Tears streaming down my face for the last half hour. Going through "Fitty" again. I had done the first two sections, as I mentioned, and this morning I turned to the whole of the rest of it. I made some changes. There is nothing more powerful than this story. It is almost too affecting. When I say nothing, I don't just mean other stories, or else I would have stuck that noun in there. I mean anything. I'm still not done. I'll read it again, and as many times as necessary.
She walked past the custodian’s supply closet, hearing a bolting of the lock made from the inside, despite the contrasting volume of gunshots, and opened the door of her classroom. There were students on the floor, where her eyes went first. She could not recognize some of them with what their faces had become, didn’t remember who had been wearing what that day. Then she saw, in the furthest corner, a corner that seemed to extend beyond all of the other corners, the two figures. The young man who glowered even from the back of his head, the hideous, clenched rise of his shoulders, the unseen hands with their grip upon the weapon. And the small girl with the spiky hair, standing on her chair, as if it were a mini-stage, an attempted distraction to save the children who—
Yesterday I worked some more on the preface, introduction, I have to settle on a label, to the book which begins with "Fitty," There Is No Doubt: Storied Humanness.
My mother has COVID, so have been checking in on her regularly, of course. Sounded like hell when I spoke to her yesterday morning, but a little better later in the day. Hopefully there will be some real progress today.
Exhaustion got the better of me. I need to regroup and come back harder than ever. After the presentation on Tuesday night I went out with my neighbor/former mentee to walk her dog and we ended up sitting at a table outside of the Golden Goose in the cold and talking about shoegazing bands like Ride and My Bloody Valentine, the 1985 Soviet film Come and See, and Billie Eilish. She gets annoyed if I convey any surprise that she knows a band like Ride. She's finishing up her junior year of high school, and she's taking an English class at a local college, which naturally doesn't surprise me. To thank her for helping me out the other night, I printed out a copy of "The Girl Who Couldn't Cry"--which is in There Is No Doubt--for her yesterday, and wrote a little inscription on it.
I was at Starbucks reading various short stories and fragments that M.R. James wrote but never published, and she came down from our building with a net bag, the story on top of various books and papers, her mouth hanging open, telling me how awesome it was. The look in her eyes said a lot. You can just tell from someone's face sometimes. She was the first person, in 2019--which was when "Fitty" was written, this masterwork for all time that no one in this industry will let the world see, because it was written by this man they have all worked together to blackball--to read "Fitty," and she then showed up knocking on my door, sobbing, and texted my best friend, raving about the story and asking him if he cried when he read it.
I read at the cafe and she worked on this wholly inappropriate--the language was funny--guide to this video game she just got, called Elden Ring. Then we went to the UPS store because she had to fax something for her dad on behalf of her grandmother, and after she wanted to show me this video game so I went up to their place and watched as she played, and then tried it myself. Look, Pitfall is an advanced video game to me. Anyway, she got annoyed because I kept slaughtering these innocent animals with my sword instead of taking on these zombie knights, but I don't know, they didn't fight back and you couldn't get killed that way but I guess it's not in the spirit of the game. Or something. She likes to say to me, when she is exasperated, "You're supposed to be some genius." She was also annoyed that I think David Lynch's Eraserhead is awful.
I left and checked up on my mom. I had recommended the short ghost story film, Return to Glennascaul to the former mentee, and she had watched that in the interim and texted me about it as I was about to watch the Celtics game and pass out from all of the recent over-work. Fell asleep in the second half and was surprised to see today that the Celtics won. The Nets were more physical when I was watching, but sounds like the Celtics' defense clamped down. Head case Kyrie Irving did little.
As I've been writing this entry, I've begun putting everything for There Is No Doubt in one place--the master document, that is--for the first time. So we're getting there. For now I've left out "Fitty" and the introduction--which I will call "An introduction"--because I wish to go through them some more. I also want to give real looks to "Fetch and Ferry," "Crossing Deer," "Show Me Your Knees," "The Roll of Words," "Second Boy," "Orange Needles," "Seedless Cherries," "The Space of the Moment," to see if they belong, and also to finish "Up the Sea" and "Pre." "Coalescences" is not going in because it should be in a different book than "Transitionings," and "A Listener's Story" is not going in because it should be in a different book than "Dot." With "Fetch and Ferry," there is an act of ferrying but not an actual ferry, though there is an actual ferry in "The Stopping," so that's something to think about and why "Fetch and Ferry" isn't in there right now. "The Nookery" will be in The Ghost Grew Legs: Stories of the Dead for the More or Less Living. When I put in "Fitty" and the intro, this should be right at 40,000 presently, and as I wrote here, I also want to be mindful to have a direct laser beam, as concentrated as possible, straight into your heart. It's not possible to "pad" this out with the quality of the work I have, but I still want the actual number of stories to be fairly low. This is hard, because all of these stories are as good as each other and there's a temptation. But there are other books that will mean just as much. I know what I want the cover to be, which I've detailed in these pages before. I have a photo that is a cross section of human heart muscle under a microscope, which is this beautiful range of pinks. The title should be "erased" into that, so that it's made of whiteness.
Sent a couple op-eds to the New York Daily News and The Wall Street Journal. Sent You're Up, You're Down, You're Up: Essays on Art in Life and Life in Art to a press that...well, I won't say yet what I think they're doing. I'll make totally certain, and if it goes that way, I'll do what I have to do here. I already have a lot of evidence, though. And then there is the laughable contrast with what they put out.
Ovechkin hit 50 goals, for the record-tying ninth time. I think this is big. It's his age thirty-six season. He'd have the record for most 50-goal seasons, if it weren't for stoppages. To score that many goals that deep into a career conveys more than I think people understand right now. They just think of him as always scoring, and our thinking, in this age, becomes ever less nuanced. For instance, whenever I see someone talk about sports, they almost never take time into consideration, like the passage of time does not exist. They think if you did something once, you can just do it always. I think Ovechkin's game tailed off in the second half of the year as he went after the 50, though. I've been watching his plus/minus drop for months, and his assists pace taper way off. I think as late as some time in January he led the league in scoring, and he's somewhere in the teens now.
I also listened to Andrew Hill's Point of Departure, Green Day's recent set of BBC recordings, Franz Ferdinand's Hits to the Head, and an episode of the old time radio drama, The Adventures of Captain Horatio Hornblower from 1953 called "The Duel." And watched Fritz Lang's 1941 film, Man Hunt. Is there a more oleaginous actor than George Sanders? I love John Carradine in just about everything. He's one of those instantly memorable actors.