morning and I can't sleep. I'm a poor sort of insomniac, usually, sleeping easily and deeply, but I don't think my body believes it's really the middle of the night.I think it believes it's early evening back in Middle America and I'm trying to pull a fast one.

All authors should find themselves with nothing to do for a whole day in Venice, now and again. It's good for the imagination and the head.

This is what I did in reality: I went shopping for presents for other people. Also I ate lunch and dinner. Being a rotten shopper, I came away from a day's shopping with several notebooks of different designs, and a book on literary Venice. None of these are the kinds of things you can give other people. (I'll buy them presents in Trieste. They'll never know the difference.) Also two ancient postcards.

This is what i did on the inside: I made stuff up. I sketched out some stories, and began writing one of them. I wrote a poem for a benefit book.

Over dinner, the couple at the next table (he was Italian, she was English)spoke in Italian, but moved into English when they didn't want to be overheard; bad sex-comedy dialogue. I wrote the worst lines down in my new notebook, feeling deliciously guilty.

i suspect that Venice is full of ghosts. Not of Venetians, but of all the visitors who came, and fell in love with the place, and promised themselves they'd be back, dead or alive.


For any of you who are still reeling from the NIMDA virus (or who think you might be) check out And my apologies if you got it from (if it's any consolation, so did I).

And those of you who logged on to the journal and were met with the entry from June the 18th, about me signing at the Borders on the World Trade Centre tomorrow, apologies again. Nobody seems to know how it happened or why. Probably the virus, unless it was something else.