Tag Archives: Ander Monson

a treadmill balloon and Andy Devine and other meaningful objects

The National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for their 2011 awards. My man Ander Monson rocks it with Vanishing Point.

Woot! Woot!

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Readings can be dark or light. Cavern or cascade of whitewater. Tight walls. Drippy walls. Angles or smoosh. Smells of linseed oil, smells of urine. Cleavage or ankle bones. Skinny eyeglasses, striped hipster caps. Three minutes. Hair like an encasing dress. Mostly young. Much more older. Really long hair. Walls. Buzz cuts and beards. Bright. Aphotic.

Once at a reading I felt a fat fist in my throat. Like a toad.

Once I washed ashore wet as a clam’s ass.

Once I felt primary, sovereign, but it might have been the dank porter.

But I digress…

Andy Devine is reading in a bright art gallery.Wait, this photo isn’t bright. Let me rip one from Vouched. Ok, here we go:

As usual Andy insulted the audience and the other readers and insinuated we–Matt Bell, Aaron Burch, myself–were simply warming up for Andy’s majesty. Andy said his book was better than moving water, or watching the French Open while having sex, etc. He cackled several times, not a laugh, a cackle. I had an urge to punch Andy Devine. I curled my fingers into a health farm of a fist. I thought, “I will go rustic on your forehead!” This is the same man who recently bragged:

Also, once a year, for a few days, the city of Kingman celebrates Andy Devine Days and Andy Devine Avenue in Flagstaff is named after me.

Then Andy read. His words were like the sun asking the moon out on a date to the symphony and with a handful of Lorcet and golden half-light honey mead and later the sun and the moon make out in a tricked-out car in an alleyway made of circus. Andy put all of us in our place. We were warming up for Andy Devine. I felt waves of nausea. My writing life was a tragic joke, a wet napkin of nothingness, a fraud. In an odd way, I had to thank Andy Devine. He silenced me. I went home and deleted over 400 drafts of various flash fictions. I held a wet towel to the back of my sweating neck. I then opened a Word document and started anew. I wrote the word the. I slept for two days. I drove back out to Indianapolis to watch Aaron Burch eat nachos.

Now that is a happy man. Why? Nachos. I keep trying to tell you folks…

*

Parker Tettleton with a mesmerizing flash over at elimae.

*

The lift activator on my treadmill exploded. This is the second time. Fuck. Me. The first time mechanical dude wanted $110 to fix the lift activator. I paid him, sure, I had to–I needed hill training; I was about to run the Boston Marathon. But I watched him and took mental notes. So this time I replaced the lift activator all by myself. I had this surge of Wow I can fix things. It felt good.I felt less guilty about the generational putrescence of any actual skill. Like my grandfather could build a car out of an ear of corn and some baling wire. My dad could flip the stop lamp switch bracket and pour diet Pepsi into the radiator to cool it down. Me? I pay someone $35 to change my oil. But I did fix the treadmill. I repaired the treadmill. The treadmill, ready for the running, sir. Yes, yes, yes. I then ran MIXED INTERVALS like a fucking roller coaster goat.

Ive started to like the words “Mixed Intervals,” not sure why. Mixed intervals. Mixed. Intervals.

I went all:

6:00 mile pace X 3 minutes/6:00 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:56 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:56 mile pace mile X 3 minutes/Ran a 5:52 mile/5:49 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:49 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:45 mile pace X 3 minutes/5:45 mile pace X 7 minutes.

The last part was tough. I was grinding. I had to turn The Smiths on, and I rarely run to music. Since The Smiths are the only music I like, I had to go to them for extra verve, for a little thrusty-jump!

CROOOOONNNNEEERRRRRRRR…

It worked.

Can I just say I am tiring of everything breaking? My treadmill. Then this middle light of three lights in my dining room. It keeps going dark, like every other day. And I lost an earring last Tuesday. It just fell off my ear I guess. And then my .50 caliber muzzle-loader was recalled.

Knight Rifles has received a small number of reports from the field of Revolution muzzleloading rifles accidentally discharging as the user closed the action.

Exsqueeze me? You mean my rifle might just fire? That’s slightly deadly, sir. That’s slightly fatal, young lady. Whoops, I just fired off a .50 caliber weapon. Well, look at thar! Dern. So I have to send the rifle action away for repair. They are supposed to send me a box and pay for the mailing and whatever. We’ll see.

So I tire of this, all this breakage and loss. Everyone knows why. The tendency to degrade. The universal force. Entropy. As in: WE ARE ALL FALLING APART. I feel it as every day passes, it, shimmering in the air, and so do you. Fucking physics. What can you do?

I don’t know.

*

Peter Davis is reading in a dark bar. Peter read funny poems about Tina. I heard a girl next to me say, “Wait until Jared reads. Jared is loud.” Jared Sexton read. He was LOUD. He read a fabulous story about a man with a girlfriend and the girlfriend keeps mouthing off drunk in public and so the man has to get into various fistfights. He loves his girlfriend sober but is maybe frightened of what will happen when she drinks. It’s an interesting situation. Other readers on this evening were melancholy. In fact, I distinctly heard two melancholy sonnets. One reader I couldn’t hear too well. I think he said something about a monkey. Could have been money. Could have been Vivi, like a poem about a girl named Vivi? I don’t know:  the sound waves got caught in the mushy walls. Or maybe fell into the square pit of the bartender’s boxing ring. I noticed the bartender was overwhelmed and pouring very heavy drinks. She might have been an inexperienced bartender. The drinks were heavy. I drank a vodka and tonic. And then a tonic and vodka. They are not the same.

*

MEANINGFUL OBJECTS

Flash needs meaningful objects. What? Exactly. The cut-glass tumbler. The bowl. The red shoe. The big gob of phlegm. The blackberry. Creamy tops of glowing lantern in the night. The river rock. The paring knife. The cat. The canoe. The nipple. The paper plate. The solitary bean. The Turbo Dogs. The mockingbird.

They must connote, as in echo off the page. They exist to argue for their existence. You have to give the reader an opportunity.

Little Things by Raymond Carver. A domestic fight. Move to the kitchen (for all the obvious reasons–one of the finest places to have a fictional fight is in the kitchen). And:

Let go of him, he said.

Get away, get away! she cried.

The baby was red-faced and screaming. In the scuffle they knocked down a flowerpot that hung behind the stove.

What of that flowerpot? Doesn’t matter. You gave us an object. Now our minds will grapple for reverberations.

–flowers as already metaphorical. We don’t need pointy PhD hats for that. Flowers are not given/received due to  a sudden spike of interest in botany right around birthdays, first dates, and Valentine’s day.

–I just like the crash of the pot on the floor.

–He gave her that flower, man!

–Their love once grew like a flower and now it’s…

groannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

–Yeh, I’m with her, me too, and the dirt all bird-footed out, the way we can’t put it all back together.

–I don’t get how you hang a flowerpot. That’s some phony shit.

–I need to go to the bathroom.

–I think the pot is supposed to point us back to a better time for this couple. I mean it’s in the kitchen and its clearly not utilitarian. It’s not a spatula. It’s a flower.

–The pot is a manifestation of—

OK, OK, let’s move on. You’re all wrong and all right. Carver gave us a chance, is what I’m saying. We are all gods of our stories. Didn’t have to be a flowerpot. You could all place something else behind that stove. But give us a chance, folks. Give us an object.

Kathy Fish is one of my favorite flash fiction writers. Often she will use objects as a way to characterize. Watch now. You could form someone wary, yet open to experience, hard, but with an underlying sentimentality, a person who—

Or you could just dump out their backpack:

I empty my backpack onto my bunk: euros and condoms, a photo of my dog, digestive biscuits, a can of mace, and a bottle of spring water with a picture of a cow on it.

Objects, objects, objects. Sometimes they make me happy as a little stove.

Check out the opening of this recent flash (Go read it all–it is glow) by Mike Meginnis, over at JMWW:

This body can’t stop throwing up. Cheeto dust and Gatorade. Power bars. Granola. Macaroni. Cheddar. Grains of rice. Frito Lays. Taco Bell. Refried beans. Paper bag. Bendy straw. Fishing line. Dog food. Dog sick. Dog fur. Powerade. Lettuce leaves. Carrot peel. Orange peel. Jelly Belly jellybeans. Gummi worms. Taffy. Chewing gum. Fingernails. Cocacola. Cocacola. Cocacola.

In the toilet, on its rim, on the floor, in the grout. Pooling in this body’s shaking hands.

See? Things, people, things. Let me end this little constitutional with one of my favorite flashes and uses of objects, Four Hard Facts About Water, by Damian Dressick:

After your two-year-old daughter trips and falls unseen into the neighbor’s in-ground pool while you are in their summer house trying to find steak sauce…

Steak sauce. That’s why you weren’t there when your two-year old entered the pool. Steak sauce. Could Damian Dressick make a philosophical argument concerning the oft banality of human mortality? The very absurdity of how we enter, leave, die? How grief confounds even the most…Yes, yes, he could. Or he could give us a meaningful object.

See?

*

My favorite type of writing is the smashing together of the natural world (glow) and the artificial world, the world of media vomit, neon sign, advert (blar). What a touch, what a touch by Fausto Barrionuevo over at deComp:

BARN OWL

Pigeon coops, roach motels, mouse traps,
veiled by the billboards back-bending lamps,
veering out like tree snakes.
Hushed yellows on the backs of mosquitoes
by the Barn owl, steady on the scaffold.
Her shadow flying on tropical winds
above her bold profile.
A cold breath flows from her cracked beak,
thrusting seas running like waterfalls
through her cavernous lids.
Under the painted orange sky, a slogan in the sand:
All buffets open till midnight.
Rain drops snap onto granite
as clouds, black as pavement, roll by.
A herd of deer dashes across the interstate,
antlers charging into dark forest.

Jennifer Lopez Foot Lasagna Greg

I wrote a story about an old man who likes to kick things. I then swept out my tool shed and I ate lasagna and fed my leftover lasagna to the creek today. I tossed it into one of the deeper pools. The creek runs through my property, along the woods, runs and gurgles and brains the air. The creek goes shattered jar in the sun, a beautiful thing. I love the creek. Water makes me glow. I have a chair next to the creek and I like to sit in the chair and read and drink beer and listen to the creek guffawing at how it was here before me and will laugh eons on after I am dead.

But how did the creek respond to my lasagna?

* Crawdads went after the large noodles. One of my favorite crawdads, a large blue one I have named Diane, bullied many of the younger ones, often approaching and ripping a lasagna noodle from their claws. I have noticed small crawdads will pursue a larger one to (I guess?) try to get the food back, but once they get close they never really try. They are just like, “I’m going to get my food back! I’m not scared.” Then they approach the reality of the situation and freeze.

* The smallmouth bass preferred the cheese (a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, sprinkling of Parmesan). They darted in on silver shadows and plucked the cheese away, then whisked back into mossy under-hangs.

* The small sunfish mostly went after the tofu sausage.

* All animals ignored the fennel seeds.

* I saw one small yellow crawdad pick at a leaf of basil, but it then moved on to a large noodle.

* An unknown minnow picked at both the onion and slivers of garlic. It was having trouble holding itself in the current. A smallmouth bass then darted out and swallowed the minnow. Bam. Knife flash. So I basically baited a minnow into deeper water with my Italian seasonings. There it died.

* Only the river rocks took the parsley.

* Ditto the crushed tomatoes.

* The salt returned to the earth.

****

This is how I drive a disc:

This is how Ander Monson drives a disc. He has a new book/site (he always has a new book/site!). Go read it and explode.

Damn. Pretty awesome follow-through, like he’s about to fly away. I would tell you more about my weekend playing disc golf in Wisconsin, but you would be bored liked corn and squash.

So.

This is how Mark Neely drives a disc!! You can find a new wicked Neely poem at Juked.

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If you know much about my writing, you know I have a “Drug Series.”

Example, Cocaine.

So. Here is Psilocybin over at Metazen.

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Rose Metal Press has an interview here, and they mention Eggs won a design award.

Holy shit. Very cool. If you want to buy Eggs, go click that link up top right and read some flash fiction or something, yo. Yo.

[I feel like a paper bag right now.]

*

New Word Riot, motherfuckers!! I myself enjoyed:

1. Desire Cafe Sutra by John Kuligowski because it was Beat as hell, and John says he is a boring guy.

2. The Beige Futon by Greg Gerke.

This flash fiction fucking rocks. Check out this little smidgen:

Sitting in the subway, he laughed aloud and a man with a picture of a taco on his shirt didn’t seem too happy and he thought, Why can’t I laugh on the fucking subway? The one time I do a massive soft shell of guilt envelops me? So he closed his eyes and went back to the first moments, but the moments had changed. He was alone with their futon and it was dark and rainy.

That’s how you’re supposed to do it. Scene to action to physical now to trigger to thought to flashback. Pay attention all you psychos who say you want to write. Here’s a technique for you. Read it ten times or stop trying/whining.

her saying she’d still love him forever though she was leaving him for someone less neurotic.

Oh man, situation and characterization. I’ll be teaching this one to the kiddies in the fall, and that means I like/like/like it, and it’s also lame for me to say so, because I am so academia, no? No. I liked it first because it moved me. I liked it 8 more times for the same reason. I liked it the 9th and 10th time because this flash fiction is technical as a green Cadillac and I will drive it all over my students’ desks and times and haircuts and lollygags of structural play/room/lives.

3. Peter Schwartz interview.

This collection took me a few years to write. During that time I spent most of my time in my room. I had no real (meaning not just online or voice) relationships and sunk into the loneliness that comes from being that alone. There’s also the fact that I’m a bit haunted (see: ‘ABCs of loss’) but the truth is that my astronaut training program is simply not complete. You were right, sometimes I am beaten, but I think ultimately I will overcome this shit.

*

I like to mow the yard. I like to see the grass fall in lines. To see a thing done. Sometime I feel black horses at my back, like alongside or gaining, but I have never heard their hooves while mowing the yard. So that’s something.

S

Canoe and Write and Run and Dan Chaon

I took The Boy fishing on the White River. The water was high and rumbled like lips on a wine jug, or maybe a flight museum if all the planes came to life, propeller thrum, etc. After watching quite a few other fisherman just casting randomly, I made sure to teach The Boy how to read a river. While books and minds are important, a person MUST know how to read a river. It’s a masterpiece, this river, I said to my son.

I said, “Son, don’t spook the water you’re about to fish. Those fish will think this canoe is a killer whale.”

I said, “Son, feel this sand (I scooped a bit from a bank); isn’t is cool and marvelous in the hand?”

I said, “Son, fish eddies and riffles and pools. If you’re just going to throw the lure anywhere we might as well be in a Wal-mart parking lot or hell, but I repeat myself.”

I said, “Son, fishing is like the act of love. When you are older, you’ll regret days you didn’t fish, not the ones you did.”

I said, “Son, let’s go light line today. Everything is ten-fold with light line.”

I said, “Son, if you’re not getting hung up on the bottom, you’re not fishing in the right place.”

I said, “Son, pass me that massive, massive beer from the Igloo cooler.”

I said, “Look, son, fools!” Ah, Memorial Day weekend…

[He said, “Dad, why is that woman naked?”]

Drunk, wet, dumb, loud, naked, often underwater. No worries, though. I enjoy the people-watching and most likely these folks (and many others we passed) did not know what they just caterwhomped themselves into. As I said, the river was high. Anyway, no matter the chaos, we caught fish the way a hole in the ground catches the glint of stars. Good times, good times.

*

Wow, via HTML, look what Mud Luscious Press is up to.

Love it. Love it!

Everything here is way glow.

*

Dark Sky Magazine has a spotlight feature on this Sean Lovelace fellow.

*

I’m still in disbelief I signed up for:

The Toughest Road Marathon in the World
The Only Uphill Marathon in the US
6000 ft Elevation Gain

MOUNT LEMMON MARATHON

Man, fuck me. Pain…

This is Ander Monson‘s fault, basically.

OK, so I am IN TRAINING:

I am most worried about the altitude and the mountain lions. I can’t train for those factors. Anyway, I started my training today. I am going to try for primarily slow hills (I have a treadmill with grades) and LONG runs and also dark beer. I will also try to like tackle random dogs I see along the highways. Just pull over, run at the dog, and tackle the thing. I’d also like to eat at a mercantile exchange, like maybe takeout. I’d always had that urge. I’m not even sure what a mercantile exchange is, but fuck it. And I’ll be rattling more doorknobs than usual. If I see a doorknob, I will rattle that doorknob. So I warn you in advance. Are doorknobs slowly becoming extinct? I mean you see a lot of handles and metal bars and like little flippy things and electronic locks and so on, but what about a good old slobber-knocking doorknob? I wonder.

Also I will flutter my eyelids when appropriate.

Also I will AK47 my lungs in the late evenings, particularly Tuesdays.

Also I will tick.

Also I will magic rhythm my shins.

Today:

8.2 mph:

12 minutes at 2%

12 minutes at 3%

12 minutes at 4%

2 minutes at 2%

Not a bad start, good sweat. Legs should feel glow later.

*

Dan Chaon glows grief well here, a wigleaf Top 50. Grief as Things Fall Apart, things end (our own lives), and I can’t stop them, I can’t stop them anymore than I could stop rust or an ebbing tide or a crumbling log or a drunk and tumbling Lady Gaga or a sagging bedroom or a crumpled shirt or the moon carving itself into nothing. Look around: Things fall apart. Grief as resentment. Look at them. Look at them, in love, hobbling, hobbling, hobbling–but alive.

It’s a tone piece: shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

So many writers would fuck this up. But Chaon keeps it on keel, quiet, leaves rustling…falling, mulching, into the emerging buds of…

Spring, the season, as most rude reply to death. Most rude.

Late April.

Early May.

Tulips and daffodils and lilacs and budding trees.

I wonder if that would make her happy, to know that the Hobblers were still around. Down the block and back, down the block and back, getting a little exercise. Maybe—probably—she would like it. “Sweet,” she would say.

As for me, I don’t know what I would prefer. I sit at the window, peering out, and I don’t know whether I want to see them, or if I hope that they will never come.

The hurt isn’t that I am going to die, dear blog reader. The hurt is that the day I die you will have a need for low-fat latte, and you will make or buy low-fat latte, and you will drink low-fat latte, and it will be a good low-fat latte.

*

What are you looking at?

drop your miter into a first historical Saltine of sadness

KGM sent me a letter today. Wait, a letter arrived today from KGM. Wait, the return address is Amy Berkowitz, from Mondo Bummer Books.

[I need to cut my yard but there is a certain luxury to looking out at an unruly yard and not cutting said yard. For a moment I forgot determinism and poured four cups of coffee. For a moment I thought about the sky nothing but the sky.]

Letter as chapbook? I might have been drunk and ordered this online, not sure. I have been laying off the Drinking & Ebaying habit, so maybe have leaked a bit into Drinking & Buying Literature. Anything is possible at this point.

Sometimes my brain feels like an aquarium.

Look, I’ll tell you this: KGM wrote a letter. It begins:

Laura had a dream about being a potato. She sat on a table, being a potato. She could feel her fibers, and skin. She was surprised to find that the eyes of the potato didn’t see anything at all, not even something surreal and magical, as she would have guessed. Laura woke up slowly that morning, remembering her dream, and feeling a little upset that she could never dream anything more exciting.

The remainder of the letter is a ceiling light or blinds you peek through, waiting for someone at the drive, the way sun on walls will become an itinerary, I mean the ways words are like days as they move you. I mean to say beautiful. Often KGM writes in beauty.

*

[You can actually mix Merlot and Guinness. Free tip right there, kids.]

I liked Other Electricities. It was an elegy. I don’t think this was written about enough. It was a prayer to some lost thing. Sometimes I will see the word snowmobile and think of a tombstone. Or I might be trapped in a stairwell and start thinking about snow. So, that’s how that machine works.

Neck Deep, I loved. It could be because I also enjoy baths. Or it could be the disc golf essay. It could be because Ander is a good friend but I doubt it. A lot of my good friends have books I like less. Also one time Ander hit me directly in the back with a disc golf drive. But I digress.

I Glow Vanishing Point. The other day I was crouched over a black beer and I told someone, I said, “I really think Vanishing Point is better than Neck Deep.” They said, “Really?!” I could tell they didn’t agree at all. So I disagree with their disagreeing or some kind of math thing. And I knew the buzz on that book would go Boat Flips and Grits. Since the pages bleeds into the Internets, the Googles. Yep.

The man is doing things, folks.

[This bar you can lift up framed photos and the walls are white behind the photo. The wall is yellow from nicotine. I thought it was a yellow wall. You should probably use that detail in a story. Details in stories will make the reader less aware of the teller of the story, maybe. I have no idea what picture will be in the frame. Look, it’s your story but God please don’t see your reflection in the glass frame and start describing your protagonist’s bangs and shit.]

*

This is Literally all the Info I have at the Moment.

*

A kick ass glossary over at Hobart. By B.C. Edwards.

Worried is how a dove coos when you hold it real tight.

That’s actually true. Also a dove’s breasts contain white and dark meat. Also it’s considered bad form to shoot a dove from a wire or off the ground. I see that from someone on like a Tuesday in Mississippi and I think, “Douchebag.”

I tried to get into the Hobart Outside issue. I mean to say I submitted. I thought, “An outdoor issue? That’s made for me.”

No it was not made for me. Fail. Aaron sent a really nice rejection.

{It was this story published soon after at Superstition Review. Beware the author photo. They ripped it from my BSU work site. I look sort of creepy or maybe like I tan [I do not]}

I saw Aaron at AWP and someone STOLE HIS LIQUOR!!

OK, they “confiscated” it. But, look, you can use the word “confiscate” all you want, but you still took a man’s whiskey and, yes, you will go to hell.

Speaking of my life, the Indiana Review kindly emailed me about sending them a story a while back. I was pleased as a pair of sweatpants to send them a story. Actually, I didn’t really have a story. So I wrote one called “The Thing.” (Sort of a dumb title, now that I reflect on it.) They emailed me yesterday with Fail. In the spirit of Jac Jemc’s excellent REJECTION BLOG I will include the letter for you. I thought it professional and kind:

Sean,

Our apologies for the delayed response; we wanted to give your work its editorial due.

After much discussion we have ultimately decided not to utilize your submission, however, you have certainly made fans of our staff. Please feel free to submit in the future.

Thank You and All the Best,

The Editors

Indiana Review

Does any magazine out there want “The Thing?” Come on, I took the time to write an actual short story and you know I’m into micro-fiction and flash and all that hybrid thing like when you get a bird and fly it into a ramshackle. Or sit out in a storm, out in your shed. I was about to write about the rain sweeping the roof but God that sounds so like a writer. The rain should saw the shed or pith it. The rain pithed the shed. What the fuck is a pith helmet? I mean I see the thing.

But pith?

Here is a sample paragraph from “The Thing” to help you nap:

While asleep he sweats. While awake he occupies himself. Finds all the strands of hair—corners, bathtub O, eyelids of doors—and spins them into tangles and lines and decahedrons of light. The yellow teeth of the window. There coughs the Cat’s Cradle, frantic fingers, clacking nails, hands unhinged and flailing, gummed-out in the elbows of a clattering machine. Or he might walk room to room and identify objects. Green lotion, cigarette husk, open drawer. Fact: A kitchen knife is a computer. Fact: You program the thing. Or back to the dancing fingers. Effigy of music, with the hands and the splitting/shimmering hair, blurring some stringed instrument, the greasy hiss of bones.

A blue humming, veins.

Touching of the Starbursts? To alternate flavors, to maintain an equality of each, but he suspects they try to fuck people with the yellow (lemon). Today all is right with the Starbursts. He unwraps each candy, inhales, mashes them together into a little man (cuts four pieces in half for arms and legs), and props the Candy Man in the freezer, alongside the vodka and the burnt tots of tator.

He names the Candy Man. He says, You are empty like _______ I will call you Empty. You are the day I was drowning and realized the universe. I will name you Palms, Palms Up, Open Hand of the Universe.

He bathes and pees in the tub and keeps on bathing.

…staggers naked into the kitchen…stuffs the whole hard, cold, dumb Candy Man into his mouth. Jaws mashing, tongue pebbling up, maw swollen with sugary drool.

*

I need to revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise and revise.

Look there goes James Thurber and he’s running after the mail truck. “Come back here with my fucking essay!!”

As he drank gin dude would change out his glass eye and replace it with a series of increasingly bloodshot eyes.

Dude had one glass eye that was an American Flag. You wanna get laid? Put a fucking glass eye with an American flag into your skull. Like excuse yourself from the conversation, go to the bathroom, return with American flag eye.

Hell, I’d sleep with you. I’d sleep with before you could sneeze.

*

Oh look, Cubby tells all of us how to tape our fingers for disc golf! Thanks, Cubby! Cubby! Cubby! Cubby! Cubby! Cubby!

*

Wait. Who in the hell is B.C. Edwards (this my mind thinking out loud now)? Sometimes I will read a writer and the hooks in and I’ll float away into the ribs of a washboard stomach and I’ll go get on The Google and hunt that writer down. I suppose it is a good thing when your words make my synapses move my fingers move my time on this planet move my earth my blood so here we go:

Found this over at pax americana. Check this opening line:

As I was walking down the street that cold afternoon I crossed paths with a man with blood pouring down his face.

Tension, immediacy. The story has started. This B.C. Edwards has a sort of cool name and apparently chops.

This at pax again.

When Milo opened his eyes he was still nineteen.

“Milo” is the type of name you find in short stories. But another great line. An opening. Nineteen indeed and then we dissolve into Mad Dog.

He reviews a Sam Lipsyte novel here.

I think he’s involved in Literary Death Matches, a term that always bothered me when I would show up and not one person would die. Or they never died when I was in attendance. I did see a poet punch a teacher-of-forms once. I guess all in attendance will eventually die, now that I reflect. So I guess it is–in a way removed–a death match. Wait, life is a Death Match. Are we really going to go down the We-Are-Born-to-Die route? Sometimes my brain reminds me of a teenager and I just feel sad about that.

[So I cook this huge pasta recipe {this one} and buy all these ingredients and cook it all and when I’m done I put it all into Tupperware and in the fridge and I make nachos and eat the nachos.]

Well, now I know B.C. Edwards. And I’ll keep a look out for B.C. Edwards.

*

What we need is more stories that begin with one word: Gorgonzola.

Interesting flash by Jane Hammons at deComp

*

awp 19

1. Holograph

2. Flew out of Indy. Drank 2.4 beers at sports bar to calm my think-dragons. Think-dragons throat of fire like “Steel tubes should not fly” or “Humans build airplanes and humans, without a doubt, 100% throughout history, fuck up everything” or “My car breaks all the time, why not this jet?”

Sports bar full of Butler basketball fans. They looked stunned like empty shotguns. Even the ceiling fans were sighing.

3. Fiction writers eavesdrop. That is what we do. I went and sat in a chair and read a running book and overheard three flight attendants. They were arguing over Prose Poem versus Flash Fiction.

She: “…but the poem is a throat, an opening and a closing, not an event. Flash is when the gun fires.”

He: “Do you have to go Chekhov? Huh? Must you. This is Indianapolis International Airport! And what about The Colonel? How can you dismiss the artifact of the language in its content. It’s  a poet and you know it.”

She: “Hey, hey, shut your porthole. I could say the same thing about that Ashley Toliver piece, the way the phone rings, its sparkling beauty, right? Flash, flash fiction. It’s like pornography or a tipsy pilot–I know it when I see it!”

He: Have you worked the new Boeing 7?

She: No, no. But if I did I would treat that thing like my new car. One vomit stain and it’s your ass.”

He: I heard that.

4. The simple fact is I will most likely never join the Mile High Club. I just have to live with that.

5. I bought every issue of 3rd bed (so can you). On page 101 of issue 8 I found “Barn Song” by Corey Mead. Enjoy.

Liquid trees? and Edgar doesn’t know

even a part of Anna

To rise and go to the field and cut off his head.

Like, the more they talk

never having

in fields this constant: nature is lost.

Edgar almost…the mind.

And risen never

returned to the barn.

6. Got into Denver late. Ander phoned and I said “Dinner or disc? We could just do dinner, but that wouldn’t be hardcore. It’s too dark to play disc but that would be hardcore.”

To just fly in half-tipsy/flung-out exhausted and hit the course while the sun is falling like a detached retina.

Ander said we should hit the course.

I don’t remember much. I could not see. We threw discs into the darkness. The night was iron oxide and thunks.

7. Wynkoop for beer, nachos. “Build your own Nachos” Vegetarian green chili and pinto beans with cheddar & American cheese served piping hot, topped with chipotle salsa, roast corn salsa, sour cream and a basket of chips for dipping. 6.95

The build-your-own as gimmick? I barely missed John Wang (interview here). He ate Wynkoop nachos the next night. I wish we could have broke tortilla chips together. Next time, John. These nachos were level 7. Solid.

8. Next day. There is fucking snow on the ground. Now what? What do you think?

Daunted yet?

Now?

What about now? Do you think that water was cold? Do you think it’s snow-melt and I can’t feel my feet, my hands, I can’t feel anything but little stingers of rice, little wooden bowls of my feet all cloddy off the rocks and rill and glass (?) and what do you think, Ander?

(Yes, he retrieves that uphill shot from the river behind him.)

9. Interview people all day, interview people all day…

10. Golden ticket at our hotel. You hold this ticket, you get free drinks for one hour. How many drinks can you drink in one hour. Wait. How many FREE drinks can you drink?

IT FEELS GOOD HERE

I met a Texan man named Kelly. If you are Texan, your name should not be Kelly. I noticed people tip less if the drinks are free. That’s not right. You should tip MORE. Think about it, folks.

11. Rose by Lyn Lishin at deComp

when it’s behind my knees
you’d have to fall to the
floor, lower your whole
body like horses in a field of nachos
to smell it. White Rose,
Bulgarian rose. I think of
sheets I’ve left my scent in
as if to stake a claim for
someone who could never
care for anything alive.
This Bulgarian rose,
spicy, pungent, rose as my
16th birthday party dress,
rose lips, nipples. If you
won’t fall to your knees, at
least, please, nuzzle like those
horses, these roses, somewhere

12. Interviews, interviews. Then I did a quick Eggs signing. Abagail Beckel and Kathleen Rooney are two very nice human beings. Cheerful. Professional. Cool. We sold many books. I thank all. Enjoy.

Here is my POV pic from behind the table.

I saw Blake Butler and Adam Robinson and Wendy Rawlings and a bunch of others. I saw everyone for seven seconds. Only seven. Sad.

13. The best Mexican food in Denver is the Lo Do Rio.

It be sick like stomping off the porch. Glow.

14. Met a guy named Josh. I got a kick out of when he drove his disc right exactly here. He almost fell into a river.

15. The very worst Mexican food in Denver is Cilantro Fusion. Poor food, poor service, margaritas weak like Popsicle-slushies. As I told my friends, this restaurant fused SUCK to LAME. Avoid. Avoid. Do not enter.

16. This Pasha Malla story be great at Hobart.

Bear with me here: I don’t know shit about baseball. I honestly don’t think I could name a single player in the entire professional baseball league, whatever it’s called now.

17. They freaked on my disc bag in Kansas City. They said, “Sir, what is this?” Then they swabbed the interior for drugs or bombs or something. What the fuck? It’s a bag full of discs! No fucking terrorist is going to have the common sense to play disc golf. Our community is one of friendship and glow…

weapon?

18. Interviews, interviews…

19. I want my life to end this way. Just walk off into a disc course…

Speed Diagram Nachos Danica Nurse

Did speed. Burns X 20. All one minute bursts with .40 seconds jogging between. Good flow, cadence, feel quiet and fast, and no problems during, but hurt today. My L heel a bit Unreliable Narrator and my knees two cans of spaghetti. They will be fine. They just need a day. I should have taken a cold bath after the workout but instead drank 4 cold beers.

Speed was 5:27 X 4 reps, 5: 24 X 4 reps, 5:21 X 4 reps, 5:15 X 4 reps, then finished with 5:07 pace X 4 reps.

The last few were Nails, but you must recreate that feeling of 6. I mean the last six miles of a marathon. The first 20 and the last 6 are the same race, but different zip codes. The last 6 are a zip code in outer space. Or possibly located in the center of your chest. You fold into yourself. Things blur or become crisper. Things float or cement themselves to the ground. There is no one answer. You must put yourself in the crucible during training, that is a form of answer. If you see/feel enough of this you might not be so concerned. There is a philosophy of making training tougher than the race. It depends.

OK.

I have a 10k coming up and I’m not in 10k shape (I am in marathon training mode), but I do want to keep my leg turnover. I mean you have to rev the engine once in a while. Or as one coach told me way back when: They key to running faster is running faster.

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The new Diagram Ten Years Anthology is a fucking deck of cards. It has new diagrams and many, many authors. These: Stephanie Anderson, Sarah Blackman, Jenny Boully, Jason Bredle, Lucy Corin, John D’Agata, Brian Evenson, Tom Fleischmann, Albert Goldbarth, Heidi Gotz, Caitlin Horrocks, Melanie Jordan, Paul La Farge, Dolly Laninga, Sean Lovelace, Barbara Maloutas, Ben Marcus, Michael Martone, Philip Metres, Ander Monson, Manuel Muñoz, Lia Purpura, Emma Ramey, Aurelie Sheehan, Michael Sheehan, Katie Jean Shinkle, Lauren Goodwin Slaughter, Bruce Smith, Nicole Walker, Kellie Wells, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Mark Yakich, Jake Adam York, and Charles Yu.

I am one of the Jokers, as you may guess.

I would suggest all AWP poker games use this deck of cards.

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How great is my Advanced Fiction class at BSU? Recently they presented Kim Chinquee’s work to the class. Today they present Richard Brautigan. They are studying the Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction.

I am brainwashing flash fiction, as is my way.

Chinquee points out in her flash essay (pp. 109 in the Field Guide) that plot is NOT the events, it is the context around the events. So I wrote DOG BITES CHILD on the blackboard. The students spent time filling in the context: what child? what dog? who owned the dog? what the did the child’s parents say? Etc. This went on for some time and many interesting stories bloomed. They could just spin them out in class, aloud. I felt good about this.

I then read THIS aloud.

That worked.

They then went home and wrote a plot Flash.

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I got chips two time and had this radical idea of baking the chips two kinds and habanero love goodness all dark blue freckles all grainy strong hands and the salsa and the beans and I don’t know where this idea came from, my synapses shuffle my OK let’s eat my everything united cheese as one (enter song) and I broke grain broke mind broke tastebuds broke giant erasers of glow and redraw glow and munch my skin. Does this name have a dish?

Level 6.

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I watched the NASCAR race until Danica crashed out. I liked how Danica’s mechanic radio dude or whatever you call them got on the radio and kept telling her to race closer to the other cars. I bet she was like, “Fuck you. Why don’t you get in this car?” That is the most car racing I have watched in my life. The old record was 34 seconds. I watched the very end of the race where Dale Earnhardt died. I was working at a psychiatric treatment center for children in Alabama. I do not like working with children. They are vastly more unpredictable than adults. This has been my experience. One time in Tennessee two kids busted out and jumped in a huge-ass river (It was the TN river). They swam out into the current. I was in charge at that time. We did get the kids back, alive. It is a long story. It was a long, wet day.

I miss being a nurse and I do not miss being a nurse.

S

Some Crank-Shaft Disses Flash Fiction. I Defend.

Some Brie-head interviewed over here at ShatterColors Literary Review. I guess he edits the magazine or something. So he’s interviewing himself in his own magazine?  And he publishes himself in his own magazine? Hell, I don’t know. I’m tired after running a hill workout. Then I read this, making me more tired. He’s one literary dude, though. Very literary, no doubt.

Robert Scott Leyse (14 bucks he prefers you use all three names) says some really un-sightful things here.

Like he says that he attended a “writing event.” Sounded like he had a hell of a good time, too. In his words, I thought, “What does a gathering of clowns spouting pretentious rubbish and thirsting to have their asses kissed have to do with writing?”

Touche, Robert Scott Leyse. “Thirsting to have their asses kissed” is an excellent image, or maybe just a mixed metaphor/dating service for burros. Either way, I love a man who can recognize a clown in disguise (or were the writers wearing their red noses and giant shoes?).  Reminds me of the grandmother in Flannery O’ Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Grannie wears very clean underwear and knows exactly how to identify “Good Men.” Only takes her a few minutes, too. (Unfortunately, she is soon executed, along with the entire family she leads directly to their collective doom.)

clown on computer

I’ll just jot down this epic poem here, la-dee-da….

One problem I have with Robert Scott Leyse is that the people I meet at “writing events” are scared of clowns. Also they are self-deprecating, witty, humble, interesting, well-read, grinders at the page after page, and know how to drink a shit-load of quality ale. (Those that don’t drink beer I maybe never meet.)

Possibly we attend different conferences?

As an editor Robert Scott Leyse prefers, “love stories, at whatever stage of a relationship…”

Hey! I do too, maybe. So good call, maybe.

Then Robert Scott Leyse reveals his true internal thrumming, as he drops the dark and stormy nights of his intellect onto flash fiction.

Egads! Run for the big tent, you clowns!

On flash fiction (you can hear the disgust steeping in his bottom lip like a tobacco chaw): “It’s a writing exercise, useful in learning the virtues of succinctness of expression. As for it being a viable form… Basically, some corner-cutting smartass thought, “Hey, why waste these writing exercises? Why not doll them up in fancy terminology — call them ‘flash fiction,’ ‘flashers,’ or ‘impromptus’ — and persuade people they’re real stories? That way, I’ll be able to churn out three or four or five of them a night!” Needless to say, I neither read nor publish writing exercises.”

I adore that last sentence. Cutting, shall we say. In fact, fuck it, all short forms are actually writing exercises, especially those damn sonnet things. I mean how can 14 lines be “viable”? Yo, parable, fable, mythology, psalm, and all you annoying hieroglyphics, please go away or at the very least add a whole lot of words, OK? Can we get some more words, seriously? Back up the fucking WORD truck, beep-beep-beep. MORE, MORE, like in a legislature or a contract.

And, yes, you pegged me, Robert Scott Leyse, since I do write and read flash fiction, I am indeed a “corner-cutting smartass.”

[But Impromptus? That sounds like a type of water dwelling dinosaur in a children’s book. Dude, don’t bring that one out in public, just a friendly tip.]

Speaking of “corner-cutters,” and since I just spent a semester with a grad student researching a bit of the inexhaustible history of flash fiction as a genre, other corner cutting clowns would include:

Margaret Atwood, Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, Dave Eggers (a ton here), David Foster Wallace, Tara L. Masih, Pu Songling, Kim Chinquee, J. G. Ballard, Jim Harrison, Kobo Abe, Primo Levi, Angela Carter, Max Steele, Barry Graham, Umberto Eco, H. H. Munro, Don Delillo, Mervyn Peake, Anton Chekhov, Kurt Vonnegut, Andrei Bely, W.B. Yeats, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Luigi Pirandello, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Ander Monson, Mark Twain, Marianne Gingher, Wu Jingzi, Dubus (x 2), Vladimir Nabokov, Oscar Wilde, Molly Gaudry, Agatha Christie, Dr. Seuss, Jaroslav Hasek, Samule Beckett, Jeff Noon, Matt Bell, Aesop, Deb Olen Unferth, Patricia Highsmith, Emily Bronte, Franz Kafka, Italo Calvino, John Updike, Jill Christman, Julian Barnes, Richard Wright, Sherman Alexie, Sara Teasdale, Shane Jones, Diane Williams, Jesus H. Christ, Blake Butler, Maya Angelou, W. G. Sebald, Edmund White, Thomas Pynchon, Raymond Carver, Carolyn Forche, Djuna Barnes, Virginia Woolf, Buddha, Dorothy Parker, Tao Lin (oh, fuck him [I kid]), Carol Bly, Russell Banks, John David Lovelace, Krishna, Richard Brautigan, Ezra Pound, Scott Garson, Michael Kimball, Jewel, Robert Olen Butler, Gertrude Stein, Alexander Pushkin, Joseph Young, Emile Zola, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, Michael Martone, Hart Crane, Tania Hershman, Joyce Carol Oates, John Edgar Wideman, Rose Terry Cooke, Plato, Katherine Anne Porter, Kate Chopin, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Gabriel José de la Concordia García Márquez.

tolstoy

hanging out, corner-cutting...

I could go on, but it gets ridiculous the number of authors in the canon, and outside the canon, and shooting from a cannon (a la Hunter S.), that have worked in this genre, and didn’t I just say I was tired, and also I need my typing finger for clowning tomorrow morning.

I just got to clown, yo.

Wouldn’t want to be with that “impromptu” crowd, anyway, would you? What’s next, you start valuing other forms of brevity, like say oysters, shots of bourbon, sudden kisses, short films, or the well-cut diamond?

A writing exercise? Flash fiction is to a writing exercise as a haiku is to a pretzel. Something. I disagree, Robert Scott Leyse. And what if a flash WAS a writing exercise? What if someone wrote a story in the shape of an apartment building (Georges Perec) or as a travel guide (Martone) or I don’t know a freaking examination. On and on…or can stories only be one way, “love stories, at whatever…” etc.

[A red fox just loped across my backyard. Is it limping or loping? I mean loping is like attitude. Limping you probably got car-struck crossing highway 69]

Oh hell, I digress, and if you read this blog you know where I will digress to, like a ship drifting to harbor…1.) preheat oven. 2.) slice corn tortillas. 3.) Add cheese and “impromptu” toppings.

Well, I just had some kick ass nachos. It felt good. It didn’t take long, they are often listed as appetizer…so eat my board shorts (those are the very, very, very long shorts, sir, I think you will like them), Mr. Robert Scott Leyse.

Nachos

(BTW, here is an exam, a writing exercise, as you would say.)

Well, what can you do? Not human at all, is it, the flash fiction above…drivel, really.

No, no, know.

Now?

I am going to go relax in the bath.

I will not! For me, a hot shower. I said hot.

And quick.

And good.

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Beer prices are going up. (again)

Here’s what the D-bag at Budweiser says: “The environment is very favorable, we think.” (He means for price increases.)

Here is the D at MillerCoors: “We have seen very strong pricing to date this year, and we are projecting a favorable pricing environment moving forward.”

Can you believe people who work at a brewery talk like this? I am done with these fools. Can you smell the cynicism in the voices of these guys? It’s micro-brew only now (was heading percentage-wise that way anyway). I mean I feel like I am buying my beer from an attorney, and he’s laughing right in my face. Going home and telling his wife about all the suckers he found today in his “pricing environment.”

rcarter0012

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Kind words from The Prettiest Girl in School about Eggs here. Thank you for reading!

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S