Here are some pictures from the reading last Thursday. Thanks again to everyone who attended, ate my food, though not enough of it for me not to have leftovers (sigh). Interspersed with the pics are some folks' reactions to it & the novel The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription.
I'm off to get on a treadmill (sigh)... (Photos taken by Amy Paliwoda and Nebojsa Prodic)
"Bill Norrett is one of my favorite authors, having directed a couple of his plays, and seen everyone of the others! Now he's a novelist. Fantastic! A must read!"
-Denise Devin, Lead Director, ZJU Theater Group.
"I am thoroughly enjoying The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription. The writing and characters are full of wonderful (if self-deprecating) energy, so it was a special treat to see them brought to life not only by the author, but by the friends on which his characters are based. It made the reading come alive in a way the whole audience enjoyed. Seeing the characters performed by the guys who inspired them allowed those watching to see how spot-on Norrett's depictions are, while Norrett's narration of the underlying tensions and motivations showed the audience (many of whom may be familiar only with his playwriting) that he has more to offer than just snappy dialogue. It was a highly entertaining evening that left everyone excited about the new novel. My girlfriend is now nagging me to finish the book so she can read it."
-Matt DeNoto, Writer/Director, "HP +10" Webseries
"I've been excited to read this book for a while now, and after hearing Chapter Five performed live (by the very people who inspired the characters), I cannot wait! Norrett's style is not only endearing and self-deprecating, it's also smart. The sooner I get my hands on a copy of The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription, the better -- and anyone else who enjoys a fun read should feel likewise."
-Dana DeRuyck, Actress
"Bill Norrett is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I’m so glad to see the book in print."
When things aren't going well, when the work seems halting, when it doesn't seem to be coming, when it doesn't seem any good, when that work seems insufficient, when things don't go well, when I'm frustrated, when I hit an obstacle, a wall, a dead end, when I'm not sure I want to even keep trying, I will remember evenings like this, and remember how I felt supported, and I will keep going.
Thank you to those of you who helped give me that feeling, helped me instill it deep, helped me put it somewhere where I can keep it, to bring it out in times of need, and thank you forever.
PERSHING SQUARE RED LINE STATION (a "Downtown LA Playlette" in 3 acts) ACT I - INT. TICKET MACHINES (BILL, earbuds in, walks up to the ticket machine and begins to buy a ticket. A MAN, surfer-blonde hair, 62% sketchy, approaches. He holds out a gold token.) MAN: Wanna buy a token for a dollar? BILL: (takes off earbuds) No, sorry, thank you. (BILL hears the train approaching downstairs. He gets his ticket. He tries to leave, but the MAN stands in his way.) MAN: How about seventy-five cents? Fifty cents? BILL: No. MAN: Fifty cents! BILL: No. MAN: Why not? BILL: Because now I have to run. (Bill sidesteps him, and runs to catch the train.) ACT II - INT. RED LINE SUBWAY PLATFORM (BILL reaches the bottom of the stairs as the doors of the train begin to close. BILL throws his arm between the closing doors, getting it in all the way up to his bicep. He waits. The doors do not open. In the car, a teenage BOY and a middle-aged MAN watch him.) MAN: Not gonna happen. Not gonna happen. BOY: No way, sir. No way. MAN: Let it go. You gotta let it go. BOY: Let it go! (Bill tries to pull the doors open. No good. He pulls and pulls.) MAN: It's over! Let it go! BOY: Let it go! ACT III - INT. RED LINE SUBWAY CAR (BILL enters the car and leans against the opposite door. The MAN turns to look at him as the subway starts to move.) MAN: They don't open those doors, son. (BILL takes off earbuds.) BILL: What? MAN: Once they close those doors, you know, they don't open 'em back up. BILL: They just did.
In 1991, when I was a senior in college (the Internet was lurking somewhere, but not visible to me - am I still allowed to tell the story?), I walked into my friend’s dorm room. My friend sat in his easy chair, fully reclined, enjoying Led Zeppelin’s "Over the Hills and Far Away" from their seminal album "Houses of the Holy". Being the urbane snot that I was, disdainful of “classic rock” and respectful only of the synthesizers of Depeche Mode and New Order (though they weren’t as good as the Joy Division from which they had spawned), or the fresh new sound of rappers such as Slick Rick and Whodini, I reared my head back, made a face, and said, “Led Zeppelin? Ugh.”
My friend looked up from his easy chair, smiled the slight smile of someone wiser than I, and said evenly, “You’ll learn.”
Apropos of nothing, on, Friday, July 13thNPR.org posted a piece on its site written by an intern in its Music Department, Austin Cooper, entitled, "You've Never Heard Public Enemy's 'It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back'?!" The column was part of “You’ve Never Heard?”: “a recurring series in which we ask our unimaginably young interns to review classic albums they've never heard before.” I suppose NPR can’t call it “a recurring series wherein we deliberately troll the bulk of our demo, donation-paying audience,” as it would step on the bit, but that seems to be the sole purpose here (a previous entry in this same vein written by another intern was entitled, "I Never Owned Any Music To Begin With" and sought - apparently? - to justify the downloading of over 11,000 songs without payment to the artist as simply a pesky side-effect of progress).
Now. Let me be clear: I don’t blame the interns here.
I blame NPR.
Famously, George Bernard Shaw once said, "Youth is wasted on the young." To which an intern at NPR might respond, “Well, I guess Shaw was a pretty well-known and respected playwright back in the day, I mean, but that day was, like, two centuries ago, you know, so whatever. A lot of the alternative comedians I follow on Twitter just hit me a lot closer, y’know? And sure, Shaw wrote (quick Wikipedia search) Pygmalion, but Pretty Woman was a lot better and even Pretty Woman came out in, like, 1990, and She's All That is a lot better than even that.”
Now, that younger people aren’t aware of many things that came before them, and tend to dismiss the old for the new, is so moldy a notion that an NPR intern would more than likely claim to “not really get it.” I've certainly fallen victim to the same sin. I recall the day my father told me Graham Greene had died, and I replied, “The actor from Dances With Wolves?” (The look I received was withering, by the way.*) As mentioned, I have scoffed at my fair share of “old stuff” that came before me, and thus was irrelevant. There is nothing revelatory here.
*This is not to in any way impugn the career of Graham Greene, the actor, who is pretty awesome as well.
But what's the point of this series, then? Why is NPR, an institution that stands for reporting truth, that strives to get justice through the edification of America's masses, and that stands and strives for these things while reaching into America's fanny pack and taking its tax dollars, allowing its young, ambivalently-impressioned employees to expose their ignorance - and for no renumeration, besides? Surely this is not the National Public Radio mission. There are only two possibilities:
A)These interns know that by writing these columns, they’re confessing a gap in their cultural education. They know that by expressing ambivalence over a classic, groundbreaking piece of art, they’re admitting they're not really serious. They know they’re wrong, pretty much. They know they’re winking at us.
B)They don’t know.
Either possibility calls to question the wisdom of the series, and NPR as a whole. If it’s (A), why would NPR waste space with a cutsy, elbow in the ribs, muttered “We know these are just dumb kids,” trope? If it’s (B), NPR is deliberately embarrassing the youth in its charge, and needs to be held accountable.
In his piece, Cooper claims that “Nation” “leaves me...perplexed.” He avers that “Chuck D’s unvarnished vocals sit front and center in the mix” that “sounds thin” with “guitar samples that, frankly, I find cartoonish.” Cooper feels “Chuck D’s legendary flow also comes across like a caricature,” and that “given the choice, I’m going to blast Drake’s infectiously triumphant mp3s every time.” Cooper’s “experience with hip-hop is definitely limited in scope,” but he’d “still call myself a fan,” and specifically, Drake’s “Over” is “incredible. His (Drake’s) hook over that yappy guitar, the service-academy beat that drops shortly afterwards, the bells on the top-end - it’s all so viscerally pleasing.”
Basically, Drake > Public Enemy.
My first reaction was, "Maybe these right-wing nutjobs who want NPR’s funding pulled have a point. Sheesh, this kid works in the NPR Music Department? That seems equivalent to working for Major League Baseball but “not really understanding” Hank Aaron. It’s comparable to someone preferring a twenty-dollar bill to a hundred. Drake > Public Enemy strikes me as 4 > 3.16227766 squared. Why am I reading this, and how can I throw my computer across the room without damaging it?"
My second reaction was, "Wait. Put your computer down, hothead. This dude Cooper’s just an intern - he’s unpaid."
My third reaction was, "Well, then, NPR needs to re-evaluate the process by which they hire interns. But: leave the computer be."
My FOURTH reaction was, "Wait. Maybe I need to check out this Drake character."
PE’s “Nation” came out in 1988, just before I turned 19, and I was absolutely blown away by it, enraptured by the lyrics, by the brilliantly composed cacophony of it, and it changed my life, as it did millions of others, and everyone who listened immediately recognized that the album had changed the world like the introduction of fire to the cavemen or the day Ernest Hemingway decided to write about his wartime experience. I’ve listened to “Nation” approximately all the times you can listen to it. But just maybe, it wouldn’t hold up now. Despite the fact it’s regarded as one of the greatest albums ever (Ranked #48 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest), maybe “Nation” has grown stale. Maybe “Nation” had its time, and that time was over. Maybe Drake is better now.
Drake better than Public Enemy? An artist better than the rap group that pretty much changed everything? Damn; I’m in. I’d love to hear that.
So I downloaded Drake’s album “Thank Me Later”. Cooper references only the single “Over” as his favorite, so to economize the argument:
In this corner: Drake
In this corner: Public Enemy
My fifth reaction: "Mr. Cooper is, er, (coughs; sighs) misguided."
Again, the songs above are only one representative of each album. But. One song has Chuck D weaving, with barely contained ferocity, a compelling story with righteous political outrage over an aweomely fierce and dense musical structure. The other name-checks Jada Pinkett-Smith.
*This is not to in any way impugn the career of Jada Pinkett-Smith, the actor, who is pretty awesome as well.
This is already too long, but let me just say this: to call Chuck D’s flow “like a caricature” but make no reference to Drake’s auto-tune pretty much eliminates any chance at allowing one to keep a straight face.*
*For the record, I quite enjoyed “Thank Me Later” and I like Drake. His music is bouncy and intense at once and the lyrics are boastfully fun. But come on. Gimme a break, here.
Now, the crux of the review, the “one good reason” Cooper has “never listened to "Nation:
“The most recent of the bunch came out three years before I was even born!”
The exclamation point is used, I presume, to communicate not only the raising of voice but also the shaking of head and twisting of the mouth, incredulously, as if expecting someone to try to appreciate anything that came out before his birth is not only a fool’s errand but an affront. It’s as if Cooper can’t be bothered to consider that anything that came before him might be worthy. Anyone who asks is slightly ridiculous.
In fact, it is the recipients of this exclamation point who should be affronted.
But that's fine.
The vexing thing about appreciating art is, anyone’s opinion is not only valid, but somehow just by stating it, that opinion has credence. As much credence as anyone else’s opinion. And sure, in theory that’s fine. No one has to like “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” as much as “Thank Me Later”. Cooper is entitled to his opinion. But there are people out there that think The Godfather isn’t as good as Ghostbusters (for the record, I struggle with this one). There are those who think a Big Mac is as good as filet mignon. There are those who do think 4 > . 3.162277662. And these opinions are held to be totally, utterly, set in concrete, cannot be refuted, valid.
No. The only reason these opinions are valid is, these people are young. The answer is (B): they don't know.
And this is where I blame NPR. I don’t blame Cooper. He is certainly entitled to his opinion. No, the villain here is NPR. It should know better. The people guiding the ship at NPR can’t possibly think “Black Steel In the Hour of Chaos” is as good as “Over”. That's ludicrous. That's ridiculous on its face. NPR knows that allowing its interns - young, fresh, so optimistic in their sardonic dismissal of anything created before 1998 - to basically write something that argues such is merely letting its audience hear it say, “Aw, look how cute! He’ll be so embarrassed later!” The basic conceit of the series is to have something that, years from now, these interns look back and cringe, as their respective significant other sips a glass of wine, smirks, and mutters, "You sure had good taste back then."
And that’s unacceptable. It's reckless.
NPR can secretly infect us with any ideology it wants, that’s fine, I get that (and I agree with most of it, shh, don’t tell). But I don’t give National Public Radio my hard-earned tax dollars to waste my time while humiliating interns in its music department. That’s cruel.
Unless NPR really is trying to self-sabotage itself to the point where America yanks its funding.
In which case (sixth reaction), it should do the decent thing, and pull its own plug.
My only message to Mr. Cooper is, “You’ll learn.” I did. Led Zeppelin and Graham Greene kick ass. As does Public Enemy.
BILLY: ...and I dunno, it's been a good experience, no matter what.
The Stranger raises his/her glass.
STRANGER: Here's to you. Sounds terrific; I'd love to check it out. Do you have a card?
BILLY: Uh. No.
BILLY: (reaching for a napkin) Do you have a pen?
I need business cards. You spend so long worrying about getting the actual work done, you forget you're gonna need to tell people about it. I want the cards to be simple, clean. There are so many things that have nothing to do with the work and everything to do with the work. It's all work. So you treat it all like work.
Billy's voicemail - Afternoon
PRINTER: Yeah, hi, this message is for Bill. I just wanted to let you know that your business cards are ready, and you can come pick them up any time. Thanks a lot. See you soon.
I have business cards.
INT. BAR - EVENING
BILLY and a FRIEND are having a drink.
BILLY: ...and yeah. I got business cards and everything.
FRIEND: Yeah? Lemme see.
(Billy takes out a business card. He hands it to his friend, who looks at both sides.)
BILLY: What, you don't like 'em?
FRIEND: Not really.
(Billy takes a drink. Pause.)
BILLY: So what?
“I’ve never been to a reading where I didn’t want to fucking strangle the person.” -Adam (Adam Driver), “Girls” Season 1, Episode 9 “Leave Me Alone”
Hm. Interesting. A bold and respectable stance proclaimed by a character whose most notable act during the season’s arc was to urinate on his unaware girlfriend in the shower.
But. Interesting nonetheless.
Apropos of nothing, I will be reading from my novel The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription on Thursday, July 26th. The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with a bit of a cocktail hour (let’s call it a “cocktail 75 minutes”), followed by some bullshit where I put on my “cheaters” and try to enunciate while I turn printed pages on a music stand, followed by more opportunities for everyone who attends to eat and drink for free. It will end no later than 10 p.m.
The reading will take place at J.E.T. Studios, in the Streep Theater, at 5126-5130 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.
Okay. Let’s address the primary concern: that by attending this reading, you will want to murder me by wrapping something, perhaps even your bare hands, around my throat and preventing me from breathing to the point where I lose consciousness and then die.
I mean: fuck. But (shrugs).
Let’s assume - let’s grant the point of the neanderthal who pisses on people without their consent - that listening to me read from my novel will inspire these homicidal thoughts.
First of all, most of you even considering attendance know me already, and I can’t imagine anybody who already knows me not having wanted to strangle me at some point. So looking at it glass-half-full, you’ll be experiencing a familiar feeling. You're used to suppressing that shit. I mean, I'm still here, aren't I? The few of you who are unfamiliar with me are probably experiencing the feeling reading this. So again, familiarity, all that.
You’re welcome. Besides, if you do feel the wish to strangle me - bring it on. I know karate.
Did I mention there’d be food? I did. Well, some of that food will include my famous macaroni & cheese. That’s worth enduring twenty minutes of me reading aloud, isn’t it?
Did I mention there’d be drink? I did. Well, some of that drink will be alcoholic in nature. Again, not only worth enduring the reading aloud stuff, but an excellent way to help you endure it. Eh?
Did I mention the reading will have its little quirks? I didn’t? Well, it will. I’m not gonna go out and proclaim anyone will be shocked and amazed, it's not on the level of "Luke, I'm your father," or Villanova/Georgetown 1985, but there’s a pleasant little surprise or two...
Did I mention the cost to you? I did not. That’s because there is no cost to you. If you want to attend the reading, it’s free. Now, if you wanted to purchase a copy of the book, well, yeah, that’s $14.99 plus tax. I will have copies of the book there, I will be taking cash or credit cards, if one wanted to buy a copy. But that’s neither here nor there.
If you’re up for showing some support, eating some food, or getting off on wanting to kill me - and again (motions with wiggling fingers) bring it; you feel strong? - I’d love it if you were able to attend. Check out the Facebook event and “join”.
(raps Facebook on wall) Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/events/318740431544323/
AMERICA unlocks the front door and enters the house with HUSBAND. They are in mid-conversation.
AMERICA: ...just don't understand why they feel they need to re-make Spiderman every year... She enters the living room. SOMEONE turns on the lights. A room full of EVERYONE wearing party hats, drinking champagne. EVERYONE CHEERS.
EVERYONE: (shouting) Surprise!! Everyone CHEERS and BLOWS their HORN before launching into "Happy Birthday". When the song is finished:
SOMEONE: Speech! Speech!
AMERICA: Uh, no, that's okay. Thanks. Thanks very much. No. Just enjoy yourselves.
SOMEONE: Are you surprised?
AMERICA: Am I surprised? Pause
No. No, I'm not surprised. I mean, it's the same thing every year. I know this is coming when kids starting shooting off stray bottle rockets the weekend before and all the patio furniture goes on sale. "Am I surprised?" (sniffs) Please. An uncomfortable pause. SOMEONE brings out a cake. The cake is in the shape of the United States of America, states’ boundaries and all, with 236 candles melting on top. AMERICA stares at it.
AMERICA: (counting) 236. You got 'em all. That's real funny.
SOMEONE: Make a wi-!
AMERICA: (interrupting) I know how it works. AMERICA thinks, then blows out the candles on the first try. EVERYONE CHEERS.
AMERICA: (mock waving fists) Yeah. Yay. Ya-ayy!
SOMEONE: What'd you wish for?
SOMEONE ELSE: Don't say it; it won't come true! Some scattered laughter/random chatter.
AMERICA: (muttering) ...It isn't coming true anyway. You wanna know what I want for my birthday?
EVERYONE: Ya-ayy-what? Pause.
SOMEONE: New onyx?
HUSBAND: Honey. Pause.
SOMEONE: Does that come in large? Some CHUCKLE until America stares them silent.
AMERICA: No, it doesn't come in large. That's the point. Everything around here has to be large. Everything has to be big. Everything has to be one way or the other. Black or white. All or nothing. "America's the best country in the world." To us, maybe. The thing is, that's fine - it doesn't have to be the best to everyone..."America's the worst. America’s evil..." Compared to what? You been to a Spanish League soccer match lately? Ever been to Bangladesh? You realize how stupid saying that is? Long pause. SOMEONE starts singing "The Star-Spangled Banner".
AMERICA: (cuts him off) Stop it. Don't try to distract me. You know though, that dude, Francis Scott Key, that dude's cousin once said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." You guys ever hear of that? Long pause. SOMEONE starts singing "The Star-Spangled Banner".
AMERICA: Shut. Up. "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time..." Well, think of that the next time you think that I don't work anymore, that I'm not what I used to be, that I’m always wrong, that I'm going straight to hell in a handcart. Because around here now, anyone holds two opposing ideas in their mind at once, they're considered insane. They're considered a "socialist" or a "RINO" or a “pinko” or a "wingnut" or whatever. That's backwards. Pause.
Two ideas at once. Two. At once. It isn't rocket science. Like, there can be freedom for all while also taking care of one other. Like, we can all try to make money while at the same time being held to account if we're dishonest about it. Like, I don't like what you're saying but I still like you. Like, you having to stay out of my face means I also have to stay out of your face. Like, nobody in their right mind lives their life based on a frickin' novel, whether that novel was written two thousand years ago or fifty years ago. Like, the guys who started me were great but they didn't know every goddamn thing. Pause.
By the way, those guys - stop speaking for them. You don’t know them. They were white dudes in 1776. If they showed up today, you’d knock them straight on their ass if you dialed up Nicki Minaj on YouTube. And chances are, after they got up, they wouldn’t have hung out with any of you. You think they wouldn't have been able to adapt to things today? That's the whole point of this thing to begin with. I think John Adams would’ve been appalled at the prospect of people going bankrupt because they had a ruptured appendix. I’d be willing to bet that Roger Williams would’ve recognized that in 2012, open borders aren’t sustainable. I think Thomas Jefferson would’ve shrugged his shoulders at Anderson Cooper and Neil Patrick Harris getting married. They were smart guys. Who knew nuance. That’s what the goddamn document they signed fucking screams for. Nuance. Pause.
So that's what I want this year. For my birthday, this year. Some goddamned nuance. Pause. And, some peace and quiet. 'Cause the next four months... Sighs.
My God. I can't take it. I'm serious. You need to check yourselves. Blowing your horns - yeah, that's right. Knock it off. You shout that you love me? You pound your chest and scream I'm the best? Show me the 364 days you're not shoving a hot dog in your face. You think I'm terrible? You think I do nothing right? Those are fucking words. Fix it the 364 days you're not whining about what's wrong. You guys, it’s like you’re middle linebackers before you’re football players. Pause.
I didn't ask for a day. I didn't ask for a party. I ask that you keep it down and you keep it clean around here. Okay? Pause.
EVERYONE: (uncertain) Okay.
AMERICA: Okay. Now who wants some cake? Is this coconut?
Hey, just so you know (if you didn't already) - writing a novel is a bitch. It's day after day of staring at your boots, trudging forward, obsessing over commas, and berating yourself for having the hubris to think you could do such a stupid thing. But while you’re doing it, most everyone who hears about the task is supportive. You get the respect of someone who's announced he's climbing a mountain, running a marathon, or putting a deck onto their house. Then you put it out there, and things get a little trickier.
People mean well. But “support” can be a tricky thing. These are the Top 22 “supportive” things I heard the day The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription was officially put into the world. An artist can experience the high of accomplishment with the low of irrelevance within the span of a co-worker's offhand remark.
1. "Do I get a discount?"
2. "Is it available on Kindle?"
3. "Is this worth it?"
4. "Why isn't it available on Kindle?"
5. "Is it going to be a movie?"
6. "Twelve bucks?! You gotta be kidding me! (pause) C'mon, I was kidding. (pause) Stop staring at me."
7. "WHEN will it be available on Kindle?"
8. (holding book in hand) "Wow. This seems like a lot of work."
9. "Is it any good?" 10. (holding book in hand) "How many pages is it? (listens) Really? Wow."
11. “This isn’t the one you wanted to write, though, right?"
12. "Is it funny?"
13. "Congratulations! I don't really read much..."
14. "Is this gonna be anything like the plays you write?"
15. "How much money do you get off each copy? (hears answer) That's it?"
16. "I read somewhere the average book in America sells only 500 copies."
17. (overheard, a co-worker on the phone with her friend) "Yeah...Right...So I'll buy it for you, you read it, and then you critique it so I can tell him."
18. "A novel? What's next - you gonna get a job at a newspaper?"
19. "You think this is gonna get you laid? 'Cause it won't."
20. "Can you imagine how many copies Stephen King sells on the first day he releases a book?"
21. "How much money have you invested to put this out? I mean, not even including all the actual work you did. (listens) What, is that a rude question?"
22. "Wow, you seem pretty happy. Write another one so you stay like this."
I'll start doing this too...even though every time I spend more than two minutes trying to come up with something to put online, the dominatrix in my brain, a lithe raven-haired beauty dressed in black patent leather, cleavage gaping, digs her boot heel into my skull, snaps the cat o' nine tails against my left ear, and commands, "Back to real writing, wretch. Back to real writing."
I write plays. I write scripts. Now, I write novels. Blogging seems like scribbling in wet cement...
But when in Rome...And the Internet is Rome. So until Rome burns because some 13 year-old boy figures out how to kidnap the web 'cause he wants to impress some girl in pre-Algebra class...I'll toe the line. Put some stuff up here. Try to build a voice...
This is the cover of the novel I'm publishing. This will be available for purchase on Tuesday, July 24th. Here is a brief description:
"Sean Harrigan's a writer on the fringe of Hollywood, stuck in two relationships going nowhere: one with his girlfriend and one with his improv troupe, The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription. When movie star Finn Brooks, the former fifth Gigolo, enlists his help in dealing with a blackmailer, Sean must use his improv skills in ways he's never imagined, in a plot that isn't what it appears. Soon enough, Sean is faced with choices about how far he's willing to stray from his troupe in order to help a successful friend who's burned him before."
I hope this intrigues you enough to purchase the novel. Use the links on the right over there, or click through on the "Store" page to get your hands on a copy or get your eReader's "hands" on a digital copy. Take a look around the site and get a sense of what it's about, too.