The official launch of YES TRESPASSING is approaching fast, like the cruelest month, or that center that cannot hold, or the reason for caged-bird singing as revealed in the early lessons of an undergraduate Poetry 101 textbook, or the North Korean nuclear war. YES TRESPASSING is my very first short story collection. I’ve been writing fiction since I was 5 and I’m 43 now, so hopefully all those years of hard work shine through.
For those FEW who will read this book (incidentally, the “more few” you are, be proud—don’t feel bad—Einstein, Hendrix, Beethoven, Gustav Mahler; Big Star and Alex Chilton; The Velvet Underground; Nikolai Tesla, Iggy Pop, Edgar Allan Poe, Hubert Selby, Jr. all scored really fucking high on the “fewness” meter; so did the only planet where we can be certain life itself evolved; and last time I checked it was our enemies “the many” who got behind Hitler, and did crap like voted the country of my birth over to an Emperor who has no Balls or Love or Compassion or Brains or Sense of Humor or Hair or Taste— never mind if he’s got his own line of Cheap Made in Pacific-Rim-Sweatshops-Emperor Clothing), for my beloved FEW, I would like to share a few things with you before you make my life worth living by delving into this book.
ADHD moment . . . Wait, yeah and who are those guys that are “Few and Proud?” Can’t remember but it makes me think of Latrines and it is true, to stand next to your boss at work, unmentionables dribbling, almost competing really, in terms of who has the most to their stream and who will be finished first, well, few can deal with that pressure and you gotta be proud if you can. The Few and Proud at the Latrines. Right?
Anyway, the basics first. YES TRESPASSING contains approximately 40 stories (and assorted oddities, collaborations between my fine editor Michael Bailey and myself—sometimes just Michael!) which I’ll discuss shortly in a follow-up post. It’s a really special book. I have no misgivings saying that—And I am certain of very few things in life.
Most of the stories are what you might call “weird fiction” or “cross genre.” I often think of them as consisting of several multiple genres—including that indefinable one all the fucking snooty people call “literature”(My theory: Snooty people dread being defined, they want to be free intellectuals capable of impressing their friends and especially acquaintances as to how original they are, and “literature” just about covers that since it means NOTHING—A bit like “Art” in that way)—anyway, I think of a bunch of the stories as many genres fighting themselves to a worthy resolution—not unlike an orgy of disparate cock-breeds fighting.
Ok, some of this so far is pretty good writing but, Boy Howdy! (as CREEM used to say) that’s a shit analogy. I’d scratch it but I like mistakes and fuck-ups, so deal or visit The New York Times to find out what you should really be reading. Or The New Yorker. God us New Yorkers think we are such hot shit. Mistakes can be like the gorgeous, painful feedback of a monophonic guitar pressed against a Marshall turned to Tuftner-11 . . . Nota Bene: This is no doubt riddled with grammatical/typographic errors. I don’t care, so don’t feel bad for me.
TO RETURN TO THE ISSUE OF CLASSIFYING THE STORIES: Michael Bailey and I had to categorize them somehow. After much scratching of heads we decided a bunch of my work is unified by a deep connection to two dark, mysterious primeval qualities that also just so happen to overlap with marketing categories used to sell certain books. With this in mind, we carefully chose a selection of my best work that could reasonably fall under tales of HORROR & WONDER.
HORROR & WONDER sounds pretty much self-explanatory on the face of it, but it’s quite broad. You can throw Lord Dunsany, James Branch Cabell, Clive Barker, Italo Calvino, Mervyn Peake, Borges, Kafka, The Nuremberg Trial Transcripts, George Romero movies, “Magical Realism” in the South American vein (I fucking HATE that classification—and why should it belong to only certain people?), Terry Gilliamesque flights of fancy, J.G. Ballard’s gorgeous dystopian vistas, Theodore Sturgeon’s humanist sci-fi, Louis Ferdinand-Celine’s grotesqueries of blackest humor, and, hey why not—Dracula, Clive Barker, Shirley Jackson, Richard Matheson, Ramsey Campbell, Machen, Hip-Hip Hooray for Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, Robert Aickman, all that lot and more . . . )
SO FAR, SOO GOOD. But I also had some fiction pieces that both Michael and I liked—and many which other editors had liked in previous publications—but which didn’t fit so easily (like the others were a cinch!) into HORROR & WONDER.
What to call these pieces, which take up the 2nd half of YES TRESPASSING?
This one took a long time to come up with, and I’m still not entirely satisfied, but it will do and it does the job, I think, is MINDSCREWING, which I think of as more than a WARNING SIGN than a genre indicator. While the title of the entire collection is YES TRESPASSING—an inverted warning, as it were—and HORROR & WONDER are familiar enough guideposts to lead you on with some readerly expectations to be met, MINDSCREWING requires a bit more explanation.
Can I explain it? Well let’s find out. Because I don’t have a lot of time to write these blogs and I’m going to finish this one in a few minutes.
MINDSCREWING is not a genre. Oh, so it’s Snooty Literary? Erm . . . I dunno, but I don’t think so. I think it’s more like, what if the demons and angelic beings who so often appear in tales of Horror & Wonder were let loose to stretch their imaginations beyond the roles long and too often stereotypically assigned them by the gods, bards, dead-but-dreaming aliens, mythologists—all stuff Alan Moore could be way more articulate about.
Stick with me: Now, you can bet nobody tells these demons, these holy entities, these transdimensional hawks and doves what to write. They write whatever matters to them. Described in genre, like police suspect photographs, they yet go on to live their amazing lives beyond it, much as the future activities of a released perp are beyond prediction. In that sense, they have two choices: producing non-fiction/autobiography, or (here it comes again) literature.
I will have more to say about MINDSCREWING stories in future blogs as I try to pin down what makes these stories so. I’m fairly certain they’re post-modern, and I didn’t even mean them to be. It’s a Zeitgeist thing—TIME-GHOST, what a great German compound. On the other hand my favorite writers are Thomas Pynchon and Herman Melville, so what did I expect?
In any case, and for now—subject to revision—I’d like to humbly (fuck that, not humbly. Not anything.) suggest to those FEW readers of YES TRESPASSING that once you've read and hopefully enjoyed the tales classified as HORROR & WONDER, that you’ll be ready to read the kinds of stories which may’ve been written by the very odd creatures and people you just encountered in the first half of the book.
Oh, one more note on this subject of these ending tales. I’d considered MINDFUCKING, too. But I think I like screwing better as it has more levels of meaning. And of course, most importantly: If that section of the book were called MINDFUCKING, we’d never be able sell it at Walmart, thereby losing a huge market share of obese diabetic Americans with self-medicated (opioids) mental illnesses and unconcealed weapons hanging off one fat hip and three toddlers dangling off that self-same hip. The other denim hip? Probably sliding down their pimpled cellulite asses. Thus, as you can see, MINDSCREWING is also the better choice for making a ton of money out of this book.
DOWN WITH THE NEUROTYPICAL! VIVA LA COMMERCE!
More soon…Definitely when I get to StokerCon in late April, I’ll be posting regularly-- With PICTURES THIS TIME!!!!