Sunday, November 19, 2006


My story "Who Goes with Ferg?", the title story of my master's thesis, has been rejected at three of the four journals I have sent it to: The Southern Review, The Black Warrior Review, and The New England Review. The New England Review was probably the nicest of the three, giving me a note of encouragement for "placing" it somewhere else and telling me that they admired the writing. Of course I got that handwritten note from Bret Lott at the Southern Review, which, like R.E.M.'s first album, either strikes me as upbeat or depressing depending on my mood. That'll happen when someone tells you that your "long-winded" story is a "fun read." He's right, though. At 26 pages, I really shouldn't have expected it to be published anywhere. I'm almost hoping that the Missouri Review, my last and best chance, will also reject the story, so that I can do some serious shaving. I guess that now I'm worried that the story doesn't have enough gravity. There's nothing really serious in it, aside from some mild sexual deviance, some anti-PC observations, and the narrator's expressed desire to have sex with his twin brother's ex. But it seems like everything I've been reading lately has something Huge and Adult pressing down on the whole thing--Death, Abuse, Crime, etc. And this story's just too madcap to hold any of that. At any rate, I imagine that it will be published somewhere. I have to remind myself that my goals last year at this time included creating just one publishable story. I should consider myself lucky I have three, possibly four.

Now go. Stop kvetching. Get out and jog around the neighborhood. Enjoy the day.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cool Wheels

Scuttlebutt has it that Volume 2 is due quite soon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Reunion Tower at night

Has anyone else mistaken this for a forever-suspended explosion of fireworks? Or is it just me? Does that wear off after you've lived here a while?

Lost in the city

My name is Jack. I am a librarian; I currently work at the UNT-Dallas campus south of town, and I hope to have another librarian job soon. I am also a writer; if you asked me which profession I would prefer to be considered better at, I would emphatically tell you the latter.

I live in the city of Dallas, just off Oak Lawn, almost in Highland Park. At the hottest part of the day I don a wife-beater and army swim trunks and run down Armstrong Parkway. I run past the homes so large I find it hard to believe that anyone lives in them. Tejano music, blasted out of the pickup trucks and dusty stereos of the Mexican workers who maintain these homes, provides the soundtrack of this daily jog.

I lost nearly ninety pounds once, only to discover the same person beneath all that fat. It was mildly disappointing.

I call myself a writer but I've yet to publish anything. That should change this fall, when I begin sending out stories from my master's thesis. Right now, I can't see writing a novel, even though I keep trying to resuscitate an aborted attempt from my workshop days. I keep telling myself that, one day, a novel's just going to spill out of me. Until then, I'm reading things that other, better people have spilled out, like Stephen Wright's "Meditations in Green" and Harry Crews' "A Feast of Snakes." But I prefer short stories; I enjoy being able to check out a collection from the Oak Lawn branch down the road and not having to read the whole thing to get an appreciation of it. In that category, I am reading Mark Richard's "The Ice at the Bottom of the World," Larry Brown's "Facing the Music," Mark Jude Poirier's "Naked Pueblo," and Scott Snyder's "Voodoo Heart." I think that there's a book about Dallas waiting to be written. If Michael Cunningham can write a great book about Cleveland, then why not Dallas?

The best albums I have bought this year are "Fishscale" by Ghostface and "Everything All the Time" by Band of Horses. I still haven't given "A Hundred Miles Off" by the Walkmen much of a chance. I would buy the new discs from Sufjan Stevens and Okkervil River, but I don't want the sloppy seconds of superior albums from last year. The two releases I am most excited about in the fall are the sophomore efforts from The Rapture and TV on the Radio. Invariably, the latter's "Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes" has been playing non-stop on my car stereo ever since I moved here. TVOTR reminds me of this city: steely, warm, detached, throbbing, and full of pissed-off black people.

I haven't done much since I've been here. Weekends are spent sleeping off the past week. I have an urge to be part of some cultural scene but must remind myself that I really don't care all that much. If there's been one constant in my life, it's not really fitting in with whatever group I'm surrounded by at any given moment.