On this day in 1921, a General Motors engineer, Thomas Midgeley Jr., discovered that when he added tetraethyl lead to gasoline it eliminated undesirable knocks and pings from an internal combustion engine; and so the lives of millions were forever altered when vast, incalculable amounts of the deadly poison lead was loosed into the environment over the next sixty years … a holocaust.
And for the third year in a row, on the first of December (the deadline day), I’ve submitted a pair of short stories and a brief description of writing plans to the Wallace Stegner Fellowship based at Stanford University. With roughly 1,500 writers making application for five seats in fiction and five in poetry, I hope but do not expect to win. I am, however, well pleased to contribute sixty dollars to help support whoever does win, and applying for the Stegner offers a meaningful opportunity to inspect my progress as a writer over the year.
I was in San Francisco recently to do some book shopping and ambient audio recording. I spent a total of six hours in the City Lights Bookstore and Alexander’s Books combined and purchased sixteen collections of short fiction: