Thursday, December 11, 2014

Johnny Don't March

My novel Johnny Don't March manuscript is with the editor. When I get it back, I'll make corrections. It should be available at Amazon in January 2015.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Two Tales by Timothy Hurley

"Albert Bixby's Experimental Suicide"
"The Ghost on the Barstool"

eBook available at and internationally available in countries where Amazon has a website.

Two satirical stories for $0.99.
That's forty-nine and one half cents per story.
Amazon will refund your money if you don't like them.
But you must certify you did not smile, not even inwardly. (not really)

"Albert Bixby's Experimental Suicide" in which Albert Bixby challenges Albert Einstein. This story takes place in Berkeley, California.

"The Ghost on the Barstool" in which Matt Whitaker learns the high cost of busting ghosts. This story takes place in Dorking, UK and is dedicated to the fine people of Dorking, Surrey.

Read the first paragraph of each story here:
"Albert Bixby's Experimental Suicide"
When Albert Bixby awakened at three o’clock in the morning on May 10, 1967, his first inclination was to declare his experimental suicide a success. His caution about asserting triumph was due to the problematic nature of the experiment. Still, he believed he had accomplished his goal to prove his namesake wrong: Albert Einstein’s equation had to be incorrect....

"The Ghost on the Barstool"
Matt Whitaker cinched his tie and collected his raincoat from the rack above his train seat.  The train lurched, and he staggered to the end of the coach and removed his suitcase from a shelf. The conductor passed through the car, calling: Dorking Main next. Dorking, please. Matt looked at his phone—eleven minutes before nine o’clock in the morning. The train from London’s Victoria Station slowed to a stop, and Matt stepped onto the platform in Dorking, Surrey, UK....

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

When Do We Forget?

Today is another day Americans must never forget. Lest we forget, we are reminded: We must never forget.
It frightens me when I hear ‘We must never forget.’
There are other days Americans must never forget. Our parents and grandparents told us never to forget Pearl Harbor. Most of us have. It took two or three generations. While some Americans remembered Pearl Harbor, other Americans remembered the day their parents were moved to ‘relocation camps’ and a day in the land of their ancestors when the morning had two sunrises.
There are many days Americans avow must never be forgotten. They are mostly days when man’s inhumanity to man played some role: Wounded Knee, Gettysburg, poppy fields and graves, the liberation of Auschwitz, D-Day, Mi Lai. And today.
We are rarely told things like we must not forget the day polio was eradicated.
It frightens me when I hear ‘we must never forget’ because I am never quite sure what is meant.
I get that we don’t want to forget the physical suffering of the victims and the mental suffering of the survivors. But I can’t help but wonder if under the surface what is meant is we must not forget the evilness of our adversaries. We must not forget they are horrid people.
My father returned from World War II, where Japanese sailors tried heroically—from their viewpoint—to kill my father by dropping depth charges on his submarine. They failed to kill him. Instead, his submarine and many others sank ships and killed ‘Japs’. My father would never confirm stories I heard later from other submariners at the Arizona Memorial, that American submarines ran over surviving Japanese sailors in the water to prevent their rescue and return to Japan. Long after my father made his peace with the Japanese people, my grandfather vowed never to forget Pearl Harbor. He never purchased a single item made in Japan for the rest of his life.
We fail to notice, I think, that while we are ‘never forgetting’, neither are our enemies. The evil-doers have memories as well-honed and unforgiving and hate-filled as ours. While we remember atrocities done against our people and forget things like crusades and inquisitions and democracy-spreading invasions, our foes are reciting ‘We must never forget’ in any number of foreign languages.
When I think of man’s inhumanity to man and mankind’s capacity to hate, I sometimes despair for my species. I sometimes think civilization is illusory.
Hate does not need to be reminded ‘never forget.’ Hate remembers generation after generation.

So when I hear ‘We must never forget’, I worry. When do we get to forget?

Thanks for reading.
--Timothy Hurley, September 11, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bucket of Books Challenge

I was “challenged” by a good, well-meaning soul to dump a bucket of books over my head for reasons I cannot fathom. I think that was it. I lose track of the fads. This one involved listing ten books that “stuck with me”, which I take to mean (at my age) I am capable of remembering the title of. Contrary to and in spite of my incurably deep-seated superstition about chain letters, I decided this would be a fun exercise (struggle) for my dwindling mental capacities. Here they are, only vaguely in the order I might have read them.

Timothy Hurley's favorite books:
Huckleberry Finn  Twain
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway  E. Hemingway
The Complete Short Stories of O. Henry  O. Henry
The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe
Catcher in the Rye  Salinger
The Trial  Kafka
City  Simak
Animal Farm  Orwell
Lord of the Flies Golding
1984  Orwell
Hawaii  Michener
On the Beach Schute
Schlesinger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease
Edgar Allen Poe: A Critical Biography  Quinn
The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind  Jaynes
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life  Isaacson
Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist  Desmond and Moore
Generations  Strauss and Howe
Shock Doctrine  Klein
Sarum  Rutherford
London  Rutherford
New York  Rutherford
The Great Bridge  McCoullogh
1776  McCoullogh
Up in the Old Hotel  Mitchell
A Meaningful Life  Davis
Motherless Brooklyn  Lethem

Okay, that’s more than ten. What do you want from me? I’m an old man. Even this list will change with my mood and capacity to remember.
Actually, every book, every short story, every magazine article I read creates a new me in my head. And provides me with seemingly unconscious material when I write. I am as grateful to all those writings and writers in my unremembered past as I am to the authors of the books above.

As I said, I do not participate in chain letters (I think it was nuns who put me off them.) so in lieu of a list of names, I’ll invite anyone who reads books to list their favorites. With the exception it would give an old man pleasure to annoy Buzz Malone, author of Silence of Centerville, raiser of Iowa goats and mules, bon vivant with the dare he take time from his busy schedule to list his favorite books.
Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Review of Motherless Brooklyn

My review of Motherless Brooklyn by Johnathan Lethem, a Brooklyn author who grew up  in Gowanus, until gentrification gave it the name Boreum Hill. You can read my review here and on Goodreads.

Lethem is one of the contemporary A-list authors. He moved to California's drought lands and currently holds the professor's chair once occupied by David Foster Wallace at Pomona College. His Fortress of Solitude is said to be one of the great autobiographical stories of 70s Brooklyn when New York didn't know if it was coming or going.
I found his brave, bold style inspiring for my own writing.

Motherless Brooklyn by Johnathan Lethem, 5 stars
This is a well written, well told story about 70s 80s and 90s Brooklyn lower society. Lionel is an orphan raised to the level of inept detective, only not so inept. Three other orphans and an assortment of low lifes make up the cast. When Lionel's benefactor and father figure is murdered the mystery begins. Lethem is a recognized A-list Brooklyn literary figure, currently enjoying California drought weather at Pomona College, where he is a chaired professor in the slot once occupied by David Foster Wallace. Even if Lethem does not himself have Tourettes, he appears to be quite well versed--he must have done prodigious research. His protagonist does and this adds a dimension (and an education into Tourettes) of considerable complexity and interest, one I've never seen in any other book. It also adds to the humor and makes one realize Monty Python were experts at Tourettic humor.
My only hesitancy, where I would be inclined to remove a half a star, came at the 90% wrap up phase of the book. Much of the dangling mystery and plot is revealed in a section in which Lionel and a woman sit on the Maine coast and explain all the plot threads and loose ends. It reminded me of television detective/mystery shows with Raymond Burr, etc etc where a room full of characters stand or sit with coffee or cigarettes and explain the story we just watched. This section of the book reads like a plot outline--an excellent plot, but an outline/treatment nonetheless. Over all, as a writer myself, I love Lethem's style, his boldness, his voice. I will definitely read more Lethem and hope to learn from him.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Liebster Award Interview

the award all Hollywood covets

Here it is. The Liebster Award interview, in which I, Hollywood style, bare all the intimate details of my life, grin a stupid grin, and jump on Oprah's couch.
me playing booga booga with Oprah

Liebster: Where is your favorite place to live?
Famous Author: Wherever the rent is prepaid. Actually I grew up in Central Illinois, and have lived in many places (the life of a Navy brat): Panama, Virginia, Hawaii, Arizona, San Francisco, London (UK), Boston, Minnesota, Marin and Sonoma Counties, California. Currently I'm bicoastal spending most of my time writing in Brooklyn with the ghosts of Capote, Mailer, the Millers (Arthur and Henry), Poe, Hemingway, O. Henry, Mitchel (Joseph), Davis (L.J.), Lethem (okay. He's not a ghost. Apologies.). I love my carless lifestyle in New York.
I memorized the subway map.

L: What is your favorite character trait?
FA: I presume you mean my fictional characters. Some of my favorite characters have a smartass, cynical, sarcastic edge to them. I have no idea how they spring from my sweet, even-tempered, Pollyana nature. Just creativity, I guess.
Not me, but I act like this sometimes.

L: Do you have a talent?
FA: Give me a moment while I think of one I can mention in polite society. I write stories. I think fiction is cool and reality is boring. I don't let reality get in the way of a good story. I'm satisfied with truthiness over truth. I write stories. (hmmm, mentioned that?). I can grow awesome kale and arugula when I'm living near dirt.
I write short stories, not as good as Hem, but my posterior is just as...

L: What is your favorite movie of all time?
FA: Life is too complex to have a single favorite. Mine depend on my mood. Best movie ever? Apocalypse Now. Also a favorite: Mary Poppins. See what I mean?
I wanted a mission. And for my sins they gave me a spoonful of sugar.

L: What is the most important thing to you in your life?
FA: There you go with the superlatives again. Let's see. There's pizza, Madeira, chocolate chip cookies, Indian curry, Jameson's, chocolate in general, Grimaldi's pizza. Did I mention my family? Oh, yeah, my family is the  most important thing in my life. People reading my stuff is definitely second.
Not the most important thing in life, but...

L: Who is the person you look up to the most and why?
FA: Any number of NBA players. Standees on the subway, cause I usually find a seat. Also my wife, who possess all the good traits and talents you expected me to say about myself in the previous questions. Not to mention tolerance and patience beyond mention. Well, I guess I mentioned them, didn't I?
Me on the subway

L: What is your biggest pet peeve?
FA: I go nutso in restaurants when waiters remove plates before everyone at the table is finished. If I wanted a McDonald's eating experience at Manhattan prices, I'd go to Mickey D's. Also, I know they are just doing their job, but busboys who refill my water glass every time I take a sip. Don't they know there's a drought in California? And I don't have diabetes insipidus?
Did I look finished with that?

L: Do you have a dream you'd like to share?
FA: One type of dream I have frequently is too dark and disturbing to share. Some of that shows up in my writing now and then. The other type would make Meg Ryan take out a restraining order.
Pastrami looks good.

L: What gives you the most happiness?
FA: See above about my most important things in life. Actually simple things way more than momentous stuff. Experiences more than things. Like the unexpected invite from my wife to a quick falafel lunch near her building in Manhattan today. We hardly disagreed about anything. We like going on walks and seeing things that others might consider mundane. Like warehouse districts. Trains. God, do I love trains. Books, of course. I recently finished A Meaningful Life by L.J. Davis. A true couldn't-put-it-down dark comedy about Brooklyn in the seventies.
Not #1, but I do love trains.

L: What is your biggest accomplishment?
FA: Easy. Being married forty-five years, which we did on the day of the Mayan Apocalypse. We survived both events. Also raising four kids. Well, sort of raising them. My wife taught them to be good. I taught them what to avoid.
Glad they were wrong about that 2012 thing.

L: Why do you like to blog?
FA: For the same reason I like to write short stories and my work in progress, Johnny Don't March. Writing is an amazing, creative experience. My novel is set in Brooklyn and when I visit the real locations that appear in the book, I have to remind myself my characters aren't real. And when I admit to myself that's true, I have a bittersweet, sad moment. Then I pour a Madeira.

Timothy Hurley
Brooklyn, May 5, 2014

Thanks for reading. Until next time?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lunatics Win Liebster

Peoria State Hospital for the Incurably Insane, home office of the Lunatic Assylum

The Lunatic Assylum was nominated for a Liebster award for blogging by Alana Harbison, an Aussie from Queensland. Which is not the same thing as receiving the Liebster Award. It does give me the right to place this impressive icon on my blog.
Which right I would have naturally as an American. It is in the Constitution. Check it out.

I thought this meant someone would arrive at my apartment with a lobster dinner and computer-drawn butter. 
Maine lobster man

But, according to Google Translate, Liebster comes not from Maine lobstermen, but from the German lieber, to love. Hence a liebster is a lover. Wow. Those award givers are perceptive. I am nothing if not a lover.
Me in my loverboy days

It also turns out receiving a Liebster Award is not all take and no give. I must give an acceptance speech and thank whichever gods have not gone on early vacation, my ancestors back to Brian Boru in ancient Ireland, my long-suffering wife, my dear children and perfect grandchildren. At my wife's urging, I stopped short of thanking my orchid plant for inspiration and peace of mind.
Me thanking the Liebster Academy

The acceptance speech is in the form of yet another interview. The Lunatic Assylum, it seems is a sought after interviewee. Sort of like Mr. Snowden is sought after by the Justice Department.

Poor guy doesn't even like pyroshki

So my question and answer interview will appear in this space soon. As soon as Google translates the questions from Aussie.
The other "give" the Liebster Award obligates The Lunatic Assylum to is to nominate other worthy, lovers...make that liebsters. Here is a list of bloggers you might like to check out and see where they paste the little Liebster icon...heh, heh.

Thanks for reading. ?Hasta la vista?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Johnny Don't March

The Lunatic Assylum has received questions about my work-in-progress, Johnny Don't March.
Here are the answers.
Q: How far along are you?
A: I finished draft one and am two thirds the way through draft two. Draft two is some significant revisioning, but I think it's going well.
Q: What's it about?
A: War is purgatory—waiting is hell. Nelson returns from Afghanistan branded a hero and rejects the role. As dark memories erupt into the “normal” life he craves, he learns the hard way that hate is futile.
Q: How long is it?
A: I'm not sure. It started as a rewrite of my short story Fifty Fifty, when I became interested in what happened to Nelson when he came home. It was a story that wouldn't stop and is on its way to novella length. I don't watch word counts when I write, so I'll know how long it is when it's finished.
Q: When will it be out?
A: I'm shooting for late 2014. But I love rewriting and editing (really) and polishing, so it will be ready when I can read it without making significant changes. I hope to have it ready for my professional editor by Thanksgiving ...maybe Christmas ...definitely by New Year's ...or next Spring Break.
Q: What does the cover look like?
A: I've toyed with many cover concepts and like several. See the pic above for one of my latest concepts. The photograph for this cover was shot by my wife of the Brooklyn Bridge on a foggy day and I altered it. When I asked her price for using her photo, she said, "everything." When I told her we'd be rich when the book comes out, she said the price was, "everything, in advance."