Welcome back, my friends, to lucky #13. My good friend and publisher, Debra Di Blasi, speaks best for herself.
Seems everybody has a memoir these days. Seems I’ve been trying to have one for years. Like an egg that won’t drop. A stuck turd. The opposite of purgation. Ah, yes, shit. Indeed, allow me to remain scatological for a few words longer.
I’m not constipated about my past, my many lives lived large. No remorse, no regrets. Neither the drugs nor the booze, neither sex nor abortions, neither mobsters nor terrorist(s), neither poverty nor wealth, disease nor health, Jesus nor Buddha nor nothing that cannot be and everything than might… Failure to complete a memoir – four memoirs, to be exact – is for me a failure to apologize. Failure to apologize is a failure to demand revision.
The Way Men Kiss, for example: my 200-page unfinished memoir about sleeping my way through Europe in the mid-1980s, sleeping with many men and boys of many different ilks and stories, and sexual prowess or impotence or some delightful and/or perverse in-between, and danger and joy and boredom and love and violence, and yet and still not wanting to change a thing, but rather tell those stories over and over to relive them, to smell again the damp hair under the arm, taste my own salt on each tongue, bite and suck and grab the ineffable syntax of desire that drives every species forward toward replication and death.
Yes. To succeed in completing this memoir or another is to succeed at death. To relegate the past to an immutable object. Ship in the bottle tossed out to sea. Say it washes up on a distant shore. Say someone, any stranger, finds it. Takes it home. Sets it on the mantel and wonders about the maker, the builder of tiny ships. Wonders if her pupils grow big and black when she’s telling stories, if her chest heaves, if she touches her throat and crosses her legs one over the other and then the other over the one, and snickers like a girl, and whispers, head leaned toward you over the table, when she says, “And then we crawled under a bush alongside the Champs-Elysees and fucked on the cold mud and rabbit shit, and in the morning I walked back to the Boulevard St. Michel covered in leaves and mud and shit and I didn’t care,” and you’re close enough to see the golden hairs on her arms stand up because she’s not just remembering now, no, she’s there. She shivers and sits back and grins.
[She does. Except when she doesn’t. What distinguishes skin from paper?
How much does she, does anyone lose in crossing that divide?]
200 pages of death. Of failure. Because it was ever always so much more that all that. That which is so damn little written.
No. I cannot. Oh, really I refuse to succeed at replicating the interstices that made the collision of before and after a shattering-cum-emanation of biological completion: the animal performing as the animal performs, as the design demands.
Being is buoyant: Words are cement in the bucket of memory. Let it sink.
Debra Di Blasi is a multi-genre, multimedia writer whose books include The Jirí Chronicles & Other Fictions(FC2/University of Alabama Press); Drought & Say What You Like (New Directions; New York); Prayers of an Accidental Nature (Coffee House Press; Minneapolis), and Skin of the Sun (forthcoming). Awards include a James C. McCormick Fellowship in Fiction from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, Thorpe Menn Book Award, Cinovation Screenwriting Award, and The Diagram Innovative Fiction Award, among others. The short film based on her novella, Drought, won a host of national and international awards, and was one of only six US films invited to the Universe Elle section of the 2000 Cannes International Film Festival. She is publisher and prose editor of Jaded Ibis Press and founder of Jaded Ibis Productions. Debra frequently teaches and lectures on topics related to 21st Century narrative forms.
Last week’s #AuthorFail 12: Stephanie Strickland
Next week’s #AuthorFail 13:Greg Olear
Davis Schneiderman is a multimedia artist and writer and the author or editor of eight print and audio works, including the novels Drain, Abecedarium, and Blank; the co-edited collections Retaking the Universe: William S. Burroughs in the Age of Globalization and The Exquisite Corpse: Chance and Collaboration in Surrealism’s Parlor Game; as well as the audio-collage Memorials to Future Catastrophes. His first short story collection, there is no appropriate #emoji—with collaborations from Lance Olsen, Cris Mazza, Kelly Haramis, Stacy Levine, Tim Guthrie, Andi Olsen, and Megan Milks—will be released in Fall 2019.
His work has also appeared in numerous publications, including Fiction International, The Chicago Tribune, The Iowa Review, and TriQuarterly.
He is Krebs Provost and Dean of the Faculty at Lake Forest College.