Burgess Meredith As The Bored Novelist / 30 April 2001

I lock myself in the closet and jab fingers in my eyes to spark. I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, say, and it’s the kind of cancer that chews away at the lining around your organs, causing them to spill into one another. What is the book I would write during this chewing? If I had six months, three months before everything spilled together and I was poured into Whore’s Grave No. 10039? What would that severe desperation produce? Anything? Anything worthwhile? And anyway shouldn’t I be out riding rollercoasters and camels, sucking bitter marrow from the waning days, etc.?

So, ridiculous, right, so then I revise the question: What if I was the only person left alive on the planet? Then what is the book I would write? This is more plausible than the Gut-Chewing Cancer Scenario, since I’d be worried about riding an unmanned rollercoaster, and I reckon I’ll include “camel” in the “person” category, so there’d be plenty of time and inclination to entertain myself, because burning down mansions and driving recklessly will get old eventually.

This has to be the Core Desire, the absolute essential, solipsistic reason for creating something. You build a chair, paint a landscape, record a song, write a story for no one but yourself, secure in the knowledge that no one will ever see it or enjoy it or pay you for it.I’m scared that mine’d be rudimentary, some sort of quickfix, just enough to make me laugh, or to populate my head momentarily with fake people, or, worst of all, summarize the past in small nuggets of text, something easy to skim through, or spraypainted in giant, shaky letters along the highway, there to read and remember as I pass, my naked ass sticking to the vinyl seat of the LeSabre — the monolithic instrument panel hails back to the 1960s and its rococo design is a blight — like when I rocketed into Barstow, Calif. [1997], bent on summarizing in words the previous five years, the radio’s flat, hot tone made by modulating the amplitude rather than the frequency.

So maybe it’s a bad motivator, a bad hypothetical situation to prompt some sort of bond-bursting writing since what we’d end up with — “we” being “me” since you and everyone else would be long dead, corpseless, free and enviable, haunting the firmament — is a slaphappy comic book, overcreative sexual encounters constantly interrupting the hackneyed plot, maybe a thin, stringy stew of, I dunno, Romancing the Stone and Your Code Name Is Jonah, space stations with blades and sails, glass fortresses in the desert, wisecracks, crowded with characters, always talking talking, pages of unattributed dialogue and then pages of undiscussed action and then everyone there at an epilogue, shaking hands, laughing in mild embarrassment, forgiving old grudges while still laying the groundwork for future installments.

Joshua Green Allen

Fireland is a rickety old website by Joshua Allen.

A novel called Chokeville and a beverage-review site called The Knowledge For Thirst.

A great deal of typing is collected in the Archive.

Articles and whatnot for other sites, including The Morning News, Wired, and McSweeney's, can be found in External.

I've been involved in a number of Epiphany Sink pictures.

I record music under the name Orifex.

The RSS feed is here.

Join the notify list for extremely infrequent updates via email.

The Sexiest Sentence Alive, Fireland Broke My Will To Live, The Black Pill Diaries, and a sampling of Old Fireland Designs.

I can be contacted at .


♦ ♦ ♦