Luminous Muse


Massachusetts, USA
September 20
Retired composer, music publisher and producer. Writer.
Manchester Music Library
My memoir "Escaping the Giant" and my thriller "You Can't Write About Me" are both finished and with an agent. If he can't sell them I will self-publish, so one way or another they will be available soon. This blog and my memoir have enjoyed a vibrant relationship: I've repurposed bits of the memoir, which have then found their way into later drafts of the book. I didn't plan it that way, but it's a nice way to work.


I keep getting tangled up in strange loops of time. I’ve told the true fairy tale of how I came to Mill Valley in the summer of 1970, vowed to live there and then found myself doing just that, 44 years later. But that was last month. Whatever time-release spell enchanted me woreRead full post »

AUGUST 27, 2014 11:55AM

Epiphany in the Check-in Line


My mother was a confirmed atheist. She believed in no higher power, in
nothing that couldn’t be quantified. She barely believed in the existence of emotions. But everyone’s got to believe in something, even my mother.

She was an orthodox liberal who fervently believed in equality. RRead full post »

AUGUST 19, 2014 12:57PM

Go West, Old Man (A fairy tale)


"Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles."  Horace Greeley said this, or perhaps not.

Mill Valley View 

The view from my door.

How is it that I’m suddenly living in California, after 63 years onRead full post »

APRIL 18, 2014 11:24AM

Ingrid Michaelson - Lights Out


This post is an experiment. I normally never listen to music when I write. Like many musicians music can never really serve as background for me. I can’t help listening to it, and it’s distracting to my words. Right now I’m listening to Ingrid Michaelson’s new album LiRead full post »

FEBRUARY 12, 2014 7:13AM

A Writer's Dilemma

Until a few years ago if you wanted your book published you had two options: find an agent to take it to publishers, or hire a vanity publisher. The first option was uncertain, and took a long time. The second was expensive, and (after your mom and best friends dutifully bought)… Read full post »

JANUARY 28, 2014 4:10PM

Pete Seeger 1919-2014


Sometime in the early sixties my father took me to see Pete Seeger at the local High School. It was my first concert, and the first time I’d seen a banjo. What I remember most of that night is my father’s loud baritone as he sang along with Pete, “OhRead full post »

NOVEMBER 22, 2013 5:24PM

Fifty Years Ago Today

By John Manchester

Most Fridays in the fall of 1963 my father was working at American Education Publications, publishers of “My Weekly Reader.” I was in my eighth grade class.

 But that Friday, November 22nd, my father picked me up early from school in his green Austin-Healey SpriteRead full post »

NOVEMBER 6, 2013 9:59AM

Murder Your Metaphors

(Part of an occasional series on writing)

 The process of learning to write comes in distinct stages, like peeling the layers of an onion. Each new layer first appears smooth and shiny. But over time the surface dulls and spiders with wrinkles. Somehow the layer that once appearRead full post »

OCTOBER 24, 2013 11:52AM

The Death of a President

My father William Manchester’s account of JFK’s assassination, The Death of a President, is finally back in print after many years. Jill Abramson of the Times wrote an interesting overview of all the books on the subject, concluding with this about my father’s: “TheRead full post »

JANUARY 28, 2013 10:07AM

You Can't Write About Me!


(Dylan at Ginsberg's typewriter) 

A few days ago I got an email confirming that something I suggested to someone a few months ago had resulted in a cool thing. Nothing scandalous, but it made a fun story.

Something. Someone. Thing. Nothing. No, this is not an exercise inRead full post »

JUNE 27, 2012 3:21PM

When I met Julie and Julia

I enjoyed When Harry Met Sally.  I found Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail a bit sugary for my taste. I didn’t really fall for Nora Ephron  until Julie and Julia. I loved that movie. I don’t make movies, so I don’t know exactly how her directing contributed toRead full post »

JUNE 27, 2012 8:23AM

Puzzle Love

“It’s all one.”

I am well aware that my style of blogging does not fit the medium. My posts are too long, and worse, too complicated. Here’s why:

When I was ten my mother gave me

Read full post »
JUNE 20, 2012 7:20AM

Son of a Famous Man


Dad 1968 

This is the very short version of my memoir Escaping the Giant, minus the fun stuff (sex, drugs and rock and roll), for those of you who have understandably gotten tired of waiting for publication. Reduction 1:45. Still working on the twitter version. 

In early 1964 JRead full post »

Editor’s Pick
MAY 14, 2012 9:10AM


Mitt Romney, 1965 and today 

Mitt Romney in 1965, and today. 

I try to steer clear of politics on this blog. With all the political discussion raging online, I’m afraid all I have to contribute is heat, and not much light.

But the recent revelation that Mitt Romney was a bully in prep school –Read full post »

APRIL 19, 2012 10:13AM

It's Finally Done!

My father's last book is about to be published:


By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer – 4 days ago NEW YORK (AP) —

The third and final volume of the late William Manchester's beloved series on Winston Churchill is coming out this fall,Read full post »

MARCH 27, 2012 9:37AM

10 Great Thriller Writers

I love a good thriller. This recent genre of novels is descended from older breeds of diversionary literature, such as the mysteries, detective stories and horror. Unlike these styles, which have tended to calcify into predictable forms, thrillers are still in an early state of evolution.  Its w/Read full post »

MARCH 22, 2012 8:41AM

MRI Music

(Note – I wrote this several weeks ago and didn’t get around to finishing it until now. I’m leaving it in the present tense.)

According to clocks and calendars, time marches along at steady, metronomic tempo. That’s not how it feels to us. Time stretches and shrinks, dependin… Read full post »

MARCH 20, 2012 9:14AM

SF 88 and the Cuban Missile Crisis


Cloud from 1st nuclear explosion, "Mike." 

I was scouting sites in San Francisco for a new novel. I called my old friend Dan. He’s been doing audio for films for decades, starting with Apocalypse Now. I figured he’d seen some strange locations.

I asked him, “What… Read full post »

MARCH 15, 2012 8:49AM

San Francisco Pet Cemetery


 As promised in my last post, here are graves from the Pet Cemetery. It is no longer the peaceful spot it once was now that it cowers under the construction of the new feeder to the Golden Gate Bridge. But if you're in the area you should catch it before it's… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 13, 2012 8:54AM

Hidden San Francisco



 “I Left a 'Piece of My Heart' in San Francisco”

No, it’s not some gruesome song mash-up, the ghost of dear Janis Joplin scrreaming over a poor crooning Tony Bennett, scaring him so badly that he’s losing that genial smile.

 It’s a simple stat… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 8, 2012 8:21AM


the path out 

The ophthalmologist who diagnosed me with a retinal stroke called it “the canary in the mine” -early warning of worse things that might come, like a brain stoke. Last Wednesday I had an MRI to investigate what danger might be lurking down the tunnels of my arteries.

&n… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 1, 2012 8:59AM

Tuba Times


Japanese war tubas 

 Three short Preludes and an Impromptu for Tubas, Piano, Violin, Pianist, Recording Engineer, Golden Girl, Razor Blade, Sex Toys, Editor of Sex Film (off stage), Orgasm Loop (faked; off stage), Fender Rhodes and Celeste.

 PRELUDE I - SoCal Tuba TragedRead full post »

FEBRUARY 28, 2012 9:29AM

Down a Well


 Why have I been absent from OS since last summer?  I’ve been busy working, of course, but the real reason I’ve been gone is that I fell down a well. Not with a dramatic splash, but slowly, like a motion capture film of a leaf on a fall day. So slowlyRead full post »

FEBRUARY 24, 2012 12:55PM

Fire Fall at Yosemite


My old freind Peter Stern had been telling me for years about his cousin Tom, a musician who's played with Frank Wakefield, Dan Hicks, Taj Mahal, David Nelson of NRPS and THE guitar hero of my youth - Mike Bloomfield. 

Last week I finally got to meet Tom, for dinner… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 20, 2012 12:41PM

Lunch With Linda -Redux

Linda posted about our recent lunch.

 Lunch a second year in a row confirmed what I already knew–that Linda exudes a warm spirit that embraces others with real huggggs. She’s funny, quirky, overflowing with stories that are as colorful and eclectic as the fun clothes she wears.Read full post »