It was the end of the 1990s. The end of a decade, a century, a millennium, and none of us were doing a god-damn thing. It wasn’t our fault; in the 1980s, the adults with the Charlie Brown teacher voices had all told us that we would surely be dead by twenty-five. Wait. That’s wrong. What they told us, actually, was this:
If the Soviet Union doesn’t nuke you into a pile of virginal ashes, you will probably get AIDS and die anyway! Unless you don’t fuck. So don’t fuck! And don’t do drugs, either!
It was depressing. We were all depressed. So we fucked a lot, and did drugs a lot. Sorry, Nancy.
Ok. Stop right there…
Sang cut off my reading.
I already don’t like where this is going. Do you really think people are going to sit through several hundred pages of this witty little voice you’ve got going on?
He was playing his video game and smoking while I read from my journal.
Well, I mean… I stammered …it’s a novel, and, you know, literature…so…
Sang blew out a lungful of smoke and responded…
Fuck that, man.
He threw down the game controller and just stared at me—smoking and shaking his head. I got defensive.
Well, I don’t think that’s a fair assessment of what I’ve written so far!
Then I intellectualized—my defense mechanism.
I think I’ve created a mood of depression and anxiety, added a little historical darkness with the references to the Cold War, made a comedic pop-culture reference to keep it lively. What you call a ‘witty little voice,’ I call finesse, artistry. I don’t want to thrust the reader directly into the story. I want to seduce her into reading more and more and more.
Another lung full of smoke amongst spurts of Sang’s bellowing laughter…
Oh, will you stop trying to get laid! Hahahaha!!
Sang lit another smoke, looked at me, thought for a few seconds, and continued.
This is not the story. This is your historical angst thing. Fuck angst. You want to be so edgy. And dude! My God! Fuck edgy!
He took a couple drags, gave me time to think, to contribute. When I didn’t, he continued.
The story you want to tell is not about fucking history, or your god damn angst, man. The story is about people. The story is about your childhood, about our friendship, about our creative life in the United States of Fucking America!
He blew out some more smoke and went back to the video game.
And you really need to work on your dialogue, he added over his shoulder.
I know, I sighed, but characters are your strength. I’m just a poet. I never wanted to write something like this. I’m only writing this for you.
Aw. [mockingly] You mean, because I died? Sad, pouting, mocking bottom lip.. Shit! Fuck! …video game distraction… smoke… smoke… smoke… huge smile…
Yes, because you died, I said, laughing back my crying, and you’re welcome, by the way!
Thanks, man! FUCK!
Video Game Lost. Controller slammed on the table.
…smoke ….smoke ….smoke …smoke ….smoke….
I probably would get laid if I published a novel, huh?
Fuck you, man.
» Sang Lee is dead. »
Poetry & Poetics w/ Charles Bivona
You May Need a Mental Health Break
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