Posts Tagged ‘according to me i’m moral’

Back to Nicaragua

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

No time to write about it — I still haven’t packed for it — but I’m heading back down to Nicaragua in the morning. Here’s one of my favorite photos from the last time or the time before.

More later, -jv

Anchored Down in Anchorage

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

I’m having an odd sort of flashback.

I’m on a plane over Canada, flying up to Anchorage to address the Alaska Writers Conference. This plane is like many planes I’ve been on in my professional life, like any plane whisking me to Managua or Moscow or wherever. And, as usual, I have a laptop open on my tray table. I’m either working or not working. Knowing me, I’ve probably just finished playing a game, or just about to start. It’s how I fly: I should be working, and sometimes I am, but often I’m not.

Usually on these gigs in wherever, I’m arriving as the expert from out of town, the consultant expected to teach and train writers (possibly even enlighten writers) but not necessarily to be a writer himself. And there have been many, many times in the past when I frittered away all the hours on the flight doing two things: not-writing, and feeling guilty about not-writing. I understood that, as a hard working and dedicated teacher and trainer, I had a pretty damn good excuse for not, at that moment, being a writer. Yet I felt guilty. Down deep in my heart, I felt like a fraud, and simultaneously loved and hated having a handy excuse for not advancing on my own writing front. And felt guilty. Like I was letting myself down, and really not living up to my reputation.

I recognize in this moment that this feeling of guilt is gone. I have finally, finally, written enough, achieved enough as an author, that I no longer feel like a fraud to me. No one can doubt my body of work. It’s there. It exists. There’s simply no way they can pin upon me the label of “those who can’t do, teach.” I do. I do plenty. I teach, too. So as I sit on this flight, monkeying with my next novel, I need not fear flying into a situation where someone asks, “What have you done for you lately?” I’ve done plenty for me. I still am. I’m the writer I always wanted to be. It’s a pretty sweet feeling. It’s nice to leave guilt behind.

I’m finally starting to fill the bottomless hole. It’s not full, but it’s not empty, either, and I, at last, seem to recognize that. I’m either growing up or growing old. From here at 35,000 feet, it’s hard to tell which.

Anyway, Alaska. More writers to meet and teach, more pulp to push, more sights to see. I’ve never been to Alaska before. I hear they have moose.

More later, -jv

Postcards From Paradise

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been too long since my last blog post, but I find that I really only have something to say when I’m away from home base, and I haven’t been away from home base since, well, since the last time I was away. Anyway, I’m in Cancun now, on vacation with Maxx, and enjoying the to-die-for view out my hotel window.

We’re staying at a Westin Something-Something, not quite a hotel, as it has vaguely a kitchenette, which I guess makes it sort of a fallow timeshare unit. Good for us: we can stock up on real food and eat in our room, and not be subject to the tender mercies of the Planets Hollywood and Señors Frog that litter the Cancun hotel zone. The plan for the week is pretty much sleep, sun, swim, repeat. There will be little, if any, sightseeing, though I imagine that I shall be able to bestir myself to make the walk to the Mayan ruin next door. Maybe not. When we get away on these tropical laze-abouts, the general idea is to stew in our own juices and let our batteries charge back up to full. I guess my idea of a hard day’s work is this here blog post, so, whew, am I exhausted.

This is the “safe” part of Mexico, very touristy, very Americanized, high penetration of English and low penetration of narco-bandits. Though I suppose if you drove due west across the Yucatan, you could get yourself into some sketchy situations. For that matter, I guess the wrong cab at the wrong time of night would turn the same trick. Not that I’m likely to stumble into any cabs in small hours; the lively nightclub scene in Cancun will have to be enjoyed by others. Me, I’m happy with an interesting movie on cable or a clear view of the stars.

Those who have followed my vacation posts know that I’m fond of mystery photos. Some of you have proven quite good at answering the question, “What am I looking at here?” But this time I think I have a real puzzler for you, so here it comes.

First correct response wins a laurel, and hardy handshake.

More later, -jv

Here I am in Amster(shh)

Monday, June 20th, 2011

When I was a kid we used to sing this song: “Amster, Amster, shh, shh, shh – you must not say that naughty word” (dam(n) in case you’re wondering). Ah the lost innocence. Well, anyway, here I am in Amstershh, and it’s every bit as scenic and flat and wonderful as I remember. The canals are still here.

And the “art” is still here, although some of it always strikes me as Emperor’s New Clothes stuff:

The Rijksmuseum is still here, still as hard to spell as ever, and still — as seemingly ever — in a state of renovation. This is actually good news, for they’ve opened a small satellite exhibit, kind of a “Rijks Lite” or “greatest hits” version of the museum, including many Rembrandts (including the granddaddy of them all, “The Night Watch.”) The beauty of this is that you get Rijks-without-guilt. You can see the whole temporary exhibit in just an hour, and not feel self-conscious that you didn’t spend more of your precious Amsterdam time inside a museum. I took a couple of photos..

…before the docent informed me that photographs are not allowed. Shame. I’d have taken a picture of the “no photos” sign if I’d seen it.

Meanwhile, we know that the Dutch are famous for porcelain, but who knew it extended to faces?

I kind of feel like I’m taking this trip on speed. It’s so short — just four days, really, with two of those committed to the work I’ve come here to do (discussing adaptation and development of television shows across cultural and national platforms — woo-hoo!) The rest of the time, I have to choose from among an embarrassment of riches. Van Gogh Museum? (Been there, but who gets tired of van Goghs?) Anne Frank House (a stone bummer – probably opt for the Resistance Museum instead). Heineken brewery tour? Hey, I did that when I was 20. I remember that it was fun — and then I remember that I don’t remember much afterwards. And let’s not forget the Holland Casino, where I could drop in and show them how it works when you DECIDE TO PLAY GREAT POKER. Probably I’ll just wander and let myself go where my feet take me. In terms of scenery, architecture and people-watching, I know of no other city anywhere where it’s more fun and rewarding just to stroll.

The real trick will be to stay ahead of jet lag. If I get caught up in a “white night,” where I sleep not at all, then I’ll be crap all the next day — and the next two days are work days. Fortunately, I’ve got my melatonin regime dialed in, so I’ll get at least some quality ZZZ each night. It’s a trick one must develop for these crazy one-week jaunts across nine time zones. Without melatonin I don’t know where I’d be. If you don’t know,

Melatonin (Listeni /ˌmɛləˈtnɪn/), also known chemically as N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine,[1] is a naturally occurring compound found in animals, plants and microbes.[2][3] In animals, circulating levels of the hormone melatonin vary in a daily cycle, thereby allowing the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions.[4]

And let me tell you, it works great. I feel all entrained. At least for now. But ask me again when it’s three in the morning, I’m channel-surfing among Dutch TV stations and hating life.

For now, though, I’m loving life. Got the Rijksmuseum ticked right off my list.

Closing photo: real house or doll house? U decide.

More later from Amstershh. -jv

I’m All A-Twitter

Friday, June 17th, 2011

So I decide to spend this week honing my social networking chops, and now I’m more social than ever – but also more confused. I started by friending everyone in the known universe (well, in the universe of people known to me) and I’ll friend you, too, if you but ask. I’ve bulked up my twitter feed (@TrueFactBarFact) to almost 200 (well, almost 170) followers. Then I pimped out my Amazon author page, adding photos, videos, news of upcoming events, blabbity blabbity blah blah blah. I think I’ve even arranged for this blog feed to go straight there, so if you’re passionate about reading the same thing twice, why, now you can.

But you know what? It all seems like a great big circle somehow. I point my Facebook friends to my Twitter feed, tweet on Twitter that I can be found here in my blog, blog about my Amazon page, and promote my Facebook presence on Amazon. Goodness! Is it any wonder that I have a big, fat, socially networked headache right now? Meanwhile, my lovely dog, Temp, dozes at my feet, and the only social network he cares about is the one that delivers him treats.

I guess all I care about is treats, too, where treats = presence and, ultimately, book sales. Because that’s what all this social networking is all about in the end. I’ve got books to promote (the new one, DECIDE) and workshops (LIVING THE WRITER’S LIFE in Pasadena on August 13) and, more broadly, my “brand,” such as it is. One thing I’ve learned as an author is that no one promotes you harder than yourself, not your publisher, not your publicist, no one. So if the word is going to get out, it’s up to, well, me to make it so.

It could be a colossal waste of time, of course, but you know what they say: “Self-indulgence is its own reward.” So follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, www.losthours.com. Or, you know, don’t. I’ll be wasting the time either way.

Speaking of wasting time, I just searched losthours.com and it turns out that no one owns that domain name yet. I’m bipping right over to my GoDaddy account to register it right now, because who knows? It could be the big viral breakthrough I’ve been looking for.

Off to Amsterdam tomorrow. Reports to follow.

More later, -jv

My High Water Mark

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Just found out that I was the number-two bestseller at Vroman’s Bookstore this month:

Vroman’s Bestsellers 4/4/11

by Ruby on April 4, 2011

Hardcover Fiction
Tiger’s Wife, Tea Obreht
Albuquerque Turkey, John Vorhaus
Troubled Man, Henning Mankell
Lesson in Secrets
, Jacqueline Winspear
Land of Painted Caves, Jean Auel
Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, Alexander McCall Smith
Mystery, Jonathan Kellerman
Georgia Bottoms, Mark Childress
Pale King, David Foster Wallace
When the Killings Done
, T C Boyle

Of course that may have had something to do with having done a big book launch event there that week, but still… it’s the best bestselling I’ve done so far, so yay me.

(Me as I used to be)

More later, -jv

What a Good Idea That Was

Monday, March 21st, 2011

So this morning I had the bright idea to celebrate Albuquerque Turkey launch week by sending out an email to everyone I could think of, and including the first chapter as a sort of “first taste is free” come-on. I figured, you know, why not? If a sample doesn’t sell the book, what will? Well, in just six hours, the response has been more strongly positive than I could have imagine. I truly believe that this promotional idea will result in the sale of literally tens of copies. Not bad for a “send all” effort I finished before my first cup of coffee.

And what do we do with good ideas around here? Why, beat them to death, of course. So here, right here in this very blog post, you’ll find chapter one of The Albuquerque Turkey. If you like it, you can even click on the send money link to order an overpriced, albeit autographed, first edition. And yes I know that this excerpt is available elsewhere on the site, but this way you don’t have to do anything but scroll down and enjoy.

Enjoy! -jv

1    BOY

It all started with a dog, a biggish one loping down the sidewalk with that weird canter that some dogs have, the front legs syncopating and the rear legs slewing sidewise in tandem. He must’ve been running from something specific, because even while scampering forward he looked back, which resulted in him not seeing, and therefore barreling into, me. He hit me square in the knees and knocked me to the ground. This startled us equally, and for a second we both sat still, locked eye to eye down there at dog level.

I vibe dogs. I do. Or let’s say that I prize them: their unconditional love is a love you can trust. I’d rolled with one or two in my time, but the highly migratory life of a con artist didn’t really lend itself to long-term canine commitments, so I mostly just admired dogs from afar. Up close, this one was tough to admire, a mixed bag of black Lab and unknown provenance. One ear stood up like a German shepherd’s. The other… wasn’t there. Looking at the bitten-off stub, I couldn’t help wondering how a dog’s ear tastes to another dog. He bore other wounds as well, evidence of many fights – maybe not fair fights, for I thought I detected a human hand in some of his scars and mars. I saw it also in his eyes. He feared me. That made me sad. I reached out a hand to comfort him, and he flipped over in submission position, manifesting what every dog dreads and hopes when it submits: dread that it will be kicked; hope it’ll be scratched. I opted to scratch, and immediately made a (man’s best) friend.

“Get up, boy,” I said as I stood. “I’m not the boss of you.” The dog – in my mind I was already calling him Boy – obediently rose to his feet. I didn’t know if he was that well trained or just felt like following my lead. He wore no collar, only a weathered, knotted rope that trailed away to a frayed end. Something told me this was a dog in transition, and that whoever had been the boss of him was boss no more. Probably if I wanted to I could keep him, the thought of which tickled me. I pictured me presenting him to my girlfriend, Allie, who had lately shown such determination that we be normal. “Look what followed me home,” I’d tell her. “Can we keep it?” If that didn’t say normal, I don’t know what would.

First, though, there was the matter of making sure I was right. I mean, I couldn’t just kidnap him – dognap him – so I started back in the direction he’d come, determined to take a stab, at least, at finding his owner. The dog cowered, reluctant to follow. “It’s okay,” I said, “I got your back.” He still wouldn’t budge, so I knelt, rubbed his grizzled muzzle for a moment, then took the scraggly end of the rope and walked him down the street. I could tell he still wasn’t too keen on the idea, but now he was a dog on a leash, and they have no free will.

I had just turned the corner when I heard the first shouts.

I thought they came from the courtyard of some garden apartments just down the street, but with the way the sound bounced around off those Santa Fe adobe walls, I couldn’t be sure. There was a pickup truck parked in front of the courtyard, and its whole grungy aspect seemed linked to the courtyard noises. Bald tires, primer spots and dents, cracked windshield; a trailer trash ride, or I’m no judge of trucks. The tailgate was missing, and I could see in the cargo bed a litter of empty cans, both beer and oil, plus fast food wrappers and crumpled cigarette packs.

And, tethered to a tie-down, a severed rope, mate to the noose around Boy’s neck.

Boy recognized the truck. He whimpered fearfully as we approached, causing a picture to form in my mind: Enraged driver pulls up to the curb, anger burning so hot that he upsets his dog, who strains against his restraint – and snaps the tired line! Dog is off and running, but driver doesn’t care. All his anger’s focused on whoever’s in that courtyard.

More shouts now, and I could hear two voices, no, three: a man and a woman exchanging heated words, and a little girl playing hapless and ineffectual peacemaker. To me it added up to domestic dispute.

Boy wanted to leave and, boy, so did I. After all, there’s two kinds of problems in this world, right? My problem and not my problem. But there was a lot going on in my head. There was Allie’s need for the two of us to be citizens (and did not, in some sense, citizen equal Samaritan?) and also Boy, for if I left things like they were, he’d likely end up tied back up in that truck, the thought of which grieved me deeply. The kicker was the little girl’s voice. I could see the black hole of human trauma forming in the center of her universe. I knew that Allie came from such a troubled vortex, where mom and dad never got along and routinely inflicted horrible damage on anyone within range. I couldn’t go back in time and salve Allie’s pain. It was likewise probably too late to save the little girl from hers – these things start young – but maybe I could douse the present blaze.

And just perhaps talk my way into a dog.

I moved toward the courtyard. Boy resisted, but I patted his head in reassurance, trying to communicate that whatever I planned to sell, it wasn’t him out. I guess I got my point across, for he fell more comfortably in step beside me. I paused to gather myself before entering the courtyard. I didn’t know what, specifically, I was about to walk into, but it didn’t much matter. A top grifter gets good at improvising successfully across a wide variety of situations.

Even ones with guns.

I didn’t see the gun at first, just the man at the base of a short set of steps, looking dirty as his pickup truck in tired jeans and sneakers, a stained tank top, and a polyester cap with some kind of racing logo. The woman stood on the top step with the girl tucked in behind her. They wore matching mother/daughter flower print shifts. In other circumstances you’d say they looked cute. Now they just looked scared, but the mother was playing the defiance card hard – a card I could tell she didn’t really hold, but that’s what they call bluffing.

“Andy, now, clear out,” she said. “You know you’re not allowed here. The judge – ”

“Screw the judge,” said Andy. “I want Sophie. I want my little girl.”

“No, Andy. Not when you’ve been drinking and God knows what else.”

“Oh, and you’re such a saint?” Andy practically vibrated with rage.

“That’s not the point. I have custody.” The way she said custody damn near broke my heart. Like it had magic power, but I knew it would cast the opposite spell.

It did. It brought the gun up, a Browning MK II Hi Power. Some of them have hair triggers. Andy leveled it at – as I gathered from context – his ex-wife and child. “Sophie,” Andy told the girl, his voice gone cold, “go get in the truck. I swear if you don’t, I’ll shoot you both right now.”

The moment froze. I was afraid to speak. I didn’t want to spook Andy, not while he had the gun up. I guess Boy felt the same way. I could sense him repressing a growl. Then… the girl moved. She disengaged herself from her mother’s clutching hands and edged warily down the stairs. I knew what she was walking into, could foresee it in an instant. Let’s say she survived the next hour, day, week, month, year. Let’s say she made it all the way into womanhood. Where would that find her? Turning tricks at a truck stop? Up in some spike house with a needle in her arm? Living with a man who beat her just like daddy did? Talk about your human sacrifice. It may have been the bravest thing I’d ever seen in my life.

I couldn’t let it stand.

“Hey, mister,” I piped up, applying my most innocent bystander gloss, “do you know whose dog this is?” Three heads swiveled toward me. The gun swiveled, too, but I ignored it, for part of running a good con is shaping the reality around you. Or denying it, as the case may be. By disregarding the gun, I momentarily neutralized it, for what kind of fool doesn’t see the obvious? It’s destabilizing to people. They don’t know how to react, so mostly they just do nothing, which buys you some time to make your next move. At that point I don’t know if I felt supremely courageous or just dumb-ass dumb. Both, probably. But one thing you learn on the razzle is that once a con starts, the worst thing you can do is break it off. Then you’re just twisting in the wind. “Because, um, I found her down the street and she seems to be lost.”

“Ain’t a she,” said Andy.

“No? I didn’t look.” I bent down to check out Boy’s underside. “Hey, you’re right, it’s a boy. Anyway, used to be.” I smiled broadly and started walking Boy forward.

Andy aimed the gun. “Stop,” he said.

“Oh, look, I’m not trying to get in the middle of a thing here. I’m just trying to return this dog. Is he yours?”

“Just let him go.”

Well, I thought I knew what would happen if I did that. Boy would take off running, and probably none of us would ever see him again. I weighed my own selfishness – I wanted that dog – against his need and safety, and dropped the rope. Boy surprised me. He plopped down at my feet, content, apparently, to let me run the show to whatever outcome I could achieve. You gotta love that about dogs. When they trust you, they trust you all the way.

“Now clear out,” said Andy.

Here’s where my play got dicey. Make or break time. “Hang on,” I said, bleeding avid enthusiasm into my voice. “What kind of gun is that?”

“What?”

“Because it looks like a 1980s Hi Power. Is it?”

“The hell should I know?”

I squinted at the gun, straining to see detail, which I didn’t really need to do, since one of the many things you learn about in my line of work is guns, in detail. “Ambidextrous thumb safeties, nylon grip, three-dot sights. Yep, that’s a Mark II. Bet it’s got the throated barrel and everything.”

“Get the hell out of here.”

“The thing is,” I said, “I’m kind of a collector. Any chance I could buy it off you?” This was the heart of my play, based explicitly on what the mother had said about drinking and God knows what else. I knew what else. Crank. Crystal meth. I could see it in Andy’s dilated pupils, his scrunge-brown teeth, and his generally tweaky demeanor. A guy like that’s not likely to be long on cash, and addiction is a voice that never shuts up. He might could want to quell it for a while. Very slowly, again not to spook him, I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my bankroll.

Funny. For someone complicit with Allie in getting off the razzle, I still kept my cash in a grifter’s roll, big bills out the outside, small bills within. I held the roll lengthwise, between my thumb and first finger, so that Andy could see its Ben Franklin veneer. “I think I have a grand here,” I lied easily. “If that’s not enough, we could hit my ATM.”

Andy licked his lips, imperfectly processing my offer. “Maybe I’ll just take it,” he said.

Oops. I hadn’t considered that. “Sure, yeah, whatever,” I vamped. “You could do that. But what kind of example does that set for your little girl?” This was pure bafflegab – nonsense – and I knew it, but that didn’t halt my improv. “Look,” I continued, “like I said, I’m not trying to get in the middle of a thing, but it looks like you guys have a problem. If you take my money by force, the problem gets worse. If you start shooting, it gets way worse, right?” I looked at the mother for confirmation, silently encouraging her to nod, which she did. “On the other hand, you sell me your gun, you’ve got a little scratch, you can take your girl out for ice cream, come back later, everybody’s calm, you can all work out your business.” I knew he’d take “take your girl out for ice cream” to mean “go score,” and hoped his need was such that he’d opt for the line of least resistance.

He seemed to be leaning that way. I could see him mentally converting a thousand dollars into chunks of scud. “What’s in it for you?” he asked.

“I told you, I’m a collector. I’ve got the Mark I and the Mark III, but the Mark II, boy, those are rare.” (Well, measured in millions.) I dared a step forward, arm outstretched, dangling my bankroll like bait. “What do you say? Deal?”

The ladies and I held our breath. Maybe Boy did, too.

“I’m keeping the bullets,” said Andy at last.

“That’s fine,” I said. “Who collects bullets?”

Then, so slowly it made my teeth ache, Andy lowered the gun, pressed the slide release, and dropped the magazine into his hand. Still manifesting my goofy enthusiasm, I strode over and made the exchange, then stepped back quickly before he could change his mind. “Oh, man,” I said, “wait’ll the guys in the gun club see this.”

The next sound you hear will be Andy saying, “What the fuck?” when he finds out what a grifter’s roll is.

“What the fuck?” said Andy. He threw down the roll and took a menacing step toward me.

“Funny thing, though,” I said, raising the gun, “didn’t you chamber a round?” Andy stopped. I let my voice go hard. “Go on, get out of here.” He turned back to grab Sophie, but, “Oh, no,” I said. “No.” Then he looked at his dog. “Not him, either,” I said. “Get.”

Andy got.

Was there a round in the chamber? Did it matter? You can bluff with the best hand, too.

The truck rumbled off. I’d memorized the license plate, and would soon be dropping a dime, for there’s no way that guy wasn’t holding. Meantime, I encouraged Sophie and her mother to clear out to a shelter somewhere, which they thought was a pretty damn good idea. We agreed that Boy would stay with me.

So happy ending, right? Sure, except for one thing. Completely unbeknownst to us, someone in one of the adjacent apartments had cell-phone videoed the whole thing through a window. It was on YouTube by dusk.

It didn’t really matter that thousands of people saw Radar Hoverlander in action.

But it sure as hell mattered that one person did.

Tax Day

Monday, February 28th, 2011

My keyboard is getting wonky. It’s not the batteries; I’ve changed them and I know they’re fresh. It’s just that sometimes, for no apparent reason, the keyboard ssssssticks and ssssstutters. Perhaps it’s coming to the end of its useful life after nearly a decade of enduring coffee spills and many meals carelessly eaten over it (including my latest obsession, plain, dry oatmeal — go fiber! Kill that cholesterol!) Well, whatever. I’ll stumbbble along the best I can until the hardware absolutely and positively gives up the ghost. Man, yo spend eighty bucks on something in 2001, you really expected it to last.

Today is Tax Day. Maybe not where you live but where I live — at least where I live inside my mind. See, I’ve always had a problem with procrastination. I never got the hang of it, and have been obsessive about finishing things early for as long as I can remember. No, not, as long as I can remember; rather, exactly and precisely since fourth grade.

I had been out sick from school for a couple of days, and somehow it escaped my attention that my report on Ponce de Leon was due. (You remember Ponce – the fountain of youth guy — killed Indians, invented Florida.) So I missed my deadline. I was so mortified — truly psychologically scarred — that I’ve had great difficulty missing a deadline ever since. There’s just something in my neurobiology that won’t allow it. Thus my motto became, “procrastinate later,” and thus I’m doing my taxes on February 28.

Although, let’s not fail to note that I’m not exactly doing my taxes right now. I’m writing this post. Which is a form of… yes… procrastination. Interesting: I am now procrastinating by talking about how I don’t procrastinate. The human mind is a complex machine.

A machine, it should be pointed out, that would rather not be involved with taxes, or flossing teeth, or eating oatmeal, or many of the other mundane tasks that occupy our days, weeks, months, years. We’d rather have lives that were all highlights — or maybe that’s just me. But if our lives were all highlights, how would we ever recognize them? To quote Bill Shakespeare, “If every day were holiday, to sport would be as tedious as work.” Well, I strive to make every day at least a little bit of a holiday, but today is Tax Day, JV style, so I’d better get cracking.

More (and more procrastination) later, -jv

What a Press Release Looks Like

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Here’s the official press release for The Albuquerque Turkey. Thought you might like a squiz.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Sarah Breivogel; 212-572-2722

sbreivogel@randomhouse.com

What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas . . . or Does It?

Master con artist Radar Hoverlander is back, and this time he’s hitting up the high-rolling action on the Vegas Strip

The Albuquerque Turkey

A Novel

By John Vorhaus

With the mind of David Mamet, the voice of Tom Robbins, and the morals of a sailor on shore leave, Radar Hoverlander is truly one of a kind, a successful con artist, as good as they get.  THE ALBUQUERQUE TURKEY (Crown, March 22, 2011) finds Radar and his gifted grifter girlfriend, Allie Quinn, trying to use the proceeds of their latest big con to set themselves up in the straight life for good. But foiling Radar’s stab at a new life is a cast of quirky and hilarious characters who collectively present the opportunity for the con of a lifetime. Go straight or go for the gold? What’s a poor grifter to do?

Living a peaceful, quiet life off the grid with Allie, free of cons, double-crosses, high crimes and misdemeanors, Radar is beginning to see why going straight could be the best choice he ever made.  But now here comes trouble in the form of an oddly hefty lady in red who’s stalking him through the streets of Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The lady, as it turns out, is actually Radar’s father, Woody Hoverlander, a master grifter in his own right—but presently on the lam and in trouble, with a Vegas hard guy after him and a $5 million debt to clear. To help him, Radar must break his vow to go straight, possibly losing Allie’s love forever.

Meanwhile, Radar’s hapless sidekick, Vic Mirplo, is somehow drifting higher and higher in Santa

Fe art circles. He’s making big money, the sort of loose money a reckless gambler might spend in
-more-
Las Vegas. So off to Vegas they go, where Vorhaus, author of the Killer Poker series and a poker aficionado who once made the final table at the World Series of Poker, uses his knowledge of the high-roller scene to set the stage for Radar’s next con: reinventing Vic as the ultimate high roller—the Albuquerque Turkey. As he did in his witty first novel The California Roll, Vorhaus brings readers inside the world of con artistry with a character like no other, the sensational swindler and polymath extraordinaire Radar Hoverlander. Combining laugh-out-loud prose with a knack for cleverly twisting a plot, Vorhaus makes Hoverlander’s forays into the world of conning intensely engaging and immensely enjoyable.

Art fraud, casino cons, love, loyalty, and a dazzling array of double- and triple-crosses . . . they all prove that the notion of Vegas secrets staying secret is about as realistic as Radar Hoverlander staying straight. Full of scams, jams, and plans gone awry, THE ALBUQUERQUE TURKEY is a smart, entertaining caper that’s worth gambling on.

# # # # #

About the Author:

JOHN VORHAUS is the author of two novels (including the lauded California Roll), two books on writing, and eight books on poker. A veteran creative consultant, he has taught comedy writing in twenty-six countries on four continents, including Russia, Romania, and many other places that are funnier now than when he arrived.

THE ALBUQUERQUE TURKEY

A Novel

By John Vorhaus

Crown * March 22, 2011 * Pages: 272
Price: $23.00 * 978-0-307-71780-1

www.CrownPublishing.com

You can find John—and Radar—online at www.JohnVorhaus.com/

More later, -jv

Know Anyone in Santa Fe?

Friday, February 18th, 2011

… in New Mexico, that is, not Texas or Spain. If you do, tell them to mark their calendars for Wednesday, March 23, at 6pm. I’ll be doing an in-store appearance and book signing at the Collected Works bookstore there.

Not going to bother with an address. It’s Santa Fe. You either know where everything is or you’re not from around there.

It’s serendipity, really. The Left Coast Crime convention (of mystery writers and their fans) is being held this year in Santa Fe, literally the week my novel, set in Santa Fe, comes out. I’ll be at the convention, of course (be kinda crazy to go all the way from LA to Santa Fe just for one bookstore, and yes I’m crazy but not that crazy). While I’m there I imagine I’ll spend a lot of time answering the question, “How did you come to set a novel in Santa Fe?” For the record, I got the idea when I was vacationing there. Mostly I got the idea that I could write off my vacation as a “research trip.” Mostly, also, I really didn’t rely heavily on first-hand knowledge of Santa Fe. When I needed information, I just yanked it down off the web. Wikipedia, Google Maps, Google Earth… these were my New Best Friends. And in the end, I don’t think the novel lacks verisimilitude. Research is just easier these days, that’s all. You can target your searches so precisely. Why read a whole book when you really only need one fragment of data?

It’s interesting. The novel I’m working on now is set in 1969. Much of my “research” just consists of digging into my own memory. But trust me, if your memory stretches back to 1969, it’s not entirely to be trusted. So I augment with Wikipedia, again, and various other online resources. Aging hippies, it seems, love to archive their past. And it’s amazing how much time you can waste digging up the exact words of that old Tonka Toys jingle…

For boys who like real lifelike toys

That they can operate, too

Attention boys! Tonka Toys

Were made just for you!

And this, for no apparent reason, is a Tonka Toy.

JV in Santa Fe. Tell your friends!

More later, -jv