Feb 6, 2016

Green Eyes review

Another great review of the GREEN EYES. This one's by Kate Hardy, the renowned author:

Kate Hardy
Michael's writing is elegant and very funny with moments of great pathos. I felt I got to know the main character well and appreciated him as a (faulted, and aren't we all) human. The style of the book is definitely unusual, and certainly would not appeal to all readers. The plot rambles wildly and I found myself reading a chapter or two and enjoying the language and humour - almost as if I was reading a collection of poems or short stories. I wasn't gripped in that I didn't find excuses to go and read when I should have been doing other things, as I might have done with some books where the plot grabs you by the neck and hauls you along, and there is nothing wrong with that. I think perhaps these days we are all too used to pages that deliver a rampaging plot; this is to be savoured and remembered. A favourite line (and there are many great ones): An all-pervasive touch embalms me and goes on vacation with me and for long walks on the beach as I am trying to stay awake.

Jan 24, 2016

(Yes, we possibly should say more about the movie---for the time being then---this picture was taken in Aix-en-Provence, by the way)

Jan 6, 2016

Shoot-the-messenger and other things North-Korean (reposted)

People are inquiring about this post, stirred by North Korea's supposedly thermo-nuclear test yesterday. The post was written in March 2013 while Michael was staying in South Korea. Here it is:

How about the situation? In Korea? Now? Aren't your scared? Don't you think they are going to throw their nukes? They know this would be the end of it, wouldn't they, a full-fledged war would trigger a violent American reaction that would certainly bring down a regime unable to feed its own people properly? They aren't crazy, or are they? Kim Jong Un, the new "leader," has studied in Switzerland, he has seen the world, he knows, right? They know, don't they, they know! At least he does!

Note the map of the US on the wall

Relax. Lean back. (Just back from the Korean dentist). Lean back.

My father was so lazy, he did not actually swim when dipping into the North Sea during our summer holidays. Instead, he did a "dead man," filling his lungs with extra air and staying afloat motionless in the water like a buoy. Along those lines, let's do an dead man and tell a story from 10 years ago when I last heard from Michel Kortczek. Michel had specialized in China, and then North Korea, and had published a beautiful essay on North Korea and its ideology on the internet. The page has disappeared in the meantime, but what I recall of his essay spoke of a regime quite unlike any other on earth, a regime completely in the thrall of  magic, superstition, and delusion.

Dec 26, 2015

Feed the hungry Facebook beast

Christmas dinner. Left to right: Bill, Leo, Jenni, Stefan, Stefan's girl friend, Michael, Uwe's girl friend, Uwe (Chang is taking the picture)

And your habitual "fragment," Michael, how about a "fragment" ? Right, Michael is working on a new, longer version of the Rilke-ghost story. Michael and Chang have met the ghost already in Duino---apparently provoking his appearance by means of a Google translation of one of his poems---and now they are summering in Bürchen, and Rilke is buried nearby. Fragment:

Years later. We’re now summering in Bürchen, Valais, Switzerland, in the chalet of a friend, our own house is rented to holiday makers, as usual. Bürchen is great, 1,600 meters up on the Alp, and so much cooler than the muggy summer-Riviera. There is only one minor problem: Rainer Maria is buried nearby, yes, Rilke, in Raron, a small, historical town right beneath Bürchen down in the valley, barely three klicks as the crow flies. We’ve avoided Raron so far, but Chang is playing the social networks and has to feed the hungry Facebook beast. His Korean followers can’t get enough pictures of snow-topped mountains and timber-studded Swiss chalets, and the 24 hour news-cycle dictates daily posting. We’ve ravaged the entire countryside already---natives of many cultures believe that you steal their picture when you take their photo---along those lines we’ve grabbed photons until nothing seems to be left of the Valais save Raron. 

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Chang asks. Of course we don’t. And it’s a sunny, wonderful day, and Rilke is interred in a vault on the southern side of the Burgkirche, which itself is built on a rock hundred meters above the floor of the valley. The views would be fantastic, and a light breeze would play with the pages of the tourist guide that tells about the local Rilke-wine and the XII-century town hall next to the church. A Rilke Pfad leads up there. Half-way there’s a bench. “Remember the bench?” Michael asks. We sit down. And now Michael has a really bad idea. He googles for “Rilke translations,” and the first entry connects to a learned, well-written article by a certain Majorie Perloff

“Wer, wenn ich schriee, hört mich denn aus der Engel Ordnungen”…wasn’t that the first line? “Here,” I say to Chang, “there you have it, various ways to do this, ‘Who, if I cried, would hear me among the angelic orders,’ or ‘Who, if I cried out, would heed me amid the host of Angels’...”. Chang, predictably, is not really interested, but you see it coming. “Oohh,” the wailing begins, “ohhoohoo.” Talking about hubris.

Dec 23, 2015

We've interrupted our broadcast...

...to pen a longer version of Rilke's Ghost, and this is the first thing we found:

(Note that Postmodernism is also banned)

Dec 18, 2015

Did you know?

Cool, folks, cool. Michael's latest project, a short, sweet novella is out on Amazon:

Michael Ampersant
Click and enjoy

...Martin and James have this really interesting conversation going on, on the Facebook video channel. It looks at first as if James just wants to talk dirty, but then Martin discovers that his interlocutor has a cute boyfriend who needs some more excitement in his life...a short novella, sweet and edgy...

...sweet and edgy...

Dec 17, 2015

France still exists (2)

So we went on another excursion because Chang can no longer handle Michael's self-centered talk about yet another book project. Here's the result (Aix en Provence). The picture is a comment on Jean Cocteau's characterization of the city as un aveugle qui croit qu'il pleut (a blind person who thinks it rains), intended as a reminder of Aix's abundance of fountains. 

And here's another fragment from "The Senator and I." Alice, the narrator, has been adopted by this bizarre household, and now she's meeting the natural children of the household for the first time:

There is something about forms, or conventions. I had been declared a “member” of the “household,” I had been fitted with “The Ring,”—and so I was seated at the lord-of-the-manor table, served French fare, and exposed to the physical proximity of complete strangers who were my family but not really good at small talk. Still, I was on a high after my first ocean experience, and the food was good, and I dared to tell unasked about the freak wave, and my seeing a real-life ocean for the first time, and even about my feelings, how elated I had been, and still was, how happy. Occasionally they frowned their brows, and when they did, Xato corrected my pronunciation. Of course, we weren’t from the same location (spoiler alert: we weren’t even from the same continent). I did speak English, it felt like my mother tongue, and I somehow knew theirs, their accent, but they didn’t know mine [Indian accent]. Eventually they stopped listening, and I fell silent. They munched on their fries. The Cointreau glass had been full, empty, full, empty. It was half-empty when Lydia raised her voice a bit and suggested that I should join Hollie and Era in their exploits after lunch. That wasn’t well-received, though, because the kids wouldn’t go back skiing, the snow sucked, and there wouldn’t be a spare pair of skis for the girl anyhow (Erasmus didn’t remember my name, apparently), not of the new XXX-skis that you would need for this mess up there.

Whether they had seen traces, Lydia asked. No, the boy said. Yes, Hollie corrected him, there had been traces, very clear ones, better than last time, in the snow, of the three giants. Footprints. “Giants?” I asked. Yes, the giants that live up there, well, perhaps you don’t know (poor foster-child), the snow giants, enormous prints, three toes per indentation, in the snow, but the snow sucked.

We were in the future and I didn’t even know the season. Hollywood---that would be California, wouldn’t it, where they have eternal spring. “It’s spring,” I said, half-asking. No reply. “Does anybody know which year it is?” I asked, but was misunderstood, except by Xato perhaps, who whispered: “Three-hundred twenty.” Three-hundred twenty didn’t ring a bell at all.

The Lady’s glass was still empty, the MAs stood to attention like matchstick men in a high-school play, the frightful horses were relieving themselves one more time, nothing made sense, why should I  still make sense. So, I said: “No, I mean it, I must be in the future.”
“No, you are not,” somebody said. The Lady herself had spoken with her raspy voice, to me. It was a momentous event, judging by the body language of everybody else. Erasmus whistled.
“How do you know,” I asked.
“The Senator will explain,” she said and let her shoulders slump a bit further.
“The Senator will explain,” Xato echoed/whispered into my ear. The case was closed. We went silent. In the meantime we were having desert (I could have had a “crème de something” but ordered plum pie), and coffee (all this without the participation of The Lady or Lydia), and now we were waiting. The Cointreau glass was still empty. Nobody was working an iThing, or any other hand-held device. Hollie stole a studious regard at her mother. How would this end? Well, she slumped off her chair, is how it ended, or almost, since Xato, the nearest assistant, had saved Her Lady from dropping to the ground and was now holding her up with stretched-out arms, the strong man. And before we knew it, a wheel-chair had arrived on an S (the standing platform), a self-steering chair, this one, and the Lady had been cushioned into its seat whence the vehicle made back onto the platform, Lydia in tow, and they were swept away. The rest of the family rose.

Are you still there? Then you may like Michael's first novel, GREEN EYES. which is out now, available on Amazon under this link:

Night Owl Reviews

Dec 14, 2015

Defining the "Republican" party

Here's an entire article by Brian Beutler that appeared in the New Republic a few days ago. It contains the best definition of today's Republican Party (or GOP) we've seen in quite some time. Indulge us:

If you’ve been following Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy and his effect on the Republican primary closely, you were perhaps beset Monday by a strange sense of speechlessness—one born less of ineffability than of tedium.

Trump’s plan to prohibit Muslim immigration into the U.S. is indeed extreme, but to students of the Trump phenomenon and conservative politics more broadly, it was neither unexpected nor the source of any new or profound lesson.

While closing the country to foreign Muslims altogether is a radical idea relative to our founding ideals and current policy, it is but an incremental step relative to the outer bounds of legitimate debate in the GOP primary. Republican presidential candidates have supported discriminating against Muslims in our refugee policy, and opposed the very notion of a Muslim-American president, all without subjecting themselves to universal condemnation. The most surprising part of the latest Trump story is that it proves a Republican candidate can take Islamophobia too far for his party’s tastes.

Dec 12, 2015

Lachrymal glands --- This is heaven --- (teaser 6)

Another teaser from This Is Heaven, the second part of the best-selling GREEN EYES series. Context: John, Alex, Dr. Alice Sandeman and Godehart have spent a boozy time on the terrace of Nick's restaurant, cooking up an absurd scheme that involves counterfeiting the internet site of the upcoming Georgia Beach Festival. John (the blogger) is tasked to do it. Then Dr. Sandeman is off to work, and the three men repair to Godehart's place, where John can use the office and the computer for his work. Godehart has the brilliant, yet unsurprising idea of an intermezzo in the bedroom, but John, who's still hurting from a similar intermezzo earlier during the morning in the dunes (the gay cruising area), turns them down, so Alex and Godehart are left to their own devices. The bedroom is upstairs, the office is downstairs. And, one more thing, the computer is password protected. And, one more thing, the name of Godehart's self-steering SUV is Isolde.

Wile E. Coyote goes off the cliff now. He goes to Google’s Blogger, the platform for his site. His site is a blog, but an official event site mustn’t look like a blog. He knows little about the festival, and begins to realize the enormity of his task. He feels the need for coffee, goes to the kitchen, gets the Delonghi espresso machine going, feels the effect of the alcohol wearing off (good in some respects, bad in others), returns to the office with a cup in his hand, sits down, realizes that the laptop has gone asleep and requires the password anew, gets up again, climbs the stairs, opens the door to Godehart’s bedroom, and is hit by gravity.

The threesome that wasn't --- Miguel Angel Reyes (2004)

The fall begins, in slow motion, him descending back down the stairs, back into the office where he---at least---can’t hear the noise. He sits down again, clasps his face with both hands, and begins to cry, tears rolling down his face, more tears coming, dripping onto the desk, the keyboard, flooding the floor, flooding everything, until he drowns.

Dec 11, 2015

France still exists

We went on an excursion, urgently, today, because Chang can no longer handle Michael's rambling talk about the new novel he's writing, working-titled "The Senator and I," a YA novel with a sixteen year old girl and a member of the Planetary Senate (the senator), and no sex. So we went on this excursion, and here's the result (this is in Moustier St. Marie, Alpes Haute-Provence, France):

And here's a fragment from "The Senator and I" (just a fragment). Alice, the narrator, meets her (new) foster mother (the senator's wife) for the first time. We're in polite society, and Xato is Alice's new PA:

I was led into the pool house, fawned over by an unknown assistant, left alone when I asked for it, and when I returned to the pool, the majordomo had disappeared. Instead, two woman were sitting at a table on the terrace under a huge patio umbrella that had not been there before. Xato touched me briefly at the small of my back (nice), whispered “The Lady Abercrombie,” and guided me towards the female couple. The Lady had indeed taken note, was perhaps even expecting me, since she raised her regard and made contact with lazy, tired eyes. In front of her, on the table, lunch had been laid: a large bottle of Cointreau and one long-drink-glass, filled almost to the rim with the honey-colored liqueur. She didn’t speak however, and there was nothing of a body language on her part, Xato introduced me to a silent and motionless person dressed conspicuously in an iridescent bathrobe like me, one elbow on the table, the other on an armrest, a cigarette---a real, smoking cigarette, not an electric one---between two forefingers (signet ring on the pinkie). Xato explained about my morning adventure in a burlesque language I had not heard him using before, while the smoke from her fag curled, billowed, and headed for my nose. I sneezed and turned away for a sec, and when I turned back the Cointreau glass was half-empty. The Lady managed a gesture that seemed like an invitation to have a seat, at least that’s what Xato took it for since he hastened to shove a chair into place and made me sit down. I stole a glimpse at my imitation-ring that had survived the freak wave, then began to wonder how a person like her would harness the energy to “panic,” or do other things that might require body language. My new mother. One is never too old to learn.

Dec 10, 2015

Succès de scandale

John Lee, narrator of the GREEN EYES

That's why the GREEN EYES are selling so well, they are scandalous. From an actual review (on Goodreads): "All in all so far this guy [John, the narrator] has been with four different guys in the span of only two days and I don’t think I can read any further." Yes.

Dec 9, 2015

As the likelihood of a Trump presidency increases by the minute...

...we asked our friends over at StarWars to share their insights. Here they are:

And while you are at it...okay, first this...

...and soon we'll have a link to an article in the New Atlantic with the best characterization of today's GOP ever (stay tuned).

Dec 8, 2015

We interrupt our broadcast...

...Jeff Bozos (Amazon) has tweeted this picture under the heading... 

...The Perfect Plan to Deal with Donald Trump

Dec 3, 2015

Michael and friends --- by Joe Phillips

Yes, this is little Michael, right in the middle (the serious looking guy), and it's not even photoshopped. Done by Joe Phillips for his 2016 calendar, which is on pre-order now, using an only mildly outdated picture of the bestselling author.

Nov 30, 2015

More stars for the Green Eyes

Another five star review for the Green Eyes:

What a delightful and tongue-in-cheek romp through the drama, the pitfalls and the high camp of gay love obsession!

In general, I'm not a fan of "erotic" books, but a friend recommended this to me, and I must say that in spite of my reluctance, I was hooked on the story from the first pages in, because the writing and plotting is so outrageously witty, literate and engaging. John, the narrator, is a hunk of attractive, dysfunctional gay man, who is still partner-less and feeling washed out at approaching that deadly age of 29. He meets Alex in the sand dunes of the "gay beach" in his Georgia town, and the rest is a wild, and wonderfully sardonic, ride through wild parties, back rooms, emergency rooms, attempted murder, Georgia sodomy laws, and yes love, in a whole host of hilarious and totally dysfunctional mini plots. With chapter headings like "Richard Wagner and Ludwig the Second; Bavarian Leather Shorts; Playing with my Caravaggio; In Flagrante Masterclass; Six Minutes to Eighth Heaven; and Look Muffy, He Brought His Instruments" - well you get the idea. There's plenty of sex, but even that's written in the same, most entertaining, tongue-in-cheek manner. The writing style is really original and the plotting, well, it's just totally crazy - but it works great! I was well entertained - Green Eyes is delightfully offbeat, and highly original.

Nov 28, 2015


Cool, folks, we've had a sit-down with Fiona Mcvie of AuthorsInterviews about the Green Eyes, and we held forth like there's no tomorrow.

They seem to have some really cool offices over there

(Q: "Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?" A: "Yes and no. There are lots of messages. I don’t know whether you had this in High School, writing essays that would “interpret” a particular piece of literature. We had this a lot. The (implicit) question always was: “What does the author mean, what does he/she want to say?” Even then I thought the question beside the point. If you have a clear message, you write an opinion piece for the New York Times, you don’t write a novel, or a play, or a poem. Art---if that’s what we are doing---art is about ambiguity. There is no clear message, there shouldn’t be, in fact. The more ambiguity, the better"). Along those lines.

Nov 27, 2015

Nov 25, 2015

Google mis-search --- This is heaven --- (teaser)

(We're already in Chapter 5. Godehart has been tricked into underwriting the Festival Award of $$$ 100k, which explains the whiskeys. Alice, Godehart, Alex and John sit on the terrace of Nick's restaurant, and talk, yes, what, they talk neologisms:)

“If you control the website, you control the festival, more or less,” Alex says.
“This isn’t the festival site,” I say, “It’s my site.”
“Who would know?” Alex asks.
“Anybody who needs to know about the festival. It takes a split second to discover a mis-search. People have experience,” I say.
“Mis-search.” Alex’s tongue likes the word. “A bit heavy on the ear perhaps, but useful. The most frequently committed act of our era, mis-search, an act in dire need of a term. You invented this? ... Can you google ‘mis-search’?” he adds in Alice’s direction.

Alice---who should slap Alex’s wrist now and steer the conversation back to Godehart’s predicament---Alice says:“We have him back, we have him back.” She means Alex.
“I was like this before?” Alex asks.
“Yes, on a good day.”
“Well, this isn’t a good day,” Alex answers, “google ‘mis-search’.”

Alice googles “mis-search.”

Nada. Not one mis-search on Google. “A real neologism, John,” Alex says, and slaps my shoulder. “Dude. You are worth it.”

Nov 20, 2015

Thanks God (Tristan Verran)

...So, Thanksgiving in the good ol' 'US of A' is that special time of year when it's actually OK to openly celebrate the mass migration of a group of religious fundamentalists who invade the country and then murder all the locals...

Nov 14, 2015

We mourn the victims

A victim outside the Bataclan concert hall in Paris on Friday night

“A body fell on me—it emptied blood on my legs. . . . My neighbor, a man of about fifty, was shot right in the face, in the head. Bits of brain and flesh fell on my glasses,” one blessed escapee from the theatre recollected. “I tried to keep my eyes on the floor, it was an immense flood of blood.” Another concertgoer, named Célia, recounted, “I saw the assailants clearly. I think there were four. Their faces weren’t hidden. All very young, in their twenties. Not especially handsome, but not at all devilish looking. They wore big tunics, one beige, and two all in black. The one in the beige tunic had a short beard. They were all Middle Eastern types but spoke French without any accent.” And another survivor remembered one of the attackers saying, “You have killed our brothers in Syria, now it’s your turn,” while they fired at the crowd. It was a non-stop fusillade, and a gunman shouted, “The first person who moves his ass, I’ll kill him.” Célia added, “My cell phone was lit because I was going to film parts of the concert, but I didn’t have it out. Good thing, because those who took theirs out were killed immediately.”

(Eyewitnesses, quoted in an article in The New Yorker)

Oct 29, 2015


This is the Dom, at 4505 m. the third-highest mountain of the Alpes, the peak is in the clouds. You can see autumn descending down the slopes (the rainbow of colors).