My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Archive for March, 2014

Lacking

March 28th, 2014 | Category: Creative Flash,Life,Writing

So, I’m at this bar, a beer bar, with an outdoor stage for shitty local bands, stand-up comedians… Tonight, it’s stand-up comedians. Not my style. I don’t care if the beer’s from Ireland, brewed by faerie magic, you still have to drink two, three, five, just to feel anything. I want some clear liquid in a tiny glass that takes two seconds to drink and two more seconds to make my face feel warm and fuzzy. Drinks like that burn your throat, but that’s part of their magic, the whole pain heightens pleasure, I like girls who pull my hair while we kiss, thing. At any rate, yeah, beer bars, not my style. Neither is watching stand-up comedy, but I’m there doing that too. It’s kind of a downer evening, just a few evenings before Christmas. I’m at this beer bar, I’m stone sober, I’m bored, and I’m cold. Like I said, outdoor stage, late December. Even Florida gets bitter-cold a few times a year. One of the previously mentioned stand-ups is actually funny, but he’s the headliner, he’s up last. This leaves a solid hour of jokes about what is apparently the wannabe comics’ go-to topic, Hilarity Without End, Amen, the vagina. I’ve never heard the word so many times during what felt like an eternity, vagina as the Holy Grail of punch-lines. I guess if you’re 27, and you’re only with a woman, say, whenever an Olympics rolls around, you get a bang out of at least talking about it. I’m bored. Though, I’m less cold by the forty-seventh vagina joke, my brother brings me a heating-pad. Yes, I’m a giant sissy about being cold, and I really don’t care about looking cool at a beer bar. Warmer or not, I still want to go home, but I don’t.

After the headliner gives us a generous reprieve from the Vagina Monologues, the show’s over, everybody’s straggling toward their cars or cabs, or better bars. I’m just kind of sitting in my chair, staring up at the night sky, wanting to see stars rather than clouds, thinking about a girl. I haven’t seen her in a really long time, but she’s always in my head, permanently etched into my memory, a tattoo behind my eyes, a sometimes torture that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m thinking about how I wish she were next to me, that we were about to drive home together. I want to be going home together, crawling into our cozy warm bed, kissing and talking and kissing in the dark before we fall asleep, the unspoken promise of deeper intimacy in the morning, the sacrament we’d share, her skin against mine. I’m thinking about the way she used to look at me, all these years later nobody has ever looked at me like her. She saw past all my outward flaws, saw me the way only God sees me, into my soul. She saw the real me, the melancholy, happy, scared, brave, dark, light me, and in her eyes all I saw was love, love as simple and beautiful as summer sun shining through green tree leaves. I’m thinking about just wanting to have those eyes in my life again, if for only one night, one hour, ten minutes. Anything.

I close my eyes, head tilted toward the gray night sky. Cold air stings my face, cold air that scoffs at the heat draped across my chest. I focus on the heat, it reminds me of that girl, I see her, the tattoo only I can see. My sometimes torture that I wouldn’t trade for anything, she’s vivid and bright and so right there. I get this stupid feeling that if I just open my eyes and look next to me, she’ll be there. I don’t look, I know she won’t be there. I know and I’m scared, the lack of her scares me.

I open my eyes, the clouds shuffled off like so many drunks. I see stars, I know that they’ll be here long after I blink out and disappear.

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That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote

March 08th, 2014 | Category: Life,Opinions,Thoughts on Writing

So, to me, story collections are generally hit or miss creatures. You usually get three or four great stories by three or four great writers, some good stories by some very capable writers, then you get dregs. Story collections by a single writer tend to fare better, provided that said writer is good or great in the first place. Great story collections by great writers are definitely rare enough, but they do exist. That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote by K.J. Bishop is one such collection.

If you haven’t read K.J. Bishop’s novel, The Etched City, and you fancy yourself a fan of Speculative Fiction, well, then you haven’t really read the best of Speculative Fiction. I mention The Etched City because, by itself it’s an important book, but also, three of the best stories in That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote are set in the world of The Etched City, The Art of DyingThe Love of Beauty, and She Mirrors. If you haven’t read The Etched City, I actually recommend skipping those three stories, just set them aside, until you’ve read the novel that they would eventually become. Bishop wrote two of the short stories before her novel, but I think the short stories are better appreciated after reading the masterwork of which they’re a part.

While the three above stories are particularly important to me, because The Etched City is so important to me, they’re definitely not the only magic that That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote has to offer, not by a longshot. There’s the dark fairytale of Saving the Gleeful Horse, a story in which childrens’ games have deadly consequences in unexpected ways, There’s We the Enclosed, a story of searching for something lost that reads like a fever dream. The Heart of a Mouse is a post-apocolyptic nightmare, a story of people suddenly transformed into animals struggling to maintain their human minds, it’s kind of The Road meets The Tale of Despereaux meets The Rapture gone terribly wrong. Mother’s Curtains is a light-hearted look into the world of the absurd, a story of bedroom curtains that feel unloved, curtains that long to live as the masts of a pirate-ship.

It’s hard to really pick a favorite, the entire collection is that strong. Each story has a way of sliding into one’s mind, always to be remembered in one way or another. One story that struck me in a very personal way was Between the Covers, a story of a writer who lost her connection with her craft after taking on the Devil as her benefactor. Writers have a certain relationship with their words, their stories, Between the Covers depicts that relationship in a uniquely visual way. Honestly, I’d pay full cover value for that story alone. Tales of writers come to ruin always terrify and fascinate me.

A really neat facet of this collection is that in the closing pages Bishop discusses each story, talking about inspiration, points of symbolism, all those little questions you’d like to ask a writer after you’ve finished reading their work.

That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote is a brilliantly imaginative collection of stories written by an absolutely brilliant writer. K.J. Bishop is someone that doesn’t blink into existence every day, her use of craft is something special. She uses words to create life, to create worlds, to create art. K.J. Bishop does things with words that few writers can accomplish. Ultimately, she writes things that are worth reading, which is really all that matters.

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