Tag Archives: psychoanalytic novels

No Place To Go

**click title for image

There is no place to go, nothing to do, participate in, or witness, that will achieve the elusive state that exists in Bryan “Weed” Tecco’s head. Not that he doesn’t imagine: its glory and the path backwards through memory to the thing he really wants, the euphoric recall. But it’s in the subtext now, this longing. Even at the premature age of twenty seven he’s been coasting along, living with subdued disappointment and thwarted experience; a specimen of ennui and muted self-loathing. In the post-script of this missive, I’ll give him a break and call him by his real name.

Bryan’s day job is that of a game-tester for a telecommunications giant called Sahi communications. Ten years ago the average reader of a book like The Situation might have asked if being a tester of video games was a real job, but these days, with e-sports an actuality, role-play video games more popular than film or music, the job in question might now be the ultimate career choice for the average teenage or tweenie male. Girls wouldn’t want this gift, except maybe those desperate to squeeze into the male world; one-time little sisters playing out the drama of not being left out. However, Bryan works his day job by taking it for granted, paying it little heed while using the languidly passing hours as a springboard for the evening’s moonlighting, his wax dealing side-gig. Though seemingly bright, creative, and possibly ingenious, he nurses an old wound that obstructs ambitions, his prospectively society-contributing lifestyle. In his world, whether that is Richmond, California, or the affluent, hippy back roads of West Marin, Bryan is a misfit: born without guidance or guidelines, though he is subject to hasty yet capable nurturing later on. He is destined to plunder his own path, revisit his original script of rejection more effortlessly than Chris “Crystal” Leavitt ever will. He will keep others at arm’s length, generating intrigue in some, contempt in most, but still assessing his limitations all along.

As a serendipitous adventurer, Bryan fits the bill for me, but not for Sahi, a corporate beast that doesn’t notice the special talents of its worker bees. A wildcard in their system, Bryan recognizes special elements in a game he’s been given to test; elements uncannily similar to the hallucinogenic visions (called ‘Shadows’) that he shares with his also wayward friend, Chris. Galvanized by an impulse not fully expressed to the reader, Bryan steals the files for the game, called ‘The Situation’, half-believing that he’s found a cause that will stoke a dormant heroism. In the novel’s predecessor, Crystal From The Hills, the notion of a situation is given some comic mileage as an inside joke between friends: a situation is a personified event with an attitude, and given a cosmic edge. A situation, as introduced in the first novel, is an umbrella term for an event with some manner of sentience at its core. A situation: it has opinions and feelings; it wants things, and like God, will fuck with people if it has to. It’s a signal that all things, happenings and beings that wander aimlessly, congeal in order to find meaning, reflecting the existence of an overseeing power.

The presumptions of a psychotherapist, which are perhaps similar to those of a dramatist, are that people care: they care about themselves, about their friends, their parents or siblings, their lovers. They care about their communities even, and given half the chance, lifelong frustrations or limitations notwithstanding, they’d seize the opportunity to make a difference, disrupt the presumed versus natural order of things and bring forth something like goodness. Bryan’s adversaries generally see him as an opportunist and a sociopath, and so they miss him. His doppelganger, Eric “fierce” Pierce, chases Weed across the landscape of California, pursuing him with all the righteous fervor of Javert, but also the collapsing delusion of a failing system. Pierce haplessly represents his employer, which thinks it can easily squash the individual, the fly in the ointment, “between the pincers of a superior being”, I write. But of course it isn’t superior, this corporate behemoth that is Sahi Telecommunications. It’s made up of individuals, after all: all lost in the mix. Like Bryan, it only acts as if it knows what it’s doing. Underneath the pretense, my protagonist acts as if he doesn’t stand a chance. That’s why he separates, as in separates from everything and everyone as often as he can. The backstory? Sorry (or not), this story’s not like CFTH; it’s locked into the present and future, not the past. It’s in the subtext also, Bryan’s quiet lack of self-worth.

Who he is lies somewhere in between the texts of the two novels, or else before either, out of sight of his author even, and hiding defiantly. It’s late now, a good several months since I finished The Situation, plus a year or two since I birthed Bryan “Weed” Tecco. I know he’s better than he thinks he is. I knew from the start that he’d be much more than the cardboard nasty I expose in CFTH. I thought he might be a good anti-hero, a curmudgeon with a tender heart, a bit like the John Milner character from American Graffiti: greased, beefy and sour, yet sweet enough to give a kid a break; kissing the thirteen year old girl on the cheek at the end of the night. If you read the dense yet worthwhile gem that is CFTH then you might have thought you’d seen the last of Weed, and thought good riddance (to Weed, and maybe the book, I guess). You didn’t know I had plans, ideas that were only half-thought through as I got started. I was playing it by ear, looking for redemption in a sequel, hope in ordinary guys—not even men—and believing in few things less than I do heroism, which is a problem for me, I admit. Really: the way heroism is sold in this life is a deadly lie. I prefer redemption as a concept. There’s more personal history, less of a script for others to steal, transform into something banal, there just for common consumption, or exploitation. Instead, there’s something musical, un-captured and pure. There’s even more syncopation in the sound of the word.

For e-book link for The Situation, click on the following:


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In broad daylight

The darkness of the city: in broad daylight. Jill Evans, Chris Leavitt’s nominal girlfriend in Crystal From The Hills, schools him earlier in the story, about his arrogance and naivite. It’s naive to wander the streets of West Oakland, patronizing the locals, imagining he is free and safe. She envies him. Women, I think, envy (and thus are irritated by) carefree young men who take for granted their advantages. And so, the next passage, a pre-climactic wake-up call for the similarly traumatized Jill, is foreshadowed, like all of the events of the story. It’s just a matter of what gets noticed really. For all Jill’s faux streetwise warnings, not to mention Chris’ obsession with Shadows, who used to follow him only at night, it is Jill who is caught off guard, thinking she is immune.

To cap it off she was jumped on the way home the following morning. Her mistake had been stopping at a light, obeying the rules of the streets, but not those of the street. Leaning back on her bike, Jill took a brisk swig from her water bottle, only to feel a hard thump against her back wheel. As her bottle tumbled away with water spraying from her mouth, Jill felt a strong tug upon her backpack; the force threatened to drag her along the pavement and for a split second she imagined that somehow she’d been ensnared by a passing vehicle. Feet shuffled around her as the bag was torn away. Her assailant turned to throw Jill’s backpack to a partner, the action resembling that of two basketball players executing a fast break. But with his back turned, the first of the two young men was rendered vulnerable. Without a second thought, Jill lunged at him and began wind-milling her arms, surprising herself with her own intensity. Instinctively, she opened up her right hand, and with a scything motion, slashed through his blocking limbs, scratching his face on the way through. The partner ran and faced her. Seeing him face-to-face scuttled assumptions, and reduced him in years. No more than fifteen, she guessed, regarding the gaunt, angry face of the boy. He reached for his back pocket; no small task given that his pants hung halfway to his knees. From the front, a web of denim hung between his legs, placing him at a disadvantage should a chase ensue.



It was as if she recognized him—not the boy per se—but the type: meaning, the age, the demeanor, the ephemera, and the race: black. She could hurt this boy, she realized. In her current state, that is—she could do real harm. And then she might treat him. In fact, it seemed to her that she had done, on countless occasions. She’d nursed young men like this. She’d dressed their wounds, their grisly knife and gunshot injuries. She’d replaced their bedpans, brought them food, and seen them wince as she’d replaced their catheters. With a look of sheer rage that masked humiliation, the boy brandished a gleaming firearm and dangled it with a fashionably downward arc towards Jill’s face.

            “OK!” she cried breathlessly, and held up her arms in surrender. The boy’s face shook. Looking around, seeing odd witnesses, he appeared to take stock of this moment, and decide what humiliations—past, present, and anticipated—will merit the ultimate retribution. With a deft turn, he then sprung away and disappeared, showcasing an impressive sprint. Later, she estimated that the entire incident had taken less than a minute of her time.

            Unhurt, Jill gathered herself, assessed her apparently undamaged bicycle, and then resumed her journey back to her apartment, though not before remonstrating in the street to no one in particular.

“Really. In broad daylight!” she exclaimed, feeling angry and bewildered at the community she’d chosen to live amongst and help.

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Nothing nice about being nice

Not a very humanistic attitude, is it? I think the Kleiniens would agree with the sentiment, though I surely don’t mean sentiment. Anyway, my novel avoids positivism, almost religiously. In my other book, the one about rehab, I touch on this a bit more, with a bit less surrealism. In that one I’m writing about countertransference: the weight of problems, the past, and the need to deny.

12 examples of being nice, from Crystal From The Hills. (purchase link):

*“Of course, I’m just trying to be nice. Jeez, you don’t have to be like that.”

*thinking his moodiness would fit in nicely: if dispirited, he’d blend

*“Hey, what’s up?” Chris spoke out in a friendly voice.

“Leave me alone,” she curtly replied, and then quickly stepped past him like he was a piece of dog shit in the middle of the sidewalk.
“Nice talkin’ to ya,” Chris said laughingly

*A mop and an ammonia bottle appeared to have been thrown in a corner instead of carefully placed. On top of a towel dispenser, flanking a sink below a two foot square mirror was a book someone had left behind. Nice, thought Chris: reading that didn’t outlast a bowel movement

* He pushed his lower lip across his teeth and looked into Chris, as though the exchange were setting the stage for an opportune critique.Chris laughed heartily. Well done, he thought. Nice. “Alright, I get it. What did you have in mind?”

* There were some nice men along the way: men who were dealt with ruthlessly; men who were sometimes sent scurrying from her dorm rooms with their jeans still climbing past their knees

* A nice man: that’s what she wanted, ultimately. She actually thought she’d met a nice young man recently, someone who was genuinely like a boy. His name was Chris Leavitt. The problem was the girls. Other girls thought Chris was nice, also.

* She sort of accepted that his libidinal overdrive had been a function of his stimulant use, thus overriding the “nice” aspects of his character

* “You have a problem with my place, or my neighborhood?” They’d actually talked about this once before and her answers hadn’t satisfied Chris. He took note of her then explanations: the piece about student debt plus an unwillingness to accept her mother and step-father’s financial support made sense in the context of those supposedly difficult relationships, but it still implied a preference for living elsewhere.

“It’s my what’s-a-nice-girl-like-you-doing-in-a-place-like-this question, I guess.”

“A place like what?”

* She looked over at the bed and saw Chris roll over to her side and flop his arm onto her pillow. There it is, she thought, catching the unintended action that was a replay of the beating she’d received roughly three hours earlier. That’s what she got for being nice

* “Nice earrings,” said one. His Aunt Jenny, a woman raised on the East Coast, once said that Californians lacked irony. She was wrong. At least, if sarcasm is a subset of irony, then Californians, Chris found, were full of it.

* “I thought we might spend some time expressing how nice it is to see each other,” Chris supplied cheekily. He was fidgeting, having difficulty getting situated. His chair was a somewhat disjointed piece of furniture; misplaced, with a distorted iron bar that had gotten literally bent out of shape. As soon as he leaned back, Chris felt the hard protrusion of the un-cushioned upright section. It had a deliberate feel about it, like it was Aunt Jenny’s torture chair.

“Nice to see you?’ she echoed querulously. “Let me tell you, young man: there is nothing nice about ‘nice’. I’ve been concerned about you.”

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