Turning 40–and I’ve Got the Bookshelves to Prove It…

I turn 40 today. No tears for me–forty seems like a good age to be: still young enough to learn new tricks, old enough to have experienced almost everything a writing career can throw at a person. I’m happy to be alive, alert, relatively sane, and generally upbeat about life. A writing life is both a privilege and at times a burden, but so far so good…

Below I’ve posted photos of the bookshelves in my office, which hold everything I’ve published or been published in or been on the publisher side of printing over the last 25 years. (This doesn’t include another few shelves of saddle-stapled mags and chapbooks and whatnot that’s currently being turned into bibliography by a certain Mark Wingenfeld. It also doesn’t include over one thousand web-only essays, book reviews, editorials, and interviews, as well as another two thousand plus blog entries.)

So, yeah, I’m going to celebrate today. I’m lucky, I think–much more good than bad. I’m 40, and I’ve got a wonderful wife (love ya, Ann–my co-conspirator on every creative project), creative, wonderful friends, a great family (Riley’s first time at the beach), and a slew of books that came out much closer to the vision in my head (and collaborators’ heads) than I ever had the right to expect. Not too much to complain about, to be honest, except three lazy cats who refuse to help out around the house.

And, finally: thanks to all of you for reading this blog. I’ve enjoyed the sense of community, making new friends, the controversy, the laughs, and even the sad times.

(Note: I had started this post before hearing about Thomas Disch’s death, and after that I contemplated just deleting it because it felt strange, and then decided to go ahead with it anyway because that felt strange, too. So, it’s an odd day–happy, celebrating, in the one context, and yet sad in another context.)


  1. says

    Hey–thanks! Not sure what I’m gonna do today. Mostly take it easy, which is a kind of privilege for a freelancer. The hardest thing for me to do since I turned freelance is learn to take a day off here and there.


  2. Cat Sparks says

    How dare you be three years younger than me! Humph.

    ps happy birthday old bean

  3. says

    There will be cigars and red wine. Possibly cake.

    Cat–there is no way, me having been born an 80-year-old curmudgeon, that you would ever be older than me. Besides, you look 30, tops.


  4. says

    Happy happy, Jeff. Forty isn’t bad. You’ve already got the humor and irony function working well. That’s what trips up most people this age. Here’s to another productive 40 years to go. Being 40 isn’t that much different that 39, although you can now officially yell at the kids to get off your lawn.

    Oh, and the AARP starts recruiting you.

  5. says

    I think for birthdays, you’re required to go to a restaurant where they sing songs loudly at you, to the embarassment of everyone gathered. I recommend doing that.

    Happy 40th, sir!

  6. says

    Hey, Jessica–it’s probably no surprise the feeling is mutual. I have not forgotten the cool diorama/artifacts, either, and how they might fit into a project.

    Pete–eeeeeeeee! I hate audience participation. LOL.

    Thanks mucho.


    PS Will-hope you got the email about the gig.

  7. says

    Happy birthday, Jeff! Take the day off, relax! You’ve earned it. And look out for the wandering horde of squid who will attempt at some point to take you to their homeland. I hear they do that at 40.

  8. says

    Happy Birthday, Jeff! That’s some shelves full of reasons to be proud, even if you’d never done anything else. Hope the next 40 go as well.

  9. says

    Thanks, guys. I should note that Ann’s largely responsible for all of this stuff. She’s my creative partner in all things. We’ve known each other for over 20 years now.


  10. says

    Sorry I’m late to the party, but happy birthday. I’ll hit the same milestone in a year or so, and have not NEARLY the same amount to show for it, so don’t you dare complain.

  11. says

    Happy 40th, Jeff! Don’t know about you, but I believe July birthdays are the best – warm, long sunlight, endless possibilities of going places without worrying about cold weather…enjoy it all! :D

  12. says

    Happy birthday, Jeff! For my money, the 40’s are the absolute flat-out best so far, although I think the 50’s will be even more amazing…. at least that’s the plan (grin). Enjoy the hell out of all of it.

  13. JesseFord says

    Happy Birthday, Mr. Vandermeer!

    Looking at those shelves; that has to make you feel pretty damn good.

  14. Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo says

    Better later than never – CONGRATS Jeff! 40 is not at all a bad place to be.
    Happily noticed some translations of mine on the shelves. Sincerely hoping there’ll be more of those,



  15. says

    Johanna–me too! And thank so much for the best wishes.

    Timblynod–I never will remember your real name at this rate. With the rate of projects, it’s going to triple by 2010…Sigh.


  16. Dan Read says

    Fuckin’ A! Happy Birthday, and all the best in your travels, and of course with the novel.

  17. says

    Times Pi, sir. Which would be (rounding up, of course) Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Ha!

  18. GabrielM says

    Happy belated birthday, Jeff. I’ll be turning 40 myself on the 29th of this month.