/ Writing / Fiction / Short Stories /
One of my short stories from the late 1960s was very short, only a paragraph or two. It’s been a couple of inter-state moves since I last saw the manuscript. It’s just one sheet of standard typing paper. Oh well, far more gets lost than ever gets saved, I don’t doubt: Lots never gets thought, lots never seen, never understood. We’re lucky to have any examples of stuff rejected, then lauded, stuff persecuted, then celebrated … If we thought truthfully about ourselves no one would be surprised, at anything.
I’m not even sure what I called the story I have in mind. Moving Day, perhaps. I do know that on one copy I tried “Sol Lip Cyst” for a pen name: a joke. See, it’s an interior monologue, a guy listening to a neighbor moving stuff in the hallway outside the apartments. He’s dragging heavy cartons, a bit of grit, maybe glass, has gotten under one, and the scrape … scrape is driving the guy bonkers. He flips, he grabs a gun, he storms the hall, screaming, “I know how to stop you! I know how to stop all of you!”
And he puts the gun to his own temple, pulls the trigger. The mover is paralyzed, covered with gore, none of it his.
See? It’s a solipsist joke. Or it’s a joke about solipsism.
It starts interior; it ends exterior: ‘n-other joke.
I never thought to publish it, but I made an exception for one guy, a publisher I knew personally. He sold his stupid poems around Morningside Heights, peddled them to people, or tried to, along the upper walk for Riverside Park, on Columbia’s College Walk. Then he got ambitious: he was going to publish other writers too! “Hired” an editor! (Can’t have paid her anything.)
I said to this guy, “OK, I’ll let you publish some of my stuff.” He said send it to her. She rejected it! Said she wanted fiction! Moving Day was too real!
Half a decade later I see my effect duplicated by Stephen King, in I think it was Salem’s Lot. One of those, from that period. The great King has a solipsist destroy the universe by committing suicide. I’m confident that he wasn’t plagiarizing: it’s an inevitable idea, no telling how many thought it, wrote it, ahead of us. But I know: I wrote it ahead of him, by years! (Unless he too had his own “1 pp. Ms” from 1969.)
Well, so much for that: until just the other day: Looper, godawful stupid movie, uses that gimmick to resolve all its ridiculous time travel and who’s murdering whom problems: junky turns his blunderbuss on himself. The End.
Ooo, I just had a darling association: guy bonkers, storms the hall: last week I watched a soviet biopic of Tchaikovsky, really loved some of the same characteristics of soviet realism that I also despised. Nevertheless it starts with this cute little kid running about the big house in his jammies. He evades a gauntlet of women, finally letting one woman catch hold of him. “I’ve got music running around in my head,” exults the boy, Pyotr Ilyich.