brothercyst: March 2006

Friday, March 31, 2006

story written last night at a sushi bar

I ate salmon, eel, and kohada while writing this story.

I didn't really proofread it after I typed it up. To read, click and enlarge.

Apparently a lot of people were thinking about Tom Hanks last night.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

hair, teeth, Juked

Here's a story in Juked. It's the story from which this site takes its name.

Last night I saw a reading on Avenue B. Eric Gelsinger was there with me. Jami Attenberg read; she was good. Who else - uh, Karen Russell read a story about werewolves that I liked.

I have stopped eating mammals. I think of how appropriate their flesh looks when still attached to their bones, and I feel less inclined to eat them.

Birds aren't mammals.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Midnight Picnic

I am writing something new. It's called Midnight Picnic.

To be finished in about a year and a half.

I'll put woods in it, a lot of woods, and a little boy drowned in a lake. Also a huge dog, a wolfhound, that gets crippled. And bones. Piles and piles of bones. And a depressed person taking a bath.

And rain.

Monday, March 27, 2006

cat eating an oyster

I'm at work and I keep thinking about a cat eating an oyster. I don't know what this means. I'm supposed to be thinking about hedge funds and quantitative trading but instead I'm thinking about a cat eating an oyster.

Actually, I've been thinking about a cat eating an oyster on and off since last week.

I'm also thinking about thinking about a cat eating an oyster. It's a sort of sherbert-colored cat, like one of my friends has. Every time I go to her apartment, that cat's hair gets all over me.

Cat eating an oyster.

I'm going to hide it in a story somewhere so I can stop picturing it.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Here I present two moments from Witold Gombrowicz's awesomely strange collection Bacacay (1933 or 1957 - it's complicated), which I first encountered a little over a year ago, I think, when I was still in school and sort of wandered into some kind of symposium about the author.

Quiet, let Gombrowicz talk.

One day, strolling astern, on the boards of the deck I noticed a human eye. [...] I continued my uninterrupted walk, debating whether to tell the captain and Smith—the latter had appeared on the steps of the forward hatch.

"There's a human eye on the deck over there."

He pricked up his ears. "I'll be f . . . sp . . . Where? Is it one of a pair?"

We heard the captain's voice from the upper gangway:

"Has something happened, Mr. Smith? Why did you curse?"

"Those . . . dr . . . da . . . " Smith replied angrily, "Those . . . ba . . . pr . . . they're starting to play the eye game."

—"The Events on the Banbury"

“But God, God exists!” I finally stammered, with the last of my strength, desperately seeking something to hold onto; “God exists,” I added more quietly, for the Lord’s name had rung out so inappropriately that everyone fell silent, and their faces showed all the ominous signs of a faux pas having been committed—and I merely waited to be shown the door!

“Ah yes,” replied Baron de Apfelbaum after a moment, pulverizing me with his unparalleled tact.—“Cod?—cod exists—it swims in the sea!”

—"Dinner at Countess Pavahoke's"

This is an amazing collection. You should read it.

Go. Do it.

Friday, March 24, 2006


I don't like Raymond Carver's stories, except for one or two, particularly a story the name of which escapes my mind.

It is the first story in one of his collections. In it, a boy fakes sick from school then decides to go fishing. He meets a strange other boy and in the river they see a long, sickly-looking, mean-faced fish that is bigger than any of the other fish they've seen. Somehow they manage to catch it, but then with great pride they fight over who will get it, eventually hacking it in half, then fighting over who will get what half. The main character gets the head half and takes it home. When he happily shows it to his parents, his mother recoils in horror and yells something like, "Get that thing out of here! That's not a fish, it's a snake!"

Yes, that's how life is.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sexual Anthology

Soon, I will have a story in the New York Tyrant. This is good.

I read another story that's going to be in the same issue (that is, the first issue) and it was very short, totally insane, and really good. One story that appears in the first issue will win $3000. It would be great if that story were mine; that story will not be mine.

My story is called "Sexual Anthology." It is four separate episodes involving different characters. Here are seven sentences from the second one.

A bit later.

I like printing very short excerpts from my stories here. I'm not sure why I like this so much.

All the episodes in "Sexual Anthology" are a little bizarre; the parts printed above are somewhat humorous; other parts are not funny. Of the four episodes, one is largely based on fact. The others are made up but set in places familiar to me.

The story also has severed heads and tumors, which I put in my stories a lot. Surprisingly, though, I don't think there are any dogs (but there are squirrels).

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Monday, March 20, 2006


I'd be a lot happier if my life were divided up into quadrants, and the only thing that could get from one quadrant to another would be me. Everything else would have to stay put...a thing that lived in any single quadrant would be totally segregated from things in all the other quadrants. They couldn't talk to one another and cause trouble. When things talk to things there is always trouble.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


**Update, 10/6/06--cover art posted above.

Later this year, Fires will come out from Impetus Press.

I like Impetus--my conversations with them, with Willy Blackmore and (by e-mail) Jennifer Banash, the publishers, made me happy about what they are going to do with the novel and relieved that I will be working with smart and dedicated people. The book will be a high-quality paperback. There are a few other excellent independent presses that also publish high-quality paperbacks--Soft Skull & Melville House, for example--and Impetus, I hope, will be on that level. I want a book that feels good to touch.

Fires begins with a regular college romance and ends with a whole mountain on fire. It has herds of deer running through a subdivision, a boy kept prisoner in a suburban basement for ten years, sex, a ghost neighborhood, a kabuki mask, and a gratuitous sushi-eating scene. Sushi is almost the only thing I like to eat; I'm about to eat it right now, after I type this.

This is in Fires.

will be the first novel of mine that gets published, although it is not the first novel I wrote.

The first novel I wrote as an adult (that is, after age 18) was called The Rapists, which started with a scene where the main character's lung collapses. That happened to me.

My agent at the time only sent it to five publishers--then said, "Some of these scenes are way too violent, and people I send it to are getting upset." He showed me the notes that editors had returned to him and they were getting a little upset. But it would have been a mistake to take out the violence. Those characters would have done those things and it would've hurt.

Fortunately I was writing Fires at the time. Fires is not that violent. When it was finished I sent it to him and he said, "This is great, but it needs to be less violent."

I said, "It's not going to be any less violent."

He said, "Okay. Well, if you ever write another book, feel free to give me a call." He was honest & straightforward and I didn't have any ill will toward him.

Then I got another agent for Fires.

I have no idea what that guy did with it; maybe spill whiskey on it; I guess he sent it to places but I don't know almost any of them because his communcations with me were mostly just emails that appeared to have been written by a person not in his right mind.

(But I did kind of like that he said, "Make it more violent," even though I didn't take the advice.) I was stuck in a contract with him for a year.

Anyway. Buy Fires when it comes out. You, reading this. Actually, if you are reading this, you are probably a person, one of the very few people, to whom I will give a free copy. Very exciting. Have no doubt: it is a good book. Better than most books. You'll probably like it, unless you only read "chick lit" or something (in which case you wouldn't read Fires) or unless you know me personally and we don't get along (in which case you shouldn't read Fires).

Fall/winter 2006, depending on how fast I get the edits/revisions done and how fast Impetus puts it together. Too fast wouldn't be a good thing.

stuff on walls

I woke up this morning at 6:00 a.m. for no reason; no alarm, I mean. I just woke up and felt absolutely awake and can't go back to sleep.

I am "bouncing off the walls."

No, I'm sitting very still.

But my eyes are moving quickly.

It's my mind that is "bouncing off the walls."

Eveything is odd lately; I feel dislocated.

When I woke up I went out into the kitchen, where it was dark, and I thought I saw writing (like handwriting, like with a black pen) all over the counter and walls, absolutely covering the counter.

It was just phosphenes or something in my eyes, though, or I was still dreaming; when I turned on the light, the stuff was gone.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New elimae, new Zoetrope.

New elimae.

Story in it.

That story used to be 13,000 words. Really. I cut it down.


I read Daniel Handler's story about a ghost, "Naturally," in the new Zoetrope. It's flawed; it's also good.

(Daniel Handler is "Lemony Snicket." I didn't know until I read the contributor's notes.)

Unfortunately the story includes helpless and convulsive puns, as if he just couldn't help using phrases like "gave up the ghost"--as if his fingers just had to type those phrases out. You read them and cringe.

There are much better moments. The ghost is poking around on someone's desk: "There he found he could pick up pens, which is where they go when you can't find them." Nice you.

Once in a while Handler without warning inserts his own musings into the mostly third-person story. When someone is eating cookies, Handler says, "The cookies are a favorite of my wife's."

(Nabokov does this too. In "Perfection," which is also mostly in third person, two characters are going to the beach, and Nabokov suddenly says something like, "But the last time I went swimming was in the river Luga." [Not an exact quote.] Then there is a big paragraph about the last time he went swimming.)

At first it seems like a (good) gimmick, Handler cutting in like that. But at the very end he does something unexpected that works, that makes the "gimmick" exist for a reason. He again comes into the story as "I" and starts talking about real people he knows who have died, people who some of the story's readers might also know of or (since this is Zoetrope) even have known personally, like Amanda Davis. Amanda Davis was a guest fellow at Yale one year.

It's sudden and strange and it works.

From a 300-word story I'm writing about George W. Bush

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A recent thing

I didn't write anything new (anything that I finished, I mean) from November 2005 to January 2006. That's a long time. I was just revising old things. I hate revision, it is a process of diminishing returns in terms of the pleasure I get.

Lately however, I have written a couple new stories. One begins like this.

On the same page in the same story, which is called "Mammals," there's this.

This story is brand new. It hasn't been revised except for perhaps ten or fifteen sentences. I hope it gets published. But it takes a long time for anything to get accepted; by the time it gets placed somewhere, I will probably just associate the story with rejection and resentment. I want it to get accepted by the New York Tyrant.

I'm excited about this story. It's short, but it includes three things I've wanted to put in a story for a long time.

It also has a dog. I like dogs, particularly huge, woolly-mammoth-like dogs (though if such a dog had a human equivalent, I probably would hate & avoid that person) that look more like people in dog suits than actual canines. I have a thin scar on my face about an inch and a half long that a dog gave me when I was five. You have to look uncomfortably close to notice it.

In the first novel I wrote, the main character just finds his dog ripped in half one day, and he never finds out what happened to it. He simply finds his dog in two pieces.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A place to store links

That's this place. Now it exists, and things are just slightly more stable.