Fifty Gestures of Love, in honor of William Gass (continued)

25 remaining, & here they are, picking up where we left off, with Tolstoy & his disgraced Natasha

26) The Prince has immersed himself in war work, Napoleon’s on the march, and Natasha attempts suicide, arsenic, then spends weeks in bed. Only her old friend Pierre, our hero more or less, can wring from her an agreement to meet.

27) Pierre’s no innocent himself, though rather a bumbler, badly married, an embodiment of how the good in Russia has gone sour, but Natasha always liked him and when they meet, in the parlor, they’re chummy a while.

28) But finally Pierre has to ask, “Could you really love… that evil man?” aware even as he asks that he’s bumbling again, sounding full of hoke, and yet at his question Natasha undergoes another of those reality-replenishments. Continue reading


#AuthorFail 15: Jeff Bursey

Welcome, dear failures, to the penultimate #AuthorFail…super-hero edition.

My Schnide-y sense is tingling, and it says this column will soon go the way of the dodo. Until then, let us revel in our ineptitude.


The Shadow. The Spider. G-8. I thought of these pulp heroes on seeing the first Burton Batman movie, and as I regularly walked to work in 1989-1990 I wondered if an audience, keen on the revamped Batman, would be interested in the Spider once more. The violent stories about him often contained traces of masochism and sadomasochism, as well as insane opponents. (He could be a bit mad also.) The 1970s paperbacks of those three figures were around the house when I was growing up, and later I read Phillip José Farmer’s ‘biography’ of Doc Savage. These memories combined with the re-visioning of Batman to give me the idea for an adventure story primarily set in India and Tibet that would link G-8 (mad from his war battles) and his twin half-brothers, who eventually would become the Shadow and the Spider. The pre-story explained a bit of what they’d done in WWI, what happened to them in the 1920s, and how two of them emerged, 45s blazing, on the side of justice (though not always the law) in the 1930s. (G-8 didn’t get out of the 1920s alive.) In 1993 I finished writing Pulpseed, and sent it off. Continue reading

#AuthorFail 6: Jarret Middleton

Welcome, fellow failures, to our weekly support group.

As you all know, poetry is largely worthless.

How often do you see anyone but “poets” or “earnest” “students” “reading” this treacle anyway.  When’s the last time you gave your “mother” a contemporary poetry collection for X-Mas?

You might also be interested to know that writers “suffer” to produce this particular-brand-of-failure. Yup. And this week’s correspondent offers us one tragic example of his wasted youth.

I’ll recount for you one of those innumerable brazen follies of youth which are all somehow required to obtain the badge of becoming old and bitter later on. Since I am most firmly a writer of fiction, I am happy to tell this story of a very minor window of my life and my development as a young author in quick transition from travel writing to poems to an eventual comfort in my own voice.

Four to five months of continuous travel on the road in the US, Canada and Mexico finally eased its pace and I landed in a terse New England mill town a little less than an hour inland from where I grew up on the seacoast in New Hampshire.  I lived in a two-bedroom that cost $600 a month, total.  I split it with my roommate, a sociopathic surfer and painter who was convinced he had a drug problem, though I never saw him do any drugs.  We listened to Creedence and Al Green records.  He smoked cigarettes and drew and I read Nietzsche, Lautremont, and Henry Miller and wrote poems and cryptic pronouncements on an old Smith-Corona.  I slept on a musty futon mattress thrown into one corner across a badly slanted floor.  The entire apartment was slowly tilting down the hill it was built on.  One whole half of the town was sliding down toward the river and the bridge that led to the sleeving and plastic tubing factory where I worked throughout that winter. Continue reading

Vagina Rebel (small) contest

Vagina Rebel

Sometimes a vagina can be more than a vagina. Sometimes it can be freedom.

The ever-vigilant Nick Mamatas shared the URL for this new book on Facebook. Yes, it’s Vagina Rebel, by Adam Ash, whose other 2011 work is a poetry book called Suck My Poem. These both appear to be self-published affairs.

The tag line on the cover of Vagina Rebel: “In a future America ruled by the religious right, one woman fights for sexual freedom.”

I wonder if this will be more like Kathy Acker in Empire of the Senseless or more like Henry Miller’s version of what a vagina rebel might do? Um, wait–I think I know.

In any event, I almost wish this were an unreal book–a notation on Amazon for a book that will never exist and never be published. A conceptual advertisement, if you will.  Ok, that’s been done, sort of, a zillion times.

How about this instead? A small contest.

Write the possible opening lines for Vagina Rebel in the comments below, and I’ll send a literary surprise to the best, which may in fact end up being the worst.