Genre is a minimum security prison of knees

Timmy, timmy

Essay about blurbs.

Let’s be clear: blurbs are not a distinguished genre


Here are some funny poems at elimae. I have been collecting literature that responds to preexisting works. I will add these to my secret files. Well done, Alex Sheppard and Marshall Mallicoat.

Sierra Mist and Sprite

Some say the world will drink Sierra Mist,
Some say Sprite.
From what I’ve tasted of Sprite
I hold with those who favor Sierra Mist
But if it had to drink Sprite,
I think I know enough of pops
To say that for refreshment Sprite
Is also tops
And would be all right.


This David Shields on Colbert Report is pretty glow. I find this the type of video ripe for re-watching. For re-thinking about issues I am working in my writing and in my teaching. (Remember, the optimum professor model actually has your teaching interests and artistic as one. I use to scoff at this idea; I now embrace it. My recent flash fiction and structural inquiries are now saturating my teaching, and for the better.) I couldn’t get this damn video to embed and started researching why and suddenly I’m on all these pages with a bunch of computer wonks and I need to run, run, run today and go prep for class and so on, etc., so am not hanging out at computer wonky pages weird hats whatever black jeans to learn HTML code today. OK. I used to, I used to catch a buzz off solving computer riddles, and I was pretty good at that sort of thing, I could hunt and mind-press and reevaluate my click or clacks, but I can’t do it now. Why? TIME. Solving computer conundrums will spill broken necklace beads of Time–ping ping psssssssssssss–hours settling into the cracks of the floors of my day. Can’t do it.

[Computers are a jangling leash]

a 3 legged fox hops along the backyard and makes me think of spoonfuls of my life passing

Satire meets manifesto. I mean it’s a perfect video, in that Colbert is so intelligent in how he ‘plays’ the straight man and attacks the Shields book (and, really concepts of ‘writing’). Colbert plays the old school, the black and white, the “Isn’t it like you are breaking down my door and stealing my belongings when you ‘plagiarize'”? (Amazing how many quotation marks I have to employ to talk about the work of David Shields.) And Shields–who ‘wrote’ the book, lectures about these ideas, etc.–is sending Colbert’s softball questions and ‘concerns’ waaaayyyy out of the park.

[Who owns outer space?]

Have you ever read the essay where David Shields only uses Bumper Stickers? Is that online? Well, it is now. This should make you coffee your T-shirt, etc.

Life Stories by David Shields:

First things first.

You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever. I may grow old, but I’ll never grow up. Too fast to love, too young to die. Life’s a beach.

And yet can not the same yard in another time act as lovely fumes of fatherhood?

Not all men are fools; some are single. 100% Single. I’m not playing hard to get; I am hard to get. I love being exactly who I am.

Heaven doesn’t want me and Hell’s afraid I’ll take over. I’m the person your mother warned you about. Ex-girlfriend in trunk. Don’t laugh; your girlfriend might be in here.

Girls wanted, all positions, will train. Playgirl on board. Party girl on board. Sexy blonde on board. Not all dumbs are blonde. Never underestimate the power of redheads. Yes, I am a movie star. 2QT4U. A4NQT. No ugly chicks. No fat chicks. I may be fat, but you’re ugly and I can diet. Nobody is ugly after 2 a.m.

books can be lovely, can be light on a salt cube i suppose

Party on board. Mass confusion on board. I brake for bong water. Jerk off and smoke up. Elvis died for your sins. Screw guilt. I’m Elvis; kiss me.

Ten and a half inches on board. Built to last. You can’t take it with you, but I’ll let you hold it for a while.

Be kind to animals–kiss a rugby player. Ballroom dancers do it with rhythm. Railroaders love to couple up. Roofers are always on top. Pilots slip it in.

Love sucks and then you die. Gravity’s a lie; life sucks. Life’s a bitch; you marry one, then you die. Life’s a bitch and so am I. Beyond bitch.

Down on your knees, bitch. Sex is only dirty when you do it right. Liquor up front–poker in the rear. Smile; it’s the second-best thing you can do with your lips. I haven’t had sex for so long I forget who gets tied up. I’m looking for love but will settle for sex. Bad boys have bad toys. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me. Live fast; love hard; die with your mask on.

leaping too…

So many men, so little time. Expensive but worth it. If you’re rich, I’m single. Richer is better. Shopaholic on board. Born to shop. I’d rather be shopping at Nordstrom. Born to be pampered. A woman’s place is the mall. When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. Consume and die. He who dies with the most toys wins. She who dies with the most jewels wins. Die, yuppie scum.

This vehicle not purchased with drug money. Hugs are better than drugs.

You are loved.

Expectant mother on board. Baby on board. Family on board. I love my kids. Precious cargo on board. Are we having fun yet? Baby on fire. No child in car. Grandchild in back.

running words

I fight poverty; I work. I owe, I owe, it’s off to work I go. It sure makes the day long when you get to work on time. Money talks; mine only knows how to say goodbye. What do you mean I can’t pay off my Visa with my MasterCard?

How’s my driving? Call 1-800-545-8601. If this vehicle is being driven recklessly, please call 1-800-EAT-SHIT. Don’t drink and drive–you might hit a bump and spill your drink.

My other car is a horse. Thoroughbreds always get there first. Horse lovers are stable people. My other car is a boat. My other car is a Rolls-Royce. My Mercedes is in the shop today. Unemployed? Hungry? Eat your foreign car. My other car is a 747. My ex-wife’s car is a broom. I think my car has PMS. My other car is a piece of shit, too. Do not wash–this car is undergoing a scientific dirt test. Don’t laugh; it’s paid for. If this car were a horse, I’d have to shoot it. If I go any faster, I’ll burn out my hamsters. I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you. I also drive a Titleist. Pedal downhill.

the political season

Shit happens. I love your wife. Megashit happens. I’m single again. Wife and dog missing–reward for dog. The more people I meet, the more I like my cat. Nobody on board. Sober ‘n’ crazy. Do it sober. Drive smart; drive sober.

No more Mr. Nice Guy. Lost your cat? Try looking under my tires. I love my German shepherd. Never mind the dog–beware of owner. Don’t fence me in. Don’t tell me what kind of day to have. Don’t tailgate or I’ll flush. Eat shit and die. My kid beat up your honor student. Abort your inner child. I don’t care who you are, what you’re driving, who’s on board, who you love, where you’d rather be, or what you’d rather be doing.

Not so close–I hardly know you. Watch my rear end, not hers. You hit it–you buy it. Hands off. No radio. No Condo/No MBA/No BMW. You toucha my car–I breaka your face.  Protected by Smith & Wesson. Warning: This car is protected by a large sheet of cardboard.

I miss something concealed, the watery error of my hand and mind

LUV2HNT. Gun control is being able to hit your target. Hunters make better lovers: they go deeper into the bush–they shoot more often–and they eat what they shoot.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do own the whole damn road. Get in, sit down, shut up, and hold on. I don’t drive fast; I just fly low. If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk. I’m polluting the atmosphere. Can’t do 55.

I may be growing old, but I refuse to grow up. Get even: Live long enough to become a problem to your kids. We’re out spending our children’s inheritance.

Life is pretty dry without a boat. I’d rather be sailing. A man’s place is on his boat. Everyone must believe in something; I believe I’ll go canoeing. Who cares!

Eat dessert first; life is uncertain. Why be normal?

stop trying so hard

Don’t follow me; I’m lost, too. Wherever you are, be there. No matter where you go, there you are. Bloom where you are planted.

Easy does it. Keep it simple, stupid. I’m 4 Clean Air. Go fly a kite. No matter–never mind. UFOs are real. Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. I brake for unicorns.

Choose death.

Interesting in the video that Shields calls Colbert out as a persona. Naturally, Colbert knows this (though he does have a brief, flustered pause); it’s the core of his satire, yet Shields makes me think of WJFSHD, or WHAT JAMES FREY SHOULD HAVE DONE.


[“This affair  is much ado about nothing,” says EARLY Oprah.]

James Frey, in his public beat-down by Oprah–a situation that reminded me of some grotesque Roman affair, hissing and Christians thrown to lions, etc–should have said a lot of things (this might be a whole other post–already I feel my blood thrumming up), but certainly he should have said, “Oprah, you of the one name, OPRAH, YOU are creative nonfiction, YOU are a persona, YOU are a assembloir of narrative, YOU are a trickster, barker, ‘writer,” WRITER named HARPO.”

[Shields says he wasn’t disappointed Frey was a liar. He was disappointed Frey wasn’t a better liar.]

my next book cover

And a lot of other things. He could have confronted the complexity of the issue right there on Oprah, but he didn’t. Why? because he couldn’t. That wasn’t what he was there for. That wasn’t the story. Oprah doesn’t work in the genre of push-back. (That’s why she flip-flopped in days after defending Frey.) He was there to spill blood, and damn it, Oprah would have her blood. It was time for a Frey sandwich. Any other narrative would not have done at all, at all, at all.

[“James Frey is here and I have to say it is difficult for me to talk to you because I feel really duped,” says A FEW DAYS LATER Oprah.]

ha, ha, you feel this big now, punk.

Ahh memories…Today my classes read the essay “Assembloir: That Which is True of Others is True of Me,” by Ander Monson. They are reading this version, first published in The Collagist. My class probably doesn’t know it today, but Monson’s essay contain none of his own words. These sentences were appropriated from various memoirs. In The Collagist, Monson does not cite the sources. In this version, he cites every source. What is the difference? Well, we know there is one. Shields wanted to cite no sources, and his publisher insisted he do, attaching an appendix to Reality Hunger. Shields (as you can see in the video; Colbert of course takes a comedic turn with this notion) adds a dotted line to the appendix and wants the reader to excise the thing with a box cutter.

Interestingly–and I suppose predictably, since the quote “Genre is a minimum security prison” appears in the book–it seems Shields most likely subverted even this compromise. The appendix seems less than reliable, some citations are maybes and many omitted and we aren’t certain the quotations match at all, at all.

BTW, I like that quote. Genre might be a prison, in academia, in bizness aspects of writing, in limited minds, but its a minimum security prison: we can escape, if we try.

Monson says:

memories of glimmer of a glimmer

This assembloir is one of several that I wrote—or perhaps assembled, though I’m not always sure there’s a difference between the two—for the forthcoming book Vanishing Point (April 2010).

[though I’m not always sure there’s a difference between the two]

[though I’m not always sure there’s a difference between the two]

[though I’m not always sure there’s a difference between the two]


With the help of Dolly Laninga, a writer I contracted to help out with this project, I read (or she and I read, or in some cases she read) something like 300 memoirs. Mainly we just looked for anything interesting that we could find.


Those represented in this assembloir are things that are true of me, that tell my story. Really our stories are all not so different, though the particular events of our lives are.


Tomorrow, my students will write their own essay. But they are not allowed to use their owns words.

They are not allowed to use their own words.

allowed to use their own words.

own words.




[The state owns the wildlife, the birds. But when they are in the air?]

Here is my system for wagering on horses over at Hobart.

My “system” (every gambler has a system) has nothing to do with the actual horses. And now you’re thinking, That doesn’t make any sense. Indeed. My system strives to avoid the making of sense. I rely on the dispassionate senselessness of numbers. Of luck, really.


Just bought three chapbooks by Tyler Gobble, THE NEWG, and Brian Oliu over at Tiny Hardcore Press. You should do the same.


My plan at AWP is to take $100 in cash to the book fair and spend only that. Does that sound legit? I want flash. I want hybrid. I want meta. I want stolen, appropriated structures. I want weird.

[I want Chicago nachos]


I switch perfumes all the time. If I’ve been wearing one perfume for three months, I force myself to give it up, even if I still feel like wearing it, so whenever I smell it again it will always remind me of those three months. I never go back to wearing it again; it becomes part of my permanent smell collection.



Okemos by Avram Kline is lovely odd.



You should read this flash by Sarah Levine:

I jumped onto the kitchen chair and said, “Have you lost your mind? Are you threatening me over a fucking cheese slicer?” at which point D put down the knife and wept, having scared himself a little.

the fuck you looking at?

One response to “Genre is a minimum security prison of knees

  1. I will give you this: Your photo of golden disc submerged looks like a sunset behind clouds.

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