So if you enjoyed hanging out in April

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You’ll probably enjoy my books. It’s like hanging out with me, only longer and so very much weirder.

 

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Get Away for a While

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Definitely better than what’s going on right now.

Definitely.

Plus there’s eavesbraining, so there’s that.

Mental Break

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If you need a mental break like I need a mental break, check out Aunty Ida.*

*(Caution: Don’t let Aunty Ida get too deeply into your mental. Just trust me on this one. For realsies.)

 

#AtoZChallenge: Discount!

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You know how I’ve  been saying I have something special for today? Well, here it is.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) is discounted to $0.99 for a limited time! So if you’ve enjoyed your visits so far to the inside of my head, or would like Aunty Ida in yours (not 100% advisable, but it’s your brain) pick up a copy at the special discounted price.

Happy reading! Probably!

Edit: It’s 99p in the UK as well. No coffee yet today, real or otherwise!

 

 

Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’: A Cultural Crystal Ball

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Author’s note: This piece first appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo Contributor’s Network.

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is celebrated for its condemnation of censorship and groupthink, but Bradbury — a writer who has always been categorized as “science-fiction” over the tonier synonym “speculative fiction” — deserves recognition for that book’s eerie prescience of culture. What he foresaw, from six decades out, is remarkable.

Though Bradbury copyrighted “Fahrenheit 451” in 1953, as described by The Big Read, it was adapted first from a short story called “Bright Phoenix” published in 1947, and then “The Fireman,” which was published in 1950. While increasing numbers of households would get televisions in that decade, at the beginning of the ’50s TVs were new. Yet not only did he foresee them in every household, he foresaw them taking over households: huge, wall-sized televisions. Bradbury imagined ear buds with his seashell radios long before the concept existed. And, in the dreaded Hound, he saw a future of robotics far out of line with the technology of the time.

But those details are prescience of technology, which, though still a neat trick, is not quite as stunning as understanding the evolution of culture if left to its natural course. With a beauty of language also often not given the credit it is due, Bradbury says: “With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” (Del Rey 50th Anniversary Edition, pg. 58).

Bradbury writes of the condensation of thought from book to digest to blurb in a way strangely predictive of Twitter, where all ideas must fit within the constraints of 140 characters. He sees the rise of advertising so incessant it’s nearly ritualistic, and long before the advent of reality TV, he predicted shows that were little more than life itself, with home participants easily joining.

He even wrote about the future of attempts to erase any signs of age, of having lived a life, of a world lacking depth and texture, with his description that sounds predictive of Botox long before people decided injections of neurotoxins were preferable to wrinkles: “So do you see now why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.” (pg. 83).

And then there is that beauty of language that comes from its clarity, from each word in a sentence chosen for both its overt and subtle meanings while still seeing the far-off future from quite a distance. At a time when newspapers were in nearly every home, he said “I remember them dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them.” (emphasis in original; pg. 89)

There are classics that are classics through some sense of tradition, and then there are books that become classics because what they tell us about ourselves is unchanging, unencumbered by movement of culture in the world around us. “Fahrenheit 451” is about so much more than censorship. With amazing insight from more than half-a-century away, it is about the willing relinquishment of critical thinking.

 

Let’s Get our Comedy On! It’s Comedy Book Week!

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It’s Comedy Book Week, the brainchild of author Ana Spoke! Who doesn’t love a funny book? (If you love a funny book, I’ve got several right at the bottom of this post, and yes, that was a hard plug. I’m only about 5/8ths sorry).

So this Friday, I will be participating in a Q&A on Facebook. Uh-huh, that Facebook, the one I eschew like…someone eschews something s/he really doesn’t like. My brain’s got a case of the Mondays.

Bonus, if you come hang out for the Q&A, you might actually get to see my face. My face face. The front of my head.

There will even be an Aunty Ida giveaway, so if you haven’t read her yet, you could get a chance for free!

Let’s get funny!

(I just made that up. Yes? No? You don’t think the coffee is working for me?)

And check out Ana’s book! Her protagonist’s first name looks very familiar…VERY. FAMILIAR. Personally, I think it’s an excellent choice. Oh, and as of this writing, it’s FREE!

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

S is for SALE!

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I’m winding up, because here’s the pitch! (I KNOW. A sports reference. What a day!)

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Buy me! I’m 99 cents! I’ll only mess with your head a little!

So Aunty Ida is on sale today! For a limited time, you too can have the hands of Aunty Ida waaayy up in your brain for just $0.99!* I swear that’s much more appealing than it sounds!

Here’s the deal. Margaret is a sitting judge who has a little…uh…incident while hearing a trial. Well, that trial happened to be televised. Enter Aunty Ida, who promises to help Margaret fix her problems. And she has the mind-altering machines to do it.

Margaret knows she doesn’t have any problems. She was set up, and she’s going to prove it.

*(Replacement brains and/or replacement brain parts not included).

So if you’ve been curious about this strange figure I keep talking about as though she is real (and she’s sure you can’t prove that she’s not) now’s a good time to check her out. Just, you know, be careful. She’s got a lot of ideas and she’s not afraid to use them.

***

Aunty Ida is my most insistent character, the one who probably has to exist in another dimension, finding a way to communicate with me here. Her band of compatriots also feel pretty real, at least to some universe. And I wrote earlier of Margaret’s truculence while writing this book.

For the writers, who is your character like Aunty Ida? The one who demands attention or pushes the story?

And the readers, which fictional characters feel to you like they must live somewhere in one galaxy or another?

Big news! Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) is $0.99 for a limited time!

In or near Chicago? Check out our sketch comedy revue, “Me Inside Me Presents: Neurotrash.” Saturdays at 10 pm, May 7, 14, 21 & 28. Click here for tickets.

Check out my other full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!