David Gates’ “Locals”

Paris Review fall 2014

A wonderfully conversational story by David Gates in the Fall 2014 issue of The Paris Review has me thinking about the many manifestations of effective dialogue in fiction. Gates’ piece, “Locals,” is written in the voice of a general contractor living in a small “hill town” in Western Massachusetts. The vocabulary and cadences of speech are a strength of the story. For example, here is Johnny, one of the narrator’s employees, ordering food at a bar (Johnny has been flirting with a female server, who is suddenly replaced by a less amiable woman):

“‘What happened to your friend?’ Johnny said.

‘She went on break. What can I get you?’

‘Cheeseburger well,’ I said. ‘With fries? And a cup of clam chowder.'”

Heed the idiosyncratic words of the narrator. He inflects a statement as though it were a question. I have heard this described in various circles as ‘uptalking,’ a speech pattern that imbues the simplest declarations with a charming indecision.

As a working (ahem) writer, I must take a page from David Gates and attempt to write more realistic dialogue. This becomes all the more important, now that my memoir, Beautiful On The Outside, enters its 32nd (self-imposed) revision. I’m sure my hypothetical editor (Lorin Stein, cough cough) will appreciate it when all is said and done.

8 Ways To Love A Sasquatch This Weekend

seduced by bigfoot

To commemorate the grisly beating and slaying of the Roman Bishop Valentinus in AD 273, humans everywhere will exchange flowers and factory-produced treats this weekend.

When in Rome…” As they say.

To honor this holiday of yours, here are some practical ways you can Show Love For A Sasquatch tomorrow:

1. Compliment him loudly in the audience at a Kelly Link reading

Preferably during the awkward silence before it starts.

2. Donate to a literary Kickstarter in his name

Try the zine “We’ll Never Have Paris.” They’re 83 percent funded!

3. Leave a dead mouse on his doorstep

4. Spread this internet meme, #Chet

sasquatch meme

5. Use “squatch” as a verb in conversation

As in – I will squatch you on the morrow, mon ami.

6. Read my memoir and tweet your praises (@City_Sasquatch). Ignore the typos. Their arent that manie

7. Four words – artisanal bejeweled tobacco pipe

men smoking

8. These gloves

Perfect for sandwich preparation in sub-zero temperatures. Size 46 XXXXXL please.

Read This Book Immediately

writers market 2015

You will probably be impressed to learn that I visit the public library at least three times a day. The main reason I do this is because I am at least three times as well-read as your average human being. Another reason derives from an essential tenet of every successful writer’s “platform” – community engagement. By now I am on a first name basis with the reference librarian, Fran, who used to scream and faint when I entered the room. Now she only whimpers softly and begins to sweat. We are friends, Fran and I.

writers market sampleBesides the obvious, there is plenty to do in the library, our most beloved of cultural institutions. I enjoy walking the halls with paws clasped behind my back, staring meaningfully into the eyes of anyone who passes. I also like to harumph and stroke my beard whiskers. But my most cherished activity there is to open new books. So imagine my glee at the discovery of the 2015 edition of the Writer’s Market.

What a useful tome! Within lies a veritable treasure trove of useful data: a list of literary journals and agents, including contact information and submission guidelines; articles by known authorities on a variety of relevant topics; even sample cover letters and manuscript formatting information. By and large a wildly practical book, and one which will surely improve my chances of finding a publisher for my memoir, Beautiful On The Outside.

If you are a literary agent, an editor, or Lorin Stein, and you do not have the fortune of being listed in this year’s Writer’s Market, please contact me directly at

5 Ways To Get Your Book Noticed

cat and books

As a soon-to-be-published (?) memoirist and a creature of myriad opinions, I think it’s high time to offer you, cherished reader, some of my patented unsolicited advice. Consider the following if you are having difficulty getting your book noticed:

1. Proclaim the end of “<insert cultural trend here>”

Hipster mustaches. Brushing your teeth. Those fuzzy hats with ears on them. Be incendiary and grandiose as possible in your language.

2. Don’t harass your dream editor. Beckon unto them.

beckon to mconaughey









3. Preserve your dignity.

An illustrative anecdote: Upon arriving in this glittering metropolis, I proceeded forthwith to the offices of The New Yorker. There, I brandished a homemade sign emblazoned with the words “BUY MY MEMOIR PLEASE LORIN STEIN” and began chanting loudly. Strangely enough, passersby scattered. Within moments, I had cleared the sidewalk entirely.

My point is, precious reader, to preserve your dignity. I suggest taking your sign indoors and whispering vehemently. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always Facebook.

4. Guerilla marketing.

Just stuff your book in people’s mailboxes. I actually saw a guerilla do this once. You humans should have a much easier time with your hairless opposable thumbs.

5. Scratch n’ sniff book cover.

I recommend banana or a citrus-based fragrance like lemon. Psychologically, these scream ‘clean writing.’

There you have it. Don’t employ all of this advice at once, or you may develop a writing hernia. Do you have any book publishing tips to contribute? Send them to me at

Chet’s Xmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa List


Although I abstain from subscribing to one holiday over any other (I espouse multi-denominational inclusiveness in order to boost sales of my forthcoming memoir, Beautiful On The Outside), that is no reason I should be left out of the merry-making, is it? Do a good deed this holiday season and gift a sasquatch. My Most Wanted List proceeds as follows:

  • A typewriter, so that everyone can hear me when I create perfect sentences like this one
  • Homer’s Iliad, because I am basically the spitting image of Odysseus
  • New Vans size 27
  • An E-reader, so I can ask him or her how in the world 50 Shades of Gray ever became popular
  • Book contract
  • Sequel to first book contract
  • A Santa costume so I can scare – pardon me, entertain – people at the Union Square holiday market
  • Camoflage reading lamp
  • Ointment for my ghostwriter as I seem to be giving him hives
  • 472 lbs of bbq ribs
  • General adulation

Gift certificates and declarations of adulation may be forwarded to

The Success of Failure

“Humor is the intercontinental ballistic missile, and tragedy is the payload.”

-Gary Shteyngart

A doff of the cap to Word Bookstore in Jersey City for hosting my favorite Russian-American human. Shteyngart’s New York Times-bestselling memoir, Little Failure, is now out in paperback.