Read, then Read Again

It was a Long Time Ago in a City Far, Far Away

By the time this is printed Trish and I will have celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. It’s hard to believe that fifteen years ago we had just driven a rented Buick back from Las Vegas and officially became husband and wife. I was a mere twenty eight years old at the time, and while I don’t feel any older, if I look closely in the mirror there are some telltale signs of the passage of time.

Marriage is not an institution I had envisioned for myself, but that was before I met Trish. After that I felt I had to be with her, and luckily for me she felt the same way. Trish has given me much—love, a house, a life, some really terrific sex, and much more. She basically grandfathered me into the Chico music scene and introduced me to some of the best musicians in town. She also restored in me a love of reading. Trish is the single most avid reader I have ever met. Our house is a veritable library and she cherishes her books, reading some of them over and over again. I read a lot when I was a kid, but as soon as puberty hit the burden of homework and sports conspired to sap me of the energy and desire to read. College only confirmed my anti-reading bias as hours not spent studying were consumed surfing or smoking weed. I didn’t pick it up again until I moved in with my wife.

Now I read regularly, daily. I get through a good couple of dozen titles a year and I am a better writer, and maybe even a better person for it.

Inherent Vice

I recently re-read Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice. The first time I read it was a few years back. I love private investigator stories and found the title in the ARC thrift store. It looked right up my alley, but I was unfamiliar with Pynchon’s writing. I soon found myself in over my head. After a few pages I realized this was not your straight-up detective thriller. Still I plowed through it, feeling mentally confused and exhausted, and congratulated myself at the end like a not particularly competent runner might congratulate themselves after wheezing and stumbling through a half-marathon. Then I heard they were making a movie out of it and I was stumped. I hadn’t even been able to discern the plot. I decided I had better re-read the book.

I did and it was as if a heavy fog had lifted. The second time through the characters I could barely remember and the imagery that worked to obscure the plot blended seamlessly into a sublime story that expertly rides on the border between the necessary order of story construction and the untethered chaos of psychedelic imagery.


A friend of mine went and saw the film and told me he loved it—then a client of mine told me her sister had viewed it and told her it was: “the worst movie I’ve ever seen.” To me that is an endorsement. Anything everyone likes I’m generally not interested in—but if a lot of people hate it and a few people love it, well sign me up.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.