While I wasn’t overly productive last year, churning out perhaps 15,000 words of fiction, which hardly deserves the word ‘churning’ but perhaps ‘scraping’, I did produce a couple of things I quite like.
This story came out of a title, which itself seemed to come from thin air while crafting a grant proposal. There are times when everything comes together and writing a story is a joy, or a toy, and nothing makes me happier than the chance to play around a little. This was one of those times.
I knew watching endless episodes of air crash investigations would pay off. (Certainly made flying to Elba and Banff and Spain much more exciting.)
As mentioned in the preface to the linked interview (see below), Jeff Bursey and I met through Joseph McElroy in 2010 when Jeff was looking to get word out about his first novel, Verbatim: A Novel. Jeff lived just two hours away but in terms of kindred interests, he was right next door. We have become good friends since. He’s the only person I’ve met (face to face) who has also read McElroy’s massive Women and Men.
The interview, focussing on Jeff’s second book, Mirrors on which dust has fallen, is up at The Winnipeg Review, another terrific resource (a la Numero Cinq) for all things literary.
I’d considered calling this blog “Notes from an underpublished author” but worried I would somehow set my fate in concrete, jinx my last chance at writerly recognition, or that an agent or publisher would come along and say, “Sigh, a … Continue reading →
A killer is on the road and when I leave R.’s place early that morning, half-dream haunted (having slept haltingly under a bay window, shadowed lilacs moving in the wind), a crow swoops down madly squawking. It’s five a.m. and there’s a chill in the morning air and all the way to my apartment, which is only a parenthesis away, the crow follows, swooping when my back is turned and never shutting up. Others have woken, crows and not crows. Is this a message? Has the killer climbed to my second floor balcony and slipped in through the open door? I wasn’t expecting to be out long but when the news of the shots came I stayed over. So who knew where he was. So who knew if he’d slipped through the police noose and made it to the dark park and the path that leads to me. Does the crow know?
I’ve always found it fitting that trauma comes from Traum, the German word for dream. “Es war kein Traum,” Kafka writes early in Die Verwandlung when Gregor wonders what has happened. It was hardly a dream. Read any post-catastrophe interview – after 9/11, for example – and all you see is, ‘It was surreal.’
We live in a safe world. Mostly.
There was no killer hiding in my bathroom shower, nor in the bedroom closet. These things aren’t far-fetched, and yet they are. When I checked my balcony door (chain-locked, right), the crow was out there, on the wires, waiting. “So this crow followed me all the way home,” I told R. later in the day while the killer was still on the road (in the bushes, really). “It was very annoyed with me,” I said, also stating that I thought it might have brain damage. “Maybe it’s the one you chased out of the yard last week,’ R. said, and she was right, I had done that, darted into the driveway in my silver Fusion and leaped from the thing to chase a crow from the torn trash.
A grudge. An obsession. Wronged when the wronging was not what it seemed to be. We’re not so different from crows.