Spinning wheels

n+1 has published a longish short story of mine, “The Remainder,” in their latest issue—a retelling of Yasunari Kawabata’s novel Snow Country, but gay, and at the end of the world. For the record, I wrote it about a year and a half ago, when I had no idea that respiratory pandemics would become a part of the background of my own daily life so soon. (I am a very poor self-promoter and should have flogged this in an issue of this newsletter months ago.)

Another story of mine, “Massachusetts,” is coming out in the spring 2021 (i.e., the next) issue of The Yale Review.

For the past three years, our dog has had a progressive, incurable disease called canine degenerative myelopathy. Slowly but steadily, the neural connection between his brain and his extremities is breaking down. He’s still very much himself, but his back legs have gone from uncoordinated to wobbly to collapsing to . . . wheels. The wheels came about last week after a stranger noticed that Peter was supporting Toby’s back legs in a harness and came up to say that a dog of hers had had the same illness and that she still had his doggy wheelchair in her basement, if we were interested. As it happens, she’s the owner of Slope Cellars, a wine store in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and when we picked up the wheels, I realized that I had bought the wine for our wedding picnic and for the launch of Necessary Errors from her. As soon as we put the wheels on, Toby started racing around our living room, and we’re super grateful.

Related: I have found Stuart McGill’s book Back Mechanic very helpful in alleviating back pain.

A few friends have books coming out soon: Peter Mendelsund’s new novel The Delivery (FSG) is launching on Tuesday, February 9, at McNally Jackson. Christine Smallwood’s The Life of the Mind (Hogarth) is launching on Monday, March 22, also at McNally Jackson. On the horizon: Liz Brown’s Twilight Man: Love and Ruin in the Shadows of Hollywood and the Clark Empire (Penguin, May 18), Christopher Cox’s The Deadline Effect: How to Work Like It's the Last Minute—Before the Last Minute (Avid Reader, July 6), Hermione Hoby’s Virtue (Riverhead, July 20). Also, my essay on Daisy Ashford’s The Young Visiters will be collected in an anthology, B-Side Books: Essays on Forgotten Favorites (Columbia University Press, June 21).

“It is with poetry as with chess and billiards—there is a certain degree of attainment, which labor and practice will reach, and beyond which no vigils and vows will go. —So the motto for my stanzas shall be ‘Non licat cuivis adire Corinthum’ [Not everyone can go to Corinth].” —John Quincy Adams, diary, 31 March 1829

“When men were no longer found, their place was supplied by machines.” —Gibbon, Decline and Fall

“At that time I naively imagined that there was no reason why one should not attempt to write anything that one felt inclined to write.” —Iris Murdoch, Under the Net

“He had not the slightest suspicion that in winning an argument one might end up fooling oneself as well as the opponent.” —Soseki, Grass on the Wayside