So you can read my books

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven..” John Milton, Paradise Lost

Ghost of Mark Twain here, saying about the above, "Ain't that the truth!"

Mary Pickford let me have the ghost of her little kitten to play with for a spell.  Lovely lady that one.

Now, on Roland's theme of Outlaws, there's Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts which was published on this day in 1933.

Why is that book an Outlaw one?

The oddball mix of distress, black comedy and religion in West’s “novel in the form of a comic strip” (his description) was highly praised by many critics,

but like his other books it was a flop with the public when it first appeared.

West was inspired to Miss Lonelyhearts by some of the characters he met through his job as night manager in a New York hotel,

(just like I was by the group of scoundrels I met in Virginia City as a newspaper man)

and by a group of letters shown to him by an acquaintance who wrote a “Heart-to-Heart Letters” column for a New York daily.

Why do I mention him you ask?

 "Dead before reaching middle age, Nat left behind no children, no literary reputation of importance, no fine New York Times obituary ensuring immortality, no celebrity eulogies,

just four short novels, two of them [Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust] unforgettable."

So you heathen struggling Outlaw writers take heart, hear?

In 1789, the U.S. House of Representatives holds its first meeting.

In 1946 on this date, the League of Nations assembles in Geneva for the last time.

In 1973, the artist Pablo Picasso dies of a heart attack at his chateau near Cannes on the French Riviera.

And ever since that fool has wanted to paint my portrait, but I refuse to look like a plate of lasagna!

On this date in 1625, the young John Milton enters Christ's College at the age of sixteen.

Seeing as how I am the Outlaw Pilot of this post, I will say G stands for GAIMAN --

Gaiman and his beloved dog, Cabal

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, born Neil Richard Gaiman,

is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films.

His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book.

He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals.

"Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages.

One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading."

- Neil Gaiman

And on this date in 1859, at the age of 23, I received my license to pilot steamboats on the Mississippi River. 

I had snatched my dream and piloted steamboats ...

 until the American Civil War broke out in 1861 and snatched it back.

(Ain't that always the way with Life?)

I then turned to writing and took the pseudonym, Mark Twain.

I spent four months in the Sandwich Islands with Captain Sam in 1866, when I was 31 and working on becoming famous.

(You can read about it in DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE)

My 25 letters from the Sandwich Islands, written on assignment for The Sacramento Union, are still fresh and rudely funny after almost a century and a half ...

even if I say so myself!

For my adventures in 1895 Egypt with Oscar Wilde, keep on reading DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE.

And should you think I am forgetting Roland's Outlaw Trail:

And for all you outlaws out there, on this date in 1881, Billy the Kid is convicted of murdering the corrupt sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico,

and sentenced to hang -- prompting me to quip, "No good deed goes unpunished."


  1. Neil Gaiman is one of my heroes - though some of his books will haunt me forever.

  2. I have not heard of Neil Gaiman until now. I will add him to my list of authors to read. But I have read Death in the House of Life, and for those of you who haven't, I say, please do. You will not regret it.

  3. Not too long ago I read The Graveyard Book. It was very good.

    "No good deed goes unpunished." Nice to know Billy The Kid showed some discrimination with his pistol.

  4. Love Mr. Gaiman. I wasn't aware that Pablo Picasso was alive in the 70s! :)

  5. Sometimes it takes an 'outlaw' to set things right. And you're right, Twain, reading Death in the House of Life is an excellent way to find out interesting details. I like the quipping between Sammy and Oscar, like two brothers.

    Gaiman's 'Neverwhere' has stuck with me. Love his attitude about writing. I like the compilation of events on the Outlaw Trail.

  6. Neil Gaiman is an excellent choice!

  7. Elephant's Child:
    He has a particular story of a valiant house cat protecting its house of beloved humans against hopeless odds that haunts me still.

    ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS is middle-grade book he wrote to give away free on World Book Day that is short, fun, and adults can enjoy as well.

    Thank you so much for the kind words about DEATH IN THE HOUSE OF LIFE. I feel rather forgotten at times.

    Perhaps the new Showtime original series, PENNY DREADFUL, with Eva Green, Josh Hartnett (as a cursed American gunfighter), and Timothy Dalton will spark interest in Victorian supernatural stories?

    I enjoyed THE GRAVEYARD BOOK as well. I have the audiobook narrated by Mr. Gaiman himself -- a real treat.

    Poor Billy the Kid had the misfortune to get on the wrong side of power in the Lincoln County Cattle war.

    The ghost of Mark Twain wishes Picasso had lived longer! He hates being pestered to have his portrait painted by the man!

    I wonder how Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS will look on TV. HBO was going to do it but there were problems.

    After editing out some parts of AMERICAN GODS, I enjoyed it -- though when listening to the audiobook, I discovered the language was more salty than I had remembered.

    Like you, I enjoyed NEVERWHERE most.

    I am so grieved that you recently lost your MIL. Don't feel bad about not getting much done on your WIP due to this challenge -- neither am I.

    Thank you for liking my Outlaw Trail. :-)

  8. Chrys:
    Neil is an inspiration to me. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  9. So does Mark Twain visit Gaiman too?

  10. Yes, yes she is a shield agent. she will have her moment in the "s"un... tell him what he's one... sorry i am still in hiding, really. who do i bribe to win all your prize closet?
    great post today!

  11. David:
    Only when Neil isn't looking? He does visit Cate Blanchett though, flirting shamelessly. He likes her accent ... among other things. :-)

    My contests, though they have their own page, are the best kept secrets around apparently. :-)

    Thanks for slipping in here and saying HI. I won't give away your hideout.

  12. That wasn't nice that they snatched the license back.
    In 1789, the U.S. House of Representatives holds its first meeting - and it's been all downhill ever since then.

  13. Alex:
    During the Civil War it was criminal and treasonous to pilot down the Mississippi. Harsh world this often is -- as Yoda is wont to say.

    LOL. Yes, since 1789, politically it has all been downhill!

    I didn't know you lived in Japan when you were a youngster.

    So you were the one who released Godzilla? :-)

  14. Honestly we are all the true winners here, being able to read your great work/passages/into your head...

    You make it interesting and for that "ALL HAIL"... you might have heard the 600 hundred gun salute...

  15. Jeremy:
    Such a great thing to say! Now, if I can only get Neil Gaiman to read and like my stuff!

    Whoa! That is a fantasy! :-)