My new novel Subway Visions comes a long way from its earlier incarnation as Subway Hitchhikers.
Here are ten ways it’s new and improved.
- The novel no longer serves as an introduction to three other volumes but stands fully on its own in a more timeless Gotham.
- The central character is now identified as Kenzie, in line with the other novels in my Freakin’ Free Spirits cycle. Gone are the Duma Luma and later D.L. monikers. He’s more grounded than they were.
- The action is now built on a clear chronology that runs parallel to his ongoing life to the north. For that, you can read Pit-a-Pat High Jinks.
- He now has monthly opportunities to visit the Big Apple and ride its rails, thanks to a floating three-day weekend off from his job. This gives more plausibility to his familiarity with the city while living hours to the north. He is young and ready for adventure, after all.
- With his Tibetan guru living in Manhattan’s SoHo district, Kenzie’s Buddhist studies now run through much of the story. His sessions there become his principal motivation for the monthly visits.
- The story is now anchored by a set of regular characters, beginning with his guru and Buddha buddies like Holly and Wilson before expanding in the second half with the wild tagger T-Rex.
- As one reader said of the earlier version, “I really dig that chick Holly.” Now there’s a lot more of her. (And Wilson and T-Rex are altogether new.)
- The language is tighter; the sentences, more staccato, befitting the grimy trains and their stations.
- The funky sweet surrealism of the original tale now floats over the substance of an inescapably malodorous substratum. There’s nothing bland and disinfected in this gritty demimonde of endless night where Kenzie encounters the most remarkable souls and visions.
- These events are now seen in a historical perspective, thanks to the unseen presence of Kenzie’s daughter Cassia while I was revising the tale. Credit her for the snippier tone, too.
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The journalism fraternity.
Turns out it should be pronounced See-wa-ma Theel-ta Hee.
Or something like that in Greek.
They all started out very much like me, but now I hardly recognize any of these characters.
Or, for that matter, lovers.
In a whimsical twist in my novel What’s Left, I placed the town along the Ohio River. Well, the navigable waterway is a defining element of southern Indiana.
- Length of the Ohio River: 981 miles
- Length along Indiana: 240 miles before adding twists. Drains all but the northernmost area of the state.
- At its mouth: It is considerably larger than the Mississippi, making it the main hydrological stream of the whole river system.
- Number of states feeding into the Ohio River: 15.
- Largest tributary: Tennessee River, 652 miles long. Its watershed includes Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, a corner of Louisiana, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky.
- Largest northern tributary: Wabash River, 503 miles long. It originates in Ohio and flows across Indiana before becoming part of the border with Illinois.
- Average depth of Ohio River: 24 feet.
- The biggest city along its way: Pittsburgh, metropolitan population of 3.5 million. The river begins with the confluence of the Allegheny, from upstate New York, and the Monongahela, which drains part of West Virginia and Maryland as well as Pennsylvania, at Point State Park in the Gold Triangle.
- Next largest: Cincinnati, metropolitan area population of 2.2 million. Can be seen as the waterway’s hub.
- Major hurdle: Louisville, Kentucky, sits at the Falls of the Ohio, which once presented a barrier to river traffic. The McAlpine Locks and Dam stand where the Louisville and Portland Canal was built in 1830 to allow vessels to bypass the falls. It was the first major engineering project on the river and, by some accounts, the first on an American waterway.
I’m so happy to hear that the New Yorker’s perceptive classical music critic, Alex Ross, is about twenty years younger than me.
There’s so much young talent to champion. And some exciting new sounds, too.
Now, more than ever.
Returning that matter of bohemian identity, here are ten more options.
- Peace activist.
- Organic gardener.
- Civil rights activist.
- New England contradancer.
- Sanctuary volunteer.
What more would you suggest for the list?
I’ve been considering some differences and similarities of beatniks and hippies, but they’re just part of a much longer tradition that is often called bohemian.
Without trying to distinguish what identifies each of these (I do get awfully confused at times), here are ten to consider.
- Stoner. (Oops, I just saw that this one can be broken down into ten more categories!)
How would you distinguish any or all of these?
What would you suggest for the list?
Considering the negative image of some, what would you offer as more positive alternatives when it comes to alternative awareness and living?