brothercyst: February 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


So two weeks ago an editor at Nerve asked if I wanted to contribute fiction to the site. It had to be sex-related and within a certain word limit, and they pay very well. I didn't have anything that was quite right so I wrote a story that weekend, but it wasn't what they had in mind--kind of a depressing story as opposed to a "hot" one.*

The story was episodic, composed of three vignettes about three different women in the main character's life. Here's the beginning of the story--the first of the three sections.

Click then expand to read.

*so then the next weekend I wrote a "hot" one, which should be appear on the site in mid-March.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Magus

Have you read The Magus? If not, I recommend it. A very, very cool novel.

D. about to be attacked by vicious monkey

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Read the comments on Diala's site here. Then look at the guy's blog. This made me laugh. Then I read the comments and the response again and laughed a second time.

Treatise by Noah Cicero

I've written a few words about Treatise already. Here are some more: It's great.

Treatise is Noah Cicero's book about an upper-middle-class guy who hates his family and decides to "drop a class"--become a factory worker without health insurance, live among the poorest people in his community, which is the city of Youngstown, Ohio. Now, from what I understand both from conversations with him in real life and from the way Treatise is written and from Burning Babies, his amazing autobiographical novel, Noah is not from the upper-middle-class. He's from the poor, broke class. Because of this, it's strange and kind of electric to read his first-person narrative about a character who is--it's like Kafka's Amerika--a book about America by someone who'd never been there. A lot of the details seem a little, well, not inaccurate but somehow slightly off.

This is surprisingly effective, though--it makes the milieu seem weirdly new and unfamiliar, so you're constantly aware that what you're reading is not just reportage (some of it is) but a product of Noah's intense imagination, something that was just poured onto the page without filter or adulteration. (Bizarrely, adding to sense of unreality is the fact that all these characters in middle America have been given Russian names. [The book, Noah says, is a "remix of Chekhov's My Life."] Names like Misail, Dr. Blagovo, Dolzhikov, Oksana...what the fuck? I loved this. A bold, strange thing to do.) It's like hearing Noah's thoughts and seeing directly into his mind. And paradoxically that makes it feel more authentic and vital. The effect is that of a heightened reality that lends itself more strongly (than, say, Tom Wolfeian journo-fiction) to the conveyance of Noah's themes and ideas. And it feels more like an unmistakably original voice, un-fucked-with. At the same time, the scenes that take place in shitty factories and apartments and a ghetto pizza parlor feel more "realistic" than the upper-middle-class family scenes, more gritty. These are great scenes, too. The characters are excellent, mercilessly written.

Just a side note--the book I read right before Treatise was Salman Rushdie's Fury, which is also, to a degree, about class and commerce in America. I liked Treatise about one billion times better than Fury.

Noah doesn't write like other young writers I know. We type stuff up and take a long time editing it, proofreading and shit, and then we think about how we can sell it for good money if possible (even if in reality that's often not possible). Noah just writes up his shit, maybe looks at it once or twice, then posts it on a website or sends it to, that print-on-demand outfit. I don't think he really does any editing, or at least he didn't on Treatise. Structurally the book is fine--doesn't need any editing at all--but it's full of typos. The first time I ever heard of Noah was when Tao Lin and I were having dinner one night maybe a little over a year ago and he gave me a copy of Burning Babies and said, "Look at this galley." I opened it, read one paragraph, and said, "This guy doesn't even know how to use a comma, why the fuck are you giving me this?" He said, "He does know...just give it a chance." I ended up reading it and it was fucking great. And full of typos. It didn't matter. At a certain point he just wins you over.

While reading Treatise, I bent the corners of pages where there were great passages. At a certain point, I was turning down the corner of every single page. Let me just conclude this by opening randomly to a few of those bent pages and posting some good moments. Everything is sic.


About his boss, Dolzhikov:
...he had only one ambition and that was to do better than his brother, with the belief that one day if he accomplished enough, his parents would love him, and perhaps murder his brother viciously with an axe in the backyard, that was one of his fantasies that he would have when he was drunk.

New at being poor:
I used to shop at the thrift store in high school to look cool. But when I went there [now], it wasn't to look cool; I needed pants or a shirt to work in. While I was there alone, not with my other cool friends, I noticed there were other people like me, mostly poor single mothers with little children looking for school clothes, older black men with hard faces looking for shirts, young white men buying work pants. It wasn't so cool.

A friend at the pool hall:
He drove a car with blinking lights on it; he called them "Parking Ornaments." Radish would make fun of him constantly, asking him, "So how is your Christmas Tree running?" Everyone would laugh, then Fyodor would notify Radish that his mother was a whore.

When his sister asks him to help her get an abortion:
I considered for a second asking her if she was sure about this, but then I didn't care. The fact that she interrupted me peacefully laying on the couch reading and forcing me to let her move in made me want to make sure she didn't reproduce and create any more people that would infringe on me relaxing.

Monday, February 19, 2007

This weekend I've been reading a horror novel about flowering vines that eat people. It's pretty good. On Saturday night I foolishly agreed to go to a birthday party for someone I didn't know; the birthday party was at nightclub. The nightclub blasted music at such volume that it was literally painful to stand near it.* I retreated to the coat check area and read the latest issue of The Missouri Review, which includes a diverting story called "The Shoe Soiler."

Sunday I just stayed in bed and wrote a story about Saddam Hussein.

*something's wrong with my right ear. it hurts and makes tcchh! tcchh! noises when things are too loud or when i yell.

Friday, February 16, 2007

I wrote a story that I really like and the publication that asked me for a story then decided not to publish it. To be fair it wasn't quite what they asked for. But it was the story I wanted to write. Fuck.

Damn, I like it and want someone to publish it.

FUCK, he thought.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

from Noah Cicero's novel Treatise, which I'll write more about when I've finished it

The narrator is angry at his father:
I considered kicking his ass. But that would have been pointless. If I had shot him in the knees, and he lay there helpless for hours I could have screamed and made my point and showed statistics, maybe even got out a dry erase board to show my points. But it would not have helped. He would have quoted television show after television show until I would have had to shoot him in the head.
- Noah Cicero

Sunday, February 11, 2007

for Valentine's Day

Do you know that you can buy dead frogs from online medical supply stores and have them shipped to you--or to someone else? You can do it here.

Several years ago in college I was dating someone who I thought would appreciate this, so I bought her a dead leopard frog and had it sent to her. (Not from the site linked above...another site that doesn't seem to exist anymore.) I had one sent to myself, too. They came vacuum-sealed in disgusting little bags. She seemed flattered. We kept them for a day, then threw them out the window.