It was ten years ago, so the writing prodigy James Adler, an Austrailian, must have been but thirteen years old when he wrote me, having read and loved my Driftless trilogy. He asked what I was writing and I told him about the little novels and he asked to see them and I sent him Kramberger with Monkey and Voices After Evelyn and Skulls of Istria and Adriatica Deserta, all in word format. He replied about a month later and said they were all good enough, but when was I going to write something big? That got my hackles up–I recall we had an exchange about hackles, what they were, when they had been imported to Australia and the fact that they caused more havoc on that big island than cane toads–when to establish his credentials–he was now 14, he sent me a novel he had crafted himself, a drawing of a middle aged woman on a telephone on a cover of a novel, typed, called It’s Danny. It was about a phone call a family received from the troubled and disruptive Danny, and was a masterpiece of dark comedy. I was utterly amazed. I asked if he had sent it out and he told me had absolutely no interest in writing for anyone but his friends and would never sully himself by publishing. Since then I have read at least five of his novels, all of them masterpieces, particularly Your Ape, a novel of 600 or more pages of a complexity that I cannot begin to describe but rivals Pynchon at the very least in its jubilance, sinister atmosphere, and extraordinary wordplay, not to mention many extended comic scenes that remain imprinted on my brain as if I had lived through them. So during the course of our correspondence an idea was born, I can’t say specifically how, that I write something big, and thus The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas was born, and with some ideas from the young Adler sprinkled in, executed to the point where it has become my best work of fiction.
James Adler will not send me a photo, nor do I have his permission to write this, but I think deep down he will appreciate this. I owe the resurrection of my writing career to this young man.