The Big-Ass Suck-Ass Slaw-Cheek Dutch Oven Lid Over the Sky we Call Winter

Wow check out the nachos. Over there by her bed. In the blood red bowl. I wonder if she has hot sauce. The thing with hot sauce is sometimes they just rely on being HOT, with little sensitivity to flavor. And then sometimes they are FLAVORFUL but not very hot. This causes vexation and melancholic feelings.

As a rule, when eating Thai food or Indian or even when just at some wing place (I don’t eat chicken, period, but do dip fries) I always try to order the HOTTEST or SPICIEST the place has, the NUKE or BLEED-ASS or DEVIL’S GONADS or whatever crazy name they give the sauce. Usually, it’s not that hot. I mean it’s hot, but it doesn’t make my head unhinge or make me want to sing a ghost song or get religion or anything. So then I feel melancholy.

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve left hot sauce experiences and just walked around the parking lot feeling sad and basically dead. I remember once I found a five dollar bill in a parking lot so that was better. But I mean I want my hot sauce to make me feel alive. In my mouth/brain/stomach. So it’s depressing. I mean it gets metaphorical after a point. These series of dropped expectations. They become our very days.

But we still have disc golf, I guess. Once this goddamn snow thaws.

Flash Fiction Chronicle announces an upcoming flash contest, the String-of-Ten flash fiction contest.

I like FFC but I hate writing prompts. I think they are absolute bullshit. Weak. Victorian even. Hey, here’s a writing prompt: Get your fucking ass out of bed and write.

I do like that there is no entry fee.

Here’s a prompt: Imagine you are a crop-duster shack.

Here’s a prompt: Stop watching your neighbors.

Also, at FFC, Aubrey Hirsch argues for plot in flash fiction. She feels this is what separates the prose poem from the flash fiction. I don’t know. I wish she had defined what she means by plot.

She does say, “I need to see something important shift in the course of the story.”

Ok, well a lot of prose poems shift. I wonder if Aubrey is saying she just needs something to happen. Like a conflict. Or possibly a stirring of a theme? Is she arguing for intent? Prose poems often have all of the above.

What if we don’t separate the prose poem and the flash fiction? What will happen?

Her ponderings reminds me a little bit of Lorrie Moore’s “How to Become a Writer.” Moore’s story is NOT about how to become a writer, but it is about plot. The protagonist takes a CW workshop and everyone–including her instructor–comments that she has no sense of plot. That’s her problem–she doesn’t do plots. And this is a bad thing. Pretty much a deal-ender, as far as the workshop is concerned.

BUT, read a bit more closely, or view the protagonist a bit closer, I mean to say. Her father is cheating on her mother. Her brother has returned from the Vietnam war without his leg. Her own personal relationships are a dismal series of nothings. Her life has no PLOT. There is no tidy narrative, linear or otherwise. And now Moore’s story has left character and situation and has become a conversation on the short story form. What story structure represents our daily lives? Is it plot?

Our need for plot possibly because we want to feel we have a narrative, our lives? Some arch? Or, even better, some theme. Would suck if we had no theme, right? Well, I’m going to have language in my life. I’m not sure on the structure part. I push against structure sometimes. And I sure don’t know about theme…

Speaking of this PANK by Hirsch is rather glow here:

“Your dream may not be that far off,” he tells me. “Studies have shown that the human brain makes no interesting distinctions between the past and the present.  If someone looks at a hot dog, or remembers looking at the hot dog, the same parts of their brain light up.”

*

Stymie Magazine Pushcarted me nod-ways and then they interviewed me. I say:

They are sort of embarrassing, an award for writing. But then again I am a professor of creative writing, and, in a practical sense, in a very real sense, my university adores rankings and awards. They like to see these things, and I’d like to be tenured. So.

As an artist, what does it mean? I hope nothing. I hope I smile and say “that’s cool” and can contain a moment of thanks and then get right back to writing. Woody Allen has never seen a film he’s made—that’s the correct idea, yes?

These bastards made Greek nachos. I feel angry today, just at myself naturally. It’s very, very hard to escape your own mediocrity. This is what I’ve found. So I guess you’re not a bastard just because you want to get all cute with nachos. Maybe.

*

JMWW Best of 2010 anthology! Yipee 4 me. When I appear in anything with Ken Sparling, I am happy.

*

At PANK Hannah Miet does a good job wishing it would be.

*

I am reading Thomas Bernhard, the Austrian author. Specifically Wittgenstein’s Nephew, a sort of novel and memoir. This is, of course, HTML Giant‘s fault. I read all the posts over there and end up buying books when I already have too many damn books to read.

It’s like when students try to give me graphic novels. Why do they try to give me graphic novels? I don’t know. But I can’t read them, OK? I’m sorry.

Bernhard impresses me with his absolute confidence. The voice is immediately one you follow and believe. It reminds me a bit of Sebald. The book begins and you are off on the tale, told plainly and clearly and confidently, with declarations all over:

Like all other doctors, those who treated Paul continually entrenched themselves behind Latin terms, which in due course they built up into an insuperable and impenetrable fortification between themselves and the patient, as their predecessors had done for centuries, solely in order to conceal their incompetence and cloak their charlatanry.

Paul never saw beneath the surface; he never saw the whole picture as I did.

A healthy person, if he is honest, wants nothing to do with the sick.

Opinions clearly stated, as if fact. It interests me. So much writing is mushy, or meanders, or rarely states things simply and in such a declarative fashion. It made me admire Thomas Bernhard. And it made me frightened of him. Especially when he says things like:

Most of the minds we associate with are housed in heads that have little more to offer than overgrown potatoes, stuck on top of whining and tastelessly clad bodies eking out a pathetic existence that does not even merit our pity.

Here Bernhard seems to view most of us humans as insects, trifling insects, and I could certainly see him being all for crushing us. There is an undercurrent here that unsettles. I also find great humor, black humor, in this writing, even in this description. But, for me, it is a frightening laugh.

Vouched interviews me. I say:

Connected? Let me tell you something. I have several mistresses and with all of them I have to enter the house through a dog door, a dirty, swinging, hair-sticking, rubber door. On my knees. Every single one of these pitiful women looks as if they came out of the depths of Russia, with their kerchiefs and wide skirts and round faces, with their pale, flabby breasts and foul breaths of paskha and kulich. But I don’t get to stay for dinner. I mean The Man doesn’t even know my address. I am about as connected as a dandelion seed.

*

If we didn’t sin, we’d kill ourselves.

William H. Gass

Last weekend I was deep, deep in a swamp with my uncle. We were deer hunting. And I had this oddest, most pure, most comfortable feeling being in this swamp, and a sort of love for my uncle. The odd thing was we were in this giant swamp of trees and standing water and ice-rimmed black pools and mossy things and owl sounds and dead logs and just this very real place so far removed from a lot of stressors in my life and we were together, my uncle and I, though not really together at all–several hundred yards from each other and totally hid away from one another–but somehow together, like in this vast swamp, and like in this endeavor of hunting, and like breathing this cold air and feeling the cold upon us and just being away from most everything out there. There was a mist and very windy, the trees swaying, and spitting sleet a bit and this was so deep in a swamp you didn’t even see litter or anything stupidly human. It was wonderful, really. And so hard to capture. A giant red-headed woodpecker pounded on this hollow bare-limbed tree. Something shrieked out there! Who knows what? (though my Uncle had seen three bobcats recently). Scuttling low clouds. The wind, the wind. I think if you spent enough time in a deep swamp, especially the way I did, about 35 feet up a tree and swaying in the wind, well I think you would go crazy. But I also think you would go crazy if you never went into the swamp at all.

I am sick of the weary folds of my face.

*

Holy shit. Sometimes I am late in getting things. Like Nicolle Elizabeth (her blog). How have I been missing her writing? Well, once I found it, I found it. And you should find it.

She has four stories at wigleaf. They show her range, I feel. Here is the opening flash:

Telegram
Nicolle Elizabeth

::sorry I missed your call:: was sprayed by a skunk:: crawling around the backyard, looking for something I’d lost::

This anderbo story if pretty damn glow.

She does elimae. I really like the structural pop here, the junk and shard.

She also does a lot of reviewing and etc. but I don’t really give a damn about that. I like her fiction. It’s all over the WEB, too. Just use THE GOOGLE. It will be worth your surf, folks.

When Sarah Carson was born she was freaking awesome.

*

Yo. Every image in this post is Robin Jonsson

S

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6 responses to “The Big-Ass Suck-Ass Slaw-Cheek Dutch Oven Lid Over the Sky we Call Winter

  1. Sean!! Such a cool commentary about that dreaded word and/or concept of “plot! ” And thanks for the FFC plug. And by the way, could I reprint that part of this post at FFC? With a link back. Maybe for Monday?

    In the meantime, here’s a string of 10 prompt words just for you:

    nachos-eggs-love-lace-Dutch-pushcart-dark stairs-lid-crotch-beer

  2. Do what you wheel

  3. Hey Sean,

    Thanks for opening up the discussion here. I agree with you that much prose poetry has plot, just as a lot of flash fiction has an emphasis on image and even lyrical language. There is a lot of gray area between these two genres. But, for me, plot is what tips the scales toward fiction. I also think there’s a big difference between resisting plot with intent (like Moore does) and leaving one out because it’s easier to just describe. This is what I try to impress on my students.

    I like the “definition” of plot you pulled from my blog post, that something needs to shift over the course of the story. If pressed, I think that’s how I’d define it.

  4. There has got to be a form of art inside of graphic novels, let’s call it pop art if we have to, but it is there.

    I think its silly to turn your head to an entire art form.

  5. Hey Sean, thanks for the shoutout.

  6. Donald,

    I’m sure there is. I’ve read Spiegelman, so would agree. Though in honesty I haven’t seen many (and I give them a quick look, so…) I want to read. My bigger point was I have no time to read, period. Because I read for a living. Weird.

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