September 1, 2014
The other week I had my study repainted. Afterwards I re-shelved the books that had been packed away in boxes. While doing so, I pulled out the small hardcover in which my first published story appeared (First Love: an anthology of new poetry and prose, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1986), opened it up and read the piece for the first time … in many, many years. It’s a strange little story. It didn’t make me cringe as much as I expected. I found myself still fond of its strangeness.
Three Fries, Ten Burgers
I say our number is 18. Cal says it’s 11. We’re already in line past the cashier. Three fries and ten hamburgers, flat little squares like stamps on mini buns, you know, not like anything else anywhere. You never listen to me, Cal says. The man ahead of us ordered a dozen to go. That’s what makes it special at White Castle. The girl behind the wire grid flips these small squares in the white bright light. Blips of hunger or excitement start going off inside me. You never believe me, Cal says. The rows of tiny boxes rock me with amazement. Believe, I say, what’s believe got to do with it? I open up my boxes. Don’t yell, Cal yells. The burgers are the size of buttons. The french fries are like toothpicks; the burgers are like bottle caps. I pick one up. My fingertips tingle; my hands tingle. I swallow. Everything’s fizzing, all the way down my throat, all the way down my arm to the tiny wooden prong. Cal’s yelling something else. He splats his hand on the counter. I’m saying, you’re crazy, you’re crazy. My fries are shrinking smaller than threads; the hamburgers are no bigger than pills, than spores. My stomach pings and aches. Things disappearing right before your eyes, that’s what love is. I know it’s real because it hurts.
October 3, 2013
There’s such pleasure in having a beautiful book: cover, paper, font, all these things matter. And Goose Lane has made Accusation a very beautiful book. I have to call attention to these endpapers. Open the book and you discover these. There’s a juggler in the novel and it’s as if the papers bring his juggling to life. They’re almost like a circus.
October 1, 2013
The night before I had to give my first reading from Accusation, the book newly in my hands, I had a dream in which I was walking naked through the streetscape of my adolescence. The dream itself felt clear in its self-revelation. Bringing a novel to the world is pleasurable — and yet also, oddly, shameful. There’s an inevitable vulnerability in the risk of self-exposure, or in the risky self-exposure. Humiliation rises among a sea of other emotions. We don’t talk much about the place of shame in publication but I’d wager most writers touch it to some degree. We long to disown what we’ve written, to cast it off in case it embarrasses us, or because it embarrasses us, because we’ve put everything of ourselves into it and that’s embarrassing, because the disowning is necessary in order to move on. We don’t know what we’ve done. We don’t know how to think or speak about what we’ve done. Writer Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer has written a paper about it — well, about the relationship between publishing and shitting, and the weird commingling of pleasure and shame as something … comes out of us. After having been turned so far inward, it’s strange to face outward. All our actions on the page become visible. Moments before, in the same dream, I was clambering over a ladder stretched across the depths of a vast, dilapidated building, trying to navigate a tricky journey. No more disappearing into the text, it’s time to slip on a vulnerable body and hit the streets, the book itself a form of nakedness whatever I’m wearing.
August 23, 2013
In the lead-up to the publication of my novel, Accusation, I’ve been gathering stories for something I’m calling The Accusation Project. I’m not sure exactly what form it will take but I hope to share some of these stories. I’m interested in stories of being accused or falsely accused or making an accusation against someone – not necessarily in the legal system. Accusations small or large. I’m interested both in what happened and what the experience felt like. If you have a story that you’d like to share in a short paragraph or so, please get in touch with me at email@example.com. The stories will be kept anonymous. Stay tuned for more about The Accusation Project.
August 4, 2013