Tag Archives: fiction

New story at Metazen, 3rd place contest winner.

Metazen picked my story “In the Land of Tongues” as a 3rd place winner for a contest, the proceeds of which went to charity. They published the story yesterday. Thanks Metazen!

Photos from Blake Butler’s Reading

Blake Butler’s There Is No Year is coming out soon from HarperPerennial. The publisher hosted an event with vol1brooklyn at Franklin Park in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, which I attended. The Harper and HTML Giant crews united and read all of Butler’s book aloud that week.

I took the following photos on the first day.

giancarlo ditrapano, of NY Tyrant.

justin taylor, whose novel The Gospel of Anarchy came out recently with good reception, and that I reviewed both here and at Full Stop.

cal morgan, publisher/editor at Harper and editor of 52 Stories.

another reader. ben greenman, i think.

another reader. not sure who it is.

blake butler. For more on the book, check out his site. i particularly like Michael Miller’s recent essay in the Observer.

Sifl and Olly–Rejected Story

This is a short story I wrote for Titular, which is a specialty magazine that features fiction based on or inspired by television shows, movies, and novels. Since I wrote it expressly for them, I don’t feel comfortable submitting it anywhere else.  Plus, I’m beginning to think there’s actually no difference between posting a story to a blog and publishing it in a literary magazine besides a new line on a CV. So here’s the published story for my absolute favorite television of all time, Sifl and Olly. No joke.

The Sifl and Olly Show
by David Backer

(Scene: Two sock puppets, one white ((Olly)) and one black ((Sifl)) stand at a microphone.)

–Hey everyone, I’m Sifl.
–And I’m Olly.
–Welcome to the show. We’ve got a great show for you today.
–Hey Sifl?
–Yeah, Olly, what’s up?
–I think there’s a writer here.
–What? Where?
–Here. Can’t you feel it?
–I don’t know what you’re talking about.
–You can’t feel it? It sort of tickles, you know. But it’s weird. Like that
Arlo Guthrie song: ‘I don’t want a pickle./ I just want to ride my
motor-cickle./ AND I DON’T WANT TO DIE!/ I just want to ride my
motorcy-cle.”
–Oh man I love that song.

(They sing it together with a Casio beat and the picture of a large pickle behind them.)

I don’t want a pickle.
I just want to ride my motor-cickle.
AND I DON’T WANT TO DIE!
I just want to ride my motorcy-cle.

–I love that song.
–I do too. But seriously, Sifl, there’s a writer here. It’s weird.
–I think I feel the writer’s presence now, Olly. It’s as if the hazing
affect of the spirit of irony flows like a nautilus through our salted
hearts.

(Pause. Olly’s mouth hangs open in shock.)

–What the hell was that?
–It’s prose, man. Prose.
–No no no. See, that’s what I’m worried about Sifl. We can’t have a writer around here. Stuff is gonna get too…significant.
–Your worry reminds me of the time I worked at a telemarketing firm and I got
a call from a man who said his daughter had a gangrenous leg and that
he was in love with her and couldn’t bare the thought of a doctor, some
other man, sawing off her gangrenous leg. So he sawed it off himself.
My boss was listening to the call and cancelled it before I could ask
for a contribution.
–See what I mean! That has nothing to do with anything! It’s just tortured crap! Writers are so boho-pomo, they all tell stories about telemarketing and incest like that man.They’re like “Oh my god I make money by lying to people on the phone, we’re all so alone, late capitalism puts me at a distance from the other.” Goddamnit!
–Olly, what you’re saying is so robust.
–Robust! Seriously?!

(Sifl pauses, contemplating)

–You know what, there is a writer here. I never say stuff like that.
–He’s totally here!
–I can feel him.
–Let’s do an interview.
–With the writer?
–Yeah, the writer.

(Screen turns to an image of a skeleton spinning against a background of
kitchy-looking flowers with the word “Interview” above it, a song plays
“Bah-buhbah-bah-bahhhh…”)

–Okay.
Well, this is the part of the show where we do an interview. Today,
we’re interviewing the writer that’s writing the story you’re reading
right now. Writer dude? You there?
S*@#.
–What did you say man? You can’t say words like that on television.
I didn’t say anything. No one said anything.
–Yes you did, don’t lie like that.
–Yeah, don’t give us the Wizard of Oz crap.
–Yeah, why do writers lie all the time?
We don’t lie. We construct fabrications.
–That’s the same thing man.
No it isn’t.
–How is it different?
Our fabrications reflect mythico-social truth.
–No Sifl. It’s not. I’ve had enough. These writers sit around writing about
telemarketing and s*@# like that while the rest of us are out here
struggling in reality–
–Olly man, calm down…
–No Sifl, I will not calm down! I do things for a living, like this TV show, and go to Bjork concerts, and I sell things, like bottomless swimming pools and chicken-scented air-conditioning. And people like this writer dude just go to parties in Brooklyn and spend hours posting things in Internet magazines that only other writers read.
-Online writing is a valuable voice in the new digital discourse. Your medium, television, is morally defunct.
–You shut your dirty mouth!
Shut up, sock puppet. I’m fabricating you right now.

(Olly charges the mircophone, Sifl holds him back and interjects)

–Alright alright! Listen: Olly, writer dude, that’s enough. No one will ever
resolve the tensions between mythos and ergos you guys. We should be
thankful for the delicate synchronicity that narrative and action
maintain.

(Olly and the writer nod, holding their heads low)

You’re right Sifl. I’m sorry I became combative Olly.
–I’m sorry too writer dude. Friends?
Friends.
–Great, now let’s hear from Chester. Chester, what song do you want to sing today?

(Chester enters with flowers in his eyes, smiling)

–Everybody sing it!

I don’t want a pickle.
I just want to ride my motor-cickle.
AND I DON’T WANT TO DIE!
I just want to ride my motorcy-cle.