Another book about the Sixties. Why?

Because I’m still trying to figure out WTF happened to us. The truth is, an awful lot of us—even the most radical of “Boomers”—ended up being a whole lot like our parents. We couldn’t have imagined then how hard life would be, how you have to work every minute of every day, adjusting constantly along the way, if you still want to be the person you were dead-set on becoming when you were young. We couldn’t imagine how we’d come out on the other end wondering how in the world we turned out to be who we are.

More specifically, though, I’m still trying to figure out how my closest college friend’s passion for righting the wrongs she saw in our society led her to commit illegal acts that profoundly affected the course of her whole life.

These questions have no answers, of course. No question really worth asking does.  Fiction is about asking those questions anyway.

1) Is this the first time you’ve ever interviewed yourself?

No, in fact, when I was growing up I interviewed myself constantly. I mean I pretended I was on Mike Douglas or Merv Griffin but they weren’t there. It was usually when I wanted to liven up a lengthy dishwashing session or tell Mike or Merv how mean my brothers were. I was like an early Rupert Pupkin.


2) Rupert Pupkin, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas.. something about your references leads me to believe you’re very old.

That’s true. I am.

Jane set out for the bus stop every day in the mid-afternoon, the hottest part of the day, carrying a sack lunch and whatever book she was reading.  It was a half-hour’s walk, through neatly laid out subdivisions of little square houses like the one she lived in with her family, past the swimming pool in the park full of happy, screaming children, past the public library to which she’d ridden her bike most summer afternoons of her childhood.  She longed to walk up the steps, into the cool of the little stone building and lose herself reading in a quiet corner.  But she trudged on, tired, bored nearly to tears, the hot concrete burning up through the thin soles of her loafers. The new trees lining the streets gave little shade, and she was sticky with sweat, nauseous from the heat by the time she climbed on the wheezing bus and sat down next to an open window.

Editor’s Note:

Welcome to the October edition of Head Candy, snuck in just under the wire.

I received an email this morning from a current student at my alma mater. She was putting together a Where Are They Now? newsletter piece about some of the graduates who are continuing to work in their fields of study. Mine was creative writing. I wrote out the blurb she asked for, but I was pretty loose with the details. And with the definition of the word “working.” I write and edit, but I don’t actually get paid for most of it. And when I do, I take a picture of the check for posterity, which tells you exactly how rare those checks are. I told her about grad school and some of my publications, and that I’m juggling my writing life with my stay-at-home-mommy life, because writing with a five-month-old daughter in the picture is hard McFricken work. I didn’t actually use the word McFricken in my blurb. There are many things I didn’t tell her.

While I’d taken it upon myself to pick some horrific non-horror films a few Halloweens ago (Guillermo del Toro’s eyes-in-the-hands guy, you’re always on my mind), this year I was interested to know what my fellow TNB contributors might say were the most terrifying movie scenes they’ve endured to date. Below, if you dare to read on, you’ll find those iconic dead-eyed twins, bad hell-spawn hair, an unfathomable choice, and more, but first I’ll get this party started with Willy Wonka’s boat ride from the 1971 Mel Stuart film.  Most of my phobias can be traced back to these two manic minutes in the tunnel:

Formed in those halcyon, hard-rocking 80s, Armored Saint wasted little time carving their mark into the arm of the L.A metal scene. Built atop heavy riffs, ambitious songwriting and gritty, soulful vocals, Armored Saint battled through the death of guitarist and founding member Dave Prichard, the unpredictable and ever-changing tastes of the music scene, being dropped from a major label and ever-eluding the critical acclaim that their body of work so richly deserved. Yet in the face of one punishing challenge after another, Armored Saint has defiantly soldiered on, recording multiple albums, cultivating a loyal fan base and converting their three decades of making music into one of west coast rock’s most enduring legacies.

Joss Whedon has stepped out in support of Mitt Romney. The Avengers director and cult TV icon has released a new video in which he discusses why he believes the Republican candidate is the right man to lead this nation … into the imminent zombie apocalypse. Well, uh, just watch Whedon explain it:

I ’M A HUGE BELIEVER in being truthful except in the instances of hurting someone’s feelings or saving your own ass. (The saving- your- own- ass reason doesn’t really apply to this chapter or this book; in fact, pretend I didn’t say it.)

I’ve often felt that the sharing of information between parents is one of the most vital and useful tools of parenting. It’s also the quickest way to find out that not only are all of your fears utterly justified, there’s also more scary junk that you weren’t smart enough to know about and your lack of awareness may have just destroyed your child’s chances of getting into any institution that doesn’t have bars on the windows.

The summer before Violet started first grade, we were in the playground with her friend Sylvia and Sylvia’s mom, Jenny, who was one of my few mom- friends at the time. Jenny and I were talking about the following year and which teachers were supposed to be good.

“I don’t really know much about the teachers,” Jenny said, “but if Syl gets Jane Doe, I’m going to kill myself.”

“Uh-oh, what’s her story?” I asked.


By Cris Mazza


A hole was needed. It was for a knot of day lily tubers removed from a garden at the other house. The ground was dry but not hard, loamy from decaying vegetation. Still, it was necessary at first to vault both feet off the ground and land, simultaneously, on the spade’s treads, in order to penetrate. The blade went through layers of moldering grass clippings, leaves, and valuable Illinois black soil. The hole was just about deep enough when the last shovelful unloaded 4 or 5 elongated eggs. One had been broken. Held in my palm, the leathery casing pulled aside, the soft nascent turtle shell was recognizable.

I do not own two houses, but I pay property taxes on two — live in the one with no mortgage and pay rent to support the mortgage, still in my name, on the one whose deed no longer includes me. A convoluted separation agreement not completed through an attorney or sanctioned by any court. I have full access to the 1.3 acre property where I no longer live. Full access to tend: to weed, prune, mulch, divide roots, till soil, and fertilize as needed. That bigger property will be put up for sale in a year or two, and its gardens have become overgrown, too bourgeoning (hence daunting) for potential buyers. I’ve been removing plants to pots, reviving and revitalizing them, then transporting to the new, more modest property.

What recurs in your poetry?

Animals, the prefix “un”, kitchens, cupboards, fields, foundations, dogs, women.


Do you listen to music when you write?

Sometimes. Andrew Bird, opera, Neko Case, Band of Horses.


Do you imagine a reader when you write poetry? What are they like?

They are like me, with better powers of concentration.