Thursday, July 17, 2003

In San Diego

I'm here in San Diego, and am very sleepy, because they woke us up on the train coming in at 5.00am, so here are a couple of bits from the occasional trip diary I kept. Mostly I wrote -- an article and a speech and a comic and another comic, but I also ate and read. So here's a meal and a book.


Trip diary...

To ensure that I will always be in telephone contact, I have bought a brilliant USB port charger, which says that, to charge my cellular phone all I need to do is plug it in to the USB port.

On the train I discover that when I actually do this, all that happens is a little message comes up telling me I�ve done something that overloads the USB port�s power capacity and not to do it again. I have no phone.

Dinner on the first night: opposite me, a very beautiful black lady with her one-year-old son. The boy wears a tiny gold chain around his neck, and a very small rolex on his wrist. Next to me, (it slowly dawns on me) a slightly crazy guy in a Foghorn Leghorn tee shirt. He has the server take away his salad because, as he keeps repeating "it doesn�t like me" and then tells us he goes on cruises and trains a lot, and that this upsets his family.

He asks what I do, and I say I�m a writer.

He tells me about good writers and bad writers of his experience. He laughs at bad writers. People who can�t do cursive or who put a little extra loop on their fs or gs make him laugh. He knows some good and bad writers on television. Sam Donaldson, on TV, has good handwriting.

"How do you know?" asks the lady, who has not quite realised that the slightly crazy guy is a slightly crazy guy.

He explains that you can just tell, when you see them on the television. The worst writer he ever saw was a wrestler on TV. You just knew that he would go around and around when he did his Os. Round and around and around.


I finish reading Peter Straub's remarkable forthcoming book Lost Boy Lost Girl in the Tuesday afternoon, when I should have been writing, justifying the time I spent with it as Peter sent it to me, and I started reading it in April, and now it's July. Then again, it was a good time to read it. On a train.

It's a strange and wonderful webwork of a book. It arrived in five e-mails: I have no idea how long a novel it actually is. It's a murder mystery, a ghost story, a haunted house tale, a serial killer tale, while also being, in the final analysis, a magical realist examination of the webs in which family ties bind us and hold us down, and how those ties can be loosened. It's funny, and heartwarming, and genuinely scary, and unsettling all at the same time. It left me going "how the Hell does he DO that?", while wanting to force other people to read it and ask if it had the same effect on them.

Really good stuff.


Dear Mr.Gaiman,

I write for myself because I have no right to write for anyone else.

I don't think that You are a "leftist loon" even though I supported (and still do) the liberation on Iraqi people from Saddam's terror. I don't agree with everything You say but that's natural...I still read You're blog almost everyday and I think that fact speaks for itself.

I noticed You were very careful about Your political leanings before and during the war. However, on occasion You did slip in a few links to a few thoughtful articles here and there (Umberto Ecco's comes to mind).

And then there was the link to the Hitchens "thing" on Sunday (July 13th) which in itself was interesting but the rambling infront of it was an ad hominem attack on the man (first words desribing the man "drunken fop"!) because of his politics there-by putting the whole story that follows on uncertain ground, at least for me.

As You linked to the story - someones opinion - it leaves (to me at least) the impression that You agree with the person's opinions. It contained few arguments (if any), and quite a few statements that were false or misleading. I've read a lot of what Hitchens has written and said but I haven't encountered anything that would lead me to suggest that he warrants this sort of ad hominem attack.

I would also like to point You to an article here:

that makes a good point about Hitches boozing and the situation of the left that is more fair and balanced. Then again...that's just my opinion.

But You were (and in my opinion still are!) a journalist, someone who should look at all sides and when linking something. Hitchens is worth more attention than a bitter post.

Hopefully, I have not been too arrogant :)

All the very best,
J�ri Saar

As You linked to the story - someones opinion - it leaves (to me at least) the impression that You agree with the person's opinions. Not at all: I've never met Hitchens and have very little opinion about him of any kind at all either way. I just enjoyed seeing one of Roz's memoirs up on the web. It wasn't a piece of journalism: it was a live journal entry by someone remembering their experiences of someone, which I read as, in the main, a rather fond remembrance.

And yes, I was a journalist. But this blog isn't a newspaper, nor is it anything more than a place where I burble, and point to things that interest me. Roz's live journal is something interesting. If Christopher Hitchens had a live journal and wrote about Roz in it, I'd link to that too, but not really for balance, just because it would be sort of fun.