Disoriented? Here's the haps, the huhs, the welcome home hugs.
click the kid to read mr. ingram's story


An apocalyptic psychedelic golf story from Barrelhouse coeditor/swell guy, Mike Ingram

Here are some of the sorts of things we're looking for if you're interested in filling this slot in September. Please familiarize.

Lackluster advice re: what the title says.

Recent/ancient links with rushed, haphazard, superficial commentary.

Finally, the voice of a shiny metal shark is not only heard in your head.

Let's peek at a few Brat Pack books, shall we?



"I remembered the stories of the Amazons, unconquerable warrior women. What if I wandered deep into the forest and found them? What if, like the other things in the forest, they grew to unbelievable size, even bigger than in the myths?"
This is a decorative totem image to indicate which dead white men we particularly think are positive role models for us -- we realize Mark E Smith isn't dead, but still

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this is not sam lipsyte or george saunders -- it's another still from The Swimmer


Ye olde ever-rising/ever-falling Eyeshot hath risen again on the 4th of July like the mighty phoenix dodo of yore to offer gentle readers a bimonthly source of sweet heavenly gooey inspirational oddities and small silent glories of a fictional sort, maybe. We bring this to you in a bimonthly format so you can read what's maybe a story that doesn't totally entirely absolutely completely underwhelm to highest heaven and also so you can read (or reread) something we've posted since 1999 -- and we also decided that after about nine years of fighting it we'd add some sort of baggy half-assed bloggery action but this little operation ain't gonna be an everyday deal (we hope) and it'll sometimes be accompanied by a bit of relatively flat, superficial commentary. Plus we thought we'd include some brief non-hyperiffic impressions of books that aren't necessarily new or by people we know etc and also we thought we'd help everyone out by providing some questions and answers about everything and also extremely stupid/idiotic/dumb numbered tips about something related to the art and/or practice of fiction writing. Submissions are being accepted and rejected but we'll only reply to submissions (other than acceptances) with an e-apology when we post the new Eyeshot installment (please realize that the level of literary scrutiny for submissions is gonna be superhigh since we'll only post six or so stories a year at this rate, although it's possible we may post more than one story per installment sometimes?). We've changed our font and format for now but we refuse to further develop our rudimentary web design skills into fancy flash or wordpress-type territories. August marks our eleventh year of doing this, with a few breaks, but it seems that at some deep scary level we need to do this damn site, it's been part of who we are, so please read what's new here below and Mike Ingram's psychedelic golf story, peruse the semi-endlessly scrolling 10-year archive of what's old here, and decide to participate and/or read on and/or not. Anyway, welcome to July-August's Eyeshot. In September, we'll try to do another one and make it look totally different if we can.

another still from The Swimmer


7. You're so talented. Online writer friends tell you this all the time.

6. You're wasting your life at that job that indirectly pays for everything you do.

5. Novels need you to breathe life back into the form, even if your novel will be semi-autobiographical, linear (except for a bit of interspersed backstory about some poignant moment of gauzy innocence), mostly set in Williamsburg, first-person POV, in the present tense, and not much longer than a novella.

4. You tried reading that work novel in the first-person plural POV ("we") and you know your own work novel is better, plus your work novel can't fail to intrigue agents, editors, general readers, academics, and the gatekeepers of posterity because, although not set deep in the heart of the Texas or the "inner city," it's presented in the second-person plural POV ("all y'all).

3. You know you have considerably limited talent and ambition and discipline and understanding of grammar etc and there's no market for semi-autobiographical novellas like the one you started that's set in NYC etc etc, not to mention e-readers turning texts into easily stealable mp3-like files etc etc but if you work another day in a cube surfing freakin' lit web blogs and wanting to reach through the screen to reprimand those who refer to books by former teachers and friends as works of startling interiority ("to live outside the law you must be honest") and maybe are in need of some sweet sweet seppuku or at least a sense that Dennis Cooper is not God then well what the hell were you saying again?

2. You know everything goes in cycles so we're bound to run into another late '90s–like run of multimillion dollar contracts for first novels very soon.

1. Kafka worked in an office and things turned out OK for him even if he died of consumption. Are you willing to have things turn out OK writing-wise and also die of consumption? Yes, you're totally willing to die of consumption (excessive buying of lots of stuff, right?) as long as it lets you become immortal before you die so you peer over the shoulders of hot young things who read your stuff lying out in the sun at the pool but then get distracted by a text message and forget about cockroaches and hunger artists and sins etched across one's back -- I mean, THREE TIMES you've been nominated for a PUSHCART and you've been in the running for STORYSOUTH's best of the web and in Dzanc's best of the freakin' web book so yeah it is time to do what needs to be done, to take arms against a sea of work-related spreadsheets and release yourself into all-day/everyday literary pursuit! Make sure to start a blog updating your progress so readers can follow your decline into lethargy, indolence, intemperance, and realize maybe just maybe oh shit what have you done. (Note: it is quite possible that quitting your job to work on your novel may yield an unpublishable memoir composed entirely of such devolutionary blog posts, and if all else fails, assuming you're still young and comely, have you ever considered employment in a nearby major city's lucrative sex tourism industry?)

this is swiped from an old heavy metal magazine we think


For further in-depth ongoing Q&A, plus Eyeshot reader commentary re: everything, see here. Aluminumshark at gmail also works should you have important questions in need of answers. 

Q: Should I write a facebook status at the end of the day about all the writing and/or editing I've done so people know I'm a writer/editor hard at work posting facebook status updates about my writing/editing?

A: It's true that, being a shark composed of cheap yet very shiny aluminum (see pic above), I personally don't have a facebook page (yet), but I would like to think that signaling your literary activity, no matter how minor, is a good way to announce to friends that you are an artist concerned about your "work." This is especially good if you have become friends with well-known writers and editors and the like a few steps up the literary ladder who will surely see these updates every day and think, yes, here is a young man/woman who is on his/her way to a lesser PEN award, if not a runner-up notice in a Glimmer Train or Narrative Magazine competition, and, as such, I must do what I can to grease his/her passage to that literary paradise. Although I am merely a shark composed of shiny shiny shiny strips of aluminum, I'm sure I am correct about this -- three rows of 32,000 razorsharp aluminum teeth can't be wrong.

Q: The third-string QB for the Philadelphia Eagles is named Kafka, the Flyers are apparently negotiating for Nabokov to play goalie, so who is the next literary figure to be added to the Philadelphia sporting world?

A: Beckett would be a sweet addition to the Phils' starting pitching staff if the Red Sox were willing to part with him. Can we petition David Stern and/or Comcast Spectacor to change Andre Iguodala's surname to Madox Ford. (AI2 should really be willing to do this, considering the ridiculous size of his contract.)

Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A: Hmm. I don't know. What metal is this animal made from? Polysynthetic carbonate is top-of-line standard these days for service animals. Pets are generally made of cheap tin. The more things change, the more landfills become goldmines for metal pets.

Q: I'm not sure I understand what you mean? Landfills become goldmines? Huh?

A:  Screw you. Stick to the format. This is a Q&A, not a dialogue

Q: 'Word on the street' is that Eyeshot 'posted' very early work, if not the very first online-posted 'texts,' by Tao Lin and Blake Butler? Whose early 'story' do 'you' think is 'better,' and what do 'you' think of these 'online' writers today?

A: Stop reading lit sites, including Eyeshot. Take some serious 19th century lit to the park. Get offline. Sweat.

Q: I've heard that quitting daily cigarette smoking is smart in terms of one's health, one's finances, and how one smells (both one's ability to smell someone else and the degree to which someone else may smell you). Do you have any advice about quitting, dearest Al Shark? And what about hunting and killing antelope by hand?

A: I know that -- way back when I used to smoke and lived on land instead of in the water, often with an airbrushed brunette astride my dorsal fin -- that I found it very hard to run after antelope for hours without stopping to smoke and/or hack up my lungs. But since then -- part of how I became an aluminum shark, in fact -- I've learned a technique I can impart to you: buy a big jug or two of cranberry juice, a bag of Hershey's chocolate miniatures (store in freezer), and a bottle of Advil (and maybe Nyquil, too). Every hour, pour a small glass of juice and down a piece of chocolate. Take Advil regularly and a little Nyquil at night to knock you out. Do this for three days and you'll be clear. It works because when you need a cig, that feeling is very similar to how you feel when your blood-sugar level drops. Therefore, by maintaining a consistently elevated blood-sugar level, you'll minimize that lovely "nic fit" feeling. Trust an aluminum shark on this. Also, what's cool is that once you quit, your face will immediately seem to brighten up, your food will taste better, you'll have a lot of extra cash (think of all the unnecessary junk you buy at the CVS when you buy a pack), and you'll be a much better persistence hunter, which is very important if you intend to primarily subsist on antelope, which is only recommended, really, for bushmen in Africa who might be reading this. Click click click click. Or for those hardcore runner freaks who simulate the antelope hunt by running in those weird semi-barefoot footwear things that make their feet look like duck feet as they run really fast and then walk and then run really fast and then walk, trying to exhaust an invisible antelope, which is really what we're all trying to do in a way, right? Aren't we all chasing and trying to outlast a much faster invisible quarry until it's exhausted and we can put it out of its misery with a quick jab to the gut and then skin it, butcher it, and roast it over an open fire and then feast on it with our friends? In lieu of sitting around a fire like this, however, I guess for now it's perfectly reasonable to sit around and huff on cigs? We're the only animal who figured out how to control fire like that. And also there's something to be said in favor of maintaining an easily manageable addiction -- the satisfactions of intermittently fulfilling a need . . .

Q: What's your opinion of brunch?

A: The crowds, the wait, the excessive morning noise when hungover, the unnecessary expense, the estrogenic flowery touches on the tables, the watery eggs Benedict, the underdone home fries, the vegan chorizo egg-less omelets, the rosewater tempeh and poached albatross fetus burritos, the deepwater horizon chocolate-covered Chihuahua frittatas, the freakin' mimosas, the bourgeois toxicity of it all.




Reading blogs on a regular basis totally makes us wanna defenstrate so instead we'll troll every once in a while and bring back the dead to this pyre and set it alight as a convenient way to stay abreast of the "action." Abreast, yes. It'll be fun or else we'll retract our online turtle head. We've resisted far too long, fruitlessly, futilely, and we still really doubt we'll be able to do this with any real gusto, and we know for sure that the world really doesn't need any more fuckwitted litbloggery, so here we go, hesitantly, hesitantly (what follows will be added to in the next few days, or maybe just as easily deleted, or maybe we've added enough links above already to more than suffice?): 

Recently, we've been reading Bret Easton Ellis maybe to try to fill the big brother writer void left by Mr. Wallace? We'd never thought of it that way, needing someone about a generation older to simply look up to as a writer. We always sort of discounted BEE, but his first two books are worth it. Here's an interview with Vice from May and see the Brat Pack readerly resonance below.

Someone else we've never had much exposure to except for a few viewings of "Fight Club" is the guy who wrote this pretty ridiculously squirmy sensationalistic yet totally effective story involving, in part, masturbating underwater in a pool. It is summertime after all and your bad ideas need to come from somewhere. 

If you've never read Cheever's story "The Swimmer," have at it (it's in the famous big red collection), then maybe add this 1969 adaptation to your instant Netflix queue. 

We support Tin House's book receipt per submission requirement. On the honor system, please also buy a new book for every submission you send to Eyeshot. 

This makes us wanna never ever write again. Not sure why. Maybe because it's un-fun and lacking in the individuated oomph that makes lit what it is for us?

You probably know about Michael Silverblatt and Bookworm on KCRW online, right? For as long as Eyeshot's been around, we've listened to him intermittently. Here are some highlights from the show's endless archive:

David Foster Wallace
Geoff Dyer
David Markson
Zadie Smith
WG Sebald
Nicholson Baker
Susan Sontag
Kurt Vonnegut
George Saunders
William T. Vollmann


Sean Bateman mid-orgasm in The Rules of Attraction film


In this installment of selected reverb from the Readerly Resonance Chamber, we focus on the few Brat Pack books we've read so far this year. It's a minor hole in our literary soul we're endeavoring to fill this summer, even if we're currently on a longer-than-expected detour through the streets of Stendhal. We'll add to this as we read more throughout time. The pic above is a still from "The Rules of Attraction" cinematic adaptation, which didn't underwhelm. That's Patrick Bateman's younger brother, Sean, mid-orgasm, envisioning his partner's roommate. The actor was also in Dawson's Creek, a show we never saw.

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
Smog of War on Drugs–era LA as depicted by a young BEE (< 21 years old). Sort of reminded me of The Stranger. Coyotes, driving cars forever on coke, X, snuff films, young male whores, honesty re: emotionlessness as a means to avoid pain re: meaninglessness -- definitely has a softly beating moral heart beneath deeply tanned nihilistic skin. Tastefully paced, well-timed sensationalism though never really reveled in as in American Psycho -- this one's narrator averts his eyes from pretty much everything. Made no sounds while reading, but enjoyed reading, and said something stupid like "That was a good f--kin' book, man" when I finished reading. Surprising depth despite its surface. 

The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis
Maybe it helped that this reader attended a small progressive liberal arts college a few years after this book came out? Maybe this reader liked the various perspectives, the major glaring gaps/inconsistencies when the stories overlapped? Maybe this reader just liked reading about the young and the reckless now that he's on the other side of youthfulness/recklessness (he hopes)? Maybe this reader appreciated intertexual suggestions of Less Than Zero (Clay's in this), American Psycho (Patrick Bateman narrates a chapter and his younger brother narrates maybe a third of everything else), and even Donna Tartt's The Secret History (an odd group of Classics students "looking like undertakers" are mentioned). Mostly it felt real character-wise, content-wise, and I thought the structure was well-handled and kept me engaged despite relative plotlessness. Each of his books are a little different structurally, thematically, but always with a similar tone and tact -- I'll definitely read the rest.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
Read stray pages of this long ago when it was toilet reading where I lived one summer in college -- deemed it idiotic smut. Loved the movie years later. Just finished it and found it totally devilish delicious satirical genius. Pornographically exaggerated descriptions of haute fashion, exclusive restaurants, stereo equipment, extreme "Itchy & Scratchy"-style sadism, plus elaborate Penthouse Forum-ish threesomes with hardbody whores, completed with in-depth appreciations of the best of Genesis, Whitney Houston, and Huey Lewis & The News. So funny, if "funny" is determined by the sounds I made while reading -- the uncomfortable chortle, the percussive snort, the starry-eyed cackle, the shaking-head sigh at its BOLDNESS. Minimal paranoia re: legal or existential repercussions for brutally offing all the homeless, the hardbodies, and the whores of late '80s Manhattan. But what really did it for me were the expertly handled scenes in which Wall Street types talked about NOTHING for pages. Also, the description of an old photo of the father in a straightjacket-like six-button double-breasted B&B suit, standing next to topiary animals at his own father's estate, with "something the matter with his eyes." That's the only mention of potential daddy issues. Mommy issues are dealt with in a quick scene in a nursing home -- mommy's not so communicative and wears $200 black Ray Bans, a gift from her son. Everything else re: "why?" is suggested -- sometimes it's pure nihilism, sometimes sort of like extremely effed-up soul-fighting against the trappings of super-rich superficiality. For example, during a particularly inventive scene toward the end involving a rat, a generous slice of brie, and a spread-eagle woman, the narrator says: "I can already tell it's going to be a characteristically useless, senseless death, but then I'm used to the horror. It seems distilled, even now it fails to upset or bother me." That's maybe the book's challenge: can Bret Easton Ellis upset readers with this character's descriptions of brutality? (Or maybe the question isn't "can?" but "why do it?") I'd say he does so with unquestionable inventiveness, and not just for sheer sensationalism's sake. He effortlessly walks the cultural criticism/complicity line, which is why so many reviews online are either disgusted (these readers also probably find The Smiths's lyrics -- eg, "Cemetary Gates" -- depressing instead of hilarious) or overjoyed by the unstable dynamic of sometimes feeling close to and othertimes really distant from the narrator, a hyper-privileged insider eviscerating everything atop the social pyramid, manifesting the collective unconcious's desire to "kill yuppie scum." I was amazed at the audacity of the book, the execution of it, the creation of the character and the consistently evoked time and place. Uber-flowing sentences throughout. Technically awesome, thematically gnarly stuff. Unforgettable images galore. It maybe could've been 300 instead of 400 pages, but otherwise no complaints. Very readable despite near-plotlessness. Also, again, it sparked more reflexive readerly vocalization than anything I've read in a long time. But so then why not a fifth star? Maybe because the amazingly consistent perspective/approach naturally gets repetitive? Maybe the constraints on the narrator kept it from the next level, which maybe could only have been achieved with more explicit self-critique/philosophizing re: his psychology/upbringing and the surrounding culture/everything, which probably would've undermined a lot of what's already great about it? "Whew," I said when I finished. "That was a good book."

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
Turns out, McInerney is NOT Bret Easton Ellis: McInerney's sentences seem tighter/more composed, clearer, sparser, plus he's more traditional, less willing to temporarily disorient a reader --  the "narrative face" of BEE's books sometimes seem like seriously asymmetrical cubistic masks worn by someone pulled over and forced to do a sobriety test, close eyes, hold arms out, then slowly bring both forefingers to his nose. There's sometimes a sense that BEE won't be able to touch his nose, considering his narrative face, but he manages to coax me into playing the readerly rearrangement game and therefore passes the test. (All this is based on an admittedly very limited scan of their literary DNA so far). I like reading these books because they have semi-trashy reputatons, so I come to them with low expectations they easily surpass, being talented, insightful, entertaining, accessible, smart, funny, absolutely literary authors. And lo/behold, surprise/surprise: this one's not really about doing cocaine in early '80s NYC! Sure, there's the famous Bolivian Marching Powder early on, but otherwise "you" (second-person POV worked just fine for me) are only 24 years old and recently abandoned by your model wife, plus you're an aspiring writer/fact checker at what's pretty much the New Yorker. You hoover some lines sometimes but mostly you've hit bottom and are ready for a new start. It's a traditional story, with above-average characterization, some humor (only a few LOLs, a lot more silent amusement), but it's the voice that won me over, the attitude of those tight snappy entertaining sentences. It's a coming-of-age book, like Less Than Zero, by a young man about a young man. I'll definitely read Brightness Falls, if not everything he's written.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
This isn't a Brat Pack book but Housekeeping did come out in the early 1980s, so let's just go ahead and add Gilead to this installment. First, this surprised me with its humor and its clarity, both of which kept me engaged, not to mention graceful, lofted wisdom (which I expected to encounter, of course) that never really seemed pedantic thanks to the narrator's earnestness re: his doubts re: pretty much everything other than the nature of faith (ie, silence filling an empty church at dawn). I appreciated the baptizing of cats, descriptions of water and light, and an ash-cake communion in the foreground with a ruined church in the background as old women release their long hair. If 30 or 40 pages were cut between pages 140 and 200, I'd have been much more enthusiastic -- thought that 60-page stretch dragged as it introduced the complication of the narrator's concerns about young Boughton. In any case (<-- that's a Marilynne catchphrase, folks), I dog-eared dozens of pages, sometimes the top and bottoms of pages. Will maybe read it again and will definitely give Housekeeping another go. I liked how I felt as I read this book, what it did to my perceptions, how I once or twice referred to something as a "grace" . . . all this despite the very conspicuous lack of Bolivian Marching Powder, snuff films, rats and brie . . . 


Majuscule Capital Letter
by Scott Bryan Wilson

The Truth About Belafonte Garcia by Jamie Allen

Interview with an Autofellator

Beach by Roberto Bolaño
(Translated by Riley Hanick)

Lip Reading Classes Five Bucks
by Shafer Hall

Requirements for a Position as 
My Lover by Jensen Whelan

The Apartment That Jack Rents
by Jennifer Amey 

Why You Should Touch My Balls by Will RatBlood

American Writers & Their Hair
by Zadie Smith

Fuckbuddy by Roderic Crooks

A More Complete Understanding
of the Misery of the World
by Chris Diken

The Poet's Alphabet
by Tracey Hill

The White Oliphaunts
by Tobias Seamon

Interview with the World's 
Leading Creative Plagiarist

Letters to Frank Conroy
From His Students

Seven Letters Daniel Alarcon
Sent From South America

Conjoined by Elizabeth Ellen

You Are a 14-Year-Old Arab 
Chick Who Just Moved to Texas
by Randa Jarrar

Variations on a Party
by Charles Ullmann

Dear Virus Alert Sender
by Kevin Sampsell

Xavier Lipshitz & International Intrigue by Matthew St. Amand


PS. Don't miss our featured fictional presentation,
Last Days by Mike Ingram

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