I had a great afternoon doing a stage in Chef Jack's kitchen during our Minneapolis visit. Everyone was very kind, even though I was absurdly inept. It was a bit like "bring your daughter to work day."
Chef Jack is a great leader in the kitchen and a consummate host. If you ever travel to Minneapolis, check out his Chicken Breast with Chestnut Mousse and Truffled Chanterelles.
Next week I leave for my own personal writing retreat in Mexico, and I am dedicating this retreat to the memory of the great Donald E Westlake.
THINGS I LEARNED FROM DONALD E WESTLAKE
1. Be gentle and self-deprecating in person, but make maniacal art.
2. Drink white wine.
3. Move your story forward with each sentence.
4. Don't worry about the academy, make your own academy.
5. Take your time setting up a joke. The best jokes are the ones that take whole novels to set up (like the last line of The Hook).
6. Don't be sentimental.
7. Nurture your inner thief/sociopath.
The tragic parrot POV section in Ask the Parrot is the mature Westlake opening up a little and showing off his chops, something he almost never let himself do (see rules 3 and 6 above):
Take that, Flaubert! Don, you're right up there with the best of them -- thank you for your inspiration.
While in my casita on the ocean, I plan to engage in Westlakean activities such as cranking out a high daily word count, drinking white wine, and reading all 12 volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.
Blogging will resume mid-February.