Archive for May, 2013

Here is my friend Victor Fraternale reading a short poem I wrote.

Check out his band here.

I was thinking recently of what books I consider must-reads. Books that I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone, regardless of their personal preferences or reading habits. These may not be my favorite books (some are), but they are books that I think are important, entertaining, and make the reader a better person in one way or another.

What follows is a list of those books. Feel free to argue with me or leave your own additions in the comments.

Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card

This started when I was writing about Ender’s Game in my last post. So I’ll kick this list off with that one. A commentary on war and the cost of winning, and a thrilling read to boot.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

A classic for a reason. The story of a sad time in history (depicting events that probably still happen, unfortunately), but a story still full of hope and innocence.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Another classic for a reason. On the surface a great story of survival, but layered with interesting ideas and comments on civilization and religion.

Sandman – Neil Gaiman

A series of ten graphic novels (and some miscellaneous additions) that chronicle the life of the titular character, a member of a family that influences the lives of everything in the universe. It really is incredible the journey that Gaiman takes the reader on throughout this series.

In the City of Shy Hunters – Tom Spanbauer

I was tempted to put three Spanbauer books on this list, but I decided to narrow it down to just one. And this one speaks to me the most. It’s the story of a young mid-western man searching for his lost lover in 1980’s New York City. This book feels like Spanbauer poured out his entire heart and soul into every sentence. It’s dazzling.

Maniac Magee – Jerry Spinelli

A young orphan boy becomes a local legend because he lives his life ignorant of the racial issues in the area. It’s a book for children that will probably help adults more. Children aren’t racist unless adults make them so.

That’s all for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more as time goes on. And I might be adding the Game of Thrones series as well. I’m waiting to read all the complete series first.


I have heard the term “The Ender’s Game Conundrum” online before. It’s something that has come up recently when discussing people’s conflicting emotions about the film and the auther of the book, Orson Scott Card. Here are the two statements that people are trying to reconcile:

1) Ender’s Game is one of the best, most exhilarating, and most important sci-fi books ever written, and I would love to see it come to life on the big screen.

2) Orson Scott Card is an ignorant homophobe who is using his fame to try to convince the public that his hateful personal beliefs are the correct way of thinking.

Every fan wants to see this film, but no one wants to give Card any of their money because they do not believe in his personal philosophy. I feel the same way.

But Ender’s Game is that the film itself does not expose anything relating to homophobia or anti-LGBT ideas. I personally, got the opposite impression while reading it. So the thought to boycott the film is not based on its content. It is purely based on one of the people involved.

The average movie the size of Ender’s Game employs thousands of paid employees. This includes writers, directors, cast, crew, catering, transport, special effects, props, music, post-production, advertising, etc. Every time you buy a ticket to a big-budget film you are giving money to thousands of different people. Statistically, you are giving money to a bunch of homophobes, a large amount of racists, lots of chauvinists, and a pedophile or two.

Should we boycott films because Tom Cruise, John Travolta, or Giovanni Ribisi are involved? How about if an Isaac Hayes song appears in a movie? They are all Scientologists and Scientology promotes that homosexuality is a disease that can be cured. The difference, I guess, is that Card is outspoken about it. Just like Chuck Norris, and we all know how many people hate him.

But that is neither here nor there. Ender’s Game is the work in question, and I am going to judge the work on its own merits. So I will be going to see the film. And yes, Orson Scott Card will probably get 1 cent of my ticket price, and a bunch of other horrible people will get some money, too. But I hope a few other things happen as well. I hope that some hard-working, decent, compassionate folk get some money for the work they did. I hope the film stays true to the novel, and I hope the ideas presented in the book incite someone to think about and how we treat people other than ourselves.

Head on over to ThickJam to read my story, Madame Regret, which was published today as issue #279.


Some context for the curious: This story is almost 10 years old. I had started reading Chuck Paluhniuk’s essays on writing, so everything I wrote for a year read like bad stories he would write. This one was the best. I quite like it, but you can tell I was trying to be Chuck.

Let me know what you think!


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