Off and On the Road
How I Got Stoned and Became a Literary Junky
[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.]
Lee 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 Ray, 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.”
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…)
Peggy Christie began writing horror in 1999. A member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers, she’s written novels and short stories, including The Vessel and Hell Hath No Fury.
Her stories have appeared in several publications, such as Sinister Tales, Black Ink Horror, Necrotic Tissue, Elements of Horror, and more.
The daughter of a printer, a man with a wicked sense of humor and a big heart, she says, Peggy embodies horror artistry by combining her passion for horror with the craft of a seasoned professional.
To celebrate the month of Halloween, I decided to interview her as the first in an installment of Women of Horror.
Tell us about yourself: when did you start writing?
I loved creative writing when it started in 6th grade. But as I wrote some pretty gruesome stuff back then, my teacher told me I couldn’t do it anymore. So, I stopped. But when I hit 30 and had a particularly bad day at work, I wrote a short story as a form of therapy and I’ve been hooked ever since!
What drew you to horror?
I’ve always loved horror, even as a little kid. I loved watching Creature Feature and Sir Graves Ghastly every Saturday afternoon. All those Roger Corman/Hammer films, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and of course, my first love, Vincent Price, kept me enraptured for those few hours they were on TV. I always wanted more. (more…)
Transgressive fiction is a genre of literature which focuses on characters who feel confined by the norms and expectations of society and who break free of those confines in unusual or illicit ways
Without spending too much time elaborating on theories w/r/t transgressive fiction, the above quote is from Wikipedia. Succinct, it offers a broad enough outline to convey the gist of this often ill-defined subset of fiction.
This isn’t a definitive list. It’s also not intended as authoritative. Instead, it’s a list of some transgressive books that have inspired me as a writer—and a person—over the years. Although I should clarify that I don’t love every book on this list. In fact, I find some of them repugnant, their authors appalling, but they’ve still affected me in one way or the other.
If you haven’t read much transgressive fiction, you should do yourself a favor a take a detour into world funny and strange, terrifying, awe-inspiring, and disturbing.
Although this list deals primarily with fiction, I’ve decided to include a few important works of non-fiction and poetry.
How to Talk Dirty and Influence People by Lenny Bruce
(Playboy Publishing, 1965)
Perhaps the most important comedian of the twentieth century, Lenny Bruce introduced satire and social commentary to mainstream comedy. His career started as any other in the 1950s: telling jokes wherever he could—bars, strip clubs, fledgling nightclubs. His career started with a whimper as he told jokes typical of the time. But when he found his voice, he forever changed the face of comedy—and became a target for federal and local law enforcement and puritanical groups intent on preserving the bland discourse of totalitarian 50s America. (more…)
Artist Steven Archer has created a raw, textured cover to match B.E. Burkhead’s gritty, and unapologetic realism. In this poetry collection Burkhead shows readers what happens when they take off their rose-colored glasses and look at the world around them.
Coming in July
You can pre-order this collection now!
“Underside took me on an unexpected emotional journey I relished long after reading. To me that’s the mark of a damn fine collection–and one that will remain in my library forever.” —Jessica McHugh, author of The Green Kangaroos
“There is a blatant honesty, an abject truth in B. E. Burkhead’s words, which is not buoyantly hateful, but bleakly hopeful.”—G. Arthur Brown, author of Kitten
About the Artist
Steven Archer is an artist and musician living in Baltimore, MD. When not recording, DJing, or producing art, he and his wife, author Donna Lynch, tour with their dark electronic rock band Ego Likeness. He has a BFA from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC and has shown his work at galleries and other venues throughout the east coast. His work has also been shown internationally in the form of album art and magazine illustrations. He is the author and illustrator of the children’s book Luna Maris. For more information about Ego Likeness, please visitwww.egolikeness.com. Steven’s solo electronic project can be found at www.hopefulmachines.net.
About the Author
Born dead to a barren woman, B. E. Burkhead is a poet, writer and artist. He lives on the vestigial tail of Maryland with his wife, son and an army of starving cats. The Underside of the Rainbow is his first book of collected poetry.
Soft tiled tissue of longing and regret shoot from the prism of circles folding inward from cackles distorting our eyes. Merry go rounds spurt with the juice of ten thousand angels martyred and hung and forced to spend the rest of eternity* spinning in endless circles. Through caves in the universe emerge miasmas of rock and salt, of thoughts brimming with annihilation, and through circles in time, through gaps, they slip in and devour the moment without expression.
Slurp slip sloop, the heavens cry as they distend and droop into the flowers and soil below. And the stench of honeydew permeates the air before flames disintegrate the spirit of neglect. The worlds in the silence of the motion of atoms hum and hem and haw and drum slowly the output of trillions of neurons and sketch flames into the canyons of organic machines too blind to notice the empty gazes in their reflections.
Where concrete and gold flow into the wombs of pregnant cultures, corruption creeps into the smiles of the machines, each of whom trade gold for reflections better suited to their images of hungry and explosive gazes. But nothing is ever complete, and grapes hang on vines and pop and bleed onto the ground; fire ants hatch from the cells of traipsing blood and scurry along the grass, trying to evade their inevitable rise. And sure enough: they do rise. Each ant shifts and evolves and transforms into musical notes and soars onto the tablature of the moment as it skips along the tremolo of the spinning planet.
And we’re left alone, deaf to the songs played by the wind and blind to the black holes devouring our reflections.
*’The rest of eternity’ is, of course, a pun: you cannot quantify that which does not end. Men have tried, and they’ve exalted in the fountains of their newly found neuroses.
[copyright 2014 Daulton Dickey]
by Daulton Dickey
Emptiness: the sorrow of bloom; despair: the excitement of emotions
Collapsing like waves over you
They slam into you and push you through the vortex of vertices pinpointing
The moment of derision, when
Everything split open and the illusion of meaning vanished into the swelling
Carcass of immortality,
That bitch of a delusion carved
From the fruits of fear and uncertainty; Anxiety: the rush of gloom in full
Bloom as it traces the history
Of the genealogy locked inside the generations of information swirling inside
You, passing through your
Heart and racing to your brain, and fueling the emptiness as it wilts and decays.
by Daulton Dickey
Sorrow is a mask you wear
When plucking tulips from the
Grave of continuity
Some things continue and
Some things fade and the burden
Of enlightenment shimmers beneath
The contusion of mimetic realism—
The fantasies and phantasia of ancestors
Too far removed from the indelible and
Intelligible source of
The inspiration for their own
Dread is the resolve you bare
When you stand on the ruins
Of a rung on the continuum
Interwoven with the crescendoing
Symphony of illusion
The notes are intangible yet
Experiential and the synthesis of
The conception of solidity quakes
The gaps in the matter fluttering inside
And beneath you
And these permutations vibrate in
The frequency of the optic nerve—
Then the sorrow transforms into
And the mask becomes
by Daulton Dickey
Light drifts on a wave as it flows through
The point where space and time converge,
A sea from which images are disassembled
The waves converge with the maelstroms
Spinning in your eyes
And the point of the sea blossoms,
Blossoms—a model assembled
Inside you, a moment reflected and
Filtered by you
Then you reject it: you cast light onto
A wave and watch the current
Drag it away from you
More models assemble and
And the points where space
and time converge
Shift and transform
And they alter you
And you, them