Friday, October 31, 2008
What should I do #12: Nation

I would like to take a moment of your time to talk to you about a book.




(The US cover for the book. It looks cooler in other places.)


I've been a fan of Terry Pratchett's for years. He's a truly magnificent writer. One of the best. This cannot be argued.

Still, I have to admit that I picked up this book with more than a little hesitation.

The problem was that I knew this book wasn't going to be set in Discworld, so I was nervous. Also, I was a little disappointed, because I love Discworld. It's like a place that I get to visit on vacation once or twice a year. I look forward to those visits, and because of that, I was ready to be let down by this non-Discworld story.

I shouldn't have worried. This is quite possibly Pratchett's best book yet. Reading it, I laughed aloud in public. Finishing it, I cried.

This is probably the best book that I've read in years. Maybe the best book I've read in forever. I've already ordered a half-dozen copies so I can give them away as gifts.

Buy it. Read it. Love it. This book is like a kiss from god.


pat

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Hugging and Monkey Love

Hello everyone. Sorry for the radio silence here on the blog. I've been busy writing and getting together a project that I'm going to be announcing here in a couple of days.

However, rather than leave a gaping hole of not-blog, I've decided to post up some back-in-the-day writing. Specifically, a satirical advice column called "Your College Survival Guide" that I used to publish in the local paper. It was a delicious blend of demented ravings, bad advice, black bile, with just a tiny garnish of truth.

Fair warning: The tone of the College Survival Guide is different than what you might be used to here on the blog. It's different than my novel too. Different audience + different purpose = different style. So don't assume that I've had a psychotic break.

And if you don't know what satire is, you might want to look it up before you read the column. It might help prevent confusion....

Anyway, here's one I wrote a couple years back. Enjoy.

*****
Hello Young Rothfuss,

How you do amuse me from time to time with your silly column... it really is the best read I've come across in a long time.

I've been wondering about men lately. In particular, boyfriends. I've been asking my gaggle of girlfriends why women have attachment issues. (That's not your question) I want to know why most males in a relationship like to play games with their bitches (i.e. "I'm not gonna call her for a couple of days to see if she cracks and calls me first... A HA!") OR if they just deal with distance better than us women.

My friend and I call our condition, the "Kiss and Cuddle" syndrome. The only reason we go back to our loser boyfriends is cuz we want to hold them and kiss them and squeeze them until their heads pop off "wike kwazy widdle cutie pootie wootie puppies!" I'm rambling now, but why why why does my boyfriend (who lives in Minneapolis) NOT CALL ME, GODDAMN IT!!!????

-- Anitra


Well Anitra, I have a good answer to your letter. Actually, I have two good answers. Luckily, due to psychotic break brought about by midterm stress, I have two fully-formed personalities willing to give you their opinions on this issue.


Evil Pat's Response.

So, why are guys thoughtless, callous, game-playing jerks? Simple, Anitra, because that's what you women have trained us to be.

Let me explain this with a story. Imagine that you're a young boy, and like most young boys, you're a Nice Guy: innocent, polite, and considerate. You meet Julie. She's smart, funny, and pretty. You become friends and slowly but surely you realize you're in love with her.

So you join forensics because she's on the team. You cheer her on when she tries out for the swim team. Soon you're talking on the phone for hours at a stretch, really getting to know her.

But while you're investing time and energy into building an emotional and intellectual bond with Julie, some basketball player asks her to the prom. She says yes, because he's a junior, and he has his own car. Plus he's got an ass you can bounce a quarter off of. Let's call him Chad.

Then Chad proceeds to treat Julie like crap, because he doesn't know the first thing about her. But for some reason she clings to him like he's the last life preserver on the Titanic. And all the while, there you are, her friend and confidante. Every night you're on the phone, listening while she cries about how obnoxious and thoughtless he is. But she forgives him because she's in love, right?

Then it slowly dawns on you. Julie will never be your girlfriend. Why? Well, given the overwhelming evidence, Julie doesn't want a boy who listens to her thoughts and feelings. Julie wants a cretin with a nice ass. Guys like Chad get all the lovin'. Guys like you are the equivalent of an emotional tampon. End of story.

Now if you're a Really Nice Guy you move on with your innocence intact. Then you meet a girl called Erica. Lather, rinse, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

And after you slide down this emotional razorblade about a dozen times, you know what you get? You get me. I'm not nice anymore. Over the years I've molded myself into an arrogant bastard of such vast proportions that women find me irresistible. And you know what? It works great. You can get radiation burns from the amount of raw animal magnetism I throw off.

And now you're complaining that your guy doesn't call you? Get bent, chicky. You women have made your collective bed, and now you have to lie in it. Alone.


Nice Pat's Response.

Well Anitra, your letter reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend about a week ago. She told me that she liked getting massages. More than that, she considered them essential for her emotional well-being, especially when she was in-between boyfriends. She went on to explain that she thought touching and being touched was a vital part of being a primate.

Which means, in a nutshell, that she feels like her inner monkey occasionally needs to be loved.

Personally, I couldn't agree more. I think that deep down we all have basic monkey urges. Do you remember that experiment we all learned about in psychology 101? The one where the baby monkey had to choose between two fake mommy monkeys? Given the choice between a non-cuddly chicken wire mom that had milk, and a furry fake-mom that didn't have any milk, the baby monkey always chose the furry mom. It goes to show how important this cuddling impulse is to us primate types.

So to answer your question, Anitra, I decided to perform an expanded version of this experiment. I added a balsa-wood monkey with a cookie and a handgun; a sheet-metal monkey that gives out bong hits; and a monkey made entirely out of Cool-Ranch Doritos that gets drunk and burns you with cigarettes.





Anyway to make a long story short, I never got around to finding a baby monkey to experiment on. Apparently you need a permit or something for that. But I CAN tell you that my favorite was the razorwire monkey with a tazer that dispensed sweet, sweet, methadone. I still sleep with it at night.

So what's the moral to the story? Shit. I have no idea. Scientists hate monkeys, I guess. There's your moral. I'm outta here.


pat

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I'm Kind of a Big Deal (in Germany)

So the German edition of the book came out just a couple of weeks ago.




(As always - guest starring my thumb)


The book has serious heft. Good paper. Good binding. It is, in a word, gorgeous.

Holding this book in my hand made me realize that over in Germany, they consider my story fairly high-class. It make me realize that over there, I might even be considered literature.

There have been hints of this all through the publishing process. First, the publisher itself is very prestigious. (So they tell me.) Klett-Cotta carries very few fantasy authors, including luminaries like Tolkien and Peter S. Beagle. Klett-Cotta also assigned a very skilled translator to the job, which is always a good sign that they're taking things seriously.

But that's not what convinced me I might be thought of as literary over there.

Another big indicator was when someone from Germany came out to interview me. My first thought was, "Who did this poor guy piss off at work? How low on the totem pole in do you have to be before they send you to interview some newbie fantasy author in Middle-of-Nowhere Wisconsin?"

But it turns out the interviewer was Denis Scheck. I didn't know it while the interview was taking place, but he's actually a celebrity over in Germany. You know how Siskel and Ebert were celebrities because they reviewed movies? Well over in Germany, apparently, they care about books. Because of this, they also care about the people who read books.

Yeah, I know. Weird.

Anyway, while I didn't know this guy was a celebrity, I figured out pretty quickly that he wasn't there because he was getting punished. He was there because he was really, really good at his job. I've done a lot of interviews over the last year, and I'll admit that by the time he showed up, I'd gotten a little blase about it.

But when he started talking, I realized he was playing the game at a whole different level. He was really clever, talking about things no interviewer had ever brought up before, asking questions I'd never been asked. Asking questions that I'd never even *considered *before. I remember at least one occasion where my answer was: "Wow. That's a great question.... I have absolutely no idea how to answer it."

If you're interested (and can read German) his review is up over here. Or if you're monolingual like me, you can click on the link *below* the interview to see a video clip of Denis talking about the book on his television show. Personally, I thought it was pretty cool even though I only know enough German to catch about a third of what he's saying.

But back to my previous point. Even after I found out who Denis Scheck was, I didn't realize that over there my book might be considered literary.

The fact that they converted my author photo black-and-white was a good indicator....




(Click to embiggen)


Why? Because black-and-white is classy. It's arty. It's posh. Don't get me wrong, I'm fond of my blue photo. But you have to admit that it makes me look like a Muppet, or a character out of a Harry Potter movie. But in B&W I look, if not distinguished, then withing spitting distance of respectable.

Or within spitting distance of being the sort of person who would never use the term, "within spitting distance."

Still, none of these things are what convinced me. This is what did it:





That's right. One of those built-in ribbon bookmarks. So genteel. So suave. Nothing screams sophistication like a ribbon bookmark. It's the textual equivalent of wearing a silk smoking jacket and speaking with an Oxford accent. It is, in fact, dead sexy.

Today, my friends, I join the ranks of the literati.

Go me.

pat


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Sunday, October 19, 2008
Your College Survival Guide: How to impress your professor.

Here's one of the first columns I wrote for the College Survival Guide. It's from way back in the day. Not my best work, as I was still figuring out how to be funny back then. But it's still worth a chuckle or two....

*****

Well, the first month of the semester is pretty much over. So if you're a serious student like myself, it's about time you considered going to what we eighth-year seniors like to refer to as "class."

Do not be alarmed. "Class" has received a lot of bad press in the past several years, leading many students to avoid it entirely. I however, have always believed that "class," when taken in moderation, adds a new, enriching dimension to your whole college experience.

But "class" is not something to be approached hastily. Important questions should be asked before attending your first "class." Questions such as: "What time is it?" "Who has my pants?" and "Is this your slightly molested, vaguely-orangutan-looking, plush toy?"

Once you've answered these questions (and taken any appropriate legal action that the answers seem to necessitate) you should be ready to go to "class." For new students, I recommend that you bring some school supplies to class. The most important of these are: Pants (this should prove simple, if you've answered question #2), and a bag of candy.

(Optionally, if you had trouble answering question #3, you may want to bring the plush orangutan as well. It may belong to someone who happens to be attending your "class.")

Now, some people will recommend that you bring pencils, paper, a calculator, etc. That's a loosing strategy, because if you try to remember all those dozens of little things, you're bound to forget at least one of them. But as long as you're wearing pants you can usually borrow pens, paper, and books from other students, or in extreme situations, trade candy for them.

On the other hand, if you forget your pants, my experience has been that no one will lend you theirs. Also, without pants, your "classmates" will be noticeably less willing to take any candy you offer in trade.





So, once you are wearing you pants and you're in "class," you should notice one student that is older than all the rest. This old student is called the professor. You will note that he is also wearing pants. This will form a bond between you, which will eventually lead to you getting a "grade."

In rare occasions, your professor will remove his pants. The proper thing to do in this circumstance is to remove your pants as well. This will form an even closer bond between you, which will eventually lead to you getting a "disease."


*****


Something cool coming Monday. Stay tuned.

pat

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Friday, October 17, 2008
The Good Life

A while back I was in the grocery store picking up something to eat. I ended up behind a mom and her little boy in the checkout line. She was buying all sorts of grown-up groceries: hamburger, milk, celery, saltines, green peppers, tomatoes...

I was buying Fritos, some Mountain Dew, and a box of Fruity Pebbles.

The boy looked at his mom's groceries, then at my groceries. Back and forth. I could see him putting together the pieces. His mom's groceries were going to make meatloaf. My groceries....

That's when I realized how awesome my life is. I was living this kid's dream. Of course, I was living MY dream too, but I had forgotten it until this moment.

I looked at him and pointed at the Fritos. "When I get home, I'm going to eat all of those," I said. "and it's going to completely spoil my dinner." I smiled and pointed to the box of fruity pebbles. "That's my dinner."

He didn't say anything. He was only about six or seven, and I'm guessing that he was too stunned with my untrammeled glory to put together a full sentence.

But he looked up at me with eyes that said, I want to be like you. How can I do these things which you have shown me?

"Go to college," I told him.

I was just about to tell him that I was going to put the Mountain Dew on the cereal instead of milk when his mom hustled him away, probably because she thought I was some kind of pervert.

Which is only fair, I suppose. I probably am.





Later all,

pat

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
It is coming....

Ever since I posted up the pictures of the nunchucks someone sent me, I've been getting e-mail asking all sorts of questions from who want to get their books signed. Some people want to know if I'll sign them as gifts to other people, other people want to buy copies of the college survival guide, other folks are worried that the thing they're sending along won't be cool enough.


I just wanted to mention that I'm planning something. Something that will involve signed books, among other things.

So if you're thinking of sending in your book to get it signed, you might want to wait for a little bit. Very soon there will be a opportunities for people to get signed copies of all sorts of things. I just need a little more time to work out the details.

If you've already sent in your book, that's fine. I'll still sign it.

But otherwise, wait for a little bit, and stay tuned....

pat

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008
What should I do #11: Two Trilogies Better Than Mine.

Well, that's a matter of opinion, I suppose. But one fact is indisputable, these two trilogies have something going for them that mine doesn't. Both of them are already complete. That's right, you can have all three books right now.

Both are by newish authors that you might not have run into yet. The first is Joe Abercrombie's First Law series.





I feel a certain kinship with Joe, which partially stems from the fact that in April, both our books were nominated for the Compton Crook award. Then, in August, we were both denied our rightful positions as winners of the award. Or rather, I was denied my rightful position as winner, and Joe was denied taking runner-up by a narrow, narrow margin.

The books are good, really good. They pulled me in. Well-developed world. Unique, compelling characters. I like them so much that when I got to the end of the second book and found out the third book wasn't going to be out in the US for another three months. I experienced a fit of rage, then a fit of depression, then I ate some lunch and had a bit of a lay down.

When I got up, I remembered that Joe and I share a publisher over in the UK. So, in my first ever attempt at using my newfound published-author powers, I e-mailed my editor over in England and begged them to send me the third book. I mean I *asked* them to. In a suave and sophisticated way.

I don't believe in spoilers. So don't I'm not going to give anything away. But I will say that the third book tied up the series quite nicely.

I will also say this. This isn't some cookie-cutter fantasy. It's refreshingly realistic, but also very gritty and dark. It might even be fair to call it grim. You have been warned.


The second trilogy I'm going to talk about is Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn. Some of you might recognize his name because I've mentioned him here before. Or you might know of him because Brandon is the author who's been brought on board to finish Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.





The Mistborn books are set in a fascinating world different from any fantasy I've run into before. He's got a good grip on character and story, and his magic system is unlike anything I've ever run into before either. He makes it very solid and logical, while still leaving room for cleverness and mystery.

The third book of the trilogy: The Hero of Ages, comes out today. So you won't be left hanging no matter how fast you read.

The truth is, Brandon's books are so good that they're starting to piss me off. I don't mind that he's a good writer. But he writes way, way faster than me. That makes me look like a chump.


Later all,

Pat

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Monday, October 13, 2008
PSA - Why You Shouldn't Vote.

If you go to an office party, there are certain things you shouldn't talk about. Three of them, really: Sex, Politics, and Religion. The reason is simple. You're supposed to act professional. That means not offending people, and everyone knows that there's no better opportunity to cheese someone off than by voicing a strong opinion on one of the big three.

The same thing is doubly true if you're any sort of public figure. Smart public figures never stray into these dark waters because they know it's the PR equivalent of shutting your dick in a car door. Not only will the result almost always be awkward, embarrassing, and painful, but people will talk about it for years afterward. You'll never live it down.

For example, let's say you read my book and you like it. So you want to like me. But then you read on my blog than I eat my bread with the butter-side-down. Then you're horrified, because you're a staunch proponent of butter-side-up. So you swear off reading my books forever, convince your friends to do likewise, and as a result, I eventually end up naked in a ditch somewhere, penniless and dead of scurvy.

I've finally come to grips with the fact that I'm a bit of a public figure, though the thought makes me somewhat uncomfortable. But I'll be damned if I'll ever be smart about it. I don't like the thought of going through the rest of my life biting my tongue and thinking, "Can I say that in public? Whatever will they think? What if I offend someone?"

No. I'd much rather you hate me for who I am, than like some false face that I fake up for the blog. Screw that ten times.

So with that said, here we go. I'm going to shut my dick in the car door and talk about politics.

Ready?

Yeah, me neither.

*****

An open letter to the American populace.

Election day is coming up. That means that for months, you've been bombarded by all manner of forces encouraging you to vote.

I, on the other hand, would like to encourage you to do nothing of the sort. Quite the opposite in fact.

I'm not being sarcastic here. I'm not trying reverse psychology. What I'm saying is that I would like you to consider, seriously, the possibility of not voting in the coming election.

The problem is this. People seem to think that low voter turnout is the problem with elections. But that's simply not the case. All this Rock the Vote bullshit? It's just that, bullshit. If you think voting is a good idea because MTV told you to do it, then it is entirely possible that you are not very smart.

And if you are not smart, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't vote in the coming election.

For example, I was eating dinner the other day at a local restaurant and I heard someone at a nearby table say, "I'm voting for McCain. I heard Obama's into gun control. Nobody's taking away my guns."

I'm not making this up. I'm not exaggerating or paraphrasing. These words have been echoing around in my head for weeks, and it's entirely possible that I will never be rid of them.

If this sounds like something that might come out of your mouth, you need to realize that you are not very smart. I'm not saying you're a bad person. I'm not saying you're evil. What I'm asking is that you consider the very real possibility that you might not be capable of casting an intelligent vote.

Let repeat myself just for clarity's sake. If you're willing to throw in with one candidate based on senseless fear and "something you heard" you are not well-informed, and you shouldn't vote.

Again, I'm not saying you're a bad person. What I am saying is that the fate of the nation is probably too complicated for you to deal with properly. You should stay home on election night and watch some Nascar instead. That's right. Nice, comforting Nascar.

Similarly, I recently overheard someone say, "I'm voting for Obama. It's about time we had a cute president."

Oh anonymous young lady, on election night, please stay at home and watch America's Top Model, or whatever you insipid, feckless, witfucked pogs do for entertainment. I say this simply because all available evidence points toward you not being smart enough to vote.

Well... let me correct that. You *are* smart enough to vote. All of you are. You are also smart enough to design a skyscraper or assemble a nuclear bomb. You *can* do these things….

…But you shouldn't. You shouldn't do these things because, odds are, you do not possess the knowledge base and critical thinking skills to do them *well.* That's the problem.

Think for a second. If you were riding along in a plane, and the stewardess came up to you and said, "I'm sorry to bother you. But our pilot just fainted, can you fly a 747?"

Any rational human's response to this situation has to be, "Shit no. I can't fly this thing. People would die."

(Except if you're a pilot, of course. This analogy won't work if you're a pilot. Sorry.)

What amazes me is that sensible people who would refuse to pilot a plane because they don't know enough to fly, will, without hesitation, rush out to vote as if they're fully qualified. The result is that a mass of well-intentioned but ignorant people go into the booth and start pulling levers like they know what they're doing….

…But they don't. And because of this, slowly, our county begins to spiral out of control, spewing smoke and diving toward the hard earth below.

One final illustration.

About a month ago I was giving Sarah's friends a ride somewhere. Two 17 year old girls.

Sarah turned around to face them in the backseat and said, "If you guys could vote, who would you vote for?"

One spoke up quickly, "McCain. It would be cool if we finally had a woman vice president."

"Yeah!" the other one chimed in.

"Really," I said. It wasn't a question, just a statement. "Really," I said. "Wow."

"What?" one of them asked. "What do you think about Palin?"

"I think she's ridiculously underqualified," I said. "And her social policies are horrifying."

There was a pause from the backseat.

"I guess I'd vote for Obama then," the first girl said.

"Me too!" said the other.

This, in my opinion, is a terrifying snapshot of a large section of the American voting populace. They will decide who to vote for based on the information gathered from television commercials, Fox News, and youtube videos. Others will vote based on fear, based on misinformation, based on what their friends told them.

This year when I go in to vote, I know what will happen. I'm going to stand in line, and I will see some young college student, voting for the first time. Some young man, some young woman. They will be beautiful, bright eyed, and excited about participating in democracy.

Then I will see them wearing a T-shirt that boldly proclaims their political allegiance. And I will know that this beautiful young person is going to vote for a politician whose platform is pure poison to their future. I will see a young man ready to vote for a politician who will cut government funding to his university, raising his tuition and making it even harder to get a student loan. I will see a young woman ready to vote for a politician who will actively oppose her hopes for equal rights, good health care, and reliable birth control.

They will vote for politicians who will make it harder for them to get good jobs in the future. Politicians who will pollute the land and poison the waters. Politicians who will let write laws that will undermine the their right to free speech, then turn around tell them who it is legal to love.

These beautiful, young, hopeful people will go in and vote, fully believing that they are acting in their own best interest. They will vote believing that they are responsible citizens. That they are doing the right thing, that they are good people.

This last, at least, is true. They are good people. They have the best intentions. And they are slowly, confidently crashing my plane.

The truth is, no politician will every give you everything you want. But one of them will be better than the others. One of them is probably looking out for your best interests, and the others are looking out for someone else. If you aren't smart enough to figure out which is which, that's a problem. If you vote for the wrong one because you saw some catchy youtube video, then you are not a good human being.

So please. If you think you might be uninformed on the issues, consider not voting. If you are uninformed, not-voting is actually the responsible thing to do.

How can you tell if you're uninformed? Here's a tip: if you've spent more time planning your Halloween costume than learning about the election, you probably shouldn't vote.

If you're having doubts about whether or not you're well informed, well…. congratulations. Self-doubt is the foundation stone of critical thought. If you can admit to being unsure, there's a chance that you might actually be a rational, intellectually articulate human being. I salute you.


The next step is to get informed. Here's my advice on that.

First, be aware that your voice counts much more in local politics that it does in the presidential race. There are going to be all sorts of names on that ballot, not just McCain and Obama. Once, my friends and I got together and realized that if we voted in a block, we would control a full 10% of our town's votes in our particular district. That is power.

Secondly, make a list of all the loud people you know. The people who are always sure of themselves. Political pundits go on the list: Rush Limbaugh, Michael Moore, Bill O'Reilly. Other candidates include personal acquaintances, relatives, and co-workers. Most bloggers belong on this list. So do I.

Got your list? You need to stop listening to the people on it. You need to take every piece of information they've ever said, and pull it squirming and fighting out of your of your head, because odds are whatever they told you is terribly skewed, if not an outright lie.

Sixthly and lastly, think of the people who you respect. Not someone you're fond of. Someone you respect. There's a difference. For example, I'm fond of the friends that I play board games with, but I respect the scrawny math teacher I once saw step fearlessly into a fistfight to save someone from getting their ass mercilessly kicked.

Ask the people you respect what they think about the election. Then ask them *why* they think that way.

Thirdly, think of someone you know that's smarter than you. Someone more informed than you. This is the person who, if you were going to buy a car, you would for their help. Not because they know about cars, but because they're smart, and they they're good at digging up information.

If you're having trouble thinking of someone like this, here's a hint. They are usually unassuming, considerate, and they listen more than they talk. Good candidates are teachers, librarians, and some journalists.

But honestly, occupation doesn't matter much. For me, this person is a friend named Andy, and I don't think he'll be offended if I call him what he is. A computer geek. I know other smart folks, but Andy tends to be my go-to guy when something is complicated, and I can't be bothered to do 10 hours of research to untangle the issue myself.

I've done my research on the election. I know quite a bit. But I still plan on talking to Andy before the event because I don't doubt for a second that he knows things I don't. Even better, Andy isn't afraid to argue. Best of all, Andy is more than willing to tell me when he thinks I'm full of shit and being utterly wrongheaded on an issue.

In brief, he is my favorite sort of friend, and I have no doubt that he will help me get my head on straight before I go in to vote. I hope you have someone similar in your life.

Geh. That's all. The pillar of burning rage inside me is guttering low, leaving me feeling kind of shaky and hollow, same as always.

If you're still reading this, I'm sorry. It's way longer than it should be, and has cost me a whole night's work on the book. But if I had gone this whole election without saying anything, I would have felt irresponsible. I would have felt by saying nothing, I was effectively committing a lie of omission. A coward's lie.

Good lord. Do I leave the comments on for this one? Though I know better, I think I will. I'm going to consider this a test, if y'all can behave like civilized human beings in the comments below, discussing politics politely and rationally, then it will give me renewed hope for the world. Good, honest conversation about the issues with other intelligent people is the key to understanding. Socrates knew that.

If things degenerate into snarky backbiting and proselytizing in the comments… well… then I guess I'll just heave a deep, weary sigh, and another little piece of me will die.

So yeah. Comments. Disagreement is fine, so long as we're polite and rational.

Did I mention polite and rational?

Polite and rational.


pat

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Friday, October 10, 2008
Recovering from Vancouver

I'm back from V-Con. It was a lot of fun....

I have a few stories to tell about the convention.... but I'll do it later.

While I was up in Canada, I must have somehow offended one of their primitive gods. I know this because I was smote down with a terrible illness.

My illness must have come from some sort of angry god, because within the space of twenty-four hours I went from being a gregarious, energetic scamp, chatting with new friends and mugging for the camera....




(By the way, isn't this my best hair ever?)


...to a shivering, wretched mass who could do nothing but huddle in a nest of blankets, moaning in pain...

Though honestly, the timeline was even tighter than that.

7:00 - I give the keynote speech at V-Con's closing ceremonies. I feel fine, though slightly nervous. I get a few laughs, and nobody throws a brick at me, so I count it as a success.

7:30 - Ceremony ends, and I spend a lovely hour or so chatting with V-Con's lovely Toastmaster and one of the other Guests of Honor: Jaymie Matthews.

8:30 - I go to the dead dog party to mingle, but my heart's not really in it. I'm oddly tired, and Sarah and I leave after about 30 minutes.

9:00 - Sarah and I go to dinner at a nearby pub.

9:15 - Sarah says, "Are you alright? You've got dark circles under your eyes...."

"Were they there when I was giving my Keynote?" I ask.

"No," she says. "They just showed up."

9:30 - I feel really cold, and really tired.

9:45 - We go back to our hotel room, where Sarah tucks me into the aforementioned nest of blankets. I commence being wretched and pitiful.

The fever went away, but since then it feels like my head has been packed with hot cotton and broken glass. It's only through a ridiculous application of painkiller that I functioned well enough to get home to the states.

I'm partially recovered now. But not nearly enough to do any sort of worthwhile post about the con, or to continue my discussion of fanmail. Those will be forthcoming.

Instead, here's a picture of Sarah doing a handstand in the Vancouver airport.





Why is she doing a handstand? Shit. I have no idea. After all these years, I've discovered that it's better not to ask.


pat

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Monday, October 6, 2008
Concerning Fanmail: Part Two - Hubris

I'm in Vancouver right now, working at a computer in the hotel lobby. I'm going to blame any sloppiness in this post on that. Fair?

As promised, here are a few quotes from fanmail that's been sent in over the last year. It's by no means comprehensive or scientific list. Just a random sampling of quotes that happened to strike me as funny, flattering, or odd.

As you'd probably suspect, a lot of these are good old fashioned compliments. How can I tell? Well, sometimes because they actually make a point of telling me:
Your book is gonna be bigger than any fantasy book that has ever been made. If I was Rowling I would kill you now. That is a compliment.
This is surprisingly helpful, because sometimes I can't tell the messages are supposed to be flattering or not....

If Noam Chomsky can provide his email address and invite questions on his website why can't you? After all, Prof. Chomsky probably receives more email than you do and obviously does more important work than you.

Lazy bones.

You're a good writer though.

Ummm.... Thanks?

Some people explain how the book has effected their lives:
I am a closet geek. I suspect no one would ever think of me as a fantasy reader. Yet I have recommended your books to colleagues, my wife and friends. Effectively, you outed my geekiness.
Some folks tell me about the nature of their obsessive relationship with my book:

We left the house the other day, and I made a mental note of the page I was on in your book. While we were out, we stopped at a book store for a couple of hours. So I found a copy of the book and read it until we left.

*****
If Name of The wind was a woman, I'd find out her address and move next door to her with the hope of making her mine.
*****
When my home was threatened by fire 2 weeks ago your book was one of the few things I packed in my handbag on my way out the door.

Here's one that struck me as being very sweet in its honesty:
I love "The Name of the Wind" like I love my picture in the mirror.

More than a few have contained various flavors of delicious blasphemy:

You are something very similar to God, with The Name Of The Wind being the Bible me and my close friend worship on a daily basis.

*****

For the first time in a long time: a class Fantasy novel. Burn everything else you own, roll in the ashes, read this book and make it your new god.


Some have been.... surreal:
I'm almost done with your book. Its fantastic. I LOVE it.

I also like the cover. Its really fun to feel. When I touch it I get these weird spit thing in the back of my throat. But its a good spit thing. When I swallow it it makes this nice noise.

Some have been flabbergasting:

So, my daughter, who's twelve and has read NOTW twice now, lists you as one of her very favorite authors (she's got great taste--Buffy's her favorite show ever too.)

Anywho, she had an assignment in class--part of a "Who am I?" sort of assignment. One of the questions that she was asked to answer was, "If I had 24 hours to live, I would..."

Her answer: "I would donate all my saved money to Perfect Pals [a cat shelter hereabouts] and then read Name of the Wind one more time."

Wow. Warm Fuzzies don't get any warmer and fuzzier than that.....

Lastly, I seem to be showing up in people's dreams. A lot.

I dreamed that I was walking through a mall or whatever in Kansas City and I saw you working in a cell phone kiosk. I was like "Holy shit, you're Patrick Rothfuss! I loved The Name of the Wind!" to which you replied "Thanks man, always great to hear. So....you wanna buy a phone?" Then I woke up.

Very random, and a little strange. Not sure why you were trying to sell me a cell phone.

*****

I had a dream last night that we watched TV together. No Joke. At one point I went to the fridge to find you a drink and found that everything was moldy and old. Then you told me we have to watch a certain movie next time we meet. Then you gave me your telephone number, but told me that it wouldn't work in a week or so because you had to keep on changing it since so many fans would find it out and call you.

So I just wanted to stop by and thank you for being so kind as to drink the crusty old Snapple I had lying around. Thanks for also not kicking my dog as some people tend to do in my dreams.

*****

Pat, I dreamed about you last night. You came to Austin, I was so happy. Then you turned into a girl....


Please note that those final ellipses at the end are from the guy that wrote the e-mail, not me.

Personally, I'd like to know a few more details. Was I pretty? Did I still have my beard? How can I not be curious?

Soon we'll have part three of the fanmail series: Some gentle advice on what you might want to consider including (or avoiding) in your fanmail.

Later all,

pat

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Concerning Fanmail: Part One

So while I wasn't paying attention, I apparently received my 1500th piece of fanmail.

Rather, I should probably say I recently received mail from my 1500th fan. There's been more mail than that, because sometimes I end up e-mailing back and forth with people who drop me a line. Interviews. Witty banter. Coy flirtation. Geek talk. That sort of thing.

But yeah. 1500, people have sent me messages. And that's just through the contact form on my webpage. That doesn't count the people who have dropped me a line through Myspace, or Facebook, or sent me a physical letter. I'm guessing that if I counted those, the number would rise up over two thousand.

It's a little stupefying now that I'm stopping to think of it.

I won't lie to you, fanmail is great. There have been occasional exceptions to this, like the guy who sent me a message saying that he hoped a dog would bite me on the nuts. But even that made me laugh.

I'll even go so far as to say that over the last year or so, fanmail has significantly improved the quality of my life. I've had some real emotional low points since the book came out. But many's the time when I'd get a little note from someone and it would salvage what was shaping up to be a real turd of a day.

Like today, for example. Today someone sent me a pair of fucking nunchucks. I'm not even kidding. Look:





Okay. This picture is crap. But the nunchucks are cool. They're heavy, solid. Not toys at all. And the only thing keeping me from swinging them around as an idiot is the thought of showing up as Guest of Honor at V-Con having broken my own nose.

They were sent to me as the "something cool" part of the package so I'd sign someone's book. I was understandably delighted.

Then, later, I was out running errands and found out my favorite restaurant had just shut down. This place made sandwiches so good that they were sexual. Not just regular sexual either. These sandwiches were transcendent. They were the sandwich equivalent of a three-way. It was like you, the sandwich, and a sexy god made entirely of bacon got together for a friendly yiff.

Anyway, my point is that my favorite restaurant closed. Depressing. I was ready to be really bummed out. Then I thought to myself, "Someone sent me nunchucks today. I have nunchucks at home right now that I can go and play with." And my day was saved.

Of course, not all fanmail is physical. But that doesn't mean that it isn't lovely. Take this excerpt, for example.

I want to thank you so very much. Your book brought me and my girlfriend closer together. Life is tough, my girlfriend and I have a 15 month old son (named after me!) and it seems all we do is work and work and occasionally work some more. Money is always tight and stress is always high, but your book brought a respite from our monotonous routine. J---- loved it (as I hope you guessed already). I had so much fun discussing the book with her I can not even put it to words.

Needless to say, reading something like that is every bit as good as getting nunchucks in the mail. What's more, that e-mail has the added bonus of having absolutely no chance of breaking my girlfriend's coffee mug. Which I just did.

In part two of this post, I'll share more of my favorite fanmail excerpts. Y'all have said some crazy stuff over the last year.

Stay tuned.

pat

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