Meanwhile, Ariel ponders the universe.
Meanwhile, Ariel ponders the universe.
Since Ariel is the closest thing I have in my photo library to a penguin (if you read the article you’ll know what I’m talking about), she will do nicely.
Complaints may be directed to the Internet Watchdog Foundation, a cyber-etiquette organization whose primary purpose is to protect the public from gratuitous colors and improperly-sized fonts. Ask for Raoul, stationed in Manila. Though he may not be sympathetic to your cause, he’s always willing to show someone a good time.
The secret to becoming a bestselling author is to find the right niche. Luckily, I will be helping you with this simple though tiresome task.
You should know, however, that talent is almost always overrated and, in the case of niche hunting, completely unnecessary–if not downright harmful. Broadly speaking, if one were to consider vocations other than writing, such as playing the rosewood fife or wrestling naked with white tigers, one might acknowledge the need certain brave individuals might have to be endowed with a modicum of talent. Even an execrable instrument such as the lyre requires a willing and able and modestly talented conduit. The jaw harp, or Jew’s harp as it is sometimes called, may be cited as an exception, as it requires neither skill nor great dexterity for a walking zombie to wheedle a sound from its ill-construed frame, and the random sounds it emits could easily have been produced by an unconscious, syphilitic drunkard lying supine on the beer-splattered floor of some funky tavern.
After having excited your attention, I shall return to the subject in hand. In order to become an obnoxiously rich author, you must choose a category which has little or no competition. This way it will be easier to get top ranking in that niche.
This is a top-down process. First choose the broadest category first and then keep refining it. Stop if your hair loss exceeds 150 strands per day.
This is an example of the selection process for the novel I’m writing:
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > LGBT > Pelagic Birds > Penguins > Macaroni Penguins
The child category is “Macaroni Penguin” because no sub-categories exist beyond that point. This is called a flightless point in the industry.
With this ironclad strategy, my book, “Who’s Killing the Penguins of Lesbos,” the nail-biting story of Sappho– an amateur detective and unapologetic flame-crested penguin who, while vacationing on a sun-flecked Greek isle, discovers herself and, alas, a homicidal maniac in a hockey mask slaughtering penguins–will have a decent chance of being # 1.
Please support my work by selling all your worldly goods and making a meaningful investment in the arts.
See you at the top of the charts,
Like a majorette and her baton, a mountain man, living in a remote, montane, thatch-roofed hut, often seen chewing cud, keeps a shotgun at his side. Apart from this being a brilliant literary conceit, it introduces, more or less painfully, the subject of long unkempt beards, touching ever–so-slightly upon the dark penumbra of guns and horrific violence.
Are you with me so far? Good. Let the narrative continue.
I sallied forth with my manservant Sancho Panza, past windmills and other distractions, to the nearest drugstore, whereupon I came to understand (and you should have seen the rictus of disappointment on Panza’s mouth ) that my favorite brand of disposable razors—Gillette, if you must know—was not to be found, and was directed by Elsa, a neurotic cryptologist who was apparently having trouble finding work in her chosen field, to try the Occam brand since it was, in her words, “as good as a mischievous cipher.”
That’s when my campaign of firebombing various drugstores began in earnest. This was indeed the simplest solution and consequently the most effective way to make a point (everyone is doing it these days.) Incidentally the Occam razors were not all that bad after all, but it’s was the principle of the thing.
Now, a few words about the Rio Olympics. As a biblical scholar, I’d like to share some of my research with you. Most of you will know that Moses came down from the mount with a bunch of tablets purchased at a high altitude garage sale. Then, when taking the stationary home (they offered him a plastic bag, but environmentally conscious Moses refused), he tripped, a notable contretemps, on a coax cable (fiber-optic cables did not yet exist) and hurt his patella. But my research, using the latest spectroscopic analysis, demonstrates that there were eleven commandments—not the oft-quoted ten. The last commandment was: Thou shall not take selfies–you can always look like a fool later. Olympians, diplomats, please take notice.
Wow them with unexpected flora to suck them in. Anonymous.
I thought I’d review Pride and Prejudice, but after a thorough search of the internet–and later the pockets of every venerable vagabond in the vicinity, which yielded several condoms, a crumpled picture of Chairman Mao, and a stack of tiny plastic zip bags–I have concluded that it’s been sufficiently reviewed by my peers, and I don’t want to crowd the field with another essay, which would nevertheless have been received with great éclat, as the work of literary Bolsheviks is always in demand. Luckily and vibrantly, her next novel, Prick Me With a Fork to See If I’m Done, will be out soon and I’ll review that one instead. I’m drooling already.
Jane Austen is an author worth sleeping out in a van for–on a frosty night, without anything that might reasonably pass for a blanket or, alas, without a half-empty (or half-full depending on your general outlook on life) case of cooking sherry procured from a one-armed vivandière and sure to take the bite off the cryogenic chill.
And it must be said that Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s defining work to date, apart from story, setting, and character, is fairly good. My major quibble with Miss Austen is that she’s an unapologetic technophobe. I mean just look at the opening scene. Why not fax the news about Mr. Bingley (Mr. Big) to the Bennet family? In a modern context, what could be more natural than for the Bennet gathering to learn by facsimile that Mr. Bingley is gay and that he’ll soon be moving to Netherfield Park? The fax is a small detail, but it’s symptomatic of Austen’s inability to grasp the import of modern telecommunication devices.
And to add to her modern-day gadget gaucheries, she uses quaint anachronisms in the transport realm as well: no bullet trains or supersonic jets for Austen. It’s a sort of parallel structure, office equipment and handheld devices on the one hand and monster cars and trucks on the other, that doesn’t quite seem to work. Jane Austin’s Audi never gets into the fast lane, if you’ll pardon the grotesque though totally apt and refreshingly wrought metaphor.
I can’t tell you, for example, how many times Austen mentions horses. Private cars, buses—even unicycles would have been better, grittier. See for yourself:
Your father cannot spare the horses, I am sure.
An author with an ear to the ground would have written something such as–
Your father cannot spare the jetskis, I am sure.
And this business with Kitty and Wickham. Couldn’t flower-sweet Wickham, somewhere in the misty dawn of his tawdry affair, have texted the doe-eyed girl with the news that he was transitioning? Why leave poor, flirty Kitty in the dark for so long? Text the girl, Wiki—you know she always has her phone with her.
Somehow Austen’s work seems stuck in another age. And for this reason her opus stops at the door of greatness (as the security cameras deem the small stack of books to be just about the size of a I.E.D and shoo it away indecorously).
Anyway, it’s still a pretty (in)decent book and I look forward to reviewing her next novel, which is, as far as I can tell, a space opera that takes place on the rugged mountains of Mercury, amid hordes of belching sasquatches, under an incandescent sun that is as close to the bald pate of Jason, a convivial moneylender, as Obama is ideologically to Hillary.
And just as Pride and Prejudice before it, Prick Me is essentially a thriller, so you can look forward to some pretty villainous shenanigans—the type of thing you might expect from, let’s say, twin political conventions.
Don’t forget to read this or my royalty checks no longer clog up my red mailbox.
A story about collapsible umbrellas and love…
This flash fiction story is appearing today on the pages of Flash Fiction Magazine.
On trying to grow true cinnamon: Cinnamomum verum (formerly Cinnamomum zeylanicum, till the council decided that a name change would greatly benefit the world in some small, practically intangible way) is not easy to grow in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe it doesn’t like saline mists. Poor baby. I like the sort of plant you can have shipped from some faraway place, such as Maine or–well, I can’t think of another place, so let’s just say from the jungles of Maine, near Quebec, where a spattering of French is sometimes heard spoken by local magistrates–and, in some unscheduled tempest, the carton containing jungle lianas and the like, falls into the sea and gets tossed around–only to later be discovered by a tribe of wobbly pygmies, whose idea of sartorial excellence centers around the artful arrangement of bits of tawny rope on their person, accentuating flabby protuberances of soft, pygmy flesh, deemed immoral by the captain of the containership tasked with transporting exotic flora to undisclosed ports, who is now captive and tied to a rubber tree, waiting for the large cauldron within his line of sight to heat up and start bubbling, like lava from the pit of the earth; and later, as a testament to the miraculous work of international couriers–unafraid of hard work or the scepter of cannibalism–the package containing the plants from Sagadahoc, a consignment of man-eating species and various sought-after spices, arrives safely at my doorstep.
If you found this 250 word post confusing, opaque, and irreverent, a 1,000 word story of mine called Are You Crazy? will be published with great fanfare on the pages of Flash Fiction Magazine on July 24. Do the math and you will conclude that the new story will be four times as confusing as this post on cinnamon, the stuff on your Kellogg’s Apple Jacks cereal. Full disclosure: I get a small kickback in the form of a free cereal box every millennium or two just for mentioning Kellogg.
Then there’s this ditty–