The Guardian of Aloons - 3

My #fridayflash entry is now available, a weekly fictional webserial set in the world of Ghyll:

The Guardian of Aloons - 3:
There I was, buried under the burning beams, notebooks, and bird carcasses of my destroyed office, sleeping it off like a building’s beating was just another day. When I awoke, I found that someone had pulled me from the rubble and laid me on the street out front. I sat up coughing and marveled at how the last five years of my working life could so tidily be reduced to a smoldering mound of ash. A few pachyderms, called in from the nearby city, were spraying water on the remains.

Read the rest and rip it apart, fiends.

The Guardian of Aloons - 2

My #fridayflash entry is now available, a weekly fictional webserial set in the world of Ghyll:

The Guardian of Aloons - 2:
I laid on the soft earth behind my office for a few seconds trying to grasp what was going on. Hastily penned and blown-out notes in my left hand, a smoking bird’s leg in my right, my naked legs and scrunched undergarments a wee bit lower, and ol’ cranky Gurptshonis standing over me with flames and smoke blocking out the sky behind her head. I will admit that this image haunted my dreams for weeks to come.

Read the rest and rip it apart, fiends.

The Guardian of Aloons - 1

My #fridayflash debut is now available, a weekly fictional webserial set in the world of Ghyll:

The Guardian of Aloons - 1:
When I came to, I was kissing the gravel. She was gone. I tried to raise myself up, and that’s when I noticed a few of the rarer things in life: getting clocked by a six-inch heel feels much like a jab from a two-bit thug, and this was the third time my pants were missing. You’d think that I’d be getting used it by now. The beatings, not the pants.

Read the rest and rip it apart, fiends.

This week at Textploitation (July 20th, 2009)

Today, we start something called Textploitation which is, by design, nothing truly exciting. There is no innovation here, no special come’uppance, no inherited feelings of elitism. The site serves the singular purpose of getting us, myself and long-time friend and project-partner John Treacy, to finish a small bit of fiction every Monday. We have no illusions that what we’ll write will be awesome or the gift of greatness to America: it is solely practice. Some releases will be final, others will be serialized week to week. If it turns out that our combined output is of some quality, great; if not, we’ll keep at it, realizing that our goal all along was to do so until it is.

You're more than welcome to comment on any of the stories or pages by using the "Discussion" tabs.

This week’s releases are The Shame (page 1) by John Treacy, wherein a small-town sheriff has the lurid details of his off-duty activities exposed, and Morbus Iff’s Untitled 1 (page 1), wherein a single bubble leads to fleeing sisters and an exasperated mother.


Returning whence I came, ergodic literature in tow

(For an earlier build-up to this post, see Resources not Services.)

Years ago, I asked where was my Lord of the Rings? Many sympathized with the lament and it's clear they got the message: where was my "epic", my "lasting impression", my "contribution to society"? It's four years later and I've realized the Lord of the Rings was the wrong series to associate the depression with: it's just not good enough.

I've no problem with Middle-earth, and it's still an admirable thing to appreciate and enjoy. What I want to create, however, is something slightly different, something slightly more mysterious. There's been plenty written about Middle-earth, and its epic can be as simple or as complex as you'd like, but it's always optional: the additional books expand archaically on Tolkien's mythology and intentions, but none of it is truly necessary to the core reading.

What I prefer to read, and hopefully write, is something more akin to ergodic literature, something that "requires a 'non-trivial effort' to traverse the text". I consider Infinite Jest a recent example because, although you can read it by "merely moving ... along lines of text and turning pages", there's so much depth and complexity that you'll gain more appreciation via annotation. House of Leaves is another example: atypical page layouts and complexities abound. I've not read any of Thomas Pynchon or James Joyce (gasp!), but I suspect they'd also match my considerations.

Complexity and depth isn't the only thing I find palatable - one downside of the books above is that their "easter eggs" are based on the real world. Still, ergodic alternatives do exist, such as Milorad Pavich's Dictionary of the Khazars; my encyclopedic Ghyll was inspired by this work and was built by dozens of "scholars" over many months. Jorge Luis Borges and most alternate reality games like Perplex City also require "non-trivial" efforts to appreciate them.

Finally, wordplay and and a wry grin are high on my list, and most of the above works contain one, the other, or both. Vladimir Nabokov sprinkled "linguistic playfulness" throughout his work, and Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice offered an understanding of Wonderland and its embedded secrets that I hadn't anticipated. Creating something that can be read straight through, then spelunked for hidden treasure, then appreciated through research and annotation, is very appealing to me. Something "subtle", as sbp puts it.

The only problem is that I haven't written fiction for decades. I've done two technical books and a dozen articles for O'Reilly, one for Apple, a year-long column for MacTech magazine, non-fiction this, non-fiction that. Ghyll could be considered fiction, but it was written with a scholarly "voice", making it more an exercise in imagination than craft. The last time I really wrote fiction was high school, when New Hampshire English teacher Michael Phelps read one of my Dickensian works to the class and told them they'd see my face on the back of a book someday. Prophetic, and a memory that will stay with me forever. In 2003, I e-mailed Mr. Phelps to tell him of my progress and memories and he replied that, as a teacher, these sorts of updates are vitally important. If you've not reached out to yours, I heartily admonish you to.

Relearning fiction is something I'll begin shortly.


Subscribe to RSS - writing