Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Please forgive the short break in blog entries. You can blame, in part, this pink elephant, as Ann and I traveled to St. Augustine for our third wedding anniversary and discovered some rather good Belgian and German beers (as well as Yorkshire favorite Old Peculier, which we quite enjoyed) while in the Old City--this after having had a delightful week showing Tamar Yellin and her husband Bob Tasker around Tallahassee. Blogging will resume shortly, as we've just seen Star Wars: The Retardation of the Sith and I'm feeling a need to discuss it.

(Jeff: "Oh, fer chrissakes--what have you got now?!" Evil Monkey: "This is George Lucas' head. He definitely hasn't been using it for awhile...")

Saturday, May 28, 2005


Once upon a time there was a website created for me by Garry Nurrish called VanderWorld that functioned as a parody of every retarded feature of pretentious author sites. It's been down for several months while we moved it from one service provider to another.

Now it's back up. It includes the infamous alien baby photographs--the alien baby in Antarctica, for example. Here's the alien baby quite literally at the South Pole...

Also, the alien baby with meerkats, visiting K.J. Bishop, etc. Well worth checking out--under the photos link.

I'll be updating the site soon, because since I last updated it I have new alien baby photos taken by Liz Williams in Central Asia and Morocco, as well as several other interesting locations.

And, of course, since the last update of the text a couple of years ago, there have been innovations in pretentious author sites, so the parody must be overhauled...


(Jeff: "Hey--what's that under your bed?" Evil Monkey: "You know--Anne Rice's head." Jeff: "You still have that?! Will you please put it back where you found it!" Evil Monkey: "I think she's already grown another one, though." Jeff: "I don't care--put it back! It's very rude to hang onto it." Evil Monkey: "...You used to support my creative decisions." Jeff: "Up to a point. Up to a point." Evil Monkey: "All right. I'll put it back. But is it okay if I just sneak up to the front door of her house, leave it on her welcome mat, ring the bell, and run away?" Jeff: "Sure. I'm not asking for accountability. I just don't want that thing in the house." Evil Monkey: "Okay, then. Just so we're clear." Jeff: "And DON'T steal anybody's head ever again." Evil Monkey: "Not even Dan Brown's?" Jeff: "Grrrr.")

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Tamar Yellin and her husband Bob are visiting us in Tallahassee for the next week, with Tamar doing a reading and presentation at Congregation Shomrei Torah tomorrow night. As I've previously blogged, her novel The Genizah at the House of Shepher is a wonderful blend of the personal and universal, revolving around a lost bible. The Tallahassee Democrat has just run this article about the book.


Friday, May 20, 2005


Michael Cisco, one of our best mega-surrealist-absurdist fiction eccentrics, now has his own Web site, with news, links, and other information.

I've written about Cisco before on this blog, especially about his unpublished novel The Traitor which I hope to facilitate the release of when my schedule frees up a bit.

Cisco is working the outer edges and he's an important writer to read because he's continually pushing. His fiction is challenging and uncomforting to the reader. And that's precisely why we need him.


(Jeff: "Evil Monkey! Why are you crying? ... and what is that..thing...you're...eating?" Evil Monkey: "My friend, never become a writer. You constantly misinterpret context." Jeff: "What do you mean?" Evil Monkey: "I'm not crying. I'm laughing so hard I'm tearing up. And that's Anne Rice's head. I'm not eating it. I just...had...to...make...her...stop...talking...about...Jesus." Jeff: "Can't say I blame you.")

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

THEN THE FLOOD: Editing Shriek

Then the flood. Duncan spoke and spoke and spoke—rambling, fragmented, coherent, clever. I began to grow afraid for him. All these words. There was already less than nothing inside of him. I could see that. When the last words had left his mouth, would even the canvas of his skin flap away free, the filigree of his bones disintegrate into dust? Slowly, I managed to hear the words and forget the condition of the one who spoke them. Forget that he was my brother.

He had gone deeper into the underground this time, but the research had gone badly. He kept interspersing his account with mutterings that he would “never do it again.” And, “If I stay on the surface, I’m safe. I should be safe.” At the time, I thought he meant staying physically above ground, but now I’m not so sure. I wonder if he also meant the surface of his books. That if he could simply restrain himself from the divergent thinking, the untoward analysis, that had marked some of his previous books, he might once again be a published writer.

As he spoke, I realized I wasn’t ready for his revelations. I had made a mistake—I didn’t want to hear what he had to say. I needed distance from this shivering, shuddering wreck of a man. He clutched to the edges of the smock I had given him like a corpse curling fingers around a coffin’s lining. Somehow, the look on his face made me think of our father dying in the summer grass. It frightened me. I tried to put boundaries on the conversation.

"What happened to the book you were working on?" I asked him.

He grimaced, but the expression made him look more human, and his gaze turned inward, the horrors reflected there no longer trying to get out.

"Still-born," he gasped, as if just breaking to the surface after being held down in black water. He lurched to his feet, fell back down again. Every surface he touched became covered in fine black powder. “Still-born,” he repeated. “Or I killed it. I don’t know which. Maybe I’m a murderer. I was. I was half-way through. On fire with ancient texts. Bloated with the knowledge in them. Didn’t think I needed to know first hand to write the book. Such a web of words, Janice. I have never used so many words. I used so many there weren’t any left to write with. And yet, I still had this fear deep in my skull. I couldn’t get it out.”

I said, “I have a canteen of water in the front, near my desk. You need water. But keep talking. Keep telling me about your book.”

He frowned as I walked past him into the main room of the gallery. From behind me, his disembodied voice rose up, quavered, continued. A thrush caught in a hunter’s snare, flapping this way and that, ever more entangled and near its death. His smell had coated the entire gallery. In a sense, I was as close to him searching for the canteen as if I stood beside him. Beyond the gallery windows lay the real world, composed of unnaturally bright colors and shoppers walking briskly by.

“So I never finished it, Janice. What do you think of that? I couldn’t. Wouldn’t. I wrote and wrote. I wrote with the energy of ten men. In the evening. All texts I consulted interlocked under my dexterous manipulations. It all made such perfect sense…and then I began to panic. Each word, I realized, had been leading me farther and farther away from the central mystery. Every sentence left a false trail. Every paragraph formed another wall between me and it. Soon, I stopped writing. It had all been going so well. How could it get so bad so quickly?

“I soon found out. I backtracked through the abyss of words, searching for a flaw, a fissure, a crack in the foundation. Perhaps some paragraph had turned traitor and would reveal itself. Only it wasn’t a paragraph. It was a single word, five pages from the end of my silly scribblings, in a sentence of no particular importance. Just a single word. I know the sentence by heart, because I’ve repeated it to myself over and over again. It’s all that’s left of my book. Do you want to hear it?”

“Yes,” I said, still looking for the canteen under all the canvases, although I wasn’t sure.

“Here it is: ‘But surely, if Tonsure had not known the truth then, he knew it after traveling underground.’ The word, of course, was ‘truth,’ and I could not get past the truth. The truth stank of the underground, buried under dead leaves and hidden in cold, dry, dark caverns. The truth had nothing to do with the surface of things.

“From that word, in that context, on that page, written in my nearly-illegible hand, my master work, my beautiful, marvelous book unraveled syllable by syllable. I began by just crossing out words that did not belong in the sentence. Finally, I began to delete words by rules as illegitimate and illogical as the gray caps themselves. Until after a week, I woke up one morning, determined to continue my surgical editing of the manuscript—only to find that not even the original sentence had been spared: all that remained of my once-proud manuscript was that single word: ‘truth’. And, truth, my dear sister, was not a big enough word to constitute an entire book—at least not to my publishers. Or to me."


There was a time when the book Duncan describes in Shriek: An Afterword felt a lot like Shriek: An Afterword. I wrote it over a period of more than six years, and sometimes seemed like it might never be completed. And, this past couple of months, I have been writing it all over again.

Tonight, I've finally got a hard copy in front of me that includes everything in it. It addresses all of my editor Liz Gorinsky's line edits and structural questions, in some fashion. It also includes handwritten new scenes that occurred to me as a result of Liz's edits.

In addition to that, it includes many additional comments, phrases, alternate versions of paragraphs, and questions that I had written on scraps of paper or post-it notes in the months since I turned the novel in to my agent. I had been reluctant to add anything until I had time to get perspective on Shriek. Now, all of that material has been added. Some of it stapled. Some of it taped. Some of it green scrawls on the backs of pages. Some of it my old post-it notes, reaffixed into a new and more permanent context.

The novel as it now exists, in this hardcopy form, is a lovely welter of scars, indentations, creases, fissures, and, most importantly, textures. From page to page it is lacerated and riddled through with green ink, tattooed with echoes of itself.

For some reason, I think I love it in this form more than any other. It's something physical and both formed and unformed. Somehow, with all of its parts showing, all of its edits on display, it's more alive than I thought it would be. More of me has gone into this novel than anything I've ever written, and I like the idea of Shriek in its physical form being as molded yet imperfect, beautiful and ugly and untidy, as life.

Tomorrow I begin the harder part, which is both exciting and boring, because it's two tasks: type in the new scenes and other changes, while simultaneously using the notes to create new material right in the electronic file. Then, after I look at the welter of additions in the electronic copy, there will be a further process of layering and smoothing out. (That rough edge there needs to stay--it's supposed to be a rough edge--but that one over there is just the effect of putting in something new that doesn't quite balance or level off the way it should. So it has to go.)

It's kind of thrilling, but also a kind of dying fall, because this process of re-envisioning the novel, of living through the characters' eyes again, is almost over. In time, this text will be as cold and dead to me as it was when I turned it into my agent--me snowblind, unable to read through those same sentences and paragraphs and chapters even one more time without a feeling of nausea and failure (because we always fail at this, even when we succeed). And it will likely remain that way until I see it in published form for the first time, hold the book in my hand, and savor it. But that feeling will be less about the text than about the artifact it has become, and remembering the effort that went into it.

So I'm savoring this sensation right now, because it is entirely possible that this is the zenith of my personal attachment to Shriek. It feels good although sad, since I know it's ephemeral, even though a part of me wants the impossibility of a little more time in this deep relationship.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


My sister Elizabeth’s birthday was May 9th. She’s in Edinburgh getting her PhD now, but somehow her birthday brought up a memory from about 15 or 16 years ago. At the time, she and I shared an apartment in a complex called Fox Hollow in Gainesville, Florida. We were both going to the University of Florida and trying to conserve funds.

Fox Hollow was a dismal place—our upstairs neighbors were always arguing and stomping around--and our lot as starving college students was somewhat dismal, too. I had a temporary OPS job on the campus working as a writer for an insane vampy boss who scared the shit out of me, and Elizabeth was working somewhere on the university, too. But it wasn’t enough money, so we were always scratching around for the rent. We did have student loans, but the student loan people were like some kind of secret police. They'd haul us in for questioning and delay our money for months. One time they even audited me, making me provide the contracts for the short stories I'd sold, most of them for $20 to $50. ("But you're a published writer," the dumb-ass behind the glass would say. "You must be making money." "I'm publishing in Shithole Quarterly and Trucker's Crack Journal," I'd reply. "You don't make money publishing there.")

To help us survive food-wise, we used to make this insane pasta dish. It was either long noodles or little pieces of pasta in a white cheese sauce we simmered in a pan first, and which almost always congealed or burned and then became all loopy and salt-water-taffy-ish when applied to the pasta. Then we’d add mushrooms, broccoli, and squash to it and heat it all up in one huge pot. Then that pot would last us a few days. We’d kinda just eat off of this big congealed ball of white pasta. It literally might last a week (although we didn’t eat just it exclusively the whole week—that would have been too gross).

The apartment was also kind of sad because it housed three dogs and four cats at one point. We were a little too sympathetic to strays. I remember that we used to try to pretend the three dogs were actually two or one, because they were all Samoyed mixes, and we didn’t want to pay the fee for having three dogs, and weren’t even sure three dogs were allowed. (Although one of them, named Puppy, turned out to not be the full-breed Samoyed I’d been promised but, somehow, a cocker spaniel/Samoyed mix. Elizabeth got no end of enjoyment out of me insisting that “eventually he’ll get bigger.” He never did. He did, however, eat spoons and forks, with no ill effects, for whatever that's worth.)

So it was a crowded, small apartment with a lot of animal smells in it. And one day we’re standing there by the kitchen window eating from our ball of hardy white pasta—the Death Star of pasta dishes—when we hear a commotion upstairs and suddenly blood starts streaming down the outside of our window. We just kind of stood there, holding our forks of impaled pasta with our mouths open, watching the blood come down in a wave. In our crappy little apartment full of animals. I'd never seen anything like it. Was the world coming to an end?

And I turned to Elizabeth and said, “There’s got to be a better life out there somewhere.” I can’t remember if we thought that was funny at the time or if it was too grim to be funny.

Turned out that our neighbors had had a fight on their balcony above us and the blood was from somebody’s head wound. We didn’t bother to go outside and check on them. After all, they’d bled all over our window. The bastards.

It’s kind of funny now that we’re all grown up and pursuing successful careers. Although whenever I see that kind of pasta in the store, I think about that apartment and the blood on the window.



The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases edited by moi and Mark Roberts has made a rather large splash in its re-release in trade paperback by Bantam Books. Editor Juliet Ulman and Bantam's PR and Marketing departments have done a marvelous job with the book. It's selling briskly around the country and has been prominently displayed on the new trade paperback release tables in the chain bookstores.

Last week, Entertainment Weekly did a spotlight profile of the anthology. This week, you can find pop up ads on sites such as The Onion. And I'm also delighted to announce that the Guide is a Booksense Top 20 Pick for June. We're very appreciative of the indie bookstores for continuing to support this anthology so enthusiastically.

It's a bit of a rush to see a book I helped create available so widely. Until this Bantam release, distribution for my books has been spotty. Now I can't wait until Veniss Underground comes out from Bantam in September.

Thanks to all of the contributors for making the disease guide such a unique and enjoyable experience.


(Evil Monkey: "So...now you're using this blog for sheer self-promotion. Nice." Jeff: "Well, it is my blog. And I usually promote other people's work here. So I'm not going to worry about it." Evil Monkey: "What you should worry about, my friend, is that you're still listening to that Eisley crap." Jeff: "Hey--it's not crap. It's actually pretty darn good. Golly Sandra is a great song--summer pop with a slide guitar. Besides, that song has a great opening line: 'Golly Sandra, you've grown up really crazy.'" Evil Monkey: "It does not exist in the same universe with Spoon, dude." Jeff: "Shut up.")

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Mark Roberts, for Claire Weaver Publicity, has put together a cool little trailer/movie for the UK mass market edition of City of Saints & Madmen.

You can view it here. With music by Robert Devereux.

If you want it as a screensaver, just download it from here.

This is just the first wave of a bunch of cool stuff for Ambergris books that will be delivered via the internet.

A website for the new novel, Shriek, complete with all kinds of video extras, is in the works, for example.


Saturday, May 14, 2005


The following set of mini reviews has been extracted from my VanderWorld Report, an e-newsletter that comes out six times a year. It includes book, movie, and music reviews, in addition to weird internet links, news about my books, exclusive excerpts, and information about my upcoming readings and other events. To sign up for it, just go to my website and click on the link at the bottom left of the screen. The next one will be emailed in July.



Because I'm working on edits to Shriek, I haven't read much of late. But I did read on our Seattle-Vancouver-Victoria trip. I didn't read any SF or Fantasy. I'm kind of burned out on fantasy. Most of what I picked up was confessional first person literature or some form of literary mainstream fiction. This will come as no surprise to long-time subscribers. I should note that I had a brilliant idea on our recent trip. Well, I thought it was brilliant. I would only buy little books, under even the size of your typical mass market paperback. So all of the books listed are really small. The potential of these small sizes seems vast, given the difference in design between these books, all of which are pleasing. Did my plan work? Not really. I wound up buying twice as many books as usual, because each time I bought them they took up so little space in my bag that I didn't realize how much I was buying. So . . . we bought an extra suitcase and had to ship two boxes of books home. But I now have literally a hundred cool little books. So all's well that end's well. I guess.


Evil Twin Publications is run by two woman who are indeed twins. One lives in New York City and the other in Portland, Oregon. The book is the first person journal account (fictionalized) of a high school girl living in Germany. Dealing with classes, culture clashes, romance, etc. What makes it so compelling is both its immediacy and its sincerity, mixed with a genuine page-turning what-will-happen-next quality. I really loved this little book. Not just the text, but also the way it's put together. It's listed as No. 5 in the "My Evil Twin Sister" series of narrative zines. I really felt like I had gained insight into somebody's life after reading the book, and I want to apply that immediacy and lack of guile to some aspects of my fiction. I've seen other books from Evil Twin, and they all look fascinating. Check out the website.

ON BULLSHIT by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press).

This little book is exactly what the title suggests: an essay on bullshit, as opposed to fabrication and lying. Frankfurt makes a compelling case for the idea that there is more bullshit in the world now than ever before. A neat little book, well worth sending as a gift to friends.

IRAQ: A TOURIST GUIDE by The State Organization for Tourism, General Establishment for Travel and Tourism Services (1982). We picked up this gem in one of the fourteen bookstores in Sidney-by-the-Sea on Vancouver Island. A pre-invasion travel guide issued during Saddam Hussein's reign, this book contains several gems of information. First, there is a nice photo of "Field Marshal Saddam Hussein, Hero of National Liberation" in the front. He looks like a middle manager at Price, Waterhouse or something. Chapter 1 begins with a photo of a sculpture that looks like a bull buggering a man. Of course, we get the full story of the glorious revolution, including the 8th February 1963 Revolution: "It was a socialist, democratic, and nationalist revolution in which all the civil and military formations of the Party took part, which elicited the hostility of imperialist forces. The latter combined in conspiring against it on 18th November 1963, while it was only a few months old." We also learn that Iraq promotes tranquility for all, while it "confronts Zionism, and calls for the realization of peace and cooperation in the world." We learn of the grand Street of Progressions. We also get several more photos of a sculpture of a bull (?) standing over a man. I'm sure I'm missing the symbolism--my apologies. At the end of the guide, we find that the layout was created by Yugoslaviapublic in Yugoslavia and that it was also printed there. Alas, in the main it's not nearly as entertaining as it sounds.

THE CLEAR CUT FUTURE edited by Clear Cut Press.

This sampler of fiction, nonfiction, and photographs from Clear Cut Press authors provides an excellent guide to the burgeoning West Coast literary scene. There seems to be a real Golden Age of indie presses in the area between Portland and Seattle. Stacey Levine contributes "The World of Barry," one of her idiosyncratic, razor-sharp short stories. I'd never heard of Levine before, but heard her read at the Unassociated Writer's Conference in Vancouver. Stunning work--very sharp, clear, and original. The whole sampler is kind of like that. And the graphical style chosen for all of Clear Cut Press' books is wonderful. Check out their books . I can't recommend them highly enough.

THE LOGOGRYPH by Thomas Wharton (Gaspereau Press).

I haven't read this novel yet, although it sounds fascinating: "In a small town in the mountains, a young boy is given a suitcase filled with battered old books. So begins a lifelong pursuit of the elusive creature known as the logogryph. Describing imaginary books and alternate realities, Wharton explores the mysterious alchemy called reading." However, the reason I'm listing the book now is that it's one of the best examples of book as lovingly-made artifact I've seen. The book is housed in a brown paper sleeve with the title, author, and a woodcut of two hands on the front, with the novel information on the back. When you slide the book out from the sleeve, you find that it's made with high quality granular paper for the dust jacket (on a paperback!) and then a lovely, lovely design on the boards themselves. The interior is no less delectable--marvelous typography and margins and design that breathe. Quite simply, I am going to buy every book in this press' catalog because they're all so incredibly beautiful. Check out the website.

Other cool oddities collected include a World War II portable paperback edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde created specially for the armed forces; a copy of seminal novella Lenz by Georg Buchner from Archipelago Press (a gorgeous little book, with both the original German and the English translation); a collection of essays about Japan called Kuhaku (another beautiful little book--hardcover this time); and a London Folio Society edition of Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese.


I've now listened to the new Spoon CD for about a week and what strikes me most about is not the Marvin Gaye-meets-Wire-meets-Beatles element to Gimme Fiction. It's more the Glam Rock angle, as it pertains to the Decadent movement of the late 1800s, early 1900s. Which is to say that whether they all meant it consciously or not, the glam rockers, with their lifestyle and point of view, were echoing elements of the Decadent poets and fiction writers.

Spoon's new CD, to me, has a strong, pulsing Decadent element to it. From the "The Beast and the Dragon, Adored," to "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine," to "Was It You?" It's no surprise that the cover of the CD shows a Red Riding Hood-type figure on it, nor that inside that figure stands revealed as both Red Riding Hood and the wolf. Somehow this fits into a Decadent perspective as well, to me.

So I'm not quite articulating it as clearly as I would like, but Spoon's new CD seems to be drawing on literary influences or attitudes as well as musical ones. And this gives it a very lush depth, even on the simplest of its tracks. It is by far my favorite CD of the year so far. It impresses on a first listen, but it also rewards repeated listenings. There are also little stray sounds on the CD that you don't hear at first, in the background, that you pick up on with repeated listenings: the sound of rain, the sound of something mechanical whirring, little random bits of distortion and feedback. All layered below the surface. All contributing to the complexity. And yet, it all feels effortless, with nothing wasted. The production isn't fancy or fussy. The songs are all taut and controlled while still giving hint of great passion.

I've always loved Spoon, but I feel that on this new CD they've tapped into something darker, stranger, and more strangely beautiful than in the past.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Sometimes you come across a new writer with the kind of undeniable energy and enthusiasm and talent that signifies major accomplishment. In the case of Hal Duncan, that energy, enthusiasm, and talent has manifested itself in a huge novel, Vellum, that is huge not because of the number of pages (although it's a big un), but because of the originality and cross-pollination and pure chutzpah contained within it.

The book is out in August from Pan Macmillan and will be released in the US by Del Rey. I don't like to make general pronouncements about the next big thing, but Hal Duncan is it. Go out and buy this novel. It's one of the most assured first novels of the decade, and it's a novel many writers beginning their tenth novel would kill to have written.


Friday, May 06, 2005


Every morning I've got a new chance
I want to land the part of Eddie in The Stranger Dance
Cause he gets to swordfight the duke
He kidnaps the queen
And you think the score's set but you can't truly see
Til you know the two sides of Monsieur Valentine
- Spoon, "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine," Gimme Fiction

For those who might be wondering, the Secret Lives project has been delayed. I've got about 15 more to write, ranging in length from 1,000 words to 15,000 words. In a nutshell, when I set the original deadline for the publication of the book, I forgot that I don't write on demand all that well--I need time and space for ideas and images to reach their full potential before I set anything down on paper. And when you factor in the edits to Shriek that I'm engaged in--which are a wonderful opportunity, which are opening the book up, which are making the tips of my fingers tingle--it's unlikely that (1) I'll have the remaining secret lives finished until around August-September and (2) the book itself will be out until around Christmas. I'm sorry for those who preordered, except that you guaranteed yourself to get the book, since it's selling out rapidly. Please be patient. It's important to do this right. I don't ever want to just rush anything out there. As most people know, though, I do follow through on all of my projects.

Thanks for your patience.


(Evil Monkey: "So when will my secret life be done?" Jeff: "Did you order one?" Evil Monkey: "No. But I want one." Jeff: "Isn't it enough that you infiltrate my blog entries." Evil Monkey: "Is my secret life done yet?" Jeff: "No." Evil Monkey: "...how about now." Jeff: "It's still not done." Evil Monkey: "...how about--" Jeff: "See this frying pan?" Evil Monkey: "Yes." Jeff: "Where is it now?" Evil Monkey: "Lodged in my head." Jeff: "Looking back, can you think of a way you could have avoided this outcome?" Evil Monkey: ".........")

LOST: TEL(L)? Ambergris? : FOUND

"Lost" is a story recently accepted by Jay Lake for his anthology TEL.

TEL : Stories is dedicated to the idea that there is no such thing as stylistic excess. Featuring a reprint of Greer Gilman's "Jack Daw's Pack," as well as new fiction from Forrest Aguirre, Gregory Feeley, Jeff VanderMeer and many other fine authors.

"Elegant, erudite and strange, TEL : Stories is a remarkable anthology, containing much to enchant, perplex and terrify." — Liz Williams
Wheatland Press | August, 2005
Trade Paperback | ISBN: 0975590332

"Lost" is a pseudo-Ambergris story. The kind that exists around the margins. It's been an interesting experiment for me. Here's the opening of it.



"Are you lost?" it says to me in its salt-and-pepper gravelly moan of a voice and for a long moment I can't answer. I'm thinking of how I got here and what it might mean and how to frame an answer and wondering why the answer that came to mind immediately seems caught in my throat like a physical kind of fear, and that line of thought leads to this: remembering the line of color that brought me here: the spray of emerald-velvet-burgundy-chocolate mushrooms suddenly appearing on the old stone wall where yesterday there had been nothing, and me on my way to the university to teach yet another dead-end night class, dusk coming on, but somehow the spray, splay of mushrooms spared that lack of light; something about the way the runnels and patches of exposed understone contrasted with the otherwise gray solidity that brought me out of my thoughts of debt and a problem student named Jenna, who had become my problem, really, and I just


right there.

and stared at the tracery of mushrooms, the way they formed such a uniform swoop across that pitted stone, and something about them, something about that glimmer, reminded me of my dead wife and of Jenna—the green was the same as my wife's eyes and that of Jenna's earrings, and I remembered the first time I noticed Jenna's earrings, and how it brought a deep, soundless sob rising out of my chest, my lungs, and I stood there, in front of the whole class, bent over, as if struck by something large and invisible, and how ever since I cannot tell if my fascination with her has to do with that color and my need for companionship or some essential trait in her, and how ironic, how sad, that she misunderstood my reaction and began wearing the earrings every day, until that physical pain inhabiting my body became a dullness, like the ache in an overused muscle

Thursday, May 05, 2005

MUSHROOM SPOONS: Two Things That Make Me Happy

Mushroom Girls make me happy in a kind of surreal, trippy way.

Spoon makes me happy in a kind of late night driving fast here comes the rush way.

Gimme Fiction!

Gimme Mushroom Girls!

Yes, I'm pretty darn happy. And you'll be happy, too--if you happen to acquire either/or.