Tag Archives: Kim Chinquee

Flash of the Day: Choo and Rumble

space nachos

A bit of what we expect and a shard of something different from America’s Queen of Flash, Kim Chinquee. Found at Corium. Corium is a lively mag and has one of those names–sort of a lit mag trope at this point–where you go, “What in the hell is a Corium?” But I digress.

Choo and Rumble

Another train ride, and here I am with your goddamn strawberry lotion. At first it was fun to pick things out on our excursions to Chicago.

But after a couple times, I got tired of your places, me sitting on a stool while you tried on blazers. I kept telling you it all looked good. I just wanted to get out of there.

The train is loaded and some people are snoring. Some are talking on their cell phones. Some people look dead. I’m not sure where I am, except wondering.

About you. Maybe by now, dissolved in your piano, occupied by the sound of a tic. Though you’d say it was tac. If I told you that, you’d laugh and remind me how I know you.

It has been months. Or maybe it’s been years now. My leaving, the constant drum of the train. No matter what you say, I bet you don’t cry when I leave there.

It’s just an Amtrak. We have to let the real trains pass before we can go anywhere.

scopeKim Chinquee is a fine example of voice. She pretty much writes in her way (minimalist, direct tone, very few lyrical bells and whistles, a sort of purposeful vagueness at times that often represents a detached narrator. A detached narrator. A detachment.)

So what’s a bit different here?

Not the narrator. This is indeed the classic Chinquee narrator, drifting a bit, walled-off, always this space between the speaker and the events, as if always an observer versus a participant. Chinquee narrators often seem like they are as shocked as anyone by the role they are playing in the text. By the situation/life conundrum.

Not the movement. Very often, a Chinquee flash moves, running, shifting, to somewhere, away from somewhere. Change. Transitions can be subtle, can be huge, HINGE on something. Chinquee will often write that HINGE.

But other things do differ. Let’s see:

cat nachos

1. Title.

Chinquee routinely goes with something simple, a noun, a place name, a hint of context, but little word-play. Choo and Rumble, with its onomatopoeic tendencies, with its focus on feel and sound, is not a traditional Chinquee title. But it’s a strong title. It is odd. Often odd titles make you look, which is one role (of many) of a title.

2. Opening line.

You’ll read a lot of Chinquee before you see a GD dropped in her opening. How does it work here? Well, coming off the tone of the title, it jars. As a modifier for strawberry lotion, it jars. It also represents a narrator who is done fucking around. It establishes. “Another train ride…” Another day, getting moved, in flux, pushed around. The line provides a lot of context. A lot of feel. It winds the text up, like a tight spring.

large

3. Line Breaks.

There’s a strong emphasis on enjambment here, how the line is cut, how white space presents a thing. I’ve seen it done in other Chinquee flashes, but this text almost wants to be a poem. The text is thinking about the possibilities of the line.

4. Controlling Metaphor.

Again, we’ve seen this from Chinquee. She usually has something (and it IS often a thing) to ground and focus the flash, but here it’s a bit more present, the train (or, really trains). Again, a bit more obviously diving into techniques of poetry. The fade-out metaphor, the comment on the metaphor.

CaptureAs a huge fan of flash and certainly of Kim Chinquee, I find it interesting to see variations and nuances on her signature style. It shows not just growth, but keen thought about flash, as process and product. All of this technique makes me the reader more active. That’s what we’re trying for in flash. That’s what powers the genre. It’s fun to see Chinquee’s continued grace and skill on the page, and something further to watch for in the future.

fiction flashscapes and the carnival is postponed

Yeh, I haven’t blogged in a long time. Why? Because I didn’t feel like blogging. To blog when you don’t feel like blogging is Bad Faith. Am I a broken necklace of vowels? Am I a mechanical plug of radishes? No. Also I’ve spent too many weekends in hotels. Too many weekends eating vegetable burgers from BK since most other fast food outlets will not offer a veggie burger, the bastards. Backyard Burger in Mississippi had a good veggie burger, but that’s was it. BK. BK. Chili’s has one, but that’s not fast food, it’s just shitty food. The best veggie burger was in St. Jospeh, Michigan, right alongside the beach and the carousel and the hard, cold rain. I forget the name of the place. But it was good. In New Orleans I didn’t eat veggie burgers. I ate shrimp and fried green tomatoes and oysters and tuna and octopus and vodka and hot sauce.

Did I mention someone put a giant shark in my glass of vodka?

The first few days the hamburgers only grew. But eventually they became a new sort of thing. They were small statues of people and then these people were equipped with weapons. Handguns, rifles, lacrosse sticks, bows and arrows and even tiny daggers. Then the tiny people began to grow real flesh. It looked painful. They all writhed and twisted, but eventually the flesh was grown. In the days after, they continued to tremble and eventually began to weep and I ascertained that they had grown tear ducts. And probably other organs. Hearts, lungs, spleens, kidneys and any of the other necessary organs.

-Brandi Wells.

Damn, check out this new James Salter interview!

But now I’m back in fucking Indiana. Here‘s an Indiana poem for you by Jeffrey Bean. BTW, Indiana looks like this:

Anyway, I did write a prose poem about supermodels for xTx. She is having a “Supermodel Summer.” XtX is ALWAYS up to something, as you know. I met xTx at a dance once and she was very nice and said, “I’m xTx” but I still don’t believe that was xTx. Not at all. I think xTx is a mystical force and most likely only takes human form when convenient. Xtx might  also be a flower, a barn, a bathroom mirror or a hornet. The walls shook. Music. There were so many Internet writer people at this dance that I can’t believe the ceiling didn’t collapse and kill us all. That would have been a good day. A good day indeed.

I’ve give this prose poem of mine a solid 4. While it’s instructive formally, I also feel it’s forced and in need of revision. It is scarcely larger than a muskrat. It reminds me of irrelevance and hitting a large nail with a lawnmower. And while obviously many of my later poems bring us all up against self enclosure of some variety, the lines here resemble a plate of overcooked spaghetti locked inside a can of flat Dr. Pepper thrown off a cliff into the sea. Then again, you have to know when to maintain control and when to lose it, correct? Ever seen a cloud? Well, there you go.

Hey, here’s a better one. This is flash I wrote and sent to elimae. Thank you very little.

Anyway I was in a hotel, a Super 8 a few days ago. It was awful, awful. It smelled like a crypt. It smelled like a crime scene, a ragged spleen, like something moist but then coated in a layer of smashed fireflies, a goo, a yellow goo, and then a tint of bird bones, some paste, no not bird bones, fuck all that poetic blar, I mean it smelled badly, like above (minus the bird bones) but maybe add a lump of Play-Dough like when you mold Play-Dough around a light bulb as a kid and then your dad says, “Get the fucking Play-Dough off the light bulb!” and you get a wet rag and SHOCK! Bad idea the wet rag. I stuck a nail in a light socket once and it threw me across the room! I of course grabbed onto an electric fence. Teeth! I forget the other times I have known electricity. It makes me sleepy.

Is that even how you spell Play-Dough? I have no idea and I’m not going to look it up. Sometimes you have to not look it up. I’m not a shadow over here. I move, the shadow moves. I have a higher ratio of window in my life than of walls, I think. I’m still standing. So I’m not looking it up.

Hours later, maybe days, we will wake to ribbons of melted wax, the room still except for breath. In those small morning seconds, everything is realized in stone. There is patched clothing in the closet, the dented radiators, the faded curtains, the cracks in the wall. Then there is the stink of the dumpster outside, only masked by lingering sex.

-Elysia Smith

The Super 8 I’m saying. There was an empty indoor swimming pool. No water. That’s a metaphor. Expectations unrealized. The uselessness of a giant empty pool. It rained. Could the kids swim in the pool? They could not. They could leap in or fall in and die there, but no cannonballs, no look-how-long-I-can-hold-my-breath, no I’m Michael Phelps! etc–no JOY. Just an empty swimming pool, a giant sore, a toothless mouth, a stink of nothing.

“Fitness Center” is one hell of a word for a tiny glass cube with one broken stair climber, once broken bike/bird looking thing, one functional set of weights. No TV, no water, no towels, no nothing. I pushed some weights about, did some crunches. The floor stuck to me.

The bathroom had scratched painted walls. The shower wouldn’t drain, so you stood there in several inches of wretched memory water. The memories in that water, the hair and hope cells and vomit and blood and razorblades and screams and devil semen and GOD KNOWS WHAT of that fucking Super 8 hotel bathtub water. I complained and they fixed the drain while I was out eating perch. The tub was the color of knuckles.

They had this lonely basketball goal, but see below the goal was a giant puddle of water. You can’t play basketball in water. The ball will not bounce, see? No bounce, no basketball.

The room has a spider and a giant can of Coors Lite behind the bed. A crypt, I’m telling you. This was the Super 8 in Stevensville, Michigan. A SUPER crypt. A sad, bad place. I felt like a failure to have even brought myself, myself and my family, to such a wretched den of fools, a back-road to hell, hulking, hollow tree leaning so precipitously over our heads and souls. For awhile I thought we all might be murdered. Why not just throw my life into a volcano? Sleep was jagged, a crossed knife and fork, a tangle of thin sheets and barbed wire. I had mad dreams. The eyes of spiders, blue forests, I felt lost in a corridor of pure black bone marrow, some shaky cage, a carnival ride night of screeches and tumbles, sounds of trucks farting in the parking lot, children screaming, blickers of light and darkness, some great, wounded bird falling like an unhinged jet engine onto the roof…also the coffee sucked.

*

Hey, here are some flash fictions I enjoyed today:

1. Seamus Heaney by Nicolle Elizabeth.

I like stalking. Ever read the lovely Stalking Dave Eggers by Elizabeth Ellen? You really should.

In the Dallas-Fort Worth airport bookstore I hold up Dave’s book, show his picture to my six-year-old daughter.

“This is mommy’s new boyfriend,” I tell her. She glances momentarily at the picture but doesn’t say anything. She is clearly not impressed.

“Isn’t he cute?” I say. “Look at his hair. Isn’t that cute hair?”

Ah, now I’m getting sidetracked. Way leads onto way, Frost told us, the gorgeous fart. Fart is a word not often used in literature. It’s a silly word, isn’t it? A few weeks ago, I dropped into a poetry workshop and the instructor (the most glow Kathleen Rooney) gave us a big-ass poetry prompt and you had to put a word into your poem not often seen in poetry. I used the word fart.

Can I say something about Dave Eggers? Once, on my birthday, I drank a lot of sake and yelled out to Dave Eggers, WHERE IS TOPH?! He stopped his reading and said, “What is this, an insurrection? Toph is fine. He’s in the coast guard.”

I recently had a student faint while discussing Dave Eggers. Not a great situation, though it worked out fine, in the end.

I shit you not.

Can I say something about writing prompts? Yes, yes I can. It’s my fucking blog. I always thought prompts were bullshit. I think now I was wrong. All of the prompts I used for that poetry workshop worked out just fine. I actually wrote several decent poems. In fact, I went out and bought the very book containing the earlier prompt. The book is The Practice of Poetry, by Chase Twichell (have no idea who that is) and Robin Behn (Robin is a wonderful poet and was one of my MFA professors at Alabama.)

So I might try some more prompts. Or the book might just sit there like a muskrat eating an apple. If I was a muskrat I would secretly move through your backyard, leaving long meandering trails in the grass. The next morning you would see these odd trails and think, “What is that?” I’d be hiding in the nearby tall weeds and I’d giggle and think, “It’s a muskrat!” I would then go home and listen to Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, over and over and over…My record player would be made of a boulder and my record needle would be a pine needle…I think.

“Trauma, Trau-ma. The sessions were like a cocktail party every night—people everywhere. We ended up staying in these weird hospital rooms … and of course John and me were not exactly the best of friends.”

—Christine McVie, on the emotional strain when making Rumours in Sausalito

Ok, back to the flash fiction by Nicolle Elizabeth. It’s creepy. No, it’s eerie. I like eerie. Whispers in the night, clammy things, the weight of dreams, etc. This flash is a great example of control of tone. With tone, in a brief work, you need to stay consistent. This is a process of accumulation. A dune of sand is really just many individual flecks of sand. One day you go, “Damn, that’s a dune.” Note how Elizabeth ‘stacks’ certain sounds, images to control tone. Very technical, and reminded me of another master of tone, Robert Bly.

Snowbanks North of the House

Those great sweeps of snow that stop suddenly six
feet from the house …
Thoughts that go so far.
The boy gets out of high school and reads no more
books;
the son stops calling home.
The mother puts down her rolling pin and makes no
more bread.
And the wife looks at her husband one night at a
party, and loves him no more.
The energy leaves the wine, and the minister falls
leaving the church.
It will not come closer
the one inside moves back, and the hands touch
nothing, and are safe.

The father grieves for his son, and will not leave the
room where the coffin stands.
He turns away from his wife, and she sleeps alone.

And the sea lifts and falls all night, the moon goes on
through the unattached heavens alone.

The toe of the shoe pivots
in the dust …
And the man in the black coat turns, and goes back
down the hill.
No one knows why he came, or why he turned away,
and did not climb the hill.

2. The second flash fiction I admire today is by Arron Teel, capturing that odd moment (that seems like years [or is?], that odd age of transition, from kid to adult, all of the odd stirrings, the painful misunderstandings and painful understandings…the wonder of life. And what a final line! Ending lines always matter, but with less words, you really need to zap out, like a poem, like a poem…Glow dat. Here, Teel catches the blue, he contains it and compresses the blur. Like a poem.

Did I ever tell you about when I was like 14 and shot bottle rockets up into a bee hive? Yeh, it set the entire forest on fire. Smoldering hive of bees. That was a bad day. Later I would shoot out a giant, glass door with a slingshot. Not sure what I was thinking back then.

3. Monic Ductan has a memorable name and writes about Wal-Mart.

The thing about Wal-Mart is you don’t want to be there, really ever, and then you find yourself in Wal-Mart. Everyone I know hates Wal-Mart but we don’t really do anything about it. There’s a lot of things that way. It makes me feel pretty empty sometimes.

Hand reaches across breast, elbow to nipple.
Oh my god! Excuse me, m’am.
It’s just a titty, sir, whispered between painted lips.
Excellent flash, and really contains some of the chaos of family, relationships, the things that just happen, the things we can’t always communicate clearly about…It’s a strong work, and structurally inevitable, the lines cascading to the end.
I’ve pretty much enjoyed all Catherine Lacey. Personally, I’m in the “No one knows what they are doing” camp, and, like anyone, I enjoy reading literature that validates my view. Lacey really mines the terrain of confusion. Confusion. Confusion.
5. Amelia Fucking Earhart is a great title.
This is the first I’ve read of Angela Allen. It’s an odd one, wonderfully odd little tale, leaning to metaphor, twisting and snapping, moving us along–over here, over there–always grooving the imagination. The imagination is hope, isn’t it? I don’t know. I enjoy the cliffs of tension. This piece made me smile.
*
Ok, so there you go, I blogged, in my own way. I said to the world: I AM NOT A TARRED TELEPHONE POLE!! I’d like to end today with a muskrat dream and some advice to AVOID Super 8 Stevensville, MI, and, here, a little poem for you:
I title it INTIMATE ROTEL DIP
*
Velveeta is our long yellow jig
All day we hop
with a wobble impossible by night
kissing one another
like a single pepper
under the blank melting
grease knows where to find grease
bubbles reach for bubbles
we suck the bowl’s familiar curl
and vanish
deep into shrieking stomachs
delivered from the emptiness
of a dip half-eaten
of having to learn
that difficult, cold hardening pause
without a chip at all.
*
And, finally for today, I write about a box of Velveeta for Banango Street.
S

5 great texts (that could have been greater with a tiny edit) and 9 thunks I glow.


1. The Dead By James Joyce.

Poor Gabriel. Dude’s all up in his party galoshes and doesn’t even realize he’s not the Master of Ceremonies–he’s the clown. Poor little corn syrup of a man. And holy fucking rising action! Longest rising action in the megaverse. Dude’s heart goes to the guillotine in SLOOOWWWWWW motion. It rises, rises…then chop! But there’s a missed opportunity. Here we have the mondo holiday feast:

A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a great ham, stripped of its outer skin and peppered over with crust crumbs, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes: two little minsters of jelly, red and yellow; a shallow dish full of blocks of blancmange and red jam, a large green leaf-shaped dish with a stalk-shaped handle, on which lay bunches of purple raisins and peeled almonds, a companion dish on which lay a solid rectangle of Smyrna figs…

Blah, blah, blah. When the piece should have read:

A fat brown goose lay at one end of the table and at the other end, on a bed of creased paper strewn with sprigs of parsley, lay a big-ass pile of nachos, striped with a Wisconsin pepper jack/sharp cheddar blend, and garnished with refried black beans, Renfroe’s Salsa, and slivers of pickled Yatsafusa pepper, a neat paper frill round its shin and beside this was a round of spiced beef. Between these rival ends ran parallel lines of side-dishes…

Waaa, waaa, but nachos were invented in 1943, as we all know. So WTF? Joyce can go from forced realist epiphany to stream-of consciousness flow to Finnegans Wake, a book that is either full of shit or multi-level madness/brilliant punnage and word lollygag. Hello. A man who can write Ulysses can easily introduce nachos 25 years before they are invented. It’s called creative writing.

[Solemnly he came forward and mounted the Formica. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding country and the awaking mountains. Then, catching sight of Stephen Velveeta, he bent towards him and made rapid crosses in the air, gurgling in his throat and shaking his head. Stephen Velveeta, displeased and sleepy, leaned his arms on the top of the staircase and looked coldly at the shaking gurgling face that blessed him, equine in its length, and at the light untonsured hair, grained and hued like corn tortilla. Oh, fuck, it’s snowing again outside! Are you kidding? Blar me.]

2. On “Patience” by Tyler Gobble (over at decomP)

An interesting meditation, this poem. We certainly all know patience. How many of us wish our ovens would pre-heat more quickly? That our lettuce would grow up through the snow? That a statue of a yellow beam of iron (modern art?) at the university would sink into the ground and then into dust (as it must eventually)? And that young lady over there, the one with cheekbones like a crop-duster, what day will she hand me a five dollar bill or at least ask me for two beers on the roof of her basement? But this line:

The dog sits waiting with the treat on its nose while its owner stuffs himself with Ding-Dongs and Cheetos.

There is really no reason to mention Cheetos here, Tyler. A cheese-flavored cornmeal snack, here, in this poem? No, no, no. And question: why does Cheetos suddenly replace the interpunct? For decades, it was Chee-tos. Then now Cheetos? Who does that? Imagine if we all went around replacing our interpuncts? It’s chaos.

What the fuck? Sara screamed. Where is your interpunct?

I threw it away, Tom said. Mother said she could smell it in my room, so I…I threw it away.

Sara gave him a look like maybe he was chicken broth. Well, she said. Then we’re done.


Etc, etc. Fuck Cheetos, uh, Cheet-os, uh Fake-os with milk. Dog biscuits with neon below deck orange stains. Blar me. Or:

The dog sits waiting with the treat on its nose while its owner stuffs himself with Ding-Dongs and Nachos.

Same syllabic glow. Better food.

[I just saw Tyler last week at a restaurant. Did he eat nachos? He did not. Did I eat nachos. Yes, I did.]

3. Mary Jones, “One of us Wanted it More.” (elimae)

Kids going all wild, all clutch and grippy. Then:

“What can I give you that would make you be good?”

“It would have to be big.”

I didn’t have money for big.

Might I suggest something BIG for not very big money? Like:

[Kids, this little gnome has been all around the world! And now he’s here! Can you kids name the capital of Djibouti? It’s Djibouti! Ha, ha, don’t you know the world is diabolical and we’re all headed down the same swirling drain? So eat nachos–they are true to you.]

or

[Kids, your dad’s friend and I are going to take a “nap.” Here’s a silver dollar. Here is a copy of printed instructions on how to make nachos. Follow each step, carefully. Now go down to the gas station and get some chips and cheese and a can of salsa and maybe a Fosters Oil Can for mom. ]

or

[Oh, you’re one of those kids? Need hand-crafted toys, huh? Your dad drives a Subaru, right? Here, here’s your damn hand-crafted nachos. No owls were killed for their blubber in the making of this shampoo, etc etc. Go play. Hurry up! The earth is catching on fire!!]

4. This next text could not be better. It’s what we call an outlier.

Would you like to be a best selling author? Huh? I mean what are you doing? Would you like to be Brett Easton Ellis? Make some paper? Do some blow off the ass of a parrot? Have your books protested? Wear those wool-collar coats that sort of look cool and affected and maybe then cool again, if the air is right, like if your breath is roiling. Drive a big house? Get all meta and use your name in your own books? (Now that is clever!) Meet Charlie Sheen in a bathroom? Hunt down any poet who uses the word corn silk? Get laid, though you are neither gay or straight? The answer is yes here, the answer is yes. So how do you do it? Really? You’re asking me this, really.

Me yawning me flipping slowly though a copy of Lunar Park [or any other Easton Ellis book] me slightly annoyed…I give you a look, I say, “Here, read this, page 41:”

The three of us, out in the hallway, were suddenly approached by a very tall and sexy cat holding a tray of nachos.

or later:

“Terby’s mad,” Sarah whined again.

“Well, calm him down,” I said, glancing around. “Bring him up some nachos.”

5. For many backyards I’ve read the poetry of Trey Jordan Harris. It calms me. Often my stomach will think of fullness or richness, or both. He has a poet’s touch for image, for float, he can make the world drift and often it does drift and so I feel OK.

Example here (elimae)

Trey writes poems about marriage. I pretty much dislike literature about marriage, but his poems are often an exception.

Three here:

But this Diagram piece is too much. He’s keeps his idyll, his reflection he glows so well, that captured moment. But might I make one small edit? I feel it will charge the poem and turn this very good aspirin of yole into a mighty, mighty cop a couple of sea-born cleavage blasters!

THINGS MARRIED PEOPLE DO

Plant the flowers eat
them for dinner. Cut
the lawn gather the clippings

eat them all for dinner.
Buy the house own
the house. Look at the
lilacs the hand-shaped

lilacs. Ask if they are supposed
to be shaped like hands
and eat them for dinner.

Turn the ceiling fan on
low slow your breathing
or metabolism. Later we will go
to the fair and everything will
be still

until we eat nachos.

9 THUNKS I GLOW

9. I glow this essay and I don’t care how old it is. So, if you comment, that is old, I’m going to say, I know. French kissing is old, as is water. The earth is old, the earth is really just bunch of dirt and dust, and it’s old, yet still we enjoy the earth at times except for those times we do not enjoy the earth.

9. I glow hats made of corn that you can actually fill with salsa.

9. I glow the words of Sarah Levine. Read this flash at Smokelong. It will take you as long to read this story as it will to smoke a cigarette–thus the term, and title of the magazine, Smokelong.

Did you read the flash? It is conceptual. An idea is presented and carried along–possibly here, it’s liberal guilt (admitting it while satirizing it) and it builds, see the structure there, and then turn. If you are going to write flash, please understand the turn. You don’t have to use it, but know it. It comes right after the climax, here:

I jumped onto the kitchen chair and said, “Have you lost your mind? Are you threatening me over a fucking cheese slicer?”

Turns can be wonderful. They can make the entire flash. Here look at this Eggers turn. Yes, yes, it is Eggers but relax. He’s not going to come slap you in the Converse. It’s just his words. Read the whole thing, please. Then check that last line:

THE BOUNTY
In her kitchen, she saw many things she would like to eat. On the counter, there was a bunch of new bananas, yellow as a Van Gogh chair, and two apples, pristine. The cabinet was open and she saw a box of crackers, a new box of cereal, a tube of curved chips. She felt overwhelmed, seeing all of the food there, that it was all hers. And there was more in the refrigerator! There were juices, half a melon, a dozen bagels, salmon, a steak, yogurt in a dozen colors. It would take her a week to eat all of this food. She does not deserve this, she thought. It really isn’t fair, she thought. You’re correct, God said, and then struck dead 65,000 Malaysians.

Levine drives the turn like the sea drives a salt-plank. Glow. And wonder what they’re going to use that cheese for? Huh, huh? Don’t make me knock your ass out.

9. “The Serious Writer and Her Pussy” by Meg Pokrass.

As a serious writer, in mid-life, she must master speaking the word “pussy” with confidence and authority. She practices doing so out loud for her next book store reading. The serious writer is starting a book tour to promote her new novel which is bursting with ‘pussy’.

Indeed. And I’ve been reading Damn Sure Right. And you should, too. Meg Pokrass brings the flash. She eats away my shins, my underwear, and my taxidermy. She’ll eat yours too. Buy the book, freak-os!

I am beginning to notice my favorite flash writers are female. Elizabeth Ellen, Kim Chinquee, Amelia Gray, Nicolle Elizabeth, Kathy Fish, Lydia Davis, Diane Williams, Lindsay Hunter….I could go on. And on. Might be just me. Might be women are better at writing flash? Don’t know, but I’ll keep thinking on it.

[BTW, every time I type the words Amelia Gray I misspell some aspect of her name. I bet she has dealt with this her entire life.]

9. I like to write about Velveeta:

Velveeta Thuds on the Roof

In the dark. It shimmers in its wobble. Nothing between them but the cooling itch of shingle. It likes any angle or gravity suck. To embrace sway. It wants to push against itself—much like we. (Yesterday, sober, I dropped a wine glass of Cheetos and laughed at my own sudden blood. Under sink/in trunk of car/beneath futon—I have no hand towels.) On the back of its neck, thoughts gleam. It boasts its mind is a butterfly ashtray. As for doubt or nocturnal chills of the head, it claims to know very little. Yet it corrects me: shooting stars are not stars, you ask for shotgun slugs never bullets, to fall over is indeed a form of exercise. Oh, the type to wear an orange shirt. To perch above my Sunday sweating back and say cryptic, unhelpful words like, “If you are really going to dig that hole, dig two.” Or maybe: “Look at you, whipjack! Gargling coins again.” Packages arrive. Days of rain like fingernail taps. It sees me on my knees, vomiting in the tall, wet grass and says, “You are an empty tomato shack.” I think its mind is an ashtray full of butterflies. (Ah, so drunk now. Just to carry my head like a damn fiddler. A marble spinning round the rim of shattered glass, waxy hot pepper bits, charred People magazine—I mean to say the kitchen sink. What is a tomato shack?) A meteor claws the fleshy sky. In the dark. Velveeta thuds off the roof.

9. Funny words at PANK. Thank you, Jospeh Cassarra.You made me spill my coffee. I spilt my coffee. Spilt is not a word. You made me spill my coffee. You made me move.

9. Jason Ockert won the Dzanc Books Short Story collection contest.

Woot, woot. Here is an interview with the man.

Here is a story so you can bite his knuckles.

Good glow, Jason. Looking forward to the read.

9. Justin Bieber eating nachos.

Whoa, whoa. Hold up. OK. Did you see that? I could care less if this kid’s career is chomped by a murder of dead crows, but he does one thing correctly: HE MAKES HIS OWN SERVING of nachos.

9. My publisher and I have been working hard this week on the cover of my upcoming book, Fog Gorgeous Stag. The process has been glow. I enjoy the process. It’s a give/take/idea thing. It is indeed creative energy. I hope you will like the cover. I do. I will not give you hints about the cover. OK, I will give you one hint about the cover: yellow.

S


 

How to Have a Good Reading

Went to a good reading on Wednesday. A good reading: How do?

1. Employ a hip space.

The Irving Theater was exposed wood beam ceiling/dark corners/suicide/chandeliers drooping like mid-70s/various colors of paint I associate with dust cobras or deep scratches in vinyl cars or the time I jumped over a tall fence and wrestled a deer to the ground, cut its throat with a knife, etc. My head did the whoosh whoosh. I felt like maybe my house could have hardwood floors and a furtive cat, if I so wished. Naked woman painting!!!! I am so cool people wait in line to eat me. I think it’s funny when people say pass the time. Pass the gravy, pass gas, pass the time. There were rows of seats and maybe church pews someone stole from a church. The ceiling was tall as a tall ceiling. The lighting was dark. I felt a level 5 hipness factor, like maybe an ironic T-shirt or The Hipster Olympics.

3. The new summer JMWW is fucking nuts. Wow. I mean it is loaded like a pepper gun. A gun that shoots peppers.

I seriously want to thank the editors. Good work.

I glow Kim Chinquee. I said Kim Chinquee. I said Kim Chinquee. (Click on the links, dumbass. If you aren’t going to read Kim Chinquee, I can’t imagine why you are here at all.)

I glow Brian Evenson flash.

I glow Robert Coover.

I glow Terese Svoboda.

I think it’s funny when people discuss a magazine or whatever and they are actually in the magazine but pretend they sorta aren’t or something I don’t know. I don’t think that’s appropriate. Ha, ha. I’d like to ask myself to be my friend and tell myself to go to hell or just ignore the friend request altogether. Maybe when I get older I’ll call an ambulance to my house–like chest pain or maybe I’ll say my ears are made of Styrofoam–and none of that will be true, I’m just calling the ambulance to have someone to talk to, someone to visit me, another expensive friend.

Here you go, fucker.

Here you go!

Fucker.

Fuck.

Did I mention I love Ken Sparling and he is in the new JMWW? The more I publish in venues with Ken Sparling the happier I feel.

14. Have beer at the reading. Always have beer. I can’t tell you the amount of situations in my life that have improved just by the presence of beer.

[Sex in hot tubs is uncomfortable]

[I got a telemarketer calling me from Florida]

[Two bucks and a coffee mug]

[Salad I pretend to enjoy]

[Awkward greeting your dad]

[Accidents happen now and again]

[Tiny trees grow out my house gutter]

[A bunch of wasps just fucked me up]

[blar me]

Thank you Sun King Brewery.

9. Have Christopher Nugent show up. He is doing awesome Vouched Books. Good to see you, Chris!

11. Take shitty, blurry iPhone photos:

10. You could have nachos. Why don’t you people put rice on your nachos? Do I have to tell you how? Everyone goes beans, beans, beans, but think about rice. Think about rice. Think about it. Rice.

Or maybe you go to lunch by yourself and read the papers and feel like you are in a novel.

[Seeing the smoke rise]

[I am French today. I am action but thought, like mixed]

Weekend Nachos interview.

Nacho’s blog is confusing as all get-out. What the fuck does this even mean? It’s like some odd poem:

5. Fiction Daily interviews me. Interview me.

6. DC with an amazing Sad Keanu post.

2. Keep it short. I said keep it short. KEEP IT SHORT. Jesus Christ, you people that blather on and on at readings–you have lost us, your audience. Our minds are thinking about cleavage and the exposed wood and dust whorls and credit card debt and orange crows and man this fucking IPA is tight, light yet succulent and Old Spice who’s wearing Old Spice? and coffee shop down the block and sake, sake tastes like candy corn and are you supposed to drink it cold or hot, like maybe the tourists drink it hot but actual Japanese drink it cold it’s like in Mexico all the restaurants have two menus–one for the stupid gringos, one of real Mexican food–and I’d love to break some windows right now and a dark mass of blackbirds or maybe starlings in the sky, European imports and that dude is hot/that chick is hot/I’m hungry/need a promotion too and why is there a hole in my shoe are my toes too long is that the problem, are you saying my toes are like Appalachian or something?

So, you know, keep it short….

Andrew Scott (of Freight Stories, etc) read first. He did a persona screen-play/script type piece, and you know I glow any persona fiction. Then he read his Esquire flash. He kept it lively and short. Good work.

Donald Ray Pollock read next. Wow. He glowed it. You have heard of KNOCKEMSTIFF, right? He read about murder and huffing Bactine (!) and Kmart realism if Kmart was a fucking alleyway full of Appalachian whores and homeless killers and beer cans, etc.

I almost bought Pollock’s book but I needed to purchase more beer and I have too many books to read right now.

7. Persona piece Paul Bowles I wrote getting good run at Fictionaut.

77. OMG hole 5 is right up against the creek on R and that’s a headwind 90 % of the time–you are all fucked.

11. Or a pepper in the shape of a gun?

44. No joke, I was on the roof today and wasps fucked me up. I nailed down a shingle and this wasps jumps out and stings/stings/stings me. 3 times on the left side of my knee. I screamed, hopped, but I was on a roof. Calm down, Sean. OK. OK. But why is my right side knee swelling up like a balloon? Anyone had this happen? Fucking wasps.

2. I swerved to miss a squirrel and hit the damn squirrel–tha-thump. Well, fuck me. That’s philosophical and shit. I made a purposeful act to avoid harm and caused harm.

2.

At some future time, meet Lady Gaga for drinks at a bass pond. The idea is BYOB + fishing rods + some Hank Williams Jr. songs on your IPhone + whipping persimmons in the air with sticks + later frying the largemouth tails over a low fire + they taste like some form of potato chips + you have this summer heat/beer buzz pelvic stirring + you and Gaga wading into the pond, holding hands + frog thrum in the air + she says what did I just step on, it was like a smooth football made of marble and you say it’s only turtles, you stepped on a turtle’s back + both of your underwears sprawled out on the bank + warm currents and eddies and toe-sucks of mud + 14 geese over in a honking V + you and Lady Gaga slipping away into the torn tops/swaying reeds of the cattails…I don’t know how you’re going to achieve this but make an actual date. This is going to take some effort, some persistence, now that Gaga’s all famous and etc, but we are a tenacious people. I mean look what Nick Nolte did with his looks and talent. Check out Mandy Moore. So. So? Make the appointment with Lady Gaga. Do it. Today. Write down the actual time and date.

Now just wait.

This is the best formula I know to avoid depression.

8. you want me to shoot arrows at Blake Butler’s book, huh?

Eggs and Bush and Red Lobster.

Look what I got in the mail today! Can you say ken baumann, shane jones, jimmy chen, brandi wells, blake butler, nick antosca, sam pink, james chapman, colin bassett, michael kimball, jac jemc, kim chinquee, kim parko, norman lock, randall brown, brian evenson, michael stewart, peter markus, ken sparling, aaron burch, david ohle, matthew savoca, p. h. madore, johannes göransson, charles lennox, ryan call, elizabeth ellen, molly gaudry, kevin wilson, mary hamilton, craig davis, kendra grant malone, lavie tidhar, lily hoang, mark baumer, ben tanzer, krammer abrahams, joshua cohen, eugene lim, c. l. bledsoe, joanna ruocco, josh maday, & michael martone?

I feel like Rod Stewart or Cher back when she had orange hair and that crazy spandex and the battleship.

This has been out a while and I then forgot and now it arrives and I am about to read until I swoon.

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Cynthia Reezer at NewPages does a sweet review of Eggs.

“Lovelace weaves scenes that flow organically (or maybe “morph” is a better word) into the next thing happening by the writerly imagination.”

Word.

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holy shit

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I have decided I have a cooler beer glass than most.


I Live in Your Elbow Room.

hipster 1

“What?”

He goes, “I can see you for what you are!”

(Screaming. He throws a ceramic dachshund at the wall. Etc. Man, if the morning starts this way, what about the afternoon and evening?)

I say, “I can’t argue now. So kindly shut up and get a social life or something.”

“You are not a nice person! I don’t like you anymore than I hate me for liking you!”

“What? Did you steal that shit from a Bruce Smith poem? Leave me alone. Go grow or kill something. Anything.”

(Crash. Drywall wounds. There goes another one of my frosted souvenir Kentucky Derby glasses…He enters the room.)

“Listen, I love you, seriously. Let’ s calm down here. I just read this bright pink book. You know about books. Tell me, what is the deal with Tao Lin and the quotation marks?”

hipster 4

I say, “Well, you know, it started as a gimmick. Dude loves gimmicks. This is the guy who tied little Tao Lin flags to the back of all the city’s fireflies. He first used the quotation marks circa 2000, by accident, and he liked the look and already he was thinking Brand. He was going to call them “Lin Scarves” and had this whole campaign planned about “clothing” your words for the upcoming season. Anyway, Lin Scarves was already copyrighted by this dude in Kansas who sells toilet seats for a living, and anyway Tao was broke. He used to be broke a lot but now things are better. Tao loves money, as we know. This guy is like a dumptruck of P.T. Barnums. He would bottle and sell you his dreams–the actual fucking dreams he has at night about Gerbils and Hegel and cabbage-headed policeman and shit–if he had thought about it before reading the idea right here. I met Tao once, in a bar in New York named Guam. He tried to sell me stock in a diagram (more a rough drawing) of a tiny machine with suction cups that kids could stick under the table and spoon or fork food into when they didn’t want to eat the food themselves. Nice try, Tao. Nice try. The quote thing then became characterization at times; it evolved. And the Brand established itself. He would use the quotes when writing fiction, essays, or even checks. (I kid; Tao has no checking account, or banking account of any kind.) The quotation marks became an element of Tao’s characters, their flat affects and distrust of everything, their layering in the perceptions of individual reality. The quotes added yet another layer. The word/world does not Mean what it Means. “Get it?” Three years ago the quotes became so ubiquitous in Tao’s work that they disappeared. Like air, or beige paint. They just stood for nothing. They existed, but we could not even “see” them. This is when Tao started switching, one quotation mark, two, maybe three. The man was desperate. This was the Shoplifting, the Time of Running, when Tao took to marathons (or cities that held marathons–where he would shoplift) and attempted to enter the Olympics. He quickly dropped that dream, because, you know, pain sucks. Black Toenails! Raw nipples! He was lost, really. Lost. Drifting in an infinite void. He felt contradictory and complex, which is no fun. Where was The Attention? Attention–from all arenas, self, virtual self, narrator of printed page, voice—is the oxygen of life for Tao. Now, he felt suffocated. He turned to drink. Beer mostly, some red wine. A year ago the quotes matured, and finally reached semi-fruition, in a way. Tao left drink, became vegan and started driving a truck, a little 4 cylinder Toyota. His quotes began to lock themselves into a matrix of meaning. To me, the quotes started asking what truth can exist in the world, if Death exists alongside? Or to put it more plainly, Why are ketchup packages so small? Once again, as the quotes clearly showed The Reader, art is fundamentally untrue. It has to be, right? Because art is perceived with the senses, and we all know the senses (along with the artifact of the art) is fleeting and will disappear as if it never existed.  It is a shadow, really. Already half gone. One finitude exposes itself essentially in time, correct? OK. So now you understand the quotes. Let’s move on. Let’ s move on with our lives. I love you too. BTW. Nachos?”

hipster 2

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All pics from LATFH.

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I had nachos for lunch and then for dinner. The dinner one had less black beans than I wanted. I hate that, when the weight is off, the topping ratio all group therapy, but it happens, man. I almost ran to the store. But did not. God made pickled jalapenos, though I am not yet sure which god.

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Dogzplot wants you to send them magical stuff!

I’m going to send them something, I think. I’ll look in my “files” or write something. Something magical like Finland, or elevator shoes.

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Yeh, I still have a literary crush on Kim Chinquee, so what? She writes flash fiction and is a distance runner, what did you expect.? I just wanted to say that she is editing/judging two new flash fiction venues:

Collagist Contest.

Mississippi Review.

I think I will enter maybe three, four flash contest this next year, that seems about right. Why enter contests? Hmmm. That’s a good question, and one you will have to answer yourself.

hipster 3

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