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  1. I have read some and written some, so not unnaturally I have opinions about fiction, the most important of which is authorial voice. Not plot, not theme, but a style of expression that is almost entirely unique to each author, good, bad, or indifferent. Ayn Rand had a simple style of expression, writing in English as her second language. Interesting plots and sweeping themes, of course, but Rand never earned literary kudos, nor did it matter to her. She knew how to draw a romantic triangle and make it stick, even in private life. I'm not convinced that there is a lot of daylight between an author's private life and literary output. We bring ourselves to the blank page. Ken Follett showed us steely death and searing adventure. Others like Robert Lewis Stevenson paint each moment with innocence, serendipity, simpletons capable of honor. Hugo is in a class by himself, but I get equal thrills from Balzac the lunatic, Chandler the grave digger, Rhodes the cowboy moralist. There are some author voices that bore me to pieces (acclaimed bestsellers, works of alleged genius) and some whose notion of story consists of manufacturing odd names in preposterous sci-fi dilemmas. If you read for entertainment, there are graphic novels for that purpose. When I was a teenager, we called them comic books and I read hundreds. It was the heydey of cool art and story: Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, Mr. Natural. Being old is a curse. I've outlived Fitzgerald (44) and Hemingway (60), without threatening either of their youthful masterworks with achievements of my own. Being old and, worse, unrecognized has deterred new writing. Why bother? I can't touch the hem of Fitzgerald's robe, and there's no one reading to see an honorable attempt, except me. Writing for me is not a sensible literary objective. I don't need to write to see a story. I see stories everywhere in nature and places far away where civilization rations nature to the uberwealthy. The goal of my work was to depict the future, in which people were still people. I like writing sex scenes without being stupid about sex. Whether I succeeded at it is a separate question and goes to the heart of the matter. What an author chooses to attempt is his most personal contribution, the thing readers recognize most clearly and nod "Yep, that's him alright." Whether one should attempt anything is an open question. Most writers have little choice, like musicians whose first love can't be killed, day jobs and families notwithstanding. They plink along, unable to get very much better because voice is a permanent impediment. If you think of a recognizable singer like Johnny Cash or David Lee Roth, you see what I mean about permanence. We drag our artistic style around in the shape of a soul because it's individual, personal, inescapable. God help Spielberg and King. Compared to them, I suspect the truth is I'm boring -- a barbershop quartet with typos. Now here's a guy with style. Doubt that he can write, but selling the right stuff. Fictional heroes, fictional grievances, dangerous and loud. Yowsuh! Hasim Nzinga is the new Papa Hemingway.
  2. I hear that the DNC has arranged for a large number of women who are mothers of young black men shot by police to appear at the convention. The idea is to reinforce the false narrative that police are racist and killing young black men in disproportionate numbers. One of the women is the mother of Michael Brown, who Eric Holder's Justice department reluctantly concluded was trying to kill the police officer who had to shoot him out of self-defense. That they would include her tells me that they have reached a high level of confidence that they are no longer bound by the truth or any facts in their push to incite fear and hatred for their political ends. This goes so far beyond cheap pandering for the black vote. It is identity politics being placed ahead of the very life our culture. Where did we lose the commonsense it takes to say, "Hey, that's racist and extremely dangerous"? Progressives have sanctioned Black Lives Matters even after the organization held marches where the chants were calls to kill cops. Representatives of this group have gone, by invitation, to the white house, have met with Hillary, and will be at the Democratic Convention. And now we have had two separate incidents where cops were hunted down and killed by angry, young black men. This is the ugly dead end of identity politics. It is Hillary Clinton willing to ignore the incendiary climate her calls for policing the police are having when the temperature has already reached the point where body bags are being filled.