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The next weekend I went over with my laptop and a desk lamp and tried to write. Something about the claustrophobia of a dank, antique basement seemed well suited to the sort of novel I was trying to write, and I wrote faster than I have ever written before.I was in that cautious phase of a new project, when a writer worries that he or she will wreck the flow of words. Within four months, I had finished a 450-page draft of a novel called .I had long considered Mark Gates to be my best friend, although I am pretty sure there are a lot of other people who also felt the same, and so I am one of many.
Mark would air a number of grievances about political figures and sing a number of praises about Madison’s service sector employees (he has always been an outrageous tipper and loved anybody who, like him, offered up sales and service with a smile).
I would report to him how many words I’d accomplished that day and he would make a good show of the admiration bit: In a world where fiction writing is seen largely to be an unproductive waste of time, devoid of the ever important TRUTH and about as economically viable as selling rotten plums, Mark’s encouragement was one of the things that kept me going.
Sensenbrenner remained cordial throughout, but he struck me as a sort of slob, unkempt and boorish. I returned to my room and ordered two scotches and a steak from room service, purchased a pay-per-view movie (, with the effervescent Kate Winslet), and, after finishing said movie and composing a half-hearted but lusty poem about Kate Winslet (which inspired a Google Image Search for Kate Winslet), I began to work on this novel: .
I have heard it said that he has never held a job outside of Capitol Hill, and if he had not been born rich I doubt he would have had much of a station in this society. I wish now that I had called him an over-privileged jackass. I wrote twenty-six pages that night and I suppose I owe this unprecedented bit of productivity to Congressman Sensenbrenner.
My first attempt at a second novel was already finished, languishing in a small, green metal IKEA cabinet that looked as if it was made to house dead manuscripts, a manu-crypt, if you will. All five hundred pages of it, put down in one of those acts of artistic euthanasia that feel more like murder than mercy.
That novel failed for all the reasons second novels tend to fail, including an overwhelming desire to please the critics who liked my first novel as well as a delusional belief in the majesty of my talent. , however, was and still is a more playful novel, a dark comedy with numerous references to popular culture and American politics.
It’s important for me to point out that the term long-awaited has nothing to do, technically, with the quantity, of, well, awaitment, and I only mean to say that a small handful of people, many of whom I know personally and some of whom depend on me for financial support, have been awaiting this book’s arrival for a long time. I began writing this book about two or three years ago, in a hotel room in Washington D.
Also waiting for it: My mother, my in-laws, and a few of the good folks at Bank of America to whom I owe a great deal of money. C., after a hard and wearying day of lobbying for an increase in federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
He was also named Sales Representative of the Year in 2006 by magazine. Mack Fences was initially a minor character, a sort of fop designed to provide a bit of levity from what was an initially dark and stormy little novel.
Mack Fences chain-smoked, he drank too much, and he was intellectually fierce and witty but also a wee bit of a coward.