Curtains Open

I just turned [●]. I have the body of a woman in her early thirties. The face is so ugly it makes me sick to look at, or suffer anyone looking at it. The lower part is burned. Could’t be properly repaired. The eyes are dead. I have a well-paid job. I don’t like it any longer, and I am about to give it up. I used to have a job that was even better paid, much better. We’re talking [blob]k now vs. up to a mil then, annually. I do law.

Women’s stuff

Women’s stuff is the best stuff to buy and possess, always, save where cars would not count as such. The best perfume a woman can buy is Roma by Laura Biagiotti.

La Vie Est Belle by Lancôme is a good second.

Roma is what they call (so aptly!) a powdery scent. LVEB is intense, not powdery.

Use them in the bathroom in the morning. When you return home you will find a whiff lingering still.    

The best car one can buy is the Tesla Model S Plaid. I’ve ordered it to replace my 2017 Model S. The Plaid is a much better buy than the Audi e-tron GT quattro or even the e-tron GT RS. The Plaid is faster than either of those, and it is better-looking. I would like to have it in deep pink. But Tesla offers a curated gamma of colors only. My current Model S is white on white. Very nice, and even the dealer people complimented me on the savvy of a white exterior combined with a white interior. I drive this car to the limit, like a racing car.

I have a very male attitude towards cars. I don’t read about them, I don’t watch car movies, but I love them and I drive them daringly. With Tesla around, and so many other electric cars these days, it’s immoral and backwards to buy a fuel car.

I have an electrified bike, a Van Moof. It’s the best, and by far the smartest and the hippest, one can buy. I have the X3. I’m tall. Saddle and steering bar are adjusted to almost highest position, giving it a very sassy contour. You can ride it wearing a not overly constrictive skirt. I ride this thing like a stunt bike. It’s extremely energizing.

I have tons of books.

The Short Fiction I Published – Apologie D’Une Folle

Ladies![1]

I was told my writing lacked dialogue. This is not true. Or perhaps it is. I don’t give a damn. Dialogue’s the easier part of the job. They will say it isn’t. But believe me, it is. I wrote some very powerful short stories with minimal dialogue. One of those pieces some literary review board said they liked but that it was a more like a memoir. They forewent explaining what is so goddamn wrong about a memoir that it is unfit for a short fiction magazine. Anyway, that piece has two (2) lines between quotation marks. It isn’t a memoir though – it is a very intense dialogue of the author with herself, with art, with madness, and the world. And with a dear lady friend, crucial to the story, who also happens to have the mere two lines of direct speech. These lines perfect the piece. It is a very intense piece, it has incredible atmosphere, it has references, it’s smart and funny, and it is sweet, or ends sweetly anyway. The story is all a woman needs. It’s all she needs to get a good night’s sleep on. I may publish it in this blog one day.

I only write fiction. It’s in my head. What’s in my head is from the outside. Even what my head has of its own is from the outside to me. So, I’m good, thank you. Where a story or a novel derails is where it depicts a scenery which is not hewn from the author’s experience (that cerebral slab of marble). That sucks! It once made me burn up a so-called literary bestseller that I had progressed in three quarters of the way when it digressed to a plot in some fictional unnamed Latin or South American country, which was totally of plastic, as sterile as futuristic action movies. That book, I recall now, was [●], a breakthrough novel I think of an author of some renown these days. A single iota of fiction is only worth reading when it is sucked on the things we have sensed with our senses, and processed into being a part of who we are. Thus vetted, even science fiction can be worthy of our consideration (and “phantasy”, sure, but hardly ever, except when it is self-derisory, like Stardust, which you must go and see).

Generally, as I’m happy to assert in praise of my sex, women do not care too much for non-fiction, read or write. There’s so much from the outside inside their heads, they can well dispense with rearranging it into non-fiction. Non-fiction is boring, it’s limiting and reductionist. It is untruthful. Non-fiction is fake fiction. Males find satisfaction in non-fiction: what is on the outside stays on the outside. Fiction is expansive, it blends and blurs, it digresses, it is limitless, and it is meaningful. Fiction is nothing but the truth. Fiction (poetry included) is appreciated by women, and the making of it is better left to women, who are the more expansive sex. I just cannot explain why some men, quite a lot of them, come to think of it, are so damn good at writing fiction! But then of course, it’s women they write it for; women have the boundlessness of mind to understand good writing; men don’t. As a writer, Henry James was a king-servant of women. So was Dickens. Virginia Woolf, if not half the storyteller that James and Dickens were, was a ruling empress.

Like any good woman (I mean good as in a good teacher, a true patriot, a well-behaved child) I have my fresh fruit with yoghurt for breakfast, which I do not eat, or anything before it, until the time is close to midday. A lot is not working for me, hasn’t as long as I can remember, and never will, as I may now reasonably expect. But the body sustains the mind each time the latter wants to fold. While enjoying the noon breakfast I’m re-reading a story in a collection of short fiction that I had published five years ago. Women like it for its beachy saltiness, and because (well, for those among us who have a penchant towards the heterosexual) it features the man that we dream of and goad our hand down between our legs for; clever readers appreciate the constant play of words and how the end meets the beginning full-circle. Is it a good story? It’s a story a woman can wrap herself up warm and snug in. That is the case with most of the stories in that collection. Not a lot happens; the stories are lateral, not progressive; the stories are mostly plotless. Some are dark and strange. The best of these stories are carried just by their broodiness. They end as abruptly as a Raymond Carver or John Cheever story, left suspended midair; superb! Some of the stories, maybe half, maybe more, are not so good. They attempt at a plot, but fail; they have no arch. It seems that the author has tried to compensate this by wordiness; playfully, funnily, smartly, but not getting anywhere. Or by sex. I like every one of the stories in the anthology, after all this time since I wrote them, even the ones that I reject as inferior and that would not have been in it had I found the strength to resist the little darlings in these stories enough to bring myself to killing them.

I recently purchased my own book online. It was on Amazon. The recommendation they gave it was so heartwarming! It was derived from the back cover teaser, that my publisher allowed me to write myself, but better. I could not resist the temptation to buy that book, even if I had still some thirty copies sitting in a box somewhere, that I had retained as complimentary copies for friends and business relations but lacked the courage, rightfully so, to give away, except to my real estate agent, who I knew would not read it, would not even be able to understand a single sentence. My publisher dutifully passed on to me the author’s compensation that we had agreed per copy sold.

There’s quite a lot of sex going on in my stories; no, in a number of them, but unbounded and borderless in these. Not all of the sex is good. But a lot of it is. There is a very funny story in the book. Even the sex is funny, yet erotic (sex is not erotic per se, it is a physical thing, like peeing, working out, throwing up, sleeping, or having a fever or a headache). In most stories the sex is interspersed with philosophic ruminations, or observations of what is going on in the mind, mostly of dubious soundness (by common standards), of the protagonist. Two stories borrow from family life, well, more do, but family life is essential to two of them. I have a son and a daughter (and, just to ambiguate and throw you off the scent, who knows what else). Reading back these stories never fails to impress on me the author’s unconditional love for them. Being a mom is a state of being permanently reminded of one’s fertile inside, once or current (or imagined but heartfelt if your inside was never fertile). And so, yes, as long as sexual feelings are a part of me, being a mom is erotic. The  image of a mother with a 13-year old son sitting next to her on a plane oblivious to the eroticism of his own fascination for a stewardess brushing by him as she is going down the aisle tending to passengers is erotic, I mean the image of the mother having her unaware and untainted son sitting next to her, that practically still fetal fruit of her womb. But the stories that I’m referring to are different. Their essence is in the lives that the mother has created to carry on despite herself, the sanity that she gave life to, to find its own way in a world that has left her confused and uncertain of her future.

I found that writing really is the only thing I’m something at, if not good, bad either, content with, at any rate. I haven’t a choice. So what’s the point? I was tolerable at my trade, made a lot of money in it, then found myself forced to give it up, went underground for a while, daily donning the cheap skirt and waistcoat and choker of a receptionist’s uniform, at times, to make ends meet, that of a stewardess, and being subservient to the people I once advised, ruled or worked as a peer with. Then I worked myself back in, upped my game and became part of the management of the company that had hired me, never once feeling happy or relieved, or even secure. The people I work with are mostly technical and commercial people, engineers and salespersons. In many ways they are a lot smarter than me. But I have no idea where they are going with all that smartness. Try manage that. I’m working very, very hard. Not only do I not write or even consider writing a single story, I have all but stopped reading books (a notable exception, among the very few, the latest Patrick Modiano novel, Encre Sympathique, that was published in October, 2019), and the many books that I have are liable to become faded trophies of a person once well-read in four languages. I watched Netflix series a lot, still do, and some very good, funny, smart, sexy ones too.

In my defense, I just finished the first and started the second of a three-volume 1925 French edition of Dostoyevsky’s Demons (Les Possédés). The novel increases in size with every next volume. At page 78 of the second book I’m already anticipating Tome III with trepidation.

Ladies, ladies, ladies, ladies! I have to turn this around! (Let’s put a pin in that).

But I feel I must first elaborate further on that collection of short stories of mine. It comprises twenty-five pieces, with lengths that range from two to twenty-four pages. The longest story is not among the best; it’s… well, long. It sallies out full of ambition. It contains some smart wordplay, pithy dialogue, a few decent philosophical observations, and the sex, if wanton, is raw and can help bring you in the right state of mind when a situation requires you to be. The promise of plot and intrigue, however, fails to get delivered on. If there’s something of a payoff at the end, it is not the kind of denouement that leaves one shivering with delight and a minutes-long afterglow as a good self-induced orgasm does, which any woman will agree is a very relevant benchmark.

Pets (a dog, cats) and other animals (fish, mice, stick insects, deer, a fox(?)), are a recurring prop in the stories. ‘Prop’ is the correct word. If animals are clearly important in the author’s life, the stories reveal little sentimentality about them. Animals are functional to the stories. Since I started writing the stories I have relocated five (5) times. The fish have died as per one of the stories in the collection. A coincidence. Mice ditto. That must have been five or six years ago. The dog has died of old age. I still have the cats that served as a model for some of the stories. I’m currently renting, waiting for an apartment I bought in a beachside newbuild project in the country of my exile to be commissioned. The rental apartment is small and extremely expensive, a waste of money. Capitalism makes a capitalist’s money go to waste. We’re all in that game. It is summer and I leave the door open during the night so that the cats can go out and do the things cats do at night. What they do is, they catch mice, sometimes pigeons, drag them in and eat them in a very vivid and visceral fashion. A mouse’s brittle skull is crushed, like a bag of potato chips, the eating of the little soft body produces a squashy sound. It’s disgusting. Torn-apart pigeons smell badly and the remains and the sprawling bloodstains will typically be found in the kitchen, of all the places they could be stinking up. I love those cats; as they do me. I hasn’t been always like this. They have grown on me, as I have on them. But these cats I expect to be the last pets I will allow to encumber my life.

About ten stories I would rate good to excellent. Some are intense, mysterious, foreboding; others intense, funny, sexy and forgiving, or, the opposite of forgiving, relentless. I had emailed the very first story that I wrote for the collection to a very dear friend, just for fun. Having been through a lot together we had been exchanging thousands of e-mails by that time, her living in NYC, Manhattan, on Union Square, me marooned and stuck in the country of my exile. She was appreciative of the story, but said that the name of the main character, which is also the title of the story, a US readership would surely associate with a beer brand. This I acknowledged. But without that name, that I had once recorded in a dreamlike state in a diary I kept during my years in college, the story would, could not have been written. It was impossible to give up the name. The name is too outlandish to be given to any man or woman. If my friend had taken the trouble to run it through Google translate she would have found that it is just as impossible to name any beer with. I’d drink a beer with that name though, if it were the only beer I’d ever drink in my life again.

Some stories are bad. You will not see me elaborating on that. I just said it. If you have been paying attention, you will have made the calculation: about fifteen stories are, in my opinion, not “good to excellent”. But if some of the stories in the collection are bad, you will not find any that are mediocre! I reread the stories that I consider bad with as much attention as any of the stories, and I get drawn in and the clear-type letters on the slightly shimmering white pages lift me up to past realities. And so, yes, I love them.

I faked a name, created a new gmail account and emailed to myself (in the vain of My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me, because this was the point it had gotten to): “Dingenom, Dingenom, why have you stopped writing? Why have you stopped reading? You did both since when you were young. You know they were lifesavers. To give up cannot happen now. The situation is killing you. If it isn’t, it’s not the situation you want to end up dead in. Is it the barefaced stupidity of people? Is it the uncontainable rubbish they’ve opened the floodgates to? Is it your impotence in getting your voice in? …” Etc.

Getting a voice in. Who wants to get a voice in anything? In what exactly? Well, clearly, everyone wants to get a voice in everything. I don’t want to add mine, not for any of the causes spuriously advanced in the worst of dishonest and hackneyed phrases, posts, articles, books. Isn’t this what has been holding me back, yes, the opening of the floodgates to crass stupidity? Has this not been paralyzing me?


[1] The title is reverently stolen from the song Ladies, by the incomparable Fiona Apple, featuring on her 2020 album Fetch The Bolt Cutters.

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