“Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.”
—John Berryman, Dream Song 14
“Everyone knows how hard it is to get Raoul from the hotel room into
the elevator. Everyone has had to do boring, dogged work. Everyone has
lived a life that seems to inflict upon every vivid moment the smears,
fingerings, and pawings of plot and feeling. Everyone has lived under
wanted a fiction issue, and I try to keep him happy because he’s both the
genius and the workhorse of this operation. It’s true, I’m in charge of
content and he’s in charge of product—I get to correspond with all the shiny
people and he has to sit in the shop with the glue and the hacksaw—but he
says he likes it and I’m not gonna talk him out of doing the hard part.
So, he wants a fiction issue and sure, who wouldn’t want a fiction issue?
Okay, whaddya mean, fiction?
I mean something that doesn’t scream up offa the page “Look at me, look at me, I’m a fucking poem!”
Mostly I think Drew got tired of formatting poems for the website. Hugh Steinberg sent us this awesome 24-part poem with crazy wonked-out lines that we published in Issue 2.1 and Drew just sorta quit formatting poetry somewhere in the middle of that document. He says he’ll get to it eventually, but meanwhile he wants a fiction issue.
If you have been following the ongoing Dick vs. Drew clash of conflicting visions you may have already noticed that we each strive for the impossible in our own way. Drew wants to make books out of toast & jam, or steam & light, while Dick wants to publish a literature that hasn’t been written yet. Sure, we could reinvent the world, but can we do it twice a year and under budget? No, we can’t. So we compromise. We make our dreams more realistic, more manifestable. So: a fiction issue.
Whaddya mean, fiction?
You know—people doing things, getting into situations, one thing happening after another instead of a whole buncha glop about somebody’s feelings.
I like feelings.
Well alright, but only if there’s plot.
Ah, plot. That dirty, four-letter word. So maybe it’s more than the formatting, maybe there’s something sinister at work: a power-grab, a coup d’etat. Am I being undermined? Overthrown? Am I being ideologically ramrodded?
Plus, we’ll save at least $50 on contributor’s copies.
Fifty bucks is like two weeks of hot lunches.
Okay, but really, whaddya mean, fiction?
I don’t care, as long as it’s in paragraphs. Just make something up.
* * *
Fiction bores me. And terrifies. I shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true.
The constant development of thing after thing, cause and effect, the inevitable
always waiting for you, up ahead, in the distance, as you inch reluctantly
forward, phrase by phrase, clause by dependent clause, towards everything’s
ultimate termination, full stop. In poetry, the voice can float. Fiction
needs bodies; demands bodies. People stuck in bodies moving through space
and time, bonking their heads on things, or each other, just to bounce
off and smash into whatever comes next. In fiction, you realize you’re
a thing—taking up space and casting a shadow—you’re a dot, a blip on the
screen, something graphable hurtling irreversibly through space-time on
a trajectory set in motion by events that happened long before you were
born. And even when you’re lying in bed, curled fetal with a head full
of noise and too tired to move, you’re still barreling through time at
the speed of time, as you always do, every ticking minute of the day,
towards your final annihilation, full stop.