And after I made all those little icons, too. I’ve just learned
that my gorgeous
has to change.
It all began with
Google News. A while ago
I discovered that Google lets you customize a News
page, so you get headlines on whatever topics interest you.
Naturally, I immediately created a “Max Barry” topic and stuck
it right at the top. This is how I discovered the
evil Todd Bunker article,
and about a week ago there was a new one: the shocking revelation
that Company has
exact same cover art as another book.
The other book is non-fiction, and British, but still.
And what’s worse, his is coming out
first. I e-mailed Bill, my editor—who, sadly lacking a
“Max Barry” Google News topic, had no idea. He was less than
thrilled. A few days went by while
what to do (and, presumably, tightened up their licensing
agreement with the stock photography people). Then this
morning, Bill e-mailed me:
While we haven’t been able to ascertain whether the American
edition of that other book will use the same donut, we’ve decided
to play it safe and shoot our own donut. Any preferences?
Chocolate frosted? Apple cinnamon?
This is the silliest e-mail I’ve ever sent, but in keeping with
the spirit of the book, eh?
It is. It’s spooky. The book opens with a donut-related
crisis, and now I have my own.
I’ve been contacting all my friends with babies, pumping them for
information on whether those three-wheeler strollers are really all
they’re cracked up to be, and do you want a bassinet that also converts
into a car seat or is it fine to have those things separate, and surely,
surely, when the baby book says they go to the toilet 10 times
that has to be some kind of misprint, right?
In the midst of all this, I had an idea for a short story. So I
wrote it. If you’re interested,
here it is. It’s 3,000 words
Thanks so much for all the congratulations and well wishes! You
Now, I know other people have had babies. I see them all the time. In
fact, I have it on good authority that, at one time, I was a baby myself.
So on the one hand, surely there should be nothing newsworthy about
the impending arrival of yet another one. But on the other, OH MY GOD
MY WIFE IS PREGNANT.
I know, I know. Deep breaths. Work through it. Okay. Here are the facts:
The due date is August 22. We know the baby’s sex (my theory is
the birth will be interesting enough without needing to build up any
additional suspense), but are not telling anybody (because we’re cruel).
It’s our first.
about my newest arch-nemesis (why stop at one?), Todd
Bunker, got quite a reaction. First a lot of people left comments supporting
me, which was really nice and quite touching. I did notice
a few said some pretty mean things about Todd… but no, you’re
right, he deserved it. Then I saw a bunch of people had
the site that hosted Todd’s article to rake him over
the coals. And some copied me in on e-mails to Todd, pointing out
(in some detail) glaring deficiencies in his character.
Now, I had been thinking about writing a blog about
The Worst Review I Ever Got—one that makes Todd Bunker’s seem like
drooling praise—but now I’m worried that if I do, people will hunt
the guy down, smash his car windows, and kidnap his pets.
So, moving on. For a while there I had a metablog: in late March, a guy called Adam
left the comment:
Max Barry has inspired me to start my own blog, and since I don’t have a website, I will start writing on the comments of max barry’s blogs.
It will pobably be really boring and have a lot of grammatical errors because I am not a professional writer.
But it wasn’t! I was enthralled with whether Adam would ask
Jennifer to the prom, and what would happen to his simmering rivalry with
Eric, even if this was all clearly fictional. And damn, he made some good
points: why isn’t 2% milk called 98% milk? Unfortunately, Adam
seemed to lose enthusiasm in April, and then he stopped posting. So my
metablog is no more: I’m back to just a regular blog.
Speaking of comments: a couple of people asked about the apparently
redundant “A Novel” that appears on
the cover of Company.
Well, here’s the answer, straight from my editor:
That’s so bookstore clerks don’t throw the book in with WHO MOVED MY
So there you go. Apparently Doubleday is also debating how exactly
to “glaze” the donut on the cover! Although:
the scratch n sniff idea was deemed too expensive
Oh well. You can probably get
the same effect by purchasing a real donut and smearing it all over
the book. If you really want to, I mean.
I’m happily browsing the web, minding my own business, when I stumble
across it: an article called
“Writers Who Blog,”
that totally trashes me out. I know! I was shocked too. Still, I was
prepared to file it away with all the other things that make
no sense, like fat-free chewing gum and Florida, until I discovered
something: the article was by the same guy who once wrote
one of the worst reviews
of Jennifer Government I’ve ever seen.
I believe there’s an old saying: diss me once, shame on you. Diss me twice,
I totally go you on my web site. So I’m pulling off my writing gloves
(a simple design to the eye, but they have hidden layers) and knuckling
First, the review. Now, I understand that people need to review books.
It’s a valid profession, even noble in its own way, and performs an
economically valuable function, like prostitution, and selling heroin
to teenagers. Maybe book criticism is even more valuable than those.
But there are certain Things
Critics Do That Piss Me Off, and Todd Bunker does three out of five.
Plus one I keep meaning to add to that list: he gives away some of the
ending. In fact,
he blabs about something that happens on page 325—which,
given it’s a 335-page book, should surely be punishable by public flogging.
I’m sure most authors would agree with me.
That review was written under a cowardly pseudonym—the only reason I
know “Johnny Yuma” is “Todd Bunker” is this new article,
in which he fesses up even while dumping more buckets of cold,
smelly editorial down my back. It goes like this: Todd, who is a
novelist, is thinking about adding a blog to
his own site. Curious
as to whether this would be a good or bad thing for his career,
he checks out Neal Pollack, Wil Wheaton, and me. Neal and Wil come out
of it with minor wounds, but me: whoo. First he blasts me
for being on the receiving end of some kind of publishing
promotion. Then he says the only reason I sell books is because I created
NationStates. He disses my
“Ride the Walrus” blog, saying it
proves I have nothing to write about, then he suggests I lie about how
many people visit my site. He calls my readers sycophants (!!) and
finishes up by rating my blogs as 2/10, because they’re: “Beside the point.
[Max] blogs for hits.”
Being interested in site traffic is a pretty brave accusation to make in an
article that contains three hyperlinks to Todd’s own site, an Amazon
link to his novel, and an image that when you hover over it pops up:
“Todd Bunker Todd Bunker Todd Bunker Todd Bunker Todd Bunker Todd Bunker”.
And that crack about “Ride the Walrus” is totally undeserved. I tell you,
it’s the sensation that’s sweeping the nation. It’s clear to me
Todd hasn’t tried it at all.
After finding so many faults with other people’s blogs,
Todd decides against creating one of his own. The “constant interaction”
would be “too much of a good thing,” he says. Instead, he prefers to
retain “a bit of mystique”.
Well, I don’t know, Todd. If “mystique” means concealing that
you’re a tosser, it might already be too late. I say, have the courage
to put up a blog. Look, it is tough to get noticed as a new novelist; there are
way too many of us. I tried the
thing, too, and it didn’t work out: I had a good book, good publishing support,
and great reviews, and it just sunk. If you want to write books
and tuck them into your desk drawer, then great. But if you want
to make a living out of writing stories, you have to do something more
than sit back and wait for success to land in your lap. You have to
do everything you can.
So don’t be scared, Todd. Show us what you’ve got.
Today I got some orthotic inserts for my sneakers, because I’d like to be able
to keep running without having my feet collapse, or my knees implode, or
whatever else is meant to happen to long-time runners.
My podiatrist was an energetic young woman named Allison, and pretty soon
she had my feet wrapped up in warm, wet bandages—which was really pleasant,
although it was hard to relax due to the threat of tickling. Apparently
Allison was making
a mold, from which a plaster cast of my feet
could be formed, and used to shape the orthotics.
“What happens to the casts afterward?” I asked.
“Oh, we keep them,” Allison said. “We have to. They’re considered medical
I found the idea of a big warehouse somewhere full of white plaster feet
a bit disconcerting. But Allison was enthusiastic. She was, in fact,
remarkably perky for someone who had to smell other people’s feet all day.
I quizzed her about this: “Don’t you get sick of dealing with feet
all the time?”
“Oh no,” Allison said, as if I had said something deeply
shocking. “Two people walk
in, and they’ll be totally different. With feet, you never know what
you’re going to get.”