ghosts

It’s a bad idea to become close to a writer because it hurts to know the truth about yourself. Your heart will be pierced. It becomes suffocating. At the age of eight, in the summer-time, I would swim at a swimming pool with the day-camp group my grandma paid for me to be a part of. Paid for me to get out of the house, interact with others my own age, gain useful life-lessons from the high school-aged counselors managing the camp. In the pool, the older boys would often swim up behind me, putting one hand on my head and the other around my shoulders, and dunk me. Every time felt like death. So sudden. I’d be gasping for air for a full minute after. The way other people speak about you when they don’t realize you are listening. The way other people see you. The words feel suffocating.

I stand in the mirror wearing a t-shirt and underwear, pinching my thighs in different directions. Change my mind every half-second, fat, thin, fat. Turn around, examine ass. Girl at tea-shop near work: I gotta stay away from your work, too dangerous, gotta watch my figure. Tell her I can feel my double-chin growing every day. She tells me to shut up. You’re just a little thing. Clench butt, examine cellulite. Turn around, push chin into neck, observe ease of double-chin. Lay down on bed feeling heavy. Always heavy.

At work, I’ve learned they don’t care a whole lot about who I am as a human being. They don’t need human beings, they need efficiency machines. I am improving as an efficiency machine. Feet hurt less than they used to. Co-workers joke they fantasize about breaking $30 bottles of olive oil, throwing hunks of prosciutto into glass windows, destroying everything. Co-workers bug me for slacking off during a slow period. Co-workers get promoted to managers. Managers bug me for slacking off during slow periods. Managers throw knives angrily into the sink.

Co-worker begs me not to quit because then he won’t have any bros left at work. All his bros have either quit or been promoted. Can’t be bros with a manager. I push my chin into my neck in the bathroom later, double chin, feel like a bro.

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Electric Blue

It was two in the morning. She knew he would still be up. She told herself that going through that door meant telling him about it all. She grasped the handle, felt the metal in her palm, and lingered in that moment as if trying to memorize the entirety of that sensation, the cold, the smoothness, the tension and click as it turned, and she thought, this is it.

When he heard the door, he knew it was her. She hesitated in her first steps and he said nothing. She sat next to him on the sofa. She said hey and he mumbled. There was music playing. The tv was on mute and it was the only source of light.

He took a bong rip. She looked at her phone for something to do. He exhaled and gave her a nervous smile because all he could think of was how they’d known each other for six months and had known each other like this for at least two and still hadn’t fucked.

She took her turn and thought that maybe this wasn’t the right time to tell him. He began telling her that this was his favorite album. Rubber Soul. Because it had a layer of enchantment over a deep sea of bitterness. This is not the right time, she thought and asked what he meant. It was the thing most people completely missed about The Beatles but what made their music so great. This song was the best example of that, he said. I’m Looking Through You. He replayed it from the beginning. For the most part, the instrumentals are light and airy. Taken on their own the song sounds like it’s about someone falling in love. But the lyrics are bitter. They reveal a disenchantment. It’s really a break up song. It’s about someone discovering a deception. Each verse is carried through by the cheerful acoustic guitar but ends in the harsh electric. Most people don’t notice any of this. They want to live in the top layer of the delusion.

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Sophia Katz and Guillaume Morissette read each other’s work

Sophia reads from Morissette’s New Tab

Guillaume reads from Katz’ How to be productive while extremely depressed

mira gonzalez has a conversation with
andrew duncan worthington

My friend Andrew Duncan Worthington mailed me an advanced review copy of his first novel ‘Walls’ on May 11th, 2014, along with a $5 check to pay me back for a gin and tonic I bought him when I was visiting New York the previous month. He asked me for a blurb to put on the back of the book. I obliged after reading the novel and enjoying it, but then I realized that writing blurbs is a terrifying nightmare and I suddenly felt completely incapable of writing one. Anyways, here are the blurbs I ended up writing:

If you feel positively about even one of these things: sex, drugs, happiness, the laughter of small children, bacon, cashmere, any disney movie, efforts to reverse global warming, adorable animals, then you will LOVE Walls by Andrew Duncan Worthington.

I once heard a story about Andrew Duncan Worthington secretly putting orange juice in guacamole because he thought it would taste good, but then the guacamole just tasted like orange juice and it was bad. He didn’t do anything like that with this book.

One time I bought Andrew Duncan Worthington a drink, then I moved across the country and he mailed me a $5 check to cover the cost of the drink, which was $8.

One time Andrew Duncan Worthington brought blood sausage to a rooftop barbecue and I ate it because I felt bad that nobody else was eating it.

Andrew Duncan Worthington looks a lot like Dermot Mulroney, who is an actor that I didn’t know about at all until someone told me Andrew Duncan Worthington looks like him.

An engrossing book and one that is often difficult to swallow, emotionally. Ultimately redemptive, uplifting, great characterization. Well done. -An Amazon customer review for Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Ultimately, none of my blurbs were used to promote Andrew’s book. Which I think was a really smart decision on behalf of Andrew and/or his publisher.

After all my blurbs were rejected, I offered to interview Andrew instead. It took us ~1.5 months and 52 emails before we finally sat down and had a Gchat conversation. Which, by the way, has nothing to do with Andrew, who is very reliable. It is entirely due to me constantly forgetting to respond to his emails for multiple weeks.

The following is my conversation with Andrew Duncan Worthington, author of Walls, which is available now via Civil Coping Mechanisms.

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Lovers Always Have Two Faces

it’s a different world
when you undress
peeling pretty, watching your mouth collapse
like a bridge shimmering in lightning
whiskey lips to whiskey skin.
what i want is your slow death
but i’ve opted for a soft-focus suicide.
sometimes i forget the lipstick
and sleek, smooth legs
and all the bejeweled trappings that
make you think i’m at my best.

the universe wants to punish me
for touching Eden’s scars.

we think that we are stars
with enough fire and mortar and power
to be immortalized in cast iron preservation cases
pearls painted on your body
like drops of whole milk
tears visible through summer smoke.
i saved the chalk outlines
for each time you betrayed me.

lust wrapped
in the fog of Sunday’s bed peace
and the tough-love teachings of a blue
that stayed in my lungs
like blood crusted on the tips
of white high heels.
a kiss turned
late-night killing spree
i am always turning inside out
giving in to your ghost.
business laid down in the back of your car
handsome devil with razor-eyes.
we smash together
and break apart
hoping to find meaning in the land of bones and dust.

Proust: A Shallow Fellow

proust-swan's-wayWhen commentators weigh in on the work of Marcel Proust they usually reveal more about their own biases and preoccupations than they do about the French novelist and essayist.

Samuel Beckett started the trend in 1930 with an essay ‘Proust’ which, while ostensibly about the not-long-deceased Frenchman (Proust died in 1922), is actually more of a manifesto about the perils of habit and the way it can retard ones artistic development. These were definitely the concerns of Beckett himself, who was still alive, after all, and looking towards the future, wondering if a change of environment (perhaps some better friends or a new writing desk) could refresh his outlook. There is a memorable passage where Beckett says that ‘[h]abit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit’.

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