Fiction and Drama

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.

The Golden Age

The Golden Age

I know how to build and if it was lost it is not really lost, it is going back better, just fabulous.

These are almost all very small little bombs, and even the ones that are a little more serious, even those, ours are much, much bigger, so people can understand that we are in control of the situation, and we are going to have a very, very successful number of days.

Where's Your Boyfriend?

Where's Your Boyfriend?

“Oh, he died, I think.”

Tristan held on to the bench with both hands as they jerked into reverse and pulled away from the dock. Treble Island had come and gone. The boat hit the waves harder without the weight of the other passengers, and he felt each wave as a blow to the stomach. From his stomach a bad feeling rose into his chest and spread across the tops of his shoulders like big hands pressing him down. He was soaring and drowning, or he was crying, that was it.

Longviewers

Longviewers

The save-our-street strategy

At least we’re not learning about Helen Keller anymore. Sometimes I write invisible letters on Kira’s hand in Integrated Studies. T-H-I-S (flat palm) S-U-C-K-S. We’re not making fun of Helen Keller, just using her techniques to get by. We have our own handicaps. Boys who crack Helen Keller jokes ignore our collective lack of breast. They’re probably from Longview.

Calls

Calls

The healer is here

The water wasn’t too cold. I drained the cup and went over to the girl. Pulling the saltwater bucket toward me, I dipped and rinsed both hands before I arranged her head next to the man’s. How many times had he arranged them just this way, I thought, the head of a predator along its prey. Then I started on her with the loam. I went over each of her eyes before filling up her mouth. Then Wezile handed me a fresh blade, and I placed the disk on her chest. Her skin was soft, and it didn’t take much to peel a piece off.

Episode 23: Inherited Disorders

Episode 23: Inherited Disorders

“It started as a normal novel about fathers and sons, one of those, so I always knew I wanted to write about fathers and sons. And I thought I could do it in a realist way, tracking a father and a son through a relationship or whatever, and I was completely unable to do that. There were two or three years where essentially, everyday, I would start from scratch. I liked the starting out, I liked having a father and a son in some weird situation, and then I would sort of try to maneuver them in a realist way, and it would fall apart and collapse. After a couple of years of this and feeling crazy, probably under the influence of some other books that had somewhat similar forms, I realized I could just sort of take each of the beginnings and turn them into their own mini story and have the relationship kind of come out of the way the stories interacted with each other.”

After the Bomb

After the Bomb

"What happens when you grow old? Will your individualism save you?"

He began to wonder if there was something to Ayub’s notion that the pain was partly mental, seeing how it had jumped after the diagnosis from the doctor. At home, on his bed, enclosed by a life-size poster of Tendulkar on one side and of Michael Jackson on the other—old posters from the age of fourteen he had never taken down or replaced—he began to read the book Ayub had given him, The Religion of Pain.

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.