fiction

Shattered Glass, a Story

by
Daulton Dickey.

Empty and broken
It all falls down

25353850_524613371239415_2442695610338939099_nEmpty and broken, the city streets evacuated with a sense of calm. Everything shattered. Glass lay like snowflakes, in piles tall as people. The sky cracked. A bubble, dark as night, bloomed in the center of the crack. No good fucking reptiles swallowed everything. Traces blasted through the sky: clouds, maybe. Or veins. Blood spurted from them, rained down, and covered the city. Definitely veins. Where was the man who played the violin? He stood in the street in a minute earlier. Then he vanished. Did he vanish? Where had everyone gone? (more…)

An Interview with Author Ryder Collins

by
Daulton Dickey.

23318516_10214401048244041_1447402604_nRyder Collins’s novel, Homegirl!, (click here to read an excerpt) is one of the best books you’ve never read. It’s intimate and obscene, profound and profane. The style mesmerizes. She writes in a voice solely hers. Living Wisconsin, she’s currently working on a follow-up to Homegirl! As a fan, I decided to ask her about writing, life, and her influences.

Tell us about yourself: what drew you to writing and when did you start?

I started writing in grade school; I’d always been an avid reader. I started out writing really maudlin poetry about unrequited love and death. You could say I was a very sunny child… (more…)

Flesh Made World—an excerpt from an upcoming novel

by
Daulton Dickey.

art-2324030_960_720It confused her whenever it happened. And it was at least partly confusing because she couldn’t always anticipate when it would happen.

Sometimes a chill curled her spine, sometimes her temples throbbed, sometimes her knees ached—and then sometimes the world blinked off and on without warning or the slightest provocation, at least as far as she could tell. (more…)

Tyler Returned, a story by Jessica McHugh

by
Jessica McHugh.

img_4448“Janie, will you please eat something? Please? Maybe later, okay? Are you comfortable? Would you like a blanket? You look cold, Janie. Are you cold? Do you need a blanket?”

“No, thank you,” she replied softly, wrapping her arms around her legs.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Adam, I’m sure.”

He kissed the top of her head, and although she smiled, she didn’t look up. She simply smoothed her hair and squeezed her legs tighter.

“I’m going to the store for some cigarettes. Need anything?”

“No, thank you.”

“Okay. I shouldn’t be gone long.”

Adam bent down to kiss her again, but when she preemptively started to fix her hair, he backed off with a sigh. He headed out the door without another word, and as he drove to the store, his thoughts throttled the backs of his eyes. There was so much pain in thinking about his dear, fragile wife. She was so distant, so tortured, and he felt absolutely powerless to help her. It wrenched his heart to pieces to watch her shrink away from his touch. He wanted so badly to hold her, to console her, to make her understand that these things just happen.

Children die all the time. (more…)

Memoirs are Fiction, Which is Why I’m Writing One

by
Daulton Dickey.

img_4375Let’s get the point out of the way first, then expand on it: memoirs are works of fiction. Specifically, memoirs as artifacts of “truth” or “reality” are neither true nor real. They are constructions founded in subjectivity and the malleability of human memories; and as products of the written word, they are constructed using techniques similar, if not identical, to works of fiction.

At first glance, memoirs seem to hold a place separate from fiction and non-fiction. Memoirs appear to some as the vehicles through which truth, in some sense objective, travels.

Memoirs are strictly subjective, incapable of anything approaching objectivity. (more…)

18th Century Illustrations from the Works of Marquis de Sade

by
Daulton Dickey.

img_4360Psychopath, madman, degenerate, depraved, rapist, monster—you can find dozens of adjectives to describe Marquis de Sade, and most fit. The man responsible for the words “sadism” and “sadist” lived a deplorable live filled with violence and depravity. As a consequence of his actions—and writings—he spent a bulk of his life in prison.

His books manage to shock readers even today. They’re appalling, disgusting, philosophical, tedious, interesting, thought-provoking, and grotesque. But they’re not without merit and they’ve found a peculiar place in the western canon.

Earlier editions of his books, hidden in libraries and owned by elite members with certain sexual proclivities, included fascinating and grotesque illustrations. Below are a few examples. Enjoy. Or not. (more…)

In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka

by
Franz Kafka.
Translated by Ian Johnston

img_4363“It’s a peculiar apparatus,” said the Officer to the Traveler, gazing with a certain admiration at the device, with which he was, of course, thoroughly familiar. It appeared that the Traveler had responded to the invitation of the Commandant only out of politeness, when he had been invited to attend the execution of a soldier condemned for disobeying and insulting his superior. Of course, interest in the execution was not very high, not even in the penal colony itself. At least, here in the small, deep, sandy valley, closed in on all sides by barren slopes, apart from the Officer and the Traveler there were present only the Condemned, a vacant-looking man with a broad mouth and dilapidated hair and face, and the Soldier, who held the heavy chain to which were connected the small chains which bound the Condemned Man by his feet and wrist bones, as well as by his neck, and which were also linked to each other by connecting chains. The Condemned Man had an expression of such dog-like resignation that it looked as if one could set him free to roam around the slopes and would only have to whistle at the start of the execution for him to return. (more…)

Before the Law by Franz Kafka

by
Frank Kafka.
Translated by Ian Johnston

img_4336Before the law sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the law. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.” At the moment the gate to the law stands open, as always, and the gatekeeper walks to the side, so the man bends over in order to see through the gate into the inside. When the gatekeeper notices that, he laughs and says: “If it tempts you so much, try it in spite of my prohibition. But take note: I am powerful. And I am only the most lowly gatekeeper. But from room to room stand gatekeepers, each more powerful than the other. I can’t endure even one glimpse of the third.” The man from the country has not expected such difficulties: the law should always be accessible for everyone, he thinks, but as he now looks more closely at the gatekeeper in his fur coat, at his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar’s beard, he decides that it would be better to wait until he gets permission to go inside. The gatekeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down at the side in front of the gate. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and he wears the gatekeeper out with his requests. The gatekeeper often interrogates him briefly, questioning him about his homeland and many other things, but they are indifferent questions, the kind great men put, and at the end he always tells him once more that he cannot let him inside yet. The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, spends everything, no matter how valuable, to win over the gatekeeper. The latter takes it all but, as he does so, says, “I am taking this only so that you do not think you have failed to do anything.” During the many years the man observes the gatekeeper almost continuously. He forgets the other gatekeepers, and this one seems to him the only obstacle for entry into the law. He curses the unlucky circumstance, in the first years thoughtlessly and out loud, later, as he grows old, he still mumbles to himself. He becomes childish and, since in the long years studying the gatekeeper he has come to know the fleas in his fur collar, he even asks the fleas to help him persuade the gatekeeper. Finally his eyesight grows weak, and he does not know whether things are really darker around him or whether his eyes are merely deceiving him. But heimg_4337 recognizes now in the darkness an illumination which breaks inextinguishably out of the gateway to the law. Now he no longer has much time to live. Before his death he gathers in his head all his experiences of the entire time up into one question which he has not yet put to the gatekeeper. He waves to him, since he can no longer lift up his stiffening body. The gatekeeper has to bend way down to him, for the great difference has changed things to the disadvantage of the man. “What do you still want to know, then?” asks the gatekeeper. “You are insatiable.” “Everyone strives after the law,” says the man, “so how is that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?” The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, “Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.”

You can find more translations by Ian Johnston here.

Off and On the Road: an autobiographical appreciation of Jack Kerouac

Off and On the Road
or,
How I Got Stoned and Became a Literary Junky
by
Daulton Dickey.

[Author’s note: this is an old piece, written about 7 years ago. I recently re-discovered it and decided to post it in its entirety, and unchanged, i.e. unrevised.]

1.

Lee[1] blew into his hands and rubbed them together, trying to breathe life into his fingers. Scrunching his shoulders, he pulled his coat collar up and squeezed the opening at the base of his throat, tightening the collar around his neck. A smile had attacked his face earlier and it refused to retreat, and he bared his teeth as breath escaped his nostrils and slipped out of his mouth. He looked beside him, at RCannabis-Bankay, and his smile widened.

Ray had a way of smiling with his eyes that seemed to inform his entire way of thinking, his entire worldview, and when he smiled at Lee, grimacing without showing his teeth, his eyes curled upward and mimicked what his mouth would have done—should have done—if he wasn’t so self-conscious. Ray shiver-stomped and jogged in place, half warding off the wind, half dancing in anticipation. Then he glanced at me and laughed. I was standing between them—if viewed from above we would have formed an asymmetrical triangle—and crossed my arms at my chest, burying my hands in my armpits, struggling, fighting, praying for heat to engulf me, to inject colors other than red into my hands and face.

“Man,” Lee said, “this is going to be awesome.”[2]

We stood between two houses, Lee’s and Ray’s, and looked to our right, toward the street, and to our left, toward the back alley. But no one showed up. (more…)

Sacred Gardens: A meditation on possession in Don DeLillo’s novella The Body Artist

by
Justin Burnett.

bodyartist_first_edPossession is a strange concept. Like many of the categorizations we use to piece together what roughly might be called our social existence, possession is marked more by its ambiguities than its certainties. What do we possess? We possess our possessions. But what are those? Merely material things that cost money, that stand at one end of a transaction like the period at the end of a sentence? A mere placeholder for exchange, a trophy for participation in capitalist society, a pause after a civic duty duly discharged?

Perhaps it entails something closer to an aura, a relation within a context of other objects, accumulated for aesthetic or practical use. “It was his coffee and his cup. They shared the newspaper but it was actually, unspokenly, hers” (4). The coffee is his only in contrast to the newspaper (which is hers). Is this possession, then, this magical game of comparison, animating the space between the mute objects of our houses with a thin web of relations? An imperceptible fabric strung between the piano in the corner, the hand-painted cerulean lamp table, the sofa patched with soft, gently outlined squares, the white, porcelain coffee cup on the glass surface of the card table, near the edge furthest away from the stack of unopened bills? (more…)