First, a quick note before we offer our final (?) slew of
rejections . . . Concern has surfaced that the Eyeshot archives have been
deleted and the whole site is now nothing more than a platform for the
Eyeshot editor's rants re: controversial
football players and wonderfully
obsessed megalomaniacal movie directors. Quick impressions of the highly
recommended new Herzog book and a rant about various hypocrisies related
to Michael Vick have recently appeared, posted by the
Eyeshot editor, and more stuff like that may appear in the future,
as well as stuff by other people (!), so it's safe to say that things will
happen here but we don't think it's accurate to say that Eyeshot has been
wiped and turned into a fucking blog. Here's the
complete archive, and here's a look at the old drop-down
menus and stupid archaic red frame etc if you're feeling particularly
sentimental. We're not reading submissions now, but may do so again one
day, though we'll most likely only post stuff that's dementedly LOL --
that is, nothing by anyone who's ever been congratulated on Duotrope or
ever refers to a site or journal as a "market" or believes that flash fiction
as it's executed 99% of the time these days online isn't real unsatisfying
if not totally corrupt. Woo! Snap! Anyhoot: what follows is (most likely)
the final installment in our semi-popular, oft-controversial series of
actual rejection e-mails culled from the thankfully currently seriously
less swamped Eyeshot outbox. Enjoy! These are less particularly mean/performative
than they were in the early days (links to the previous
eight volumes are below), and attentive readers will maybe infer that
they're sort of indicative of why we decided to give up the Eyeshot ghost
for a while, or at least modify things and stop reading and responding
to effin' flash fiction submissions and the like. (Maybe, if energy, time,
and enthusiasm return, sometime in the next bunch of months, we'll come
the four five.) Also, this weekend 10 years ago we started Eyeshot.
Hi - I think this might be too long for Eyeshot or maybe even for the
web - try some solid print mags with it? But send something else whenever.
You write clearly and readably and with a little attentive tension in the
sentences, which distinguishes you from 90% of submittors.
This is juvenile. No.
Hi - these twisting texts are maybe not really the sort of thing I tend
to post. I prefer clarity, density, perversion, and speed. And other things,
as long as they've got some oomph. Sorry. But send more stuff whenever.
Dude, here's a tip that will vastly improve your writing: do not ever
again use words like "dick" or "ass" or "doggy pounded." In a sexy context,
"come inside to heat up more artichoke dip" is tantalizingly interesting,
but only if taken literally and her innards are filled with artichoke dip
. . .
Otherwise, the characters are not characters but disembodied proper
It's ultimately totally immature, and not even hot.
Another tip for you is to buy (and read) this
book about fiction writing.
Thanks for sending this - my reaction to your submission focuses on
the simile "shaking like pinned paper in a breeze" - it's a nice little
image, perfectly fine and fitting, and yet I think it indicates what I
think is maybe sort of "off" with this piece, or the fictional instinct
that propels it, what keeps me from getting a little deeper into things.
Mainly, it's maybe too fictional? The simile is fictional, right? It presents
a good "creative writing" image, a crafty dance move that really has little
heft to it in terms of busting the story open so it seems like all this
is really quite real and matters, which is the point, right?
Let's pretend for a second that you are a moth and I am a predatory
bird that feeds on moths of your type . . . Over the years, you've learned
to disguise yourself so you look like woodbark with enormous eyes on either
wing, something that freaks me out enough so I don't swoop down and consume
you, which is pretty amazing and really important for your survival - you've
learned to fake the appearance of your wings so you look like maybe an
owl or something that I don't want to mess with, you've learned out of
life-or-death necessity to fake it so well it seems real! But the simile
in this story, and maybe the vibe of the story overall, seems to me like
a moth that's camouflaging itself to look like bark and an owl's eyes etc
but isn't doing it out of survival-y necessity - instead it's sort of just
being done because you're a moth that does the bark/owl-eye thing, and
so, again, I am a predatory bird that swoops around and sees that you're
one of those crafty moths and not a tree or an owl and so you're my dinner,
What I mean is: for a story to survive, I think it needs to really deceive
readers into believing that all this fictional stuff really happened, right?
And when predatory editors like myself see pretty little similes sitting
out there, they swoop down and write long-ass rejections like this.
No offense, but why the capital-F would anyone want to read this?! And
why a paragraph break after every sentence? The "story" takes place in
a timeless, geographically neutral white space populated by disembodied
proper nouns. John, Craig, relatives, and nameless mother don't seem real,
despite the sensationalist first line re: disembodied indicator of fictional
female human (ie, John's wife) losing a child and screaming, then snapping
and acting like her own dead child. I react harshly to this, as an editor
for a particular site, because it demonstrates that you've submitted again
without actually reading anything that's EVER been posted on Eyeshot -
but that reaction doesn't matter as much as this: as a writer, and more
so as a human/reader, the instinct behind this story irks me because it
seems to disrespect the heartbreaking complexities of the situation, inviting
readers into this horrific world without offering anything that seems remotely
human. Here are some questions to consider: again, why would you drag a
reader through this situation for 426 words? Who would want to spend time
like this? What sort of editors would want to associate themselves with
this sort of flat, joyless work? What if you presented the same situation
from a very deep point of view inside the mother's head? Or something other
than "internet flash fiction style" with flat characterization, joyless
language, and excessive line breaks? My reaction is so harsh because I'm
taking revenge for "umbilical cord strangling" a fictional child the way
you did -- how you've dealt with this situation deserves harshness, so
that maybe, hopefully, you'll realize that writing is a moral act and such
darkness shouldn't be presented readers without offering some light at
the end of ye olde tunnel. Or more so: maybe reconsider your approach entirely.
What do you want to do to readers? Isn't it nobler to present the so-called
"silver linings" of even the darkest scenes? To offer hope like Obama?
Instead, you've sent the fictional equivalent of the Bush presidency .
. . His eyes looked vacant. Then they filled with tears. Then he pressed
"send" on this 355-word rejection.
Hi there again - I think maybe the deal with my response, as clearly
as I can say it while sort of sleep deprived, is that this is autobiographical
and fragmentary, or really organically structured and loose (if just to
diagnose the submission's gist). None of which is not postable. It's also
interesting to read in that it's honest, straight up, not really "crafted"
or performative. It's like something you might write for yourself, a diary.
As a "story," I think you could maybe think of it as like performing a
monologue. If you improvised a monologue and delivered it alone in your
bedroom, for someone with a secret eye on it, it'd be interesting and voyeuristic
and all, but as a performance, the improvised aspect might make for some
moments that lag or lose the interest of the secret eye in ye olde bedroom
sky? And then if the same monologue were performed on a small stage at
a bar where people were getting a touch drunk, it's possible that what
you sent might not have the authority and oomph to staunch the instinct
of a semi-drunken audience to engage in some dialogue whilst you monologue
re: the shrink and pah, right? I guess what I'm talking about is crowd
control, a sort of shepherding of attention to your words so that everyone
in attendance fully receives your transmission? Again, I like the sense
that it's like watching you recall some scenes, and I think the end is
well done with dad's last line, so much so that it almost entirely saves
the day or like crystallizes everything that came before it, but not really
enough for me to post this. Anyway, thanks for sending it and I expect
to see more stuff someday.
Hi - this is really good - thanks for sending it - it's clear and readable
and unpredictable and almost sort of moving (I'm not so easily moved, alas)
- it reminds me of the end of Carver's story "Cathedral" in a really good
way. But I think the deal for me is that it also feels like a missed opportunity
at a really good story. It's a scene, as it is, but maybe not a story?
The end didn't feel to me like it totally earn talk like "holy" or "the
sacred" in terms of the story, because its energy or resonance or how it
works etc is only really as an idea or image to be appreciated? I guess
my prejudice toward stories so short is that, unless they're tight performances
in attentive prose, a story should be a little longer - the empty space
should mean more to the massage therapist and to the reader - it's a really
great idea and image, but I think maybe it feels like it needs more story,
more work, to make it meaningful and then maybe feel holy/sacred for a
reader? Anyway - thanks again for sending it and good luck with it. I really
suggest you respect these 500 or so words and write the 2000–5000 words
that come before it or after it or during it?
Hi. You've committed a number of sins, some unwittingly, some intentionally.
1. There's a reason that Eyeshot's
sub guidelines say no "write" or "writer" e-mail addresses unless you're
very young. It suggests an aesthetic, a "writer" type who owns a Moleskine
journal, whose work mostly disrespects the maturity, patience, and literary
knowledge/expectations of readers, and who refers to journals and sites
as "markets." These writers live for those glorious days when Duotrope
posts "congratulations, writer name!" next to the silly name of some obscure
lit site that'll be abandoned by 2010. 2012 the latest.
2. You send flash fiction! Yet Eyeshot doesn't really post flash fiction.
Eyeshot hardly even believes in flash fiction as it's commonly practiced
online these days. For example, you sent a perfectly adequate opening paragraph
to a story - nothing more. It's not a story in itself, "flash" or otherwise.
It seems lazy to me and disrespects the art of reading, I think. (I'm opinionated,
and I could go on . . .)
3. You say you were nominated for a Pushcart. Hint: editors of various
sites etc sort of laugh at that when they gather together to drink and
wind up talking about submissions. Here's the deal: It's meaningless unless
you're in the book. Seriously. Your friend posted something on her site,
then sent it to the Pushcart thing. Again, note it if you win, otherwise
don't. Even if your story was in print in Zoetrope and they nominated it
but it didn't get in, don't mention it.
4. You say you "foam at the mouth" for good fiction. But "foam at the
mouth" is a cliche . . . Tired language is the enemy of good ficton.
5. Further, am I supposed to accept and post your submission thanks
to all those hyphens? What else is there to appreciate/evaluate? Seriously.
In a lot of ways, flash fiction is an enemy these days of serious reading,
which requires patience, an appreciation of theme and variation, an investment
in time and readerly energy. . . Flash can work if it's funny (ie, a joke)
or a quick allegory or more of a poem. Otherwise . . .
Anyway. I think it's important to understand your "market" before you
send something out. Read some things in the archives
and ascertain whether a place like Eyeshot is really the home for you.
There's a good bookstore in Doylestown, the one on the right side more
than the left side of the building . . . I suggest you stay off the internet
and spend more time supporting that local business.
Good luck, and sorry. WRITE ON, DUDE!
Thanks for sending this.
lightning not lighting
capital not capitol
iPod not I-pod
Sorry - this is very clear but clarity isn't necessarily what Eyeshot's
Thanks again and sorry.
Hi - Thanks for sending this - I suggest you read Thomas
Bernhard's Correction and also maybe think about whether or not it
would improve readerly reactions to your work if you didn't constantly
drop off-putting words in there like tard and faggy etc, that is, maybe
think about how a relatively sophisticated/mature adult reader who's read
Vollmann and Genet and Burroughs and Bernhard and all the other abject/obsessive
bastards might react to your sort of self-indulgent, off-putting (to me
at least) stuff. This seems like difficult reading, for me at least, in
that it immediately sets a reader in a passive-response-of-prose mode,
but also a mode in which I edited as I read, seeing ways for things to
flow more smoothly all over the place. But mainly, just sort of dipping
into some of this here and there, what sentences registered were all sorts
of unattractive in spirit. Prolonged attention to consecutive sentences
was like ducking my head into a bowl of cooking grease with meaty bits
and mouse shit in it. Not a place I really wanted to remain immersed. With
that said, I really do think the formal instinct is a good one (one I like
- again, definitely read Bernhard) just that the execution and the spirit
(the attitude) behind it is sort of too ugly (intentionally, I think) for
me to stick around - if you're intentionally presenting an unlikeable narrator
I think it helps for this dude to also sort of be way more seductive, like
Milton's Satan or the Family Guy's Stewie. Anyway. Thanks for sending this
and sorry and please write off any annoying criticisms above as one dude's
reaction who's written what's above to try to help out, like a sort of
literary volunteer work. Thanks again and sorry and send more stuff whenever.
What follows begins with the end of the last thing you sent and then
proceeds right along from there. But what I meant was something like: I
eat the durian and feel all the blood cells in my body stretch as though
for a marathon. I fall, doubling her naked lady, as blood cells and skin
cells separate and sprint from a blast gone off inside my skull. She mentions
something about men passing out after sex, same shit, different dude. My
various sprinting cells envelop her, spin and slip beneath her like innumerable
ball bearings that roll her out into the street, naked, joyously laughing,
ecstatically happy as though my post-coital cellular super-division were
solely intended for her entertainment. Forget all about the horrific phenomenon
induced by that stanky fruit she forced me eat off her perfect posterior,
which I did happily, joyously, regrettably, I now realized, as my every
cell conspired to roll to her oceanward, in part because 1) there was a
hill outside her hotel that led to the beach and 2) it was clear that every
cell inside me sought purification. No one noticed as we rolled, passing
us as though this happened every day, perhaps it did, all day pedestrians
passed nude women rolled to the ocean on the cells of a submissive lover,
all day no one saw this, blind to it, complicit. We'd built enough momentum
to battle the drag upon the sand. The water burst over her head and sucked
every cell in me out to the ocean, where any connection to what had once
been me released. The sky was a color I'd never seen before: green and
black, pulsating, as putrid as that stanky fruit, the sinister sister of
Adam's apple. And that's how the stanky vestigial nub of a tail above many
an anus got the name "David's dorian."
Hi - thanks for sending this - I think what I'm seeing with this submission
are some unclear lines caused by punctuation sometimes or othertimes by
maybe trying to be too cute - early on it says "She sat in her car on his
gravel drive, and dangling inside his windows were dream catchers" - this
makes me register, as I move through the sentence, that she was dangling,
sort of. A period after "drive" clears that up. (Short, non-compound sentences
are cool.) Later, there's "a plastic motion detecting frog ribitted in
her direction." With that one, you need a hyphen between motion and detecting
so they modify frog. I paused and was like should it be "detector" and
frog-ribitted? And then I was like, nope it just needs a hyphen, but by
then I was already out of the story entirely, in part because of this cute
frog motion detector, which probably isn't really essential to the story?
Also, what's with this gray type? These are the sorts of things I was thinking
about, not really seeing too far past the language into the scenes with
Elaine and friends. Anyway - in general, I'd also say that the form and
content of this one don't really match what I've tended to post on Eyeshot.
Sorry. But good luck and keep at it.
I started skimming about halfway through because it didn't engage me
at all. The only vaguely interesting image involves the simile about the
cat's tail, which seems sort of self-consciously like a nice simile and
doesn't really do much else. I don't think the use of the second person
is really necessary here: I think it works best when "you" are in a situation
you don't really have access to (like Roderic
Crooks' story on Eyeshot) or to distance the narrator from serious
trauma. Anyway - thanks again for sending for the second time after saying
you'd never send again. And I look forward to seeing your "Congratulations,
David Erlewine" on Duotrope, even if doubt it'll ever appear next to the
word "Eyeshot." I remain, however, dumbly amazed at your persistence. Maybe
if you worked twice as hard and produced 80 times fewer stories than you
do, you'd have a shot at Eyeshot one day.
Hi - thanks for sending this - I've been getting a few Chicago-type
stories these days, maybe you're all friends of Lindsay
Hunter? Anyway - I was once at the Rainbow at Damon and Division in
1996. I read Paul Auster and the Unabomber manifesto while wasting an afternoon
as my friend was at work (I was visiting town, thinking about moving there,
but didn't). One of the drummers from Tortoise (the Five Style one) was
a bartender. Crazy. Anyway. I'm not sure why I'm mentioning this: maybe
because I can see Wicker Park and other nabes in Chicago in your story,
the Sears Tower looming like an elongated Death Star, because I'm filling
them in with memory. I think maybe readers who haven't been there might
not see it so well, as the names themselves mean nothing. This story is
really clearly written, but I think it could be compressed and accelerated,
especially for the web. Sentences often start with an introductory clause
like "Soon after they arrived at the hospital earlier in the evening, their
father complained about how Alex had forgotten to get onions and cilantro"
or the first sentence of the story, or tons others, and I'd suggest really
limiting that syntactical manuever as it sort of pillows the impact of
a sentence in a sleepy reader's brain. For example, compare the above with
this: "They arrived at the hospital earlier in the evening and their father
complained about how Alex had forgotten to get onions and cilantro . .
." It's the same exact thing but it's way more aerodynamic, comma-less,
moving ahead with a bit more pace. Just giving you something to think about
sentence-wise? Anyway, content-wise, I might prefer to post things that
are a bit more bawdy or overblown or silly or allegorical or . . . but
thanks again for sending this and good luck with it and all.
Hi - thanks for submitting - you seem to have a pretty good facility
with language and a playful, descriptive instinct, all of which are admirable,
but at this point maybe you might want to think about readers more than
demonstrating for them your playful facility? I read the beginning of your
thing to a friend while sitting at a park (I can access submissions on
my phone) and he stopped me at "shimmying the tooth from its place" and
said this dude's an egotist. What he meant is that you're getting off on
your facility with language instead of using it to serve a story or create
sensations to affect a reader. But that facility you have is a really admirable
thing to have, just that you need to maybe think about using it to try
to move other people instead of just sort of delight in your playfulness
and extraneous description. Also, I think our submissions guidelines say
don't send stories about dentists! Also, I'd really suggest not to tell
editors that you like egg sandwiches etc. It's not funny or cute, it's
not really anything except a strike against you in the end. I wouldn't
even say you're working on anything etc - and DEFINITELY never say that
you have "a colorful spread of life experiences from which to draw creatively"
(who doesn't?!) - just stick to what you've had published or posted (if
not, say I'm looking for my first acceptance) and try to make the least
possible impact/distraction from your submission. That's just some advice
from someone who reads tons of submissions and has sent many out. Anyway
- thanks again and good luck.
Hi - thanks for sending this - it's pretty hot and deals in the literary
default emotion of longing, but it's really maybe not totally right for
Eyeshot. The encounter would need to go awry, the association with the
wife would need to involve extraterresterials? I'm really just saying that
this is clear and readable and involves course and slimy tongues yet somehow
is more just like a sexual fantasy or something more than a story maybe?
Anyway - thanks again and sorry.
Hi - I am now officially a yuppie total fuck of an editor, walking home
from work, reading submissions on my new refurbished iphone (only $100).
Even on the tiny display, your story looked really good word-wise, and
it's a visual art after all, but I guess reading while walking and looking
at it again on my desktop at home, I guess the feeling remains that this
seems like it was translated from another language? Like maybe you've read
all the cool French and German dudes from the '30s etc and then sort of
modernized things with a touch of Marcus/Lutzness maybe, in a good way,
a way I sort of like sometimes, but mostly I feel like those texts could
be read aloud to someone you want to seduce sitting next to you at a bar
and would somehow turn the trick of sounding smart and intelligible and
sane but just subtly shifted like after two beers or a quick tentative
hit off a bowl maybe? I totally like the instinct, just wish maybe it were
a little more contemporary American in voice and intelligible and seductive,
that is, for Eyeshot's purposes at least. Thanks again and sorry and send
more whenever and good luck elsewhere!
Hi - thanks for sending this - I dated a Port-au-Princess for a while
about ten years ago, so I've got special love for Haiti. Alas. Bon. Anyway
- I feel like Eyeshot is probably not the right landing spot for this story.
This isn't really a rejection but more like a recognition / suggestion
that Eyeshot over the years has pretty much settled into a certain sort
of bawdy, odd, semi-unclear, and maybe a bit shorter sort of thing? Your
story definitely deserves posting somewhere (or printing - maybe it'd do
better in print than online?), but again I don't think Eyeshot's the right
spot. Sorry, and thanks again and bon chance.
Hi - thanks for sending this - this story is sort of off-putting right
away with "retard" and "fat mom" and then "the shit's fucked-up" motif
is not so alluring. Maybe I guess I'm looking for something that's a bit
more mature - not MUCH More mature, just a bit more mature. Thanks again
and sorry - Lee
Hi - thanks for sending this - I don't think Eyeshot is really the right
site for your story. It's not like this is a rejection - more a recognition
of aesthetic difference. Like some bars etc are perfect for some sorts
of people and other sorts just don't feel comfortable there. If I posted
your story, the tone and tactics of the site would seem to change, and
that's not really something I want to do after working for almost ten years
to get it how it is. Which is a long way of saying sorry, I realize, but
also good luck and thanks again.
Hi - I read this one last night on my phone's small display - I couldn't
sleep. I liked it then but figured I'd read it again in the morning. I
didn't. But I read it again just now this afternoon, windows open, old
Stereolab record (Peng)
on the hi fi, and googled midway to figure out "bookkeeper," and was happy
to see it return at the end. Honestly, this sort of submission is pretty
much the most difficult sort because I like it fine, find it readable and
evocative and clever and real, all the things I look for, but then I'm
not entirely compelled to hit reply and accept it but I also don't want
to pass on it. It's an annoying state to be in for an editor, especially
since it's not like I can cite space concerns etc. I do have a month's
worth of stories all ready to go and during that month should find a few
more that really push me to hit reply more positively. But I really do
like this one, too. What do you think? It's sort of like one of those dates
where you like the person but aren't sure if you should take it further,
knowing that you're a little hesitant. I like this, but am not passionate,
I guess, though I often post things that I like less than this overall
but like some aspect more. Ugh. How's that for a response? Can I let it
sit for a while? Have you sent it elsewhere? I think I've said enough at
this point, though I do want to reiterate that this is a good piece of
writing, I think, but then again maybe it's a bit too summery and sweet
and sort of boy-centric for Eyeshot? Maybe that's it? Maybe I'm hestitating
because of the second-person tense, which I like well enough but which
also makes me aware of it, and the boy-centric consciousness? At this point,
I can't pass on it without forever being deemed an incorrigible cockteaser.
Maybe I could suggest you revise a little to complicate her consciousness
a little so it's not so entirely about boy seduction, so she realizes that
all this boy-centric thought is pulling her from other goals and interests
etc and she's using him as a distraction and prefers the movements of the
seduction somewhat more to any actual contact with the boy's skin and all?
Oh well. Let me know what you think.
Sorry for the display of transparent editorial neuroses, and let me
know if you'd be up to work on it more and send another draft sometime?
Thanks for sending something for Eyeshot, which I don't think is really
the proper home for your story. This isn't really a rejection of the story
or a criticism of it at all, but more of like a simple courteous editorial
recognition on Eyeshot's part that your story would be best served at sites
or journals that more closely tend to match the story's dealio in form
and content. Take a look at the archive and you'll see what I mean - thanks
again for submitting and I hope you find a good home for your prose puppy
(I've never written "prose puppy" before and I'm obviously not sure abotu
it since I'm now writing about it parenthetically like this, but instead
of delete it in favor of "story" I'll leave it and once again wish you
luck before pressing "send").
Hi - thanks for submitting something to Eyeshot - I really don't tend
to post supershort stories unless they're predominately languagey or insane
or silly or funny etc - I don't really tend to deal too much in suicide-related
dilemmas, either, unless the person is about to commit suicide with a vacuum
cleaner or somehow rigged their alarm clock to slowly kill them each time
they hit the snooze button, suicide by paranoia related to crows on a telephone
wire, jumping off the cliff that is really only the curb into a sea of
litter? But thanks again and sorry and maybe check out some things in ye
olde nearly ten-year-old archive before sending again. Thanks again and
sorrry and good luck with this piece and everything else unrelated to it.
Hi - i like the first paragraph of this one - i read it aloud and liked
it, but then you opted for fragments and more descriptions etc instead
of maybe some simple dramatized stuff, that is, something clearly happening,
and i started to lose interest, that is, get a little bit hypnotized by
the look of it, the length of the language, alliterative, soft, one register
(soft) instead of a mix of conversationally staccato and more old-fashioned
prosey silk? - i think, again, you should maybe think about writing stuff
with one hand behind your back, meaning maybe focus less on the form and
more on the sharp, impression-making ability of phrases in service of some
action or some explicit/clear/unique personality moving around like a human
being - maybe try to let the words speak instead of some sort of slur and
hum, which they do very nicely at times, but are also often almost inaudible
(for me at least). things proceed so leisurely - maybe think about telling
a story in more of a rush - urgency is maybe a word to think about, it
really helps to keep a reader following the words if the words slip ahead
and push one another in the direction of some bright destination established
early on in a reader's brain/eye. Thanks and sorry and all . . .
Dear Anonymous Freak,
Hi - thanks for sending something again after like five or six years,
right? Or maybe you never sent things but I recognize your name from Hobart
and other sites? Anyway, thanks for sending this now. I definitely like
the notion of the man inside the pillowcase (by the way, the
next thing posted this weekend involves an Indian family living on someone's
face). I guess I might have liked this one a lot if the 15 things sort
of cohered more than they do - they're sort of like 15 random things about
the dude in the pillow instead of 15 random things that refer to each other
and create some associations etc and lead to a semi-resounding or funny
or sad #15 (beyond stating dude's death?). But thanks again for sending
it and send more whenever .
Hi - it's 5:52 AM and I'm eating oatmeal for breakfast and am not necessarily
grossed-out but am wondering what this story is: not Bathroom Humor, per
se, but "Nabokovan Gentleman visits the bathroom"? Content-wise, we've
got snot and piss. Form-wise: alliterative deterritorializations an oatmeal
eater found a bit distracting from the urine and snot, thankfully, sort
of. There's an almost interesting/obvious tension between the overdone
"high-style" of the prose and the low-down content of piss and snot, but
where does it leave a reader at the end? With a dead desert of cleanliness?
Not really. Nowhere, more so. That is, ready to start the day, hoping this
one don't infect too much. By which I mean thanks and sorry and good luck
and send again and good morning.
Hi - thanks for sending something again ("again" is right, right?).
Anyway - I'd say that maybe this one is a little long for what I want to
post these days (< 3000 words?) but also that I didn't quite get sucked
down into it enough early on to commit to carefully reading the whole thing.
"The bottles of water he said he would bring home from the restaurant where
he cooks are nonexistant" seemed like an unnecessarily confusing sentence
to me: "He didn't bring home bottles of water from the restaurant . . .
" And I guess I found myself sort of editing sentences as I was reading,
cutting out "clouds of" before "chalk" and deleting "gave up their" before
"rain" . . . . And editing while reading is not an ideal reading state
to be in, thus: thanks again for sending it and definitely send more stuff
whenever, if maybe a little shorter. Thanks and sorry and good luck elsewhere.
Hi - thanks for sending something again - sorry not to have much time
tonight to really go into it but I got pretty confused in the first paragraph,
especially with the POV stuff, like "Phil Womach is today’s you. Your patch."
Huh? I'm a nicotine patch? Afterward, we're in the safe, olde familiar
airline confines, but I guess I got distracted by "tenner" - it reminded
me of a Pato Banton song about smoking "sense" but not doing coke, v. british
- and so that distracted me, and by then I was sort of realizing that I
was having trouble acclimating to the tone and the basic bearings of the
thing, so I initiated editorial skimming activities and then started writing
this note. You might think this is a really super freaking shallow editorial
practice, but it is surely very close to what everyone does (long live
transparency!) and also it's definitely very close to what a visitor would
do when checking out Eyeshot. This is the web, after all. Not much attention
span. Etc. Etc. And so, as an editor, I'm the first hypothetical visitor.
Thanks again and sorry and if you feel like avenging thyself upon my prose,
feel free via the old-fashioned, long-attention-span, print medium: http://eyeshot.net/bloodfire.html
thanks again and sorry and send more whenever!
Hi - I think the "problem" is that it's almost all description, and
some of the description is hard to see clearly, like this maybe overdone
fragment: "Because surrounding the man were miniature mountains made from
the release of clouds, and then dispatches to have salt trucks plow into
it with their metal half-moons." Dispatches and mountains of breath are
surrounding the man, even behind his head? I don't see it, because I am
not on acid.
"where the condensation of movement and pollute" . . . it's gonna be
real hard to get stuff accepted if you send stuff out without every word
being the right word ("pollution")
Again, my advice is to tell a simpler, more active story and let your
admirable descriptive instinct serve that action at times. Also, in honor
of pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow, maybe think about taking a
little heat off the old fastball -- focus on throwing strikes and hitting
your spots. And also maybe remember that it's not about striking out readers
but making them think they've hit an opposite-field double off you to win
Hi - thanks for sending this story, which is entirely baffling, especially
in terms of the basic establishment of setting. Make sure readers know
right away that they're in and around a glass elevator at a fancy new airport.
West Wing made me think of the White House. Natasha and Moscovite made
me think of Russian spies. Coke should be capitalized in this context as
a name brand. Termination. Coke. Fog burning off. Whatever, says this reader.
I read this twice and have no idea what it's about and am still not entirely
sure what's gone on. Is it that subtle with the coke and all? And if it's
like that damn Hemingway story where the two characters at the train station
are talking about an abortion, all I can say is that I don't think that
narrative tactic is so worthwhile these days.
Hi - it's a little strange that you've had things on Eyeshot and have
submitted a bunch of other things but yet send such an official cover letter.
It's like seeing each other at a party after we've been friends for a while
and pretending we've never met! Anyway, the introduction is pretty much
in keeping with the tone of the submission, which is very clear and features
a cold administrator with the same surname as me, which admittedly kept
me interested (and I was glad it wasn't an obvious sendup of my rejection
letters or Eyeshot or any of my stories or something like that!). Patel
is the Indian equivalent (in terms of common-ness) to Klein, which is the
Jewish equivalent of Smith or Jones for them English folks. Anyway - I
like how clean and crisp this story is, how sad and well done, but I sadly
think I will unfortunately have to pass on it, maybe because it somewhat
felt like it could've been written by anyone (such anonymous prose is not
necessarily a negative, just that I prefer a little more individuated performance
for Eyeshot) but more so maybe it's just a bit too "poignant" at the end
or something. Again, there's really nothing blatantly wrong with it, the
language is perfectly transparently clear (!), the characters come to life,
and the scene can be clearly seen, all of which means that this one will
be accepted somewhere soon, definitely -- but for Eyeshot at least, as
you surely recognize by now, I like to try to post some pieces that might
not have such an easy time of finding a home. Beyond the site's semi-variable
aesthetic, though, I do also think that there could maybe be a little more
to this that would've made me post it despite its conventional leanings,
but I'm not quite sure what that would be: maybe another few pages where
Klein obsesses over her and tries to find her and something more goes on
suggestive of his history etc than what's now like a really seriously rendered,
well-done, narrative "missed connection" on craigslist?
Hi - thanks for sending this - have
you ever read that Kafka thing where Poseidon is more or less an office
worker overwhelmed with paperwork? I'd maybe be more into this if it
were more like that, less crazy, more about Mr. Khan at the gym lifting
weights thinking about some situation involving PETA. Something way more
normal and controlled, but featuring Genghis Khan today, wishing he were
born long ago.
I really like your name: a beautiful name - anyway, thanks for sending
Here are the impressions of an editor who's pretty damn sick and currently
listening to a live Rush album from 1976 as he reads a slew of submissions:
first, the thing about the sock reminded me of Ethan Canin, in a workshop,
suggesting that we try, as an experiment, to make a reader weep over a
lost sock. Something so common and insignificant like that can take on
some serious poignancy, maybe, possibly. And I love the way you have the
dude animate the sock and make it talk etc.
Second, early on, the detailed sentence about the dresser made me quesiton
whether this was something I needed to carry with me all the way to the
end, the detail of the scarred cherry etc, and then "the pick-up" confused
me because I thought these words referred to the act of picking up the
dresser, not the pickup truck he had to sell. A small thing, but it occurs
early on, at a critical time in terms of immersing a reader.
Third, once the guy (I've forgotten his name and won't look back) heads
out, I sort of lost interest because he's at a diner and there's a buxom
blond waitress and that's a sort of thing I've seen way too often IN STORIES
to take much interest in, largely because I've rarely seen it happen in
life (not because I don't have much experience with diners, just that it's
a common fictional setting for characters like ye olde dude down on his
Fourth, for Eyeshot particularly, I think the sock animation stuff is
of interest but would need to progress oddly and spectacularly and unexpectedly
and maybe a little humorously and sadly till the the sock somehow animated
him into changing his life or something?
The final word -- "gutted" -- also reminded me of a fictional word used
in stories, like "slayed" maybe -- good words of emotional weight that
are maybe overburdened by overuse?
Thanks for sending something and preambling so extenstively that i now
feel like i know you already and can therefore just be totally freakin'
brutally/viciously honest because i know you like straight up like that
and can handle it when it comes from a complete stranger/friend, someone
who's really no more than a proper noun, but since you specifically asked
for a (correctly hyphenated) "world-famous rejection letter" the balloon
I'd've filled with viciousness lost all its superhot air and I thought
maybe for once you'd like to forget about yourself for a little bit, like
does it always have to be me me me with all you submittors, it's never
let me do something for you, dear editor, let me do something gracious
and kindful, but instead of doing anything saintly they (YOU!) paste courier
new text into a message and click send, and hours later some dude sitting
at a computer, crosslegged, with a Simpsons rerun on mute, postprandially
crafts a long-ass rejection that makes no specific mention of the story
submitted but does go so far as to humbly suggest that the submittor (submitter?)
maybe send $10 to him to order
the site's first book, no more than the price of a sandwich and medium-sized
semi-fancy coffee at Starbucks, but then he relents and says that the story
was clear and readable and he likes the name Jicks for its Malkmus association
but then maybe one third through he expected something spectacular to happen
but then it felt like it was on a course for inevitable liftoff that inevitably
ended with a not particularly spectacular or interesting or visceral or
"poignant" flight consisting of a list of standard colors, before three
number signs signaled the end.
Hi - thanks for ordering the book
(hope you like it!) and thanks for sending another piece. I like this one
more than the first - really think it's readable and enjoyable - there
should be a comma in the first sentence after "loneliness," though, or
maybe that sentence could be recast? After that bit of a little slip at
first, the rest reads well, and nicely, with the vinyl record and the movie
hush, very particular and on the money. Then there's the phrenology, which
is cool enough and then the bar scene, with the ridiculous burkha-type
slit just for the eyes. I'd forgotten the title at that point but anyone
who remembered it would know what's up and not have a surprise. I thought
it was amusing but not like totally LOL (as they say). The sex stuff was
well done. The ending was good. BUT you seem to have forgotten the opening
bit about echoing loneliness and phrenology, the fact that her hair covered
his ability to read her character? Regardless, it felt like the end didn't
quite pull it all together tight enough, and this one seems like it needs
to be supertight? Other things to think about it: why's it end here? What
if it began here and did some backtracking and then proceeded to their
relationship some more? Y'know, like other than the surprise that the chick's
got a beard, what else is there to this one? Maybe try to make the silly
sensationalist bit about the bearded chick just part of something deeper
and surprisingly mature/serious? Anyway - just some ideas - thanks for
sending it and good luck and keep at it and send more whenever.
Hi - thanks for sending this - I think it's maybe too quick and clear
- too distant from Lily - maybe if you revise it think about cramming the
point of view deeper into Lily's head so the reader really senses the S.A.D.
She's got to exercise regularly and walk around a little at mid-day - I
get that shit pretty bad unless I run a lot through the wintertime. Anyway
- the fire came too quickly and seemed too obvious - maybe if the POV were
up inside her more we'd really see the fire as something mystical instead
of an unfortunate accident . . . . Anyway - thanks againand sorry and good
luck - Lee
Hi - thanks for sending something - this one's sort of like an essay
and I like that, but beyond ye olde PoMo 101 thing re: the real, and other
than the great thing about un-friending dead grandpa, I guess I didn't
quite get sucked into this enough or feel like it took off in unexpected
directions or extended into unsuspected places of awesomeness? But thanks
for sending it and good luck and send again whenever.
Hi - thanks for sending this - I like it - it's surreal and demented
and very normal, which is maybe the best sort of surreal and demented there
is. But I think I'll pass on it because it's maybe not quite what I'm looking
to post - or maybe it's a little too short, hitting too much on one note?
It's clear and I like the image it evokes and all and also I like the final
line but maybe if it gave more of a sense of the surreal dementedness of
the narrator I'd've been more into it? Not that I wasn't "into it" just
that it was a pleasant snack but not a meal unto itself. Anyway - thanks
again for sending it and send more whenever.
Maybe way too much semen and mormon teens jacking off? . . . Thanks
I like the Smiths and used to like Phish back in their indie-hippie
heydey, early '90s, and I love me some good old effin' frottage sessions,
and I'm not averse to crowds, and I like some of the descriptions of crowds,
but with this I sort of didn't really see anything, or more so whenever
I started to see something the image faded with what felt like an excessive
screen of language knocking me out of any sense of "being there" (transportation
via text!) or simply feeling/seeing etc. For a while I thought maybe I'd
suggest a revision, a shorter piece, knock off the first page, focus things,
cut out the mention of ejaculate and cock, but then I was sort of just
baffled by the end bits re: the Buddhists and the lyrics and then thought
that more than a revision would be needed for me to want to post it --
there'd need to be a total reorganization and application of some narrative/formal
pressure instead of what seems like something of a loose sprawl right now?
Anyway - thanks for sending it and sorry and thanks for sending something
again and definitely send more whenever - I like how you write, the approach,
generally, just that this one maybe sprawls too much for me? Anyway - sorry
and thanks again!
Hi - thanks for sending this - it's clearer but I had trouble getting
into it. It feels like you're writing beneath the surface of the earth.
Maybe try to burrow to the surface and walk on two feet and stumble then
skate ahead as you cast a long, thick shadow for a reader. Use language
to make a reader see. For example, consider this early sentence: "And with
things like cars and fire hydrants and people not covered by any of the
snow that was supposed to collect and blanket everything as the day went
on." A reader sees cars, fire hydrants, and people. Not so interesting,
right? Too general. And these general cars and people are "not" covered
by "any of the snow" (not "snow," simply) that "was supposed to collect
and blanket" (are "collect" and "blanket" different or redundant? and is
"was supposed to" a weak phrase?). And is "everything as the day went on"
the most efficient, vivid way to make a reader see a day on which snow
is forecast? Is it maybe easier and cleaner and more vivid to recast the
first bit more like: "In the morning, the snow forecast for the day hadn't
started yet." Less "poetry" but more economy, and more room for readers
to co-create the scene and provide sense the imminent snowfall from their
memory instead of have your general "cars and fire hydrants and people"
foisted on 'em. Yeah? That's just a language thing. But what if a story
about a blood test were more like the way you'd tell it to a friend, without
any showing off. You would never say the first few lines of this to someone
you sat down next to at a bar. Think of it that way. Dude wants to nurse
his drink, not hear your story, so you got to win him over with immediacy
and efficiency and humor and a sense of relevance/heft? Anyway - good luck
and thanks for sending something again.
First, there's a missing word! "The club she insisted they go was in
a constant fog of cigarette smoke."
Second, I liked this line the best: ". . . doesn’t think having Japanese
writing on his water bottle is disrespectful to the people who died during
the Rape of Nanking."
The rest felt like it was excerpted from something longer. I liked the
bear in hibernation motif. I disbelieved that he'd "shudder" when he touched
some panty while dancing, or more so such a line made him weak in a way
that seems to disrespect the probable real ambivalence the dude felt in
such a situation. The last phrase, "scared as hell," felt fake, like it
was trapped in a short story. And overall, why care about "Liu"?
More specifically, sentence-wise, what if you recast the opening lines
so they read more like: "He crawls out of his cave, a bear, a giant to
be feared, till he meets a girl. Pretty or not, everything burly about
him goes skeletal. Mom set him up with the doctor's daughter. She burned
her hair till it frizzed." Etc, etc. A little bit tighter, a little more
interesting to look at maybe, without losing anything important, just a
little deeper in the head of this Liu?
Anyway. Good luck, and thanks, and sorry, whatever your name is.
Hi - thanks for sending something again - i think it comes down to really
different aesthetics. For example, I never would and never have posted
a story that mentions (wistfully) broadway shows like Rent. Formally, I
think you might want to think about really limiting the number of sentences
that start with a clause followed by a comma - maybe think about making
sentences more aerodynamic. Content-wise, why mentioned Canon Digital Rebel?
What does that suggest? Is it product placement? Why would readers possibly
care? Anyway - I could go on, but mainly I should just say that it's me,
not you. My literary aesthetic is very different, which should be apparent
if you read the sort of things I've posted over the last ten years or so.
Sorry, but thanks and good luck.
Hi - you write really well - very carefully - you seem to care about
language and effecting the sensory imagination of a reader. BUT. It's sort
of boring, dude! Know what I mean? It's good, but sort of like sleep inducing,
and also sort of like a goodness that could be produced by anyone sensitive
to language and its effect on the sensory imagination of reader etc. What
I'm saying is this: use your skills to freakin' make more of an impression
on a reader, without being too sensationalist (ie, writing a story about
drunken HIV+ monkeys gang-raping the president's mouth). Cut it down to
its marrow. Freak readers out!
Hi - thanks for sending this - it didn't really hold my attention despite
the bit about rich rewards for his balls. Zombie
stories are difficult territory we sucessfully crossed long ago - the
content is cool, but formally, the prose and its presentation (tone, syntax,
dialogue, narrative oomph, unexpected movementes etc) sort of made me a
little zombie-like as a reader, and the deal is to resurrect the reader,
Hi. Pretty ballsy to drop "verdigrised" in the first sentence! You seem
to have a good instinct for description but I think it's overboard right
now and needs to be developed - maybe think about saying things a bit more
simply and stop trying to impress and sound "literary." Sorry. But good
Hi - all the responsibility for this submission's success rests on these
lines: "One thirty-five-year-old female, when asked by her therapist the
extent of her hair-loss, removed her wig. It was remarked, rather unprofessionally,
that she resembled a brown-eyed albino." If "brown-eyed albino" isn't deemed
funny or remarkable in some way, this submission is really very much like
a wikipedia entry, except for the last little adultery joke. The issue
I think is that the opening wikipedian lines don't create any pressure
or expectations, so "brown-eyed albino" doesn't do much to release or undermine,
especially since an expectation is created for something "unexpected" by
the line "rather unprofessionally" immediately before "brown-eyed albino."
That's my diagnosis. Sorry. But thanks for sending something and good luck.
Hi - the first thing I think is that you're maybe not putting enough
pressure on your sentences - they could be written by anyone, at this point,
I think - for eyeshot, at least, it seems like you need to work your sentences
over some more, start thinking about the shape and sound of sentences,
work on them until you can stand on them and bounce up on down on their
perfect swerviness, or at least bounce a quarter off them they're stretched
so tight - read
Content-wise, I sort of checked out when I read this line: "while hanging
up Abercrombie shirts at the resale clothing shop where she worked" - for
me, as a reader, a writer, an editor, a human, it's just sort of not where
I want to be this afternoon, if you know what I mean? As respectfully as
possible, I suggest that you might want to think about your approach to
writing stories, the way you transmit words to unknown readers who aren't
your friends or particularly much of anything other than neutral and sort
of impatient and waiting for anything at all that allows them to read something
else or check the score of the NFL playoff game on TV right now. The idea
is to grab attention, in a non-sensationalist way, via controlled, precise,
sensory-activating language that suggests a world that otherwise doesn't
really exist - not the easiest thing to do . . . but good luck and thanks
Hi - thanks for sending something again - despite the semi-distracting
dildo at the beginning, i liked how this one started - it reminded me a
little of "In
the Penal Colony" by Kafka but soon lost that sense when it began to
feel semi-silly and unbelievable and so I didn't really care about what
happened or the characters or the world etc. My disbelief wasn't suspended,
as they say, for more than a few lines toward the beginning, and that's
the trick to something like this - the language probably needs to be perfectly
flowing and controlled, with unexpected movements, and there needs to be
a sense of serious existenstial heft for such stories really to work -
if something is simultaneously silly and obvious irreal, it's gonna run
into problems - I learned this lesson the hard way by writing a
silly, irreal, unpublishable novel about an autofellator and a woman with
immaculate conception syndrome - I think the key if you write something
beyond typical reality is to write it as seriously as possible (see pretty
much all of Kafka's stuff or even this
(humorous) story by Bartheleme.
Anyway - thanks again for sending something again and sorry.
Hi - thanks for sending this - I'd give you a high grade if the assignment
were to write a solid impersonation of Molly
Bloom's soliquoy, and yet we ain't in school. A good job doing what
you've done but it's not quite what I'd like post right now. Thanks again
for sending it and happy new year and all!
Hi - thanks for sending this - what does "sentences sourced" mean? Anyway,
I'm gonna have to pass on this, mostly because it breezes past my un-hungover
sunday morning eyes with the look and feel of textual wind, sort of, that's
an exagerration. More so, I think I'd like some more flagpoles, as these
three paragraphs involve anonymous proper names doing some things, but
none of it really feels real or rooted or lived, but also it doesn't feel
unreal or unrooted or undead in some interesting zombie movie way? Anyway,
sorry, but thanks for sending it and good luck.
Hi - thanks for sending this - I think it's maybe too clear, too easy,
for Eyeshot at least? Not that ease and clarity aren't good things, but
it's a simple boy-girl system, 2nd person, without being disturbed by any
flying animals in search of human flesh. Thanks again and sorry -
Hey there - I'm not sure why I would want to champion or validate or
associate myself (and other things I've posted) or make what you sent more
accessible to the world? Jimmy doesn't exist. Who cares about Dennis Leary?
"Tapping where the water droplets slither on the panes like ninjas" is
a fine image and a model for later work (maybe every sentence can one day
be that clear and good?), but the thing about the device and the doctor
etc suggests some sort of malady that's really unclear and therefore clouded
my attention/engagement - I mean, it starts with checkers and seems to
end with some sort of scrabble, but closer review shows that it's some
sort of communicaiton pad affixed to the kid's chest. I sort of think that
you're writing too quickly and not thinking enough about what someone else
cares about when they read a story. The "weight of this one's worth" all
rests of an unclear suggestion re: the communication malady (some sort
of serious stutter, I imagine, per your other submissions?), but since
it's unclear and then ends so quickly, without elaboration, theme/variation,
emphasis, etc, there's really nothing to champion or validate or associate
with or make more accessible - suggestion of a communication malady and
related loneliness etc (solo checkers) isn't enough, I think - there needs
to be more to it . . . Anyway - sorry for the unsolicited ranting re: editing
and good luck with the site and the writing and have an optimistc new year!
Hi - in both stories you sent today, women have well-described pedicured
toes. Why? What are these toes about? What does it tell a reader? Why should
a reader care about Alisha? Is she African-American? Is that an African-American
type name? What did she do before? Does she have a husband (someone must
have fathered Angel)? Can't she just sell her WHITE Volvo -- why a white
Volvo? Why TAN suit? Why RED toes? What's going on with these colors -
or are they arbitrary (that is, simply descriptive)? Are any descriptions
simple or do they all characterize and evoke a specific world? Is this
story supposed to be a sort of commentary on the news, on downsizing, on
contemporary economic anxieties? Why should someone read this instead of
read the newspaper? What's the role of fiction? Ezra Pound said that literature
is "news that stays news" - does your story quality as "lit" according
to this quotation? Meaning: why bother with Alisha? The anxiety of getting
a job to pay for prep school, etc, is understandable and fine for a story,
expressed via the shoes, OK, but what about the formal choices you've made:
the way the story is old is very straightforward, not particularly swervy
or evocative or embedded in Alisha's particular human psychology? So how
might this read if recast as a stream-of-consciousness piece focused on
the moment she carries the snakeskin shoes to the interview, with all other
elements in the story bubbling up in an organic, associative, non-linear
way, with various anxieties listed in quick sentence fragments, a montage
of clips from worst-case scenes? Would that make for a more interesting
experience for a reader, esp. in such a short piece? Would doing something
like that, reorganizing the approach and situating the story in a single
moment that presents the main character's consciousness (ie, her thoughts/senses)
make Alisha feel like more of a human artfully expressed in carefully composed
language than a flat character in a fictional story? My suggestion for
now, beyond this story, would be to read as much as you can of good
lit and try your best to emulate the stuff you like best. Compare a
page of your prose side by side to a page of prose by a writer you really
admire: note the difference in syntax, language, characterization, etc.
Anyway - these are just some quick thoughts typed between the Simpsons
and Family Guy . . . hope they help in some way. Good luck with this and
keep at it but definitely read and read and edit more than you compose
and always keep in mind that you're trying to do something to a mature,
well-read stranger on the other side of the page who wants you to do something
to them via evocative, intelligent, meaningful, purposeful (and hopefully
ocassionally semi-humorous) prose.
Thanks and sorry and good luck!
Hi - thanks for sending something again, Ms. Facebook Friend. I guess
my initial honest reaction is that the short-stuttery syntax got in the
way as I read, distracted me from seeing something clearly: a mermaid,
a fish, a fishy dream of your typical contemporary american neurotic chick?
All of the above. So there's that. But mainly what seemed like a tentative,
stylistic self-consciousness undermined me from seeing what was going on
at the level of the text, then seeing beyond it into some sort of super-badass,
mind-blowing subtext? Does that make sense? Maybe if I were to give unsolicited
advice re: your approach to writing things like this it'd be just to really
write try to write with way more semi-inebriated, clear and confident id-fulness
than superego, I guess, which seems to get in the way of you getting your
stroll on? Like I could imagine you writing this without words like "cherishloved,"
for example, and with flowing, compound, sensory-activating sentences.
Anyway - thanks for sending this and definitely send something again whenever!
Hi - thanks for the nice words re: my note and for sending something
again - this time: the voice feels choppy and false but not really interestingly
or satirically false. A few good moments seem to stand out to salute the
guy holding the voice's strings rather than deepen the effect or reality
beyond the voice, whereas the rest, the other moments, again, just feel
unbelievable, but, again, not in an exagerrated, intentional, satrical
way, if that makes sense. Anyway - sorry - thanks - try me with something
Hi - thanks for sending this "unclassified" story. I think the formal
contrivances, the commas, the lack of capitalization, etc, distract from
my ability to see through the text to something else: the world of the
story, the subtext, anything. The formal interference wasn't that interesting
to me, though, and didn't really seem to relate to the content (at least
not all that clearly for me). And so I'll thank you again and wish you
luck and let you know that some editors (not me, of course!) sort of laugh
a little when writers say they've been nominated for Pushcarts - anyone
can be nominated but not everyone can win one. Anyway - thanks again and
good luck and send more whenever.
Hi - thanks for sending this lovely, clear-as-clean-undies, thong song
of a submission. It's maybe just not exactly the sort of thing I'm looking
to post. This could almost be an article in a magazine, maybe, but I guess
I'm looking for things that would never be considered acceptable opposite
an advertisement featuring a nearly naked, very sexually satisfied model
trying to sell chocolate-covered mothballs. By which I mean, I just woke
up and am not making much sense, but I thank you for sending this, it reads
well, it should have no trouble finding a home, just that it maybe makes
too much sense for a room at La Casa Eyeshot?
Hi - thanks for sending this - your bio isn't all that pretentious (or
at least I got one of those fancy MFA things, too, and have taught fiction
etc at two huge universities). I tend to like things like what you sent,
recasting a form for some effect. This reads clearly but I guess the deal
for me is that I sort of expected that by at least the middle, maybe even
earlier, things would start to modulate, get odder, darker, a little more
satirical maybe, and certainly at the end reveal the acronym (a must)!
The good thing about set forms like an infomercial is that it allows for
awesome moments when the voiceover busts out of the form, right? But mainly
I think that, as this is now, the form overwhelms the effect. Also, I sensed
some authorial condescension in the Vietnam Vet's voice with the repetition
of "thing's here." Anyway - thanks for sending this and definitely send
more stuff whenever.
Hi - I really like the moment when you get real deep in her head as
she ferociously gives head and the man's member morphs into a microphone
and she's singing to an endless crowd and the prose gets longer and looser
and all. I really liked that part, but maybe I didn't love the opening
(didn't really see it all that clearly), and didn't really love her 1950's
bimbo accent, and though the erotic section gave me a ranging woody (kidding!),
and, again, really loved the moment when you deepen the POV and present
her fantasy whilst fellating, I guess I have to say sorry and thanks and
Hi - you write really well, or at least I like the way you write, since
we have the same instinct, I think, writing-wise. Energy, sound, sense,
flow, pushing ahead clearly to hold the reader's eyes on the words and
move things forward ("profluence," they call it). Eyeshot is definitely
a home for this sort of writing, but the issue I have with what you sent
is the content, particularly the word "mad" and "madness" etc. I think
if you took out all psychiatric terms and brand names etc and changed the
title, you might have something here, in that the madness would be on display,
wonderfully, but not announced as it is here repeatedly. It's like an interesting
independent band referring to their music as indie rock. If you're gonna
be "mad" never use the word "mad" maybe, since it sort of undermines everything?
Anyway - send me something else!
Hi - thanks for sending this - I like the ending, that MK killed Skulls,
and I really like the initial image of the tied-up, petrol-drenched phone
booth (do these still exist now that everyone has cell phones? public phones,
let alone phone booths in the US are now nearly gone, I think - also in
Philip Roth's Exit Ghost there's a great thing comparing the privacy of
the by-gone phone booth to everyone talking openly today). Anyway - I guess
with this story it's maybe a little too one dimensional for me to really
want to post it, although it's readable and mostly enjoyable except for
maybe a bit in the middle that's maybe too easily marked by profanity?
Thanks for sending it and send more whenever.
Hi - thanks for sending this - it's clear and suggests the scene and
situation pretty well and I like the bit about Cindy Sherman and the last
few lines, especially the last one, but I guess it didn't really motivate
me to type an acceptance letter. I really have little control over the
editorial process, there's something else that runs it: I merely do the
bidding of the all-powerful capital-R "Response" residing equally in my
head, heart, guts, and loins, and somewhat above my head and maybe also
in my feet and knees, to a lesser extent. Anyway - this is a perfectly
fine thing you've sent but the spirit didn't move me - sorry the Response
didn't leap through my fingertips, but send again whenever.
Hi - I had a really tough time getting into this - I was staring at
it for a while then realized I'd zoned out - why? Maybe because of sentences
like this: "Or that we, as a couple, are a desert as a people and so torn
that never in the stream of things can we collide, and touch as pieces."
What's that mean? What do I see? What is a "desert as a people"? Can a
desert be torn? Can a torn desert people stream along with the stream of
WHAT things?! Can a torn streaming desert collide or even touch? Such sentences
are sort of like launching off points for a reader's distraction, which
is the absolute opposite of what writing does when it works well, that
is, it focuses attention, sharpens it, makes someone imagine something,
feel something, that isn't there. If you think of it as a transmission,
sentences like this are garbled - if your cable TV showed sentences like
this, you'd call them to complain and to check the wires. Seriously! Anyway
- thanks for sending this and sorry, but I also think you have a good instinct
and all, just that the execution of that instinct could be more precise
and clear. Anyway - good luck with it.
Hi - what does "playing his burly friend" mean? Maybe a word's missing
or maybe something else? Anyway, this isn't quite the sort of thing I'd
prefer to post. It's short and kooky and dialoguey, nicely unpredictable,
but not really something I might imagine, if I posted it, someone might
read and then e-mail me to say how much they liked it and then I'd forward
you the e-mail and everyone would feel momentarily happy before we lost
our jobs or the big earthquake hit. Anyway, thanks for sending this (you
sent something before, I think - I sort of recognize your name?) and send
more whenever and good luck with this one and with everything (especially
the big earthquake!)
Hi - I like the drawing and would've really liked it if this included
more car-parking schematics and commentaries. As it is, it seems like it
wants to be funny, but it's execution sort of matches (instead of undermines)
the expectation you create with the title. There's lots of opportunity
but I think you talk way too much about parking cars and less about the
narrator's problems -- that's how this could maybe be really good, right?
Each note begins to tell more about the note writer's obsessiveness, neuroses,
freakishness, each time in more desparate, funny/sad, imaginative ways?
Anyway - that's the expectation I had for something I might post when I
read the title, so when I read a bunch of jerky insults, I started composing
this response in my head, and now a minute or two later, I've written it,
and now you can flip me off and submit this elsewhere, send something else
here, and/or enjoy a pleasant weekend thinking about the sociocultural,
economic, psychologic, emotional, and theological relevance of "parking
cars." Thanks for sending this and good luck and all that nice stuff!
Hey - sorry for the slowish reply - I really like the comparison of
smoking on NYC fire escapes and kissing a girl with braces. Awesome. Afterwards,
it felt like it relies too much on forward propulsion, moving too fast
to actually say much maybe, or maybe to really transmit clear images to
a reader? It's all sort of blurred-seeming because, I think, you might
be writing a bit too closely to yourself instead of maybe trying to reach
someone else across the great divide? In that way, this seems more like
a long-sentencey stream-of-diary entry than a "story" per se, which may
be your intention, but then for a diary-type thing you also don't offer
enough juicy personal revelations to engage the reader's voyeuristic capacities.
Also, we East Coast folks who have lived in NYC (I was born there, too)
really need NYC-related writing to make us see it in a new way, like that
first line about the fire escapes and braces (more of that and I'd've been
psyched to post this). Also, I'm not a huge fan of Jeff Buckley -- I find
that a certain sort of sad lady always plays "Halluejah" as (ineffective)
aphrodisiac or après-sexiness serenade. Anyway - thanks for sending
this and send more whenever.
Hi - thanks for sending this and sorry for the slow reply - I read it
right away when I received it and almost responded then but got distracted
at work, and then there was Thanksgiving . . . I guess what I'll say first
off is that I'm not really a huge fan of so-called "flash fiction" or "short
shorts" - I'm more of a fan of Tolstoy and DFW and, these days, Bolano.
I like elaboration, theme and variation, associative opportunities, immersion
into another world. Short pieces often feel like the beginning of a conventionally
sized story, or a paragraph of one -- unless it's a Russell Edson "poem"
etc, which feel self-contained, more like a joke. Maybe that's the way
to think about short-short fiction, as a joke that's not funny but nevertheless
moves you by the time the punchline hits. With what you sent, the punchline
is the bit at the end about the King searching for the old accordian songs
that don't exist -- there's a soft "poignancy" thing going on related to
longing for those songs. One issue I have with this is the line in the
middle that begins, "They created myths about the accordion player," or
more exactly, the word "the" before "accordian player," which makes the
reader re-read to see if anything's been missed, ie, what accordian player?!
Also, I envisioned Elvis at first - the Kool-Aid also set me off in that
direction. But then by the end, post-talk of peasants, it's more like a
Hans Christian Anderson fable. And then in terms of syntax, something I
really have some trouble with is the "meaningful word" at the end of a
sentence set off by a comma, eg, "undiscovered." That's all personal sensibility
stuff, but also the reason for this response instead of another sort of
response. Anyway - thanks for sending this and good luck finding a home
for it and send more whenever, inspired.
Huh?: "Of my father come home from Austria to the sound of sleet on
Otherwise: I felt like this was just fine and sort of interesting at
times, but also didn't really do anything to me, didn't make me smile or
laugh or feel anything other than maybe minor irritation that all the (very
admirable) work you were doing to create unexpected, imaginative, or "interesting"
images wasn't really configuring itself via readerly association into some
totally bad-ass shape-shifting transformers-like action hero that swooped
down and stood behind me and thoroughly kicked my ass? Anyway - thanks
for sending this and good luck and send more whenever.
Hi - thanks for sending this - the ending isn't terrible but the whole
deal in general is sort of cliched, right? What's the emotion created in
a reader other than a sort of dirty pathetic feeling that makes you want
to go brush your teeth immediately. Yeah, OK, Tuesday with a drunk husband
half-disgusted that he's half-raping his ugly wife. Ugh. Why present such
a scene? Also, despite the "realism," it doesn't actually feel real - it
feels like a story, a manipulation of the reader. Why drag someone
through that? Just so you can draw two semi-unreal people in charcoal beneath
the "night's" (as opposed to the "day's"?!) stars, and a nice-sounding
phrase about shredded silver that doesn't really even make sense when you
try to imagine it? Anyway - maybe you'll get this posted somewhere that's
not interested in any sort of "delight," even the horrific kind. Good luck.
Hi - thanks for sending this - it's well done but maybe I guess I just
don't really want to post this because maybe, as it reveals all the wreckage
etc, it doesn't also offer enough light, ie, it's not so fun to go through
these scenes and nothing is really gained from it for the reader except
relief that when you look away from the screen you're back in your cozy
little world. I guess I try to deal more in earthly delights, no matter
Bosch-like horrific, than the sort of thing you sent. Sorry. But thanks
for sending it and good luck.
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