Friday, April 13, 2007

There Would Be No Row Boats


One of my friends teaches three authors a semester and at the end of the semester, he has the students rewrite a story by one of the three -- Raymond Carver, Flannery O'Connor, or Ernest Hemingway-- the way another one of the writers would have done the same plot. He told me about a student who did a Hemingway story as if Carver had done it; the grim seediness of Carver's world had completely changed the beautiful romance of Hemingway's vision. The student ended it simply -- Nobody would be watching a sunset because there would be no row boats. In Carver's world, there would be plenty of booze and cigarettes, maybe a paddleboat at best, probably decaying and leaving the characters stranded somewhere with a pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and some bean dip for nourishment. But nobody would be eating in Carver anyway. It's not that kind of world.
As I went to yoga last night, strange things kept happening as the same friend and I walked into the building. People came up to us and said cryptic, odd phrases before creeping away and a very beautiful, clearly damaged woman colored pictures of Snow White in a Disney coloring book and pointed at me and said, Like you. This shit, my friend says, never happens to me alone. You don't have to make anything up. I wanted to deny this, to say that I had a hell of an imagination. But I don't. I just look for what I want to see, what I believe to be there, the same as everyone else, except, of course, there are no row boats, just small intertubes with a few survivors clinging to them, trying to make do until they get to calmer waters.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"For a moment I felt I was in a limbo of shadows and half-formed shapes which would dissolve into nothingness if I touched them." Mary Gaitskill
Cocktail Hour
Drinking short story collection: Because They Wanted To Mary Gaitskill (favorite story in this one: "Tiny, Smiling Daddy")
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Friday the 13th! Baby Grouchie's writing career will start in earnest over the weekend, documented by yours truly. He's being very tight-lipped about his plot, but I know the rough outline. He'll be leaving the house for the very first time in years to recreate the scene of his accident and thus regain his soul, according to certain eastern belief systems. This should be a lot of fun for him. Wish him luck!

11 comments:

JLCGULL said...

Fly high, Grouchie!

The Blind Man said...

There was plenty of eating in Carver's "Cathedral," Michelle. We grazed good.

Substitute teacher said...

I once knew a high school assistant principal who tried to dive through an inner tube in his backyard swimming pool. He didn't make it and broke his neck. He's been a paraplegic in a wheelchair for the past 25 years.

Busted flat in Baton Rouge said...

I had a creative writing class in which one assignment consisted of writing an "additional" ending to Hemingway's famous story about an abortion--"Hills Like White Elephants." I tried to write as little as possible so as not to move Ernie's "beautiful romance" (as you say, Michelle) away from its inevitable conclusion.

Charles Gramlich said...

What are you going to do if Grouchie's work hits the bestseller lists, Michelle? I think I might be upset.

D. Imus said...

Those ho's finally got to me.

Mayor Ray Nagin said...

Hey, Imus, come on down for a drink. They finally got the waters off a my houses.

rush limberger said...

d. imus, I feel your pain. i know some doctors who can take care of it, though.

the walking man said...

The key to survival on the rough waters is finding the inner tubes with the dead on them, removing the corpses (after a nibble or two maybe) and then using their tubes to make a raft, then a boat and eventually when enough of them die off you will have a magnificent craft to ride out the storms.

Of course in my case I was meditating and they thought I was dead so now i am just treading water occasionally floating on my back and waiting for the next forty foot roller to come along.

JR's Thumbprints said...

That Grouchie's making my writing look bad. He's got one hell of a story.

Melvis Presley said...

I'm TCB pissed with a flash tonight. No internet so I had to go over to my sister's--elvira presley's, that is--and write to ya. Yes, I shot my last computer again. Thank you very much...

People in carver eat Menudo, m. That's the kind of world they live in: tripe, bread and a gritty cocktail of spice and sauce. And we all know about tripe. But the lead boy gets nothing, cause he eats enough of his neighbor's.... And of course he slept through it. Missing menudo probably keeps 2 out of 7 carver characters off the wagon.

I should have taken your friend's regular semester course instead of the abreviated summer one, as I missed that assignment. What could have been of nick adam's alchoholism and subsequent morphine addiction because war was kinder to him than his home town or his childhood. Not much fishing, though he loved it. He was indeed trippin balls enogh to help support a re-write in Carver's... wait... Hunter S wasn't involved with this somehow? Never mind.

All aside, another straight shootin post, m.

In retrospect, I declare one of the drinks I had tonight a toast to Hem, Flannery and Ray. And KVjr--god'll keep him writing, I'm sure. How could anyone not want all eternity to talk to the master

Carver's peeps eat cake and champnya, too! But not trout! those just rot in the kreel, apperantly. Love those metaphors!

**melvis leaves building w/o another word**