We put it together and here it is

After what, a year? He finally gives me a copy of his ‘magnum opus’ of the month, Katiya Malinovskiya. His take on Daisy Miller that he wrote for some neighbor of his.

You can find it here:


It came out alright, if I say so myself.

Just for the record –

Herman Melville earned shit as a writer.

Like, 10,000 dollars.

Mind you, that’s (I’m going to guess) in about 1857 dollars (1857 was when The Confidence Man was published and was the last novel and nail in his career’s coffin.

Now, a lot has happened since 1857 and 10,000 bucks then is not the same as 10,000 bucks today. What would it be worth today? I tried this calculator, and then checked it against math I did on the back of an envelope and then some more math with a calculator and got about the same number.

270,000.00 dollars in contemporary dollars. Much better, but still, this was earned over about twelve to fifteen years (Typee was published in 1945.) So he was earning about 20,000 a year, contemporary dollars. It’s still crap. And the guy was, unequivocally, one of the greatest writers ever to come out of America.

Found on a scrap of paper:

Everyday, making his rounds (dropping off the vegetables) he cringed when it came to this one stop – that restaurant, the really really really fancy one – the one that re-defined fancy restaurant – became the reference of anecdotal restaurants for the better part of the ensuing decade – that one made him cringe, every time, ‘cause the receiver, the guy who signed the bill, was just a mother-fucker. There was no other word for it, often, at least once a day he could imagine running the bastard over – just as a way to relieve the pressure – imagined him stepping out of the service entrance, his long white coat grubby at the hem – he’d just plow into him and be done with it. It made him smile – the sight of Nick folding up under the front of the van, his face contorted with confusion, fear and pain, It brought a smile to his own face as well as a sense of warm complacence, of ease and well-being, when-ever he thought of it, which was generally before he dropped off and sometimes after he’d dropped off too.

He couldn’t have said what it was, exactly, that bothered him so especially about Nick. The guy was an asshole – natch, without saying – that much was incontrovertible – but there was something else about him that really served to sort of close the deal.
He would be dropping off and maybe one time out of every ten, Nick would refuse the order, saying it was damaged and he’d refuse to sign for it. Bob’d get back to the warehouse and Will (Bob’s boss) would look through the box and ask Bob if he really thought all these tomatoes – were ruined?
-Well, no, but –
-But what? There’s nothing wrong with them, didn’t you tell him as much?
-I couldn’t – Hey –He’s the one who says they’re no good – call him up and tell him
-You can’t fucking help me out a little here? Pick up a little fucking Slack? Or don’t you think for yourself?
Bob would stand there at that, glowering – what was he gonna do? Tell his boss to go get fucked?
-That’s not my job Will – guy doesn’t like your fucking tomatoes – take it out on Pablo and his cousin packing the shit.

And then later in the day Bob would have to go back. This was when he’d imagine Nick wandering out the service entrance and into the middle of the street, a look on his face as blank as a cow’s, just lobotomized, drifting out into the middle of the street where BAM! Ka-thunk Ka-thunk, Bob would take him out, run him over like a dog 0h, just cream the fucker.
-So these are what you’re gonna pass off on me this time?
Bob handed him the slip without looking, without comment: Mute in his own way,
– Fuckin’ Will – probably sending me back the box I sent back myself.
Nick looked at Bob here and this was exactly what always got Bob – He said nothing, just looked right back at Nick, who was clearly looking for some kind of reaction. Bob wasn’t giving though, let the fucker rot – you know, in the juices of his own expectation. He sat tight, looking right back at him. He’d swear about six years passed while they each sat there, waiting – trading stares – Nick wanting Bob to do something, who knows, jump, shout, punch him in the head – something – maybe just react – but Bob wasn’t having any part of it – was never having any part of it – told him (without speaking, of course) no fucking way.
They sat there looking at each other for – maybe literally one minute, while the invisible and inchoate silent battle raged, R-A-G-E-D
Until finally Nick, who’s face had turned an un-healthy shade of red and then back again, spun the box around and jabbed a finger at a pen mark that wasn’t there
“I’ll sign it this time – but only this time. Tell that no good will son of a bitch that if he tries this shit again I’m ditching him – this is the last time I’ll sign for this fucking bottom-of-the-barrel shit.”
Nick grabbed the sheet from Bob, signed it, and then went back into his little smelly broom-closet of an office.

Found on a scrap of paper…

Thursday afternoon Louis went out with his friend Will to drink beer and ‘watch the game.’ This took until Saturday morning. Louis spent the rest of Saturday and then Sunday glued to the couch, spinning through the channels, landing on each for either three seconds or 15 minutes. One of the longer pauses was a program about counterfeit books from the middle ages. The techniques were simple and mostly relied on people simply not looking too closely. All of which made Louis think he should get in on this.

It took him about a month. Most of that month was spent refining than he expected but in the end he had a set of impressive books, to him at least, that he was sure he could move. The selling he left up to his girlfriend, Anna. She was a better talker and besides, why should he put his neck on the line?
To keep her from immediately saying she wouldn’t do it and also to see how good they really were, he told her he got the books from his uncle’s attic. His uncle was a weirdo, an academic, and had been rich once. It was plausible he’d have books like this.

Anna went to college, a good one. Suggesting that she was smarter than average. But she studied art which suggests maybe she wasn’t. She was also with Louis which was the biggest strike against her. But she’s still young, and he’s mostly just a mistake, even if she doesn’t know it just yet.
She had an idea of how to sell the books and she still believed in Louis, even if she shouldn’t have.

Despite her plan and though she expected it, the day was full of surprises. The first bookshop had no idea what to do with them and suggested she sell them online. The next dealer asked her some pointed questions which made her realize something was probably up and she should not answer any direct questions she did not actually know the answers to. To the inevitable suggestion that the books were not authentic she answered, somewhat lamely, “I didn’t know, they were my grandfather’s.” “Well, then your grandfather got cheated.” “Dammit.” It took her three more days, and at the end she was able to sell four.

One bookseller in particular gave her an especially thorough explanation of why the books she was trying to sell were a fraud. As he talked she realized that these books had never belonged to Louis’ uncle. Louis had put her up to this and probably without a second thought. And then she realized, everything else she had ever suspected about him was probably true too. She kicked Louis out of her life as soon as she stepped out of the shop.

She made good money, for all the shock the revelation came with. A little more than a thousand dollars. Louis was unimpressed. Nor with her moving out. Later she heard he had moved on to counterfeit handbags and watches made in Burma or somewhere.

Anna, though, when she realized how easy it was decided maybe she could do something on her own. But she wouldn’t pretend they were old. She could do something even more interesting.


I like pizza. It’s easy and if the people making it aren’t cretins, it can taste between very good and delicious. I have a place I go to regularly enough that the food (particularly good in its own right) is only part of the whole experience. The other part is the clientele. Probably my ‘favorite’ is Paolo, who claims to have been a stage hand at ‘La Scala’ for twenty years. Before he retired. To Brooklyn.

Unsurprisingly, I ran into Tommy there last week. He looked a little better than the time before, like at least he’d gotten some sun.

-Well, I was down there.

-Down where?

-Where do you think?

-Right, looking after Bern? I thought you said January. I was wondering, is that why I haven’t seen you ’round.

-I wasn’t sure he was gonna make it, from what I was hearing. So, yeah, I went down.


-He’s fine. I mean, he’s all fucked up. But he’s fine. Or will be.

-So, good.

-Yeah. And it was nice to get a little sun.

-I’m sure. Hey, how’s that thing coming?

-Oh. Man. I should have picked a different book.

-What’s wrong with Daisy Miller?

-She went off. Jesus. I sent her a copy and she was like ‘She’s a fucking Whoor!’ and like an idiot I didn’t understand her, I was like, ‘A what?’ ‘A WHOOR!’ I was like, what the hell is she saying? ‘A professional. You gave me a book where my daughter is a street-walker! What kind of asshole are you!’
I was like, damn, it’s literature. I didn’t say it was gonna be easy.
But she wasn’t having it, wanted her money back! I was like, no, Lady, I did the work. You bought it. It’s yours.
I don’t want this trash! How could you do this to my daughter! You’re a monster!
What a pain in the ass.

-So you finished?

-Sure. And she’s pretty much right. Daisy’s kind of a tramp. Mostly she’s just in over her head. But still, I get her point. Hey, I’m going out to watch the ponies. What are you doing, you busy?


-Come on. I’m gonna throw a hundred bucks at ’em, see if I can’t win the money I gotta pay to Malinovskiya. I fucking hate having to go into my own pocket for that.

-Sure, what the hell. Sounds like a winning plan.