I’ve spent little time on autobiography in any of my fiction, which now amount to two drafts of a book, three dismal screenplays and a few dozen short stories scattered across the last 10 years. Autobiography interests me little. MY autobiography, I mean. The autobiographies of Keith Richards, Tina Fey and Robert Evans proved quite compelling. But I live my live, I revisit my life, I run my life through my brain and post occasional moments from it on these pages. I’d rather not spend further time within myself spinning actual happenings into fiction. It’s far more thrilling to invent or at least take the light elements of reality and transform them into something new, vivid and experienced for the first time on the page. Continue reading
I’ve begun another draft of my book, the third major revision (though virtually every existing section has undergone a dozen passes and edits). A primary change will involve reshaping the characters of Margot’s parents. Here’s a new section (about 5 pages) featuring Margot’s mother. Continue reading
By Jesse Crall
They scream “retard” and “faggot” and “fatass” and “faggotass” and “fucktard,” cries and shouts from yards away landing blows with every pass across field and hallway. Clark turns to find gathering masses disengaged and whispering amongst themselves. He isn’t used to the malice. His mother, Calliope, is a kind woman, too kind in Clark’s estimation. She calls him “Clark Bar” and treats every letdown with a grinning optimism divorced from logic or her son’s wishes. Clark is her late bloomer, her gentle giant, her sweet boy with brilliance residing in his heart, his soul. After tense hours spent laboring over times tables or wading through clunky sentences to spot the endless nouns, Clark winds up in Calliope’s bosom, always in her bosom, her plump arms wrapped tight around his back as she sways them both. Only when they part does Clark find the day’s first relief as he hurries to his room to be finally, gratefully alone. Continue reading
Martha called him her Dandelion. Dandelion. Called him Dandelion when he’d roar his little roar with widened eyes and mouth stretched to brandish fangs he didn’t have.
Martha bled on The Old Road. Tripped over something hard, something round, and her knee skidded across the rough blacktop. In her mind she imagined minutes of high flight before the brutal descent but she knew her fall was insignificant, inglorious. She was a 6-year-old girl who tripped and that was all. Tears weren’t necessary; the pain receded quickly enough and there weren’t any people around she could provoke into pitying questions and small gifts of tenderness offered in the relief of a body unscathed. She brushed away the dark bits of road and rock mixing into the streaks of fast-drying blood and continued on home, hopeful her mother wouldn’t find enough severity in the wound to warrant a sting of alcohol dabbed with cotton. Continue reading
In August of 2014, I made my first trip out of the United States in order to see Kate Bush perform her first live concert in 35 years. For devotees of Kate Bush, the prospect of flying 7000 miles for a 3-hour show is but a trifle. I’d have taken a steamship across various capes to see it.
I decided to open the trip with a 3-day run up to England’s Lake District, a national park region in Cumbria County known for its rustic settings, quaint villages and arresting hiking paths. Plus, the Lake District offers inexpensive lodging and I really couldn’t afford 10 days in London. No one without a finance degree and lax business morals can.
I’m glad you could come, I hope you can stay.
The water falls languid and long from spa to pool. From hot to cold. From harsh jets to gentle waves.
Body at the edge of deep,
the edge of jump
the edge of splash sink side-glance at legs and filters.
A burning back, a scream. A laugh.
Someone in slacks pushed as they plead dry-cleaning and contact lenses.
It’s karma, she says
while he nods, drinks
finds space below pendant
that keeps him nodding, keeps him drinking
keeps him prone to drives from valley to westside
to take another dive.
Ishtar bought the house. Words said on phone, whispered in the open.
A larceny on par with Lufthansa, reference made once to her, once to him, again and again and again to them.
Body on the edge of fat
the edge of old
the edge of insulted ignored-
A smile from behind, a dance. A joke.
He didn’t say a word when she went from ash to auburn.
I’m glad you could come, I hope you can stay.
A knock, a breath, a cough to clear the crap the air the nerves.
He knows she’s blonde because he saw her move in. Saw her walk with boxes and tables and chairs.
A couch handled with a friend.
Probably a friend.
A woman the same age, too small to move furniture for a living. So he saw her blonde hair, cropped at the shoulders and ending in ringlets formed by curlers
or the air damp for the late summer season.
He saw her jeans, light blue and a little loose.
Women don’t wear jeans that loose any more.
They used to.
When he was younger and they were younger and everyone else was younger he’d walk down the hill to the Mayfair market.
Half a mile there, half a mile back,
passing at least 5, 6 women every time.
And at least one of those women would look great, with her loose jeans and loose shirt that let him wonder imagine obsess over everything beneath the fabric while he checked expiration dates and looked for flaws in ripening pears.
At least one looked great.
At least one.
And they all, almost all, damn near all looked better then he did. Better than he could get, expect, approach with steady voice and stilled eyes.
So she’s blonde and she wears the loose jeans.
Maybe the jeans were for the move, a cheap pair she could beat up and rip and scrape.
Jeans with which to paint.
Maybe they’re a necessity. Money tight, old clothes in long-term rotation…
Maybe they’re part of her character. She keeps keeps keeps anything clean and capable and able to give her what she wants, what she needs.
Guess the former, hope the latter.
A knock, a breath a cough to clear the crap the air
Adapted from the book.
Take hold of want, of impulse, of desire. Of time spent on the edge of logic.
Use your license. Don’t own your license. Use your license.
Use your youth. Don’t exist in a state of youth. Use your youth.
Youth lost to all who survive, but the memories last last last and give color to the bleakest monotony of advanced years.
Memories in monotony like rainbows from sprinklers. Like imagination from boredom. Like breath in the permanent black.
Just screwing around with this rather rancid short story. I suppose you could call it “epistolary” but such a moniker also describes The Color Purple and I doubt Alice Walker would appreciate the association.
I finally revised my opening chapter, a process I detailed in this post. I’ve posted the new section below. Also, anyone who wants to read my current draft is welcome to do so (you can leave your e-mail in the comments section or DM me on Twitter if you follow me). The draft is full-length though it will include some typos and underdeveloped bits. You’re under NO obligation to give notes though any are certainly appreciated.
Anyway, here’s the new opening, a section of about 4500 words: Continue reading