Author Archives: Michael Pocalyko

Order a Zoombie at the Red Panty

A sweet dry wind blows downriver through the Rio Grande Valley. Squinty sun, cornflower sky. Mid-afternoon two and a half weeks ago. I am in Nuevo Progreso, a Mexican border town in Tamaulipas, catching shade in an open-air bar and . . . doing research for a novel. Yeah. Let’s go with that. The bar is called the Red Panty. Not a word of this is made up. Above and behind the friendly-laconic Mexican bartender is a backlit drink menu painted on a plexiglas rectangle. Continue reading →

A Market Too Perfect for Profit

In The Navigator there is an unapologetic shout-out to an unlikely place. A suburb. The walking paths of Reston, Virginia are famous and special. They are particularly special to the residents of Reston, who style themselves as stewards of the nation’s preeminent planned community. Built beginning in the 1960s in what were once the forest and agricultural wilds of northwest Fairfax County, the “new town” was constructed with meticulous planning and a fierce local bureaucracy. In the beginning, everything was laid out. Zoning reigned with Continue reading →

The Pictures to Prove It

When I was twenty-one I wrote my first novel. It was awful in the way that only undergraduate novels can be awful. I graduated from college on Memorial Day 1976. Ahead of me were a few months marking time through the Bicentennial summer before a fixed reporting date at Navy flight school. I used that time to try to sell the novel. My agent, Peter Shepherd at Harold Ober Associates, was a New York literary giant tolerant enough to take me on as his development Continue reading →

Judging My Book By Its Cover

Vonnegut and I were on the phone talking about our new novels. My book, The Navigator, is six months from its June 2013 publication launch date. Norb read the advance bound manuscript from my publisher, Forge Books. Then he graciously and effusively blurbed it for the Macmillan catalog. “Now you’ve got to join us,” he said, “at Algonquin Redux.” An invitation to the table for the new guy. I accepted. “I’m going to write about marketing and positioning the book,” I told him. “Good. I Continue reading →