Fiction and Drama

Insurance

Insurance

Liberal people, but probably the kind who never talk to a man like him unless something in their house gets broken.

Three children and two parents fastened their seatbelts. All five, pale and glum, looked straight ahead. No one spoke. The Broadway musical had been an expensive mistake involving water and darkness and lasers and stunningly loud sound effects. Mom put her hand on Dad’s arm. He glanced back to see that the kids were belted in. The engine turned over; she pulled out.

Baby Goes to Erik’s Hometown

Baby Goes to Erik’s Hometown

I was far more comfortable with grandiose nihilism.

In the living room, three dirty men sat on the floor in front of a television. They were playing a video game on a Nintendo system that looked different than the one I remembered. The game was definitely Super Mario Brothers, but the graphics were too good for Super Mario Brothers, and besides, since when did Mario ride on the back of a green lizard?

Kylie Wears Balmain

Kylie Wears Balmain

Behold, the whole of America

But here, looking through The Magazine, she worries this may have been a mistake. Behold, inside, the whole of America: fashion knockoffs, “diets that work,” stratified wealth, divorce, couture latex, infidelity, single moms, contouring, God, fame, infamy. She thinks, All I have to do is check the facts.

Paranoir

Paranoir

What is this Committee that you speak of?

We are filled with joy that you take your riding examination today. From such surmounting of physical boundaries do we prepare ourselves to traverse thresholds where matter dissolves into spirit, where time and space fall away, and where the glorious universe reveals itself to us in its infinite shades of compassion and love. A horse may be just a horse, but for you it is only the first of your many vahanas. You will not fail.

No. 32

No. 32

I was of the museum generation

We exist in a society of complex gestures, all running along their own time; we are all interrupting, witnessing, performing simultaneously, and this was much easier to accept and discern when it was believed that all of our movement happened upon an unmoving ground, when it was believed that the ground itself was a dense impaction of dirt and sediment, when we didn’t think about the ground.

Miriam

Miriam

She knew no balm for oddness

Growing up, Miriam surmised, was the process by which one became opaque to God, and this was why nobody could read her mother’s mind, or the elders’. Miriam thought of egg whites clouding in a frying pan, and wondered whether she would still have evil thoughts when no one else could see them.

Camilla and the Horse

Camilla and the Horse

“This is going to be expensive,” I tell him, “you are conducting an expensive conversation.”

I wish I was Žižek. Žižek can get everything to make sense, if I had been Žižek now, right now, I would be lying in a Punic bordello having a fucking match with Houellebecq, the whores would not be trafficked, just glo-ba-lized—can you hear it being sung by Gregorian monks, or maybe a eunuch: glo-ba-lized pro-sti-tutes.

Newborn

Newborn

To tell you the truth, my son creeped me out.

There wasn’t even anywhere for him to sleep. So he built a nesty thing in the kitchen, out of shredded newspaper and strips torn from the couch fabric. At night, when I came downstairs to fill a glass of water or pick at the fridge, his olive-green eye-stalks protruded from a heap of fluff and detritus. They drifted back and forth in time to his silent breathing.

Famoustown

Famoustown

They would have never guessed that I was nothing like them, nothing at all, going not to my job but to my loft, about to sign a new lease on life.

The billboards began advertising the city long before I was even close to it. In fact, I’d barely left the Blandon City Limits when I saw the following question floating in my periphery: WHAT DOES FAMOUSTOWN MEAN TO YOU? Famoustown meant quite a lot to me, actually. Even though I’d never been there, it was a place I had been hearing about all my life. Big events were always taking place in Famoustown; it was a place that other places looked to for information on the current trends. It was also a place where famous people lived, and this had always given me pause. While I liked famous people just as much as the next person, I never wanted to be famous myself. After all, it didn’t take much to see what fame did to people, how it puffed up their pride, and let them speak every word with certainty; and how, over time, it seemed to make them resemble not the pleasant, ordinary people they surely were before fame found them, but rather mentally ill ghouls. And that wasn’t going to be my route, I knew.

The Commission

The Commission

I carried groceries for Mrs. Perillo and then churned out at least two pages.

I live in Pigneto, which is considered the alternative heart of the capital, Pasolini’s old neighborhood, where every week some witty journalist comes on a mission to reveal to the world that between Prenestina and Casilina Streets there hides a Roman Williamsburg, and some inspired photographer follows him to immortalize the young hipsters who open clubs, reconvert old garages, emit metallic sounds from their Macs, shoot documentaries, and go shopping with their bicycles.

Sad and Boujee

Sad and Boujee

The radical and perpetually unpredictable voice of Percival Everett

Neglect is a fate all experimental writers risk, but if they happen to be black it can seem almost impossible to avoid. Everett always intended to chart his own course. He picked the novel up where Ishmael Reed had taken it, but pivoted away from Reed’s zaniness toward a prismatic allegorical realism, a constant reinvention of form designed to grapple with the vertiginous ends of America’s violent and often contradictory racial, economic, geographic, and sexual epistemologies—a project consonant in many ways with Wallace’s—but evidently not one that could generate the same kind of popular appeal.

A Thin Place

A Thin Place

Truth is you were ransacked and you will never cease to know that.

You drift gingerly out of the clinic. The air flaps and you quiver. You linger a minute at the squat wall between the carpark and the pavement—over there is the old St. Columba’s graveyard, where you always meant to go. This town was a “thin place” that pilgrims came to, in the belief that here the margin is finest between heaven and earth. You can’t fathom that. Heaven’s only a sweet con to mollify and defer you, an excuse for why some days here get so painful. No reason, no good reason. Would it be better or worse if you had reason to feel this joyless? Nothing matters and you’re meant to keep on going on.

La Sposina

La Sposina

What good was life on one’s own in the face of European decline and the increasing global irrelevance of your social class?

The pursuit of the good life—in both its moral and aesthetic guises—takes work. But you had Lorenzo. He was handsome and healthy, his shoulders made for polo shirts, his eyes designed to shine emerald green whenever he took off his aviators. His aunt and uncle were influential philosophy professors, and he was a post-doc, also in philosophy. They helped him score grants, and he, meanwhile, could be found at parties, where he’d say, “I’m a filmmaker,” in English, to anyone who’d listen.

Beast Leave

Beast Leave

I’ve just unpacked the face when life begins

The first decision I have to make is bits or brawn, as they say. For me, that one’s a no-brainer. I decide right away I don’t want to go digital. I guess you could say I’m a traditional sort of guy in that respect. Plus, once I’d made up my mind to build, Parm gave me a copy of this book, Shop Class as Soulcraft, and it really got me thinking. I don’t want to just download a life. I want to build my man from the guts out, really get my hands bloody.

My 19th Century

My 19th Century

Measured against the goals I had set for it and its own rules of engagement, the poem could only be merited a radical success.

Back home in the furniture-free apartment I lay down on my inflatable mattress, fired up my laptop, and wrote a poem called “The Shitfucker Vulture.”

Toward the Philosophy of an Act

Toward the Philosophy of an Act

Mikhail’s manuscript was about stories, before the manuscript itself disappeared. At what point, he wonders, smoking, does writing become real?

21. Now I’m here, alone, envisioning Mikhail. I type and my words fill the white screen, paragraphs accumulating like storm clouds. Command-S and they’re saved, cached inside somewhere, in a space so small it’s virtually virtual. Amazing how we’ve gone from stone to parchment to paper to essentially nothing at all, as if we’ve almost managed to reproduce the very substance of thought itself, its fundamental nothingness, its lightness. Something not really existing, but not not existing either. Something tangible as smoke.

No One Fought Back Then

No One Fought Back Then

We had a different attitude back then. Decency, friendship, family. Now—fuck—everybody’s fallen into the money trap.

Back then you would say, it’s raining, the roof is leaking over here, and the union would send a couple boys over with a wheelbarrow and a bit of tarpaper or a tarp. Problem solved, and you can keep on living there. See if anyone gives a shit now. You could sleep on the streets for all they care. These days? The union? Fuck. Some fucking union it is these days. Now they’ve got the union name but no substance.

Ward’s Fool

Ward’s Fool

A memo on the ruins

By the time the twentieth century was yielding to the twenty-first, the worry had been replaced by one strangely analogous: Was a rational agent ever really free to choose a course of action that failed to maximize his economic self-interest? It was to politics that people generally went for an answer, in those years. The philosophers were, as I say, then preoccupied by the problem of the hypothetically powerful computer.

Insurance

Insurance

Liberal people, but probably the kind who never talk to a man like him unless something in their house gets broken.

Three children and two parents fastened their seatbelts. All five, pale and glum, looked straight ahead. No one spoke. The Broadway musical had been an expensive mistake involving water and darkness and lasers and stunningly loud sound effects. Mom put her hand on Dad’s arm. He glanced back to see that the kids were belted in. The engine turned over; she pulled out.

Baby Goes to Erik’s Hometown

Baby Goes to Erik’s Hometown

I was far more comfortable with grandiose nihilism.

In the living room, three dirty men sat on the floor in front of a television. They were playing a video game on a Nintendo system that looked different than the one I remembered. The game was definitely Super Mario Brothers, but the graphics were too good for Super Mario Brothers, and besides, since when did Mario ride on the back of a green lizard?

Kylie Wears Balmain

Kylie Wears Balmain

Behold, the whole of America

But here, looking through The Magazine, she worries this may have been a mistake. Behold, inside, the whole of America: fashion knockoffs, “diets that work,” stratified wealth, divorce, couture latex, infidelity, single moms, contouring, God, fame, infamy. She thinks, All I have to do is check the facts.

Paranoir

Paranoir

What is this Committee that you speak of?

We are filled with joy that you take your riding examination today. From such surmounting of physical boundaries do we prepare ourselves to traverse thresholds where matter dissolves into spirit, where time and space fall away, and where the glorious universe reveals itself to us in its infinite shades of compassion and love. A horse may be just a horse, but for you it is only the first of your many vahanas. You will not fail.

No. 32

No. 32

I was of the museum generation

We exist in a society of complex gestures, all running along their own time; we are all interrupting, witnessing, performing simultaneously, and this was much easier to accept and discern when it was believed that all of our movement happened upon an unmoving ground, when it was believed that the ground itself was a dense impaction of dirt and sediment, when we didn’t think about the ground.

Miriam

Miriam

She knew no balm for oddness

Growing up, Miriam surmised, was the process by which one became opaque to God, and this was why nobody could read her mother’s mind, or the elders’. Miriam thought of egg whites clouding in a frying pan, and wondered whether she would still have evil thoughts when no one else could see them.

Camilla and the Horse

Camilla and the Horse

“This is going to be expensive,” I tell him, “you are conducting an expensive conversation.”

I wish I was Žižek. Žižek can get everything to make sense, if I had been Žižek now, right now, I would be lying in a Punic bordello having a fucking match with Houellebecq, the whores would not be trafficked, just glo-ba-lized—can you hear it being sung by Gregorian monks, or maybe a eunuch: glo-ba-lized pro-sti-tutes.

Newborn

Newborn

To tell you the truth, my son creeped me out.

There wasn’t even anywhere for him to sleep. So he built a nesty thing in the kitchen, out of shredded newspaper and strips torn from the couch fabric. At night, when I came downstairs to fill a glass of water or pick at the fridge, his olive-green eye-stalks protruded from a heap of fluff and detritus. They drifted back and forth in time to his silent breathing.

Famoustown

Famoustown

They would have never guessed that I was nothing like them, nothing at all, going not to my job but to my loft, about to sign a new lease on life.

The billboards began advertising the city long before I was even close to it. In fact, I’d barely left the Blandon City Limits when I saw the following question floating in my periphery: WHAT DOES FAMOUSTOWN MEAN TO YOU? Famoustown meant quite a lot to me, actually. Even though I’d never been there, it was a place I had been hearing about all my life. Big events were always taking place in Famoustown; it was a place that other places looked to for information on the current trends. It was also a place where famous people lived, and this had always given me pause. While I liked famous people just as much as the next person, I never wanted to be famous myself. After all, it didn’t take much to see what fame did to people, how it puffed up their pride, and let them speak every word with certainty; and how, over time, it seemed to make them resemble not the pleasant, ordinary people they surely were before fame found them, but rather mentally ill ghouls. And that wasn’t going to be my route, I knew.

The Commission

The Commission

I carried groceries for Mrs. Perillo and then churned out at least two pages.

I live in Pigneto, which is considered the alternative heart of the capital, Pasolini’s old neighborhood, where every week some witty journalist comes on a mission to reveal to the world that between Prenestina and Casilina Streets there hides a Roman Williamsburg, and some inspired photographer follows him to immortalize the young hipsters who open clubs, reconvert old garages, emit metallic sounds from their Macs, shoot documentaries, and go shopping with their bicycles.