first sentence from my novel, New Tab
concentrate on the muscle memory welling up in your hands until it disappears. then watch as they rise up like two unfamiliar squid and try to kill you.
or think about how any bubble in your bathtub is a little mirror in which you can see yourself violently drowning.
your joints are widening all the time.
in this way they are like a universe.
i saw them spreading on the stairs. two circus performers stepped in and pulled them apart. now you can’t walk w/o feeling spasms of intense pain that shake you up and down like a flightless bird of the desert.
i see your head swell and i want to wrap electrical tape around it until it feels better.
these are just some of the services i can provide.
i go around town on a tandem bike and in the back seat is a guy i know that looks just like me except he’s covered in black fur and smells like razorblades.
he takes aggressive swipes at me all the time but its cool because i know his arms aren’t quite long enough to reach and so i just concentrate on the pedaling and feel the wind on the back of my neck as he drools on himself and makes frankenstien sounds and dreams of the forest.
hire us to perform at your daughter’s birthday party.
i know her from school. we were the same year.
i was valedictorian.
i cried on stage.
everyone’s parents clapped and i was handed a piece of paper.
on the paper was a giant middle finger drawn in red crayon and i looked up at the principle and he slapped me on the back and made a finger pistol and we laughed about it for a while and then he gave me a ride home and tucked me into bed and told me a story and i was like, goodnight dad and he was like, goodnight son and the lights went off and when i woke up you were lying right there next to me.
i looked at you as hard as i could because you were suddenly a bell and you were ringing ringing ringing.
She could see she was becoming a thoroughly unlikable person. Each time she opened her mouth she said something ugly, and whoever was nearby liked her a little less. These could be strangers, these could be people she loved, or people she knew only slightly whom she had hoped would one day be her friends. Even if she didn’t say anything, even if all she did is seem a certain way, have a look on her face, or make a soft sound of reaction, it was always unlikable—except in the few cases that she fixed herself on being likable for the next four seconds (more than that was impossible) and sometimes that worked, but not always.
Why couldn’t she be more likable? What was the problem? Did she just not enjoy the world anymore? Had the world gotten away from her? Had the world gotten worse? (Maybe, probably not. Or probably in some ways but not in the ways that were making her not like it). Did she not like herself? (Well, of course she didn’t, but there was nothing new in that.)
Or had she become less likable simply by growing older—so that she might be doing the same thing she always did, but because she was now forty-one, not twenty, it had become unlikable because any woman doing something at forty-one is more unlikable than a woman doing it at twenty? And does she sense this? Does she know she is intrinsically less likable and instead of resisting, does she lean into it, as into a cold wind? Maybe (likely) she used to resist, but now she sees the futility, so each morning when she opens her mouth she is unlikable, proudly so, and each evening before sleep she is unlikable, and each day it goes on this way, she getting more unlikable by the hour, until one morning she will be so unlikable, inconveniently unlikable, that she will have to be shoved into a hole and left there.
Deb Olin Unferth
Today at Shabby Doll Genius, we have LK Shaw & Vicki Tingle
FRXTL Issue 1 is a 32 page art and literature zine that features work by: Elizabeth Foster, Chuck Young, Stephen Michael Mcdowell, Manuel Arturo Abreu, Nolan Gray Allen, James Ganas, Bob Schofield, Carabella Sands, Jakob Maier, Stacey Teague, SM Bateman, Jayinee Basu, Micco Caporale, Beach Sloth, Megan Lent, Andrea Bjurstroem, J.D.A. Winslow, and Michael Hessel-Mial, plus interviews with Michael J. Seidlinger, Matt Nelson, and Beach Sloth. FRXTL is very excited about FRXTL Issue 1 and can’t wait to see how it is received by you out there. ‘Enjoy. It’s good shit.’ – Wilko R.M ‘FRXTL is a Sniffin’ Glue for digital natives.’ – Ben Nadler (Keep This Bag Away From Children)