Memory Is Palimpsest

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I am taking a (short) break from OCTOBER ANIMALS, but then it is back to work. It feels like I have taken a lifetime to work on a book so short. I even had a (for myself) pretty detailed outline to work from. But the narrative started mutating right out of the gate and anytime I tried to force the outline it simply wasn’t working. The narrative wanted something else, and I have stopped fighting. Instead, I am giving the narrative what it wants and letting it go.

“If you love something, let it go” says the old adage. Except, i don’t expect this thing I love to “come back” and be mine “forever” or what have you. I intend to let it go, piece by piece, word by word. Every sentence, this story grows nearer to completion, and further away from me. As it should be. Someday, soon, I will let OCTOBER ANIMALS go and it will be yours, not mine.

And then, over time, my perception of the book will become foggy, as it has with works I’ve previously written. Narratives are like memories, in that way. An experience so utterly involving that shatters apart with passing time, to become hardly more than idle thoughts, half-remembered details.

Memory is palimpsest.

So are books.

I write a story to be half-remembered by myself and you read said story and you bring your own life and experiences and this perception of yours is grafted onto to certain words and passages, and so the story conjures thoughts and feelings and narratives within the reader, all of which is beyond my control. And that, is a kind of magic. I may put down the words, but it is the reader who gives life to the story. In their own way, every book is a spell.

And now, I must return to OCTOBER ANIMALS. I have spells to cast and creatures to conjure.

Thanks for reading.

Stopping by a Body in the Barn Out Back: a poem

Whose body this is I once knew

His rotten stench the scavengers drew

And I recall the tenor of his screams

Rack and ruin a rare privilege to view

He swings on breeze from highest beams

Little wonder if God allows the dead their dreams

I visit this man every day

Death is but a deeper sleep it seems

Oft I wonder what my mother would say

To see father hanged in our barn this way

Would she give thanks or think of me insane

But where he has buried her I cannot say

Our bodies like our love cannot remain

Parables of kindness are profane

And all I have to give to you is pain

And all I have to give to you is pain.

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GOODNIGHT KAFKA

I mentioned having written a riff on the Margaret Wise Brown classic GOODNIGHT MOON, focusing on Franz Kafka. It is, as of yet, not illustrated. I may get around to that sometime in the future. And I have been picking away at my own translation of Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” for the last couple of years. Perhaps, once finished with both projects, I will collect them together and release them. Anyway, no reason not to share this, as I have no plans on shopping it around. Enjoy.

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GOODNIGHT KAFKA

In the great gray gloom

There was a kafkaroach

And a bug cocoon

And a painting of—

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Recent Reads and Trying to Reconnect With Leaisure

I dearly love to read. Always have, and always will. But, since taking over editing and acquisitions for Rooster Republic Press (and more recently for Journalstone’s imprint, Bizarro Pulp Press), I find myself reading far less than I have been accustomed. For most of 2021, my spare time has been dedicated to Hailey Piper’s QUEEN OF TEETH, as well as chipping away at my novella, OCTOBER ANIMALS. In fact, the only book I’ve managed to sandwich between these projects was a lovely/harrowing little novella called WATCH THE WHOLE GODDAMNED THING BURN (by Doungjai Gam). It’s a limited release via Nightscape Press, and one I’d heartily recommend. You can grab a copy HERE.

Before that, I spent most of the last few months in 2020 working on various other titles seeing publication in 2021. And the last title I read for leisure was during Spring 2020, THE SILMARILLION (which I loved). Hoping to change that, however, in the next few weeks, especially as work on OCTOBER ANIMALS draws to a close.

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OCTOBER ANIMALS preview

[The following is from the opening chapter of OCTOBER ANIMALS. The novella is still being worked on, so some elements may change before publication, as this is not a final edit. Thanks, and enjoy]

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Risk existed in the collapsing space between lips just before a kiss and the banks of the Mississippi were a cemetery to all that the river no longer wanted. Fireworks exploded, violent rainbows that looked of the heavens but stank of sulfur, and crackling light reflected across black waters. The people of Alton gathered here, as did the great beast, unseen, who patrolled those waters. Here they gathered, but their ceremonies were not the same. And the beast was not greedy; only a few would be chosen.

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The opening to OCTOBER ANIMALS

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Hello! It has been an awful long time since I last wrote anything here on the ol’ website. Let’s chalk it up to being busy, being massively depressed, and being generally fucking shocked by the state of things. BUT… it’s a new year and a new year means new projects. Mostly, I have been working on acquisitions and editing, with some production art thrown in for good measure. And, in my spare time, I have been plugging away at my upcoming novella.

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Making up for Lost Time is literally impossible. It’s just gone, forever.

My last post was on June 30th, and three days later my father died, just short of his birthday. He would have been 67. I tried making it out to Illinois every year, but because of the pandemic, I had yet to make it in 2020. My brother and my mother were with him when he died, and I find some solace in that. Turns out, the last time I would ever see my father was the morning of August 6th, 2019. The last picture I took of him was in 2018. He was playing with a dog at an animal shelter. He loved dogs.

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“Life During Quarantime”

“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling arooooound…”

Well, there’s been a bit of fooling around, if I’m being honest. Which I am. There’s been birthdays (mine, included) and cake and presents and those are all lovely things. There hasn’t been much disco, though, that part is true. There’s been loads of work, though, that’s for sure.

Fun, however, that’s the real important shit. And, sometimes, fun is delicious.

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“Hello, I Am Very Tired and Here’s A Blog About That” (plus a look at art for Andrew James Stone’s latest book)

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I’m not one to normally share correspondence, but I received back-to-back inquiries that are closely related, and in the spirit of artistic transparency, I decided to turn both of my answers, slightly edited from their original form, into a post. This type of thing keeps me accountable to not only my work, but the work of others. And there’s the likely event that others, especially indie press publishers, feel the same way that I do, and I believe a little solidarity goes a long way.

So, to the first question(s) I received: “How are you? How’s the biz?”

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