Search
Browse
  • Endless Joke
    Endless Joke
    by David Antrobus

    Here's that writers' manual you were reaching and scrambling for. You know the one: filled with juicy writing tidbits and dripping with pop cultural snark and smartassery. Ew. Not an attractive look. But effective. And by the end, you'll either want to kiss me or kill me. With extreme prejudice. Go on. You know you want to.

  • Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip
    by David Antrobus

    Please click on the above thumbnail to buy my short, intense nonfiction book featuring 9/11 and trauma. It's less than the price of a cup of coffee... and contains fewer calories. Although, unlike most caffeine boosts, it might make you cry.

  • Music Speaks
    Music Speaks
    by LB Clark

    My story "Solo" appears in this excellent music charity anthology, Music Speaks. It is an odd hybrid of the darkly comic and the eerily apocalyptic... with a musical theme. Aw, rather than me explain it, just read it. Okay, uh, please?

  • First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    First Time Dead 3 (Volume 3)
    by Sybil Wilen, P. J. Ruce, Jeffrey McDonald, John Page, Susan Burdorf, Christina Gavi, David Alexander, Joanna Parypinski, Jack Flynn, Graeme Edwardson, David Antrobus, Jason Bailey, Xavier Axelson

    My story "Unquiet Slumbers" appears in the zombie anthology First Time Dead, Volume 3. It spills blood, gore and genuine tears of sorrow. Anyway, buy this stellar anthology and judge for yourself.

  • Seasons
    Seasons
    by David Antrobus, Edward Lorn, JD Mader, Jo-Anne Teal

    Four stories, four writers, four seasons. Characters broken by life, although not necessarily beaten. Are the seasons reminders of our growth or a glimpse of our slow decay?

  • Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited: 2012 Flash Fiction Anthology
    Indies Unlimited

    I have two stories in this delightful compendium of every 2012 winner of their Flash Fiction Challenge—one a nasty little horror short, the other an amusing misadventure of Og the caveman, his first appearance.

Networked Blogs

 

 

Tweets
Places I Hang Out

Entries in Dorothy Parker (2)

Saturday
Feb092019

Are You Queen Of Heaven?

This is a new thing we tried to learn.

We dreamed a whole summer away.

My cousins walked alongside the ledge.

When we were young we laughed and believed.

Now so many are gone we balk and flinch.

Sparrows amass in the charcoal margins.

The rest of us don't hardly ever blink. 

A cab came by, and I damn well flagged it.

No matter. No sense. I think I also floored it.

***

Grieve next time, but this time roll with it.

What's the word they use? Dissociation?

Don't you dare feel sorry for me. Okay? What happened to me happens to thousands of kids, maybe more. No. I want you to focus on the good parts of a bad tale.

I'm a grown man now, of course. This is a life I didn't choose but found. And it's really not so bad. 

Right? Do you remember? Since you were there too?

***

Easy words, not such easy thoughts. I don't even know if they noticed me as they pulled the car from the rocks, dripping like a murder weapon, and I stood on the road above, squinting into the decaying honey of a late August day.  

Chewing on human evil.

***

"You know they never found him?"

"Course."

"They found his car. Some of his DNA in the wreck. But no body."

"What else they find?"

"Someone else had been in the car too."

"Who? Whose?"

"No one anyone knows."

***

Yet.

***

Hail this tarnished Mary. If this is it, if this is the moment I die, I accept it. 

Pain is unconscionable, but love is paramount. My entire left side is ruinous, yet my ears and heart are eerily specific, hearing on a loop the empyrean throat of Isabel Bayrakdarian as she dreams Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 anew, while rains fall like dreary curtains on a sodden carpet. 

***

At the hour of my death, a dog came out of the dark woods. Now talk to me. Own me. Anagrams are loco. Keep on listening. Anagrams lure, okay. 

Stupid, goofball, elusive, this damnable struggle wants so badly to be told. 

***

Striding into the bar filled with the spirit of Dorothy Parker, I fell in actual love. She was a hiccup draped in ticklish grey at the very end of a smeared warmth.

***

The black dog insinuated himself into our family and moved with us to the cabin built of wood that hunkered in the shadows of giant firs. When we had visitors he vetted them, growling like unfathomable sonar at two men who tried to cross our threshold. Mostly he wagged his stiff tail like an emotional rudder that ached to proclaim happiness. Yet he was never fooled. And we chased those particular men away with the assuredness, the quiet promise of violence, the unspoken quenching of some awful complex thirst.

In the endless gnomic bar of Dorothy Parker.

***

These colors. So subdued yet so attendant. I'm unleashed into the street, and alert I bounce then thrust my feet atop the running board and launch into the seat. Then I drive. I am a woman, driving. In the nineteen forties. Away from a massacre.

***

Darting on and off I-5 an hour south of the Canadian border, Koma Kulshan's dusky peak implacable beyond. Dream our common place in this commonplace place. Here I knew a woman with a mouth like yours. Exceptional. Magnetic. Even her brows were freighted with meaning. I drove on and off the interstate like a firefly, headlights lighting each lost tendril I stumbled upon, blunt visions of Econolodge and myriad locations more faceless yet. A kaleidoscope of bleary shelters, arranged hierarchical, like pantheons of gods, sacred and senseless, screamed from the overlooked backdrop.

***

It's a silent avalanche patient atop some empty peak.

This thing started toward me the moment I was born. Something sleek and inaugurated by my own insensate launch. It's coming fast, like teeth. Cold, exposed, like beholden jaws. 

Starved. Indebted. Imminent. Adamant.

***

You. No other. Please tell me the same. Please.

O enchantress, O my dreadful queen of desolation, did you ever hold on as tightly again as you held on to me? What yet squirms in the folds of your recall? Who will have the wherewithal to abridge this appalling tale? Will anyone? Where is the dog from the woods when we need him? Where is Ms. Parker? Love, life, music as sung by a child? The wind wrapping scarves of mist around skeletal branches? The cavernous indictment of silence where birds and insects once chirped? Where has it all gone? Where have you all gone? And where indeed am I? 

Saturday
May262012

From Minds Profound

"Innocent of what?" © Unforgiven (1992)Previous articles on Indies Unlimited have established that writing rules are far from absolute, that they are best interpreted more as guides than anything binding. But far more effective than a plainly stated rule is the aphorism, that memorable quote that both entertains and teaches… something. I keep a running list of quotes in general, but those pertaining to writing have pride of place, and they can alternately act as impetus or inspiration when you’re flagging, as an alarm bell when you’re off track, as a way to stay humble when you become overinflated, or simply as a way to laugh at yourself when you happen to forget how absurd you are. I present to you my Top Twenty Awesome Writing Quotes, mostly written by other writers, but remember: whatever germ of a lesson they contain, it’s not a rule, okay?

20. “I once asked this literary agent what kind of writing paid the best.  He said, ‘Ransom notes.’” Get Shorty (1995) – Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman)

Money? I vaguely remember that stuff. It’s green, I think. I swear, incidentally, that Gene Hackman gets some of the most gleefully brilliant lines in Hollywood. As Sheriff Daggett in Unforgiven, after being told he’d just beat the daylights out of an innocent man, he got to say this: “Innocent? Innocent of what?” To which there is quite simply no conceivable answer.

19. “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

He wrote about a seagull. He said this. Succinct is this guy’s middle name. Or wait, isn’t it “Livingston”? No. No, that was the seagull.

18. “It is impossible to discourage the real writers – they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.” – Sinclair Lewis

It’s not a job, it’s a calling. Like the urge to use the bathroom. If you feel that, Lewis is talking about you. The writing thing, not the bathroom thing.

17. “If you’re going to be a writer, the first essential is just to write. Do not wait for an idea. Start writing something and the ideas will come. You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow.” – Louis L’Amour

What might have been a fairly ordinary, common sense platitude is rescued—like when the guy with the poncho and the sandblown crowsfeet rides into town—by a startlingly apt metaphor.

16. “I’ve been reading reviews of my stories for twenty-five years, and can’t remember a single useful point in any of them, or the slightest good advice. The only reviewer who ever made an impression on me was Skabichevsky, who prophesied that I would die drunk in the bottom of a ditch.” – Anton Chekhov

Um, only take the bad reviews to heart? No, that’s not what Chekhov’s saying here at all. I’m not really sure what he’s saying, but it made me laugh anyway. Odd. I don’t remember him being this funny in Star Trek.

15. “You must write your first draft with your heart.  You rewrite with your head.  The first key to writing is to write, not to think!” Finding Forrester (2000) – William Forrester (Sean Connery)

You won’t go too far wrong if you remember this, while simultaneously forgetting Sean Connery ever starred in this clunky embarrassment of a movie.

14. “I’m all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Okay, it’s dated, but it’s too good to exclude on that basis. If you must, substitute “laptops” for the last word.

13. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov

He means it, too. You can just tell.

12. “There’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.” – Margaret Atwood

Well, that told us. Wait, I didn’t know that about the pension plan…

10. “To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.” – Truman Capote

Included here because I agree one hundred per cent. You don’t have to, but it’s my list.

9. “If you can’t annoy somebody with what you write, I think there’s little point in writing.” – Kingsley Amis

Put more strongly than I’d put it, but then again, Amis was by all accounts a class one melonfarmer. I’ve always said, however, that you sure can’t worry about offending people when you write. Unless you’re aiming for anodyne, that is.

8. “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning and took out a comma. In the afternoon, I put it back in.” – Oscar Wilde

The sad part is, I get this. I know this. And I’ll bet you do too. I’ll also bet Wilde was tempted to remove that damn comma again by nightfall.

7. “What creates a writer is huge, psychological dysfunction.” – Kathy Lette

Well, we’ve hinted at it here, before. Kathy Lette, however, just comes right out and says it. And it’s kind of a horrible relief. Like when Asimov’s doctor up there delivers the bad news.

6. “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” – Gene Fowler

Easy, you say? Anyone else detect the sarcasm here?

5. “Poets need not go to Niagara to write about the force of falling water.” – Robert Frost

Worth remembering. An antidote to “write what you know”. There’s a reason we have an imagination. But it takes a poet to say it so memorably and so well.

4. “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

And you thought Richard Bach was succinct? Also, why isn’t the word “succinct” only one syllable?

3. “The King died and then the Queen died. That is a story. The King died and then the Queen died of grief. That is a plot.” – E M Forster

Brilliant. Since I like this kind of thing so much, I will throw in a bonus 3.b.: “The cat sat on the mat is not a story. The cat sat on the other cat’s mat is a story.” – John le Carré

2. “Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents and everyone is writing a book.” – Cicero, circa 43 BC

All I know from this is that things don’t change all that much and that Cicero would probably have a catastrophic mental breakdown if he lived today.

1. “Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them.” – Flannery O’Connor

Ha ha. That one’s a stand alone. Flannery sure doesn’t need me to expand on it. Not that any of them do, really. But I had to write a blog post, so I have. Enjoy.

Or, as Dorothy Parker (who clearly didn’t have Text Edit handy) once said: “I might repeat to myself, slowly and soothingly, a list of quotations beautiful from minds profound; if I can remember any of the damn things.”

*     *     *     *     *

A version of this post appeared on Indies Unlimited on May 18, 2012. also writes for Indies Unlimited and BlergPop. Be sure to check out his work there if you like what you read here.