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Mar 17 / Michael

French books, teen boys, and tense moments

1. It’s official: I am writing the horror novel in the present tense. Yeah, I lose the foreshadowing, but it’s more immediate, and that seems especially important when you’re talking about sudden noises in the night and, you know, blood splatter.

2. Last night, I took part in a panel called “Getting Inside the Mind of a Teen Boy” at the Barnes & Noble Tribeca. The huge space was completely packed and it was an amazing event. David Levithan was the moderator, and the other panelists were Gordon Korman, Barry Lyga, Matt de la Pena, Jake Wizner, Jon Skovron, and Nick Burd. These guys are all fantastic writers, but it was obvious last night that they have also put a lot of thought into what it means to write from the perspective of a teen boy.

There were some excellent questions from the audience and honest, intelligent answers from the panelists. And boob jokes. As David wrote afterward: We transformed the place “into a mess of pornography, insults, masturbation, vulnerability, daddy issues, sarcasm, puke, jokes, and boobs—in other words, a fairly accurate map of the mind of a teen boy.” Proud to be a part of it!

3. I just finished the Archipelago Press translation of Dominique Fabre’s The Waitress Was New. It’s wise, wonderful, and very short: three good things! The tone is very “le sigh,” and it reminded me a lot of another little French book (or, if you prefer, little Freedom book), Irene Nemirovsky’s Fire in the Blood. This one is a bit more matter of fact, though, and has a comforting, work-a-day rhythm. It follows a 56-year-old bartender through a few (relatively) eventful weeks. Here’s a sample quote:

“He turned down the street toward the expressway, then at the corner he very slowly ran a red light, like the basket case he was at that point. I lit one last cigarette, then poured some detergent into my little basin and set my things to soak.”

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