Here with his permission are excerpts from his recent letter:
Have just finished the novel. Thoroughly enjoyable. One of the things I like most is the reality of the characters and their lives. What you've written is a sort of mystery thriller but with real people. Most thrillers are made up of types, not people. In your book, just where one expects the type-casting to take over, the people instead do something quite recognizable and quite human.
I really liked the passage describing the childhood neighborhood, how unfinished it was, the woods and creek and wilderness all around, the empty lots ready for houses but with no houses. This was my childhood, before everything got built up, a wonderful time of free play in the wide world, and I miss it.
The novel is really about the society of these people, their relations and doings. You follow up all the lives. You've imagined a whole gallery of interesting people, and their lives proceed the way real people's lives do, not according to some formulaic approach. I think Kay Kay probably touches me as much as anyone, the way people's cruelty and thoughtlessness damages an already frail psyche.
I really like the humanity of Jim Bright, the spunky no-nonsense of Alex.
Sometimes the rightwingers try to portray cops as noble knights on a crusade to make the world safer, but I've never met such a cop. Why is it we are expected to give the rightwingers and hate-filled assholes and bullies a by on human decency? There's a lot of complaining about demonization of cops, but hey, if you don't want that stuff, maybe you should take a look at the typical cop out there. Maybe there's a few decent ones, but the assholes and bullies way outnumber them. The job attracts violent and stupid people who want to wave a gun around.
You have a wonderful memory for detail and actuality, the textures of actual life. The world you create is rich and absolutely real to me, inhabited by breathing beings, proceeding in that complicated unsummarizable and indescribable yet somehow completely simple way that existence itself has.
I love the history of the bar, the account of the riot, the fates of the queens, all of it. Hell of a story.
I left out all of his suggestions for changes. There were a few, and I'll definitely take note. I've now started on what I hope will be the final rewrite. I hope this little teaser has stirred up enough interest that you'll get all excited when it's finally finished.
BTW - I haven't decided on a title yet.