I’m currently sitting on my parents couch in an undisclosed location in South Jersey. It’s 7am on Saturday, and I’m awake because my folks are both teachers and wake up, even on their days off and summer vacations, at painfully early hours. Since, when I come to their house, I opt to sleep on the couch in front of their flat screen TV and soak in the cable I don’t have in New York, they usually wake me up too. It’s worth it, I think, although I’m still a bit groggy. Now I don’t have to move much in order to turn on cartoons or Rocky IV, which I think I saw On Demand. But this place of rest also gives me a chance to continue reading a fun series from Harper Perennial called Fifty Two Stories, where those guys pair short works from great authors (Tolstoy, Cather, Melville, etc) with a piece from a lesser known contemporary acolyte of the form (our beloved Dennis Cooper has a story paired with Stephen Crane). I’m through Tolstoy and most of the Dostoyevsky, and I have to say that it’s a nice way to run through some iconic authors, most known to casual readers as writers of epically longer works, that I probably wouldn’t get around to any time soon. Hell, it’s worth $10 cover price just to see Fyodor’s dour, existentially pockmarked visage on the cover. Guy looks seriously bummed out about life. Someone get him a Dippin’ Dots.
June 13th, 2009 / 7:33 am
Hey remember when Blake Butler was on Cal Morgan’s Fifty-Two Stories and we all got excited? Yeah, me too. Well that was a few weeks ago, so I thought tonight I’d pop back over to see what’s been going on since.
As you’ll recall, Blake’s “The Copy Family” was #11.
The copy family would not speak when spoken in to—though they had heartbeat, they were breathing. Their copy eyes were wet and stretched with strain.
That was followed by a classic, Stephen Crane’s “The Pace of Youth” at #12.
The summer sunlight sprinkled its gold upon the garnet canopies carried by the tireless racers and upon all the devices of decoration that made Stimson’s machine magnificent and famous.
Then things got even, um, classicer, with Dostoyevsky’s “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” at #13.
I suddenly felt that it made no difference to me whether the world existed or whether nothing existed anywhere at all. I began to be acutely conscious that nothing existed in my own lifetime.
And now, the current story, in at #14, the second-ever story (after Blake’s) to emerge from the 52 slushbox, Casey Kait’s “Year of the Dog.”
At first, I saw her only at school events—the annual party or the one day each summer the class drove to the beach. But over time she’d stop by when I got home from school with containers of noodles or dumplings that she had made. “So Mommy doesn’t have to cook tonight, okay?” We started to love her. All of us.
I’m especially excited because, as it happens, I actually know Casey Kait a little bit as well. We were MFAs at New School at the same time, and if memory serves, we took Dale Peck’s literature seminar together. Congrats, Casey!
And cheers to 52 Stories– keep it coming!
April 6th, 2009 / 11:19 am