“Learning Mode:” Melbourne Culture Corner (Australia)

I knew it was going up in their second edition, but somehow with the U.S. election and the intransigent presidential impersonator we’ve all been forced to manage for the past four years, I missed the tweets by Steven Pearman and team. However, at some point or another today I felt I could finally look away. Sure enough, I learned that the wonderful new Australian-based literary journal Melbourne Culture Corner posted it’s second edition on November 6, and my small story “Learning Mode” is in there (go to pages 15-16 in this PDF).

I am tickled pink to have a piece published out of Melbourne. I lived there a long while back for a year with my family when I was eleven. I also lived in Brisbane for a year when I was six.

Continue reading ““Learning Mode:” Melbourne Culture Corner (Australia)”

Two Days Before the Election: Careful With Your Endings

The best story I ever wrote came about this summer of all summers. It’s called “Animals with Nowhere to Go.” I’m still working on it. This has been a year that makes it nearly impossible for writers to end their stories. I read that compendium of fiction published in the July 12, 2020 New York Times Sunday Magazine section. None of those pieces seemed to end properly. I can only imagine each writer — great writers! great stories! — had to fight hard to stay away from endings that finish with question marks.

I’m having a difficult time figuring out what tense to use as I write this essay because I can’t tell if what we’ve lived through is still being lived or whether we are actually on to something else.

There are things you depend on in order to create fiction that actually means something. Those things had vanished for most of us by the middle of 2020. We were in new territory. This year may well be as close to chaos and Kurtzian horror as we’ve ever been (although I’m beginning to have grave concerns for 2021 as well).

Continue reading “Two Days Before the Election: Careful With Your Endings”

T-Shirt, Bumper Sticker, Mask: Who Am You?

We know this. Ever since human beings got to talking to each other (and themselves) the fundamental question — Who am I? — has gotten a lot of play. I’m getting up there in age, but I still ask myself that question at least twice a week (usually in the shower looking down).

So, yes, “Who am you?” as my father sometimes asked me when he was either exasperated or, occasionally, impressed. “Who am you, boy?”

Humanity has tried all sorts of ways to answer that question, or at least to facilitate the means by which folks can at least lay claim to attempting an answer. One can argue that all the weird stuff in cultures beyond satisfying basic needs is definitely in the “Who Am I?” facilitation category — haircuts, clothing, special scents, artistic endeavors, piercings, how you dance, what your team is, etc.

Continue reading “T-Shirt, Bumper Sticker, Mask: Who Am You?”

Queequeg

I had been ill and disjointed for many weeks and that can be quite an assault on the mind. I am writing in the year of coronavirus and the beginning days of what is quite properly being called an uprising and it’s worldwide. My illness carried with it all the signs of coronavirus covid-19 SARS-CoV-2, but with a powerful preponderant emphasis on gastric turmoil and effluvium. Those symptoms would rise up and then subside every few weeks beginning in late April. This ebb and flow went on for three months until we realized it was all due to my handling a cardboard large trunk of old correspondence brought up from twenty years of basement storage. Letters, cards, drawings, and photographs were fully populated with mouse droppings, fur, and urine scented nestings. Likewise, I am sure that every packet or two of memories that I took up to sort through emitted strange, ephemeral mixes of old dead rodent bacteria and virus along with mold and mildew spores and the very dried saliva of death itself.

Continue reading “Queequeg”

Entering The Spouter-Inn

Ishmael enters the Spouter-Inn and encounters a curious, hard to discern large oil-painting, all the while speaking in the second person past: “But what most puzzled and confounded you was a long, limber, portentous, black mass of something hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim, perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast.”

Such brilliance describing a mysterious “besmoked” image, somehow connecting storm and night and ship at sea. “Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself to find out what that marvellous painting meant.” And eventually landing upon the idea that it was somehow a whale about to impale itself upon broken masts.

Continue reading “Entering The Spouter-Inn”

The Carpet-Bag

Who would have thought that Melville was such a sweet heart and so sensitive. I realize I’ve only read the first two chapters of Moby Dick, but certainly his early intention is to be gentle and loving towards his reader and to approach his story with grace and humility.

I am 713 pages from the Epilogue, but so far I am entranced, although I must admit that I’m as well a bit flummoxed by all the biblical references. Quite early on I decided to keep my mobile phone nearby which contains the “Dictionary.com” app because there are a good many words unbeknownst to most of us here in 2020.

grapnel, hbo, gregale, Euroclydon, cope-stone. I did not know who Lazarus and Dives were either.

Long and Dense into the Future

All this confrontation with mortality and a world spinning out of control with anger, confrontation, irony, and the true demon of humanity all around us. You get to a certain age and start taking stock. It’s all so weird especially when you live in the future like some of us do.

There are so many things I need to do before I die. Most important is the need to organize all my work and make sure that I print out all the goosey stuff in my computer — much of which was ignited by inspiration but has somewhat disappeared with other ignitions and inspirings piled away on top. I think of the present as the only thing important and the future as music that I am already listening and food that I have been eating, but the past is just piles of stuff and people pretending they know what happened; piles of words and sound and sparkling images. Futility and bass solos.

Continue reading “Long and Dense into the Future”

“Air Conditions” and “Wherever Below Her Might Actually Be” at Bull Magazine

In the midst of this wonderful pandemic vacation — which is definitely not very vacationy for any writer anywhere in the world, although not very different than the work days we all stumbled through back there in the good old days — it was a nice surprise this morning to find out that Bull Magazine had posted two my flash stories at their website. They are each worth the read. One is about Death and the other is about Love.

Two Stories by Dog Cavanaugh

They’re flash stories so you can rip through them in less than five minutes. Hopefully they are worthy of your time. I worked on them for over a year. Kind of weird to continually re-write a two or so page story endlessly.

Wanna put in a plug for Bull as well. One of the best things about the 21st century is that fiction about being male has finally got more depth and meaning. Most of us guys here and now are pathetically complicated emotionally and strive hard to be good fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, friends, and co-workers. The fun of stories about us is that we often fuck up in that striving. You can definitely read about all of that at Bull. I would like to close this quick note by stating emphatically that I’m not so sure it was the case that you could read about the actually complexities of being male back in the last century. From James Joyce to Raymond Carver, dudes were trying to open up, but for the most part they failed to truly get to the bottom of things. It’s not enough to write about sex and booze and love. What is it that Joyce says in Ulysses?

“Love loves to love love.”

Good golly, there’s got to be more to love than love … Read Bull for more.

Slo-Mo Creativity and Flash Stories

If you could watch anyone who considers themself a writer at work, you would likely wonder what they were doing. Writing stuff for others to read — from books to poems to stories to online articles to technical papers to freakin’ product brochures — tends to be an extended, measured and prudent process that involves looking out the window, organizing your email, watching porn (usually actively), reading back issues of People magazine pilfered from your dermatologist’s office, working on a blog post started six months before, checking on your fantasy sports team, thinking about lunch (or dinner), napping, scrawling something “deep” in a notebook, eating cookies, going to the grocery store, wondering why you just read the latest New Yorker short story, and making lists of stuff you need to get done when you finally have time.  

Continue reading “Slo-Mo Creativity and Flash Stories”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑