John Haggerty

Novelist, Short Story Writer, Essayist, Founding Editor of The Forge Literary Magazine

Voltaire said that to be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous. The Buddha said that people with opinions just go around annoying each other. Nevertheless, here are some of the things I believe.

 

Greed is not good.

Nevada is a much stranger and more interesting place than you probably think it is.

California’s Sierra Nevada is the best mountain range in the world.

Our prison system is an abject failure, unless its only goal is to increase the suffering of everyone involved in it. In that case, mission accomplished.

If God really hated gay people, he probably wouldn’t have made so many of them Christian clerics and conservative politicians. And Jesus himself might have brought the subject up. Just once, you know, since it’s so important.

To quote Donald Kennedy, if you can’t laugh at one of your beliefs, it’s probably wrong.

Moby-Dick is weird and windy and too long, is often dull and contains lengthy, exceedingly inaccurate passages on cetology. It is also a work of genius and the best American novel ever.

Corollary to the above: Herman Melville was a surprisingly funny guy.

Some other great books: Absolom! Absolom!, Heart of Darkness, Blood Meridian, Conversation in the Cathedral.

And speaking of that last one, why doesn’t anybody read Mario Vargas Llosa? Or Joy Williams, for that matter? Or Melanie Rae Thon?

America is a great country founded on noble ideals. Because of this when it doesn’t live up to those ideals, it must be mercilessly lampooned.

Corollary to the above: satire is an act of love.

God doesn’t want you to hate anybody, ever, for any reason. If you are absolutely certain that he/she/it does, check again. If you’re still sure about it, you should shop around for another God.

Money is not speech, and corporations are not people.

As Tom Waits says, we’re chained to the world and we’ve all got to pull.

Books still matter. Very, very much.

In more quantifiable terms, I am a writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area, having recently traded the mass hallucination that is Silicon Valley for the more idiosyncratic and satisfying illusions of fiction. My first novel, Calamity Springs–a comedy about religion, greed, power, sex, and death set in Nevada–is represented by Janet Reid of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.

I have a BS in Mathematical Sciences, an MS in computer science from Stanford University, and an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. I am the founding editor of the Forge Literary Magazine.

Images by Courtney Smith.