Newsletter 8.28.2021

The Mortal Feelings of W. Somerset Maugham


At ten to seven that night, Somerset could wait no longer, and he descended to the street to hire a fiacre. It was pleasantly warm, or warm compared to the previous days, and the city buzzed with life – people were shopping, gallivanting, off to dine, or just enjoying the air. True winter was no doubt camped with its armies around the city, and the forthcoming siege had people trying to enjoy the last remnants of the autumn.

Somerset’s heart pounded with excitement and fear. He had not eaten all day, his stomach tore loudly at itself, and his head was dizzy. The fiacre rumbled and creaked and banged beneath him, and he stared at the disheartening curve of the driver’s slumped, disappointed shoulders. Somerset was both so horribly sad and so electric with anticipation, that it felt like his body was being fought over by terrible raptors, their beaks made of loneliness and lust, wings beating, their eyes like black suns. Did Aarav make made his own way through the city now for their reunion?

How had all this started ? With breakfast in a café. And what of Mrs. Baxter and her threats? Had he betrayed England? He didn’t care. But – it had cost him nothing, so it had been easy. What would she do? What did she know?

To Hell with Mrs. Baxter.

The fiacre driver dropped him off in front of the cathedral. It was seven-thirty. People littered the street out front – a sign indicated that at 8:30pm there would be a solo musical performance by the famous pianist Witold Kamińska; following that Kamińska would be accompanied by a girl’s choirgirls’ choir from a nearby convent. Somerset knew he was early, but  he looked about for Aarav anyway, who was nowhere to be seen. Somerset gazed down the streets and sidewalks – with every fiacre he saw, he imagined Aarav in it, gleaming like knight in armor, though he knew Aarav used the tram when he was alone. Somerset was surround by conversation, laughter. It was unbearable. The inchoate future tormented him. He would sell his soul for certainty.

He looked at his watch. Only five minutes had passed. He smoked a cigarette, though his throat was dry. It was done all too quick, and he cast its spent body into the street. He stepped back from the gutter quickly as he saw an automobile nearly run a carriage off the street. The automobile’s horn shrieked, and then the car peeled around the corner. He heard the people around him reacting with surprise, condemnation, and ridicule. What terrible machines, someone was saying, who can stand their smoke? And they were dangerous anyway! There should be a law against them.

Somerset looked at his watch again. Seventeen minutes until eight. He could wait that long. Aarav would be here soon. God, it was like he could feel Aarav emanating from across the city, the buildings vibrating as the thundering of Aarav’s magnificent heart pulsed through them. Ecstatic love, twisted by the voids of despair and fear, broke through his body, his fingers were shaking, he was amazed someone hadn’t noticed his condition and called for a doctor.

The street lamps flickered; traffic slowed on the street and conversation around him hesitated; a tenuous silence erupted, almost louder than the noise before. He could feel the presence of everyone around him, suspended in a moment of postponement and lack of things to say. Then the traffic picked up, and the din of the city punched through the transient silence.

Down the street, a column of schoolgirls in blue uniforms approached the cathedral two by two, led by a Mère préfète. They were singing softly, and the harmony seemed to tiptoe in like a surreptitious glance, their voices like tinkling bells. The girls looked happy and self-satisfied, smiling to themselves, confident. But, at the end of the column, there was a beautiful Indian girl, her hair black and straight as a sure, quick stroke of a fountain pen. She alone seemed to have sadness and disregard in her eyes, yet she sung none the same. She had an aquiline nose and full lips, her cheeks high and her neck long; she was taller than the other girls, her back straighter. Yet her arms hung limply at her sides, her feet took reluctant steps. She reminded Somerset of Aarav’s plight.

The girls and the Mère préfète filed into the church, and Somerset did not see them again.

Where was Aarav? Somerset peered down the streets. He shivered now; what had seemed like a warm night earlier now turned quite cold. He plunged his hands into his pockets, clutching them into fists, shuffling from foot to foot, his shoulders ached. He could wait in the cathedral… but then he would not see Aarav approaching. Dejection and gloom filled him until he was bursting; he had to see Aarav again, he just had to!

Up the street, from the opposite direction the choir came, Somerset heard something bumping and clanging, mixed with dissonant, frightened piano tones. Two rough looking men were pushing – shepherding, really – a piano towards the cathedral. The piano was covered with a thick blue blanket that’s use seemed more theoretical than practical, and the two workmen were accompanied by a gaunt, wispy-haired man in a black suit who was arguing vehemently with them in Polish. This must have been Witold Kamińska, famous Polish pianist, and he must have thought he was in charge, but the two workmen ignored him, speaking gruffly to each other in French. They were a humorous sight, and when Somerset checked his watch, he realized they were cutting things close – the performance was a short twenty minutes away. The trio reached the cathedral and all three were flabbergasted by the church steps, which none of them had apparently anticipated. A priest came out and started pointing around the back of the church to the workmen as Kamińska was even more incensed and theatrical. The workmen nodded, urged the piano to move again, and were followed around back by the ardent pianist.

Where was Aarav? Surely, he should have been here by now. It was almost 8:30pm, Aarav was late, maybe he had been detained, or the tram was slow. Maybe Aarav was racing here right now, flustered, everything standing between them. Somerset felt a drop of sweat trickle down his back, despite the frigid weather. His stomach spun, delirious with hunger and anxiety. His feet hurt.

The sidewalk was thinning out – people were going into the church or headed off elsewhere. Even the traffic on the street dissipated; the world was perched on the edge of the events of the evening, but Somerset was apart, forlorn, his rendezvous seeming increasingly improbable. If Aarav had been detained, and was not coming – don’t think it – it didn’t mean that all wasn’t well. Perhaps Aarav was just exhausted, or roped into something, and Somerset might receive an apology card in the morning, and they would reunite.

Perhaps Aarav had been arrested.

It was quiet again. He was alone on the street, shivering in the burning golden glow of the street lamps.

It was 8:30pm. The cathedral seemed to stand before him frozen in permanent movement, forever reaching for Heaven, but planted down in the Earth, eternally aspiring, but never realizing arrival in its lofty destination. To think – the years, decades, maybe generations it took to build the Cathedral de Saint-Pierre, those men waking every morning to labor on something whose completion they might never see – the cathedral seemed to embody that very idea, in a state of constantly taking flight, but never leaving the ground.

Someone pulled open the doors of the cathedral and music glided out like a votive flock of angels – Somerset recognized Erik Satie’s Gnossienne #1, the notes all the more exotic due to their slightly flat notes after the piano’s perilous quest to reach the cathedral. The sad,  haunting melody sunk into his skin, then his muscles and organs, until prying its way into his very bones. He was overcome with sorrow. He knew Aarav wasn’t coming, that he would never see Aarav again. His heart fell down into his chest, down through his belly and groin, rushing through his legs and down into his feet, until it smashed into the ground, making him lose his balance. His knees went weak, the world around him became excruciating.

The door to the church sealed closed. The melody disappeared. He felt a tap on his shoulder, and hope fluttered explosively. Aarav! At last!

He turned. Mrs. Baxter stood in front of him – small, beautiful, her expression as cold as the weather. She was dressed in a fur shrug as though she was going to the opera, and her hands were folded together at her waist.

“You!” Exclaimed Somerset. “How?”

She pursed her lips and then smiled at him with a sort of annoyed pity. “You are not my only fox in the henhouse, Mr. Maugham.”

Somerset met Mrs. Baxter at the Café de Marais Perdu once more before he left Geneva. It was on an early evening in mid-December, and cold, very cold. Snow fell outside the café windows, sparkling in the lamp light like tiny, falling suns. Carriages and pedestrians flowed on the street; the city, the world, went on.

“To the best of our knowledge,” Mrs. Baxter said, “Chatto and Pradhan escaped Geneva, most probably by boat. Their plan was to obtain a coin die fabricated by a Swiss artisan to counterfeit gold sovereigns in India to destabilize the currency.”

Somerset let it sink in. Had that been Aarav’s plan all along, his real reason for being in Geneva? Had their sumptuous medley of days spent together all been a distraction, an entertainment to kill time? Is that what occupied Aarav’s mind when he had been reticent? 

“It’s a bit of a scandal for Pradhan’s parents. They’ve been interviewed by the police.”

There was more than one India. For Aarav, all of them had become a gestalt that he would stop at nothing to bring forth from the realm of the ideal into the real world. Aarav had tried to tell him. He hadn’t listened.

They had loved each other. The things they had whispered. The caresses they had shared. Aarav had been distant, yes, but Somerset had revealed his soul. Had Aarav not liked what he saw?

“I am sure you wish you could have been more help,” Mrs. Baxter said poisonously. “But officials in India know to look out for the counterfeit coins, so it was all for naught, really. But we have another assignment for you now, in Marseille, something a little more… orderly.” She pauses for a second, thinking, and Somerset sees a rare moment of hesitation in Mrs. Baxter, a discomfort. “I wonder, Mr. Maugham,” she asked, “You and Pradhan… were you in love with him? Is that something men like you do?”

Somerset lowered his eyes to his shoes. “Does it matter?”

Mrs. Baxter sighed. “I suppose not. Time does not bless us all with wisdom. Will you be…all right?”

He didn’t know the answer to her simple question. What had the whims of history and serendipity done to him? He thought of his first night with Aarav, his warm skin in the carriage in the cool air, their lips moving together in ecstasy, the prelude to their imminent lovemaking. Had every action he had taken, every word he said, every decision he made, really led here, where he had nothing? Had anything changed? He was right back where he started, but now nursing a misery he had not imagined.

“Mr. Maugham? I asked if you are going to be all right.”

Somerset looked up at her and an arduous smile formed on his face. “Yes,” he told her. “I’ll be incredibly fine, darling.”



Good morning, people of Earth and all alien tyrants surreptitiously listening in. It’s Saturday here, and I’ve decided to take Sundays off my newsletter (though I’ll still be posting stories on various sites probably. I just need a little downtime after posting so much freaking crap.

A Great Assembly

So, I’m posting “A Great Assembly” on Medium in three parts. I’m making almost no changes, so if you read it before, don’t worry about it.

A Great Assembly on Medium by Matt Snee

He-Thing and the Cabal of the Cosmos

However, I also started posting He-Thing, and I am making a lot more changes to this and fixing some inconsistencies and continuity problems. Needless to say, this one is getting made up as it goes along.

He-Thing on Medium by Matt Snee

And that’s it for today! Take care!


Newsletter 8.27.21

The Mortal Feelings of W. Somerset Maugham

Part 13

Early the next morning, Aarav awoke and left the bed without a word, dressing methodically as Somerset watched silently. From the dim, leaden blue light coming in through the windows, Somerset could tell it was going to be an unsympathetically cold day. He peered at the clock on the wall across the room, but it was as if time meant nothing anymore; Aarav was slipping out of his hands, and an impermeable heartbreak had filled every atom of the world in a grim orgy of shattering hopes and lonely despair. 

“I’ll miss you today,” said Somerset, breaking the silence with a platitude that he had uttered other days without a thought other than the elation the eventual reunion would bring. But that had been in an irrevocable past, infused with optimism and an ecstatic longing that seemed as remote as the moon on a moonless night.

“I’ll miss you too,” said Aarav, not smiling or turning. Somerset could feel the invincible stone of Aarav’s surreptitious plans, whatever they were, hidden deep within his lover, no doubt intertwined with fear, anxiety, and maybe, some excitement. Aarav bent to pick up his socks and then sat upon the edge of the bed. 

“Are you nervous, darling?”

Aarav took a second to respond. “Not at all,” he said. Somerset knew he was lying. “It’s just a trifle,” said Aarav, pulling on his socks. “It will be over in a few hours.”

“And when will I see you?”

Aarav scratched his cheek. “Tonight, I think?”

“When?” Somerset could hear the trepidation in his voice. 

“I do not know what the day will bring.”

“But we will see each other?”

“I just cannot think that far ahead, Will.”

“You said we would see each other tonight.”

“I just do not know when.”

“I have to have something to hold on to, darling.”

Aarav sighed. “Alright. I understand. Let’s meet at the cathedral. At eight.”

Somerset crawled across the bed to embrace Aarav’s shoulders. “Thank you, darling.” He kissed Aarav’s cheek. Aarav tilted his neck, so their foreheads rested against each other. 

“I do love you, Will.”

“Don’t say it like we’ll never see each other again.”

“I’m not. I’m not. I just want you to know that you are still foremost in my thoughts.”

Was this true? Somerset had known this feeling before, at a point in an affair where you’re still madly in love, but the realization that it will never work is starting to eat into you by a ravenous maw of doubt. 

Aarav stood up, pulling himself from Somerset’s arms, and turned his head around the room, looking for his shoes. They were under the table. He picked them up, loosened the laces, and stepped into them. “I have to go.”

Pain slid down from Somerset’s heart to his stomach. “I love you!” He pleaded.

Aarav smiled at last, bending to kiss Somerset. Their lips had known many kisses together, and they could communicate their feelings better with the subtle sensations of their lips than with words. And this kiss was no different – Somerset’s lips tugged on Aarav’s, fiercely grasping his fleeing lover in a way his arms never could. Somerset felt dizzy; he sucked air through his nose as he gripped Aarav’s waist tightly, trying his best not to fall back into the real world.

Aarav broke the kiss first, and the Somerset felt everything drop underneath him. Aarav cupped Somerset’s cheek with his hand and then looked into his eyes. 

“I will see you tonight. Eight o’clock. I promise.”

Aarav turned to leave, and a horrific despair rushed through Somerset’s body. 

“Don’t go!”

Aarav froze in his steps. “I’m sorry, Will.” He pulled the door open with a creak. “I’ll see you tonight.”

After Aarav left, Somerset lay motionless in the bed for a few minutes. Will he ever see Aarav again? What had he done wrong? There was a gaping, ravenous vacuum in his heart, feasting on his anguish; he had never felt so powerless and lost, it was all gone, he had lost Aarav, it was over. What if he leapt out of bed, ran half-naked down the hotel corridor, rode the painfully slow lift down to the lobby, chased Aarav into the streets, embraced him, never let him go?

Somerset pulled himself out of bed and stood unsteadily. He took slow, short steps to the bathroom, as though the floor might fall out beneath him. He was unprepared for the mirror once he had switched the light on; his desperate visage greeted him like a bloodthirsty Mongol. He sighed and his eyes widened as he looked upon himself – his hair was ruffled, a brown-gray skein of stubble covered his cheeks and chin, and his skin was splotchy. He saw that there was a lilac-colored, coin-shaped bruise in the left hollow of his neck – Aarav. He raised his finger and touched it lightly; it did not hurt. He realized he didn’t even have a photograph of Aarav, that he had no keepsakes, they had never bought each other gifts. If he never saw Aarav again, this bruise would be all he had left of their love; and it a few days it would fade, disappear, and there would be nothing. 

It was turning into a beautiful, cloudless day. Somerset took this to be an a good omen – Aarav would return to him. But time had never moved so slowly. 

He stood and gazed at Lake Geneva. The morning sun crashed into the blue waters in an splash of shimmering rays of light, and Geneva stood majestic around it; antiquity suddenly felt as though it wasn’t so far away after all, and Somerset was consumed by the weight of millennia; all the heartbreaks of history descended upon him, like a crowd of vengeful demons, and his knees buckled. He fell to the floor and wept. 


Happy Friday, friends. I’ve got a lot of work to do this weekend… writing work and a lot of other stuff. So I’ll be busy. But I’ll also be posting fun stuff to read!

Your Dream of Dark Angels

If you haven’t read this (not-Batman) novel, I’m refining it and reposting it over on Medium. I endlessly tinker with these things, so I’m afraid that’s just how it is. 

You Dream of Dark Angels, Chapter 1 on Medium

Literature Unbound on Medium

I started a “publication” on Medium, which is the best way I’ve found so far to archive and present my stories online. This is evolving, but definitely something I’m putting a lot of time into. 

Literature Unbound on Medium

Evil Summer Audio Book

As a Friday surprise, included in this post/newsletter are two mp3s of poems from my audio book of my poetry collection, which I did a couple years ago. I would really like to do more of this… I’m not the best speaker, but it’s SO fun, and plus I make thematic music for the backgrounds, which is a lot of fun too. This audio book was mastered by Adam Matza at Magic Ears Mastering. Best ears of anyone I’ve met. 

Here they are: 

I hope to post two of these each Friday, and new audio readings after that, hopefully.

Anyway, that’s it! See you tomorrow.


Newsletter 8.26.2021

The Mortal Feelings of W. Somerset Maugham

Part 12

December came, and rain settled over the city, darkening the sky, and sending the citizens of Geneva ducking through the streets with their umbrellas pulled tight over their heads. A bitterly cold wind blew vengefully off the lake. Deep puddles of water littered the city’s streets, which fiacre wheels crashed through in noisy splashes while the horses grunted. The sun started setting in the early afternoon, and at night the city was eerily empty as the rain hammered down. Mornings slowly seeped out of the endless nights agonizingly – the top edge of the eastern sky would gradually lighten from black night until the sky was the color of a wet newspaper; and that was as light as it would get for the rest of the day.

For the first two days, Somerset and Aarav luxuriated in the solitude, staying in Somerset’s room, only leaving for meals, and sleeping for long hours after bouts of lovemaking. All of their troubles faded away – they were one. Despite the daylong twilight, they kept the lamps off, and milky light gently poured itself in through the windows. The staccato of the downpour was romantic – and it was like time itself had been washed away.

By the third day of December, though, even they were fatigued by the rain. After breakfast they made love, and while their passion had not diminished, a few minutes after they finished, Aarav sighed loudly and complained about the rain.  They slept. In the early afternoon, pinpricks of blue sky appeared in the cloud cover, and shining sabres of light shined down on Geneva. Aarav lifted himself from the bed and took Somerset’s hand. The rain was over.

They dressed and left the hotel. It was two o’clock. While it was chilly outside, the sky was a cerulean blue, with blotches of slate-colored clouds slowing pushing to the east. The sun was in its full glory now, and the color yellow, which had been absent for three days, spilled across the city in an overflowing stream. People appeared quickly on the streets, some tentatively holding umbrellas loosely at their sides, and some so exuberant, they had left their coats inside.

Somerset and Aarav decided to take a walk down to the Jet D’eau where Lake Geneva met the River Rhone. The monumental fountain, Geneva’s most famous landmark, had originally been created further downstream in 1886, and it had been purely functional, relieving pressure on the hydraulic power plant. It had been moved here in 1891, when its function became less important, and its beauty became supreme. The Jet D’eau shot its white, foamy spray ninety meters into the air, where it seemed to float for the most transient instant, until falling in a haze back to the lake. Somerset and Aarav stood on the Promenade du Lac Léman, and as happy crowds flowed around them, they were silent – Somerset was tired; the rainy days had exhausted him, and he knew they had done the same to his lover. What he wanted to do was reach out and take Aarav’s hand, and squeeze Aarav’s warm flesh into his own. But such a thing was never to be.

“Look,” said Aarav, pointing at the fountain. “A rainbow!”

Underneath the spray of the fountain, where the haze took the shape of a phantom, a wide arch of color floated, beauty that was visible, but intangible. Now, Somerset did reach out for a moment and take took Aarav’s hand. Aarav’s skin was warm, and so soft, pulsing with his life. Their eyes met, and for the briefest second, Somerset felt an otherwise impossible happiness. But, aware of his surroundings,  he quickly withdrew his hand, looking around to see if anyone had observed them.  

“I have to deliver something to my associates tomorrow,” Aarav said.

“What is it?”

“I would rather not say. I could implicate you.”

“Implicate me? In what?”

Aarav looked away, fixing his eyes on the Jet D’Eau. “Forgive me my secrecy. I am thinking only of you.”

Somerset turned back to the crowd. He caught sight of a young boy in a green suit, run and stumble, falling to his hands and knees on the sidewalk. The boy froze for a second as he absorbed what had happened, and then raised himself halfway, examining his hands to see if he was injured.

“This… item you have to deliver. Do you have it now?”

“No. I am going to pick it up tomorrow morning.”

Somerset sucked in a deep, slow breath. “You do not have to do it.”

Aarav shook his head. “I do have to do it, Will.”


“You know why.”

“I know why you do what you do. But I don’t understand why you would risk everything on an impossible mission.”

Aarav took an angry breath through his flaring nose. “You do not understand me.”

“Maybe I do not. But I do love you. Very much.”

“How can you love someone you do not understand?”

A cold tingle traveled down Somerset’s spine. “We never understand anyone completely. That is a youthful dream.”

“Like my dream of a free India?”

“We cannot divert all the waters in the world by ourselves.”

“History awaits those who wish to free the unfree,” Aarav argued.

“No,” said Somerset. “History cannot be trusted.”

Aarav scratched his cheek nervously. “You think I am a young fool.”

“That is why I love you,” Somerset told him. “I myself am a ruined, empty old man. You give me hope, Aarav. But when you are my age, you start to look at your life as a series of disappointments and agonies, and you struggle your best to avoid more.”

“I have to do something,” Aarav said quietly, looking in Somerset’s eyes.


“Have you never felt like I do?”

“I am not as virtuous as you are.”

“You say I am virtuous, yet you condescend to me.”

“Now you do not understand me. I fear for you. But I also envy you.”

“Maybe history cannot be trusted,” Aarav says, clenching his hands together. “But we are history – it forms us, our perspectives, our fears, our social mores. The animal is in inside somewhere, but it is a blur, trapped.”

“If that is so,” said Somerset. “Where does history end and we begin?”

“I do not know.”

They were silent.

“Run away with me,” said Somerset. “We could go anywhere. Across the world. I have plenty of money. We can run away from all this.”

“And then would I be your possession?” Aarav asked.

“No! You would just be yourself. Without … all this.”

“Will.” Aarav placed his hand on Somerset’s shoulder. “I am… all this.”


Fernanda Melchor

Fernanda Melchor is a Mexican journalist and novelist. I took a look at her first novel, published in 2020, on Medium.

Fernanda Melchor’s Hurricane Season on Medium

The Swirling Seas of Anna Kavan

My Anna Kavan short story is up and complete on Medium, here:

The Swirling Seas of Anna Kavan on MEDIUM

And that’s it.


The Shrinking Short Story

All things are the result of their precursors. Modern literature isn’t any different. It’s easy to take a lot for granted in an artistic medium – and often, what we think are timeless truths about something that is ultimately formless are really just the result of a history of trial and error leading to accepted wisdom and assumptions whose results are not always interrogated with rigor. 

As I’ve been putting my work on Substack, my original intention of using it as an alternative to traditional publishing (which I still believe in) has diminished in importance to me compared to the awesome possibilities of prose storytelling freed from “the tyranny of paper.” My mind is ablaze with twisting, winding narrative and short, brief, serialized short stories. Branching baths, interlacing stories, plot free from Aristotle’s dramatic arc… These are the things that excite me, things that you can’t do on paper. 

Because for a long time I struggled with the medium of the short story. And I finally realized, the accepted form of the story – between 9 and 15 pages (at most) and consisting of the realistic depiction of a single experience of one sort or another, is not handed down by God. It is the result of the needs of literary journals, the last magazines that really publish short stories, and the accepted page limit of the short story has dwindled with magazines and journals declining willingness to spend space on the “most difficult of arts.” 

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the current form of the short story, just that we are expected to stick to its rigid, limited format, as though that’s the only form the short story ever has had or ever will have. Why can’t I write a short story that’s thirty, forty pages? Well – there aren’t any journals that will publish it. As they said on the Simpsons, you’re “throwing your vote away,” if you write a thirty or forty page story. IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW GOOD IT IS, IF IT MAKES EVEN THE EVIL ANCIENT GODS TREMBLE IN SHAMEFUL HEARTBREAK, IF YOUR STORY IS THIRTY OR FORTY PAGES, YOU ARE DOOMED…..

So, due to the economic needs and space requirements of literary journals, which, unfortunately are the only places that publish ANY short stories, we have deified and continue to worship a VERSION of a medium we refuse to allow any innovation to; and not only that… every year, those page maximums get smaller…

The Kalachthon

I decided to retitle this story under its original name. Since I made up that word (came to me in a dream), sometimes I worry people are gonna be daunted by the gibberish of it. Anyway, here are two new chapters of Sherlock Holmes.

The Mortal Feelings of Somerset Maugham

Really want to post two chapters of this today. It’s funny as these stories get posted on here, I feel momentum as I am pulled into Aristotle’s arc, increasing the rate of my posting.

Your Dream of Dark Angels

Luke makes a promise to Margo. Where will this promise lead?

Anyway, it’s about 4AM here, and I have some work to do and some tea to drink.


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What I’ve Been Posting

What I’ve posted so far on Substack is a fraction of the sum of my work between 2007 and today. I am not just copying and pasting, but rewriting every sentence as I post, so it takes time. Also I don’t want to just dump this stuff. It has to be a process for me, a journey. 

I guess I’m just sick of this stuff languishing on my computer, I’m sick of harboring the idea that these are publishable stories (for one reason or another). I’m sick of carrying them around with me, I don’t want to be defined by them. I want to expunge them from my mind and my back by sharing them with others. 

I’m not saying I don’t like these stories, I love them, especially now that I’m sprucing them up and discovering new things in them. But – what I’m saying is that I’m trying to move beyond these stories. I’m trying to wrap up the past fourteen years, and these stories are part of that. I guess what I’m saying is… I’m going to finish them. I’m going to stop trying to fit them into someone else’s box and just them be themselves. I’m going to exist solely in the moment of each story when I examine their every word. I am setting them free. And for the first time since 2007, I think maybe these stories aren’t so bad.

Substack works well for me because it’s basically blogging, and I’ve been blogging since I think maybe 2004. I’m old. Blogging has just always been the perfect medium for me, and I find myself at home doing this. I also think Substack’s site is well designed for what I want to do, though I do have some suggestions….

Anyway, I hope you all are having a nice night. 

More Thoughts on Stories

What I’m going to do is usually only talk about stories once they’re finished, other than the serials, which are potentially endless. “The Vengeance of Amelia Earhart” is a novella, not a serial, and it’s not done, so I’m not going to talk about that. But “He-Thing” and “Your Dream of Dark Angels” can go on infinitely, potentially. 

“A Great Assembly”

This story makes me cry every time I get to the last few pages. I just get this stone in the middle of my chest. And that’s why I wrote it. If you’re clever, you can figure out who inspired this story, and I’ll get in (deserved) trouble. 

“The Prophecy of Carson McCullers”

When you want to be a writer, there are certain books that you read and you say to yourself, “This! I want write books like this!” That was how I felt when I read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. I’ve only read it once, because I’m still not ready to experience it again. Later, I would learn McCullers’ tragic story and her lifelong place on the outside, and I was compelled to write about her. I know it’s not appropriate, but I had to do it. I know it’s wrong. 


“He-Thing” is the end result of decades of me struggling to combine my literary influences with my bad, plastic-toy-peddling, half-hour kids’ cartoon influences. Like many a child of modern times, I sucked on bad, sugary cartoons as much as any pacifier, and those stories burrow into you whether you realize it or not. I wasn’t really a big fan of the original toy, I was more of a GI JOE and Transformers child, but… here is “He-Thing” anyway…. 

“Your Dream of Dark Angels”

Okay, for a few years I had an unhealthy fascination with the concept of… a certain caped crusader. It’s not the action and adventure I’m interested in, but the intellectual ideas that spring from vigilantism, especially this character, who declares he’s going to fix the world, but conveniently ignores problems like racism, economic exploitation, poverty, imperialism, ecological destruction. I wanted to write a superhero that wasn’t after costumed villains – but the real problems in our society. I have more than 300 pages of this written, and self-published an early version that was a bit more palatable for a mainstream audience. I promise this story is going to upend your expectations.

About the Stories

I wanted to take a moment on this Sunday night, while I am still recovering from some food poisoning I thought might be COVID (I’m vaccinated), to talk about some of the stories I’ve been posting, in case anybody is interested.

The Last Wish of Gustave Flaubert

This story is a love letter to Flaubert and Emma Bovary. I don’t know how I came up with the ending. Stuff like that seems inevitable in retrospect. 

The Festering Wound of Stephen King

I didn’t do too much to this story before posting it. And it’s not much different from its original draft. This one, like the goddess Athena, sprung forth fully-formed. 

LA Vice

This started as a short story when I was living in Brooklyn in 2006 and I was writing all day at my stupid job. It’s gone through a million versions, some of which got some pretty salty responses from editors. I admit it was a really shitty story for a long time. But finally, it turned into a poem, and the American Journal of Poetry published it in their online journal. 

The Lamentations of Neo-Tokyo

This story is about as old as “Amelia,” 2017, and was written when I was really fumbling for direction. I didn’t know what I had at the time, and I didn’t know until I rewrote it for Substack. 

Only Breath

This story is so high concept and gone through so many versions I don’t know where to begin. But I will say it started out in second person. 

Currently writing.

I’ve been working on this story since the spring of 2018. It’s been revised or rewritten over twenty times, rebuilt from scratch, and doubled in length. I have lived with it – these characters are as real to me as you are. Some might say I’m insane – but if I had stopped working on it a couple years ago, or even just a year ago, it wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is now.