12 April 2007

Three Shorts and a Long: twisted tales

I sent my mother a self-produced chapbook of my 4 short stories: "Paid in Full," "Arithmetic Lesson," "Silent Partner," and "Tweaker." I called the collection Three Shorts and a Long: twisted tales. The Morse Code dot-dot-dot-dash (3 shorts and a long!) represents the letter "V." This is a coincidence, I chose the title because the first 3 stories are "flash" pieces less than 700 words each, and the last is a "regular" length short story of about 2500 words. Now, my mother Peggy-O is a well-read and plain-spoken woman, so her thoughts on my work would never fall into the trite, motherly "that's wonderful, son" sort of thing. In fact, she labeled it as "gruesome," but also "well-written." A lovely word, gruesome. One I had not described my own work with, nor had anyone else so far. Oldest and dearest friend JCP calls my stuff "sick and twisted" (hence the title) and worries about my mental health. But I'm sticking with gruesome. According to Eric Partridge--the guy who knew more about English than anyone--it is of Germanic/Dutch ancestry and thus comes to English from the root stock. In other words, it is not Latinate. To "grue" is to "shiver with fear." Mr. Partridge says that the word is "ultimately echoic" which I take to mean onomatopoeic. Do you "gruuuue" when you shiver with fear? Cool image, huh? Readers of TPP (there are a few of you, at least) know I don't have to defend noir, hard-boiled, horror or any other gruesome or twisted fiction. The things people do to each other in real life are far, far more horrible than anything a writer can imagine. Writing about the dark and frightening things is the artist's way of dealing, of coping with the sinister side of life. Besides, I only accumulated 4-6 dead bodies in TSAAL:tt, Shakespeare can have that many piled on stage in one scene! Hell, in The Book of Joshua, the Man Upstairs and His Chosen Folks go a-slewin' and a-smotin' with such reckless abandon it is hard to believe we are ENCOURAGED to read this shit! Damn! Enough of that. Y'all send me an email (moc@snowcrest.net) and I'll send you a my little effort if you are interested. But don't get surly if you find it too gruesome.


Anonymous said...

The Twisted Tales are, indeed twisted, so you are coming along nicely, I reckon, sick and descriptive. I particularly liked your first description of Cassie:'If Tinkerbell had had chemotherapy....' -- and the fact that Cassie turned out to be a real piece of work. It is about time you discovered Lawrence Block, and Jon Carroll and I do think that Lee Child's Jack Reacher (especially the early books) might fit into your reading rather well. ('Too-Many-Books-Never-Enough-Time' Dept). Keep on grossing us out, Mark -- it's what makes you special! NOC

M.C. O'Connor said...

I have put Lee Child on my "to buy" list for Powell's this summer. Thanks for the comments and the recommendation. "Too many books . . ."