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Welcome, welcome. Sit down, have a beer. Better have a second. And try a chicken wing, deep fried. The game’s just about to start. Superbowl, baby.  I never miss it.

I just had a week of funerals; a family friend, my first cousin. It does something to you, all these funerals, it gets you to thinking. For some reason it gets me to thinking about food and sex. But with every funeral, the truth becomes ever clearer: none of us is getting out of here alive.

So here’s my secret, here’s how, in the face of the baldly inevitable, I don't end up cowering under my covers. Here's how I get up every morning and brew a cup of coffee and get to pounding the typewriter. I pretend death doesn’t exist, or at least my death. Simple, right?  La de da.

Another beer? Yeah, I’ll have one too.

The other day I got this sharp pain in my gut and I couldn’t tell if it was my appendix blowing up or just gas. If it was my appendix I was in serious trouble; if it was gas, well, the guy sitting next to me would be in serious trouble. So what I did was pretend it didn’t exist and, lo and behold, it turned out to be gas.

There is little in this life, I have found, that can’t be fruitfully ignored.

But when you come home from law school with a fusty bundle of laundry and find your mother in a pool of her own blood, bludgeoned by some foul intruder, ignoring the whole death thing becomes a bit harder, as Justin Chase, the hero of my new novel THE BARKEEP discovers. So what Justin does instead, after making damn sure his father is convicted of the crime, is to crack-up.

Six years later, Justin is tending bar in Philadelphia when a desiccated stranger steps up to the wood, orders a Mojito, and tells a story that makes Justin question everything he knows for sure about his mother’s murder, and question the very way he glued himself together after the crack-up.

Justin is forced to confront the truth of things, poor sap. We don’t want to do that. We want to do anything but that. That’s why they invented alcohol. That's why they invented TV. That’s why they invented the Superbowl, the greatest melding of alcohol and TV known to man. But all that ignoring can only go so far.  As the lady says, every once in a while attention must be paid.  Every once in a while, it’s not just gas.

What's that?  You got a little pain in your chest. Don't worry about it. I'm sure it's nothing. Hey, they're about to kick off. Turn up the volume and grab another beer.

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