Tag Archives: Tania Hershman

braying glass banana machine curves of deliverance glow

Deliverance, the book, is 40 years old. That’s older than Jesus C, in theory. Glow changing water to wine. Glow not-owning-a-damn-thing. [OK, sandals] Glow whitewater and the sound of a boat being sucked away/throat-down like meat from a bone. [Yes, I did almost drown canoeing, but I did return]. Glow spray. Glow eddies. Glow the human-face shape of a rock formed after years of river over its nose.

Glow Deliverance/James Dickey article here.

What do I think?

1. Glow movie. Best movie Burt Reynolds ever made. He could have been a contender, but he fucked it all up. He could have been an actor.

(And don’t give me some Longest Yard bullshit)

2. The James Dickey cameo is OK, but no backwoods sheriff would have that mouthful of crystal white choppers.

[Now they pay the writers to go away. Far away.]

3. The infamous “scene” should be infamous. It is the linchpin to the plot. It is integral and essential. Do you want to look away? Fine, but you must take the next step: why do you want to look away? It is the flame to the fuse to the whole damn explosion.

I actually knew a prof who would not show the rape scene to his class. Why show the damn film? He would pause the film, skip the scene, and then show the film. I did not respect this decision. I found it ludicrous, misguided, wrong. I found it the very thing a teacher should be against.

Yes, the scene is visceral. So what?

The blank face, the cut, the still, the silence, the “let’s skip this.” These are valid responses to life?

4. In the book and movie, the bow hunting deer scene is a contrast/setup later for the bow hunting human scene. It is a marker for change, protagonist change, and a smart structural device.

5. The book is a testament to why EVERY fiction writer needs to write/read poetry before ever starting on prose. The word, the line, the sentence is what writing is all about. Poets know. Fiction writers should. Plot/suspense and beautiful prose are not mutually exclusive.

The Sheep Child disturbing, as in amazing.

People, honest, smart people, keep talking about Deliverance and then saying, as an add-on: “Dickey was also a poet.”

Shows you something. But I digress. I was talking about words.

[To all those who have not read The Sentence is a Lonely Place.

Linking this makes me feel like a prof teaching “The Things They Carried”

Let it go.

But still Lutz...]

6. Deliverance, the movie, kick-started the canoeing boom in this country.

Huh?

That’s:  Jaws making you want to go for a swim. Or

Hey, I just saw The Ring, call me.

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Robb Todd at PANK.

Seductive. Building to crescendo. Step by step, drink by drink. And next thing you know we are dreaming of Gordon Lish…

Glow.

I think the person-visiting-foreign-country is one of the most cliche lit mag stories in the whole damn galactic volcano world. So I respect this. Todd pulled it off. So dank beers to you, sir.

Here is an interview of Robb Todd.

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The Boy in a philosophical moment. Moments later he would rod/reel in a clam the size of a thimble. He would say, “I didn’t get skunked, did I?”This clam was the size of a sigh.

[later some dude brought us a pizza we did not order. it was chicken. i would never eat a chicken–that’s cruel. these are life-moments i enjoy.]

The waters were angry that day, my friend. The waters were profoundly urban. Chalky. Plucked on strings of gray and hot lunches of dry erase marker soup. I want to say bar-of-soap sky but I think I ripped that from Annie Dillard. I know DFW would call this sky the color of a faded cotton shirt. Half a million writers would say pearl, but we all would suck.

We mostly all suck.

*

The new semester has started. I am teaching fiction and fiction and graduate fiction. This is a glow life. The students are glow, honestly.

I’ll tell you what: students get quicker, smarter, better. Every year. Any teacher in the world knows quicker/smarter/better is what you want in a class.

And…

We have a new coffee machine at BSU and that makes me believe I am in the future. Feels like Sleeper but less satire, less dangerous. You can’t take the machine that seriously. Although it is taller than Us and impressive enough to see/feel that it could beat your ass in chess. Machine is tall and sturdy and earth-colored and feels like a robot, yes, but a kind, serious robot about to set you up with some quality Joe. So wary. I am wary. It claims to grind/brew the coffee a few seconds after you put in your 50 cents (regular) or 75 cents (premium). And it often does.

Good thing for Us, it often does not. I get what I “order”/punch in  about 17 percent of the time.

The coffee is oily coffee and makes me shiver some. It isn’t dregs, just keen, like turpentine or when you leap out a moving truck. I drink it and my mind is a hamster that has escaped and made its bed in the crinkly green grass of an Easter basket. You reach down and it bites you.

Blood.

If your coffee doesn’t have a narrative inside it’s core/bean, a story wanting to hatch with every sip, why in the hell are you drinking it? Coffee should make you shudder, should kill you as it glows–like any drug.

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I made an evening of drinking mojitos and googling photos of the world’s tallest man and thought surely this giant will die soon, and he did the following morning.

This is from Steve Stringer’s excellent elimae.

The opening. Sets us up with realism and turns to magical, twists us up, quick. There’s a Murakami story where the man wakes and makes toast and he’s about to head to work and then the author writes something like, “He was on his way to the elephant factory.”

The man worked in the “trunk” division, but I think was later transferred to Ears. Later comes a dancing dwarf.

Stringer catches something here, the fumes/fuel mix of alcohol, and this “giant,” most likely a wound of some sort, most likely one of those ghosts that haunt every hotel and give them layers of glow.

Thank you, Steve.

Hotels can be horny. Or sometimes sad. It’s hard to get my head around hotels. People come and go. For some reason I feel hotels are like graveyards, but that makes little sense. Hotels have lots of clunks and down-the-hall sounds. You can lie in bed and listen all night. Sometimes a headlight will paint the walls. The bed always makes me pause. What a history! If you look behind the headboard, on the floor, you will usually find straw wrappers, bottle caps, child toys, other things…You can open a bottle of beer on the jamb of a hotel door. Any hotel door. There’s a tip for you. Do you tip the sad people who clean the rooms? They talk loudly so you know they are sad. Nothing is more sad than being loud. Sometimes I sit in a hotel and feel like a boulder, but a hollow boulder and that’s called a geode, I think.

May all our giants return, I say.

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The Third Annual Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose ends very soon. So if this is what you do, do it now.

Prize is $1000. Or eighty-three (83) Zombie Undead Jesus Necklaces.

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A fucking galactic supervolcano erupted a few days ago. This explains a lot of things. Like war, people who don’t tip bartenders, Nicholas Sparks, people who don’t let you play through in disc golf, some lady named Mrs. Rose who opened a CHRISTIAN THRIFT STORE near my house.

What in the hell is a Christian thrift store?

Do I need to worship a Christian god to get in the door? Does an alarm sound? Do I take an oath? Are you going to card me?

What do they sell? Like only Christian things? Like Mary on a piece of burnt toast or old pamphlets or ceramic apples or golf clubs or high heel shoes or tree limbs or dusty church pews?

1. Jesus key chain that makes people think you drive a Lexus (?), $1.95.

2. Jesus air freshener, $1.50.

3. Grow your own Jesus, $2.50.

Maybe they sell peacocks and Flannery O’Connor books. Here is the story where the devil is a hero for being honest and shooting a grandmother, Mrs. Rose.

[Yesterday I found a shotgun shell in a graveyard. Who shoots off a shotgun in a graveyard?]

grenadine?

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I am in a book with Michael Martone, Jim Daniels, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Daniel Orozco, Kennebrew Surant, Rick Attig, Lolita Hernandez, Michael Martone, Matthew Salesses, Matt Bell, M. Kaat Toy, Billie Louise Jones, Lita Kurth, Anne Shewring, Dustin Hoffman, Tania Hershman, Nick Kocz, Michael Zadoorian, Steve Himmer, Pete Anderson, Pete Fromm.

This book.

I tell my students repeatedly one of the best subjects in the world is work, work, work, so I glow to be in this anthology. To walk the walk. Etc.

BTW, the anthology includes Matt Bell’s infamous Fried Chicken story.

You haven’t read it? Are you an icking fidiot? Here, dumbass.

Lord

Luase

Lollygag, you fucker.

fuck

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*

I just had a great run. Almost spiritual. And I don’t say that lightly. Runner’s High is a bit of a pop term, and not so accurate, usually. But I did feel high today, floaty, yes, spiritual. So.

So I have no interest in the organized  religions of man. I believe in the religion of Motion. Of river. Of arrow/disc in flight. Of apple tumbling from tree. Of fish. Of the body, running.

Today was some weird flow. Runners know it. Tough to capture. Tough to figure. You feel like the runner and the run. Form=Function. Like you were born running. It doesn’t happen that often. You have to be thankful. You have to hope it happens again…

It felt like this:

corn, corn, golden kernels of hot sauce–my lunch

and

oh my, a mix pack. they do mix packs now, i drank the 6 quickly and my knees soared around the hotel room i was blue but sort of a deep-end blue with a tiny dime shimmering on the bottom

And

J is my mother

And…

possibly i need a haircut a need i possibly

And

dinner on Lake Michigan

And the run went exactly like this:

6:00 mile pace  X 800      6:00 mile pace X 800      5:56 mile (full mile)

5:52 mile (full mile)      5:49 mile pace X 800      5:49 mile pace X 800

5:24 mile pace X 800

Whew. But I felt like I could have just kept on running into South America, or maybe to that former planet, Pluto, poor thing, or maybe right into the heart of all of this confusion we call Our Life.

*

Pay attention to Caren Beilin.

I said pay attention.

I used to make out with the household iron.

I said!

I’d like to trample you in an old fashioned manner. A writer comes along, a writer comes along. You know, sometimes you read something exponential bad-ass:

At the zoo you can buy animal balloons, dead birds on strings given shots of helium into the rectum and they jounce overhead attached by the string for an hour.

Here it is. Go fucking read.

Oh my

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.

*

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