We are looking for people to donate money to receive the E-Book on Christmas Day.

We are going to micro-finance a small business through Kiva with all donations.

Please help us to support someone that needs support.

Email editor.metazen@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Thank you. Thank you.

- Metazen Editors




THE PERSONAL-POLITICAL: Thoughts on "The Wall," 30 Years Later

This past weekend, I saw Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd bassist-composer and principal architect of "The Wall," at a 20,000-seat arena in Oakland. The experience was powerful. Not only was this gig the most articulate, multimedia, anti-war protest I'd ever seen, but it resonated as a reminder that the personal is political.

My complete review is here. A clip from the show below.

The craziest part? Video on the wall of a scrolling list of names: civilians and soldiers cut down in War Without End. Why crazy? This exact image appears in a concert scene in "badbadbad," my debut novel (to be published in May 2011 but first-drafted more than three years ago).

Seeing that image projected onto a 40-foot wall in a massive concert hall gave me chills. When did Waters first come up with this idea for his show? Is this evidence of the collective unconscious or One Mind? Will we ever live in a world without senseless violence? Should I perhaps ask Waters for a fraction of a percent of the tour's profits as a royalty cut?


Ocean's Burnings

I stumbled upon the poetry of Ocean Vuong within the pages of PANK’s June 2010 issue and I fell in love. They had the most beautiful depictions of sex, love and the desperate yearning for the love of a brutal parent. Such a voice! So, the moment I saw Ocean Vuong had a book of poetry I bought it, literally. Clicked link, bought book.

The book is called, “Burnings” and it’s comprised of two parts. Part one which has poems dealing with family history, survival and struggles in another country and part two which covers what drew me to Ocean in the first place, love, sex and yearning.

From a poem in the first part of the book, “ Song of My Mothers” which is a poem dedicated to the Vietnamese women who perished during the U.S. war in Vietnam:

Of the jaws bursting
under boot soles,
the eyes streaked with ash,
eyes that refuse to close
beneath the earth.

Of the wives who charged
into burning fields,
who knelt and scraped
someone else’s husband
into cracked jars of glass...”

“Sing of the sisters who held hands
while soldiers took turns,
who fled by closing their eyes,
only to find their bodies
too cold to return to…”

There is something about the poems in the first part of this book that Ocean does to make so many brutal things have a sense of beauty about them, thick with reverence.

The second part of the book lifts you up a bit from the first. There is less sadness and more hope in poems that carry words of love, of sex, of beauty and longing.

In, “Ode to Masturbation,” Ocean cleanses me of every shameful feeling I’ve ever had about this vice I’ve carried since childhood. I’ve never read such a beautiful thing about what I’ve come to think of as the most selfish of acts:

“Reach down, there is music
in the body, play yourself
like a lyre, insert the finger
into sanctum, feel
the quivering of crevices, skin
palpitating ripples as if stretched
over drumbeats.”

I can’t wait to see what more this young poet will bring us...bring me.

“Burnings” can be purchased at Sibling Rivalry Press.



"All the beauty and sublimity we have bestowed upon real and imaginary things I will reclaim as the property and product of man: as his fairest apology. Man as poet, as thinker, as God, as love, as power: with what regal liberality he has lavished gifts upon things so as to impoverish himself and make himself feel wretched! His most unselfish act hitherto has been to admire and worship and to know how to conceal from himself that it was he who created what he admired."



Robert Lopez has been asking writers to guest post on his blog for a "No News Today" series of ruminations on news/not-news, mostly flash fictions, sometimes personal rambles.

Today, you can read a curious piece on self-immolation, dead-dad reflection and neighborly theft by Third Face maven Barry Graham.

This past weekend, my exploration of freedom and hunger (or something like that) came out. It's my first attempt at writing in a different style from my typical badbadbadness.

There are a lot of shorts here worth peeping, including recent posts by Roy Kesey, Elizabeth Ellen, Christopher Higgs and Lindsay Hunter.

Dzanc just released Mr. Lopez's third book, a collection called "Asunder." There's a nasty-beautiful book trailer on the Dzanc site.

Yep, just another day in StoryLand. News? No news? Either/or, as long as we're reading and writing, it's all good.



There are great story makers and there are great storytellers.

Scott McClanahan is both.


When I write, I rarely sit down and think, "Today I'm going to write that story about the bird." Instead I think, "Today I'm going to write out this feeling of regret I have in my stomach that's making me miserable and twitchy."

But then, when I read, I'm wondering if I pick up those thoughts of the author. The twitchy regretty thoughts. I'm wondering if readers, myself included, just read something and say, "That bird is crazy!" instead of understanding what the bird represents.

And then I think, what if no one gets what I'm saying with my stories? They've always been a way of communication for me. A way for me to be honest without having to be honest. And, recently, I've been thinking I'm shouting in a language no one speaks.

And everyone else is shouting at me and I'm sitting with my palm around my ear saying, "Come again?"

Am I alone in this paranoia?



Check out SAM LIPSYTE's story THE DUNGEON MASTER. In THE NEW YORKER. Here's the link. Thank me later.





Gregory Sherl, Peter Schwartz, Brad Green, Pacze Moj, Samantha Ducas, Howard C. Mueller IV, Ali Abdolrezaei, b.l. pawelek, Shaindel Beers, Neila Mezynski, Amanda Deo, Andrew Roe, Nathan Graziano, Jessica Anya Blau, Ethel Rohan, Josh Goller, Janey Smith, Meg Tuite, Timmy Waldron, Michael Pollock, Claire Foster, Nate House, Scott McClanahan, Ken Sparling, Robert Lopez, Christian TeBordo, Roxane Gay, and Barry Graham.


Kate Axelrod

Michael Czyzniejewski
The Divorcee Entertains

Kat Gray
Though Poppies Grow

Brad Green

Sara Lippmann

Robert Miltner

Donna D. Vitucci


How They Were Found

October 5, 2010
Keyhole Press
Trade Paperback · 244 pages
5" x 8" · $13.95
ISBN 978-0982151259

Includes the story "Dredge," a Best American Mystery Stories selection, and the story "His Last Great Gift," a Best American Short Stories Distinguished Story of 2009.


In his debut collection How They Were Found, Matt Bell draws from a wide range of genres to create stories that are both formally innovative and imaginatively rich. In one, a 19th-century minister follows ghostly instructions to build a mechanical messiah. In another, a tyrannical army commander watches his apocalyptic command slip away as the memories of his men begin to fade and fail. Elsewhere, murders are indexed, new worlds are mapped, fairy tales are fractured and retold and then fractured again. Throughout these thirteen stories, Bell's careful prose burrows at the foundations of his characters' lives until they topple over, then painstakingly pores over the wreckage for what rubbled humanity might yet remain to be found.

"Reminscent of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's The Winter War in Tibet in its calm examination and unsettling embodiment of mental and physical extremes, How They Were Found is a dreamer's chronicle of the loss and partial recovery of a world given over to the wrecking ball. Fierce, unflinching, funny, How They Were Found is just the book we need right now, Matt Bell just the writer." —Laird Hunt, author of Ray of the Star

"How They Were Found offers a world with shifting rules, described with a lovely and deceptive simplicity. This guide shows you thirteen different types of wilderness, and you can spend all day exploring before you realize you are lost." —Amelia Gray, author of Museum of the Weird and AM/PM

"You're a robot if the stories in Matt Bell's debut collection don't exhilarate, frighten, and unalterably change you. His wild manipulation of form and genre makes the bulk of contemporary fiction feel bloodless and inert in comparison, but it is Bell's recurring arrival at something sturdy and true about human behavior that makes the stories in How They Were Found so rewarding and resonant." —Matthew Derby, author of Super Flat Times: Stories


"As the stories in this debut collection add up, so do the bodies, people done in by diverse, often fantastical methods and accidents: drowning, freezing, crushing, knifing, shooting, suffocation, disease, traps, saws, dismemberment, exposure, and more. Then there are the disappearances: a cartographer’s sick girlfriend vanishes, a homunculus starts shrinking. The comparatively few characters who remain alive and present are preoccupied with others’ annihilations... Body toll notwithstanding, How They Were Found is anything but bleak. For one thing, there’s the prose: generous, urgent, rhythmic.... As the collection continues and the deaths and disappearances pile up, it becomes increasingly clear that, in the various microcosms of How They Were Found, only the tales the characters leave behind can survive their fleeting lives." —Reese Okyong Kwon, The Believer

"Bell attempts and succeeds at a crucial, yet risky, concept that’s essential to great writing: the concept of fusion and hybrid. First and foremost is the magical formula that most young writers have a hard time grasping, the fusion of style and substance. The style in this case being the fantastical elements of each story and the substance being the human connections and emotions that Bell endows his characters with. While most all of the stories in HTWF could easily be filed under the fantasy section, don’t let the nerdish connotation of the genre fool you. Bell’s characters are undoubtedly human, dealing with everyday feelings of loss, change, heartbreak, hope, ambition and discovery.

How They Were Found is a triumph of a debut collection. Bell has a command over story far surpassing anyone else in his league. Don’t miss this book." —Chris Heavener, Annalemma Magazine

"Bell brings us everything: symbolism, futurism à la David Ohle, devastation, surrealism, scenic energy, fractured fairytales, consumption, struggle, claustrophobia, and family decay. But this is not to say How They Were Found spreads itself too thin or is too chaotically varied; Bell knows how to keep his world in check, his every word balanced against another, delicately, like a system of weights." —J.A. Tyler, The Rumpus

"Matt Bell’s debut collection of short fiction covers abundant ground, from the fairy-tale deconstruction of 'Wolf Parts' to the imploded tale of crime and punishment contained in 'Dredge.' Bell’s fiction is taut and surreal, and the best stories in this collection—such as 'Hold On To Your Vacuum,' with its structure somewhere between dream and video game—seem both classical in their approach and utterly modern in their sensibility." —Tobias Carroll, Flavorwire

"No matter what I write here, I cannot tell you how great this book is. In fact, I’m not even sure I know how to write a review that will do it justice. So let’s just agree on this point from the start: however great you think Matt Bell’s new collection might be after reading this review, it’s better. As I’ve read and re-read the stories in How They Were Found over the last several weeks, I’ve found myself telling everyone who will listen about it. These stories are infinitely compelling, poised exactly on the brink of explosion, the perfect balance of potency and control." —Troy Urquhart, PANK

"The characters in Matt Bell’s first full length-collection of stories, How They Were Found, often seem to be separated from the rest of the world by filmy gauze. You get the idea that a real world surrounds these folks, but they are estranged from that reality by a loose mesh that keeps them from seeing their surroundings clearly or engaging with them fully. As Bell writes of the main character in 'His Last Great Gift,' it is 'as if his ears are filled with cotton or wax, as if this is something in the way of true communication, and the real world seems just as distant, just as difficult to navigate.' Often neither the characters’ names nor their physical features are revealed. Little information is provided about their past. They are just there, searching—or, as the book’s title suggests, waiting to be found. This is not to say that the prose itself is cloudy; it allows us more than enough peeks at beauty, mystery, playfulness, and well-constructed absurdity to make this collection satisfying on many levels." —Garnett Kilberg Cohen, Triquarterly

"These stories are heavy, they are beautifully written, they are deep, they are bold, formally and thematically, yet, no matter how form busting or experimental they can be, they are always page turners in the best sense." —Robert Kloss

"The subjects who wander through the haze of How They Were Found are all horribly damaged hopeless souls who bump against travesty after tragedy. They are ugly, gnarled, deformed and maligned. And probably, this is the reason they are so affecting: they do unspeakable things both to themselves and others, and there is but a negligible delineation between them and us. Perhaps, even, they have the courage to act on their impulses, and we can only hope to be so brave." —Nik Korpon, Outsider Writers Collective

"It’s not what is grotesque about Matt Bell’s characters that transfix the reader, it’s what is so human and commonplace about them. It’s impossible not to identify with even the most psychologically disfigured of these people, and that is one of the elements that creates such urgency to read more of Bell’s stories... The span of emotional range in these stories is also astonishing. 'The Cartographer’s Girl' is one of the most affecting stories of lost love that I have ever read." —Debrah Lechner, Hayden's Ferry Review

"Bell imbues his stories with rich symbolism, and his authorial voice adds elements of calm eeriness that make his stories eminently readable." —Marie Mundaca, Hipster Book Club
"Even if Bell's universes are filled with people whose ropes are too short, time is too long, memories are too elusive, instruments too outmoded, and worlds too distant, they connect to us directly through the heart. And it's because of the heart that Bell puts into his stories that makes the intellectual exercise of them so accessible. It may not be a happy heart, but it often beats in time with our own." —Jen Michalski, JMWW

"Taken together, the entirety of this collection represents an attempt to marry several generations of literary techniques, to find common ground between the ultra-modern and the classical, the historic and the post-modern. It’s a venture at which Bell succeeds, yielding something that’s also a pleasure to read." —Tobias Carroll, Word Riot

"Matt Bell has built a national reputation on his own terms, completely outside the support system of New York publishing, on the strength of his stories and novellas, which are wholly original and singularly his own. He is that rare sort of writer whose work the reader would recognize even if were published anonymously. It is formally daring, high-stakes, languaged-up stuff, and (lucky us!), the best of it has finally been collected at book length. Here is some consumer advocacy: You will be a happier, more fulfilled, better entertained human being if you buy this book today." —Kyle Minor, HTMLGiant



"Willow Springs, Eastern Washington University’s literary journal, is seeking good fiction and prose - ASAP. Being the new assistant web editor (finishing my MFA way out here in Spokane), I have this cool little bird in my ear. If publication in WS sounds appealing or even semi-appealing, please consider submitting. You can submit online – no problemo. Improve the reading pile. :) Thank you!"

About Willow Springs: http://willowsprings.ewu.edu/about.php

Submit link
: http://willowsprings.ewu.edu/submit.php

Homepage: http://willowsprings.ewu.edu/index.php


Wherein I End Up Answering My Own Question

First of all, this is the best song ever. It’s catchy. The words are easy to remember, and you can dance to it.

Second of all and third of all; see first of all.

I heard that the story behind this was that this rap guy made the video before the lyrics to the song were complete. He had the actual music down, but none of the words. All of the mumbled nonsensical blatherings were just acting as placeholders until he could write the actual lyrics.

I am attempting Nanowrimo and I fear I am using the same approach. I’m sort of writing the music, setting the groove, the tone and having sexy ladies dance about showing everything but their naughty bits.

But the words… The lyrics…. Well, they’re sounding a lot like this guy’s.

I feel like I’m just writing a bunch of words to get the mandatory count down with the thinking that later, when I can go back and edit, I will be able to put in the words that SHOULD be there. I feel like a large majority of these words are simply placeholders. I am using a lot of simple adjectives and adverbs. Simple nouns and sentences. Mainly because I don’t have the time to put in the added care and effort that I normally do because of the write-a- minimum-of-1,600-words-a-day urgency.

So, I guess what I’m asking myself now is; is it worth making the song if it turns out like this dude’s?

Maybe the answer is, sure. Perhaps, it’s a good starting point; a satisfactory base for something that has potential to be good. I mean, honestly, I find myself humming the words (question mark) to this little ditty as I go about my day. I enjoy the song, as is. Maybe the addition of actual lyrics would take something away from its current charm. Maybe lyrics would make it more awesome. Either way, I guess what this is all telling me is; just fucking write, bitch.


a book i wrote called "YOU HEAR AMBULANCE SOUNDS AND THINK THEY ARE FOR YOU" is officially out. i think it's sold out though. but i have a box of them. it's a single poem in a perfect bound book. it looks really nice. the next five people to buy PERSON and send the publisher their receipt (cameroncpierce@gmail.com) will get a free copy of "AMBULANCE SOUNDS" in the mail. or, if you just want to buy a copy of "AMBULANCE SOUNDS" off me, send me five dollars so i can mail it to you.


oh god im drunk as shit

I know I'm new here
but I gotta say
this community is bullshit

but before I rant about that
I need to thank every legitimate writer I've met so far
who writes because they need to
and every editor who actually reads
instead of just scanning publication credits
because you've taught me everything

but these fucking pretentious
circle jerking assholes, who are
more concerned with who to suck up to
and who will publish them because of it
than giving people credit for what they have to say
and loving what they do
you're shitting all over

and you writers
with your your cheesy bio's
laundry lists of every place you've ever been
self deprecating remarks
begging for compliments
internet personas
full of fake coffee shop sadness

it's not even your fault
you know that these snobby, elitist editors
won't even look at your work unless
you've already broken the barrier
with some other snobby elitists first

because if you're unpublished
you're just going to get formulaic rejection forms
in return for something
you poured your heart into

until you find some journals that don't even read your bio
or care about your reputation
until after they've read your work

I don't want you to think I'm writing this
because I think I don't get a fair shake
I'm actually pretty sure all the rejection letters I get
are because the submissions weren't all that good

I'm writing this because
I think some of these
writers, poets, humans
don't get any honest attention to their work
because of this schoolyard popularity contest mentality
and don't receive honest critiques
from their peers or people 'in the scene'

so I gotta tell you:

I don't read your bio
I don't care where you've been published
if you're good, I'll show off your work
I'll probably even read your blog
but don't publish me because
you want me to do the same for you

tell me my poem sucked
and if you got time, tell me why
even if you want in on amphibi.us

because I promise you
I find it more insulting
to publish me
just because I call myself an editor
and can get you a few more hits.



Actor Comics Presents #1 Variation A
Century, 1-Sep-2006

Fall 2006; Cover A by Joseph Michael Linser

The Day the Superheroes Quit; The Final Ka-Boom?; Dreamland Chronicles; The Mice Templar; Dirty, Pretty, Everlasting Things; I Know Everything; Hypothetical Cerebus and the Necronomicon Monks; The Sacrifice; My Hero; Puppets; The Wild One; Comes the Creaper!; For the Love of Barbara Allen; Mr. Oblivion; My Hand to God: True Tales of HORROR from the Convention Trail; No Rodeo Dough; Spot; My Favorite Super Hero

Writers: Jim McLauchlin, Stan Lee, C.B. Cebulski, Al Nickerson, Nicola Cuti, Scott Christian Sava, Bryan J.L. Glass, Danny Jalil, J.C. Vaughn, T. Casey Brennan, Ron Marz, Dick Ayers, William Messner-Loebs, Troy Hickman, Roy Thomas, Dan Wickline, Jerry Hinds, Mark Waid, Paul Dini, Tom Defalco, Frank Shaskus, John Gallagher, Scott Richard Kurtz, Charlie Novinskie

Artists: Joseph Michael Linsner, João Lemos, Joe Staton, Scott Christian Sava, Michael Avon Oeming, Bryan J.L. Glass, Jerry Hinds, Brendon Fraim, Brian Fraim, Dave Sim, Victor Santos, Dan Jurgens, Dave Simons, Dick Ayers, Dick Giordano, Rodolfo Migliari, Dave Alvarez, Julio Molina-Muscara, John Gallagher



(photo - Jacob Knabb)

Check out LINDSAY HUNTER's interview over at BIG OTHER. RYAN BRADLEY asks her some questions about her book DADDY. I'll give you a little something something here then just click anywhere on any of the words to read the interview in its entirety.

RWB: Obviously you don’t shy away from overt sexuality or bizarre sexuality in your stories, which would seem to purport a comfort level with things of a sexual nature (even if not to the degree your characters are). What do you think has shaped your openness to writing this sort of raw material that others might shy away from?

LH: I’m extremely comfortable talking about sex. I pretty much take for granted that everyone is just as comfortable reading/talking about it as I am. To me, sex is a core form of communication in literature. It’s a way of showing without telling (yep, I just said that). I almost can’t help writing about it sometimes. I think, though, that the reason I feel such permission to lay it all out like that is because I’ve had incredibly supportive audiences over the years—whether it be professors or peers or people I’m reading to at Quickies!—if all those people told me to take it somewhere else, I’d probably be writing technical manuals about C++ and frosting liquid cheese onto Velveeta cubes in an apartment with curtain walls.



This song is my Friday night mind whistle:



October Reading:
Sunday, October 24th, 2010, 5pm
The Neutral Zone
310 E. Washington St., Ann Arbor

Donald Ray Pollock
Donald Ray Pollock
grew up in southern Ohio, and worked in factories for thirty-two years. His first book, Knockemstiff, won the 2009 PEN/Robert Bingham Award.

Kim Chinquee
Kim Chinquee
is the author of Oh Baby and Pretty. She lives in Buffalo, New York.

Barry Graham
The National Virginity Pledge
Barry Graham teaches at rutgers university and he wrote the national virginity pledge.

Scott McClanahan
Scott McClanahan is the author of Stories and Stories II (published by Six Gallery Press). His other works include Hillbilly, Stories 5!, The Nightmares and Crapalachia (all forthcoming)



Winter 2010 Curbside Award Opportunity

We are happy to announce the first ever Curbside Splendor short story award opportunity. It’s limited to short stories of between 1,000 and 4,000 words. We want to see urban-themed stories, however interpreted. The top three (as judged by our editors) will receive the following awards:

1st - $250

2nd - $150

3rd - $100

The top three entries will be featured in our first print journal due out early 2011 and may also be published online. All entries received will be considered for general publication.

Submission deadline is November 30, 2010. Recepients will be announced in December. Please send to submit@curbsidesplendor.com and include “2010 Award Opportunity Submission” in the subject line. Include a short bio. All entries should be included as an attachment (word, rtf – no pdfs), and should be double-spaced. See the following link for our general submission guidelines.

We’ll also continue to consider general submissions of poetry and prose during this period. We’ll try to alternate our award opportunities between prose and poetry.

Sorry, but only submissions received between now and November 30 will be considered for the awards. If you’ve already submitted and are still waiting for a response, feel free to submit a new piece for the award.

Thanks for writing. Cheers to the small presses.



Today is 10.19.2010

Our own Barry Graham and Donora Hillard are celebrating birthdays.

They turned old (if you were wondering).

Here is a pic of young b putting the moves on an unsuspecting sugar bird:

& here is a pic of young d looking all alone and emotional:

Please thank them for existing. They are both worthwhile human beings and fucking rad writers.




With a piece of the sidewalk nailed behind my face, I'd still find a way to lift my face.

With a piece of the sidewalk nailed behind my face, nothing would change.

I'd still lift my face and keep it off the ground.

I'd still change nothing.

With two lives I would use the first to figure out how to make the next one even worse.

Do you believe me.

We can meet in the corner of space where people forget to check--where I do things I have to do with my eyes closed.

The fifth orgasm rips the groin the bestest and I am a beautiful human.

I eat jewelery and give nothing in return.

And youth is the thing that keeps ending.

Unlikely future.

No one has to protect the animal with the big jaw from the cross-eyed palsey holding a bb gun.

The cross-eyed palsey with the bb gun threatens nothing.

The ground will get cold soon and I'm waiting to be there, to freeze with it and be cold until the sun tries its best to get beneath and cook me.

I actually feel ill with how negative I have become. But I don't have any negative feelings about the carpet in my apartment.

And I don't have any positive feelings about cleaning it.

I only have interest in continuing to rub my feet on it then sending electricity through my nose to my roomate's cat's nose to give my roommate's cat braindamage (hopefully [wink wink]).

All things keep ending.

Do you believe me.

SP, Frowns Need Friends Too, 2009


The wonderful thing about Wojtek is that though he had the body of a bear, he had the heart of a man


PANK forced out a new baby. Tim Jones-Yelvington guest edits. He explains the issue here. Don't be like Brandi Wells, don't be a dick, don't ignore this issue. Please go read it.

In support, a picture:


This is literary:



Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer hits bookstores on November 1st here in the United States, and to celebrate, we’re having a contest!

First, what is Hint Fiction? Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s six-word story — “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” — Hint Fiction is a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story. The anthology features 125 stories by writers worldwide, including such luminaries as Joyce Carol Oates, James Frey, Peter Straub, and Ha Jin. Here is what people are saying already:

“The perfect story collection for all of us with too little time on our hands is a brilliant reminder of the magic that happens when you string the right words together. A must-read for anyone who is or wants to be a writer.” — Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of House Rules

“Some of these stories suggest entire novels in just few words. So, in this small book, you have a whole library. It’s reading at the speed of light.” — Robert Shapard, editor of Sudden Fiction and Flash Fiction

“The stories in Robert Swartwood’s Hint Fiction have some serious velocity. Some explode, some needle, some bleed, and some give the reader room to dream. They’re fun and addictive, like puzzles or haiku or candy. I’ve finished mine but I want more.” — Stewart O’Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster and Songs for the Missing

The anthology is currently available for pre-order at:

W. W. Norton
Amazon (USA)
Amazon (CA)

Barnes & Noble
Powell’s Books

You can follow Hint Fiction on Twitter, “like” it on Facebook, and even add it to your shelf on Goodreads.

Now what’s the Ultimate Flash Fiction Package? These eight wonderful anthologies of course!

Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer
Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories
Flash Fiction Forward: 80 Very Short Stories
New Sudden Fiction: Short-Short Stories from America and Beyond
Sudden Fiction International: 60 Short Stories
Sudden Fiction (Continued): 60 New Short-Short Stories
Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America
Micro Fiction: An Anthology of Fifty Really Short Stories

The total cost for these eight books is $120.00, and it can all be yours.


By simply linking back to this contest. Put it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Then paste the URL in the comments section of this post (if on Facebook or any other password-protected site, paste your profile URL). The contest runs until midnight, October 31st, EST. A winner will be picked by random and notified by e-mail and announced here November 1st. Five runners-up will receive a copy of Hint Fiction.

Have fun!



Another Chicago Magazine has a BLOG!

We at ACM are in the midst of several huge projects, one of which is radically enhancing our website, which means more online content! We'll be posting archives, online only poetry/fiction/cnf/reviews/photos, and other wonderful stuffs. And we wanted to post here at Thirdface to let ya'all know about it.

But, most importantly for now, what we want to tell you about is that we're blogging! That's right, blogging. You might ask yourself, what benefit would it be to me to go to that new ACM blog? Why would I consider it RSS-worthy? My feed is already so cluttered as it is!

Well, friend, I am here to tell you that you can find such splendorous things at our blog! Oh yes! And slanderous too! Why, just two days ago we composed a dirty limerick! And you know that you like dirty limericks. I'll even include it here so you can see the delights awaiting you when you click through and start following along with the continuing adventures of ACM!

ACM's Dirty Limerick:

There once was a bellhop named Royster

Who fancied his woman an oyster

With his cock he did swirl

To recover her pearl

In the end she could not have been moister


An Old Man Walks Away in Defeat

Why do I find myself sitting here at 3:30 in the afternoon, stinking and unshowered, yet tearing up over this photograph of Bobby Cox, 69-years of age, humbled one last time in the post-season, taking the long walk back to the locker room after his beloved Braves are eliminated by a vastly superior opponent? Is it because I know that he ended up moments later, standing in the home team’s locker room, weeping uncontrollably, incapable of delivering his final goodbyes to his players? Is it because I want to tell myself that time is impermanent and fickle and erodes all while at the same time actively believing that some things will not change, that the Atlanta Braves are Bobby's team, and always make the Playoffs, and always lose in some crucial way, that Bobby’s teams plow through the regular season on the backs of an unending series of Hall of Fame pitching staffs and line-ups filled with all-around athletes, and those games are called by Skip Carey, and Skip is half-cocked and cracking wise about the horrible movie slated to follow that night's game?

See I know that it's not possible, even in my most irrational moments such as now, weeping openly in a greasy pair of scrubs, for this to always be. Skip Carey died in 2008. His death was particularly moving in its own way: his wife, Paula, thought old Skip was napping, and she found herself looking out of a kitchen window to admire her yard, then noticing a bird feeder not hanging where it should have been. Paula decided to go outside to put the feeder back in the tree where it belonged, thinking it had been blown down by the wind. When she stood up, she noticed her husband lying there on the ground next to the fallen bird feeder. And that was the end for Skip Carey. He never could overcome his alcoholism, a family tradition for the Careys, and in the end he gave up the ghost like we all do ultimately, his heart stopped pumping, but he did leave his mark, and in my mind I can still hear his deadpan voice, articulating the movements of Ron Gant chasing a flyball across the outfield of old Fulton County Stadium, or Chipper Jones, blasting a rare home run while hitting righty, or teasing Don Sutton about something he'd said earlier in the telecast.

I'm certain that Skip's is but one voice that Bobby heard echoing in his mind as he wept in front of a room full of 20 and 30-something-year-old ballplayers, many of them also powerfully moved by the end of an era, by the team's elimination from the post-season, by what could have been if only certain things had broken their way. For Chipper Jones, one of the best third basemen to ever play Major League Baseball, a lifelong Brave who’d always played for Bobby Cox, it was just too much to take silently. Chipper's career is also likely over, ended by an unexpected injury. He too stood crying uncontrollably, and later said there hadn’t been a dry eye in the place. Others may have been mentally planning dinner that night or deciding if they should go on vacation as planned or perhaps to begin training earlier in order to win it all next year. There may even have been some who perhaps never cared much in the first place about Bobby Cox and who simply intended to remain quiet and wait the whole thing out due to a sense of propriety and politeness. In the end it is probably all of these things. In the end it is probably more mundane. But in the end, they all wept for Bobby.

In the end, baseball is not a poetic pursuit. It is not an artform, despite how we may choose to poeticize it with our words, articulating the ineffable characteristics that comprise a hero like Stan Musial, painting and sculpting our feelings about 'Stan the Man' as we come to terms with what his legend means. In the end, baseball is not an intellectual arena, despite how we may ponder and study the game and intellectualize it with our application of game theory to show what choices reveal the ideal strategy for victory or how statistics might afford us a glimpse into what truly makes a player like Stan Musial so impressive in the end. Baseball is neither of these things. It is a game, played with bats, balls, gloves and bases. It has complex written rules and a slew of unspoken ones as well, but the primary goal is to beat the opponent more often than not, the ultimate goal to crush the opponent, to step down on his throat and to never let up once you’ve found yourself in the position to win, to choke the life out of those that stand in the way of victory. It is stark and it is pitiless, but it can also be graceful and it can sometimes feel transcendent. There are moments of great power and breathtaking beauty, but there is always an end to every game, an end to every season, an end to every career.

So now it seems that the end has come for Bobby Cox. And now the time has come for an old man who must walk down a mud-dappled hallway, who must take off his uniform -- the poly-blend jersey and leggings, the stirrups and cleats -- who must hang them up one last time. He must give his postgame talk to his team and then he must field questions from the press. He must address his feelings about this season and he must talk of his plans going forward. And then he must go about the rest of his life. Ultimately, he must go about dying. I have no idea what thoughts really lingered in the minds of those left in the room after the manager had composed himself and said his piece. I have no idea how those who watched him leave the building and vanish into the October gloaming will remember what they've seen.

I wasn’t even there so I will never know, and even had I been my understanding would have been far from complete, but it strikes me at this moment of writing down my thoughts that the thing about this photograph of Bobby Cox that is so emotionally stirring to me is the aptness of how it captures time. Memory always turns away from us, always walks away from us, with head-bowed. Despite how we might follow along behind, convinced that we can capture that memory, that we can own that moment, that it will always be there in our minds, it still flickers, still tumbles from our grasp, still trudges off into the unknown. And this is why we cry when we see beauty. And this is why we laugh when we see pain. We know on some level that we will remember what we are seeing inaccurately if at all and our bodies are revolting from our intellects, are throttling our better selves with emotions too powerful for us to contain. They leap out of us despite what we may wish for them to do and they overwhelm our rationality. And so in this way we experience the world and we store sensations both powerful and mundane and perhaps one day they all come screaming back to us, perhaps one day the levee breaks and we are flooded. Perhaps one day we feel that we are done with time, but we are foolish if we neglect to realize the ultimate fact for us all, the fact that time is never done with us until we too fade into the dusk.



A metaphor:

In other news, Donora Hillard used the word CUNT on Chicago public access radio. I am very proud of her.


Thing Language

This ocean, humiliating in its disguises
Tougher than anything
No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Is bread and butter
Pepper and salt. The death
That young men hope for. Aimlessly
It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. No
One listens to poetry.

-Jack Spicer


If you're in Philly on October 16th come to the BODHI CAFE at 7pm for a kick ass reading with Philadelphia legends, Randall Brown, Matt Blasi, and Chris Bullard. And hosted by Daniel Wallace. Afterwards, it's my birthday party bitches, so follow us across the bridge for some birthdayness.

All info should be in the flier up above, but if you want / need / crave more info, send me an email.




The palm creases on a human hand are always just wide enough to hold in the air of a tightly surprised mouth.

And you don't have to do anything but have nothing to do.

And every place is a place to be a flesh-colored outline.

The trick is to leave the flesh-colored outline every place the people look for you.

The trick is to smell like everyone else.

It makes me happy to look at myself in a car window when I walk by and say, "Hey bigshot."

And I guess explaining something to someone else is the worst.

Being in a well-lit room is never comfortable do you agree.

Ok so start enjoying the fevers rather than changing them.

Sometimes I confuse myself for a discoloration on the ground.

And I have never told anyone the truth about anything.

I am peaceful in-vitro.

I am starting to think this laughing is too big for the mouth.

Too wonderful to be an individual human body weighing just enough to never unfasten from the ground.

But me is ok with using my mouth like a fan to push away the smell of a dead idiot.

Good luck to everyone alive right now.

I mean that.

And all parents are criminals and all parents are inside me.

I drop dead as a greeting.

The willingness to be good increases in me as I get more and more tired and then gone when I wake up in the same mood but a person completely different.

The people you never meet, they are unpolished trophies um.

I don't really believe that.

But it hurts to have a face that can show other people how much it hurts to have feelings.

Crouch down and cover your face and you still waste everyone's time.

I crouch down and cover my face but the laundry is still not done.

I need to settle down.

I wear a bathing suit for underwear and celebrate having a head that holds a face that hurts to have when it has feelings that something else is always eating and wearing the same clothes is the only thing that makes me happy.

The problem with accomplishments is that it takes at least you or maybe someone else to keep calling it an accomplishment.

I don't mean to interrupt but I like how my face looks in the scope of your rifle or through the peephole of your place when you're acting like you're not at your place.

SP, Frowns Need Friends Too, 2009



not literary related, no. but! fucking awesome related, yes.


He's On His Way!

A few days ago I placed an order with a website that sells books.
This was my first order with this site.

Today I received probably the cutest shipping notice that I’ve ever received from an online retailer EVER.

Here it is:

Hello xTx,

(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note - it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)

Holy canasta! It's me... it's me! I can't believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I've got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can't believe I'm leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already - the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge - so many memories. I don't have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it's time to see the world!

I can't wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Jane Eyre (drama queen) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Jane was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol' brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?

I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I've had, I'm ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn't take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I've found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.

But hey, enough about me, I've been asked to brief you on a few things:


Eagerly awaiting our meeting,
(name of book I ordered)

So charming!

BetterWorld Books says they “collect and sell books online to fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than six million new and used titles in stock, we’re a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders. “

Maybe check them out.


I need a full-length feature film of # 3. Please.




Above is a picture of Tony Curtis sitting against some chick with natural boobs, a mole and grease lips. Tony has been moved to the I USED TO EXIST category as of today. Another dead octogenarian. Here's some Curtis quotes which may or may not apply to the act of writing:

Every movie I've been in has ended up on television.

I can't sit around and wait for the telephone to ring.

I don't know what organically grown chickens are; I've never seen one.

I like Vegas for its spontaneity.

I look at everything in an artistic way.

I wouldn't be caught dead marrying a woman old enough to be my wife.

Its not age as much as the experiences I have had.

They gave me away as a prize once - a Win Tony Curtis For A Weekend competition. The woman who won was disappointed. She'd hoped for second prize - a new stove.

While you're doing it, you don't really know what you're doing.

Yes I'm still working, but my life's no longer filled with it.

His usual table at the Hollywood Sizzler is already growing cold and alone. We'll miss you.



Here's some recycle from the internet:

Scott McClanahan is reading in NYC tonight. Scott is the bitch's bastard, a real mad dog in the rain. Here he is showing the young what being a man is about:

A human being made a short video about PANK. I am unsure why. What to expect in this video: asshole typewriter; masturbation; blazer & t-shirt; not Kristy Logan; book fragrance; park bench romantics; DR. ROXANE GAY; words; fun; overrated author; 80,000; tits on the beach; honey bear; trying not to look at the camera; dorking out; sexy answers; computers; emotional distancing.

Pank is one of the few journals I actually read. Peep the vid below.

According to facebook, xTx is now single. I am unsure what this means since she is an internet chick. I guess I/we can make believe I/we am/are in a shitty relationship with her. Yay for me/us.

Here's an alleged picture of her armpit:

Greg Giraldo is a comedian. Comedians write jokes. Here he is performing said jokes:

Greg no longer exists, but did yesterday.

In case you are wondering what passion is, I have brought an example. Someone give this sunset a pen:

A thousand people have already told him he "can't" do anything with his life. 25% of which have an MFA. Go figure.


No Rose Colored Glasses Here

In short, I liked David Peak’s, “Museum of Fucked” way more than his, “The Rocket’s Red Glare.”

Where Rockets fell short and fell soft, Museum came hard and came fast. However, it’s probably better that I read Rockets first and not Museum because I would’ve been horribly disappointed in Rockets instead of just mildly disappointed as I would have been expecting similar greatness that “Museum of Fucked” definitely delivered.

Fourteen shorts that paint a decrepit picture of a city that has no beauty, only things destroyed and damaged. It’s bleak. I tried to look for beauty, or even for hope, but I found none. I like that about this book. I like that Peak didn’t pussy away the hopelessness, the ugly and the broken with sunsets, a dirty child’s smile or moonlight sparkling on shards of glass shit. He just gives you the reality of a broken place with skillfully chosen words that lift the plate up, remove the rusted dome and force you to look.

I’m not sure if this book is even still available. But if you can lay your hands on it, it’s worth the read.



Greg Dybec is founder and editor of online fiction magazine, FIX IT BROKEN.

BG: so many quality indie presses and literary journals, what is
FIX IT BROKEN bringing to the table?

GD: FIX IT BROKEN’s true ambition is to further bridge the gap that exists between fiction and the culture of today. The written story, in my opinion, will always be the most beautiful and substantial form of entertainment. Perhaps knowledge is a better word than Entertainment. Of course, we hope to provide an interesting outlet for both new and established authors to showcase their brilliance. Though, we offer a fashionable twist. As of now, the winner of ‘top story’ for each quarterly issue will receive a complimentary t-shirt. The kick is that the t-shirt design will be completely inspired by the winning piece of fiction. We hope that this collaboration of style and fiction will catch on and help display the relativity and importance that short fiction still has in this fast fast world. Hopefully, as time progresses it won’t just be one story receiving a shirt.

BG: when the world ends in 2012, as the mayans predicted, and the next species takes over the earth and digs up America 1,000 years from now, what literary journals / indie press publications will they be restoring, reviving, and immortalizing, and why?

GD: Is this where I write FIX IT BROKEN? Or do I save that for the end of the list and state it in a humble manner? I would have to say Pank, for the simple fact it’s ingenious. Six Sentences for it’s unique boundaries. I’m sure even the next species will appreciate limitation as a motivator of creativity. I’d have to throw Caketrain in the mix too; they know what they’re doing. Dogzplot also, because it just makes life seem cool and colorful. There truly are way too many brilliant journals/publications to name. Oh yes, and FIX IT BROKEN, because who ever digs it up will get a free t-shirt.

BG: what is the last book you borrowed and never returned? who'd you steal it from and why didn't you give it back?

GD: I was staying a week at a house in Fire Island and took an old beat-up copy of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. I never returned it and ended up buying a new copy about a week later. A waste of a sin if you ask me.

BG: name the five best books you've read that you'd bet your balls nobody else has?

GD: There’s only one thing in this world I’d bet my balls on, and I don’t think I’ve found it yet. This is a tough question for me, only because I’m young and have only recently learned to break free from the “I must inhale all classic novels as soon as possible” phase. I’m trying to think of an odd manual or uncommon cereal box, but nothing comes to mind.

I’ve been reading a lot of shorter work by Denis Johnson, Jim Shepard, and Roland Kelts. I doubt any of that makes me unique.

BG: who is your favorite historical figure, past or present, and how have they influenced your literary journey?

GD: Jack Kerouac. That man transcended humanity through his words. I would say that’s what I look for when reading and writing; those moments, if only a few, that literally (literarily…sorry, bad joke) peel off your face and transplant it with a new one. It may look the same, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel the same.

I’ve always been heavily influenced by the Beat Generation and the works that derived from it. I appreciate the obscure form of passion for the things that we encounter each day. Also, that mentality of going out and experiencing the things that you want to experience. I can’t really think of a better way to live.

BG: BONUS QUESTION: Give us a six song playlist that tells the story of your life.


1. Idioteque - Radiohead
2. Ballad of a Thin Man - Bob Dylan
3. While You Wait for the Others – Grizzly Bear
4. All Apologies - Nirvana
5. Blue in Green – Miles Davis
6. Last Donut of the Night – J Dilla



The Lure of Little Voices

There's a cry from out the loneliness -- oh, listen, Honey, listen!
Do you hear it, do you fear it, you're a-holding of me so?
You're a-sobbing in your sleep, dear, and your lashes, how they glisten --
Do you hear the Little Voices all a-begging me to go?

All a-begging me to leave you. Day and night they're pleading, praying,
On the North-wind, on the West-wind, from the peak and from the plain;
Night and day they never leave me -- do you know what they are saying?
"He was ours before you got him, and we want him once again."

Yes, they're wanting me, they're haunting me, the awful lonely places;
They're whining and they're whimpering as if each had a soul;
They're calling from the wilderness, the vast and God-like spaces,
The stark and sullen solitudes that sentinel the Pole.

They miss my little camp-fires, ever brightly, bravely gleaming
In the womb of desolation, where was never man before;
As comradeless I sought them, lion-hearted, loving, dreaming,
And they hailed me as a comrade, and they loved me evermore.

And now they're all a-crying, and it's no use me denying;
The spell of them is on me and I'm helpless as a child;
My heart is aching, aching, but I hear them, sleeping, waking;
It's the Lure of Little Voices, it's the mandate of the Wild.

I'm afraid to tell you, Honey, I can take no bitter leaving;
But softly in the sleep-time from your love I'll steal away.
Oh, it's cruel, dearie, cruel, and it's God knows how I'm grieving;
But His loneliness is calling, and He knows I must obey.

-- Robert W. Service


A.D. (part 2)

like moonlight on crutches, we walk right

out of ourselves, goodbye for a few nights until we

boomerang back

a little bit more frostbitten than the time before

but mourning this fact only prolongs that absence

and really it's nothing new

we've been fingerprinted for extinction

right from the start



Robyn Pennacchia is a writer, feminist, noted style icon, and the creator and hostess of the quaint Chicago reading series, The Sunday Night Sex Show.

BG: with so many quality reading series out there, what is
sunday night sex show bringing to the table? what words of wisdom can it offer to the literary conversation?

RP: Well, I think we’re really the only sex positive non-fiction reading in town, so there’s that. I feel like the big difference, however, is our audience, which isn’t the typical Chicago Lit Scene audience at all. We’re like the red-headed, populistic step-child of Chicago readings, really, and I’d say that 90% of our audience isn’t even comprised of writers. Hell, half our our readers aren’t “writers.” It’s just like, people who want to be entertained and hear a funny story about the time someone met some dude who tried to pee on them. It somehow ends up being the most diverse crowd you’re ever going to see anywhere in Chicago - we have the lit community, sure, but then we have the feminist community, and the queer community, the politically radical, the sexually radical, comedians, musicians, actors, hipsters, squares, bros, etc. And no one gives a shit, and everyone gets along and it’s amazing. It’s easy to bond with people who are different from you in that sort of confessional environment, where everyone is standing around telling secrets.

I think that’s really what we’re bringing to the table as far as wisdom goes - because now, I think, a lot of other reading series - like Tim Jones-Yelvington’s “Uncalled-For” series, which focuses on experimental queer lit- are looking at what they can do to bring in different communities. I mean, not everyone who buys a book is a writer.

BG: when the world ends in 2012, as the mayans predicted, and the next species takes over the earth and digs up America 1,000 years from now, what sexual objects / books / positions will they be restoring, reviving, and immortalizing, and why?

RP: Oh god, it will probably be Heidi Montag’s new sex tape that’s coming out. That would be just our luck if that were the only thing to survive. I’d hope, however, that they’d find things like “On Our Backs,” the complete works of Betty Dodson, Susie Bright, Rachel Kramer Bussell and the Hitachi Magic Wand. I think they’ll probably figure out the positions on their own. One would hope, anyway.

BG: what is the last book you borrowed and never returned? who'd you steal it from and why didn't you give it back?

RP: Haruki Marukami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicles. I borrowed it from this guy at the coffee shop I used to hang out with, and I just never felt like reading it for some reason (Terrible, I know. Whatever. Judge me.), and then he moved. I still have it and I still have not read it.

BG: name the five best books you've read that you'd bet your ass nobody else has?

RP: -Charm Never Fails by Antoinette Donnelly. I collect old etiquette books, and this one is one of my favorites, if only for the title.

- My Life, by Isadora Duncan.

- The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy - It’s basically this giant book that gives you a little bit of information on everything you should probably know, and it was my favorite thing ever when I was growing up. I used to read it cover to cover to ensure that I had something to add to any given conversation, because I was a smart ass like that.

- Now, Voyager by Olive Higgins Prouty - I’ve barely met anyone who has seen the movie (which everyone should, because it’s awesome, and Bette Davis is amazing. You will sob for hours.), so I doubt too many people around my age have read the book. Prouty was actually a way popular novelist in her day, until a rather ungrateful Sylvia Plath effectively destroyed her career by blatantly basing the character of Philomena Guinea from The Bell Jar on her. Then everyone was all afraid that she was (gasp!) a lesbian, and stopped buying her books.

- Madame de Stael, Novelist: The Emergence of the Artist as Woman by Madelyn Cutworth. I mean, someone must have read it because I bought it used, but I can’t imagine too many people are thrilled by reading a random feminist analysis of a totally obscure figure. That being said, Madame de Stael was pretty much one of the most bad ass ladies in the history of ever. She held salons in Paris, took many lovers and told Napoleon to go screw. We totally would have been BFFs.

BG: who is your favorite historical figure, past or present, and how have they influenced your literary journey?

RP: I have so many! I get really fascinated with random people all the time. Lately I’ve been obsessed with Judy Henske, this folk singer from the 50’s and 60’s that for some reason I’d never heard of until recently. She was/is this really bad ass lady with an incredible, Bessie Smith-esque voice who told stories and basically did stand-up comedy between songs. She was the basis, actually, for the character of Annie Hall. I’m really into the idea of combining mediums like that right now. I grew up putting all my eggs into the baskets of singing and acting and then got into writing later on, and now I’m working on figuring out a way to combine all of those things in a non musical-theater type of way. Why the fuck not, right?

BG: BONUS QUESTION: Give us a six song playlist that tells the story of your life.

RP: Nobody Loves Me But My Mother (And She Could Be Jivin’ Too) - BB King
Habanera from Carmen - Georges Bizet
Femme Fatale - The Velvet Underground
The Mary Tyler Moore Theme Song
Double Dare Ya
- Bikini Kill
Second Skin - The Gits




(Dempsey photograph from Encyclopedia Britannica)

I first came to Chicago in the twenties, and that was to see a fight. Ernest Hemingway was with me and we both stayed at Jack Dempsey's training camp. Hemingway had just finished two short stories about prize fighting, and while Gertrude Stein and I both thought they were decent, we agreed they still needed much work. I kidded Hemingway about his forthcoming novel and we laughed a lot and had fun and then we put on some boxing gloves and he broke my nose.
- Getting Even, Woody Allen


What's wrong with books?

Do you think really short stories are "gaining popularity" because we all grew up with Sesame Street and AOL online and fast-paced pop culture figures like Mr. Rogers and now we all have really short attention spans and can't concentrate on things longer than a few minutes because we get distracted by--

Hey! Maybe novels were all written by long-winded bores who can't shut up.