In 2001 when my first novel, “Slab Rat,” was published and I was important for about eight weeks, I was asked to write three very short stories for a literary magazine. I believe the maximum amount of time I was allotted for each story was 10 minutes. Sometimes it takes me 10 minutes to get a sentence the way I want it, but I decided to do it. I forget what the other two stories were, but one of them stayed with me: It was about a couple who go to real estate open houses to steal medication.
Cut to early spring 2012.
Thirty painkillers (prescribed for my bad back) were stolen out of my medicine cabinet. I was certain I knew who did it: someone in my building who had access to our keys. I set a trap for him and removed the remaining painkillers and replaced them with an over-the-counter painkiller that resembled them in color and shape — but certainly did not deliver the same relief. A week later I left my apartment for a mere 10 minutes; when I returned, sure enough, about 30 more were missing. A check of the log revealed who had signed out the keys. As Michael Corleone says to his brother in “The Godfather II”: “I know it was you, Fredo.”
“Pocket Kings” got positive reviews, but the problem is it just didn’t get too many of them. As far as I know, only one newspaper west of the Pecos (the Dallas Morning News), reviewed it. Newspapers don’t cover books anymore, of course. And then there’s the lack of a readership on my part, I’m just not that prominent, etc. But why wouldn’t newspapers or magazines in Las Vegas cover a novel about poker? Why wouldn’t the Huffington Post and Gawker mention a book that drills a thousand new assholes into book publishing? Why wouldn’t every newspaper, magazine and website, after they saw that the Times liked a novel, then grab the baton and run with it and review my novel? After all, that’s what issupposed to happen. That and movie offers and Christina Hendricks on my lap and cases of Cristal and a large advance for the next book.
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