Tag Archives: surrealist fiction

Disconnect/Reject

My novel, Crytal From The Hills, is looking for a place to live. Give it a home, readers. Or give it an agent, or this blog a directory. Otherwise, it might become a rejected story of rejection, about a guy named Chris Leavitt who’s left home, looking for a place to stay in the aftermath of an accident, a disappearance, a trauma, and a mystery–the novel’s pitch. Irony? Actually no–it might be apt, this quiet response, this absence of yours. You see, this is a tale of disconnection/rejection; disconnects and rejects; relationships with the absent highlighted by absent relationships with the present. Longings: dream about longings, why don’t you. I thought about all this when I started this thing three years ago. That’s planning, I say. That’s contrivance, some might think. Anyway, I sought feedback. Really. I made calls, wrote e-mails, did what you’re supposed to do–I connected, and asked what others thought. But phone calls get dropped, and e-mails sometimes land in junk. Sorry, says the world: we didn’t get that.

Here’s another passage from CFTH:

“So, what are you gonna do after you check your phone.” Chris thought for a moment that she was mocking him, referring to his phone task like it was his major chore of the morning. Jill flung her purse on her bed—the only major piece of furniture in the unit—and stepped over to a desk to check messages on her land line. Almost simultaneously she pulled out her IPhone and began checking its messages; multitasking, like she was showing how it was done. To her left was a several square foot space she’d created against a wall. She gestured towards it, indicating several of Chris’ belongings. Chris had already moved in, it seemed like; he’d colonized her space with his motley collection of goods, things he’d once thought he couldn’t live without: a backpack made of hemp; a Nick Drake CD sticking out the top. Inside, there were several smaller items, such as another Ziploc bag, filled with Percocets. There was an IPhone that had been “blown up” several times, such that its memory was now full. Taking up the most space was an oft-malfunctioning laptop and a seeming trail of electronic dependency: wires, cords, stray flash drives. Somewhere in the backpack were a toothbrush, a bottle of arnica gel, and a thin squib of a soap-bar. His clothes, which included two shirts, a spare pair of jeans and one extra pair of socks, were strewn in a pile, looked aged and stiff. Chris appeared to be aiming for a staleness wherein some items would soon be able to stand by themselves, encrusted with dirt, dust, the curled up lint that hovers above tufts of carpet.
It all came back to him now, the minutes he and Weed had spent here the night of the accident. Chris and Jill had one argument that night amid the flurry of plans and excitement. To her he’d seemed manic—spun, in all likelihood, despite his subsequent denials. Weed stood in the background, grinning, watching them bicker, and staring at Jill especially. Greasy strands of hair stuck out from beneath his baseball cap. They actually looked like weeds, thought Jill, catching sight of him. Chris had a poster of James Dean which he’d plucked from a tube that he wanted to place next to the bed. Jill vetoed the plan, said it didn’t go with anything. Chris stared in protest at the sparsely decorated walls of her apartment, and appealed vainly for “logic” on the matter. Jill was having none of it, either the poster, or the premise. Logic? She’d swat that notion away easily enough. But the real issue, the underlying divide, was something else. She didn’t want him to feel at home.

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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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