Monday, May 25, 2020

Liberty City: The comic.







Artist Brian Van Gold from Oakland and I got together to do a mini-horror comic based on one my short stories "Liberty City". If you're interested, you can PayPal me at shelleys_fragment@yahoo.com $7 (shipping and handling included in the USA). I also accept Vemeo and other options.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Proust Questionnaire: Dale Brett



Faceless in Nippon by Dale Brett to be published by Expat Press.

Ultra Violet Torus by Dale Brett (Chapbook to be published by SF)

Australian writer Dale Brett has been busy. He has two books coming out soon--Faceless in Nippon (Expat Press) and the chapbook Ultraviolet Torus (SELFFUCK). Mike Kleine called Faceless in Nippon, "perhaps the most sincere contemporary novel about banality, modernity and existential ennui to exist, this side of 202X." SELFFUCK has described Ultraviolet Torus as, "a seductive, uncarnate float-fall through a crystallography of love and death and language."

Dale's work can be found at Back Patio Press, Surfaces, and dreamcore among other places. You can follow him on Twitter: @_blackzodiac. Dale's answers are below:

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Sipping a vending machine beverage while overlooking the cross-section of an urban mall with zero responsibilities bearing down.

2. What is your greatest fear?

Dying in the ocean alone. I have had several nightmares about this where I awake, cheeks wet & hot with tears.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My sickening validation-seeking ways.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Moral superiority.

5. Which living person do you most admire?

Kevin Shields. 



6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Every couple of years, I purchase a ridiculously expensive garment. I am pleased (?) to inform you I own a Stone Island top that cost me like a weekly wage.

7. What is your current state of mind?

Peaking on NEETness.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Responsibility.

9. On what occasion do you lie?

To avoid confrontation in the throes of addiction.

10.What do you most dislike about your appearance?

As a teen, my concave chest, but I’ve got over that. Possibly the way my eyes point downward and I constantly look exhausted because of it. 

11. Which living person do you most despise?

Fuck, these are great questions. Let’s let it all out. Russell Brand.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Idiosyncrasy.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Consideration.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Hyper-capitalist, or something, shitshow.

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

What: silent, empty warm spaces.

Who: my daughter.

16. When and where were you happiest?

In a past that I’ve never known.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

Some pornstar skills to reach Nirvana.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I want to say my anxiety, but I think that all of its negatives have helped me become a better person/artist. So, I wouldn’t change that. Maybe the internal freak outs associated with it though.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

That I’m not dead.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Probably an air conditioning unit in the Japanese summer. Providing a lone apartment dweller some well-deserved respite from the rays of the forceful sun.

21. Where would you most like to live?

A minimalist apartment with barely anything to clean or maintain.

22. What is your most treasured possession?

Quite an uncanny, ironic segue from my last answer. Probably the small Chinese dragon box which houses my gemstones, little snips of quotes that mean something to me and various drug paraphernalia.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Being oblivious to how shit things really are.

24. What is your favorite occupation?

Muji retail assistant.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

Otaku level fan appreciation for things I believe deserve it.

26. What do you most value in your friends?

Their ability to score on a whim.

27. Who are your favorite writers?

Walter Benjamin, Fernando Pessoa, JG Ballard, William Gibson, German Sierra.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

I don’t really think in terms of ‘heroes’ & ‘villains.’ Let’s go with Dr Vaughan from Crash.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Would Baudelaire be considered a historical figure?

30. Who are your heroes in real life?

Anyone who can permeate my 
soul with light.

31. What are your favorite names?

Kotaro, Arisu, Yue, Jade, Joel.

32. What is it that you most dislike?

People that thin
k they are intelligent because they follow populist politics. People who believe their ‘left’ or ‘right’ allegiance in politics is earth-shattering. Those sucky, smug political union reps at college/university.

33. What is your greatest regret?

Not producing any art while I was untethered & single.

34. How would you like to die?

How the dude in Enter the Void dies.

35. What is your motto?

Try as best you can not to let responsibility get in the way of a relaxing time without devolving into an absolute asshole.



Friday, May 1, 2020

Proust Questionnaire: Ryan Madej



Ryan Madej is a self described, "writer of non-traditional narratives," that hails from Edmonton, Canada. And from what I've noticed, a great devotee of Borges. How did we meet? Just like how I meet a lot of writers these days--Twitter and via Expat Press. His short story, Night Index was posted in December of last year. His most recent book, The Threshold and the Key, was published by voidfrontpress. He has a forthcoming novel with the exquisite title of The Marble Corridor.


1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Waking up in the morning after a gentle rain, smelling the freshness and sitting down with a tea or coffee and just being. No distractions or expectations. A book on lap would make it even better.

2. What is your greatest fear?

That my son is going to grow up in a world of utter strangeness and upheaval. A place that has totally lost any sense of human decency, affection and intelligence.


3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Anger. It’s a trait that has caused me a lot of grief and regret in the past, and because of this I’ve had to work doubly hard to not let it overcome me. It’s not worth it hanging on to anger, it sickens the body and mind.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Wilful ignorance. In an age where we have such an abundance of information and the ability to communicate ideas it seems we often squander what we’ve been given.

5. Which living person do you most admire?

I’ve thought about this one hard and I can’t think of one at the moment. Plenty of dead people I admire however.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Without question it’s books...and music. My backlog of books has gotten to a point where I believe that they will attack me in my sleep, but I’m slowly making progress.

7. What is your current state of mind?

A combination of low key anxiety mixed liberally with dreams of self realization. Considering the circumstances I’m holding up pretty well, but to be honest I’ve been through much darker times on a personal level.


8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Chastity. One should spread love or lust as much as they can. I mean, we’re all here because people decided to not be chaste. More love and lust.

9. On what occasion do you lie?

Like a child when I know I’m going to be in huge trouble, or the prospect for huge trouble is on the horizon.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

It used to be the scars on my neck that I got when I was 12. I was almost decapitated in an ATV accident. In reality it has always been my hair which was for many years unmanageable, and now it’s just thin lol.

11. Which living person do you most despise?

I can’t think of just one, but I often think most politicians. I’m tired of having my hopes and the hopes of others dashed and then have them dashed again.

12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Vulnerability. When you see a man at his most open, you see him for who he really is.

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Patience.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“That’s dope!” or “This reminds me of something from the Simpsons” and “fuuuuuuuuuccck” lol

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Some secrets are best left secrets. Keeps the mystery alive.

16. When and where were you happiest?

Probably between the ages of 19-22. It’s the freewheeling time of young adulthood where everything tastes better and the future looks bright. It was a time of great exploration and openness where it was just pure living and no expectations.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?

The ability to slam dunk like Michael Jordan, Dr. J and Vince Carter.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

To be less emotional and more grounded, but I think I’m working toward that on a daily basis.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Finally getting one of my books published, but very soon it will be getting a university diploma.

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I think it would be as some sort of jungle cat, whether it be tiger, cheetah or jaguar. A creature entirely motivated by instinct.

21. Where would you most like to live?

My thoughts always lean toward somewhere in Europe, but in all honesty being by the ocean, a lake or any body of water would suit me just fine. Trees, birds, fresh air are the balm for the soul.

22. What is your most treasured possession?

My son. The purest joy comes from my time with him. Jokes, wrestling, watching movies, goofing around. There is nothing better.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Something close to what we’re all experiencing now: a lack of connection to anything or anyone we hold dear.

24. What is your favorite occupation?

Writer. I get to create puzzles and have people solve them, but I don’t recommend writing for mental or physical health lol.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?

I asked a close friend what this might be and she said my smile.

26.What do you most value in your friends?

Their loyalty. My two oldest friends have been around for 35 years so that says something about friendship. They are the brothers I never had. True friendship I value very highly.

27. Who are your favorite writers?

So many! But a short list: Borges, Kafka, Burroughs, Acker, Nin, Bolano, Nabokov, Akutagawa...There are many others, but one of the most daring writers I know right now is Will Bernadara Jr.

28. Who is your hero of fiction?

Joseph K. from the The Trial. His journey seems so close how many of us experience life, in other words lost, without answers.

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

The mysterious alchemist Fulcanelli whose true identity has never been ascertained. Working in secret, publishing two books, then disappearing.


30. Who are your heroes in real life?

Despite all their inherent flaws and the mistakes they’ve made, my parents. They taught me resilience, critical thinking and to take no shit from anyone.


31. What are your favorite names?

Madelaine, Aurora, and a whole series of made up names like Jimmy Sham and Rich Gaunchfield.

32. What is it that you most dislike?

Bad food. I’ve spoiled myself over the years.

33. What is your greatest regret?

Not finishing university the first time around and establishing myself in a solid career. That has caused me a lot of grief and hardship over the years.

34. How would you like to die?

I have a whole section about this in my book, The Threshold and the Key! No reveals here, read the book lol.

35. What is your motto?

Be unafraid of yourself.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Third Excerpt from Gitanes is up at Expat Press






"The top two imaginary, gory deaths of Javier Mansour begin with him being dragged into the canal behind his apartment building by an eleven foot alligator...."

CLICK HERE

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Don't Let Your Keffiyeh Show @ The Times of Israel Blog


Don't Let your Keffiyeh Show is one of the earliest short stories I wrote. It was also my first short story to get published in print back in 2005. It was published at a little magazine from Detroit called STRUGGLE. The complete name of the magazine actually was: STRUGGLE: A Magazine of Proletarian Revolutionary Literature. It might still be around. (The website is still up) It was edited by a fellow named Tim Hall (not the indie writer). Back then the story was published under another name--The Existence of Nabil.
I couldn't believe it when I got the acceptance letter. I was so happy when the issue came out, and despite the editor misspelling my last name I showed it to everyone. My friends thought it was cool, but most of them weren't into reading or writing. One of them though, Sean Houser, did read the story and he congratulated me and he continued to read all the stuff I wrote and published. Sadly, Sean passed away not too long ago. So every time I see this story, I think about Sean and about the trippy chaos of the early 2000s. I also think about a little South Miami dive bar called Fox's Sherron Inn where I worked for about 2 1/2 years and where this story was truly born. Fox's is not around anymore, it closed in Summer 2015. I loved that place. I loved working there, and I loved everyone I met and I still remember them all, from the quirky line cooks, life hardened servers, and happy regulars to the owner George Andrews and his family. One of my fondest memories was the free jukebox that was right in front of the bathrooms, next to the busstand.
Eventually, around 2007 I ran into a website called MuslimWakeUp.com that didn't mind running previously published short fiction so I sent them the story. At MuslimWakeUp.com, a great editor and writer by the name of Patricia Dunn accepted it. She suggested changing the name of the story to Don't Let your Keffiyeh Show which I liked.   
Before that, the story had already made its way to my short story collection Ciao! Miami as The Existence of Nabil in 2007. 
Fast forward to now, the story is back at The Times of Israel Blog. A writer friend in California had recently read it and told me that he thought it was great, and I should send it out again. In addition to being a story born from my place of employment at the time, Don't Let Your Keffiyeh Show was also greatly inspired by an Anton Chekhov short story called The Dance Pianist, which was about a young musician that has a nervous breakdown at a high society party after a girl confuses him for a guest. 






Friday, April 3, 2020

Proust Questionnaire: Lindsay Lerman


Lindsay Lerman is a writer, translator, and has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Her first novel, I'm from Nowhere, was named one of the Best Fiction Books of 2019 by Entropy Magazine. Published by CLASH Books, I'm from Nowhere "follows Claire as she mourns the sudden death of her husband...confronts a dying planet and an emerging sense of self." In addition to her writing, Lindsey is also an editor at the brand new Black Telephone Magazine. Her essays can be found at places like Medium, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
-FZ-


1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?


I think that in the past I would’ve said something like “there is no perfect happiness,” but now, under quarantine… It’s a long boozy lunch with very good friends, a walk and a nap in the afternoon, and someone compelling keeping me up all night.



2. What is your greatest fear?

Seeing my kid suffer, knowing there’s nothing I can do to stop the suffering.



3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My people-pleasing tendencies--the way I’ll contort myself to make others comfortable.



4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Inability or unwillingness to contort themselves to make others comfortable. And the more general or broad version of that: the certainty some people have that they are really at the center of the world, that their concerns are the only concerns.



5. Which living person do you most admire?

Living? That’s the hardest part. My editor and publisher (and friend) Leza Cantoral is pretty high up on the list--it’s like she’s incapable of dishonesty. Also my partner, Philippe, because he has the most finely tuned bullshit detector I’ve ever encountered--his vision is so clear.



6. What is your greatest extravagance?

Writing.



7. What is your current state of mind?

Approaching contentment and acceptance, with anxiety, fear, and grief hovering around the edges.



8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

In people who have been conditioned to be self-effacing, it’s humility. In people who have been conditioned to be self-aggrandizing and self-important--to assume the world is theirs--most of their expressions of virtue leave a bad taste in my mouth.



9. On what occasion do you lie?

When the truth will hurt too much.



10.What do you most dislike about your appearance?


I’m only dissatisfied with my corporeal form when I look into my own eyes in the mirror and can see that I haven’t been honest with myself. Otherwise, I’m resigned to being this body and I’m done with hating it. I’ve wasted so many years hating it.



11. Which living person do you most despise?

I can’t focus my hatred on individuals very well.



12. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Patience and attention, because they are both expressions of care.



13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

The kind of self-possession that’s made possible by self-escape.



14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I’m sorry.



15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?


Words.



16. When and where were you happiest?

Simple happiness, uncomplicated happiness: Years ago, deep in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona. Amber, Derek, Philippe, and I bought a jug of wine and a roast chicken and drove down from Flagstaff. We sat by the water, ate, drank, picked flowers for each other.

Harder happiness, more complicated: The first time I met my daughter, not knowing if either of us would live.



17. Which talent would you most like to have?

I danced as a child, but my family didn’t have the money or stability that would allow me to keep it up, after a certain point. I loved the intensity and the rigor of ballet, despite the more fucked-up aspects of it (the daily weigh-ins, the built-in classism and racism). I’d love to be a great dancer--all that strength and grace.



18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’d find a little more joy in discipline.



19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Not hating myself all the time, understanding that as the first step towards liberation, and beginning to understand how to spread that liberation around--to share it.



20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

I’d like to come back as a tree.



21. Where would you most like to live?

I’m good here, in my living room, on the couch. I’ve lived a lot of different places, and there are things I miss about all of them, but I have no interest in living somewhere cool or special or whatever. That said, it would be pretty awesome to live somewhere with a social safety net.



22. What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t have one. I save a lot of things that don’t take up much space--notes and cards and many of my old notebooks--but I don’t have one single treasured possession. If someone gives me a meaningful gift, I’ll keep it in a drawer or next to the bed for a while--in a place of honor, I guess. But once the magic fades, the object finds its way back to the ordinary stuff locations.



23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Rolling over and playing dead to make it stop.



24. What is your favorite occupation?


Some combination of writing, reading, thinking, talking, listening. Usually that manifests as teaching.



25. What is your most marked characteristic?

I’d like to say it’s what some people have called my “quiet power,” but I think it’s actually my fast metabolism.



26.What do you most value in your friends?

Their kindness--there are so many different kinds of kindness.



27.Who are your favorite writers?

The ones who make me feel simultaneously ashamed and inspired.



28. Who is your hero of fiction?


The narrator in Clarice Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H.



29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Hildegard von Bingen. The scholarship on her creation of music and theological writing as mystical expression of female desire is wild.



30. Who are your heroes in real life?

My kid.



31. What are your favorite names?

I don’t really have any. I find names so embarrassing sometimes.



32. What is it that you most dislike?

People who are stubbornly certain.



33. What is your greatest regret?

I usually regret falling in love--I fall like a body from a balcony--but I’ve stopped letting myself regret this. It’s a gift to be moved by other people. I only regret the times in my life when I’ve been unkind.



34. How would you like to die?

Either radically sober or supremely fucked up, on the edge of mystical vision.



35.What is your motto?

Exceed.