I've been working on the same story for a few months now--which is quite atypical for my process--because this story is resisting all conformity. Whenever I cut something out, something new arises in it's place. It has so many limbs and digits that it has taken over the writing process, while I just sit, staring at the screen, twiddling my thumbs, tongue-tied and useless. Until today! I found my sharpest pruning instruments, and have been taking great pleasure in Edward-Scissorhanding this beast into something that resembles a shape.
Newly titled, “Puffy Animals” is a story about connection, and the tunnels of tribulation and strife that we are willing to crawl through in order to feel whole.
I shared the first two paragraphs here on 9/7, so here are the next few:
How Mom and Dad had met in the first place was a galaxy-class mystery. Mom lived in Puff, Dad in Animal—worlds on opposite ends of outer space, both geographically, culturally, spiritually, what-have-you. Maybe it was some momentary lapse in thinking: a stoned, 5-minute, interstellar romp that unluckily erupted in child. Wherever or however it happened, it did. And with the completion of coitus, every ounce of passion morphed violently into contempt.
Rose’s world was gamey, treacherous, like tightrope walking through a briar thicket carpeted with rotting bones. Animal was located smack-dab in the asshole of a celestial Chimera: the foulest combination of lion, goat, and dragon around. It’s vein-spidered, featherless wings flapped endlessly, while fire flooded from it’s goat-cud throat. A noisy and tumultuous world, Animal required constant bravery and bawdiness of it’s natives.
Puff, on the other hand, was stuck inside of a giant powder-puff—a glamorous and sparkling one—sheared from only the fleeciest and cleanest of sheep, and secured with a sweet, satin ribbon. The particular problem with this puff was that the talcum had gone a bit off. Back when it was originally dipped, the powder had been the finest of it’s ilk, made of crushed diamonds, rose petals, angel-wings, and moon-dust; but with time, like anything, it had slightly soured. The denizen’s of Puff noticed that their skin has begun to yellow in odd spots. Though no one mentioned it publicly (for it would not have been apropos) the smell of sallowing skin effervesced the planet’s very air.
I'm currently re-reading Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I like to re-visit the favorites every few years. Each time I read a book, I put my whole (current) self into it and then take from it whatever is meant to be taken at the time, which obviously changes with each read. (I also just found out that one of my besties is reading it for the first time, so I'm hoping to have a book club with her, even though she doesn't know about it yet... Hi Sam!)
"Geek Love" is a gorgeous novel written about a family of carnival wonders: a fish-shaped boy, a tiny albino hunchback, a two-headed girl, and a telekinetic toddler. These characters are all written with grace and honesty. They are representations of our dreams, desires, and fears. At it’s core, I think that this book is about familial love, the bonds of blood, and the mistakes that people make in order to survive.
I first read this book in 2001-ish on recommendation from a real-life internet lover (who has since morphed into a character in the Pinky Promise Chronicles named Black Cloudy Day) that lived in some weird, middle-American state and was a construction worker with a soft side for poetry and candlelight. I'm not sure how I had survived 21 years of writing and life without Geek Love, but as I read the first page, something exploded inside of me and my consciousness was forever re-shaped. Since the inception of my writing life, I have always written the freaks, geeks, outcasts, and weirdoes, but it wasn’t until Geek Love that I realized that other people were doing that to. (I hadn't discovered Kelly Link or Aimee Bender yet...to name a few...) Dunn made my own writing feel valid and worthwhile; she helped me to find a home in the literary world--one that I wanted to explore to it's very core. Returning to the Binewski Carnival Fabulon has been a surreal adventure of connection, disappointment, horror, and awe.
My re-read of Geek Love geekily coincides with the new season of American Horror Story--which just happens to be about a creepy carnival freakshow. I have only watched the first episode, but I am totally drawn in already. Creepy killer clowns; sexy bearded ladies; diametrically-opposed conjoined twins? Yes, please.
Last week, in LA, I took a little field trip to the actual house that was used in the first season of American Horror Story. It is a gorgeous, old, Victorian mansion filled with Tiffany glass and original features. Sigh.
The bright California sky disguises the horror that is inside.
Today, SubPop Records released this super-rad Sleater-Kinney box set, All Together. It includes all seven of Sleater-Kinney’s albums on COLORED VINYL and a hardcover book of unreleased photos from the band’s personal collection! Eeeep! Unfortunately, there were only 3,000 copies made and so far everywhere I have looked has been sold out. But my fingers are crossed in wishfulness. This release coincides with news about Sleater-Kinney getting back together (after almost a ten-year hiatus) making a record and going on tour. I haven’t been this excited since I discovered Heavens to Betsy (pre-cursor band to S-K)at Marooned Records (in hometown: College Station, TX) in 1994. My riot grrrl heart is exploding with joy. I've already decided that I'm going to see Sleater-Kinney play in Paris in March 2015: 35th birthday dream spectacular.
Today I was accepted into the Writing and Publishing program at VCFA. I am headed to Vermont in a few weeks (after my All Hallow’s Eve romp through Salem, of course) to check out the school and meet the director and explore Vermont and find out if it is my next resting-place on this wild, cat-filled, inter-stellar romp through the galaxy that I call my life.