Saturday, March 17, 2007

Cole Stoma Notebooks #2 -- "Good News @ Last"

I've been going through a few boxes of old stuff tonight, and I turned up some masters from a zine project in 2000 that I never finished and forgot all about -- a project titled Good News @ Last. As the cover indicates, it was intended to be "Ouzipian product no. 1," because I was heavily into the Oulipo at the time, and I wanted to concoct a new branch of it for zines. ("The Workshop of Potential Zines," get it? I think the "ouzipo" name hasn't been used by anyone yet still, but one Google search isn't definitive ... yet that's all I'm doing. So back to the narrative.)

The premise was -- as I dimly recall -- that I had written four related but different short stories, and via some geometrical mishegoss I can't quite refresh my recollection of just from these 2D master pages, the zine was to be stapled in the center and trimmed in a way that allowed for pages to be turned in various combinations, so that the four stories would be combined into ... I dunno from math. A bunch of variations.

For example, here's page one of story one (they're all very short pages ... very short stories):

Before long, he said to me, "I'm off to get cigarettes, you'll probably never see me again." To that I spat, "If so, it will be too soon!"

Page one of story two goes as follows:

Before much time passed, I asked him for a cigarette. He said, "I am excluded from the function of cigarettes; realize that, to take them through me, I am probably never to be seen again." To that I said, "So you're refusing to give me one?"

Page one, story three:

Before much longer, he said to me, "I'm an excluded function around cigarettes." He was pouting. "So don't buy any, I said."

And page one, story four:

Before a very long time, he said to me that "one" is excluded from the function of "I." I lit a cigarette and scratched my lower jaw. "Therefore you will probably never see me again."

The sickest arty farty conceit was that you needed to read all four to get clues as to what the fuck was going on in any of them, which made it one story. And because you could read it in various orders, you would find out certain details in random sequence, which would affect your realization of the story in varying ways. Also, it's about a lawyer who goes insane and befriends a dog who can write, who then witness a horrible crime and go even insaner. You can begin to sense the deep trench I had dug myself into, pulling-this-off-wise, I think.

I gave up on it because I was having trouble with the mechanical details. And I got lazy. Also, the stories weren't all that great. There were a few good lines, but some of the jokes were blatantly stolen from well-known sources, and ... ecch. I hit the wall in terms of trying to write fiction that year and have never really written any since. This is actually possibly the last fiction I tried to render.

Anyway, I do kinda like the following excerpt, which is notated in pencil on the edge of the paper as page "1-5" -- the fifth page of the first story:

There were thirty-seven thousand, three hundred forty-four 1966 Dodge Chargers sold, only 468 with the 426 Hemi engine. And only one of those contained a dog who could write. It was navy blue with a black leather interior. The front passenger seat was covered with white hairs. On the dash was scattered four or five post-it notes scrawled with ballpoint pen, "Brush me," Give me a brushing," "Please, the brush," etc.

Dying to know what happens next? On page 1-6, this paragraph (typeface: Gill Sans) convenes:

We hadn't spoken for some moments when, in the parking garage, the dog asked me a question. "You can drive a stick, right?" I nodded. He scratched at his hindquarter for a second and handed me a set of keys. "Good. Then we'll take my ride."

I guess the dog can talk, now, too. See how easy it is to fuck up when you're playing out of your league?

1 comment:

Mr. Insert Namehere said...

> some geometrical mishegoss ... the four stories would be combined into ... I dunno from math.

Ah... it sounds like you were doing a lot of nitrous at the time.