Scott D. Parker
Do you have your New Year’s resolutions planned yet?
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s still two weeks away but this will be my last post at Do Some Damage until January. But I’ve already started thinking and planning the things I want to accomplish in 2023 and it is really important to kick off the year on a good note.
On the Daily Stoic podcast, host Ryan Holiday wondered why we constantly make New Year’s resolutions and he brought in a quote from Samuel Johnson: “Reformation is necessary and despair is criminal.” I looked up this quote to see if it is part of something larger and it is: “When I find that so much of my life has stolen unprofitably away, and that I can descry by retrospection scarcely a few single days properly and vigorously employed, why do I yet try to resolve again? I try, because reformation is necessary and despair is criminal. I try, in humble hope of the help of God.”
I know lots of folks have a good first week in January and then, by around the six-week mark, most folks have given up on their resolutions. But you don’t have to.
Which I why I’ve been structuring my own resolutions around smaller yet quantifiable goals. The key for me is to have a good January so that I can maintain the newly formed habit. For me, any new resolution I make I will do during the 31 days of January. I will keep track of the new habits daily and mark them on my calendar. Then, by 1 February, the bulk of the new habits will have become ingrained. It’s how I started my flossing habit and there isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t floss.
But let’s circle back to the Johnson quote, the longer one. What he’s basically saying is that when he examines his life, he sees where he’s faltered and then questioned why try again. For many, that’s reason enough not to make resolutions For me, however, I am always optimistic that new habits and resolutions can be made and kept and maintained. I’m always looking for ways to improve my life—as a husband, father, writer, friend—and I’ll always make New Year’s resolutions.
Because what’s the alternative? You get older and then you look back on your life and wish you would have started something. Which ties right back to a quote I have pinned to my cork board: A year from now, you will have wished you started today.
Make “today” be 1 January 2023, start something new, and make your future self proud.
Saturday, December 17, 2022
New Year’s Resolutions: Just Try
Friday, December 16, 2022
Holiday Gift Guide
Is it the end of another year already?
Rather than run a list of "Best Of" books, we thought we'd have some of our DSD family suggest some books that they enjoyed. Happy shopping, everyone.
from Alex Segura
from Brian Lindenmuth
Living the Gimmick by Bobby Matthews: Professional wrestling is an interesting subject matter for fiction. It's an artform with story telling at its heart, there are heroes and villains writ large, it has its own history and language. It's a great spectacle frankly. As enticing as the world of wrestling is for its fans, there's a barrier in place for the wider audience. You have to show them the ropes (hurr hurr hurr) of that world then tell the story in that world. Bobby Matthews does this well. The protagonist is a retired wrestler turned bar owner. When his best friend, another wrestler, comes to visit but winds up dead, the protagonist introduces the world of wrestling to the reader at the same time he has to be reacquainted with it. Investigating his friend's death is going to uncover all sorts of shit and shine a light on what goes on behind the scenes of a wrestling show. Living the Gimmick should appeal to fans of wrestling and crime fiction.
Nine Tenths by Jeff Macfee: Macfee carves out a little space for his story in a world where superheroes exist and comes up with a grounded take on the genre. Superheroes are augmented by technology. When they fail to pay for those technological enhancements repo men are called in. From this simple premise an entire imaginative world opens up. You get gritty crime fiction stuff and superhero shenanigans and a guy caught in the middle who just wants to keep his business afloat and stay ahead of his bills. Nine Tenths should appeal to adventurous crime fiction types, those who like superhero stories, those who don't like superhero stories, and anyone who loves a vividly realized fantastical world. A superhero story by way of Repo Man? Hell yea!
Brian Lindenmuth reads books and watches a lot of movies. He occasionally reviews foreign language films at One Inch Tall Movies and other stuff at Dark Dispatch.
from Claire Booth
Blackout by Marco Carocari. For readers of thrillers who also appreciate great characters and a great, descriptive take on New York City. Two murders converge in the experiences of one man in Carocari’s debut novel. Franco DiMaso indulges in an atypical-for-him casual hookup with a man whose name he doesn’t know and ends up with a laced joint as well. The combination leaves him hazy and disoriented and unsure whether he’s just witnessed a murder. Things only get worse for Franco as he becomes a suspect and wrestles with his own father’s unsolved murder 40 years ago during the infamous New York City blackout.
from Sandra Ruttan
from Beau Johnson
Rooster by John Foster. If I would suggest one book I read this year as a Christmas gift, it would be Rooster by John Foster. Fun, fast, and with a voice that means business, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Throw in a retribution storyline, the past coming back to haunt a man, fisticuffs and bullets to the face, and yeah, consider me recommending. Go forth, seek out, get a copy for that reader in your life. Fun was had!
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Beau wants to stuff your stocking with books
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
I wish I had more to talk about, but, you know, see above. It really is all winding down. It's been cold for a while here, but the other night after walking the dog I said to my wife, "I know we've had colder days, but tonight I could feel winter in the wind."
And, sure, maybe I sounded too much like a George RR Martin character, but it was true.
Winter is here. The time we drink and stay inside and read books and, assuming it's not going to wipe out your family in a carbon monoxide accident, enjoy both of those activities by a roaring fire.
Actually, skip the egg nog. That shit is trash.
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
There I was, last book, reading an obscure Ford Madox Ford novel named A Call. It's a 1925 novel of manners set among the British upper class, with all that entails. I enjoyed it, as I do those kind of books from time to time, but when I finished it, I felt myself in the mood for something different, in tone, style, period, everything. Cut to a Kindle download, and I'm reading the recent Nick Kolakowski novella Beach Bodies, which in every imaginable way is about as far as you can get from a 1925 British novel of manners.
Beach Bodies is vintage Nick. It has a slightly off-the-wall premise, smooth writing, a very fast pace, sarcasm, violence both over the top and funny, and a core, it turns out, of earnest emotion. Not that earnestness or any kind of emotion will necessarily save anyone in the end, but it's there, giving the main characters in a story 90 or so pages long just enough depth and background to make them relatable and of substance.
The set-up here: Julia has gotten a job caring for and living in a billionaire's doomsday bunker that is on an island somewhere tropical. Above the bunker is a gorgeous beach, the ocean. She has allowed in one guest, an ex-boyfriend name Alec, just back from the Russia-Ukraine war he got caught in the middle of while living in Kyiv trading cryptocurrency. The bunker is utterly isolated and has every technological amenity one could imagine, but it also has surveillance equipment that allows Julia (and Alec) to be watched at all times by Julia's recruiter, who is off somewhere, Julia presumes, "in a comfortable office far above the streets of Seattle or Los Angeles or Hong Kong".
To this idyllic but creepy locale come three other people, two men and a woman, and their intentions, shall we say, are not what you would describe as friendly. Besides, how did they get to this out-of-the-way location, how did they even know it exists, and what's the so-called mission that they say they're on? In no time at all, Beach Bodies reveals itself as a home invasion thriller of sorts, (or should we call it a bunker invasion), and from there the plot and incidents really take off, getting progressively more and more extreme. Action mixes with mystery mixes with gory slapstick mixes with science fiction. It's Julia and Alec against the intruders, and along the way we get to learn their backstory, a relationship not without its high points and also its ludicrously low ones. And at the very end, what's going on is made clear, in a twist that makes sense and actually has an emotional basis. The payoff satisfies.
Over several books now, Nick Kolakowski has been honing his distinctive approach, which is to blend genre tropes with a healthy dose of acerbic social commentary. What he does especially well is keep his plots hurtling along while making his satiric and biting points, no small feat, and he's adept at quick sketch characterizations that keep the proceedings from becoming cartoonish. Beach Bodies does all this, and, I should add, has a quite resonant final line. As a reader, it's always nice to end a book with a chuckle, and with this one, courtesy of Nick, I did.
You can get Beach Bodies here.