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Saturday 5/30/20

I wrote a 1300 word story yesterday called "Barn Jar." Strong. I'm looking at an eventual book of fiction in which the stories are short word count-wise, long life-wise. I think I have a unique ability to do this--there's just more in my less, if you will, than people have in their anything. Chekhov could be that way, and we both discovered something similar that I am not going to share that I am not sure any other writer has discovered. I'm thinking something like, Longer on the Inside: Very Short Fictions of Endlessly Human Lives. You have thirty-five, forty of these stories in there.

I also came up with what I think could be the cover for If You [ ]: Fantasy, Fabula, Fuckery, Hope, coming from Dzanc in what I believe is January of next year. I don't even know, man. I just compose, try to keep going. But I sent a quick summary of the idea to the publisher, and I'll do a sketch maybe later, but I think it's a good design. What covers right now try to do, in my view, is be as boring as the work they contain. They're stock. I could whip up most of them. To me, a cover needs to have a symbiotic relationship with the text. It needs to make me see the text in a certain way, and the text needs to make me see the cover a certain way. That back and forth. it also needs to pass what I call the poster test. A kid goes to college, there are posters on sale in the quad or whatever it's called now, could that book cover be one of those posters? Could it go into the coffee table book of artful covers that is in someone's house in, I don't know, Westchester County? Arresting, artful, symbiotic. It needs to capture the eye--lock it on the image--and keep the eye moving spatially, but not overtax it. Also, If You [ ] I'm just going to call Brackets on here, which is how everyone refers to it anyway. The title of the book comes from a story that was published in PEN America that takes the form of a grocery list, with some notes to self. And in that list, you can see the story of three lives. Pretty cool, right? It's also a kind of word-sculpture.

I have come up with an idea for a story--a story of now. Stemming from arson and riot, and assembling a kind of lavish toy for a child. I will think more. But I feel a great power emerging within me for the execution of this story, a story to impact this world, like a "Fitty," a "Six Feet Away," a "A Problem to Be Solved." Here's the thing--it takes most so-called writers a long time to think up any story to write. And it's usually just something from their life. They fictionalize it. There's no imagination. There are not people who can see a news event, and make great art from it a day or two later. That's not how they function. But I can do that. I do do that. And if you give it to these places that purport to be all about change, but they're not actually. They won't put out something that fresh and captivating, that timely. That is so unfamiliar to them. You're dealing with a dearth of vision, where the modus operandi is always the tried and true, the ever-so-slight--if that--variant on what has always been done. There is a huge market there for someone who can produce important art, as if on demand, in real time with events as they are happening, that can last for all time. They could be run right then and there, and blow minds. They could be run a year later, after the settling of proverbial dust, and they are always about more than the putative events, though they cause us to look at the events and their fallout in ways we would not have otherwise. That's a public service that fires discussion and which can also make a mint. Because that's a unique skill. "First Responder" in the VQR was a good example. As I mentioned, I offered that to The New Yorker on Wednesday, two days after the Marathon bombing. Had they put that in the next week's issue, that would have been everywhere. We probably would have been investigated by the FBI, because how could someone have had that so fast? That would have created more buzz.

I have to finish "Green Glass Door"--another story in that "now and more than now" vein--and also what I'll now say is called "Crossing Deer," two of the works I feel best about that I have done--or am doing--and also I will compose another called "The Harrowing of Culver Street." But I will think about the one mentioned above. There's something special there. I will find it.

I read a nice item about a woman who is 103-years-old. She had COVID-19, and she refused to give in. I make light of no one's physical illness, but I do believe, at times, there can be a mental component to physical health. I know that there are times I'll get sick no matter what I think, feel, or do. The pneumonia I had in 2016 was agony. I'm not a complainer when it comes to maladies. I'm a horse. And that was a lot for me to handle. I also know that when I am in a certain frame of mind, when I am working out and feeling fit and strong and like a Zulu warrior, when I don't give in to fear-mongering, or give my body signs that we are weakening--like by wearing a mask on sunny days when I am walking by myself--I am more resistant to illness. Similarly, I have been sick and rid myself of that sickness faster than I otherwise would have with my mental strength. Even with the pneumonia. I set a deadline for how long I was going to be incapacitated, and I worked towards it every day, in my thoughts, and I hit it. And I was sick, man--I was at the hospital twice. I had a fever of 105, I'd be a block of ice one minute, and then the next I could literally watch sweat flow down my shins as I burned up. I had to sit in the basement because I was sweating so much, like you had dumped gallons of water on the ground. And the migraines were worse than anything. When I was a kid, there was concern that I had a brain tumor, given that my migraines were so bad, and these headaches were at that level. Anyway, there was a video of this woman, recovered, drinking a Bud Lite. Like a victory beer. I thought that was so neat. She takes this big swig, and then she's like, "mmm, that's cold," then swigs again.

I should probably finish edits on this essay about Joan Harrison. Put it to bed.

Should mix in some lighter stuff. Saw the three players that expects to see named as Hart trophy finalists in the NHL, and the Rangers' Artemi Panarin was not one of them, when he should be the obvious winner. Shouldn't be close this year. He has 95 points and he's +36 on a 37-28-5 team. He's the most valuable player to any team in the league this year. In the various sports, "most valuable" is getting replaced with "best." You see it regularly in baseball with Mike Trout. The Edmonton Oilers have almost the same record. Leon Draisaitl will win the Hart. He led the league with 110 points. But Connor McDavid is also on that team, and Draisaitl is a -7. That seems like a big deal, no? I think Pastrnak should finish second--he's been the best and most consistent player on the league's best team--and then MacKinnon, who is counted on for an awful lot with his squad. Rask should win the Vezina. If he adds a Conn Smythe, that will put him in the Hall of Fame.

And speaking of Hall of Fame, here is a random list of players from various sports that I think should be in theirs: Chris Webber, Ken Boyer, Bill Freehan, Tim Kerr, Theo Fleury, Fred McGriff, Billy Pierce, Dom DiMaggio. Webber is the biggest omission out of those guys. I love Luis Tiant and Dwight Evans and would be happy for both if they got in but I don't think they had Hall of Fame careers.

Some random songs? Playlist? Well, not random--have had these on of late.

Primal Scream--"Pills"

Tommy McLennan--"Bottle It Up and Go"

Vaccines--"The Winner Takes It All" (ABBA cover)

Wes Montgomery--"Full House"

A Certain Ratio--"Winter Hill"

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club--"Weapon of Choice"

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell--"Two Little Girls from Little Rock"

And don't at that. Live your life like a thrown knife.

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