Really Bad Fan Fiction #2: Harry Potter

Harry, Ron and Hermione decided to go to America. They were sick of meat pies and chips and they’d also had enough of the whole wizards versus muggles rigamarole. They wanted to go where everyone had been created equal and endowed by their Creator. The first thing they did after landing at JFK and taking a cab through Queens was to get on a train to see the Real America. They somehow ended up in Racine, Wisconsin and got out to look around. Harry, Ron and Hermione were immediately impressed by the plethora of Dairy Queens and Chick-Fil-A’s available to the common bystander. The flavors, artificial or not, were much to their liking. It seemed like magic. You could order anything you wanted any time you wanted. There were even breakfast sandwiches at midnight.

Harry, Ron and Hermione got a room at a decent Best Western that even had a hot tub. That night while watching the local news they saw a story about a young woman who’d been stopped by the police for a broken tail light and had ended up beaten to death by them because she had been identified as black. Harry, Ron and Hermione didn’t understand. Hermione took it upon herself to look further into the matter, and discovered that even right there where they were, in far Northern America, the city had been deliberately segregated for generations, and quite a number of laws and regulations had their origins in a deep-seated racism.

“Looks like they have their own version of wizards and muggles,” she told the lads, “only here the powers aren’t special, they’re just rigged.” The next day Harry, Ron and Hermione set out to investigate the truth of the matter, each in their own way. When they got back together at an Outback Steak House for lunch, Ron got on Hermione’s last nerve by endlessly repeating “Bernie would have won” in response to everything she said. Hermione considered casting a silencio spell on her chum, but decided instead on a rather more simple “fuck you, Ron”. This curse reminded Harry that they were not too far from Lake Huron and suggested they go on a field trip there. “After all,” he said, “when they say ‘America the Beautiful’, they don’t necessarily mean its historical institutions. It’s the land more than anything else that is truly exceptional.”

 

Really Bad Fan Fiction #1: Spiderman

Peter Parker, the young superhero slash photographer, was out with his camera wandering around the truly shit parts of the city. He visited a homeless encampment under the freeway and, inspired by the works of Dorothea Lange, took a number of heart-rending photos of some unfortunates who live there. They were dizzy from hunger and dirty from outdoor living, and there was nothing that Peter Parker or Spiderman could really do for them. He could shoot webs from his wrists and that would be of no help whatsoever. He could swing from pillar to post all day long beneath that filthy iron superstructure and not one single rag would turn to even a hint of far-off riches. Peter Parker took his camera and his photos back to the Daily Bugle where he showed them to his tyrannical editor, Mr. Jameson. Jameson took a healthy bite out of his cigar and growled, “get the fuck out of my office you little pipsqueak, and don’t ever try to sell me this kind of stupid sentimental sob story ever again. No one really gives a fuck about these homeless people. They are no one’s priority, not now and not ever. Now go out there and find me some awesome shots of Spiderman kicking some bad guy’s ass. That’s what the people want.” Parker left the office feeling low and later confided his feelings to his girlfriend Mary Jane, but she was also kind of grossed out by the pictures. “I don’t even want to know”, she said. Mary Jane was just like everybody else. She was the girl next , and she was you too, and you know it. Peter Parker decided right then and there to renounce violence and crime-fighting forever. If I can’t help people who really need help, he thought, why should I go around supporting the police state, which can and does get along just fine without me? I might as well get a real job.

I gave it my all. Now I want my all back.

I thought I had a great idea last night, in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping. I tend to narrate in my dreams, and in this dream I was not only narrating the dream but deciding that this was a kind of narrating that I could carry over into the waking life, and that it would work quite well. The idea was to write just the beginning, the middle, and the end of a story. With huge gaps in between. So it would be like the first five minutes of a movie, then a five minute scene an hour into it, and then a bit of the ending as well. I might have had this idea because of a movie I watched last night before bed, a pretty terrible American remake of a pretty good Argentine move (The Secret in their Eyes). There were only a handful of good scenes, so why not just write those, and the hell with the rest of it?

So tonight I sat down and thought I’d give it a whirl. Nope. Nothing came of it. Some ideas are just bad ideas.

Here are some other bad ideas: a story is like a roommate. You want a roommate, and at first you think, ok, this could work out, but pretty soon that roommate starts to drive you crazy. They are always in your home! They have their own agenda. They want what they want, not what you want. Pretty soon you’d give anything to get rid of that roommate. So you hurry up and finish the story. At least I do. Usually two or three weeks is all I can take. It’s also why my story’s endings tend to suck, because I just cannot wait to be done with them. Get them out of the house. Throw them onto the internet so they can’t complain. What do you want? I gave you to the world! Frickin’ lousy roommate, get out of my head.

I could do all those “fragments from books that don’t exist” because they were more like one-night stands. I was only allowed to spend up to an hour on each one, including both the cover art and the writing. But even that became tiresome after 99 of them. I couldn’t even do one more to make it an even hundred. That was six months of doing, at a clip of three or four a week. Enough was enough.

But now I’m looking for another set of improvisational/performance-type fiction. Short and sweet little beasts that won’t hang around and pester me with their arcs and clingy need for development and resolution. I don’t want characters inhabiting my home. I want them to merely visit for a brief spell, and then go away.

Maybe I’ll chop up the dream idea, and instead of writing a beginning AND a middle AND  an ending, I could just pick whichever one I felt like doing, and do that.

One of my favorite books is “If On A Winter’s Night a Traveler”, in which Italo Calvino writes the first chapter of ten different books, all in a row. It’s quite a feat.

Stanislaw Lem’s “A Perfect Vacuum” is a collection of reviews of books that don’t exist. Loved that one too.

And then there is ‘The Museum of the Novel of Eterna’, by Macedonio Fernandez, which begins with dozens of hilarious prefaces. My own book ‘Macedonia’ was a tribute to that.

A lot of people hate meta. A lot of people are also Republicans. You can’t worry about things like “a lot of people”.

I still want roommates, but very very temporary ones. So I’ll come up with something. Even if I have to stick it out for two or three weeks. It’s usually worth it.

 

 

 

This and That – a Feed Book (completed)

ThisAndThat

Finished up today and posted on Smashwords as well as Kindle and Wattpad (where it was born and bred). Sometimes you just have to stop and say it’s done.

Description: Told in the style of a combined social media feed, ‘This and That’ relates several overlapping and interwoven stories; a woman facing treatment for cancer, a man held hostage for no reason by a foreign government, a global corporation enamored of its power and reach, an unstable future world disorder, and more. Filled with drama, pathos and dark, dark humor, ‘This and That’ is a piece of performance fiction that was improvised live as it didn’t actually happen.

This and That – a Feed Book

ThisAndThat

This is what’s next – my new work, to be serialized only here on Wattpad. It’s an idea I’ve been tossing around for a while and I think it might have some legs. If fictions are reflections of life, then a lot of “the way we live now” is through endless scrolling through a variety of sources – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, news feeds and so on. As in Julio Cortazar’s book “All Fires the Fire”, in our world it’s “All Apps the App” – they all blend together in the day-to-day experience of them. Along with blogs and postings of our own are mingled the postings and realities of everything we choose (and some we don’t) to let into our senses. This work is an attempt to capture some of that experience. It will also have story, characters, and drama stirred together in the overall pot. It will incorporate some of my ongoing thoughts and personal experiences with cancer and with the world as it is,  along with ideas from my own collection of items in my Flipboard magazine Cashier World, my own feeds feeding into this feed book.

On What’s Next

I decided to wrap up the Fragments series – after 99 of those I could tell that the writing – already quite uneven – was disintegrating quickly. I’ll still do covers but post them on a tumblr instead (nonbooks.tumblr.com), so it’s a wrap both here and on Wattpad, with a final “thank you very much” to my 3 or 4 readers on each of those platforms! I liked all your likes very much.

Part of me wants to revisit the ideas in my series of stories called The Outlier, but re-do it completely, less comic-book-y and with a decent villain and something at stake. I love what I was going for there but I know I failed at it, and it’s been bugging me ever since! It featured a wealthy and stylish “big data dilettante detective”, a cross between Sherlock Holmes, Malcolm Gladwell, Errol Flynn, Doctor Who and Doc Savage, who solved absolute nonsense mysteries with the help of his trusty and likewise oddly skilled assistant(s). I just couldn’t pull off the pulp fiction voice I was going for, and didn’t have juicy enough mysteries after the first one, ‘beepers’.

Maybe I’ll get back to it. Maybe I’ll have a take that resonates. Maybe I won’t. Maybe what it really needs is a Moriarty. Maybe that’s the next book

There are multiple facts at work in my life these days – one being that I’ve written quite a bit of fiction over the years and I hate repeating myself (though I’ve done that often enough), another is the feeling that I’ve already written the best book I can write (How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box) and the third is that treatment for metastatic melanoma has left me largely drained of physical and mental energy on most days. I’ve only a few months of treatment to go, and it is actually working (“beating the cancer” as they say), so the hope is by the fall I’ll be back in decent health again. If so, that’s what’s next. Living.

Fragments from books that don’t exist: The Man Who Wasn’t [99th and Final Fragment]

TheManWhoWasnt

As soon as they found out he had cancer Tommy ceased to exist. He had always been a drag at parties. The kind of guy always had something negative to say about everything. And now they didn’t even need to invite him. They didn’t need to call or ever see him again. It was amazing how easy it was. Joni even said it would have been great if he had gotten cancer a long time ago.