... as Leo would put it: the latest Triangulations anthology, End of the Rainbow, is now available for purchase at Amazon, among other places. In addition to my story "Talking Blues" it contains pieces by Peter S. Beagle, Cat Rambo, and a drunkenly generous baker's dozen of other great writers.
There's not much to say about this story, except that it illustrates the importance of a good editor. I always knew this piece was ten pounds of story in a five-pound bag, but I could never decide exactly what to take out; with just two paragraphs of comments, the book's assistant editor Jamie Lackey helped me figure it out. Here's the opening from "Talking Blues":
"Don't you know where those are from?"
I paused, glanced down at the cardboard crate that held the grapes I was about to pick up. It had a grinning cartoon devil on it and the words PRODUCT OF HELL.
Half-shrugging I turned away. Half the things on the shelves had that sticker on them, and if they didn't odds were they had an ingredient or two from there.
She put her hand on my shoulder. "They have grapes grown here, you know. Organic."
I turned back to her, spread my arms so she could see the threadbare coat I was trying to make last another winter. "Do I look like I can afford anything organic, artisanal or locally made to you?" I asked.
Miss Ethics was undeterred. "You shouldn't buy them at all then," she said.
"Listen," I said, "if you want to pay ten dollars a pound for moldy grapes that's your business, but leave me alone, okay?" She wasn't the first person I'd heard this routine from, and I'm sure I wasn't the first person she'd said it to. Every now and then there was a fuss about all the cheap imports that came from Hell, but the boycott had never really caught on. Most people didn't much mind where the things they bought came from so long as they were good and cheap, so every time the people that made them started asking for better pay or anything like that the factories just moved -- from Mexico to Thailand, Vietnam to China and finally to Hell, where nobody ever asked for a break or a raise. It wasn't like the SAY NO TO LIMBO campaign, anyway, with all those pictures of the unbaptized babies hooking rugs. I mean, people go to Hell because they deserve it, right?