Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How To Contact Me

Seems appropriate to put this information somewhere on this page, so here I chuck it against the glorious wall:

Twitter (@GoneFiction)
email: ContactDanDonatelli [at] gmail [dot] com
(there's already enough spam going to that account)

Be well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Butterfly In The Sky...

And so the cannon has fired. Presently my body is rocketing up into the atmosphere, with the heat at my feet cooling the farther I get from the ground. The air is screaming past my ears, my eyes are two bugged-out planets, and my stomach feels like it's still in the cannon. 

This was all intentional.

And now is when it gets difficult.

All my life I have been packing black powder into that cannon below, and at the same time I've been building myself a wing-suit for when that spent powder brought me up to where I felt I needed to go.

I'm up there now. I'm up here now.

I woke up this morning and realized that that's where I am: I am hitting the moment where I will find out if my invention can hold and sustain flight, or if I will crash back into the ocean.

Source: @Earth_Pics

But right now it's the atmosphere and my wing-suit. I still have a bit of control, but it ain't much, and I'm still trying to figure out that part of it myself. 

At the age of 12 I fully realized that I needed to be a writer (I don't know how it happened, only that it did). But I also realized that I'm not a hyper-genius, so I would have to work myself to exhaustion if I ever wanted to create beauty like the beauty that so inspired me. And I did just that—worked myself to exhaustion.

After college, I went to work as a proofreader because I had been relatively unimpressed with my university education, which made Grad School seem like one of the most expensive jokes in the world, and conversely I didn't want to write about peach pie recipes for a magazine that was about to go bankrupt, so I reasoned to myself that until I truly developed my literary abilities, I simply couldn't have the artistic autonomy necessary to avoid having this thing I love so much—writing—feel like something I was cruelly whoring out.

But six years later my proofreading decision left me feeling like I set out to be the pilot and ended up being the person who handled the airplane's sewage.

(So many metaphors!)

Now, I've been blasted out of a cannon, and instead of trying to pilot a plane via traditional publishing, I'm in a wing-suit and on a prayer that this crazy thing I invented myself can fly twice as high and be even more liberating than the options that existed before.

It has a (fairly low) chance of working. And what possibly helps is that, although they're both blue, it should soon be very easy to figure out if I'm ultimately bound for the ocean or the sky.

We'll see.

It's all very exciting, but Jesus Christ am I terrified.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Divine Comedy: Cleveland Sports

We're all already dead.

Cleveland's sports teams are complete shit. That much is fairly well known. But what I want to talk about today is the fact that the situation in Cleveland has devolved to the point that Cleveland fans have actually reached the intersection of Shit and Ubiquity.

Otherwise known as Hell.

The reality is so giant and real that I'm just going to fire shotgun-blasts of thought at the wall of this page, and with any luck we'll have a moving piece of art when it's over.

Pablo Picasso's "Brownica."

Cleveland's teams are shit because the organizations are incompetent. They don't know how to choose players, they don't know how to refine player talents, and they don't know how to use those players when it counts. (They choose players at the top of the draft, and then the next year they choose players at the top of the draft, and then the next year they choose players at the top of the draft....)

I barely ever hang out with my friends to watch Cleveland sports anymore, because it's miserable to feel like hanging out with your friends is somehow bringing bad luck to the teams you're cheering for. 

Obviously that's not the reason, but at least my brain can't stop making associations like that. And frankly even if it weren't like that, it's just not fun to cheer for something that plainly and obviously sucks.

But it's not even just the teams!

I could handle it if the teams were terrible but we had a really smart, snappy press corps that could have a lot of fun with literal decades of futility, but instead we have Mary Kay Cabot and Terry Pluto, who might as well be on the Browns' PR payroll, Paul Hoynes the toothless baseball reporter, nobody at all covering the Cavs, and a bunch of other stiffs who've affixed tape recorders to the pom-poms they carry around for the various garbage teams.

On the radio (92.3 The Fan) we have this daily lineup: 6:00am–10:00am Two Humorless Grouchy Old Fucks; 10:00am–2:00pm Two Insanely Boring Fucks; 2:00pm–7pm Two Criminally Stupid Fucks; and 7:00pm–midnight The Hoofs And Snouts That Remain.

The Grouchy Fucks could suck the fun out of a Thai massage; the Boring Fucks make the Grouchy Fucks seem like Mel Brooks and Howard Stern; the Stupid Fucks make me cringe the moment they start talking; and the Hoofs And Snouts is probably the best show on the station—highlighting the truly bizarre upper-level decision-making at whatever piece-of-shit media monstrosity owns that pathetic radio franchise.

And then on AM radio we have the fairly likeable Tony Rizzo and the contemptuously smug Aaron Goldhammer. Their show is actually decent for the 45 seconds per radio hour that aren't dedicated to advertisements about window installation.

The only saving grace is the blog presence. Cleveland has some pretty great sports blogs—I often frequent and and a few others that still need to step up their game if they want me to mention them by name—and really even that is indicative of something that is true of most things in America these days: The overpaid establishment is an unambiguous disappointment, and the piteously underpaid independent organizations are the only things keeping the rickety house of cards from turning into a flat pile of jokers.

Speaking of which, here's a brief look at the flat pile of rich jokers here in Cleveland:

Larry and Paul Dolan—Owners of the Cleveland Indians (a city named after a man who deserted the city, and a team named that way because Christopher Columbus erroneously labeled the N. American natives as people from a country that was actually 15,000 miles away)—I know very little about these two men other than that they have proven to be cheap and uncreative—the worst of both worlds for a smaller-market team. I would wish for them to sell the franchise, but the new boss is inevitably the same as the old boss here in C-town.

Chris Antonetti—General Manager of the Cleveland Indians—is part of a team structure that has traded away the only three players it drafted in the past 20 years who turned out to be any good. All season long I was told to go (drive through the ongoing speed-trap in every sector of every predatory-cop-laden quadrant of the greater Cleveland area) to the aging ballpark and cheer on a team that beat all the bad teams and lost to all the good teams. "C'mon, folks, get a speeding ticket on the way to the ballpark, then search for $20 parking, ignore all the dead businesses and the fact that you don't have a job either, then make your way to your seat and watch an aging Nick Swisher do an on-field, in-game rehab on his tender shoulder."

Terry Francona—Manger of the Cleveland Indians—is already the greatest executive we've had in Cleveland in my entire life.

Dan Gilbert—Owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers (a team named after a synonym for lazy indifference)—once wrote a fan-inspiring, fiery open letter after the Whore Of Akron decided he wanted to fuck Cuban men in Miami—in fucking pink Comic Sans. I am one of the world's foremost defenders of that letter, but every day I have less respect for Dan Gilbert, who now seems to be a vacuum cleaner sucking up every cent he can from the cities of Cleveland and Detroit via fan-exploitation and the gambling addictions of those cities' aging populations.

Chris Grant—General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers—took two #1 overall picks and two #4 overall picks and turned them into the kind of trainwreck that isn't even interesting to look at.

Mike Brown—Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers—was a disappointment when he coached in Cleveland, so they brought him back.

Jimmy Haslam—Owner of the Cleveland Browns (a team named after a man who was fired by the team that was named after him)—either knew what was going on at Pilot Flying J, and is therefore a terrible leader, or had no idea what was going on at Pilot Flying J, and is therefore a terrible leader.

Joe Banner/Mike Lombardi—President/General Manager of the Cleveland Browns—are men it is hard to like. Joe Banner clearly thinks he could have been Einstein's tutor (except Banner doesn't seem to remember that his Eagles never won a Super Bowl and ended up turning into a diarrhea salad by the time he left), and Mike Lombardi, as far as I can tell, is Joe Banner's Yes Man, if he's even still alive anymore.

Rob Chudzinski—Coach of the Cleveland Browns—is the Coach of the Cleveland Browns.

So it looks to me like the pits of Hell have quite a ways to go before we hit the fun trampolines at the bottom, like Boston did, and spring our way up to the Heavens of Obnoxiousness.

For now, on the long way down, I can see Anthony "Captain Fatty Garbage Truck" Bennett coming into sight, and it looks like a demon is feeding him two of those Elvis sandwiches!

By this point, I honestly don't know how many championships it would take to get the smell of sulfur out of my nose.

I think I stick with it all because it is a truly divine comedy—50 years of blind squirrels starving to death.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another Thin Slice Of The History Of Life

Hoping to even things out after the emo bloodchug of my previous post, I'd now like to take a few moments to narrate one of the great small moments of my life—I'm trying to rollercoaster myself to even. In sum, it's a fairly insignificant moment, and yet it's something I cherish in a way that's almost sacred.

I am a huge fan of the athleticism of the human animal, and as a Throwist I consider myself somewhat of a maven in the field of human athletics, and it is because of those two things that I fundamentally love to play a good game of catch. It is athleticism and concentration and communication all at once, and it is because of that love that I went up to this dude I didn't know at a lawn-darts tournament in Denver three years ago and asked him for a hit from the joint he was smoking (when in Rome, eh?) as a way of breaking the ice, in order to ask him about the football I'd seen him tossing around before.

I was at the Jarts tournament as the guest of some friends who live in Denver—I was spending a few days there on one of my moves across the country—and the dude was there with his wife or girlfriend and some other friends on a road trip. I could tell they were from Kansas City because nearly all of them had at least one piece of KC Royals apparel on.

And I'm not even sure if I said anything, actually, about the football itself—it was more like hooking up with a chick at a party. I nodded in the direction of a wide-open part of the park, away from where the tournament was being held, and he smirked and started heading in that direction with the football.

The friends I'd gone there with were talking to people they knew—girls who'd already given me the wordless rejection of subtle indifference, which had caused me to look around in search of the weed smell in the first place—so I followed the dude into the field, away from the trees, and started playing catch with this guy whose name I didn't know.

Most of the time when I try to play catch with someone, it actually kind of sucks, because I have a rocket laser moon cannon for a right arm, and most people have little dinky pop guns (it's no coincidence that my best friend growing up also had a rocket laser moon cannon for a right arm), so oftentimes when I get to play catch it's just an awful lot of me holding back and merely challenging myself with intentionally off-balance throws.

But this dude could chuck it!

Pretty soon there was this wordless communication between us, like a wavelength recognized and cherished, and after a few minutes we were both firing piss missiles (to quote one of my college roommates) to each other over exhilarating distances.

He appeared to be around my age—late twenties, early thirties, our bodies rounded by desk jobs—and consequently we were both winded fairly quickly, and we also had upcoming games in the tournament, so we started winding down our transcontinental chucking, but as always before a game of catch is over I started backing up to see just how much chucking we both brought to the table, so I fired him the ball over a pretty fun distance, but only about an 80% throw, giving myself some room to start jogging in such a way that would let the dude put everything he had into his throw, so I started jogging away from him, and he wound up and fired, and I followed the ball's trajectory into the air and saw that indeed this dude was a fellow Throwist, and I started booking as absolutely fast as I could run. 

I was in a full sprint, and while I was watching the flight of the ball I was also thinking to myself that I was reaching the far end of the open field, where there were lots of trees, and it occurred to me that I might've been unknowingly running straight towards a big tree while looking over my shoulder for ball.

I did not care—for some reason, I would've rather died than not catch that throw.

So I kept dashing on the grass—knees, trees, health be damned!—and yet sadly I soon recognized that my sprinting looked like it was going to be all for naught: There was just no way that I would be able to bring my hands up to a pragmatic, far-enough angle to catch this insanely well-thrown ball.

But it's like they say: You're only defeated when you admit it.

I decided to go for it, so I reached out with my right hand and batted the ball back up into the air, at which point my sprinting form fell apart, and I immediately started falling to the ground, but at the very last moment I was able to pull the now-floating ball to my chest and roll out all my momentum on the summer grass.

I caught it! So I stood up, excitedly held the ball up to show the guy, and we both jumped up and down in the air, on two separate sides of a big field, like children.

There was no topping that moment, so we started heading back to the tournament, and when we reached the tree where we'd first smoked the joint, the dude's wife or girlfriend said to me, "Hey, nice throwin', Brett Favre!" The dude's beloved must have been a Packers fan, because he said to her, "Did you not see that catch? Babe, not only is he Brett Favre; he's also Donald Driver!"

I laughed and wished them all well and rejoined my friends for the start of our match. I never got the dude's name or anything, but that Royals gear has made me think about something over the years:

When I was 16, I played in the USA Junior Olympics, and I pitched against a team called the KC Cats, who ended up finishing third overall. I lost to them, but it was a great game—something like 4 to 3—and anyway I like to think that that dude was on that team, and that maybe we'll see each other again in the future, on yet another field, where we'll once again chuck piss missiles all over the place like the little kids we are sometimes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Desire, Jealousy, And Indifference

Witness one of the tragic ballets churning to a toneless red froth in the blender of my head:

My desire for a life of total authorial autonomy and an anxiety-lessening financial security has resulted in what feels like my having taken Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours and turned it into a light warm-up. 

I have taken the measly lawnmower motor of my mind and tried to polish and oil its every crucial piece and mechanism, and every moment of that painstaking and laborious process has been in service of what I've always considered a virtuous existential goal.

All of it was fueled by my desire to create interesting and beautiful art.

But fuel is volatile, and one of the unintentional atmospheric hazards of that fuel is that often it sparks an inferno of jealousy inside of myself. Seemingly all day long I read about some woman who's probably younger than I am who wins the Man Booker Prize, or some guy around my age who gets $2 million for his debut novel, or some other person who sells a movie or gets a job on a writing staff, and suddenly I wish to douse the inferno I've become with a cooling leap from a very tall bridge.

In a sense, there is no need for me to be jealous, because I have created what I consider interesting and beautiful art, and as so many people have tried to insist to me, isn't that what really counts? (I tell them every time, "Not when you're trying to build a career, it's not.") 

A better question might be, "Why place such a high value on commercial popularity in a culture that so consistently celebrates utter artistic shit?"

And again to me the answer comes down to the fact that the unavoidable reality is that in all cultures a person needs at least some money to survive.

Enter indifference. The indifference of the marketplace so far, that is.

I am all fuel and desire and fire, and the marketplace—the void—emptily stares back.

Oil and water, not space and time.

For the previous 20 years of my life, I was able to use that indifference as a catalyst to create even more desire—fuel to write more and read deeper into the night. Now? The blender is winning, and the indifference makes me jealous of those who've been shown intercontinental love.

This is how I have chosen to make money. If it doesn't work out after this latest and final push to the sun, then the task at hand metamorphoses into my need to figure out how to dilute the noxious fuel of my desire and live a life away from the guiding light of my retired ambitions. Frankly, I am as comfortable not having anything on the marketplace as I am having books on the marketplace (I only ever published them because I need money and thought they would sell—I am already inwardly validated about their quality), so the real question, which I can't seem to answer or surmount, is, "If my life must have a daily master over most of its time again, to what worthwhile labor shall I give hold of these precious reins?"

Right now, everything I can think of feels like it would inevitably turn into the sensation of being slowly—agonizingly slowly—choked to death.

So if you ask me how I'm doing and it takes me a moment to answer, that was me drinking another glass of emotional-ballet blood and lying about its taste.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Great Anti-American Novel

Today, November 5, 2013—Election Day—my book The Great Anti-American Novel was formally and officially published.

I have never been more proud of anything in my life. (Full disclosure: I don't have any kids, so that pride comment contains far more truth than hyperbole.)

The book has already been extremely well-reviewed, and the publicity efforts are going stupendously—I am a one-man book factory over here; the surly women at the Post Office collectively grimace when I walk through the door with another clutch of outgoing media mail—and right now it's occurring to me that I am writing this post as a sort of self-congratulations.

I did it.

But it wasn't all me, and I would like to formally and publicly thank the following people for their invaluable contributions to the crafting of my beloved book: Mike Squires (soldier/scholar), Joe Donatelli (journalist/humorist), Stan Malihee (screenwriter/filmmaker), Sarah Minto (housewife/political activist), and Johnny Savage (illiterate/lawyer, haha).

They all read the first draft of the book and provided me with their enormously useful outside perspectives. I am truly lucky to be friends with such intelligent and wisdom-generous people.

So if you're seeing these words, and if you like making good people happy, check out my book to see more of what has already brought me such happiness—a book that has been reviewed and vouched for by wisdom-generous people!

Monday, October 28, 2013

And The Reward Goes To...

My Kickstarter campaign was a phenomenal success, and the publicity gears are already in motion. 

Lately I have been incredibly busy fulfilling the Rewards (books, autographed books, T-shirts, etc.) requirement of the crowdfunding campaign, and consequently I have been a one-man postal service—lazy, surly, and glacially paced. 

But the rewards, indeed! It is funny to me (in the interesting, not-funny way) that I am sending out rewards when the fact is that it is I who have been so rewarded. When I look at the list of backers, it is like looking at a blessed kaleidoscope of my life. I received donations from my loving family, from St. Francis friends, from Mayfield friends, from Ohio University friends, from SoCal friends, and from complete strangers. Each of them was a hand reached out to help me from falling off the face of my existence—the very real danger of my all-or-nothing literary ambition!—and I could almost literally weep into each outstretched hand that came forward.

But instead I've placed books in those hands.

The books are more meaningful than the tears would ever be. I am always a storm of emotions, so evidence of me being overwhelmed is easy to dig up, but evidence of a man who's spent twenty years quietly refining the edges of his prose? Most of that evidence is unrecorded, but today it takes shape in the form of my darling opus, which shape I am sending all across the country.

I've never been more stressed out or scared in my life. It would take an entire autobiography to explain how important this whole venture is to me (far beyond the skeletal structure I've set down already on this site), and yet with love comes vulnerability, so right now I am utterly exposed. Nearly every time I've been raised up by anything in my life, it seemed to be only so that I could be spiked forcefully back into the ground. This time, I am so pleased with what I have created that I have reached some of the loftiest heights of my life, and my terror comes from the idea that a black swan will pop this bubble and I'll have to ride this dying, farting balloon until I slam into something that won't let either of us pass through.

But that is how my mind always works—worries itself until it glows bright hot and ready to explode. And I only bring this all up to once again circle back to the concept that I had no idea how psychologically rewarding this crowdfunding thing would be. I desperately needed the money, but I didn't realize how much I needed the validation. (As a person who strives to be as self-contained as possible, I usually ignore that part of myself). But the fact is that I have been fairly alone on this literary island for literal decades, and yet each backer seemed to be letting me know that there really are people out there who are receptive to what I'm doing here, and that an actual audience exists beyond the theoretical Reader who exists in my mind and whom I'm always trying to charm.

But even beyond the psychological rewards, the publicity efforts have already resulted in an extremely praising review of the book. Until I received that review, the only people who'd read the book were people who love me on one level or another, so it was hard for me to trust that their artistic opinions weren't influenced by their existential ones. But that kind of review from a complete stranger?

I honestly didn't need it—I've read hundreds of books, and I wish this didn't sound so cocky but I already know how good my book is—so what I can say honestly about that review is that reading it was a great relief. Someone else—in fact, the utterly brilliant reviewer F.T. Donereau—"got it."

Either way, the sum of this whole experience comes down to this: I have learned that there are at least 83 other people in the world who've vociferously supported my literary ambitions, and that's just enough to make me want millions more, haha.

So for now it's back to the one-man postal service ("Dan D. sleeps alone tonight"), back to worrying myself furiously, but at least momentarily enjoying the lofty view from atop this as-yet-unpopped bubble I'm riding.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Kickstart My Heart!

My new novel's Kickstarter campaign is up and off to a great start!

I'll have more on that later, but for now I at least wanted to get a link up here on America's Number One Blog.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

More Reading! (For My Fellow Bibliophiles)

And for those of you who consider yourselves to be readers already—God bless your noble, tender souls—it seems appropriate to also post a list of books I sincerely recommend to any friends out there who might be looking to challenge themselves with some of best and deepest shit I've ever read in my long reading life.

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov;
A Collection of Essays, by George Orwell;
A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace;
Consider the Lobster, by David Foster Wallace;
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace;
Girl With Curious Hair, by David Foster Wallace;
Lectures on Literature, by Vladimir Nabokov;
Lectures on Russian Literature, by Vladimir Nabokov;
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes;
Lectures on Don Quixote, by Vladimir Nabokov;
Tao Te Ching, by Lao-Tzu;
Book of Five Rings, by Miyamoto Musashi;
Games People Play, by Eric Berne;
Sexus, by Henry Miller;
The Third Policeman, by Flann O'Brien;
The Razor's Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham;
The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo;
Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo;
A Feast of Snakes, by Harry Crews;
Arthur Rimbaud: Complete Works, by Arthur Rimbaud;
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, And Seymour: An Introduction, by J.D. Salinger;
The Autobiography of Malcolm X, by Malcolm X and Alex Haley;
The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, by Huston Smith;
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig;
The Story of Philosophy, by Will Durant;
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, By Jared Diamond;
The God of the Machine, by Isabel Paterson;
Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov;
The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time, by Hunter S. Thompson;
Steps, by Jerzy Kosinski;
Portnoy's Complaint, by Philip Roth;
My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey, by Jill Bolte Taylor;
Alaska, by James Michener; and
The Diaries of Franz Kafka, by Franz Kafka.

Suggested Reading List

Some people are interested in reading—in becoming readers, God bless their noble hearts—but many people are intimidated by the sheer number of books out there. It is with that in mind that I recommend the following titles, which I stake my artistic reputation on as being excellently written books that are worth your time if you're interested in becoming a reader: 

The Godfather, by Mario Puzo; 
Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut;
A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole;
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk;
Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer;
Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer;
The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe;
In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote;
The Basketball Diaries, by Jim Carroll;
The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath;
The Stand, by Stephen King;
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger;
1984 by George Orwell;
The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris;
Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton;
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey;
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy;
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand (fuck all haters);
East of Eden, by John Steinbeck; and
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Seymour Glass, John Kennedy Toole, J. D. Salinger, And Turning 32

Seymour Glass is a fictional character created by J. D. Salinger, and at the end of the short story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," Seymour Glass, age 31, *spoiler alert* takes out a gun and kills himself.

John Kennedy Toole is the author of the novel A Confederacy of Dunces, which was thoroughly rejected and unpublished at the time of his suicide, at the age of 31.

It literally felt surreal when I woke up on my 30th birthday. In my youth I thought for sure I would have killed myself by that point. I thought I would have ended myself long before I ever reached the stage of life that I considered to be Undeniable Adulthood. 

My first suicidal thought arrived in my early teens (my theory for why that is requires a book series to do it justice, and I haven't written it yet), and while Death's hands have many fingers, there is one finger that taps those who eventually deliver themselves unto the altar of nonexistence—those who walk up and willingly impale themselves on the mortal scythe.

And yet I awoke that morning—30 years old, one of the biggest losers in the history of modernity, and still alive and blinking.

In a very confusing way, I was proud of myself, and in a different confusing way, I was disappointed in myself. Either way, I was 30, and I had to accept it.

And now I'm 31, soon to be 32.

My mother has always said that I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I think I can't help but be transparent because of something innate in who I am. It stands to reason that if there are emotionally impassive people—people who either don't care or just can't easily be rattled from their level cool—then there must be people whose emotions are huge gusts in the sail of the self. 

In fact, I feel as though I am excruciatingly pulverized by nearly every facet of existence, and I've always wanted to believe that there was a virtue in my being pulverized: I would appreciatively take the pain of having my eyes blasted open by the brilliance and depravity of existence, for it would make me a better artist! (It would have to!)

In J. D. Salinger's heretofore published stories about the Glass family, Seymour Glass is a recognized authority in the world of words, and he is the author of what a successful writer (his brother, "Buddy Glass") considers to be the finest poetry this side of the Asian continent. My reading of "A Perfect Day" holds that Seymour, in his curious encounter with the the Bananafish-spotting little girl on the beach, becomes overwhelmed by his inability to deal with the great expanses of thought and feeling produced within himself by the tremendous world, and he can't swim to the surface anymore because he's eaten so many bananas, and he kills himself.

Seymour Glass's oceans of thought and emotion led to a literary success and a mental collapse.

And then there's John Kennedy Toole, who was so brilliant that he wrote a book that eventually won a Pulitzer, but who was so tortured by that book's repeated lack of publishing success that he got in his car and bid a carbon-monoxide goodbye to a world that clearly didn't want him and the beautiful art that he'd created and loved so much.

Ten years after the goodbye, his mother got the book published, and it won the most prestigious award a piece of literature can receive. 

It's one of the best novels ever written—not that any of these postmortem accolades mean anything to Toole's bones.

Anyway, I feel a great affinity for and simpatico with both Seymour Glass and John Kennedy Toole, and yet I am about to turn 32, which, to me, signifies that I am a man who is wretchedly tortured by an oversensitive disposition, but not to the extent that it will ever lead to transcendent artistic success, and it also tells me that I am nauseatingly tortured by the complete rejection my words and I have received on every possible level of literary life, but not to the extent that a real-life, truly great writer was.

I'm going to be 32 in early September.

I'm just some fucking guy.

What's killing me is that I am thoroughly convinced that I'm better than what I am in life right now, but what if I'm not? 

If what I am is what I don't want to be anymore, and which I have now spent years proving I can't change, then why should I want to be at all?

Is that what they concluded?


In light of the news that Salinger's estate is set to release five new books in the coming years, I also have to wonder if sensitive Seymour still would have killed himself if one of his beloved dead Japanese poets had five new manuscripts on the way.

Maybe he would have at least given it a few moments of thought before he woke up his wife like that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Swaddle Of Poetry

I have a small but earnest contingent of fans of my poetry, and this roving biographical shotgun blast called my "web log" seems like as good a place as any to post the only poems I’ve written in the last three years.

I was thinking about saving them for publications and competitions, but most of the time I shudder at the wretchedness of the published and heralded poems that are chosen in those places where I have a somewhat reasonable chance of distinguishing myself.
Here, these poems can just be themselves—a lyrical bouquet, a swaddle of poetry—rather than some loser’s discarded pieces of shit.

One Of My Aspirations Is To Be A Solar Body

Several deep character flaws
that I can’t seem to amputate
or metamorphose
have frogmarched me into a life where,
at least sometimes,
which is to say, most of the time,
I have no greater or clearer aspiration,
no more specific purpose for being,
other than a decades-old, divinely inspired motivation to
write something so singularly beautiful
that its only earthly comparison would be the
emotional-intellectual brain-feeling of
sunlight on bare skin.


A Wailing Ambitious Ex-Catholic Author Cannot Briefly Answer Your Chit-Chat Questions

Two years? Gone!
In elsewhere time,
and nothing written,
not a line,
not a rhyme,
but a heaping of beatings—
a blacksmith,
page after page,
beating and beaten,
choking with rage!

Must in the air,
not obligation but moss.
Coughing now, wheezing—
but my own boss!

That’s the spirit!
And that’s the body, too.
Both of us, both!
what can the two of us do?

no daily rendering
of our poor Earth could be complete
without the existential march
of mischievous little feet
hurrying whatever wild weather
they bring to the cellar door
(where once the storm knocks
it knocks forty more).

And flying down low
into the safety below—
all my family, real friends, weird feelings in tow—
I’ll have myself time
and nearly all I might need:
to write,
to read,
and plead,
and plead,
and plead!


There’s A C-Word Below

A child is unaware of its own fragility,
and me a beast-man I’m all too aware
that the grains of sand are always getting smaller.
The child dashes and leaps chin-first into the vast ocean
and slaps five with everyone at sea or ashore
while the beast-man’s bottom pockets fill with sand
and he slaps his hand to his sore throat,
where at the top his fragility threatens to reveal itself in its magnitude
and leave nothing but a shell, a husk, molted—
the outline of a man.

I used to be afraid.
There used to be a process for dying,
and I used to be afraid of its grim chapters.
But in a mood like this, my culture has exhausted the ancient process,
refined it to an unintentional perfection,
and I just want the relief
of no-thing.

Is it still called depression when you don’t even want out of it anymore?
The sun eventually hits both of the poles—
nowhere on Earth goes more than six months without sunlight—
but here?
It is a sin to compare God’s favorite marble to a jagged gray
pebble jammed into the tread of a shoe
lost somewhere very dark.

Am I robust? Not in the cradle where these words lie
nor in the cunt where they received their unholy conception.
Tomorrow I may be temporarily robust or increasingly fragile.
I’ll know which,
but it won’t matter.
One can only look so deeply into a mirror—
"This is not a pipe."


Sudden Personal Revelations In A Sober Malaise

I used to have to ingest weird chemicals
to channel the muse of Poetry;
now it is sobriety that pumps me with weird chemicals,
and the words just flow
like smoke,
but out this time.
I wasn’t even happy when I was three years old.
Now, at thirty-one?
Cover me with dirt and trample the grave.
Leave no tombstone.
Forget it.
I have lived and that’s enough.


Mayakovsky’s Lament

Fools! You spend your time like it’s gold,
but you can’t possibly be wise like me,
and spend your time like it’s enough.

Women are constantly beating down the doors
of all the temples I’ve never been to.

What are they after,
those hordes of the so-called fairer sex
(fair in beauty, unfair to my covetous lusts),
other than what I was after myself
when I was visiting the other temples?

So if we are so oppositely similar, then,
maybe you should stop looking at me like that.

My Books In Sexy Brief, Part Four, "The Great Anti-American Novel"


My fourth book is scheduled to be published in early November. It’s complete, and right now we’re sending it out to be reviewed and such, so I finally feel comfortable talking about it.
This is the third novel—the one that long ago I told myself I would send out to be published, to announce my arrival to the world of words.
To be perfectly frank, I am extremely proud of all four of my books, but the three that are on the market right now are selling worse than Hitler’s used underwear, so my business partner and I decided that, considering the tremendous quality of the book I wrote between September of 2012 and February of 2013, I should send the manuscript out to various high-ranking literary agents, to see if I could sell the book to a major publisher and try to use that national exposure to drive up the sales of my previously published books.
And lo and behold, it gained the attention of two extremely prominent literary agencies, who, after I queried them, asked for copies of the manuscript.
After reading the book, both agents praised my writing all the way up to God’s nipples, and both said the project wasn’t right for them.
"April is the cruellest month," and between that rejection and the rejection I received from the Stanford/Stegner Fellowship (they said an MFA wasn’t required, and yet somehow all five winners had MFAs—and by the way, FUCK AN MFA; college professors are well-spoken narcissistic douchebags). Anyway, the entire month of April consisted of me being rejected by visionless cowards, and I will admit right now that those rejections, juxtaposed with how strongly I feel about the rare quality of this book, combined to produce a severe gash in my soul, from which, every day, there is blood and energy pouring out. 
I have now been rejected in every single way that a writer could possibly ever be rejected. 
And yet here the fuck I am.
I believe I’ve written one of the best books of this young century, and I am staking my artistic life on it, because if this book, like the others, vanishes into a dark and indifferent, well-reviewed oblivion, so will I.
I will stop presenting my unwanted writings to a distracted world.
Because ultimately, if my opus comes and goes, I’ll have reached the point that I could say, on my deathbed, that I really tried.
I tried, and I failed.
I’ll shut it down and take my genius to some other avenue of life, but even then, even as a shrugging loser with a deflated (but pure!) soul, I will remain fundamentally certain that, having written these books—TGAAN especially—I have already succeeded.
But sadly it’ll just be the sort of intangible success that’ll never pay the bills or get me laid.
Either way, I have done the thing.
The cover is above.
I took my pain, and I created something beautiful.

The Interrogation, by Amit Majmudar

"The Interrogation," by Amit Majmudar

I was lucky enough to attend a high school that employed a rather legendary Creative Writing teacher. His name was Stan Siedlecki (pronounced “Sid-lecky”), and I believe he left a demonstrable impact on his students. My proof: My oldest brother Joe is a freelance writer and humorist, my friend from that class Anthony Di Franco is the author of a brilliant graphic novel, I myself am an author of three self-published books, and another Mayfielder named Amit Majmudar, whom I don’t know but whom I respect greatly, has written some of the best poetry I’ve read in years. 
For instance, he wrote this powerful poem that was published in The Atlantic.
When they leathered his arm to the armrest and began
like manicurists in a nail salon
he says that he “retreated” from his hand
until the part of him that dwelt there once was gone
and heard no news from his own outer reaches.
In his memoir of those years, he sketches
the tricks he used, one of which was “vision.”
Maybe it’s better we present his version:
“I imagined my arm as a slope I had to scale,
shaft of the humerus as smooth as shale
but white like bone and giving way like sand
wherever I set foot. I couldn’t stand,
couldn’t take a breather, or I’d ride my own
disintegration down and end up on
the shore—which was my hand, my fingernails.
I crested my shoulder, rested on its knoll.
I looked down then and saw the pain as men
charging uphill to where I hid my sense
of pain. At once I stomped a foot to see
the whole arm crack, calve, crash into the sea,
disarticulated, part of me no more.
I did this for the other arm and for
my feet and testicles and eyes until
I found myself on a Pacific atoll
that had no latitude, no longitude.
I built a hut, I scuttled the one canoe.
I saw a sun that weighed a kiloton
and the power cord by which it swung.”
—Amit Majmudar

My Books In Sexy Brief, Part Three, "Oh, Title!"

I forced myself to write 1,000 words a day for the duration of my 28th year of life. I could write anything I wanted—from diary-like entries to short stories to essays to poetry to whatever-the-fuck—as long as it came to a solid G of new words on white. Every single day.
I stopped writing the “Me, Amplified” novel because I didn’t think I could write 1,000 words a day for the same story, and I wanted to free up my creative mind for the 365,000-word task.
To be euphemistic, it ended up being quite a year, and although I came up short of my aim—315,000 words spread over 365 days—I also came up with an entire wild garden of writing that had grown from an awful lot of fertilizer.
If I ever become an internationally renowned, bestselling author, I plan on using the bulk of that document as a retirement account. I want to publish it as a sort of memoir, called 28, for it is essentially a yearlong howl of animalistic desperation by an almost utterly rudderless man.
By the end of my 28th year, I was unemployed, jaded, and on my way back home to Ohio—to start my own company.
I had a friend who’d approached me about our starting a publishing company together, and I’d shown him “Bears” and the first “Jibba” story**, and he thought they were both worth publishing, to get us started, so I brought my documents back to Cleveland, to live as cheaply as possible, to focus the light of my mind on taking these old, crappily-written books and editing them into publishing-worthy shape.
In my 29th year, I prepared the two books for indie publication, and in the process of editing the first “Jibba” story I remembered the “Me, Amplified” story and started reading it and realized what I had done: The first “Jibba” story had essentially been an unintentional version of “Me, Amplified,” and the new bastard I’d begun but never finished was essentially a sequel to, or at the very least in harmony with, the first Jibba story! Much like with “Bears,” I decided to sew them together.
And what still somewhat creeps me out to this day is that I had abandoned the “And Jibba” bastard while the main character was mid-flight on his way back to his hometown, and I ended up finishing the writing of the story, in preparation for publishing the now-conjoined stories, in my own hometown.
Anyway, as I ended 29 and turned 30, I finally finished both books and published them for the world to see and herald!
I consider them to be two well-reviewed worst-sellers.
In my 30th year, seeking to put out more content, I took my favorite stories and essays and poetry from The Year Of Writing and turned them into an eclectic, unique book called Oh, Title! (I didn’t include any of my completely insane, diary-like rants in OT!, and there were plenty of them, so I still consider 28 to be its own, retirement-plan thing, just in case anybody ever gives a fuck.)
(By the way, because it is certainly relevant at this juncture, I was once interviewed about Oh, Title! on a great show called "The Bookcast.")
And then after we published OT!, I began working on my third novel—a novel I had been outlining and writing in my head for nearly five years, a novel that would be the third of the three that I thought it would take to consider myself a truly Worthy writer.

**True Story: It had been nearly a decade since I’d written that “Jibba” novella, and in the process of multiple changes of computers I eventually lost the Jibba file entirely. Fortunately, my old friend Pat had kept his old printed-out copy, which he scanned and sent me as a PDF, and which I transcribed back into Word. Consequently, if that book had a dedication page (none of my books do), it would have read: “To Pat Dodson, for saving this book’s life.”

My Books In Sexy Brief, Part Two, "Music Made By Bears"

Music Made By Bears
My old friend Jack once called them “the bastard children of [his] imagination.” I’m sure all writers have them: pieces of writing that are begun but never finished. My senior year in college, after I quit my column due to its receiving a wretched combination of indifference and loathing, I started writing the second novel, and I was invited to write jokes for a student-run local-access TV show. At the time, the first draft of what was then called “Remembering the Dead” became yet another bastard child of my imagination. I abandoned it shortly after Dalton arrived in town—so, barely into it. I started writing jokes because jokes were actually more difficult for me to write than the Jibba novella had been. But my jokes, and the show itself, were awful. Profoundly bad, unfunny, and not even so unfunny it’s funny—that perfectly embarrassing presentation of utter comedic incompetence by writers, producers, and hosts alike.
But one of my jokes got a big laugh from the crowd (the punch-line was a new reality TV show called Blind People, Alcohol & Swords), and after graduating from college I moved to Los Angeles, where, surely, after sending the people at South Park the music video I made, I would be hired to write jokes for a living.
Fortunately my intelligence blasts its glory in billions of directions, so I was able to take on work doing multimedia quality assurance (a 21st Century Proofreader) while trying to teach myself to write better jokes, novels, teleplays, and screenplays. 
It was almost like being struck by lightning: One day I was was walking across my bedroom in the “Harbor View” apartment complex in a part of Los Angeles my roommate and I called “The Void,” and an image filled my mind so completely, and hit me so emotionally, that I literally had to sit down. Immediately I saw that my mind had gloriously birthed another bastard child, but this time it had given me the end of a story I had begun to write my senior year in college. 
Now I had A and B, and all I had to do was write the simple story that sewed them together.
I needed to build a bridge.
Fortunately I’m a fairly bright guy, and in the copious amounts of downtime I afforded myself because I was extremely good and efficient at my job, I was able to once again write a novel while working under other pretenses.
And then I finished it. I sewed the two sides together, unabashedly cried about the sad tale I’d written and equally unabashedly allowed myself to fill with sparkling adrenaline: I had written a longer, fuller, better book; I had reached another distant shore.
In that time, I had also written two comedic spec-scripts: one for The Office called “The Audit,” and one for Arrested Development called “Boyz ‘N the Wood.”
I showed the book and scripts to some close friends, and they liked them just fine—but nobody was backflipping over them like I was.
So I put “Remembering The Dead,” “The Audit,” and “Boyz ‘N the Wood” docs in my folder full of other writings, and I started the next book, based on a conversation I had with my friend Mike while we were in Las Vegas: “Danny, why don’t you write a book like the way you think?”
I started writing a new book at my proofreading job, but instead of writing the way I think, I decided to write the way that I think, but amplified.
And then I abandoned that project, because I forced myself to face a cold reality: I was about to turn 28, and I was fucking nowhere as a writer.
I decided to take on a writing project of staggering proportions.

My Books I Sexy Brief, Part One, "Jibba And Jibba"

Jibba And Jibba
I wrote the first draft of my first attempt at a novel when I was 19 years old, on winter break from my freshman year at Ohio University. Like the Jibba narrator in the story, I was working as a temp: cold-calling various corporations on behalf of some telecommunications company, receiving extremely brief, rude, impatient responses to the questions that I myself loathed asking. Then one day I discovered a phone number that, when dialed, would just ring forever, and because I felt a book leaping out of me, I proceeded to dial that number every time the writing urge came on, and I would pin the phone to my ear with my shoulder while I scribbled Jibba’s story on a yellow legal pad the company had provided for us to make notes on. I hand-wrote page after page, and when I got home at night I would transcribe the pages into a Word document, which I would send to my friend Pat, who seemed to be enjoying the story. Then the job ended, and also the winter break, and I sat down before heading back to college and furiously typed out the rest of the story until it reached its (open-ended) conclusion. I was happy with it, and my friend Pat also seemed to like it. But I never sent it anywhere besides to Pat and a few other friends: It was my first ever attempt at a novel, and it was only like 30,000 words, and I am an extremely diffident person. But following the completion of that first Jibba story, a long-term plan started to develop: “I have more or less written a book, and now I am challenging myself to write another, better, fuller book. After I have proven I can do that, I will write a third book, which I will submit to be published.” 
There is more to come regarding my novel Jibba And Jibba, but in the story of these stories, the Jibba plot-line falls away for a while, because besides the columns I wrote for the student-run paper at Ohio University (I can’t link you to them because evidently the journalism and IT programs at OU have completely fallen apart, as the archives of my columns from the early 2000s don’t exist anymore), I started turning my novel-oriented attention toward the second book, toward a desire to create a classic piece of literature, after having so thoroughly delved into Palahniukian modern silly darkness with the story I’d just completed.
But I wouldn’t finish that second book until after I graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles.

I like to golf.

Gaudeamus Igitur (“So Let Us Rejoice”)

I’ve been tasked with creating an author page, and the logic I’ve followed in establishing this account is that rather than designing something wildly creative and expensive and overly narcissive, it would be wiser to just use the preexisting, popular template of "web logging" to turn my author page into a more living biographical document.