Tag Archives: wplongform

For the Public Good: The Shameful History of Forced Sterilization in the U.S.



Belle Boggs | The New New South | August 2013 | 62 minutes (15,377 words)

Download .mobi (Kindle)Download .epub (iBooks)

We’re proud to present, for the first time online, “For the Public Good,” Belle Boggs‘s story for The New New South about the shocking history of forced sterilizations that occurred in the United States, and the story of victims in North Carolina, with original video by Olympia Stone.

As Boggs explained to us last year: 

“Last summer I met Willis Lynch, a man who was sterilized by the state of North Carolina more than 65 years earlier, when he was only 14 years old and living in an institution for delinquent children. Willis was one of 7,600 victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program, and one of the more outspoken and persistent advocates for compensation.

“At the time I was struggling with my own inability to conceive, and the debate…

View original post 14,599 more words

The Cost



Rilla Askew | 2014 | 21 minutes (5,065 words)

When my godson Trey was a toddler growing up in Brooklyn, every white woman who saw him fell in love with him. He was a beautiful child, sweet natured, affectionate, with cocoa-colored skin and a thousand-watt smile. I remember sitting with him and his mom in a pizzeria one day, watching as he played peekaboo with two white ladies at a nearby booth. “What a little doll!” the ladies cooed. “Isn’t he adorable?”

I told Marilyn I dreaded the day he would run up against some white person’s prejudice. “His feelings are going to be hurt,” I said. “He won’t know it’s about this country’s race history, he’ll think it’s about him. Because so far in his young life every white person he’s ever met has adored him.” Marilyn nodded, but her closed expression seemed to say I was talking about…

View original post 4,994 more words

A Birth Story



Meaghan O’Connell | Longreads | Nov. 6, 2014 | 57 minutes (14,248 words)

Download .mobi (Kindle)Download .epub (iBooks)

It was Monday, June 2nd, and I was wide awake at 6 a.m. Maybe to some of you this hour doesn’t sound remarkable, but for me it was. It was the first day in a lifetime of six in the mornings, and I made the three-hour leap all in one go.

By this point, it was 10 days past my due date, and I had a very specific and recurring fantasy of being moved around town in a hammock flown by a helicopter. I wanted to be airlifted between boroughs.

When I told my fiancé, Dustin, this wish, he was quiet for a second. He had learned to reply to me with caution, but I imagine in this case he just couldn’t help himself.

“Like a whale?” he asked.

I laughed…

View original post 14,233 more words

Facebook Friends

Well, pilgrim ...

The world is changing / Always rearranging / From birth to the end / With my Facebook friends.


It’s not that Jerry Lennart opposed Facebook. He spent a goodly amount of wasted time on it. It wasn’t that it was worse than Twitter or whatever new flavor inevitably followed. It was that word that followed Facebook. Friend. He had 4,273 of them, and no man, not even Muhammad Ali, could possibly have 4,273 friends, and if they were always “friending” and “unfriending,” how could they pass muster as friends? In other words, a “Facebook friend” was a term unto itself. Jerry read somewhere, quite possibly on Facebook, that it was a “place” where one grew to loathe people he had known for his entire life and befriend those who lived on the other side of the country. Or world, even. He’d been “friended” by a man in New Zealand whose…

View original post 4,567 more words

The Art of Arrival: Rebecca Solnit on Travel & Friendship


Rebecca Solnit | Orion | Summer 2014 | 20 minutes (4,780 words)

OrionOur latest Longreads Exclusive comes from Rebecca Solnit and Orion magazinesubscribe to the magazine or donate for more great stories like this.
Get a free trial issue

Download .mobi (Kindle)Download .epub (iBooks)

[ 1. ]

The word “journey” used to mean a single day’s travels, and the French word for day, jour, is packed neatly inside it, like a single pair of shoes in a very small case. Maybe all journeys should be imagined as a single day, short as a trip to the corner or long as a life in its ninth decade. This way of thinking about it is a;rmed by the t-shirts made for African-American funerals in New Orleans and other places that describe the birth date and death date of the person being commemorated as sunrise and sunset. One…

View original post 4,793 more words

The Unforgiving Rinjani

What an Amazing World!

“It looks so forbidding!” James says with his eyes deeply contemplating at the summit of Mount Rinjani, piercing the sky above the island of Lombok. From the crater rim, the afternoon sun illuminates the very top of the volcano, giving a golden hue to the almost floating pyramid above the clouds, leaving its gigantic body on earth. Cold and unforgiving.

* * *

Six hours earlier we started our hike to Indonesia’s second highest volcano, standing at 3,726 meters, anchoring Lombok amid the Lesser Sunda Islands. The smell of fresh morning grass and the fragrant scent of ripening garlic in locals’ fields boosted our spirit to kick off the long hike through savanna and rain forests. Jen is our guide, a 21-year old lad who decided to become a trekking guide instead of continuing his study to college. “Even if I graduated from the university, it would be very hard…

View original post 2,899 more words

Take 1: An Excerpt from the Intro to the Untitled Second Novel by Jackson Williams (Draft 1, Scene 3)

reposted because why the hell not?

and just what do what have here?? So, this is very rough — it’s something old made new (salvaged) for the purpose of my next untitled manuscript. Is it not very good? Pretty much? Is it a start? …I guess. But since it’s so new and fresh and full of wonder, I decided to be nice and share it with you, my dear readers. I do around seven or eight drafts for everything large that I write, and this one will be no exception. By the time it reaches the stage where I consider it a “finished product,” you would hardly recognize it, especially when compared to this humble, rough piece ‘o crap before you.

But, still: Dig.



What is there to say for the summer of hushed voices?? or of how Time would creep slowly through the grass, unaffected by feeling and noise and all the electric daydream excitement of lost, young love, quiet as a snake, not once letting itself be known as something other than a kinetic whisper to all its lost, young children?? can we really, now years in the future, put to words something that we could not then?? I’m trying to do just that right now, myself a (now) humbled, young jackass with not a whole lot to do, and the fiercest problem I’m running in to is simply a trick in the art of remembering, that science for the damned and diabolical, and part of the problem is this: I can barely remember anything. With a capital A. Nothing, nada, zilch, a curious absence. I’ve searched high and low up there in the darkest parts of my brain, sniffed around for the once-fresh fumes of a heart once consumed with heavenly noise, and I can barely remember a fucking thing. Flashes. Whispers. Allegations and jealousies now long forgotten. Her eyes: glittering blue, framed under a gazebo new and white. Words wasted on things as trivial as celebration and hatred. You can tell why my mind is scattered – long ago, eyes blessed and breath missing, foolish work as destiny for a good fool, I caught a glimpse of something other, something wild, something wonderful, something I’m obviously failing to explain; and what I witnessed, whatever it was, has left me as someone different than who I was prior to those first moments of color.

Abigail, a name fitting for a classic like she. Abigail, laughing and whispering, I regress in to corny stereotypes when I try to think back. Gallons of bullshit pour from my mouth, like rivers let loose from their restraints, and yet at the heart of all this bullshit and wasted words is nothing more than pure, unabashed truth. So I like to think. I’m sure you’ll laugh, Abby, when you read this that is, and that was precisely the point of why I even began to compose this document: this is for you because though I act different I do love you, I love you being simply the truest words I could possibly hope to say (even if this little document of mine never sees the light of day). I taped the word ‘smile’ to the front of it because that was the intent of the whole testament. It, being far too meager, is only intended to show that even though I acted like a jerk, harm was never meant even when I said it was really what I meant.

I’m sure you understood what I meant.

It’s sometime in winter, who fucking knows how long ago. I never want to leave this room. I know it’s winter because everyone keeps say that it’s winter and it’s the coldest one they can remember, thank god to them for reminding me. They’ve lived here in Emerald for forty years, their parents have been here even longer than that, and they’ve never seen one like this, not once ever in those long and tiring winters that took place well before I was even born. With wonder in their eyes from thinking back to winters past they would recall how they never saw the ice hang quite like this and this – oh my, this is is the important and world-shattering part – early, too; never once, apparently, has the snow began to fall this early in the season, but who really knows anymore when it comes to the weather, they say, because every year it seems to get weirder and weirder, more violent, more unpredictable, more exciting, extreme, and, most of all, more schedule-altering. It can never be forgiven.

But I’m elsewhere, I always am. It is simply the way I am.

On this evening I am tucked away from what appears to be snow falling down outside the window. I sit next to Abigail. Both of us stare outside at the snowfall, both having now seen snow more than a thousand times each and yet still entranced by its quiet procession from sky to earth, if it had music it would something akin to a violin plucked softly. Call it youth. I’m sitting next to the prettiest girl in the world. Call that statement youth, too, but I wouldn’t change the statement one bit even if I could. There’s no arguing with myself tonight, not when I’m sitting here, young and dumb and in love, only hearing the sounds of our breathing one-two, one-two, one-two, and I suppose she heard it as well, probably couldn’t help it either.

I listen to the breathing until she interrupts its rhythmic certainty:

“I suppose I’m just crazy then.”



During the course of the conversation I had misplaced just exactly what the hell she was talking about. I do this alot, since, you know, I spend a lot of time in my own head.

“Uh, you’re welcome. Babe.”

“I’ll tell them. Honestly.”


“You know. I’ll tell them, really.”

A pause, no more than three seconds.

Time runs slowly through the grass and the Heart pumps wildly, this being before there were only fumes left.

“You don’t have to. It’s fine, Abby. Don’t worry.”

“Ugh.” I hate the fake disdain in her girl-ified grunt, as if everything including success depended on me just keeping my mouth shut and following along. “I am I am, because I better just do it because I already know it’s just going to end up being a fight. I’ll just tell them and get it fucking over with.”

And, like some goofy little bastard (I am), I’m smiling. Like an idiot, a grin beginning sharply at one ear and likewise stopping sharply at the other.

“You never cuss. I love it when you cuss.”

She smiles just a little bit and contorts her face ever so slightly to get that look – The Look, the one she has perfected from what is no doubt years of practice – the one that says, quite simply: I’m dating a complete fucking idiot and I have absolutely no idea why.

“I wished you cuss more,” I continue. “It’s kind of hot, actually.”

“Are you really serious?”

“I like your boobs, too. How’s that for serious?”

“I sound weird when I cuss.”

“You do not.”

“Really?” and as she says this, incredulous as can be, I start to get the feeling that maybe I’m walking in to a fight. While this witty banter of ours seems innocuous enough to an outside observer, I’ve played in this game long enough and been around her just long enough to know and understand that when we mix, even things as simple and harmless as all these words can lead to a dramatic fight and then a breakup. Because as soon as those words are said they have a way of becoming sensitive, every last one of those words, down to each syllable, and pretty soon we’ll be picking each words apart for meaning, going round and round in a circle, each minute building up with more frustration than the last. It’s like a dance that starts out slow, lovingly staring in to each others eyes to what could be described as a waltz, and then the music begins to pick up and before you know it we’re absolutely epileptic, music matching suit, every one of our actions meant to piss the other person of. Honestly: most of these of these fights end up being my fault, but that doesn’t matter….well, maybe it does, but let’s continue:

“Well, I think so Abby. But that’s just me. I like your boobs though. And your hair, too. And when you cuss, oddly enough. Seriously. Not that I’ve run out of things I like.”


“Or: maybe I’m the weird one.”

The snow outside the window has begun to pick up a little more, less like falling leaves now and more like waves, each wave yielding more and more snowfall. We’re on the second floor so all I can really see is the tree across the street, skinny and all-jagged limbs, the limbs clutching the falling snow inbetween sharp fingers. A few of those limbs will be broken by morning, frost and weight doing them in as always. And while I’m staring out at the buckling limbs she rolls over on to her side, her head propped up on one hand. I’m laying next to her on my back. She’s wearing a dress – sweet, wonderful summerdress it is – the one that earlier prompted me to give her my coat because it probably wouldn’t look good if my girl died in my company from sudden pneumonia. It’s the one she wore all summer, or maybe that’s only in my memory, maybe I’ve tied it to her character in my mind and since I’ve done this I’m fucked because from now on she’s only going to be wearing that dress, even when I remember us going swimming or going to dinner or anything else that mind flawed mind conjures up. Maybe: memory’s a cold, cruel bitch.

Continue reading

Homie Williams & The Night of the Irish Car Bombs

Irish Car Bombs


  • 1/2 oz. of Bailey’s Irish Cream
  • 1/2 – 1 full pint of Guinness
  • 1/2 oz. of Irish Whiskey (I personally recommend Jameson, but to each their own.)

NOTE: reposted from an old blog. It also contains LOTS of cursing, so if you find yourself offended by “naughty language,” allow me to kindly point you towards the exit…

All of this is true, more or less; the parts that are less true are only under suspicion as being “less true” because they have been recounted back to me by witnesses to my behavior on that fateful summer night two years ago, and I’m glad they were there to witness it because, well, I remember very, very little of what the fuck happened. Most of what happened during this blog post is one big, gaping, alcohol-blockade in my memory, a missing twenty-four hours that I will never, ever get back. And, as you’d expect with an introduction like that, I had the worst goddamn hangover imaginable. Imagine that out there, somewhere that only God knows where, there is a scientist, and this scientist has one sole purpose in life, one divine fucking mission, and that divine fucking mission is this: to create the world’s most powerful hangover, the kind that slices your brain right down the middle and stops you from being able to enjoy even blinking without getting sick for — oh, I don’t know — two or three days.This is the the type of hangover that I experienced on this delightful morning in question. Now, I am nothing special in the realm of getting hammered while going to a state university: this is a global experience, one that is a rite of passage for every young man in their early twenties, at least one here in the good ‘ole United States of America. I love this damn country.

To be completely honest, I remember roughly ten percent of what happened between the hours of six P.M. – that’s just me estimating at exactly what moment the liquor hit my lips, because really I have no idea – and nine A.M. the next morning, which is hard to forget when you find yourself waking up at that hour in your bed, no recollection whatsoever how you got there, and your pillow is covered in blood. Your head is pounding, your pants (plus one sock) are missing, the sun is blasting through the windows way too goddamn hard, and – oh yes – your lip is split open too, which can be incredibly, oddly comforting when your first thoughts upon waking are that you just woke up inside of a horror movie. Somehow, in that fifteen hour interval of complete and utter darkness, I had cracked my lip open and misplaced my plants. Did I get in a fight and ditch the pants when I decided in my inebriated state that I needed to run faster? Did I throw them at my attackers in order to blind them while I made by cowardly getaway? That sounds like something I would do. Did I have drunken, blacked-out sex with some mystery girl, face shrouded forever in a dark haze of whiskey and Guinness, and at the moment where we reached our mutual point-of-climax, intense and fulfilling I’m sure, she decided to punch me right in the mouth and steal my pants (plus, let’s not forget, that one stupid fucking sock)?

This can not be good. Just what the hell happened last night?

After about five minutes, I stumble out of my bedroom, eyes not in focus but still trying my hardest to scan for the floor for my pants, and I make my way towards the living room where my buddy – let’s call him “Paul” – is crashed out on the couch. Paul, besides being the main witness to the events of what happened the night before, has been one of my best friends since elementary school. We grew up together in the same small town, went all through elementary, middle, and high school together, and ever since we left that small town we enjoyed the college experience for all the typical reasons that young dudes enjoy the college experience. In case you missed the experience, here is a small little rundown of just what I’m talking about: girls, knowledge, drinking, fighting, pot, girls, pot, drinking 40′s out of brown paper bags partly to get drunk and partly to enjoy the sense of irony, knowledge, friendship, meeting random and ridiculous people in situations that are both equally random and ridiculous, drinking, shenanigans and, as you would expect, girls…once you add in studying and graduating, there’s your typical college experience for a middle-class, small-town white kid in a populated region of the Pacific Northwest. Paul was wide awake, rubbing his temples, laying on his side while the television was turned to SportsCenter at a low-volume, and judging by his face he had had about the same liquor-filled experience as me except – and this is fucking crucial – he could actually remember just what the hell happened. Deep in those eyes, past the pain of the Hiroshima-rivaling hangover, was a hint of glee and wonder that was brought upon me entering the room.

For a moment he stares at me, and then comes the grin.

To anyone who’s ever had a blacked-out evening, you know exactly what that sudden grin on the face of your close, dear friend means: you did something ridiculously stupid/hilarious/cool/embarrassing last night, and the answer to which one of these it is is simple: the answer is all of them, rolled together like a burrito stuffed with terrifying buffoonery. We all know that horrible look. You know exactly what’s coming next as soon as you see it. Your heart can not help but sink.

“Hey dude…” I say, searching for my pants and hoping my pack of cigarettes were in there, too. I need those fucking cigarettes and I need those pants, pronto.

“Dude.” It takes Paul about fifteen seconds to utter just this one syllable. I can’t tell whether he’s going to puke or whether he just wants Stuart Scott to shut the hell up.

“What the fuck happened last night?”

Actually, maybe I don’t want to know. Some things are left for you and whoever/whatever the creator is to haggle about later, when that eventual day comes.

“Dude. Dude,” fifteen seconds once again between each syllable. “That was wild. You don’t remember shit?”

This….can’t be good.

“No. Of course not. Fuck. Tell me. Just tell me now.”

Really? Nothing?”

“I don’t remember shit. I remember being at the bar, and we were with Sara & Layla. Right? Yeah. Right. The waiter brought us our drinks. I know I didn’t really eat anything yesterday except for the popcorn they kept giving us, and maybe some jerky around noon. I should’ve ate more. I remember all four of us took those Irish car bombs. And then….nothing. Blank. Zip. Complete fucking blank, dude.”

Dude. After last night, they will never, EVER forget you. I’ve never seen anything like that. You went beast-mode, absolutely beast-mode, dude. Congratulations. Beast-MODE.”


Just keep this in mind before I start recounting this stupid fucking odyssey: I’m not really a drinker. I mean, I can drink, but I usually only do socially, usually a beer or two out at the local bars here around Eugene – usually downtown, usually The Horse’s Head or Max’s. The type of drinking I’m talking about is “the bender,” the legendary tales of drinking that are passed down from generation to generation, lad to lad, the ones that are retold in bars that the very same tale took place in and everyone leans in close to head the story like it was a campfire and they were close to freezing to death. Many-a-faces were broken, and many of laughs were had by all – once the teeth were collected off the floor, of course. What the fuck was I talking about again? Oh, yeah: Homie Williams & The Night of The Irish Car Bombs. My tale does not involve fights or throwing bottles or trying to make a bouncer look like a dumbass. In this tale, I am the asshole, I am the “weapons-grade retard,” I am the one who made a total fool of himself and apparently had a fucking blast doing it. I wish I could remember the supposedly amazing time I had, but that’s the price you pay when you decide to just go wild at the bar one Wednesday evening in the summer of twenty-ten.

Continue reading

What to Do About Syria

a paper bird

Syrian government forces patrol the Khalidiyah neighbourhood of Homs, mid-2013. Photo: AFP/Getty Images Syrian government forces patrol the Khalidiyah neighbourhood of Homs, mid-2013. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

You would think that, having stayed in Cairo for much of the last year, I would feel closer than in New York or Boston to the Syrian catastrophe taking place only a few borders away. But it doesn’t work that way. Egypt has enough of its own problems: massacres, mass arrests, one dictator on trial, another one running for president; these aren’t as replete with murder but they fill the mind as blood fills the brain after a hemorrhage, and expunge thought. You imagine Aleppo for a second and flinch: There’s enough not to think about without not thinking about that. 

To be sure, Syria is here, in the form of thousands of refugees who have fled the killing. (The UN says there are almost 150,000 in Egypt; some estimates run double; in any case, Lebanon hosts many times…

View original post 5,735 more words

A New (& Untitled) Work in Progress: May 30th, 2013.

Good afternoon, dear readers!

I was feeling very, very bored and very, very giving today, so I decided to give you a taste of something I just started writing a whopping fifteen minutes ago (word). It’s the beginning to my next novel = THIS IS THE INCREDIBLY ROUGH FIRST DRAFT. I hope you can dig it, and just remember one thing: this is an incredibly rough beginning, but I thought I’d post it anyways. I did mention the fifteen minutes thing, right? Be nice and be scathing — either way, I take no fault for its randomness. It is merely fifteen minutes of dribble and nothingness — and isn’t that fun, sometimes? I finished my newest novel a few weeks ago, so I decided to start writing a new one to keep me occupied.

Those fifteen minutes = the rough beginnings of a new project, a new novel by yours truly.

This is what happens in a flash.

I hope you can dig it.

Jackson Williams.


Consider our hero: an hour ago he was sitting in his small apartment, alone, imagining and pondering and for obvious reasons replaying over and over and over a scenario where he grabs the little pistol that he kept for protection against various vague threats that had small chances of coming true and, then, with an air of finality, puts the little barrel of the pistol in his mouth and pulls the trigger, just like that and oh so easy, sending a chaotic spray of skull and brain matter against the wall behind him, all quiet after a brief flash of light and a noise that in his imagining was for one brief second loud enough to shake the world….and now – a mere 3,600 seconds later by most accounts – he sits, in body if not spirit, with a small group in friends in the living room of your average one-story college-town house, bongs, dead soldiers and black-light posters decorating every possible surface the eye can make out through smoke. As you turn your head helter-skelter, try telling me what’s real and what’s not, try telling me if there’s ever really been a difference. When I was younger I thought there was a difference, a big difference, but the older I get the less sure I am. Blunts and joints are being rolled, fresh beers are being cracked. The evening is only half-over. Our hero, and the decision of whether he is really truly a hero is up to you to decide at the end of this weird and tragic tale, is wearing nothing but a smile for a mask, so artificially real-looking, a smile that to some observers would appear to look coolly natural and yet crudely drawn; and what makes this crude representation of a smile so alarming (at least to himself in his currently stormy and lightly aloof mind) is how he feels he can not help but be astonished when he every so often notices that his mouth has been moving and, in what must be some weird new alchemy, somehow forming words, despite the fact that in his mind he is elsewhere – somewhere darker, darker and more abstract and filled with emphatic flashes of light. Do the people around him really not notice it when he snaps back to reality?? do they not see the light mysteriously return to his eyes from somewhere far off?? He wished and wished that someone would finally notice his return home and then get offended enough to call out him out on his rude, inattentive bullshit; maybe, like a jolt of electricity, this would wake him up and release him from the bonds of his disconnected psychic stupor, at least enough so he could stop dealing with that quick and hard-punching anxiety that comes from not remembering what the fuck you just said. How easy it would be to just float off in to space. He hates that hungover-morning anxiety-feeling and he’s certain that everyone else probably does too, like when the last thing you remember from the night before was spilling your guts out to everyone you ran across at some stupid party and in the process making a total fool of yourself, and he especially hates that feeling now – synthesized and lightning-quick, fully sober for the jolt and yet not all the way there, hoping that someone else would finally recognize the vanishing act he was fighting like hell to control the entire evening and bring him back down to earth once and for all. But still no one noticed: how can you miss the total disconnect between the speaker and his words?? do they notice and they’re just not saying a thing?? and, as soon as these short and sweet little words shoot forward from his mouth he forgets them, as if they were never really floating out there in the air at all. Maybe he hasn’t even been talking, which is distinct and paranoid but not exactly improbable (…I guess it should also be mentioned that our hero is stoned out of his goddamn mind, though I wonder whether this could have gone without saying on account of it being, you know, ridiculously obvious). Such are the thoughts that run through his mind, scattered by a flash-flood of depression and weed smoke that has only highlighted that his mind had been cracking long before this evening, and he can’t help but think to himself – when his thoughts emerge enough out of the darkness to have clarity – just how weird it truly is to feel so damn alone when you’re sitting amongst friends, doing all the things that friends do, laughing and talking as if you were just following directions written in a script. As soon as he had this feeling of awareness, mixed in with drugs and the deep darkness that none of us ever want to face in our own lives, Jackson Williams – that would be me – began to become convinced that he was living inside of some poorly written satire that was devised over a weekend, a true hack-job, and that the only way to fight back against this terrible, omnipotent author was to find some way to disconnect, to give in, give up, drop out, to close your eyes as the signal is given to the firing squad….to rebel against this obviously incompetent creator by simply surrendering to whatever fate was being designed for him.

This is where you find me, dear readers: alone amongst close friends, eyes large and lifeless, scared of the tomorrowlands of my own creation, the will to live that has carried me softly and, by some accounts including my very own, clumsily through twenty-three years suddenly passing out of existence like a ghost, as if it never really existed at all. A softly-placed black-hole has opened up in the place where a good, decent young man should be and no one else in the room has noticed. At this point I’m not sure even sure anymore whether I want them to notice or not. I believe that this would be something like the moment where in the middle of the night a boulder begins to roll down a hill towards the sleepy town in the valley below, the citizens safe and warm in their beds, unaware that doom has come knocking at their doors. I admit that it’s not exactly the spot you would expect to find the hero of a novel at, and maybe I could have lied to you and said that just the other day I was out fucking a supermodel in the middle of traffic, one arm focused on pleasing her and the other arm wielding a broadsword, slaying a stray lion with my weapon at the exact same moment I climax, the whole city of Emerald watching this entertaining spectacle and cheering me on – I can’t believe you missed it – but, I feared, as I should, that this novel you are now holding in your hands might have spontaneously burst in to flames from all that awesome packed in to one great sentence. Sadly, and I hope you can feel the sincerity of my remorse radiating off this page through your eager and impatient fingers, you’ll have to make due with the truth. And, honestly: no other place would be appropriate enough to begin this story, as weird and stupid and poorly-written as it is. I must ask beforehand that you forgive me for those two points and, once again, I hope that you believe my sincerity.


BUT: by these solemn, electric words I will stand: there is quite a bit of freedom to be found in just giving in, in giving up, and the resolute sound of the words fuck it might as well be the sound of chains shattering.

“Can you imagine that shit, bro?”

That would be my buddy Riley – Riley Marist – speaking, sitting directly to my left, uttering these words before running the flame of his lighter up the side of a freshly-rolled J. His voice, loud as a goddamn shotgun sometimes, wakes me out of my latest momentary haze.

“What?” I ask, confused, sounding as if I had just emerged from a long nap.

“That fucking jet crash. On Friday.”

And it was then that I remembered that I was born at half-past midnight on the first day of summer nearly twenty-four years ago. I wanted nothing more than to not to be alive then, to turn off the world forever and just evaporate in to the air around me, and every muscle and bone and blood vessel in my body was crying out a loud and universal fuck it but I was too numb to have any sort of reaction. CONSIDER: