Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Death and Life

Mickey Spillane is dead. Bummer. He had a good run. Some 53 books. I particularly liked all of them (well, I didn’t actually read all of them, but a bunch). In the obit from the L.A. Times, kindly reprinted by the Montreal Gazette (the crappy rag STILL hasn’t reviewed Overexposed!) there’s an anecdote, probably the most famous, about Spillane’s response to “some New York literary guy” who remarked to Spillane at a party that it was “disgraceful that of the ten best selling books of all time, seven of them were written by you.” Spillane replied, “You’re lucky I’ve only written seven books.” Mickey was 88. Sleep well.

I’m going on vacation. Two weeks at our cottage in Vermont. And we’re taking a vacation from our vacation and spending a few days hiking and kayaking in Acadia National Park in Maine. Back in the days when I had a real job, after my first wife divorced me and before I met Pam, I spent a couple of summer vacations writing (more sensibly, I spent my winter vacations skiing). I’d hole up for a couple of weeks in my ratty apartment at Sherbrooke and Decarie and write. I had no AC, lived just down the street from a KFC (PFK in La Belle Province), and directly across from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This latter point is relevant because that year my summer vacation happened to coincide with a Quebec nurses strike. Striking nurses paraded up and down the sidewalk across from my third floor window, chanting and carrying signs that read “Honk if you Support our Cause.” Lots of motorists supported their cause. So did I, until about midway through my first day. Between the heat, the honking, and the stink of deep fried chicken parts, it was pretty miserable. I couldn’t do anything about the heat, or the stink, but I thought maybe I could do something about the striking nurses. More precisely, the noisy gestures of solidarity from passing motorists.

So I went downstairs and across the street and sought out the woman who appeared to be leading the picket line. I explained my situation, telling her I really did support their cause, and that it was obvious a lot of other people did too, but I was trying to work -- no doubt so were a lot of other people, it being a commercial street -- and all the honking was driving me to distraction.

Now, I’d like to be able to tell you that I used my editorial skills to help them revise their signs to read, “Wave if you Support our Cause,” but I can’t. Oh, I could, but it wouldn’t be true. The woman looked at me as if I was completely out of my mind. Maybe I was, what with the heat, the stink, and the honking. My cause lost, I ended up going back to my nice little pod in my nice air-conditioned office at CN and pinning a sign to my partition, “I’m on Vacation. Go Away.”

So, I’m on vacation for the next few weeks. I might even manage to get some writing done, on rainy days (there won’t be many), sitting at the dinning room table, looking out over Lake Champlain. Don’t go away, though. Vicki and Rick and Alex and Charles will be here to entertain and enlighten.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Montreal, QC (soon to be Alburg, VT)

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

What Michael doesn't realize is that all of his blog-mates AND our families are going to be joining him on the shores of Lake Champlain. Heck, we might even do dishes occasionally. You see, I was down that way a few weeks ago and scoped the place out (it's quite nice, Michael) and it looked like JUST the place for us all to get together and bond for two weeks. And Michael, if you do find some time to write, we'll all be there to look over your shoulder and offer all sorts of VERY helpful comments. Oh, and don't forget to bring enough Maudit Anglais. It's one of my favourite beers from La Belle Province!