Eating Authors: Tim W. Burke

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Tim W. Burke

As promised last week, I’m back from the west coast, and if I have anything to say about it I won’t be doing any traveling for at least a month. I’m still fighting off a persistent cold that hasn’t quite managed to breach all of my defenses and lay me out, but nonetheless does have me feeling a bit logy. Extra sleep and fluids are helping, as is a return to my regimen of regular meals and exercise.

This week’s guest is Tim W. Burke, an author I’ve had the great pleasure of working with for more years than either of us is comfortable recalling, but I owe a lot of my growth as a writer to his tireless efforts smacking me in the head in response to some bumble in one or another of my early drafts. As such, I’m really happy to finally have him here on EATING AUTHORS.

Tim is primarily a horror writer of short stories, but he also has a background in writing sketch comedy. The combination has given his fiction both a macabre spin and a tremendous sense of timing. It’s a one-two punch that tends to stun you, time and again, with stuff you weren’t remotely expecting.

Last Spring, Tim’s first book, The Flesh Sutra, came out and posed such familiar questions as “can love transcend death?” as well as the less common “would you mutilate mankind for love?” There are layers and layers to this work, and I had the pleasure of seeing it unfold as each piece of it came through our workshop. I can’t share that experience with you, but I can recommend you head out and read the finished book.

LMS: Welcome, Tim. It’s a great pleasure to have you on the blog at long last. So let’s get to it — what’s your most memorable meal?

TWB: It was 1975 and I was 12 years old. My family was driving to DisneyWorld in our 1972 Champagne Gold Chevrolet Kingswood station wagon. Though enormous, our car was barely large enough to contain three boys and two sporadically enraged parents. We were taking four days to drive to Florida to stop and sight-see, and by Day Four of historic locations, my brothers and I had punched each other every mile of I-95.

Then came the tropical depression. Dad pulled into exits in Georgia to find a hotel. He stopped at hotels, motels, inns, lodges; there was a Shriner convention and everything was full.

The Flesh Sutra

Finally, he pulled us into The Oglethorpe Inn in Calhoun. I was a boy hopelessly lost in his imagination, yet even I could see this place was a hole-in-the-wall. Our room was tiny with two thin mattresses and furniture tinted from cigarette smoke.

We hauled our luggage to our room and got drenched for our trouble. Mom insisted we take off our wet clothes as Dad ordered pizza.

The pizza was unremarkable. The tiny, black-and-white TV barely got any channels through the static, but we did watch the NBC Movie of the Week “Evil Roy Slade”, a parody western musical starring John Astin.

We took those ridiculous circumstances and made something cozy, which is what good meals and good families are all about.

Meanwhile, some thirty years later, I visited an old friend in Manhattan. Michael Goodwin (the author of the New York Times Bestseller Economix) and I had been co-stars in a comedy troupe years before. He asked if I wanted to try an authentic New York deli, I said “sure” and like all tourists in NY, I visited Katz Deli.

“A $14 sandwich?!” I gasped.

Yet it was worth every penny. The pastrami melted in my mouth. The bread and pickles and mustard startled but did not overwhelm. The sandwich created a topography in which my taste buds lost their way, only to emerge changed.

Thanks, Tim. But now whenever I eat an expensive pastrami sandwich, I’m going to think of crap motels and worse TV movies. You owe me.

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

#SFWApro

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