Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Tree Fire Man

Just got back from mailing a copy of my cigarette lighter book to Roy Blount Jr., because it's dedicated to him (and co-dedicated to Ted Ballard, the man who showed me his collection of 30,000 lighters). While I was writing the book I tried to think of what Roy would do. I couldn't do it myself, but at least I tried to think of it. As I drove home from mailing the book I was regretting all the times I wrote that someone "noted" or "observed" something... when you have a lot of secondary sources, as I did, somebody is always "noting" or "observing" something in your stupid book. And that made me think of Stephen J. Pyne, a "historian of fire" I quote in the book (why did I put quotation marks around "historian of fire"? Well, it's what I call him in the book. Isn't it? [It isn't. - ed.] Are you supposed to put quotation marks around your own quotations? Yes, that seems certain enough. Who am I talking to?). I think I was so tired of "notes" and "observes" I had him "sniff" something... No, I made him "pout": "'The ancient bonds of fire tending and codes of fire-related behavior disappeared into pants pockets,' pouts fire historian Stephen J. Pyne." And that made me ashamed. And then I was sorry that I didn't make a pun based on the fact that he's named after a tree and he writes about fire. Roy would have found something funny to do with that. But it was too late. I had already mailed the book. And written the book.