Zachary, I’m sorry…

I found a copy of Zachary Schomburg‘s The Man Suit at a used bookstore a couple of weeks ago.

First, this should be evidence that Seattle has really amazing used book stores. The copy was originally purchased at Open Books, an all-poetry bookstore. (How Open Books manages to stay in business selling nothing but poetry to an increasingly disinterested-in-poetry audience* remains a mystery to me, but I love that they exist.) I tend to walk by the poetry sections of used bookstores because, really, I have The Spoon River Anthology already and don’t need another copy. But this little store—Ophelia’s Books in Fremont—had a book I’ve been thinking of purchasing anyway.

Second, who the heck sold The Man Suit? It’s really good—full of surreal images and dream logic

Here’s an image that stuck with me: a voicebox—removed from its throat—still full of words. A person can pick up said word-filled voicebox, and blow through it to hear what was left unsaid when the voicebox belonged to a body.

I am fairly certain that some time in the future, I will forget that I read about this voicebox in The Man Suit by Zachary Schomburg, and I will use it in a story, thinking I came up with it. I’m sorry, Zachary. Eventually I will remember, and then I will feel bad for stealing from you.

(This has happened before. I have an as-yet-unpublished story that features a character named Boy. I stole this from a Peter Markus piece I read on elimae. I thought it had been my idea. There are other examples.)

(Actually, I wonder if this post will serve to stop this from happening. If it will immunize me from the Schomburg voicebox image that could some day infect my writing.)

Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure it is a great crime for artists to steal from one another in this way. Art bubbles up from a subconscious place, and it shouldn’t shock anyone that the things that bubble up are dropped into the stew of the subconscious mind by other artists.

Are you familiar with the concept of sperm trains? Some animals create sperm cells that hook themselves onto one another. They drag one another toward their goal. And move faster. The voicebox, I’m pretty sure, will one day find another idea hooking itself onto it, and they will both swim out onto a page of my writing.

(There’s an image for you: my pages of fiction are covered in sperm.)

Because I feel bad that I will steal from you, Mr. Schomburg, I would like to at least pay you the royalty you should’ve gotten for the book I purchased used. If you would like, I don’t know, five dollars, you should write to me at giantblinditems at gmail dot com.

Please use the comments section of this post to cop to things you have stolen.

Author Spotlight / 38 Comments
November 25th, 2008 / 5:17 pm