Q & A With Ken Layne On His Book ‘Dignity’

  wonkette world o' books

Old table not included.Yes, the headline is correct: Wonkette editor-in-chief Ken Layne has finally published his second novel. He has also spoken about it with your book reviewer, via Gmail chat. Oh, and Layne is making good on his vow to leave his typing desk at Wonkette again, which will be the third time in five years. What is this book about? What is happening with your Wonkette? Presumably, you all have a lot of questions about this. I certainly did, and they’re answered after the jump. PLUS, stuff about Bob Dylan and The Lorax!

Composed as a collection of letters from a character called “N,” Dignity is set in the ruined housing tracts and bountiful desert of the American Southwest. The housing crisis has emptied the subdivisions, and the economic collapse has filled the cities with chaos and despair.

As Layne writes:

Like villagers in a medieval town visited by the Black Death, the Californians were huddling together in terror, burying their dead, and doubtful they could care for more young. The long Western boom had staggered to a halt.

In the midst of this apocalypse, a few resourceful people form self-reliant desert communities in their region’s foreclosed houses and abandoned strip malls. From the shells of this collapsing civilization comes a new way of life: The citizens of these new communities grow their food, school their children, create art, take long walks through their gardens and the surrounding wilderness, and enjoy a sane and balanced relationship with their natural surroundings, themselves and each other.

 
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After the exodus to escape persecution in the city, the communities find they’ve been followed into the exurban ghost towns. As the mysterious character “B” says: “In their sickness, they will strike out at those in good health.”

Greer Mansfield:  This question might be a bit dumb/obvious, but what the hell: Is Dignity your vision of present-day America, or a semi-prophecy about what’s to come?

Ken Layne: The book spans 13 years. And the timeline of the narrative — which is intentionally disjointed, because it is told in a collection of undated letters found long after the events described — begins at an inexact point in our current economic/national collapse.

But in 2008 I began writing a regular column/essay about the Mojave Desert for Los Angeles CityBeat, and I spent a lot of time prowling the abandoned housing developments. Lehman Brothers’ last big tract was close to where I lived at the time — “close” being a relative word in the expanse of the American Desert. (It was about 40 miles away but visible from a mountain behind the place I used to live.)

Dignity, by Ken LayneGM: It’s always seemed like effect of the housing/economic collapse on the culture and land of the Southwest is one of your Big Subjects. Do you think the housing crisis more or less ended a particular way of life?

KL: Yes. And we are only about a fourth of the way there, as far as the eventual change to the Southwest’s cycle of property booms, suburban and exurban rings, driving 80 miles a day to work and back, etc. So if there’s any prophecy in the book, it’s in the view of things a few years out from today. But there’s no need for dystopian fantasy because the situation is intensely weird and very depressing right now.

GM: That’s actually one of the most interesting things about the book. It’s not dystopian so much as utopian, in some ways. The self-sufficient gardening/meaningful work/contemplation communities that grow out of the wreckage in Dignity sound pretty appealing, I mean. How close are the fictional communities to your personal ideal society?

KL: Well, they are my ideal, not in a utopian sense but in a realistic “there’s nothing stopping this from happening today” sense. What are we waiting for? Housing prices aren’t going to turn around, good jobs aren’t coming back, schools won’t get better, and what little money you have is eaten up by inflationary pricing of fuel and food. What’s the point? There is no point. It’s just motion and desperation.

And in the time since I finished this book — while it went through editing and revisions and got to this final incarnation — it has become increasingly clear that government and industry are decoupling from the discarded masses of unnecessary and increasingly unemployed citizens. This is happening much more rapidly than I expected. Of course there will be pullbacks, but the pullbacks will be minimal and the end result seems to be something more like the decentralized government and intense poverty of India today rather than the stable Western Europe of the late 20th Century.

And that means most of us will be utterly on our own.

GM:  Fancy. Would you say Edward Abbey is an influence on the book? While he’s very different from you in some ways, I found myself thinking of him throughout. There’s even an allusion to his famous culture vs. civilization line (or so I thought).

KL: Yes, that line was quoted from Abbey — from memory, so I don’t know how much I reinterpreted it. But the argument that we must either take everything from industrial technological capitalist society or we get nothing at all, that has always sounded like insanity to me.

As for Abbey in general, I have loved his writing more than the work of nearly anyone else in American literature. But I also have no real interest in his style, which to me is of a very particular and very dated egocentric male narrative voice. Abbey’s books are kind of like the Old Testament, in that way: crucial, influential, still very important, but not anything anyone should try to imitate.

GM: Interesting. He is a very “male” writer, I guess you could say

KL: Like Hunter Thompson’s style, it is a style that is conducive to blogging, which I share some of the blame for spreading around the Internet. And I worked very hard on this new book to wash all of that away from my own writing. One thing we certainly don’t need in 2011 is more ego. It would be satisfying if Dignity turned up in 15 or 20 years as some lost bit of text rescued from the last Kindle, and slapped with some half-remembered name from the fading past. “Palin,” maybe.

GM: That brings me to my next question: you’ve never made it a secret that you don’t really ENJOY writing about ephemeral DC nonsense. Do you see any distinction between your blog-writing and your novels?

KL: I see a stark difference now, but it has taken more than a dozen years to get there. (I started writing full-time for Internet magazines in 1997, and sold my first novel in 2000 — both after a decade in “straight journalism” — so the blogging and fiction writing have been fighting each other from the beginning.) Dignity is the first thing I’ve written that I’ve been able to read again in published form and not just cringe and curse. Not that I don’t see things I wish I would’ve done a little better ….

GM: I hear what you’re saying (I look at my stuff and cringe and curse), but I would love a book collection of your columns from over time (Tabloid.net, etc.) even though I understand that’s not where you’re AT right now. Anyway … when do we get to read your California coast travelogue?

KL: It is a mystery. The imprint that contracted me to write The Left Coast went under in early 2010, and both the book and its ostensible editor moved to the mothership publishing house. I turned in a first draft in February 2010 and they just ignored it for an entire year, which I guess is somewhat common in these situations. I’m working on a very different version of it now, because there’s another book entirely within my 100,000 words of notes from that months-long hike up the California coast and through its economically devastated coastal cities and accidentally preserved natural areas. This will be a story that closely fits the approach taken in Dignity, assuming the coastal hike book is ever published. (Never assume anything!)

But I’ve never had any luck with publishing companies. Nobody has, really — discounting the handful of Famous Bestselling Authors you read about in the NYT. It occurred to me, a few weeks ago, that I personally know about forty people who have sold books to big or medium-sized publishers, and their experiences are all the same: Long after you’ve written it and long after you’ve spent the advance on food and rent, a forgotten little bundle of words with an inscrutable cover is released in the night, you might do a few readings in empty Barnes & Noble stores on a weekday, and then four or five years later you still can’t get a simple accounting record. Very few writers will mourn the end of the New York Publishing Industry.

GM: I wouldn’t doubt it. That brings me to another thing I wanted to ask about Dignity: Is titling your book after an abstract noun a response to that Franzen book everyone was so excited about? Not specifically TO that book, but to America in its indignity? I mean, we hear very little about “dignity” in the public discourse unless people are simply equating it to not doing immoral sex things. We hear a lot about freedom, faith, godliness, family values, responsibility. But never dignity.

Basically, I guess I’m asking you if you think our culture is lacking in Dignity. And why is Dignity so important? What’s so magic about “dignity?”

KL: The kind of fiction [Jonathan Franzen] writes is not really my thing. I’m not interested in the pointlessly complicated lives of wealthy yuppies or whatever.

GM: Hear, hear.

KL: The title is actually borrowed from a Bob Dylan song — a leftover song from a late 1980s album that was performed live for a televised concert. And it’s a very buoyant song that nonetheless captures the grave lack of dignity in our American culture.

GM: Which Dylan albums are your favorites? Or is it a “different album for different atmosphere” kind of thing?

KL: They change with the years. My six-year-old son really loves John Wesley Harding right now, so we hear that a lot. The ones I listen to most often these days are Modern Times and Love and Theft.

GM:: Really liked those two recent ones. And JWH is amazing. One of my favorites.

KL: But the wider question about dignity is this: Why do we seem so able to recognize it from afar — in the Arab Spring protests, at Tiananmen Square, through the lens of the past to Selma and to Malcolm X and Chavez — and yet we live such tawdry, cheap lives?

Why not have dignity today, for ourselves? We don’t need to wait for a Gandhi or Bobby Seale for this. You wake up, regardless of your circumstances, and you have a pretty open book. You can turn on the teevee and have some people yell at you, and then get in the car and have people yell at you, and then feel bad all the time, and then come home and flop on the couch or in front of the computer, and eat fast food that you know is rotting you away, and then go to bed exhausted and depressed and repeat until death …. or you could not do any of those things, because you’re going to choose personal dignity instead.

GM: … which is probably a good segue into this “leaving the Internet” business.

KL: Haha, yes. In one sense, I’m not “leaving the Internet” at all. I will still listen to Pandora stations and my classical station online because the signal doesn’t reach out here. Online bill pay, Google maps, that’s all fine with me.

But I started at Gawker Media at the beginning of 2005, and have been working for Wonkette since 2006 — originally as a “guest editor” with the heroic Alex Pareene. And that somehow turned into six years of my life. As I get older, it’s harder to justify losing six years typing about gross people you wouldn’t otherwise give any thought. I am trying to learn, finally, from the many Wonkette writers and editors who figured out that two years of this is quite enough.

It has been fun, but I’ve also mostly just wanted work to be over, so I could do “real writing.” And that never happens unless you take a lot of time off, because otherwise your work writing uses up all your potential real writing juice. And then one day you’re old, and then shortly after that, you die. Is that cheery enough, Greer?

GM: It’s all very TRUE. I have a feeling some of the readers will have a hard time stomaching it, though.

KL: Well, they know it’s true, too. We have a remarkable ability to know exactly what things we’re doing are harmful to us …. and then we keep doing those things, until we decide to stop.

For anyone who feels this Internet emptiness chewing at them, I would say, do a little test. Go outside and take a 15-minute walk — around the block, through the park, just a short walk. While you’re doing this, clear your mind of work and of home. Just look at things, birds and cars and trees and the clouds and buildings and dumpsters, and when you think of something internal just say “thinking” to yourself and go back to walking and breathing. Then return to your computer. Do the usual things you do on your computer, like check the news and your email and the blogs you read and whatever people post on Facebook and Twitter.

Do this second part, the computer-looking-at, for just 15 minutes. You can set one of those web timers … hang on, I have one in my bookmarks.

When this stopwatch beeps, honestly ask yourself how you feel. Compare this to how you felt at the end of your 15-minute walk. Ask yourself what, if anything, you learned during those 15 minutes of wasting time on the Internet. Did it help you in some way? Are you better off? This is a question often asked by political challengers: Are you better off than __ years ago? Well, are you better off than fifteen minutes ago? If not, don’t re-elect the Internet.

GM: That’s a slogan for our time!

KL: Yeah, a Cafe Press t-shirt!

Anyway, the answer is almost certainly going to be No, you’re not better off. But you’re going to be agitated now, both restless and slothful, and you’re either going to feel something negative about somebody you don’t even know or you’re going to want something you don’t need, because you’ve been bombarded with advertising the whole time, even in the corner of your vision while reading your gmail.

GM: Are you going to still have some kind of Web presence? Occasional posts on your personal website, etc?

KL: First, I should make clear that Wonkette will be in very good hands with Wonkette Junior. Wonkette Jr. is legion. And besides making an occasional appearance here, I’ll do an occasional blog thing on my Amazon author page and the GoodReads.com author page. And I am hoping to have two regular things I’ll be writing on other sites, but not about politics. Anyone who actually reads my posts on Wonkette will not be surprised by the topics that actually interest me, because I’ve never been very good at keeping them out of posts about Katie Couric or Rick Perry or the Tea Party or whatever.

GM: Indeed. What are these two regular things?

KL: I can’t say yet, because we are negotiating. As always, I need a certain amount of these Ameros to feed my children organic cheese and pay my nine-dollar Netflix subscription we have in lieu of cable or satellite. (The kids in this household are allowed one hour of DVD or Netflix per night, as long as I’ve approved the movie. They’ve got The Lorax on DVD loan right now.)

GM: Good old Lorax.

KL: “I am the Lorax! I speak for the Trees!” It is a wonderful book. The cartoon version is dated by the groovy late 1960s Hollywood studio band soundtrack, but it’s still all right. But I’ll post the links to these new columns here on Wonkette shortly, or maybe I’ll post them on my own site. Meanwhile, if the good Wonkette people would like to support this weird path I am taking, I am not ashamed to say “buy my book.” (In paperback now, too.)

GM: Oh yes, BUY the book, kids! So you won’t be living exclusively from book sales?

KL: Haha, that depends on if I win the lottery! But I’ll have another novel out by the end of the year and another one after that, probably next spring. And The Left Coast will hopefully be published, eventually.

GM: So you’re strictly a novelist now. No plans for a memoir about your days in Central Europe or in the SoCal roots rock scene?

KL: Haha, no. I’m just not interested enough in trying to reconstruct my past into art. Maybe in 30 years, when I’m in my 70s, and leading a revolutionary brigade to get Medicare.

GM: Well, I think that’s a wrap

KL: Good! I have to take this dog for his lunchtime hike. I can tell he’s ready, from the terrible bored sighs coming from the vicinity of the sofa.

Dignity by Ken Layne, Elora Peak Press, 164 pages, $4.99 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble and iBooks. Trade paperback edition available now for $7.99.

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182 comments

  1. pinkocommi

    In a world where people are losing their jobs and homes, and politicians are brought down for tweeting pictures of their cock, Dignity is indeed fiction.

  2. KeepFnThatChicken

    Auf wiedesehen, Ken. Come toward Ken-Tenn and we'll do some hiking at LBL… and I won't carry any caltrops. Promise.

    1. Ken Layne

      That sounds like a good idea. You may have noticed my people are well represented on the Kentucky side of that border. Even had a Governor Layne, once, sort of … but most of us were simple hillbillies.

  3. Oblios_Cap

    If you can just but me a few more years things will be better, Ken. I've almost perfected my new "psychohistory".

  4. Weenus299

    But yeah, you rock Ken. Best wishes. Google Green Revolver, please, look it up on Amazon, and show it to somebody you hate.

  5. tymberwolf817

    Interesting. I also wouldn't be surprised if the economic clusterf*ck breeds "post apocalyptic utopianism" as a new genre featuring societies that look like socialism and anarchism had a baby.

    Congrats, Ken, and thanks again for your Wonkette tenure.

  6. bureaucrap

    We're going to miss you, but it does raise the important question — Who's going to mind the store? Is this so called "Wonkette Jr" (who I'm pretty sure is Sorosbot) taking over? Or do you just leave the last story, "So Long and Thanks for All the Fish" open ad infinitum? And what happens to all our p-points? Can we convert them to frequent flyer miles?

  7. Mumbletypeg

    "…Very few writers will mourn the end of the New York Publishing Industry."

    Somehow this reminds me of when I took the tour of Glen Ellen, or whatever Jack London's old estate was called. His office door still had the cardboard-clock with moveable hands on it, to track time he spent (average 8 hrs. / day reading) immersed — as per your 15-minute-interval advice, Ken. He also, to return to the quote pasted above, kept every rejection slip a publisher sent him.

    Or that's possibly legend I'm confusing from another writer's legacy.. but this I did recently discover, that London had a boat called "The Snark."

    Best of all luck in all possible worlds, Ken. And thank ye gods for sparing the demise of Wonkette at large; I feared I would've gotten a closer familiarity to inhabiting-a-remote, desertlike-space than I'd have liked if that came to pass.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      Here's a better picture of London's boat, she's really a beauty. I think I remember reading in a huge London compilation I got from a library surplus sale that Mr. London was especially pleased with himself that he had reached the level of financial success to be able to commission such a gem.

      Makes the modern-day noveau-riche look pretty fucking lame with their Escalades and McMansions.

  8. ifthethunderdontgetya

    Happy Trails, Ken.

    But a couple quick questions:

    1) Isn't the southwest heavily dependent on massive government infrastructure projects for its water?

    2) Just how many Wonkette, Jrs. are there?

    And that somehow turned into six years of my life. As I get older, it’s harder to justify losing six years typing about gross people you wouldn’t otherwise give any thought.

    Luxury! I'm 51, and spent most of my life working for big financial corporations. Not much to show for it now, either. Hurray!
    ~

    1. horsedreamer_1

      Oh, don't worry: they'll just buy off Governors-for-Life Rick Snyder & Scott Walker & steal away with Great Lakes Water. Then, shades of Kim il-Sung & Hafez Assad, the sons will ascend in Madison & Lansing & keep it moving.

    2. WABishop

      I've come to the conclusion that much of life is a waste of time, but for two things: you don't know which moment is a waste until it's long past, and whatever's left is pure gold.

  9. Gopherit

    It's been fun, Ken. I am surprised it took this long. We'll always be here if you need a dose of snark.

    Who will the Breitards complain about now?

  10. frostbitefalls

    Ken, thank you very much for slogging in the Wonkette trenches and for reminding us of what's important. I will buy your book and read it.

  11. tymberwolf817

    Interesting. I also wouldn't be surprised if the economic clusterf*ck breeds "post apocalyptic utopianism" as a new genre featuring societies that look like socialism and anarchism had a baby.

    Congrats Ken and thanks for your tenure at Wonkette.

  12. prommie

    World made By Hand? The novel, it sounds enchanting, exquisite, and exhilirating, Ken, I will buy it when payday comes and I get more ameros.

    Ken, what we do gain from our 15 minutes here is each other. Reassurance that we are not the only ones angry at the injustices of a mad world. Reassurance that we are not the mad ones, that we are not insane, for seeing what the vast masses seem oblivious to.

    1. Geminisunmars

      Yah. Somewhere to connect to whatever-we-are.

      And the book sounds Prestigious and Astute.

    2. GeneralLerong

      Tnx, prommie.

      Damn those troublesome vast masses. Or are they the flour and we're the yeast? [Wishful Thinking Department is apparently now open]

    3. Mumbletypeg

      What you're pointing out is patently obvious to me, prommie. More of Ken's point, I'm presuming, is like the good parent I suspect he is, he's dishing advice that all things are best in moderation, and there's been some indication among us that it's easy to get steeped in the ointment to the point of oversaturation? I know perfectly well I have seen way more than 15 little minutes slip away while browsing online… thinking up comments… meanwhile the soup boils over… the smoke alarm battery chirps untended… the dog sulks for a walk on his leash..
      What Ken's saying is not unlike something I read in an interview w/ Joni Mitchell, early 90s; when asked about mood-altering substances, she opined that one should go take a stroll outside, away from one's confines for a bit. And challenged the readers to see if it wasn't proof-postive for an effective way to not just change mood but boost creativity (for her, to unblock her song-writing efforts), too.

    4. KeepFnThatChicken

      Right. I love knowing that I'm not alone. But that's coming from a rurality in a Red State.

    5. elviouslyqueer

      Would I had a zillionty thumbs to give you for this, prommie. It's somehow comforting to be able to come on to Wonkette and laugh out loud and/or occasionally shout at the computer, and know that I'm not the only voice out there screaming like some batshit lunatic with Tourette's.

      Well damn, that was way serious. Buttsecks, also.

      1. Nothingisamiss

        Elviously queer, you have made me worried that I could be both a wonketteer AND be a batshit lunatic w/ Tourette's.

        Wait, nope, just a wonketeer.

        It's really helpful to have Sarah Beck to compare myself to.

    6. emmelemm

      "Reassurance that we are not the only ones angry at the injustices of a mad world. "

      Hear hear.

      Also, I do agree with the "15 minutes outside" vs "15 minutes on Internet" summary. However, I would say that when I spend my 15 Internet minutes on Wonkette, I often "laugh out loud", or LOL, IRL, and laughing releases endorphins, and endorphins are helpful in easing the pain of my existence.

    7. Nothingisamiss

      prommie, thank you, that is exactly correct. It helps very much to know that the fucktards are…just that. If you don't live in a blue state or blue area, things can occasionally be very blue indeed.

      Snark = sanity. At times.

    8. BlueStateLibel

      Damn you're right. Most of the time, even though I live in a supposed blue state, I feel like a character in Idiocracy, trying to convince people that plants don't need Brawno, and no, the GeeOPeers you idolize don't want to have a beer with you.

    9. RadioJr.

      If I may add one more thing prommie, 8 hours late nonetheless: Another tie that binds us is the Obscure. If this site had 10,000 comments per post it would be much less approachable. Very little mutual admiration and humor like no other keep the club fairly exclusive yet steady. Two weeks ago I tried to point out how valuable this commentariat is an adman's wet dream. As much time as we spend trying to figure out Ken, likewise, he should be trying to figure us out.

    10. easybaked

      Me, I come here to avoid working. That is 'stickin' it to the man, right? Erm, does that count if one is self-employed?

      You gals and guys are like the co-workers that I wish I had. Kinda like the movie 'Office Space.' I wish that I could inappropriately grope you all.

      I came here for the dick jokes – and stayed here for the buttsechs. And Truknutz, also, too.

  13. HurricaneAli

    Thank you, Ken, for letting the site continue and not destroying it in a fit of ennui. Also for being a sane human being with posts on topics that I care about and hope to see more of in the future. Guess I gotta get the paperback, now, to read and add to my utopian literature collection.

  14. Monsieur_Grumpe

    Good luck Ken and thank you for providing an outlet for my pent up frustration with the stupid. My coworkers and family should thank you as well.

    Can we get autographed books? Not your signature, somebody cool like Paul Reubens or Lorena Bobbit.

  15. chascates

    I was disappointed it didn't have pictures but it'll make a good movie.

    Good luck Ken and thanks for all the fish.

    1. AJWjr.

      Vegas could never be the new Detroit since the only thing Vegas has ever built was monuments to excess, built with your money.

        1. Negropolis

          As emptied out as Detroit (my hometown) has become, there was a community there, at one time. Some of that has been saved, some of that has been salvaged, most is long lost to time.

          Vegas won't (and hasn't) aged well. I've known the city intimately enough to know that when it bites the bullet, it'll make Detroit's decline look rather tame.

  16. hagajim

    Good luck and Godspeed Ken….most of us have spent our lives doing not what we wanted, but what we needed to do in order to survive. Hope that you can do what you want until the bitter (or not so bitter) end.

  17. OneYieldRegular

    6,500+ posts deserves more than just thanks, Ken. But thanks all the same. See you in the Integratron.

  18. Lucidamente1

    Ken, as long as you send the occasional Tweet of your junk, I'm ok with it. But seriously, all the best–maybe you and James Howard Kunstler could team up for a weekly grim fest of postings (motto, "we're all fucked").

  19. Lascauxcaveman

    Have added some Dignity to my wife's Amazon shopping cart and will wait to see if she notices it when she orders her usual weekly ton o' books. Looking forward to reading something on paper again for a change.

    Best of luck, Kenny!

      1. anniegetyerfun

        Newell never responded to the boxes of panties that I mailed him. It's not like those are cheap, either, boxes of panties.

    1. Mumbletypeg

      I never could tell, from the avatar/pic, if "Greer" was a he or a she. So when I found his/her writing stirringly impressive, I didn't know whether to cower blushingly, or admit my writer-lust.

      OT/ And where Greer's avatar/pic formerly linked to another affiliate, tropemag.com, I note with sadness it appears to have met itsend as of last month. Too bad; I was looking forward to reading more of it but forgot.

  20. charlesdegoal

    Dignity also means not commenting on Wonkette for a few days.
    Take your pick, Kenny boy, our loss will be your gain.

    1. Extemporanus

      Like a rug that really tied the room together.

      I took a walk. I've taken a few walks before, yet always found myself right back where I started, apathetic, on my ass, eyes glazed, mind razed, silver tongue-tied, and turbid.

      Not this time.

      I just felt that Ken announcing that he'd finally reclaimed some snark-free shred of dignity warranted me shedding some of mine to pay my respects by crashing the party and sticking my micturating dick in the mashed potatoes, for old time's sake, before just cold walking, walking, walking, some more…

      1. elviouslyqueer

        You had me at "micturating dick," Extempo my friend. Well played. Well played indeed.

  21. fartknocker

    Ken, I've always enjoyed your analysis and sarcasm. I've purchased the book (the paper one, not that Kindle thingy-ma-jig version) and I look forward to spending a couple of evening of pleasurable reading. I also appreciate that you are not fond of Rick Perry, who is a gapping asshole.

    Good luck and God Bless you and your family in you new endeavor. Please check in on us from time to time so you can learn from some very good, snarky, passionate people. If in your travels you find the bell that Paul Revere rang when he was announcing that the British were arriving, I think I know a family in Las Vegas who runs a pawn shop who would pay you big money and offer you television fame.

  22. AJWjr.

    I'd say thanks for all the fish, but living in this toxic new world has made me allergic to them.
    As Abbey once (at least) said,

    How to Overthrow the System: brew your own beer; kick in your Tee Vee; kill your own beef; build your own cabin and piss off the front porch whenever you bloody well feel like it.

    Keep livin' the dream, Ken…

  23. Billmatic

    So I'm going to assume that the fact that nearly everyone writing for Wonkette jumped ship over the last few months is because of Steuf's little "error."

  24. crybabyboehner

    Thanks for the memories, and Godspeed to you sir. I just ordered the Luddite edition of the book.

  25. freakishlywrong

    What fun we had! Can't wait to read the book. I'm tearing up a bit so no need to point out typos, bitches.

  26. Sharkey

    Ken makes me hate the internet less, yet he tells me to stop using it!
    BRAIN HURT NOW.

    Congrats on the Diggity. I will be buying it.

  27. magic_titty

    Seems like a preemptive departure, with a Wonkette dickpic scandal is soon to follow.

  28. sezme

    I will read your books, Ken, because I like your writing. You probably should follow through on that promise to disconnect from the net where possible, though, because while you may not have noticed this so much as an author, wonkette.com can be addictive. Luckily for many of us, our Dignity comes from reading this site as a way of escaping from something even more soul-crushing (employment).

  29. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    I promised myself I wouldn't cry. But between this and Anthony Wiener, I'm just over come with emotion.

    Ken, you have made the otherwise annoying world of politics and the media worth putting up with. If we can't laugh our asses off at those two things, what would be the use of living.

    And I can't wait until you get Left Coast published. That sounds like a great project since you first described it.

    Just know your inspiration will keep us all going here at dear ol' Wonkette. We will make sure that bastards never keep us down.

    1. Mumbletypeg

      But between this and Anthony Wiener, I'm just over come with emotion.

      Just think: if only Ken would've arranged this parting post to publish at 6 p.m. on 6/6 (i.e. yesterday), how fitting for the trolltards who follow this, so in love are they with their Satan-bashing insults in our general direction.

      But it's just as well he didn't; that way yesterday's events can just go down in the history books as six-six-six "sext-sext-sext…"

  30. owhatever

    Don't forget to send a copy to Sarah Palin. She's always running out of things to read.

  31. SarahsBush

    Let me get this straight. You're leaving us and trying to get US to buy YOUR Dignity.

    Well played, Ken. Well played.

    And good luck!

  32. MittsHairHelmet

    Good luck Ken. I'll always cherish our mutual loathing of democrats, republicans, media professionals, stripmalls and exurbs.

  33. Nothingisamiss

    Thank you for posting this. I have really loved your writing and sensibility for lo, these however many years.

    Raise your children well, as I'm sure you are, and I will miss you on these regular pages very, very much.

  34. Tommmcattt

    It occurs to me that I've never made inappropriate reference to any of your body parts, so: Show us your butt, Ken!

    Also too, good luck out there! Thanks for teh memorieez.

  35. Limeylizzie

    But does this mean that we won't know who/what/ is/are Wonkette Jr's real name/s ever? I like knowing that Ken is really Ken and will be sad if everyone has the same name. I have indeed purchased Ken's book as that seems to be the ony contact I can have with him now, unless I tweet my twat.

    1. prommie

      It would appear there are several Wonkette Jr.s, each more enchanting, exquisite, and exhilirating than the on before.

    2. user-of-owls

      unless I tweet my twat.

      Lizzie! Whoa! THAT is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing!

  36. Geminisunmars

    Good luck Ken. I feel well-indoctrinated by you. And Ima gonna love me some Epistolarian writings.

  37. Lascauxcaveman

    I used to race in my el Toro against a kid with one of those. Man, I had one lucky childhood, growing up on a lake.

  38. HateMachine

    Fare thee well, Ken. This is certainly more closure than I got from Chris Onstad.

    We'll miss you and the crippling depression you are always giving us (and helping us laugh at).

  39. ThundercatHo

    Ken, thanks for everything you've done for us. We will miss you. Best fishes and safe home.

  40. jus_wonderin

    Groinal Regions. I heard that those will be the first swallowed up by the rising ocean levels.

  41. Doktor Zoom

    "In the midst of this apocalypse, a few resourceful people form self-reliant desert communities in their region’s foreclosed houses and abandoned strip malls."

    Sounds a little bit like Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, only without as many guns. Or fire-starting drug fiends. Or spacefaring religions. Or hyperempathy disorder.

    OK, doesn't sound much like it at all, but I really really like that novel and wanted to show off how smart I am. But I think I'll buy Ken's book and get into arguments with genre-loyal people on another blog about whether it's actually science fiction.

    1. HurricaneAli

      I was going to say Three Californias trilogy (specifically the last, Pacific Edge) by Kim Stanley Robinson but I didn't want to sound all bookish and learned. And I'm sure Dignity is going to have its own ethos and philosophy so I'm looking forward to enjoying it.

  42. carlgt1

    good luck Ken, you've really kept me around this site and I look forward to your stuff in the future. I just bought "Dignity" for my kindle and hope to read it on my vacation next week!

  43. LesBontemps

    Rlly? Srsly? U deleted my highly ironic "tl;dr" comment? WTF???

    Also, we'll always have teh buttsechs, Ken.

  44. LiveToServeYa

    Remember RAMMED DIRT HOUSING! No, really, you get some old tires, a sledge hammer, and …uh. Never mind. Don't take any wooden nickels as long as they're still minting coins out of metal. Seeya.

  45. nappyduggs

    A fucking BOOK, man?! I thought "Dignity, by Ken Layne" was going to be a killer new fragrance line. A sort of mash-up of White Diamonds, Axe Body Spray, and Hobo Ass Stank.

    Seriously, congrats, I look forward to reading it and then using it to help warm my tastefully appointed refrigerator box in the colder seasons.

  46. jodyleek

    I have the "Talkin' Ken Layne's Leaving Wonkette Blues":

    Now, I don’t care just what you do
    If you wanta write some books, that’s up t’ you
    But don’t tell me about it, I don’t wanta hear it
    ’Cause, see, I just lost all my snarking spirit.

    But seriously Ken, as Dorothy said to the Scarecrow, I'm going to miss you most of all. Take good care.

  47. vulpes82

    I must admit, I'm relieved. No matter how we've joked about, it's been so obvious for so long that The Wonkettes was slowly eating your soul alive, leaving nothing but a misanthropic husk of depression and Dylan lyrics behind. For you and your family's sake, this was the right decision. Which doesn't mean we won't miss you, or that we don't still love you, but I'd rather you go write novels and commune with Coyote in the desert than feel obliged to bang out six posts a day about Mitt Romney and some cock pictures while you slowly lose the ability to look at yourself in the mirror. So, Godspeed, Papa Bear!

  48. EggplantParm

    The end of an era. Crap, now what? Do I really have to do Ken's little "real life or internet" experiment. 'Cause I know which one will win and sometimes in the bright sunshine of risk and adventure I'll miss teh interwebs and I'm not ready to miss it yet.

  49. Lucky_Jim

    Goodbye, Ken Layne. Best wishes in all of your future endeavors. We're capable of so much, yet few of us even try. Good for you in taking some transformative walks.

    Actually, it's a brilliant sunny day in Montreal right now. Maybe see a few of you out there!

    XO

  50. Beetagger

    Best wishes to ya Ken. You're a kindred spirit. Just hope you end up in my commune instead of the neighboring one that I will have to raid and massacre (for food and entertainment) post-apocalypse. Good News redux!

  51. RedNM

    "My six-year-old son really loves John Wesley Harding right now" – sure, Ken. Would that be "Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" or "All Along the Watchtower"?

  52. johnnymeatworth

    Great, now the entire Wonkette peanut gallery will have even worse daddy issues! Good luck and godspeed, Ken….

  53. AutomaticPilot

    I think part of the 15 minutes outside is the fact that exercise makes us feel better. Personally, I'm a big advocate of running – you can cover more ground and see the birds and the dumpsters.

    Also, believe it or not, I actually learn things from Wonkette. Okay, most of what I've learned are sexual terms that I have to look up on Urban Dictionary, but still… it's an educational blog!

    1. DustBowlBlues

      Sometimes it gives me the answers to the questions that are going to be on "Wait, Wait," so there's that. (And don't you love the fact I don't have to write out the full name of the popular NPR show? Because really, we are all elitists at heart, aren't we wonkeratti? And justly so.)

  54. problemwithcaring

    Thanks for the "snark," Ken.

    PERHAPS WE WILL MEET AGAIN AT THE OBUMMER DEATH PANELS.

  55. politics_nerd

    "What of Wonkbot?" he cried, rolling onto his side, his final breath escaping his lips as Ken Lane finally escaped the internet. Or something.

  56. ganmerlad

    You have broken a piece of my heart by leaving. Other than that, break a leg in your new endeavor.

  57. RadioJr.

    I remember when my spawn was young and it was Barney or rock'n'roll. Hmm, is it really that difficult a choice? And it is metaphor for faith or rationality. I certainly wasn't going to force a 2000+ year old book of campfire stories onto them — other than in an historical context. If they heard Link Wray and took it from there…well all the better. And, at least, I had the dignity to know I wasn't pushing obvious bullshit on them. By being honest, I don't think discovery is removed; the wonderment only deepens.

    1. user-of-owls

      If they heard Link Wray and took it from there…well all the better.

      I loved Linc in Mod Squad;
      I loved Fay Wray in King Kong;
      ergo, you are my father.

      Dad!

  58. user-of-owls

    I'll keep it real simple Ken: thanks and good luck.

    Oh, and just for the legacy, could you become death, the destroyer of worlds, and bring down the long dormant Ban Hammer before you vanish? I'm not recommending a target, it's just the catharsis. It was once a thing of awe and trembling.

  59. the_problem_child

    Ken is leaving to spend more time with his family. Whatever happened to the last intern, hmmm?

  60. DustBowlBlues

    Well, shit Ken. This has been a helluva week. Hopey's poll numbers are down because he lets the Repubtards kick him around, there is no David "You're Welcome" Schuster sighting on the horizon, and the pretend boyfriend who replaced him is tainted, my lesbo daughter claims Matthew Morrison is a couple with Neil Patrick Harris and now Ken up and quit. Wait–

    Hold on just a dadblamed minute! I've let grief totally fuck up my brain. Ken was never my pretend boyfriend. In that case, adios, amigo. Write if you find work.

  61. DustBowlBlues

    Are we finally going to find out the identity of this mysterious wonkette jr? Has Ken been keeping the editor seat warm because Anthony Weiner has been trying out the job? Just in case he got caught?

    If so, just don't depend on the twitter too much, Tony. Come to think of it, just take twitter off the wonkette menu. We'll all be better off.

  62. exmartinette

    Best of luck, Ken. Thanks for bringing Wonkette into the 21st & 1/10th Century, thanks for posting my dumb pictures from time to time, and thanks for getting that new book out in paper.

  63. CivicHoliday

    I'll send you off with some apt words from Mr. Abbey himself: "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds."

  64. UW8316154

    Good luck, Ken. Best wishes on your journey. You know you will miss us and eventually come back. In the meantime…

    I for one welcome our new wonkette overlords!!1!!

  65. trondant

    See you around, Ken. Thank you for the laughs – without this place I don't think I would've survived the '08 election.

  66. CrankyLttlCamperette

    Bye, Ken and good luck. It's been fun. for me at least. I hope at some times it was fun for you, too.

  67. TX_Bluebonnets

    Ken,

    Best of luck. You were a sane voice crying out from several wildernesses. Thank you for leaving with kindness, grace, and even dignity. Sorry for the bad pun. Sorry for the bad posts. Just come visit, sometime.

    And maybe, just maybe, we'll meet somewhere in the Mojave. I have great childhood memories of the vast frightening beauty and reality of the place. It is a place that can't be ignored or denied. Inside, outside, you're in the Mojave, and you better deal with it. I can't imagine a better place to write a book like Dignity.

    Everybody's been enjoying the apt Abbie Hoffman quotes. "Steal this Book" comes to mind. But what I'd encourage people to do is buy your book, then steal lots of Palin/Beck/Perry inbred greedbots books for house stuffing their homemade postapocalyptic adobe. I'll buy it, by Friday when my laughable check comes.

    Vaya con Dios, man. Peace.

  68. usernameguy

    Oh, and Layne is making good on his vow to leave his typing desk at Wonkette again, which will be the third time in five years.

    Seriously, dude.

  69. Negropolis

    Riley, Jack…and now my poor fool is hanged. :(

    Ken, thank you for your time. Thank you for your humor. I even thank you for drama and biting bitterness, sometimes. This'll hurt losing all of you to Real Life℠ so suddenly, but I also know we'll get on as we always have. Love your family and love your life. You have escaped the Matrix; well, at least this one. If only we could all be so lucky before our light goes out.

      1. Negropolis

        This was never my intent, to hurt my poor fuflans. :(

        We kind of needs folks like Ken when times are the way they are, and particularly mini-scandals in which we lose multiple contributors. No doubt, he will be greatly missed.

        Usually, your favorite long-running shows slowly cycle through new members until you realize one day you have a new cast, entirely. It's rare to lose everyone within weeks short of the show being cancelled, and then usually you have a season to say goodbye.

  70. Negropolis

    Scary, old-timey vampires, or the new metro-sexual, sexy, emo vampires whose only crime is that they love too much?

  71. fuflans

    wonkette goes in, wonkette goes out. who can explain it?

    i think there has always been a ken layne at the wonkette i've read. and while i think junior is DELIGHTFUL, you will be missed.

    enjoy your good work and best of luck.

    [are we drinking now?]

  72. Fukui_sanYesOta

    Thank you, Ken Layne, for everything you've done here. Short because, hey, everyone else has rightfully praised your writing, erudition and top-notch prose.

    Suffice to say good luck. We'll miss you.

  73. Poindexter718

    Dignity, schmignity. You'll be back here scribbling about butt seks before the yuan becomes the global reserve currency.
    Meantime, happy trails, pardnah.

  74. SnarkoMarx

    Best wishes, Ken. I'll miss you here. I downloaded 'Dignity' and started reading it. Looks pretty interesting so far, the early letters remind me a bit of Paul's epistles to the first-century Christians in style and tone. You must be one of them real writers or somethin'.

  75. EllenHoran

    Ken, this book sounds right down my alley. Behind the volume of the snark machine, it's been clear all along you are a powerful writer. Look forward to all future endeavors of Ken Layne.

  76. weejee

    Holy shitskie (that's what I get for taking the morning off to teach a class).

    Thanks Ken and keep on, keepin' on, Irish prayers 'n such. And if you happen to run into Ann Coulter, could you show her some Dignity? Perhaps with a tire iron?

  77. HuddledMass

    Oh hell.
    Thanks for that cranberry relish recipe, Mr. Layne. Henceforth in my household, as we huddle around the Thanksgiving table (overturned produce box), we will always bless the name of Layne as we serve it forth.
    *sniff*

  78. druranium

    Bye Ken and thanks. looking forward to reading the books and de-electing the innernet.

  79. berkeleyfarm

    Good luck and Godspeed, Ken. Keep fightin' for freedom, and don't forget to have fun doing it.

    If your business brings you to the Berkeley area, I'd be pleased to stand you dinner or a pint.

  80. ShaveTheWhales

    Well shit. I take a couple days off for my kid's birfday and shit, and come back to a hail of falling shoes (and they're all the other one).

    Good riddance!!!

    Actually,no; I just thought I'd try a different approach to congratulations.

    I only started reading teh Wonkette during the Layne Era, so this will be different, whatever it is. Life is, in fact, change.

  81. MutteringLoner

    I doubt you're still/ever reading this, but:

    1. I love your voice, Ken Layne
    2. Please keep writing.
    3. Thank you
    4. See 1. and 2.

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