Holiday Miscellany

I posted a little something about Kevin Wilson a while back, so for now, I'll say only this: He has an amazing story, "No Joke, This is Going to be Painful," in the new issue of Tin House.
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I've linked a number of times to things by Matt Bell, as well, but still: "How They Were Found and Who They Were That Found Them" at Wigleaf and "This Showroom Filled With Fabulous Prizes" at Night Train should be read. Immediately.
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And another thing I came across this past week...

A while back, I posted a photo of Justin Torres and me and sang a brief song about his kick-ass work. Now, his story "Lessons" can be found in the new issue of Granta. Please, go and read. Marvel.
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In non-story news: J.C. and I each received an iPod touch for Christmas. Last night, we were snuggled up on our beanbag couch, earbuds in our ears, ignoring one another for hours.

My mother-in-law likes to say that simple minds are easily amused, and it's true: The iPod touch kind of blows my simple mind away.
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Since I've linked back to a couple old posts here, I suppose it's appropriate that I post the following, which is a story I put up on the blog a few years ago:

Garbage, or One Thursday in August

It’s earlier than usual, 6:10, and after Kyle makes coffee he’s going to go and wake Anne. Then he’ll put on shoes and carry garbage to the curb.

Last Wednesday they returned from Chicago by train and he drank whiskey until three a.m. and missed getting the garbage to the curb by seven. So there are some extra bags of garbage, six or seven total, and some old boxes he needs to get rid of sitting damp in the old garage.

Glenn, their landlord, built them a new, two-car garage behind the old one, and he has half the thing sided. The doors are already installed—both the garage doors and the side door you walk into. Two days ago, Glenn rang their bell and walked Kyle out to the new garage to show him how the doors will work until he runs the electricity. They walked in the side door, and Kyle was a little stunned. He’d never seen such clean concrete; and the garage door tracks, they gleamed like new dimes.

All summer, he had done nothing, and Glenn, a retired history teacher, had built them a two-car-garage.

While Glenn showed him how to work the doors, Kyle couldn’t take his eyes off the tracks. He told their landlord, “I don’t think I’ve ever been in a new garage before.” Glenn looked at him like he was speaking in only vowels.

Kyle didn’t stay up until three a.m. last night drinking whiskey. At dinner, Anne ordered a margarita, and he told her he was on the wagon—until December. Anne said, “That means I can order two,” and smiled.

For the whole meal, the salt on the rim of her glass was dull lightning; it filled his guts with hollow warmth.

In the kitchen, Kyle pours water into the coffee maker’s reservoir, scoops grounds into a filter, and turns the machine on.

Then he walks upstairs to wake Anne.

Next, the garbage.

The above story isn't all that good, I don't think, but I still kind of like it for personal reasons. For years, I did "morning pages," as espoused by Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way. I acquired the book as an undergrad, and I never read more than thirty pages of it, but her morning pages stuck with me. I wrote three pages of garbage by hand as soon as I woke up, off-and-on for about nine years. The above story was written as part of one of those morning-pages sessions, only I ended up tweaking it quite a bit, trying to make it better. So, it was pretty much autobiographical. The deal was: I hadn't been writing anything worthwhile other than morning pages all summer, and my landlord had built us this huge two-car garage. I wanted hard for a project like that--something that could be completed.

And the reason I'm re-posting the story now...I've felt a little unproductive over the break. I've revised two new stories, and I've written a ton of letters of recommendation, but I've still felt for the most part like I'm not getting anything done. And then, last week, J.C. and I went out to eat with her mom, and she mentioned that she and my father-in-law had made fifty pounds worth of potato bologna for the holidays.

I love potato bologna, and will probably eat about five pounds of it before the holidays are all over, but still, I thought of all the freezing hours I've spent down in my office basement over the break, typing until my fingers go numb. And then I thought about those fifty pounds of potato bologna, all sectioned off and bagged up and sitting in the deep freeze, waiting to be prepared and eaten. I felt like I was staring at those new garage door tracks all over again.


Sam Martone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Molly Gaudry said...

What, not blogging anymore?

Emily said...

Um, thank you for the best. compliment. ever.

I fell in love with Davis all over again after just having finished "The End of The Story". She's fantastic.

Also, I'm trying to keep up with the whole "writing-in-the-morning" thing, but, as Kyle probably knows, drinking whiskey late into the night doesn't bode well for those hours. Whaddaya gonna do?

Christina said...

Chad...where have you been? I miss your periodic blogs.