Blogjacker: Anthony Neil Smith
Last Stop: Gischler’s Blogpocalypse
It’s the trip through Missouri that gets to you–cheaper gas and long stretches of prairies interrupted by billboards advertising more adult bookstores than anywhere else I’ve ever seen.
But once past that, we head into Omaha to find Sean Doolittle carrying his laptop (he’s got a deadline to meet), a Tom Waits CD, and wearing pitch-dark sunglasses. Golf clubs are slung on his back like too many samurai swords. At his feet, a whole cooler full of Fat Tire beer.
Doolittle is the professional. I mean, he’s the guy who takes his time, crafts each draft immaculately in his head before getting it on the page. Each book gets sharper, clearer, like morphing from a damned good color TV into a big-ass High-Def Plasma. He’s also willing to take risks–if the book demands to go in a particular direction, Doolittle trusts that the characters know what they’re doing, even when they’re screwing it all up. Go back and take a look at Dirt and Burn. Compare those to Rain Dogs and (my favorite) The Cleanup. You see? He’s like a documentary filmmaker, most interested in letting these characters spill their own stories in their own way. Same thing goes for Safer coming next year. The characters in that one could be living right next door to you. Hell, they could be you.
Maybe it’s hanging around Doolittle on the links and at backwoods catfish restaurants that rubbed off on me, but I think that if you enjoy taking trips to visit the people Sean thought up, you’d also be up for spending a weekend or so with Billy Lafitte from Yellow Medicine. I mean, for a bad cop he’s not a bad guy, really. Just a negligent and regretful father, a self-loathing prick, and a consummate manipulator, but if you’re on his good side he’s going to fight for you, no questions asked. And he fights dirty, so you’ll win. But at what cost? If you think it’s worth finding out, give it a shot on May 12 from Barnes & Noble (if you can’t make it to those cool awesome indie shops, I mean)
As Doolittle adds his clubs to the bed of Big Red and climbs into the backseat, we all realize we might have to dump the truck and rent a Hummer. But that can wait until morning. Right now, we’ve got to find a cheap motel when the last of us is too tired to drive anymore. Tomorrow, we’re going all the way to Philly first to pick up the near-legendary pulp-hack comic book genius Duane Swierczynski.
Driving Time: Google Maps says about 19 hours…but they’re never right.
Tune for this leg: “Rain Dogs” by Tom Waits.