April 1: “Fuckers” by Jamie Iredell

It’s never dawned on me before, but suddenly, I wonder if my mom reads my blog. I mean, she doesn’t go online or anything, but sometimes people show her the Internet, and man, if she sees the title of today’s stories, I might get a whoopin’.

I’m hanging out at the AWP book fair, and they just made an announcement that it’s closed. Boo! But it’s five, meaning it’s time to figure out what I’m going to eat and drink, who I’m going to do it with, and what awesome events I’m going to attend. My phone is not charging—this morning, it maxed at 38 percent, and now, it’s maxing at 9 percent—so I’m not sure how much longer it has to live. Oddly, my phone freaked out the first day of AWP last year, too, meaning I couldn’t call home much, talk to Karen and the boys. Does Karen believe me, that my phone has died exactly twice in four years, both times at the start of AWP, me out of town, her manning the fort? I don’t think so. I can send her FB messages, but if I was her, I probably wouldn’t believe me, either. Wait, can I figure out Skype?

Today was another great day for Moon City at the book fair, as we had a couple of more signings, I met a lot of writers I know, met a lot more I hadn’t know, and we got a lot of MCP books and issues of Moon City Review into conference-going hands. Most people might think it’s crazy, but I like the book fair, sitting at the table the entire eight hours, as that’s the best way to meet people, both kinds—the old friends and the new ones. I took one break today, ten minutes to go to the bathroom, and missed three people who came looking for me. I don’t even know who they are. So, no more leaving the book fair (only I have a reading in the morning and probably should go to that).

I was also able to read for today’s post, and since it’s Short Short Week as well as AWP Week, and before I debase myself, West Coast style, I wanted to get this to you. For today’s post, I chose to read from Jamie Iredell’s cool short collection The Book of Freaks, released by Future Tense Books in 2011. There’s a whole bunch of stories in here—how many, I haven’t counted—and despite my predictions going in, it’s not a book of shorts that each deal with a different type of freak. I was, before I started, all like “Ah, there’ll be a Bearded Lady story, a Glass Eater story, a Bat Boy story,” but no, it’s not like that (though there is a story called “Bearded Lady”). I like to project my thoughts on books onto other people’s long-finished projects, as long as I note that my fantasy is not reality, and you’re all clear on that.

The Book of Freaks has some freaks in it, but not the circus definition. It’s more like there’s some  people who do weird shit sometimes, which is actually the more general definition. The cover, which you can see below, features the neck of a dude with a mullet, so right there, pretty freaky, huh? Well, not really—I had a mullet once, and look how I turned out—but the stories in Iredell’s book range from one page to still-barely-short, and cover a variety of subjects, all pretty interesting, even out-there, even freaky. Once project that Iredell seems to have within this book is a meta deconstruction of different elements of books, of having and making a book. There’re stories in here like “Acknowledgments” and “Copyright” and “Colophon” and “Blurbs” and “Title Page.” In a way, those stories actually serve as those book elements, providing acknowledgments, a colophon, copyright info, blurbs, and a title, but scattered throughout the book, in no particular order, with some fictional elements added. It reminds me a bit of the front and back material in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, little jokes hidden amidst those standard book building blocks. They’re funny and go with the flow and tone of Iredell’s book, and I found them a welcome addition.

Today’s story of choice, however, is “Fuckers,” a one-sentence story (I was going to say that this is definitely the shortest piece I’ll do all year, that’s possible to do, but Iredell includes a one-word story as well). that makes an observation about people who are called “fuckers.” It’s funny and true and clever, and since I’m not the person to reveal the ending of any of the stories I’ve reviewed this year, that’s it: The section Story366 always dedicated to summarizing the story is done.

My phone is now charge to 21 percent—things are turning around!—so I think I need to call Karen, talk to her, talk to my kids, tell them I love them. Then I’m very likely to go get drunk. See you out there!