One Book In My Hand And A Stack Of Others On the Floor

“I like best to have one book in my hand, and a stack of others on the floor beside me, so as to know the supply of poppy and mandragora will not run out before the small hours.”
Dorothy Parker, The Collected Dorothy Parker

Recycled Books, Denton, Texas (taken a long time ago, obviously)

There was a time when we could go to bookstores. Especially big ol’ huge used bookstores (like Recycled Books) with rooms – a confused labyrinth of passages between towering shelves – that odd quiet of millions of sheets of paper adsorbing the sound – the slight smell of mold and ancient wisdom. I would stand in a place like that (or the library) and feel panic because I would never live long enough to read one percent of this – so much knowledge that I would never possess – haunted by the thought that somewhere in there – in that massive agglomeration – is the one book that would enlighten me and tell me exactly what I need to know and I don’t know enough to find it and wouldn’t know it if I saw it.

It feels like those days are so long in the past – it seemed like we could do anything (except smoke in the elevator) – the memories are fading – will those days ever come back again?

Recycled Books
Denton, Texas

Recycled Books Records CDs
Denton, Texas
(click to enlarge)

Recycled Books, Denton, Texas

 

 

The Small Things You, Yourself Have

“What’s really important here,” I whispered loudly to myself,”is not the big things other people have thought up, but the small things you, yourself have”
Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

 

I Enter A Swamp As A Sacred Place

“Thoreau the “Patron Saint of Swamps” because he enjoyed being in them and writing about them said, “my temple is the swamp… When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum… I seemed to have reached a new world, so wild a place…far away from human society. What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs, if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty.”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings

Bald Cypress Knees, Waco, Texas

Short Story (flash fiction) of the day, Gator Butchering For Beginners by Kristen Arnett

Flay everything open. Pry free the heart. It takes some nerve. What I mean is, it’ll hurt, but you can get at what you crave if you want it badly enough.

—-Kristen Arnett, Gator Butchering For Beginners

Alligator, Robert Tabak, Frisco, Texas

Sometimes fiction is about one thing but really about another thing. Today’s flash fiction is obviously about butchering an alligator but even more obviously not about butchering an alligator.

Also… when it comes to butchering an alligator – what is it like to be a beginner? More importantly what it is like to not be a beginner – to be, for example, the person that writes the instructions?

Gator Butchering For Beginners by Kristen Arnett

from Electric Literature

Kristen Arnett

Short Story of the day, Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders

Afterward, our protestations of love poured forth simultaneously, linguistically complex and metaphorically rich: I daresay we had become poets. We were allowed to lie there, limbs intermingled, for nearly an hour. It was bliss. It was perfection. It was that impossible thing: happiness that does not wilt to reveal the thin shoots of some new desire rising from within it.

—-George Saunders, Escape from Spiderhead

Louise Bourgeois, Spider, New Orleans

Trying to get through the isolation by reading more. Another short story today – a very good, if more than a little harrowing.

Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders

from The New Yorker

This story is touted as a famous example of dystopian fiction. It’s a peculiar type of dystopia… a personal hell… maybe a penance, maybe deserved. Still, even under those circumstances the important thing is that some humanity and some sympathy for your fellow man remains. Still remains. Even if it doesn’t do anyone any good.

Excellent read. One plus – it’s definitely not safe for work.

Short Story of the Day, Regret, by Kate Chopin

Mamzelle Aurlie certainly did not pretend or aspire to such subtle and far-reaching knowledge on the subject as Aunt Ruby possessed, who had “raised five an’ buried six” in her day. She was glad enough to learn a few little mother-tricks to serve the moment’s need.

—– Kate Chopin, Regret

Kids love the reflecting pool. The water is less than a quarter inch deep.

I, like a lot of people, read Kate Chopin’s The Awakening in college. I liked it – and it left a lasting impression – though I obviously wasn’t paying much attention because I thought it took place in Europe – France to be exact. It wasn’t until decades and decades later I realized it was set in New Orleans and Belle Isle – places I have become very familiar with. I guess I wasn’t that far off – it’s sort of France.

At an rate, here’s today’s story – a tale of a very different place and an even more different time than we live in now. But the people are the same, after all.

 

Regret, by Kate Chopin

from American Literature – Short Stories and Classic Literature

Short Story of the Day – Lobsters, by Elisabeth Dahl

Tom’s barrel chest jerked up, then down at regular intervals, following the dictates of the hospital ventilator. Attached to the machine, he seemed all torso, his lower half an afterthought, like the straw-haired Resusci Annies that he’d haul around the high school gym during CPR units. That was long ago, when he was the coach and Helen was the music teacher and they were, improbably perhaps, in love.

—-Elisabeth Dahl, Lobsters

Crystal Beach, Texas

Today’s short story has a setting that, unfortunately, a good number of us are probably going to be experiencing soon… sitting in a hospital room with a loved one (or, technically, an ex-loved one) on a respirator.

Read it here:

Lobsters, by Elisabeth Dahl

from American Short Fiction

In the opening paragraph of the story, quoted above, is a reference to Resusci Annies. From the context, I assumed this was a CPR mannequin, but I wasn’t sure. I looked it up and sure enough, that’s what it meant. But, as often happens with this internet thing and all its rabbit holes – I found a story as interesting, if not more, that the short story itself. The face of a mysterious French girl who drowned in the Seine in the 19th century ended up saving millions of lives.

One small part of the story:

The lyric “Annie, are you OK?” from the Michael Jackson song “Smooth Criminal” actually stems from American CPR training, in which students practice speaking to their unresponsive plastic patient, CPR Annie.