13 August 2005

A couple short bits of fiction

I don't know whether or not I've actually linked these here or not, but I figured I might as well post them here, since I am actually pretty proud of them.

I think everyone knows that one of my favorite authors is David Foster Wallace, and I did a couple of style-parodies of his work; one was for a contest, and the other was for fun (or, well, more accurately, to good-naturedly make fun of someone). But I actually liked them, so I thought I'd share them (hopefully not Again, but I can always nuke this post if it's a repeat-type thing anyway).

Since this is behind the cut, I'll go into italics mode for comments. Anyway, the first one was, as I mentioned, for a contest. The prize was a book that had been written about DFW's work and whatnot, and the rules were to write a style parody that incorporated a car driving up and a pop-culture reference, and to be only 400 words. The last one strikes me as a bit of an odd constraint for an author known primarily for his wordiness, but I can sympathize, as I wouldn't want to have to read through 100 20 page short stories either.

I ended up getting an Honorable Mention, which meant I had to buy the book anyway. The book was OK, but I think that part of the reason I didn't win was that (aside from it being probably the easiest DFW-related joke you could make) the author of the book clearly preferred the early-era Wallace stuff (like
Broom of the System and Girl With Curious Hair, where I much, much prefer the later stuff (i.e., I though Girl was uneven and hated Broom). But hey, I liked it, and went through a bunch of drafts whittling it down.

The[1] car[2] pulled[3] up[4] into[5] the[6] driveway.[7] Daniel[8] locked[9] up,[10] and[11] went[12] inside.[13]
[1] Since the reader hasn't yet been acquainted with this particular car, perhaps she would prefer the indefinite article be used instead.[a]
[a] Even though it's obvious the car is definite-article-worthy, otherwise she (i.e. the reader) wouldn't be reading about it.

[2] A blue 2002 Acura RSX. Though Daniel[a] often wished he bought what he had always heard called a 'Weego'[b] a/k/a 'driver's ed car' with two sets of controls (i.e. pedals, steering columns, &c.). Not because he was teaching driving or was even a bad driver, but because he always thought they looked wicked.[c]
[a] The driver-slash-owner.
[b] (or perhaps 'We-Go')
[c] The only other fantasy Daniel has w/r/t cars: the DeLorean, mainly for the stupid jokes he can make about going back in time when he hits 85[i] m.p.h.
[i] [sic]

[3] Or rather glided. Daniel takes very good care of his car despite not being a 'car person.'

[4] 'Up' has always struck him as an odd term to use in this sense. Daniel's driveway isn't on a slight incline as most are, but flat with not even a curb to go over.

[5] Daniel also regards 'into' as he does 'up', considering that there is nothing to make an 'in' to go 'to'.

[6] See note 1 supra.

[7] It's not even really a driveway but more like a very short private road.

[8] Daniel J. Hobart (1975-2036?) has always liked his name, but never diminutive forms like 'Danny', not even as a child when such names are commonplace.

[9] He had a remote-control lock that made things easier. Or so he'd tell himself since turning around, putting a key in a lock and turning it until you hear the 'snick' could hardly be called 'difficult'.

[10] Strangely, this use of the word 'up' didn't bother him at all.

[11] He didn't actually go immediately inside his house, but rather kicked a stone and dawdled a bit before walking to the door and letting himself in.

[12] Daniel never liked the way the word 'went' sounded, but it was still one of his most used words, next to 'also' and 'um'.[i]
[i] Which is hardly even a word, really.

[13] (i.e. his house)

The second one was written as a comment in the Livejournal DFW community, in response to someone asking about good Chinese restaurants in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. (It's a common confusion; John Darnielle on KEXP talked about how he always thinks about flying in to "David Foster Wallace Airport".) So, I wrote a recommendation for a Chinese Restaurant in DFW's style; it's a parody of "Forever Overhead" the (insanely beautiful; one of my favorite pieces of writing ever) short story in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. Unfortunately, being in Seattle, I don't know of any restaurants in Dallas, but the New Luck Toy is a real place, in West Seattle, and it actually is very, very good. It might actually be my favorite Chinese place. I totally recommend it for real if you're in Seattle.

Anyway, though I didn't actually mean any malice or anything, and I don't think any offense was taken, and the person just deleted the post from the community and apologized. Luckily, I saved it before it got nuked. So, hooray!

And, for the record, I used to pretty much always get the Sweet and Sour Pork, but now I usually actually do get Dinner Combo #4. (only with extra pork fried rice instead of the Subgum Chow Mein, since I don't really like Chow Mein, and love Pork Fried Rice.

Well, the New Luck Toy is that restaurant you go to when it's your thirteenth birthday and your parents tell you that you're growing into an adult and can choose anything on the menu. You feel your flesh sink into the upholstery of the booth, and feel your skin stick to the fake leather. Your eyes look over the chinese horoscope place and you find your sign, since at 13, you haven't yet given up on the slight comfort that can be found in the unknown. You notice your sign and the signs it tells you to stay away from, and your eyes drift to these forbidden astrological animal symbols and notice that they're all linked in a chain. The waiter comes, and you eye him suspiciously, even though he's a very nice man, just because you know that he knows that you're going to order for yourself tonight because it's your thirteenth birthday and there's something palpably different about you obvious to even the most casual of observers. You take the beaten menu and feel the smooth yet vaguely viscious clear plastic holding in the establishment's culinary offerings, reading each dish's name to yourself taking the words and the weight in your mouth and head. Your parents tell you not to worry about the price, but you're an adult now and you realize that things like that have to be taken into consideration, lest you be considered rude and worse still immature since after all it's a child who goes to an ice cream parlor and orders the biggest sundae with mountains of ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate knowing that even though she can't possibly eat it all, perhaps this time she will be able to and besides it doesn't matter because she wants it. But you, at 13, know that this is no longer you, and you check the prices and rule out the most expensive, even though Dinner Combo #4 looks like it might be appetizing. You think about going out, asking to choose a different restaurant, perhaps one you're more familiar with, but you look around and see that to get to the exit, you'd have to walk by the other booths, as well as the cash register. It could be done, but it would be awkward -- your mother has also recommended this restaurant and you don't want to let her down. That wouldn't be the adult thing to do. A bead of sweat trickles down your temple, down your cheek, off your chin, onto the horoscope placemat. Finally, the waiter comes back and asks if you all have decided yet. Your parents agree, and he first looks at you and waits for your order and the words escape your lips sealing your fate to the winds of change and adulthood. Forever sweet-and-sour pork. Also, forever side of steamed rice.


Blogger Lee H. said...

No, these aren't repeats, and I love 'em! :D Esp. the Chinese restaurant review. I've never read any David Foster Wallace (I know we talked about him a lot in the past, though), but this is still a great bit of writing. Heh heh!

10:59 AM, August 14, 2005  
Blogger Rev. Syung Myung Me said...

Heh, I think I always mention this, but Infinite Jest is a must read, but I'd recommend starting with Brief Interviews with Hideous Men to start, since that's a collection of short fiction that's in a style closest to that of IJ, which both allows you to get used to the style without a 1000 page book hanging over your head, and also allows you to find out if you hate the style without a 1000 page book hanging over your head..8) The first 20 pages of IJ were my first DFW reading, and I ended up abandoning it, but after a while, I got Brief Interviews and read that, and it really clicked, and I went back and devoured Infinite Jest.

As I mentioned, though, avoid The Broom of the System. It's actually back in print, which is a good thing, because when I read it, I tracked down a first edition PB for $30. And it's really, really not very good.

1:43 PM, August 14, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home