“I was eleven the first time I saw someone killed. A real someone, that is. Prior to that point, I’m certain I’d seen hundreds, probably thousands, maybe tens of thousands of fake people die on television or in the movies and usually in fairly grotesque fashion. This was the autumn of 1982, what I thought of for many years as the worst time of my life, though later on I’d change that assessment. ” from “When They Let Them Bleed”

“His face was covered in small bumps of razor burn and I remembered the last time I saw him: he’d come to our house in Walnut Creek and my mother, who raged at the very mention of my father’s name in her presence, had kissed him on the cheek, had touched his face with her palm, had told him he needed to shave. It is the only memory I have of tenderness between my parents and I keep it inside me like a yellowed snapshot, until I’m not sure today if that’s how it happened at all.” from “Joltin Joe Has Left and Gone Away”

“That Rabbi David Cohen wasn’t Jewish had ceased, over time, to be a problem. He hardly even thought of it anymore except when ordering breakfast down at the Bagel Café. He’d sit there across from Bennie Savone, that fat fuck, watching him wolf down ham and scrambled eggs, or French toast with a steaming side of greasy link sausage, and his mouth would actually start to water, like he was some kind of fucking golden retriever.” from “Mitzvah”

“In the intervening years, several stars did arrive, but they always had someone else with them – Artie Shaw had his dog, Paul Newman had his brother, Robert Stack had his wife, Harpo The Clown had his horn – and they generally came with such pomp, circumstance and advance notice, that it was about as exciting as a prostate exam and required nearly as much forethought. How, precisely, do you clean the house in preparation for Artie Shaw’s arrival, particularly when he’s not even coming inside?” from “The B-List Rings Twice”

“You could spend your entire life sitting in Starbucks next to people hunched over laptops, and you’d never hear a single one of them divulge that their dream is to write a television or movie tie-in; you know, those novelizations that magically appear in the airport bookstore rack with the screen stars on their covers.” from “The Lure of the Tie-In”

“I smile like nothing at all has happened, like I just haven’t possibly made this nice gentleman a wee bit freaked out by my proclamation that we might have some sort of deeper emotional connection. It must be slightly disconcerting to be approached by a frumpy Jewish author who believes he was you, particularly on the evening you’re about to read his work.” from “That’s Not A Name, That’s A Major Appliance”

“Endings have never been my strong suit, both in writing and in my interpersonal relationships, but at least with writing I can recognize the signs more clearly.” from “Are We There Yet: Knowing When a Novel or Story is Finished”

“Well, as it turns out, a nine year old can get stoned if he inhales enough secondary smoke from the disco survivors and soft-rock aficionados that peopled the grass section of the Concord Pavilion, so my memories of both shows are that they rocked big time.”

“There are two great mysteries regarding the city of Las Vegas. The first, and perhaps most perplexing, is figuring out what exactly constitutes the allure of drinking a souvenir football filled with beer. Beer is tasty and football is a fine American sport, and I don’t mind the two things existing together, I’m just not sure if they need to exist inside each other.” <em>from “Vegas Valley”


“We drove the three of them to the Best Western on Central, none of us speaking until we arrived there. The lobby was filled with a dozen gingerbread houses, each sponsored by different businesses in town: The Pizza Cookery. B. Barker & Sons, Accountants. The Paulson Mortuary and Home of Peace & Tranquility. Even Shake’s Bar had a house, which tilted ever so slightly to the left. Somewhere, Neil Diamond was singing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” over tinny speakers.” — from “Blue Memories Start Calling”