The state of my ideas today leads me to prefer not the essay (and that amount of peremptoriness that it allows) but the dialog genre, a real dialog, in other words discussing with a non-fictional interlocutor, but at the same time still a fictitious dialog, in other words written while pretending that it is spoken.
— Italo Calvino, 1974 (more)
Sometimes when the xeroxes and chairs are set to go, and I still have time, I read Kenneth Patchen poems.
I love the firm, committed way he and Miriam loved each other, even when it was scary and poor and stuff didn’t work. Towards the end of his life, when his back was hurting, she’d hide the telephone in the laundry basket because otherwise it’d wake him up and then he couldn’t get back to sleep. I love the poem that ends “Our supper is plain / But we are very wonderful.”
And I love how goofy these two look here, this buddy with his crown and crayoned shoes and no arms, bending back to say “not every day.” They love each other too.
don’t you want to help?
go over there and get in the box.
above: from Ghost World (Terry Zwigoff, Daniel Clowes)
The Korova milkbar sold milk-plus, milk plus vellocet or synthemesc or dencrom, which is what we were drinking. This would sharpen you up and make you ready for a bit of the old ultraviolence. - Alex, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
I ordered french fries and a large milk. It was a down time between buses. There weren’t any other customers. The station was small but with very high ceilings that made sounds echo. The hanging lights had the longest pull strings I’d ever seen and there were flies hanging on them, swaying in the weak little breeze made by a dying fan.
The milk was ice-cold and I drank it so fast I got a stabbing headache. I was pushing on my forehead hard with both hands and the waitress’s face got a little softer. “Thirsty, huh?” I nodded. “Where you headed?” I shrugged.
“Your uncle said Dentsville. Did I hear him say he was your uncle? You have people out that way?”
I said, “Can I have another milk?”
She put it down in front of me and I went for it. I couldn’t put it down. She started laughing when I asked for a third one. She said, “Good lord. I hope you don’t drink your liquor like that!”
I said, “No.” - Roberta Rohbeson, Cruddy by Lynda Barry
The first installment of my monthly book column, MAINTENANCE - named for Mierle Laderman Ukeles, pictured here - is up now at Bad at Sports.