Ode To Sunset, A Year In The Life Of American Genius is a serial fiction about dying and death, about a poet who is not quite Charles Baudelaire, not quite Charles Bukowski, who looks like a well-worn Alex Trebek but with the pit-bull demeanor of a Mickey Rourke. It mostly takes place in a city not always quite Frisco. It is satirical, playful and, inevitably, deadly serious.
“Fiction has a truth exceeding that of history” —Aristotle
It all started with a trip to Bolinas. Irma had invited him out to spend a few days. She’d even arranged a ride. The driver was Grendel. Or Gretel. Hungarian she said. Or Czech, her thick accent convincing, blond showing dark at the roots, in her late forties, good looking in a world weary sort of way, but much too animated for him, even after a second latte. She’d never been to Bolinas before but the map showed Hwy 1 up the coast as the way to go. What did he know? Except that Irma had taken a different route, by way of Fairfax, the last time he’d been out, saying something to the effect that no one in their right mind took the scenic drive. Read More
There were two of them, intellectuals, who’d arranged to interview him. One had Susan Sontag’s eyebrows, sign of a serious mind, and a symmetrical face. The other, with unfashionable bangs, had narrow pinched cheeks leading to a pointy chin and the severe myopic squint of someone too long at the books. They wanted to make sense of, or cash in on, or both, the myth of the avant-garde. They were quite naïve and prime examples of white privilege university educations. He had to explain to them the difference between the ‘look at me I’m writing a poem’ school and the homo-fascio anal retentive school also known as the flaming assholes. Clumpers vs lumpers. The problem was conflict of information, info wars, which side do you believe, and there are always more than just two sides. Read More
Oren Rickles was an odd egg but fairly personable for someone with borderline autism. His workshop/squat took up the rear of an industrial building in the flats off of Third and one of the State streets. Apart from being a computer nerd, he fancied himself a poet and a literary theoretician. But because he was a tech, no one would take him seriously when he spoke his ideas about poetry. It was, yeah, thanks for fixing my computer but I’m not interested in hearing what you have to say about literature. So typical of English majors. And because Rickles was letting him buy the reconditioned laptop on time, and that he needed to be talked through the open source operating system, its quirks and whistles, and the kind of product review that only a guy totally obsessed in discerning the x-y coordinates of every aspect of the techno-sphere could give, he had lent a superficially sympathetic ear. Read More
Two urges overcame him simultaneously. He needed to offload the sugary drink from earlier at the beginning of his hitchhiking and his gut was signaling him with the “feed me” flag. The large pale green building with the Western style false front had a sign above the double glass doors, Live Oak Bar & Grill, and in the large round window off to one side a twist of neon read Open. Once inside, he glanced around at the bar partly in the shadows further back from the natural light of window and doors. He was looking for the facilities. He noticed the knotty pine passageway leading further back next to the jukebox. Read More
“Homogenized American bullshit, make work job security, personal crisis fabrication, poetry power politics, and just plain bad writing. As the cop says to Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas when they bust him, ‘Where’d you fellows get those clothes? Somebody sure pulled a fast one on you.’” They’d wanted his opinion and they got it. In answer to the question, didn’t he appreciate the purely cerebral in writing, he’d said, “Well, yes, I suppose if you like masturbation, and hey, who doesn’t? I’m with Woody Allen on that one. It’s like having sex with someone you really love.” And while he was on the subject, he thought he’d add, “The intellectual climate in this country can be described as adolescent, and that leads to a lot of masturbation, but serious masturbation. Something badly written, disorganized, gets a lot of attention and it makes you wonder why, what is not evident, what are you missing that everyone else gets or, you ask yourself, is that what readers want, something that insults their intelligence, the most bald faced manipulations and self aggrandizements?” Read More
He surprised himself by playing the entirety of Ruby, My Dear through his auditory cortex. The bell-like clarity of Coltrane hitting that note, that part sampled at will. Caught by Coltrane’s clean coloration but held by Monk’s invention. One of his favorite things, the tap of the foot as a hand rolls over the keys before the rest of the band kicks in. Jazz is an authentic musical form. Its complexity increases as standardization spreads from its origins. It represents an integration of diverse musical cultures that has, in turn, produced a unique creative relationship that could easily serve as a model for human behavior. That was one of his little joys, a piece of jazz, just a piece, among some fading memories with a side of great sorrow. Read More
“Don’t blink, this is Elk.”
He stepped down from the cab of the pickup at the dusty pull-out to the coastal access parking lot as the driver offered his hand. “Didn’t get a chance to introduce myself. Name’s Chuck,” he said with a conspiratorial smile, “Chuck Weddell.” Once again he was left to gather what he could from coincidence.
In the wake of the pickup’s exhaust a low slung Western style false front building of weathered wood with tall red trimmed windows and a large sign above a similarly red trimmed door announcing Heirloom Country Emporium came into focus across the two lane highway and appeared to shimmer in the light of a cloudless blue dome of sky painting the wind shaped landscape with a fine solar oil. The next step was to get directions to Angie’s place. Read More
The buildings on the frontage road drifted past the bus window, brick engaged in possibility. Does anyone ever consider that there is a dreary side to being a writer? That it involves paperwork should come as no surprise. Sheer volumes, actual or virtual sheaf, not only to be edited but ordered, processed, that has nothing to do with creativity, entailing an endless shuffling of words, phrases, like the alphabet tiles of a pocket puzzle. Noun? Verb? Extra-grammatical relations? All the seemingly endless prospects to be compared and contrasted through the incessant drudge of formulation. And then there are the questionnaires. Read More
“For truth consists of nothing else than the self activity of personal appropriation,” Kierkegaard whispered in his ear. This was the poetry world, after all, not the real world. In this world, language was used to signify reality. Yet this was the world which he’d inhabited most of his adult life. What began as a romantic fantasy had become an undeviating obsession. Practically all his waking consciousness was taken up with poetry and poets. Poetics, if there were such a thing, was the fabric of his reality, woven during the day and unraveled at night. Read More
Don’t be paranoid? It pays to be paranoid. Paranoia is the first step in prophecy. Interpret the flight of birds. If there’s danger lurking, they’ll know. So far the only birds I’ve seen are gulls, some unknown black seabirds that shit enough to cover the rocks beneath them with calcium white slurry, and a flight of pelicans like workers returning home from the dayshift with their lunchbox beaks.
The glare of white sand shadowed to gray, rumbling waves lost their green sheen, and the hiss of dissipating foam edged closer. Sea birds screeched, gulls hopped among the debris of apple cores, carrot ends, food wrappers left by his rescuers, and his own empty beer cans, slim jim sheaths, and chip bag. Otherwise he was alone. A wind skimmed the waves chilling the air. In the distance the orange orb crushed a stratum of cloud dyeing the horizon with the blood of its muted fire. “Suppose you really do, toward the end, fall away into a sunset which is your own self-ignited pyre,” the dying sun sang in his ears, a siren chorus with the shrill voices of cicadas. Read More
The Complete DAY, WEEK & MONTH
is now located under the Special Features menu
as are Parts 1, 2 & 3
of the Interview With The Author