Shit I like to read, recognize.

Here are some of my favorite short stories of all time. I’ve included mostly no real classics, either cuz I’m trying to be edgy, I have unrefined tastes, or both. James Joyce’s The Dead isn’t on this list, for example, because I don’t understand it, and I’m embarrassed, so I take it out on the Irish people. It’s a throwback thing, like vintage clothes, but with racism. These stories are great. Read them.

Reunion, by John Cheever
The Nose, by Nikolai Gogol
Bee Beard, by Ryan Boudinot
Escapes, by Joy Williams
Communist, by Richard Ford
Last Night, by James Salter
Blue Boy, by Kevin Canty
Tattooizm, by Kevin Moffett
A & P, by John Updike
Bartleby the Scrivener, by Herman Melville

Some Collections:

Jesus Son, by Denis Johnson
Bad Behavior, by Mary Gaitskill
Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger
Where I’m Calling From, by Raymond Carver
An Amateur’s Guide to the Night, by Mary Robison

I’m also really into The Challenge: Cutthroat, on MTV.com


I wasn’t sleeping on the english dept couch…

I was resting my eyes.

Up until now I’ve reserved this space for my own writing, but surely that can extend to work about me? My friend Nathan Yrizarry read this as an introduction to a reading I gave in Missoula this last weekend. It was really special and I want to keep it here forever. These are the moments, people!

The Molly Laich Story
by Nathan Yrizarry

So I wrote this meta-fictional character called Molly Laich. But it wasn’t really like that. I didn’t construct her, exactly. She was actually also a real person. At least in my mind. And not quite exactly like that either. Actually, you could say that she led a parallel existence, had her own agency, outside my narrative and that other people knew that, would know her. I could even list some other real peoples’ real names, like actual graduate students and faculty in the MFA program at UM, even many of you listening right here.

Bottom line is that the Molly character, however much I or anyone tried to direct her, would always remain aware of herself and would fiercely maintain her own volition. OK. Anyway.

For setting, I would place the story in Missoula. That would ratchet up the meta-fictional feel of the whole thing. Maybe some back-story about Detroit to counterbalance the super-reality with some realist detail. Maybe not.

So, for the first scene, where she’s introduced, I put myself into the story, which is a cool narrativity thing that I like to do. It could be an actual event, play that angle. Here’s the premise: it’s hard to sound good calling someone an asshole in direct response to them calling you an asshole. So here’s the set-up: I’m standing outside the LA building with two other guys, smoking. It’s a bright day, so we’re all wearing sunglasses. The Molly character looks at us and says, “You all look like a bunch of assholes with your sunglasses.”

After this, I would have Molly quit smoking.

I could still have her drink, though. I’d do another scene that was a real event, but write around the drinking. Put her on one of those nice couches in the English Department lounge, lying with her back to the world, and sleeping for, like, all morning. She’s sleeping off the night before. I don’t want to overplay the drinking/hangover component, because she’s a lot more complex than that, but rather develop the character’s irreverent, f-the-world, I’m sleeping aspect.

Now, I appreciate the advice to make my characters at least as smart as I am, preferably smarter (and the parallel Molly is brilliant), so I wanted to give Molly a web presence. So I Googled Molly Laich. Oh my god.

I found all this crazy shit about the Ambien Walrus, this meta-meta-writer that seems to float aerially in non-space somewhere right above her while she’s in a half-sleep trance and writes through her. Lots of weird shit. Ambien Walrus-weird shit. On Facebook and, as it happens, on Molly Laich dot com .
Parenthetically, I need to assert that she has a prescription, which I hope is not too prescriptive.

OK. Last, I thought I should add a bar scene. It’s a good stage to let a lot of interaction play out. I thought about the Palace, but the Top Hat would be more au courant.

And to better understand her, build her character, to really do a good job with this scene, I thought it would be a good idea to actually read some of her work. But then I thought: it would be even better and even more super-meta-fictional to just usher Molly onstage to read it herself.

At which point I was like, “What? You mean, right now?”


Top 5 favorite/only things I’ve heard people blurt out in theaters.

5. At a screening of The Blair Witch Project at a megaplex.
Sassy black woman: “Man, if I were those kids, I’d just get out of those woods.”

4. At a drive-in theater, about 30 seconds after The Village ended.
Some kid: “That movie sucked!”

3. At an art theater during the sex scene in Brokeback Mountain.
Woman: “Oh no. Oh no he did not. Oh my lord. That is disgusting.”
Another Woman: *Sighs dramatically.*

2. In a packed theater, just before Dude, Where’s my Car? is about to start:
Young kid: “Dude, where’s my seat?”
(That’s not actually funny, is it? Oh.)

1. During Patch Adams, directly after Patch declares, “humans are the only animal who kills its own kind.”
Man yells, very loudly: “COMPLETELY UNTRUE!”


Ambien literature.

Look you guys, I have a prescription, okay? I have delayed sleep phase syndrome. It’s a real disorder and not at all made up. It’s been like over a month since I’ve updated, and once that happens it becomes a thing, like a beast, like a terrible chore that just grows larger and larger until it’s nothing again. It is not unlike the infinite folding and unfolding of the universe, maintaining a blog.

Anyway, holy shit I apparently wrote this last night. I don’t remember writing it, but those are my ideas – I recognize them. A sentence or two is from my little notebook where I write down little ideas. So it wasn’t someone else that wrote it. I did. It’s sort of like that trick you men do where you sit on your hand until it falls asleep and then you masturbate with said hand.

To review: It’s like the universe and masturbating with a dead hand, this tiny story I found. The ending could use some work but I’ll leave it exactly as a found it, as an artifact.

Tyson brings this other guy with him when he picks me up for our date. He’s sitting in the backseat drinking PBR’s out of a 12 pack one after the other, like someone eating popcorn.

Turns out we’re going way the fuck out of town to this saloon style bar that is also a hotel. They tell me that interesting things have happened there. Tyson’s friend is named Daniel and I’m Megan and this is mine and Tyson’s third time out.

“I hope you don’t mind if Daniel comes along with us,” Tyson says, but it’s already done, so what would it matter if I minded? The deal is that Daniel is suicidal. It will be good for him to get out of the city into the fresh air, with friends. Tyson tells me all this as though the patient isn’t sitting right there. I think this is just his style.

Daniel doesn’t seem so sad, and I tell him so. He’s got a patchy beard and unblinking, unmoving features, like he has a concussion maybe and he’s tired. “I have addictions,” he says. “I’ve slept with over a thousand women.”

“You must get up very early in the morning,” I tell him.

He looks out the window at pine trees blurring past. “It doesn’t make me happy,” he says.

I tell them all about my cold and its cure. I took 5,000mg of Vitamin C and drank 3 glasses of vegetable juice, plus a shitload of hot tea with honey and lemon, and I used the Nettie pot about 20 goddamn times.

“What’s a nettie pot?” Tyson wants to know.

“It’s like this thing. It’s for irrigating the sinuses. Mine is made of porcelain but they make other kinds. It looks like a Genie’s lamp.”

“I’ve made a woman believe I was a genie,” Daniel says.

“Really?” Tyson says. He can’t believe it, which is appropriate because it’s a fucking joke. This is the first I’ve seen of how stupid Tyson is, and now begins the plotting: how to switch dates?