Stolen Idea

I’ve finished revisions on the taxidermy book, coming in at 87,226 words in 283 pages, plus end notes. So now what? Well, to fill the writing time in the mornings until another longer project came up, I’d planned to write missed-connections ads and post them to Craigslist. These would be mini essays, nonfiction in every way, based on real people I’d encounter in my day as a new southerner negotiating a new landscape.

I’d figured such a thing had probably been done before: lyric missed connections, it’s such an obvious romantic form. But who would have thought such a thing would be going on in Tuscaloosa?

We’ve got a top-ten MFA program here, so I should have thought. And I would have taken tacks different from this writer:

In your first life, you were foolish–running where you shouldn’t be running, crashing into trees, touching everything you saw. In your next life, you were more cautious–ducking when things were thrown your way, jumping over crevasses. In the lives after that you began to understand the world that you were placed in: that things, terrible things, can come at you from behind, from underneath. To be swept off one’s feet only to fall again from the sky, curled up in a ball, rotating. When I saw you, surrounded, you were aware of the names of things–you knew that when you jumped you could move back and forth in mid-air like a balloon, like wings, like spiraling.

Like, I would have tried to be more concrete and honest. But now? I’ll try nothing. The excitement of the project is all gone.

Or maybe not. Maybe I can help turn the otherwise negligible into a literary thunderdome. Game on, wistful connection-misser! We’ll see whose inbox fills more quickly with desperation.

UPDATE: Some of these are actually quite awesome.

“In the Desert Air”

It’s not my best title, but I’ve got an essay up in the new issue of Noö. That is, the new Noö. It’s about a single night I spent with a friend on a cross-country trip taken so long ago it feels like ancient history.

Thanks to Adam for asking me to be a part of it, and to Mike and Ryan for putting together this guest-editor-rotating online venue.

Two Ways of Looking at Falseness: Part 3

This (left) may or may not be Robert Atwan.

Regardless, here’s a quote from him, courtesy of :

“The compound seems inescapable: a piece of writing may be aesthetically true, yet verifiably false; just as it can be—as is so much contemporary memoir—verifiably true but aesthetically false.”

Atwan series-edits Best American Essays. I love/hate the idea of a thing being a best American essay. But I tend to love Atwan. Here’s something else he once wrote, which I’ve told students for years: Essays are all about seeing a mind at work.