This is not my beautiful house

Hi all.

I just got done watching Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s press conference, where she issued a “Stay at home” order to Harris County starting at midnight tonight. I had been expecting it for days, even before my sister and I changed our tickets to optimistically fly back to New York on the 28th. Now, it looks like we’re here for the duration.

I’ve said that phrase to so many people over the last few days - from at least six feet away, don’t worry. I’ve said it to people while walking Barnaby, I’ve said it to one of my clients as we did a not-at-all-shady exchange of quarantine goods in the parking lot of a (closed) IKEA. People have said it to me, as in “Are you here for the duration?”

How long is the duration? How long will I be here for? How long will *any* of us be here for? How long will we be inside our homes? It’s the uncertainty more than anything that is stressing me out. The uncertainty is stressing all of us out, I think, and I know it’s just going to get worse before it gets better. How do you plan for the duration when you don’t know what it is?

To keep my spirits marginally up, I’ve been cultivating some hopes for the future. Since we don’t know what the world will be like after this, why not imagine the best version and figure out a way to make it happen? I’ve also been trying to keep some semblance of my daily routine going, the way everyone has been recommending.

I think the think that has been weirding me out the most is that I’ve been worried about the coronavirus for what feels like months. For at least a couple of weeks before we came to Houston for the funeral I’d been buying a little extra every time I went to the grocery store. At home in Brooklyn our cupboards are full of pasta and rice and beans and the freezer has veggies and meat in it. We have toilet paper and hand soap and two bottles of hand sanitizer. When I imagined what daily life would be like under the stay-at-home order, I imagined the apartment my sister and I live in.

Now I’m at my parent’s house, and it’s weird! I hadn’t thought about this. The vision of quarantine I had didn’t involve a pullout couch and someone else’s fridge. I’m glad I’m here (and lord knows I’m saving money here) but it’s weird, and hard to settle into.

Not a ton of takeaways from this newsletter this week. Publishers are still buying books. I can still go for a walk with my dog outside. I’ve taken up running. This is not my beautiful house, but it’s beautiful in its own way, and I’m glad that I can be with the people I love most. Even if it wasn’t the plan.


Client News

I had three books come out in the last month or so: GET A GRIP, VIVY COHEN! by Sarah Kapit, DOCILE by K.M. Szpara, and THE ORACLE CODE by Marieke Nijkamp. Check those out if you want some reading, as a treat.

Two pieces from client Elyse Martin: "For the Love of Footnotes: When Fantasy Fiction Gets Nerdy” on, and “A Book of Medieval Italian Sex Stories Can Help Us Get Through The Pandemic” on Electric Lit.

This Week In Hockey

Sports are cancelled!

ECHL Players Left in Financial Lurch After Season’s Abrupt Cancellation by Alex Prewitt (Sports Illustrated)
Far from the chartered flights and five-star hotels enjoyed by NHLers on a regular basis, normal life in the ECHL is stressful enough. Players effectively exist on day-to-day contracts, capable of getting waived at a moment’s notice without any fiscal safety net. They receive housing and utilities stipends through their teams, which certainly helps defray costs. But even the richest deals only draw around $25,000 for a 26-week season, or less than double the weekly salary cap ($13,300) for a 20-player roster. “These guys are barely getting by,” one ECHL team executive says, “but they play because they’re chasing their dream.”

How Sidney Crosby has helped grow girl’s hockey in North America by Stephen J. Nesbitt (The Athletic).
Crosby is no stranger to this topic. His sister played college hockey at Northeastern and St. Cloud State. Taylor was a goalie. Her bio casually stated: “Older brother Sidney also plays hockey.” But before that, when Taylor was in high school, she said something that stuck with her mother, Trina. “(Taylor) said, ‘Next year is my senior year, and then hopefully after that I’ll go to college. And then there’s nothing else. What am I going to do?’” Trina told the CBC in 2013. “I had never considered it.”


Anatomy of a song: How The Witcher earworm “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” was made by Sydney Bucksbaum (Entertaiment Weekly)
"Toss a coin to your Witcher! Oh valley of plenty, oh valley of plenty, ohhhh. Toss a coin to your Witcher, a friend of humanity!"

Down Time: How To Do Nothing Author Jenny Odell on Live Eagle Cams Interviewed by Hazel Cills (Jezebel)
”I think there’s this thing that happens when you’re working a lot and you’re just constantly refreshing Twitter, there’s this weird mix of urgency but also time seems like it’s stopped. Now one of the tabs in my browser is always a bird cam. If you’re a person who compulsively checks things too, it’s something else to check, and it’s something that’s actually worth checking. It’s an example of a form of technology that’s actually really amazing and magical.”

“Severance” predicted the slow-burn performance of our pandemic by Hilary Kelly (The Cut)
But in Severance, the destruction of society isn’t wrought over the course of a few days or in the instant of a nuclear event. It’s a slow roll of disaster, like an IV bag full of diluted poison that metes out its contents drip by drip.


This has been A Faster No, a weekly dispatch on publishing, writing, books, and beyond. This is a free post, but if you’d like to support the newsletter and get exclusive content, paid subscriptions are available for $5/month or $50/year. Feel free to forward.