Rufous Knicks, rampant in blue serge suit and hairs-cut, stepped down the wobbly back shell of Forever Corner like a king descending to court. That or another like sentence would mark well to begin this history in old days whereof I have understood some, having lived for petty times in that epoch. I do not possess any old days books, but have had opportunity to peruse precisely two at cabinet of Mme. Pi and on one occasion had extinct pleasure to listen Super My Love read the first chapter of a leafy tome encased in papery sleeving, color pale green, entitled Lol. In which I comprehend was a lacrosstick of some nature in which I cannot decipher. A lacrosstick occurs when letters stand around for longer words in which the writer does not wish to unveil for private reasons.
The reading of the old days book Lol was a magic. It is different to hear words in the head of you than bespoke by another. O man I have found. I retain no or less memories in which I was young, in which without doubt my mother or some person would have read at high voice from old days books, once I have been told in which were plenty abundant.
I return to Rufous Knicks putting the feet forward and again forward in back of Forever Corner until he had reached the door to the fence at the limit of the garden. I find tiresome to describe every action of Rufous Knicks when I already know where he is going and when and many details concerning his destination. Nor would it be just as interesting to arrive properly without malingering on the travel? Then. I will omit from here to there.
Rufous Knicks entered the building through blown-apart front. Had arrived by straightforward route. Rufous was not the kind to take laborious mappy when the straight line could be put in place end over end in which you can finish by arrival. Inside the building birds bunched on attic rubble at the far end waiting for something. These birds did have bad blood in them, or appeared. But Rufous unslung his rifle and made as if to shoot at them, but the birds did not wow or flutter, but continued to wait only for the something. Black eyes followed Rufous as he forwarded through the main hall and up the stony staircase, mightily damaged but not fallen, into the upstairs room where Madame Salamander Pi held her cabinet on most mornings and some of the afternoons.
Madame Salamander Pi was a gross person. In this way she demonstrated her superior skill-set in the department of living, and was awed by others who had no comparables towards acquiring sustenance and in which consequence were meager in size. Certain, Rufous was twangy in which comparison to Mme. Pi. But he had a compensating vigor but an excellent aim with respect to his rifling but a speed and range of motion but was difficult to tackle. Had he the knowledge of keeping things for long times no one doubts whereby he would on the other hand challenge Mme. Pi for the charge in which she held.
He had no complaint or intent to challenge in mind today’s morning, but Madame Salamander Pi could never know this advanced of the moment, and so her aides dispatched themselves to greet Rufous Knicks before he could attain the threshold of her cabinet. These were two name of Sham and Polish but, in no which gross, still you could say largely in frames.
“What is your business with Madame Salamander Pi?” asked Sham.
“I wish to ask her advice on a project of mutual beneficence,” said Rufous Knicks.
He struggled in the grasp of meaty claws but not too much.
“I do not understand these words,” said Polish, or Sham.
“I have a desire to confer with Mme. Pi. It is a matter she will understand but I do not think that you will, judging from the lack in which you have lately demonstrated ensuing from my prior words.”
“We will have to ask Mme. Pi, or the patron, as we call her, if she wants to conference with you,” said Sham, or Polish.
Rufous Knicks indicated that he understood this act as a necessary, and would wait in the grip of only Sham or Polish while Polish or Sham performed a liaison with Mme. Pi.
While Polish or Sham was gone Sham or Polish said to Rufous “I hope you do not understand our actions to be a counter-temps. It is a duty that we must convey as part of our boss.”
“I confess a petty perturbation, in which is not your fault, and do not blame you,” said Rufous. “My argument is with the order of things. As much with the crows and this exploded wreck as with any person.”
“What you say to me is not meant for me, in which it is okay for me to hear, but your talk is one-sided and does not require a response,” said Polish. Or Sham. “Here is Sham or Polish, come from Mme. Pi, the patron, with informations.”
Sham or Polish rejoined his colleague and said to Rufous Knicks, “Mme. Pi has interest in listening to you, Rufous Knicks, if it is not a trouble to come with us to her cabinet.”
“It is not a trouble,” said Rufous Knicks. “Let’s go.”
I need not add that I have only imaginaried the talk between Rufous, Sham, and Polish, as I was not present and did not have afterwards a chance in which to unpack the exact wording of the exchange from Rufous, as he lay dying.
I will now indicate the camber of time by use of an eclipse.
Rufous though mortal of wounds made strong effort to retrieve his corpse to backyard of Forever Corner, at which one saw each other as I marched my circle of deliverance the daily pain. I found him slouched against the wall at step bottom.
“What has passed?” I asked Rufous, who though smeary with blood and shallow respired, had no look of great trouble on his visage.
“Your head,” joked Rufous.
“I mean in really,” I said.
“There was disaccord between me and Salamander Pi,” he said after a while and with some difficulty.
“Of what nature?”
“Of a nature in which she had a mistake of my intent, in which I finished on the wrong side.”
“Well obvious,” I said.
“I have a secret I would like to tell you, now that I am dying,” said Rufous Knicks.
“Tell me your secret, Rufous,” I said.
He made a clan of eye and motioned by which I should come closer.
“A knowing hole of great significance has been opened. I think that Salamander Pi has recognition of this hole, and will take steps to control the results. You must fill your lack, in which you have no fault, to the best delay. Salamander Pi cannot take consequence of the fruits of the secret.”
“I wonder myself that I have in no sense understood your import,” I said.
“I will ask a small favor of you.”
“It does not matter what.”
Rufous Knicks smiled in which his teeth were not seen. He spit on the ground and there followed either a laugh or a cough or a laugh in which became a cough.
“You have ever been a good friend,” he said. “Truth, I crawled back here and waited in hope of your arrival. I had a luck.”
It was a trouble to put my attention in the direction of Rufous Knicks’ purpose, because I was rapt by the seeing of cracked skin around his sharp knuckles. The skin itself looked a separate organ to the underlying bone and filament, undulant independent of hand movement, as if possessed of intelligence its own.
Having essayed some further paroles, Rufous Knicks ceased to inspire. In agreement with his ask, I did not attend to dispose of his corpse but passed to the voluntary in which he had given to me instructions very specific.
I will now indicate the camber of time by use of an eclipse.
What was I born for? thought Thomas, sitting at his desk, copying the last few lines of his work. What was anybody born for?
The sun had long since floated past the lid of his window, over the gray slate roof, and begun to set. He could see its rubescent face reflected in the windows from the building across the street, where for all he knew there was an exact duplicate of himself, doing the same thing, but with perhaps a better understanding of the basic questions.
Thomas absent-mindedly scratched his cheek with the tip of his pen. When he realized what he was doing, he took the index finger of his right hand and rubbed the spot where he had scratched, hoping to erase the inky blotch he was sure must be there. He did not bother to check.
Put the pen down, shuffled the papers on the desk before him. More than twenty, covered with tiny, neat handwriting on both sides. Examined the last lines he had written:
That you cannot know the terror in a word. That it will not be the worst you fear. That you bring to the last the first sign. That you choose what to disappear.
“That you choose what to disappear.” The last four lines: these were the most important, the ones Caeli had insisted he take down word-for-word, with exactly that punctuation, exactly those rhythms. Apparently the words were a magic. It was not clear what sort of a magic, nor for what purpose, when everything had become so useless. But Caeli had insisted that he not leave Paris without finishing the manuscript, which he now stacked and straightened and slipped inside a clear plastic folder with an elastic fastener. He took the folder, stacked it with other folders, similarly transparent but tinted different colors—gold, green, blue—and slipped the stack in his briefcase.
Rising from the desk he walked over the Persian carpet towards the coat rack and removed his tan raincoat.
There was a knock at the door. Soft but insistent.
Thomas looked through the peep-hole. Furrowed his brow, unfastened the lock and opened the door.
“What are you doing here?” he asked the small, stout, balding, round-faced man who stood before him.
“Sorry to bother you,” said the man, in heavily-accented French. “But we can’t let you leave.”
“What? Don’t be ridiculous. ”
“I’m serious.” To demonstrate his intent, the man produced a snub-nosed revolver from under his coat.
“All right, all right. Put that thing away, Charles, you look ridiculous. Do you even know how to use it?”
Thomas stood aside and gestured Charles into the room.
The Ecuadorean poet Charles Panic walked in and sat down in the chair by the window where Caeli usually sat. He looked at the gun in his hand as if suddenly seeing it for the first time. Slipped it into the pocket of his raincoat.
“No. I don’t know how to use it. But they insisted.”
“I thought you weren’t with them anymore.”
“I’m not. I mean, I wasn’t. They knew that we’re friends, and they thought I could persuade you to stay. So they forced me, in the way that I’m supposed to force you now.”
Thomas slumped down in the chair at his writing table without taking off his overcoat.
“Charles, I have to go. Caeli’s waiting for me.”
“Pater noster, qui est in caelis…”
“Will you come with me?”
Thomas scoffed. “Obviously not.”
“You should know that it’s not just me. There are five more downstairs. All armed. All much bigger than me.”
“But can any of them write, Charles? Do any have talent?”
Charles was silent for a moment.
“No. The Collective no longer believes in talent as a mark of distinction. They prize strength over subtlety. They’ve become moralists, Thomas. It’s really quite sad.”
“I told you it would turn out that way.”
“You have to belong to something.”
“The idea of community is a dangerous fiction.”
Charles took out a handkerchief from the inside pocket of his jacket and mopped his brow.
“I’m sure that’s an impressively original thought, Thomas, but we don’t have time for this.”
“You’re right. We don’t. I have to be Auvers-sur-Oise in two hours, and you have to fuck off back to the catacombs to die.”
“I told you. It’s not just me.”
“And I heard you. Good-bye, Charles.”
Thomas went to the window, opened wide the white wood panes, and fluttered down the street below. I learned more than one thing from Caeli, he thought.
He looked back up at his open window, through which Charles Panic was staring, wide-eyed, down at the street. He knew that Charles could not see him, but he was unused to invisible mode, and instinctively ducked for shelter under the awning of the Halle des Chaussures. Across the street, at the entrance to his building, Thomas noticed four or five heavy-set men in long black overcoats.
He jammed his hands in his pockets and walked down the street towards his car, murmuring to himself, careful not to attract attention. “I am the boy. Who can enjoy. Invisibility.”
Charles turned away from the window.
“I wish things were different,” said Charles. He shrugged his shoulders, and his jowls quivered.
“I’m not sure that’s true,” said Thomas. He sighed and stood up. Smoothed the folds in his tan raincoat. “Anyway, let’s go.”
The excellent online litmag Metazen has seen fit to post on its site a story that I wrote. The story is actually part of a chapter from my next novel, which has a title, but the title is a secret. If you have any interest in the shape or tenor of my next [...]
The excellent online litmag Metazen has seen fit to post on its site a story that I wrote. The story is actually part of a chapter from my next novel, which has a title, but the title is a secret. If you have any interest in the shape or tenor of my next novel, you can go read the story here.
If you don’t have any interest, then I suggest you do something useful, like the dishes. They’re not going to wash themselves, you know.
Everything that was invented has to be reinvented, for instance: the sound of waves slapping wet rocks in the dark. We once called this night rote. We also used the phrase heart murmurs. If you look carefully you’ll see that this isn’t appropriate or necessary. You’ll see instead track marks, not on your arm [...]
Everything that was invented has to be reinvented, for instance: the sound of waves slapping wet rocks in the dark. We once called this night rote. We also used the phrase heart murmurs. If you look carefully you’ll see that this isn’t appropriate or necessary. You’ll see instead track marks, not on your arm but in the damp sand or [other] — a piper birdly walking the sine wave’s edge; a squirrel rattling down tremulous branches in the hot wind.
I have an urban confession: cars make me proud because I don’t understand them. I’m proud of everything that runs when you want, stops when you can; mechanical reactions to a muscular prompt. Because it proves that Fielding was right, and Burton, too: right. There’s a line in the song that goes “Bumps a lot, bumps a lot,” crushed now to cinders, heaped in ashy piles, a volcano of mistakes. “Wrong again, wrong again, come along home.” How we count the days, how we tear back pin-holed roof and radiate the sky. The slick approaching your shore is a hit-and-run kiss, and don’t say you had no idea, because we’re fraught with ideas. Cop-killer bullets: your idea. Crib death: idea. Why insist on throwing rotten apples at the apple tree? You’ll only make the squirrel happy, and the piper tramping through the muck has nothing to do with your lousy aim.
An empty house, close to the ocean, windows open to admit the breeze. From everything I’ve confessed there’s no reason it should not be clear that we are summer. There’s a book, and in the book there’s a set of rules, and these rules have a purpose. To ease you down the hill. To show the best route to the worst driver.
Thomas Quin doesn’t care how you arrive, only that you arrive, and he doesn’t care how you’re dressed, you can dress like a fruit tree, a dandelion, a Ford Fusion, the angel of history. Tel que tu es, in better words. He’s flush with ammo, and the minute you reach the barbed wire, he’ll butcher your best ideas. Bits of your body will be strung along the line, lifeless. Like pulpy diamonds, like organic melons eaten inside out by maggots. What remains of what was you he will scoop and use to fertilize his land.
On that land grows nothing like an idea, and there is peace, and fields of rape-seed.
- It's a long climb up the rock face at the wrong time to the right place
- James Greer's books on GoodreadsGuided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Rollreviews: 24
ratings: 195 (avg rating 3.70)Artificial Light (Little House on the Bowery)reviews: 6
ratings: 71 (avg rating 3.66)The Failurereviews: 9
ratings: 59 (avg rating 3.65)EXPERIENCED: Rock Music Tales of Fact & Fictionreviews: 4
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.60)Two Letters Collection, Volume 2ratings: 5 (avg rating 4.60)
OCDabsolution abstract rendition of a definite condition a contest featuring human beings advertising A la recherche du temps perdu anecdotage Artificial Light a yellow coincidence book reading Book Review books caffeinated rambling Curbside Splendor Détective Everything Flows experiments do not always work which is why they are called experiments fiction fictionaut film France great rock bands of the united states Guided By Voices interview James Greer Jean-Luc Godard literary magazines movies music parody photography proselet reading reading in public is scary Robert Pollard self-promotion short fiction short film short story Slake The Failure The Power of Suck The Rattling Wall this is the modern world W.I.P. we are all immortal now
Friendly Fire"James Greer, one of the nimblest and most multilayered American fiction writers, has, with his latest novel The Failure, pulled off a sublime and shivery-smooth literary hat-trick-cum-emotional-gotcha. I defy anyone to come up with an equation to explain how this book's first impression as a ridiculously clever, funny crime story can gradually disclose a metanovel built from far more encyclopedic scratch only to reveal upon its conclusion a central, overriding thought so heartfelt literally it trembles your lower lip. This is one stunning piece of work."—Dennis Cooper"James Greer's The Failure is such an unqualified success, both in conception and execution, that I have grave doubts he actually wrote it."—Steven Soderbergh"Greer has done it again: a big-city, techno-jargon-filled thrill-ride with slick medium-brow drop references to our (once-shared) mythological hometown. What could be more poignant?"—Robert Pollard"How do you assess if your life has been a success? For starters, take time and turn it on its head. You'll first need to find its head. Luckily, James Greer's novel The Failure will help--it's a brainy, boisterous, unsettling, and unsettled look at a group of people thrust into the most confounding of existences, complete with petty crime, high science, love, sex, and cars. The narrative winds and darts, gleefully uncooperative. The characters have funny names and sometimes funny existences. Still, you will recognize them. They are us."—Ben Greenman
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