Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Now THIS is what you call 'Random Thoughts'

I recently went on an ARC-requesting bender, clicking willy-nilly on ads posted on shelf-awareness.com. (Try it! Let’s all get free books!) And then I logged onto my account for the “Quality Paperback Bookclub” to decline my main selections, only to learn that my tardy response for the month of May would result in the home-delivery of two books I had not selected: Tom Perrotta’s The Abstinence Teacher (which I’ve actually been meaning to read), and a book I’d never heard of before: Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician.

Oh, Jesus, just what the hell is this, I thought, and then I read the synopsis:

There’s never any shortage of magic with Daniel Wallace. The author of the beloved novel Big Fish is a master of conjuring up colorful characters and spinning emotionally enchanting yarns. Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician is his most spellbinding story yet—an American epic that weaves its way through the Deep South of the 1950s with wit, wonder and wizardry.

Henry Walker was once one of the world’s greatest magicians. Now this dark-skinned prestidigitator has been reduced to a novelty act in a traveling circus. But when this one-time master of the disappearing act disappears himself, it’s up to a motley crew including a private detective, a strong man, a carnival barker and Jenny the Ossified Girl to piece together the puzzle of his life. It’s an adventure that starts with a childhood deal with the Devil and only gets stranger. As the true cost of his Faustian bargain is made clear, is his very identity the greatest illusion of all?

Filled with surprises and starring a freak show of fascinating characters, Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician is an entrancing examination of the choices and prejudices that make us human—and the love, loss and magic that makes us something more.

Intriguing! Lately, I’ve kind of been in the mood for freaky carnival fiction with a Ray Bradbury feel to it. (Even though my tardiness in responding to a QPB mailer last year netted me a Ray Bradbury novel I still haven’t read.)

But the real lesson here is that I just need to stay away from mail-order media clubs of any kind. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the BMG fiasco of my college days. Inevitably (and the mail-order people are counting on this), I miss a response card deadline and am sent some goofy-ass garbage I didn’t want. And when you try to remedy the situation, you end up with a bad mark on your credit report and collection agencies calling you.

Actually, that last part didn’t happen to me, I always did the pantywaist thing and paid for the stuff I didn’t want to AVOID that outcome, but it did happen to a few of my friends.

In completely unrelated news, I want to hear your thoughts on cohabitating before marriage. Yes, no, maybe so … would you do it? Do you do it? Did you do it? Why or why not? If you do or did live with someone without the ring, would you do it again?

PS: Thanks to the PKD Foundation for interviewing me--check it out here.


  1. I did live with my ex husband for 3 years (2 of which I was engaged)prior to our 12 marriage. I was
    21. Would I live with someone again that I wasn't married to NOPE! In fact, I'm engaged and getting married in October and still won't live with fiance prior to wedding.

    Living with ex was interesting. He seriously thought that once we were married I would change. Dinner would be on table every night (at that time, frozen meals were a challenge for me).

    For me, I had a bad experience. Oddly enough, none of my other friends lived with their husbands prior to their wedding.

  2. I once got enrolled in the same book club (Dr. Seuss for the kiddies) twice. They sent me the same books twice and made me pay for them, the second set of books was their fault! I cancelled both.

    Living together before married - I probably would not do it. It is not a moral thing either. I don't think trying things out first seems to work out well and when and if marriage comes along, it is often a last gasp. I like the idea of keeping my own space anyway. Again, I don't universally disagree with it, it is just not for me.

  3. I've been engaged 3 times and lived with two of them. I would never do it again unless it was made perfectly clear that NEITHER of us was interested in marriage.

    I'm convinced the unions with no marriage last the longest because as one of my friends said, "The moment the ring is on your finger, that's when he starts taking you for granted," She's been with her guy for 24 years. No marriage in sight. And can you say Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon?

  4. Ooohhhh, I did the book club thing WAY back in high school and boy, was that a good lesson! Never again, nope, not me.

    As for pre-marital co-habitation, I think I'm with the others, here. Why, really? Money? Not worth it. Time? Better make some for each other now, or you never will later. My vote is to wait for the wedding and celebrate with the fun of starting a new life together.

  5. Love the interview.

    In completely unrelated news, why do you want to know about cohabitating before marriage? Mr. Manic and I did do this, and I swore to myself that I would never live with someone before getting engaged, although I did this with him. I guess I pretty much "thought" we would be engaged soon after we shacked up. And we were.

    I think it's a good idea. You get through all the crap, like does he leave the shower curtain open, does he replace the toilet paper, where does he leave his shoes when he gets home, and you can fight about all that mundance BS-y shit before the marriage vows and get it all over with so when you do get married, you don't have to pretend everything is all glorious and beautiful. Cuz it never is.
    Just ask Mr. Manic -- he's been happily married to moi for 15 years! Hahahahahah!

    Now tell me, why did you ask this really weird question?

    And why am I answering it at midnight?

  6. The dude before my now husband, I lived with. I wouldn't do it again (I didn't live with my husband before we got married) especially since the ex turned out to be a needle-toting addict who so happened to have an Indian child come knocking on his door. Did I fail to mention all the debt I was left with when he left one icy night without any notice or a change of address card?

  7. This doesn't look like a shy person's blog.
    I have not read either of those books but they both sound interesting and I like how they are falling into your lap.
    Thanks for coming round my place, hope you do leave a comment in the future:)
    And I hope you are right that my WIP won't be used as a demo on how not to write. It's good getting encouragement from other writers, I appreciate that.
    This comment sounds so choppy to me, but it's 6am and I'm waiting for the coffee pot to finish dripping and for my husband to get up and pour me some! (It's his turn to get up with the kids.)

  8. Oh, I liked Big Fish and the Watermleon one. The Watermelon King? I can't remember the title.

  9. Good book recommendations! They both sound interesting. I like Tom Perrotta, and I liked Big Fish.

    As for living together before marriage - my hubby and I lived together for 5 years before we got married. We had our daughter together before we got married. When we moved in together, neither of us wanted to get married, at all, ever. We wanted to share our lives and planned to live together forever without ever marrying. Five years down the road, the situation changed a bit and we decided to get married just to tie up loose ends legally. We had a *very* small ceremony at my in-laws house, with my father as officiant, and a big cookout afterward. That was two years ago this weekend. Things have changed very, very little since we got married. We were happy before, we've been happy since. I changed my name to be his name and our childrens' name, just because I felt left out! Now that I've written a book in your comments section, feel free to email me if you would like more info. I'd be happy to talk more! LOL!

  10. My husband and I weren't able to live together before we got married because he's in the Army. But when watching my friends I feel like it gives them the opportunity to see how living together is while postponing the whole "getting married" thing. Why fix what's not broke? One of my friends just moved closer to her boyfriend and he wanted her to move in and she firmly said not until there's a ring on my finger and a wedding planned!

  11. My wife and I lived together for a couple years prior to marriage. And I would recommend it to anyone.

    I think some people just had bad experiences and they are associating them with living together.

    I think it depends on the people. But I think you can learn ALOT about someone that you may not like or that you do like prior to marriage if you live together.

  12. My thoughts on cohabitation before marriage are the same as my thoughts on sex before marriage: you have to test drive the car before you buy it to make sure it has an engine.

    We lived together for a year before getting married and it was really important to do so, in my opinion. Had we not been able to get along for a year, how would we get along for a lifetime. It's much easier to bail on a relationship and a rent than a marriage and a mortgage.

  13. This is a tough one. As long as there is open communication and expectations, living together before marriage can be very beneficial. I don't think that my husband and I would've made it to the alter any earlier had we not lived together. And we both knew that not much would change. What I have noticed change though, is in the longer we are together, the more respect we give each other and we are growing together as people. So yeah, we've each changed a bit, but it's OK, because we talk, lots. BTW, we were together 8 1/2 years before getting married, and lived together for 3. So really, it's all about the relationship...it's got to be good, no matter what. If you aren't in a great relationship, then it doesn't matter whether or not you live together before you get married, because you'll wind up divorced anyway!!

  14. Nancy in CT2:04 PM

    I totally believe in living together before marraige. If I had married my ex-fiance before finding out how we couldn't live together, that whole "till death do you part" thing would have taken on a whole new meaning!

  15. Your mention of Bradbury reminded me that every October since I was little I'm reminded of the chilling first chapter in "Something Wicked This Way Comes". Still determined to order and read your new book.

  16. DawnH6:21 PM

    Every couple is different. I knew a couple lived together 10 years, got married, and divorced within 2 years. I know a couple who met and married within 2 weeks and have been married 60+ years. As for my husband and I, we lived together for a year before marrying and have been married for 20 years. Compatibility helps make a couple succeed (in my opinion) and living together can help you find that out.

  17. Oh, I lived with THREE different people before I got married and I think it is SUCH a bad idea now! i think that you don't gain anything by living together pre-marriage, really.

  18. I lived with Dave before we got married...it was good practice, I guess, but what I think couples who are planning on getting married should to together before marriage is buy something. Something big that they have to shop around for and really discuss and budget for, like a piece of furniture or a furniture set or a couch. You see sides of others you've never seen before when you're putting out a big wad of cashola.

  19. Anonymous8:32 AM

    Well, my case of living together before marriage is related to money and future in-laws. I married my wife for her money - I was a poor grad student in Spain, and she actually had a job as a high-school teacher. We lived together because I needed a place to stay, and neither of us wanted to live together with her folks, (where lots of unmarried Spaniards live because of the outrageously high housing prices in much of Europe.)

    We lived together unmarried for 8 months, and (so far) for 15 years of marriage.

    I think it was a good idea - let her see what living with me would be like - good: I cook, and quite well; bad: I don't clean, and quite well.

  20. Junebug, I did live with my husband prior to marriage, and would do it again. My daughter is currently living with her boyfriend, much to the chagrin of our pastor. He seems to think "something shiny" on her finger will ensure everlasting love and happiness.

    Also, I read The Abstinence Teacher. It was marginal. It paled in comparison to Little Children and Joe College. I was disappointed.

    Love you!!

  21. Hey Jess, first off, just finished your book and loved it! I will talk about it in my blog today. Secondly, I don't want to discount what a lot of your commentors are sayiing BUT...it completely depends on the situation! I wanted to be engaged but Jon wanted to live together first. I wanted Jon so I agreed. For some reason, he had it in his head that living together was a great idea but he did see us getting married sooner rather than later. We moved in after 2 years together and it took him a year and a half to propose (with a lot of nagging on my part) but now we've been together 9 years and never been closer. My point? It doesn't matter if you live together or not, do you want to be with the person or do you just want to be married? That's the question you should ask yourself. I knew I wanted to be with Jon so I trusted him and moved in together first.

  22. Oooh if you are looking for wacky carnival fiction- you have to check out one of my favorite books- Geek Love. Run to your local bookstore. run!

  23. A little late on the response, but had to tell you that hubs and I lived together for a year before we were married, despite parental disapproval. (We were in our late twenties; we could weather a little disapproval.) It was mainly for the sake of convenience -- we had lived five hours from each other throughout our relationship, so when I moved to the same town with the thought that we might get married, it seemed silly for me to get a place of my own for just a year or two, especially since finances were an issue. I'm glad we did, though, because we worked out a lot of things before we ever got married, and we entered into it with a lot more confidence.

  24. i could never marry someone if we didn't live together first.

    but...living together first doesn't mean you'll stay married, as i also found out.

    however, i think you can't really know someone until you live with them. and for god's sake, it's the 21st century, and while we might think we're pulling a fast one by walking down the aisle in white dresses, we're not fooling anyone.

    (i'm actually just thankful i didn't burst into flames walking into the church.)