Tom Green’s flow here sort of kills. Meter. BUT. I think he rehearsed. Well, we know, right? A professional MAKES IT appear spontaneous. A reader might even read a story and the words flow, effortlessly, but the writer spent days wrestling with a washing machine of llamas and barbed wire to MAKE IT appear so. Set pieces. I might do blar things like grade papers on my steering wheel while driving or listening to sports radio (why?), but I know a set piece when I see it. A flash writer knows.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I get a little bashful.
Right, Tom. Bull. Shit. There is a quote by that Spaz Hemingway:
Develop a built-in bullshit detector.
Thanks, Papa. But I hate that quote. If I lived it, I’d have to ‘detect’ the smell of my own bullshit. Not sure I can handle that. However. Green will pull a punt/stunt on your ass. And he’s flailing a smidgen, though still treading water. Tread, Tom. Oh. He will mulch/mess with you, weakly (not like Kaufman) but OK.
You know, you could buy that fucking FOG book over there to the upper right of your vision. Please? I’ll give you a Plan Worth Sticking To in Life, if we meet (and you buy me a beer and let me buy you a beer).
[I keep trying to imagine the person who will dig this book. But I like challenges.]
Speaking of greens–mustard, collard, whatever–Tom does indeed flow. Yes? Flow feels so good. I mean it SPINES you, right? In your pelvis maybe? I guess that’s lower, lower spine. Maybe more the head, the lungs, the sparkles of butter inside the lungs, no the body drifting up and forward and away. Sway. Dopamine…Ever had flow? In writing, in athletics, in other ventures. I have. But I have had true flow VERY RARELY. Flow is magical. No, mystical. I can’t explain it. It’s a black magic, too. Crows and flickering blades in the sunset. Too much flow and you would consume yourself. Burn your own bones into kindling. Because flow is frightening. I’ve had it. I have, for moments. And it scared the baloney biscuits out of me. To MAKE all shots, to run THAT WELL. To get into THAT ZONE. It was rare and other-wordly and scary. But. I wish more of life had flow. Sometimes.
Par-boil those fucking potato shards 8 minutes before you roast them, friends. All shadow-shifting in the oven brown, like that time you robbed a store, walked outside, and got robbed. [Memphis]
I ran a 15 k trail race and my legs hurt after. They throbbed like anyone figuring out where they live. I liked it. Elevation changes. Hairpin switchbacks. TRYING NOT TO BUST ASS. People passed me early and I then passed them late. We call that pacing, homeys.
After the race, they served nachos. I didn’t mind.
Thank you, Krystal Languell. You glow right here. You have that shoebox of things inside you we call lovely. You are that first/first/first/first taste of vodka. We thank you:
We move to Hattiesburg I go to beauty school we get rural I get licensed. My back hurts from bending over to wax women and departmental drama implodes as soon as he signs a contract our apartment has radical Southern bugs the unknowable you can be scared or you can be ready a false dilemma: beauty school or nothing he wants someone to take his name but doesn’t want to get married. I know a list of contradictions doesn’t add up to a poem of any substance but my temptation is great.
Burgeoning academic he throws in the term new historicism while we argue and snickers at himself abortion is new historicism. He’ll believe in anything his least reliable mentor tells him, obviously didn’t date me for the partner benefits. I choose getting neighborhoody while he gets all interstate highway I choose hair dye and lipstick but he’d rather sweat on someone new.
Have you ever impulsively taken someone’s personal items and thrown them atop the roof of your house? It feels awesome. Then that later day they see the things. Well, that’s another rush, I mean what you say. Right then. Conflict is my definition of a story.
I invented a game called Roof Ball. It’s fun. I’d tell you more about it right now but I need to go run.
Karen Cariker was born poor. Her dad was Irish, drunk and mean but never late to work. Her mom, Enid, was full-blooded Cherokee, she played the fiddle and slept in a brass bed in the backyard — she’s why Karen always had ivy in her rooms, and knew how to cook beans.
Book Slut review, done well (per usual). I’m just saying you should generally read Book Slut reviews.
Most images Rachel Papo today.
I glow A List of Stressful Activities That May or May Not Have Contributed to My Left Hand Going Numb by Meghan Lamb. (strong title, too)
The verbs, the repetition, the flow and meter and pop, the sway, the verbs. Example:
Picking, pinning, wringing. Suck, trace, dangle. Wriggle, scrap, scrunch.
You need to match the verb to the situation. To let the verbs walk [I hate the word walk] (or kick), talk, push and pull your text forward. Propel is what I’m saying. Verbs. Get kinetic with them, slow them down, go hard or soft or crazy…IT MATTERS. To work the verbs.
Why walk slowly, when you could lollygag. Who doesn’t love a lollygag? Why rain lightly when you could drizzle (that gorgeous double zz)? Quit fucking around. Pay attention to your verbs. IT MATTERS.
Thanks for this one, Meghan.
A thought: Our culture is happy to discard most anything. But we haven’t discarded telling stories.
Here’s yet another Bukowski hangover. Enjoy, Freaks. I like his jacket. Smart. I also like Velveeta poured from glass pitchers. I dislike a lot about him. Who cares what I like or dislike. In 100 years, what will we be doing? Don’t know. Is regret a bone or a melon?
Wonderful Layne Ransom poem about slugs and assholes.
–Simone, you need to open your eyes when shooting a firearm, dear. We’ve discussed this. The only reality is in action. And in balloons. I so admire balloons, sex with young strangers, solar panels, damp toast, pewter bunnies, Dan Rather, and Styrofoam. I’m feeling abandoned on this earth! I am, really. I am abandoned. There are no gods. Shit, I need to write a treatise and purchase some fudge! Oh, never mind. Simone, I’d prefer you open your eyes and get that prim little smirk off your face.
–Hey, Fuck you, Sartre, you power-hungry fuck. I’ll get existential on your ass. I’m smarter than you, anyway. That’s been documented. Why don’t you go pose for something. And get that stupid-ass pipe out of your mouthful of lie. The only thing you smoke is gibberish.
–BOOM! I’ll blow both your damn heads clear off! You want some of this? I’m old and cranky and barrel-chested and got three forehead wounds, four wives, and over 200 pieces of shrapnel in my knees. Both you intellectual fart-knockers can go explicate a falling piano for all I care. [Simone, you’re hot, sext me now.]
–All of you, quiet down! I am Sean Lovelace and I am an idiot and I am shooting in the air (while wearing yellow shoes–style) and here are two new reviews of a book I suppose you might wanna, you know, pick up/threadbare with eyes/purchase/defend while drunk/all that flash bangers, roast potato breath, yellow fellow of gymnasium-of-the-mind-humpers, Etc.
Lovelace writes with humor and originality, presenting readers with the world of Charlie Brown’s inner thoughts; how Andy Warhol, Robert Capa, Cher and Thelonious Monk, among others, prefer their eggs; and a nursing student with a mania for bocce.
Lovelace’s work is particularly notable—sparkling fragments hinged on surprise, on a quirkily tragic poetics. Handbooks for living with cancer, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and, yes, the preparations of eggs favored by selected famous people are all topics here. A representative sample of style and content is this section from the book’s final piece, “Endings”:
A teenage girl catches an amazingly large fish. She pauses, allowing herself to gaze in wonder. It has a row of bent hooks and five broken leaders in its mouth. It has a history. The girl isn’t really a girl. She only plays one online. She is actually a grown man who works in a chemical company that combines corn husks with hydrochloric acid to create a polymer used in cruise missiles. He bashes the head of the fish on the gunwale and tosses it thrashing into an Igloo cooler.
I thank you. I am proud as a polar bear with a sneeze machine. [Hemingway, sext me. I love you.]
You are writing very well lately, Russell Jaffe. You make us happy with dance/lance/glance at glass words like:
The first lines of my manifesto are “stars, floods, red lights—alright / maps, bodies, bones—forbidden zones.” In reality, the idea of lights that sit next to your bed and feet that bunch up against the walls, hunched like a fetus in suspended animation flooding space, unfilled lightlessness with garages, overturned Bedazzler kits, glue specks from Creepy Crawler kits (I knew instantly that it was just an EZ Bake Oven for boys)—that’s romantic, that makes me want to cry.
Big-ass Richard Brautigan site.
Put three quarters into a soda machine today and just walk away. I’m serious. Do that, for me.
Have you considered Stoked Press? Submission guidelines here.
I made money last night betting on GB. But who cares? talking about bets AFTER the game is so banal and obvious. If you have any Glow in your Guts, talk about your bets BEFORE the game. Jesus.
I learned how to roast potatoes. That felt satisfying. Like when you replace the labels of your beer with nonalcoholic beer labels and go around drinking beer at a church picnic and they are all thinking, “Damn, he’s drinking non-alcoholic beer at a fucking church picnic; wow he has a problem.” And you’re all, “You don’t know the half of it.” No, that’s not correct. I didn’t feel that way about roast potatoes. Not at all. How did I feel? I felt exhilarated, like the time I brought the shoes to the zoo and gave them to the monkeys. Excuse me: What is the nutritional value of swallowing misery or a bug while bicycling backwards through the wreckage of your father’s pet store? Potatoes, roast them, yo.
David Fishkind writes well about Delillo.
It is tough to write about drugs. Drugs are cliche. A lot of things are cliche. So, how do we write about the cliche?
[Actually, all of life is cliche. Yeh. I know. Shut up. You are trying to make me ramble.]
Brandon Courtney shows us how over at Smoke Long. Cotton Fever, yo.
There are many ways to make a cliche your own, to make it sing. Here, we have verisimilitude. Jargon. Words that growl to make a thing real.
[BTW, in a totally different vein (groan at pun), here is METH HORROR STORY site. It is clearly run by someone insane. Which I sort of like.]
Back to the Courtney story!
Johnny was standing under 100-watts of a single bare bulb, picking crank craters into his throat—whole constellations—with his thumbnail and index finger. He was in the late stage of meth mouth
I was at the kitchen table cracking blister-packs of pseudoephedrine into a saucepan when the battery man rang the doorbell to show us how to strip lithium from 9-volt Energizers.
Johnny came home after serving a nickel at the Fort Dodge Penitentiary for selling crumble cookies to a plain-clothed cop.
And so on. And on. Ground the thing. Grind it in the ground. I say well done. I say bring this text to those that need to cut their draft gritty, that need to push the original idea to its form, that need to get US CLOSER. Words. The secret language of any subversive activity, skateboarding or love or crank.
So many cliches. Beautiful cliches. Examples?
1. Short story about an South American family who comes from Peru to stay with another S.A. family in Muncie, IN; the daughter of the host family, Hemanka Jones, gets a crush on the son, Knock-Knock, and he confides in her that his mother is dying of Cheetos dust inhalation (orange lung).
2. Short story about a teacher assigned to an elementary school in a remote village.
3. Short stories where guy lies in bed all day.
4. Photos of women with guns.
5. Kids who bring baby woodpeckers into Lowes.
6. A man arrives.
7. A man leaves.
8. Shooting a book. Shooting that damn book up! Look, I’m trying to teach children the importance of literature, OK, of reading literature. What are you doing for the children?
9. Eco-novel where a woman drives a car into an editor.
10. Protagonist kills self (yawn).
11. The story about the Iron Chef and the elf.
12. Lorrie Moore story.
13. Quarterback controversies. I love a good QB controversy. I wish they would air the controversies, as opposed to the actual games.
14. WalMart as setting, as daycare/insane asylum/hospice.
(Quick story. Yesterday, at Walmart, this elderly woman walks INTO the door and sets off the alarm. She became angry and flustered. She started yelling at The Greeter. I thought three things:
One: How do you set off an alarm walking INTO a store.
Two: How can you get that upset over this incident? I mean life is hard. This upsets you?
Three: Oh gods, The Greeter at Walmart. Oh gods.)
15. Bourbon (especially if brand is named).
16. Sonnets about people in grocery stores telling people about their health problems.
18. The thrill of writing.
19. Age inappropriate dating stories.
20. Married people fighting in public poems.
21. Flash fiction about laxatives.
22. Checks. Especially ones that bounce.
23. Free verse where a young mother finds among some wadded balls of paper in the wastebasket of her ten-year-old daughter one which read: “Nachos.”
24. A clamor of wedding bells had followed her here. Hundreds of miles. Her head was ringed in pain as if in a vise. Shit like that.
25. Grocery lists.
26. Dame Shirley Bassey just rocking a Bond medley.
27. She already knew his dune-shack friend Blake Butler, knew the professors Kim Chinquee and Matt Bell from New York, knew everyone’s friend Tad the biker who lived on the pier or loose in the dunes, and old Sean Lovelace who gave parties. Stories that mention people you know. Anyone mentioning anyone, in a story.
28. Stories about Velveeta.
29. Stories about writing fiction.
30. Throwing no-hitters on acid:
33. Kid meets kid. They enrich our lives.
34. The story is also a searing unforgettable love story. Etc. Things like that. Things that sear.
35. Screaming, horrible, thrashing, dying Lobsters.
36. A famous composer has a terrible day.
37. Haiku sequence about couple who want to kiss/throw chairs/fight over whether to hang glossy photos (an industry of cliches) of small kids/not hang glossy photos (an industry of cliches) of kids on beige walls (obstacles like pots, pans, legal contracts, popcorn).
38. Lesbian villanelles.
39. Tanka. Just any fucking tanka.
40. Spam haiku.
41. A state park. [Hey, has anyone read John Brandon? I’m thinking about it.]
42. Segmented stories about drinking (yawn).
43. Poems about the moon. Fuck the moon!
44. Anything about Tao Lin.
45. Short story about Paul’s Martian roommate Thark and her cheating boyfriend.
47. I appear in my own story and that’s crazy.
49. Handing his nachos over to the doctor had taken almost physical courage.
50. Stories where people eat.
51. All its existence Nachos would struggle to reconcile these two divergent approaches to selfhood–the Victorian urge toward unity of toppings and layers it had inherited during its conception (Mexican chef on the fly serving gringos, 1943) as a subvert of the northern stomping dollar, and the Modernist drive for multiplicity and change that it absorbed very early in its career as a self-identifying member of the international ball park (thank Howard Cosell) /dive bar/homemade quick-ass meal. Indeed, by the time Nachos reached maturity, both had become so deeply embedded in its own being that neither could effectively be suppressed or jettisoned. The tactic Nachos ultimately arrived at for coping with this dilemma, most likely without being consciously aware that it was employing the tactic, was that of “compartmentalization,” in which, as The Queen of Nachos (Carmen Rocha) explains, “One confines the potentially conflicting components to separate spheres of one’s life.” Put simply, there would be two Nachos.
52. Poems dedicated to Jeremy.
Three days ago wrote a story today about a Processed Cheese Product man visiting a town. So what? Fuck blogs.
Over at wigleaf, Emily Howarth charms us and informs us and makes us smile (After all, I am a southerner…). I’m not sure how to link exactly to the story, so here you freaking go:
What to Remember When Returning to Mississippi
Nobody locks doors there. So when you go to see your friends or your relatives, don’t just stand at the door knocking or ringing the bell: open the door, poke your head in, and say, “Hello, anybody home?” If nobody answers when you call, walk in, go to the bottom of the stairs, and holler again. Someone will call back. If not, remember to shut the door behind you when you leave. The A/C is on. Also: don’t let the screen door slam. And don’t open it by pushing your hand against the screen next time, you moron.
Bless your heart.
When people in Mississippi say, “It’s nice to see you,” it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve met you before. It could just mean they were in second grade with your cousin, or they heard about what your nephew is alleged to have done to those kittens at the skate park. Perhaps they know your grandmother from tax-free Tuesdays at the liquor store. Perhaps they’ve heard about the success of your father’s Night Blooming Cereus. And perhaps, just maybe, they really have met you, which is why you should always smile and say, “It’s nice to see you, too.”
When you go out, do not even think of checking your lipstick at the table. Do that in the bathroom. While you’re at it, straighten your skirt if the seams have jimmied. Keep your hair out of your eyes: you have a pretty face.
It will cool down in the evenings. Out on the porch you can light citronella candles and drink Gordon’s and tonic. Your cousin will say the thick air feels like being inside a mouth. The trees your mother swears smell like semen will drop blossoms onto the windshields of the Fords and Buicks parked along the street. Your friends will come over. They’ll cheat you at Trivial Pursuit and drink. When the streets are completely quiet, your friends may start singing, and you may even join them: flat Yankee vowels bending under their kinder voices in songs you would otherwise pretend not to know. Remember to find some comfort in being in a place where everybody cares what people think, and nobody says exactly what they mean.
On the highway, in your car pushing 100, no one will recognize you fast enough to do that hand-on-the-steering-wheel wave that’s so popular in town. On the highway you can listen to gangster rap loud. Even if it gives you a headache, sometimes an ache in your head is better than nothing. After a while all the kudzu-strangled trees will stop seeming like a hedge maze—and though you are making a big circle, it will be a relief to see the town from afar and realize it really is that small.
I need to go run. I’m already gone. I’m running. See me?