Personal Narrative: The Rock Bottom Remainders

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In the early nineties (it might have been 1992, but it's hard to remember when you're having a good time) I joined a rock-and-roll band composed mostly of writers. The Rock Bottom Remainders were the brainchild of Kathi Kamen Goldmark, a book publicist and musician from San Francisco. The group included Dave Barry on lead guitar, Ridley Pearson on bass, Barbara Kingsolver on keyboards, Robert Fulghum on mandolin, and me on rhythm guitar. There was also a trio of "chick singers," la the Dixie Cups, made up (usually) of Kathi, Tad Bartimus, and Amy Tan. The group was intended as a one-shot deal-we would play two shows at the American Booksellers Convention, get a few laughs, recapture our misspent youth for three or four hours, then go our…show more content…
Colonel Sanders sold a hell of a lot of fried chicken, but I'm not sure anyone wants to know how he made it. If I was going to be presumptuous enough to tell people how to write, I felt there had to be a better reason than my popular success. Put another way, I didn't want to write a book, even a short one like this, that would leave me feeling like either a literary gas-bag or a transcendental asshole. There are enough of those books-and those writers-on the market already, thanks. But Amy was right: nobody ever asks about the language. They ask the DeLillos and the Updikes and the Styrons, but they don't ask popular novelists. Yet many of us proles also care about the language, in our humble way, and care passionately about the art and craft of telling stories on paper. What follows is an attempt to put down, briefly and simply, how I came to the craft, what I know about it now, and how it's done. It's about the day job; it's about the language. This book is dedicated to Amy Tan, who told me in a very simple and direct way that it was okay to write
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