Tag Archives: Richard Brautigan

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.


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.


(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.


I am going to go relax in the bath.

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

And quick.

And good.


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.”



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



You are Going to Feel Pain, but Are You Going to Suffer? Brautigan Crystal Gavel.


The thing to do is stutter, flutter, cutter your tortillas into chip-size, circles or triangles. You can make your own corn chips, by frying, or baking. That’s a personality thing. I mean some people can’t stand home-frying and some people fry everything they eat.

It isn’t my place to draw you in like a scar.

It isn’t my place to say fry over bake, bake over fry, but obviously baking the chips is more healthy and less messy.

Like Greg Oden I bake. And, when depressed, I prefer to eat like I dream–alone.

Option two is the bag of chips in this photo, above the tortillas. They are ready for the oven, for the beans and cheese and jalapeno, oh my.

I hope for holy criminals who battle boredom, Brit-knees, other B words.

I hope for viable reasons to forsake godly thoughts.

I hope you know to NEVER fucking microwave nachos. I beg you. I beg.

I hope this chip thing is clear now.

You need a good chip. Don’t go chip-skimping on me. This is your foundation, OK? I mean if you were going to start an opiate addiction and you asked my advice on logistics and quality control and so on I wouldn’t hand you a starter balloon of some cut-up talc stuff from Baltimore, like MonKee, or that Blue Tar from the 1980s. Ok, poor analogy. I was getting off subject for a moment there…What I mean is you are probably only going to get married like three times in this life, so be careful. Wait. I am saying don’t build your house on sand, my friends. Unless it’s a sand castle, then I guess go ahead.

The first miracle Jesus ever did was water to nachos (or wine, I forget), so I think we understand the Man’s priorities.


9 miles this morning, a modified YASSO (all with 90 second slow jogging break between surges).

6:00 mile pace X 3min     6:00 pace X 3min     6:00 pace X 3min     6:00 pace X 3min

6:00 pace X 6:00              6:00 pace X 3min     6:00 pace X 3min     6:00 pace X 3min

6:00 pace X 3min            5:45 MILE.

Whew. Seriously. I was in a floating womb of pain near the end, off this planet for a few minutes. My head did the whoosh-whoosh-clang. My legs a concept of vanishing. Pain is an odd sweet experience. In Murakami’s running/writing book he says, “You are going to feel pain. But the question is: are you going to suffer?” I did not suffer, unless pure throttling electricity is a type of suffering–LIFE.

I had to play Missy Elliot really fucking loud on the stereo to finish this workout. I never run with music so this should prove that I did indeed Get My Freak On today.

(I generally don’t like music)



Hey, does anyone have a spare couch RIGHT BY the start of the Boston Marathon I could sleep on, night of April 19? I am driving to Boston, running the race, driving home. I actually have a place to stay in Boston, but I am wondering how I am going to get to the start line. Well, this will be an adventure.


HTML GIANT turned me onto the Australian indy press, Falcon Vs. Monkey, Falcon Wins and the new issue of Torpedo, a homage to Richard Brautigan.

Interesting issue. It has:

1. an opening letter by Brautigan’s daughter, Ianthe. I found this letter touching though a bit defensive. It seems Ianthe is simultaneously pissed and pleased that Brautigan’s works haven’t established themselves in academia. As an academic (oh god no!), I never really understand what writers desire, and/or fear from the university. Academia is not some abstract beast, or a wall painted vividly beige. Academia is a small classroom of 18-20 year olds, with a few retired men (often attorneys), elderly women (for example–I have a 91 year old student in my fiction I class this semester), and so on. Then me, showing them authors and work and methods of craft, discussing writers excitedly with the class, letting the students work together on a variety of exercises and activities to discuss these writers–their lives, work habits, CW techniques on the page, etc.–and then these students use this energy, recognition of artistic skill and method, and apply it to their own writing, to improve. They desperately want to improve, get it? What exactly is so horrid here? And, by the way, like many, many, many of my colleagues, I teach Richard Brautigan.

2. a brief collection of Brautigan’s actual poems and flashes (They called these things “Brautigans” at the time–pretty bad-ass huh?). This is an amazing read, all of it.


Me reading my lunch-time lit mag…

3. a stuffed envelope of art prints, really funky, well done, all inspired by Brautigan poems and stories. Kick ass. Did everyone else get these?

4. pages of writers influenced by Brautigan and obviously trying to write like him. The last part is a bit lame, but to apply an overused and meaningless sports cliche: It is what it is. The editor wanted respect and genuflection, so that’s what we get, Brautigan knock-offs. Most are so derivative they hold no great magic. That’s Brautigan’s brilliance, this intangible truth whirling about the page like a mayfly hatch: a mix of oddness, sadness, time-passing by, a keen eye to nature’s small blessings, and an understanding of social (humans interacting with humans) absurdity.

I am not trying to be an ass here. These writers are worthy, and I myself have (and do at times now) mimicked Brautigan. It is a form of respect, and also a yearning. But the intangible, by definition, is as tough to catch as flies in a landing net.

(one of my Brautigan knock-offs here.)

(BTW, I just liked getting mail from Australia. That was cool.)

And I did really enjoy Josephine Rowe’s poetry. And Brian Evenson and Ruby Murray (Melbourne based writer) were the strongest prose selections.

5. the editor’s own work in the magazine. I’m not saying, but I’m just saying, right? Worth a friendly blog discussion, but I won’t be the hypocrite at this church kegger. I co-publish a lucrative literary magazine with a corporate partner, and I included my own work in the award winning first issue.




Oddly, I got  into a good blog-writing groove for 14 minutes while listening to this artist.


Let’s end this fucker with a prose poem by Alexandre Pope.


Meaning of Life # 36

“Mr. Brautigan submitted a book to us in 1962 called Trout Fishing in America. I gather from the reports that it was not about trout fishing.”

Viking Press

Cloud of mechanical flower, sunny California. Of knobby nose, of cinder. Of clank. Because we have to deal with all of this—to metaphor or not to. Must sleep (cannabis) and wake (coffee) and live each day (with Baudelaire or newspaper or moth-eaten laundry mat love note) and sleep again (alcohol). Among the cast-less and the prayer-less, who don’t even grasp sun-clatter, the shaped voice of clouds. Hoop cheese and port wine. Blackberry zephyr. Hymnal of floppy hat, of bullfrog. A woman’s words as spring, summer, fall. Within the looped cast, the meander of raccoon tracks. October 25, 1984—a Thursday morning. See it mayfly, its curling hatch. Like fog or fog-horn or fogged-over steel. Waterlog heft. Underwood on a picnic table. Empty bottle. Full revolver. He will lift them, every one, soon as another young man stops him on a streetcar and asks, “If you don’t keep them, why go fishing at all?”



HTML Giant. Flash Fiction Contests. Signs of Stroke, or Beck.

HTML Giant is rather good. Good like completing the questionnaire, in time, while treading an enormous blue sky, backwards. Much better, IMO, than this current manifestation of Fictionaut. Though I am a member of Fictionaut I still don’t really “get it.” I keep logging on, seeing people posting stories, and then other people “reading” them and posting things like, “I love it” or “Another great read, Lily” or “Good job, Antonio! Wow!”

For the life of me I can’t figure out how this process is useful to writers.

Shouldn’t someone post something like, “Tony, Simone de Beauvoir burned her first two novels. You might want to consider her point”?

Or maybe, “Tony. Dude, stick to writing bad checks, yo.”

(Simone published the 3rd.)

I think they (naut) are still developing, as I see they are expanding, diversifying into other raspberries. So maybe my view will change like a leaf and tumble into a pool of songs with sad words.

Like Fictionaut, HTML doesn’t quite know what it wants to me, but what it is now, to me, is useful.

* It shouts out new things to read. Like this.

* Thus giving us head-cheese and something to hold in the oil-change room with the Fox TV and markets for our scribblings. Why do fitness clubs usually also run Fox?

* They supply quality blogs on surrealism (meaning today as you wake, fool. That sun is smiling).

* HTML is funny. One writer made this actual statement about Tao Lin: “He’s a self-interested writer type of guy.”

Wow. I find understatement to be a lost art in humor, a little dry, a little European. When I see it, I like it. I also continue to warm to Tao Lin. I still think he’s often full of shit, but I like people who are full of shit, with style.



Got my new River Styx today.

I don’t have much to say because I have not read it yet. It’s gotta go in the looming-bedside-table-next-to-the-heroin-pile. I am reading Outliers and some Icelandic book (can’t remember it now, and don’t want to run to my bedroom) and then a new issue of Rolling Stone Magazine. I hate this magazine and the last issue I read was in 1997. I have no idea why I bought it at the gas station. Often I don’t know my own mind. My actions are a riddle I wake to.

The current issue sucks like zucchini. (I hate zucchini. Don’t even understand it, as a food.)



(actually do not enter. i seek no rival to my mediocrity)

River Styx Beer Contest

Hello! They give you cash and two cases of beer! (Writers get to use three exclamation marks their whole life, and I just dropped 14 in this post.)

Well, it’s worth it. Total bad-ass beer article here. If you think the beer’s too loud, you’re too old.

Most men pursue beer with such haste they rush right past it.

The noblest thing a man can do is to receive good beer, and then go spread it among others.

Why was I born with such weak beers? But things, they change.

Gulf Coast Barthelme Contest

No, no, you don’t have to write like Barthelme. You could list various tools, giant balloons, or not. The best thing for you is to research the judge’s writing.

Or that seems a bit much. Just send in your best short thang. Make it flute song, church wall, etc.

Crazy-ass Meridian Postcard Fiction Contest

In the old days, Flash Fiction was actually called “postcard fiction.” Like Jesus would preach about The Rich Fool (by the way “Christians,” [I’m using a lot of Tao Lin quotation marks this post] if you’re trying to “store up” your possessions on earth, you will fry. I’d lay off the SUV with the Jesus fish emblem, my friends.) and some sandal-adorned young man would shout out, “That’s a good Postcard Fiction, my savior!”

(In the gnostic texts, Jesus would moments later strike him blind on the spot)

This contest rocks!

Your Flash Fiction wins and they:

1.) Give you a thousand bucks (you could buy 80 shirts)


2.) ?

3.) Your prose poem will be distributed by Meridian at the Chicago AWP. Free marketing of self!

14.) Who gets laid like an flash fiction author?


I feel like this today (that is a camera flying off in the upper right):


Thurber. Elevator Essay. Flash Contest. Katie Couric. Brautigan.

One of my colleagues (I love that word–way pretentious), a fellow English prof (and administrator [often a prof’s duty]), bought a couch. This particular store, as a sort of gimmick, actually brought over a professional designer when the couch was delivered, to show the buyer the optimal spot to place the couch. (I know–regurg now. If you need someone to tell you where to place your own couch, you should retire from waking.) Anyway, this woman was asking the professor the usual break-the-ice-sum-up-your-life question: What do you do? And he said, “I teach English at Ball State.” And her eyes lit up and she said, “Wow! I would love to get paid to read books all day!”


If you don’t understand how big a groan, I beg you to ask a professor what they do all day…

Somebody get me a revolver and a keg of quality hemlock.


James Thurber’s brother shot out his eye while they were playing William Tell. Yes, he shot an arrow INTO his eye. Later in Thurber’s life, at parties, he would take out his glass eye and slip in a special one he had made with an American flag painted in the center.

William S Burroughs killed his wife playing William Tell. Only he was drunk, using a gun, and a drinking glass as target.

I suggest you not play William Tell.

What I mean is we all know The New Yorker has been sketchy for years. They have focused on money more than the art. They sold their soul to the grocery store checkout line. The glory days are over, Mr. and Mrs. E.B. White. These days, 8 out 10 essays suck. 3 out of 10 stories suck. Even the cartoons are no longer impossible to understand (and that was cool).

But hey, it’s still worth a read. Know why? Because you might just catch a star-bolt in a green bottle. Sometimes the stories glitter. Sometimes the essays kick dino-ass.


Do you have a moment? Good, go bet a beer. Now watch this first:

Then read this.

I consider this the finest essay the NYorker has had in maybe five years. It reminds me of the good old days before double ad revenue issues and silly cartoon contests and 10/1 adverts to content. It used to be a serious magazine, folks. This one essay made me re-up. It’s engaging, smart, structurally beautiful, and left me a-thinking in a glow…

If you disagree, you are wrong.


The deadline for poet laureate of Kentucky is September 30, folks! Don’t blame me if you forget to apply!

Cezanne’s Carrot has a way groovy Magical Realism contest flash fiction oxygen bomb don’t you even metaphor anymore with Houdini or friends CONTEST.

If you do not support Flash Fiction, I do not support your altitude, latitude, or general z-buffer. I think you are floor. Are mouse-grease. Are large frog overhang.

In the always bad-ass pif, Paul Casey says Katie Couric is a bitch. Is she really?


Speaking of shooting yourself in the head, here’s a little Brautigan to cross the yard and paint your name on the car door of your morning:


I feel horrible. She doesn’t
Love me and I wander around
The house like a sewing machine
That’s just finished sewing
A turd to a garbage can lid.


My kind of high jumper. Vodka and international competition in track and field–never a good thing. Dude, alcohol makes you jump, buy not high.