|Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming|
|Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming|
The idea for Black Friday came to me while contemplating the ruination of one of my favorite holidays. Thanksgiving is like the easy-going uncle of holidays, it shows up a couple months into the school year grind for a long weekend of cooking and eating while near continuous football games play in the background. Not that it can’t be tricky, centered as it is around sitting down with relations with whom you may or may not see eye to eye. If sharing an annual meal includes an argument or even a family dust up, well, that too is an American tradition. Think about how many times a family gathered around the Thanksgiving table has been featured on the stage, in movies and TV dramas? Annual ordeal, priceless family bonding, or both–Thanksgiving is a touchstone of American culture.
And I don’t even like turkey! Our family tradition, in fact, is to create our own quirky meal (alternatives have included quail, octopus, and lobster). Of course we prepare so much food that we can eat of the leftovers for the rest of the long, lazy weekend. We also make a point of not shopping at all for the entire weekend. All that mindless consumerism, the crowds chasing after phyrric savings–it’s bad for the digestion.
While the Black Friday tradition is fading, it’s only because stores are starting to open on Thanksgiving day. Sad.
So, that’s how this story got its start. Although I’m not exactly sure how the tooth fairy got involved.
I’m delighted that this story found a home in Devilfish Review among so many other great stories and poems!
Today you can read my story, “Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast,” at the Saturday Night Reader‘s lovely website. It’s flash fiction, so it will only take you a minute. Stick around to read some of their many other short stories. There’s a lot of diversity in style and content in these pages, so there is something for everyone.
Listen to my short story, Flotsam, for free over at the Cast of Wonders.
“Cast of Wonders presents the first Camp Myth novella, Phoenix Watching, as a full cast audio drama serialized over 15 episodes. Each episode also features a camper spotlight, showcasing the rich and divers cast of characters.”
|The outline on the window|
Today you get two blog posts for the price of one!
|Beata Beatrix by Dante Gabriel Rossetti|
A picture really is worth a thousand words, or in this case, a little over four thousand.
My story Beata Beatrix is up at Bourbon Penn (Issue 8). I am especially excited to be a part of this publication, because Bourbon Penn is one of those magazines that occupies the space between genre and literary that I so love! You can read the stories free online, buy a copy for your Kindle, or go whole hog and get a truly lovely print edition for your bookshelf.
When I started this story I was thinking not so much about unrequited love as the nature of crushes. Even in the throes of a relatively benign obsession, I am fascinated by the way our desires create a doppelgänger of the object of our interest.
I don’t know how I got onto the Pre-Raphaelites other than the fact that I remembered Dante Gabriel Rossetti‘s painting from my days as an art major. The woman in the painting, Elizabeth Siddal, was a popular model among the Pre-Raphaelite painters. And I think it’s fair to say, she became an obsession of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who painted her, fell in love with her, married her, and continued to paint her over and over after she died of an overdose of laudanum.
The painting references another obsessive infatuation, the original Dante and his Beatrice whom he practically deified in The Divine Comedy. In real life, Dante knew Beatrice only passingly, she married another man and died at 24. Dante stands in the background of Rossetti’s painting opposite an angel holding a flaming heart. Of the Angel, Dante writes:
“He seemed like one who is full of joy, and had my heart within his hand.”
When we desire someone we cannot have (for whatever reason) or ever truly know (i.e. everyone), our idea of them will always miss the mark. If we are unwilling or unable to reach outside ourselves and truly try to know another, we render the very object of our desire into an unwitting stand-in for our own warped idea of who they might be.
Anywho, I hope you enjoy the story. Here’s a poem by Christina Rossetti (DGR’s sister) about the woman in the picture:
One face looks out from all his canvases,
One selfsame figure sits or walks or leans:
We found her hidden just behind those screens,
That mirror gave back all her loveliness.
A queen in opal or in ruby dress,
A nameless girl in freshest summer-greens,
A saint, an angel — every canvas means
The same one meaning, neither more nor less.
He feeds upon her face by day and night,
And she with true kind eyes looks back on him,
Fair as the moon and joyful as the light:
Not wan with waiting, not with sorrow dim;
Not as she is, but was when hope shone bright;
Not as she is, but as she fills his dream.
|Dante and Beatrice by Henry Holiday, 1884|
Futile the Winds is now available to read in Interzone 247, which should be on newsstands, in bookstores (or in your mailbox if you’re a subscriber) any day now. I’m thrilled that this story found a home in such a lovely publication.
One of the inspirations for this story was the Mars One project, which I mention at the end of this post. The other inspiration, and the title, was taken from this poem by Emily Dickinson:
Wild nights! Wild nights!
Were I with thee,
Wild nights should be
Futile the winds
To a heart in port,
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart.
Rowing in Eden!
Ah! the sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!