Life is a Stage, So Why Not Screw with People?

Notes on an Essay Concerning Writing, Performing, and the Nature of Reality
Daulton Dickey.

[Author’s Note: This is an unfinished essay I vaguely remember writing, the result, I suspect, of having taken too many meds, which I do by accident from time to time.]


My mind reels. Sometimes I lock myself in my head, in my world, and everything around me—my wife, my kids, my friends and job—vanish. Not literally. Figuratively. Everything slips into the background, sometimes into the deep background. Sometimes the universe transforms into background noise, a sort of visuospatial white noise. Other times, it disappears altogether.

I get so locked into my world, the world mutating and transmutating and exploding in my head, that the world and everything in it almost vanishes.

zoar2A strange sensation: living in my head inside, then going outdoors and feeling as if the world itself is indoors, as if the world is a set constructed inside a planet-sized soundstage. Sometimes, when these sensations inundate me, I glance around—at the ground and the sky, cars and buildings and passersby—and marvel at the corporeality of it all. Of everything.

On occasions, when I’m experiencing these sensations, I ask myself two questions, sometimes in conjunction, sometimes in disjunction:

What is imagination?

What is “reality”?


So I’m sitting in a wheelchair on the corner of an intersection, wearing a plaid shirt, overalls, and sunglasses. I’m hunched over in the chair, not moving. Concentrating on steadying my breath, minimizing the expansion and contraction of my rib cage, trying to render it imperceptible.

Try it. It’s a fascinating study, something akin to sociology. People ignore you when you play dead. They amble or scurry past you. Some glance while others act as though they don’t see you. Some joke while others furrow their eyebrows.

I’d probably sell the death routine if “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees wasn’t blasting from a speaker attached to my phone in my right pocket. (more…)

A Brief Manifesto for the Practicing and Emerging Artist

D. Cay.

  1. Uproot cultural norms. If something is considered “common sense,” then you daultondickeyshould ridicule or satirize it.


  1. Target modesty and decency.


  1. Celebrate obscenity, vulgarity, and cruelty.


  1. Embrace chaos.


  1. Shun “traditional” or “standard” forms or structures. If you don’t want to challenge them too radically, at least tweak them with the aim of upsetting the reader’s, or spectator’s, equilibrium.


  1. Have a point. Art for art’s sake, or strange for strange’s sake, or offensive for offensive’s sake should be treated like television: it’s all right in moderation, but too much will rot your brain.


Andy Kaufman: Architect of Reality

Daulton Dickey.

During his truncated career, Andy Kaufman inspired a variety of emotions. People loved him, despised him, hated him. Others called him a genius, a surrealist, or a Dadaist. His detractors denounced him as unfunny. ‘He’s not a comedian at all,’ they might say. ‘He’s a whackjob.’ Questions about his mental health surfaced. Amateur psychologists diagnosed him with split personalities or schizophrenia. No one knew what to make of him yet everyone tried. A unique, singular performer, Kaufman destroyed every preconception about comedy and the performing arts. He didn’t blur fantasy and reality—he created reality wherever he went, and few people, it seemed, could grapple with it.

No one attending one of his shows knew what to expect. No one interacting with him—either on or off the stage—knew to whom they were speaking. Is this a character? A put on? Is there a real Andy? His last girlfriend, Lynne Margulies, considered the latter question absurd. There was no real Andy, she’d say. She expressed this sentiment to Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, the screenwriters of Man on the Moon, the Kaufman biopic starring Jim Carrey.

Until that moment, they couldn’t get a handle on the “real” Andy Kaufman. Without determining who Kaufman was, Alexander and Karazewski couldn’t envision a movie at all. Margulies’s insight changed everything. (more…)

Recent and Upcoming Indie Book Releases

Daulton Dickey.

Absolutely Golden: A Novel
D. Foy
Stalking Horse Press

Absolutely-Golden-Store-ImageIt’s 1973, and a thirty-something widow has been cajoled by a young hippie parasite into financing their vacation to a nudist colony in the Northern California mountains. The night before their departure, however, she arrives home to learn that she and this man will be accompanied by the stripper on his lap. At Camp Freedom Lake, the trio meet a womanizing evangelist, a bumbling Zen gardener, and a pair of aging drug-addled swingers from Holland. Together, they’re catapulted through one improbable event after the other, each stranger than the last, until finally the woman who was dominated by her fear of past and future finds herself reveling in the great here and now.

D. Foy’s Absolutely Golden is a radical departure from his two previous novels, Made to Breakand Patricide. It’s comic, ebullient, magic, light, gently surrealistic. It’s rollicking, effervescent, slyly profound. But more, this brisk tale offers a kaleidoscopic look at parts of the 1970s we haven’t often seen in fiction—nudism, New Age philosophy, Eastern religion, the occult, swingers culture, California culture, and then some.

Best of all, Foy tells his story in the guise of a woman obsessed with the notion that she’ll never find another man until she’s rid of what she believes to be a mysterious curse. As if written in the marriage of Vladimir Nabokov, Renata Adler, and Anaïs Nin, her words transport us from doubt, despair, and dread into states of increasing wonder and euphoria.

Click here to Pre-order or Buy Absolutely Golden

The Abridged History of Rainfall
Jay Hopler

rainfall_pb_cover_store_siteThe Abridged History of Rainfall is a finalist for the National Book Award.
Jay Hopler’s second collection, a mourning song for his father, is an elegy of uproar, a careening hymn to disaster and its aftermath. In lyric poems by turns droll and desolate, Hopler documents the struggle to live in the face of great loss, a task that sends him ranging through Florida’s torrid subtropics, the mountains of the American West, the streets of Rome, and the Umbrian countryside. Vivid, dynamic, unrestrained: The Abridged History of Rainfall is a festival of glowing saints and fighting cocks, of firebombs and birdsong.

Click here to Pre-order or Buy The Abridged History of Rainfall



A Bunch of Bullshit: A Brief Play

Daulton Dickey.

Jimbo: Oh, this is bullshit. Absolute bullshit.

Woman: I tole you it wouldn’t work.

Jimbo: What’s not to work? It was a foolproof plan. A foolproof plan, I tell ya.

Man 2: Oh, yeah; it was genius.

Jimbo: Well, I didn’t hear you come up with no better plan.

Woman [to Man 2]: He’s right. Where was your bright idea?

Man 2: Where was your bright idea? [points to Jimbo] Or his?

Jimbo: I thought it was a pretty good idea, myself.

Woman: It was half a pretty good idea.

Man 2: Pretty good …? Is ya’ll listening to yourselves? Break into a midget’s house, replace all his clothes and shoes with stuff from the big and tall store, make him think he’s shrinking? That’s your pretty good idea?

Jimbo: Indeed it was.

Woman: Well, I, for one, thought it was hilarious. At least in theory.

Man 2: Course you’d think it was hilarious. You still laugh at knock knock jokes.

Woman: I do not, and you know it.

Jimbo [to Woman]: Hey, that reminds me: Knock knock.

Woman: Not now, Jimbo.

Man 2 [to Woman] Don’t go putting on airs on my account. I know it’s all eating you up inside, wanting to hear that joke.

Woman: Like I’m going to sit here all tormented ’cause I can’t hear the end of a joke meant for toddlers. Puh-lease.

Jimbo: So back to the issue at hand: [to Man 2] My plan was not flawed.

Man 2: Making a midget think he’s a-growing?

Jimbo: You laughed when I presented it. And you sure as hell went along with it. It was the execution was flawed.

Man 2: The execution wouldn’t’ve been flawed if you’d a told us that little man owned a dog big as a house.

Jimbo: I’d a-tole you he owned that monstrosity if I’d a-known it myself. Besides, it twitterheader (2)wasn’t that big a deal.

Man 2: Not that big of a deal? [points to leg] You see those silver-dollar-sized holes in my leg? Not that big of a … I swear on the good book if that thing has rabies, I’m a-biting the holy hell out of you.

Jimbo: Hey, now: don’t go threatening to spread your rabies to me. I was just the idea man. Ain’t my fault, his dog …

Man 2: What you mean, “threatening to spread my rabies”? You know something I don’t know? Did that big sons a bitch have rabies?

Woman: Hey, Jimbo …?

Jimbo: Do I look like some kind of rabies detective, able to diet egg nog or whatever …

Woman: Diagnose.

Jimbo: Thank you. [to man 2] Like I’m able to diag … what she said, rabies on the spot?

Man 2: I’m not kidding, Jimbo. I ain’t messing around …

Woman: Jimbo. Hey …?

Man 2: You is in for a world of hurt and pain if that big burly bastard done infected me with the rabies.

Jimbo: I don’t see why I should be punished. Didn’t nobody force you by gunpoint to break into that little man’s house.

Woman: Jim. Hey Jimbo …

Man 2: Don’t matter. It don’t matter …

Jimbo: It most certainly does …

Woman [yells]: Jimbo, goddamn it, will you listen to me?

Jimbo: Tarnations, woman, what do you want?

Woman: Who’s there?

Jimbo: I did up.

Woman: I did up who?

Jimbo: Get it? Like “I did a poo?” Like “poop?” Like you shat yourself? I did up who? Get it?

Woman laughs hysterically. Man 2 stares at them. Long pause.

Man 2: I hate you both.