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i.

This is not an instance of communication breakdown but an example of wounded pride. I am the type of vengeful, petty wraith who is at her most compelling when she’s scorned, a shiny new convert to the scorched earth policy. You think that the act of writing is an easy, thoughtless pastime, a hobby that does not require the fried mechanics of an exhausted, Möbius strip imagination and fraying patience. You think that the act of writing is an exercise in the ego’s masturbatory need for proof of life, the unquenchable hunger for outside validation. You think that the act of writing is a symptom of a space-bound dreamer, that the process of reading and comprehending literature in order to form a cultural dialogue is as fruitless as shouting in an empty, padded room.

You fail to realize that I am writing for my life.

The Fire Setter

By Jeff Holt

Poem

He waited on the bed for her to come,
Fists clenched, legs twitching like electric wire
Storms rip from poles. He bit into his thumb,
His round cheeks glowing like the mighty fire
He’d set at dawn. His lighter’s hungry spark
Had multiplied and swarmed through yellowed brush,
Awakening the cold, abandoned park.
Watching flames rage, he’d felt his chilled skin flush.

Ben.Author.EmptyBottle

Self-interview, have you?

I do.

 

Talk about yourself, you will?

Yes. Sort of.

Unknown-1Ah, the English policeman. The copper. The bobby. Old Bill. The filth, in the well-worn terminology of the London underworld. Until around the mid-1960s the British cop had one very flat foot in the comedy division. They carried no lethal weapons, wore silly helmets, and, at least for those who patrolled the streets of Cambridge when I lived there in the seventies and eighties, made their rounds on bicycles and smiled at you as they drifted past, gunless and placid in the pale East Anglian afternoon, as in a scene from an Ealing comedy.

OrphansI slow to a walk and as I move along BeiShan toward my office. I pause to kick a bottle and as I watch it spin, it starts moving so fast I become dizzy just staring at and have to stop for a moment to get my bearings. I place my hands on my knees and focus on my breathing, thinking about the stars and the waves and just how long it’s been since I picked up an electric guitar and played it until my fingers bled and my ears buzzed from the endless distortion.

I also think about Al B as I get moving again, about choices, choosing family, what that means in terms of what you give up and how you can ever truly compare what gets lost to doing the right thing regardless?

I am snapped out of my reverie by someone shouting at me.

I want Heidi Klum to say, “Kill for me designers,”
patting Tim Gunn’s back and brandishing a sword.
It can start a true social war, provoking liberal men
of unknown sexual preference, feminine homosexuals
who get bitchy over fashion, older women in the business,
years choosing to stay gray, other free-spirited gals,
supporters of gay rights, one of whom is a lesbian, she said so
the first episode. It will be a Stonewall riot starting at Parsons,
thirtysomething street, midtown Manhattan, where they’ll be joined
by fabric-store workers; editorial assistants from Elle, Vogue, and W;

At midnight the president says, We have taken custody of his body. The next day the radio says he was buried at sea, as is the custom. At sea, the custom. To take custody of a body. As in, we will take it every other weekend to our house across town—

Who called it— time of death?

kim_Triedman_The_Other_RoomWere you really planning on wearing that?

What – I thought you liked this outfit…

 

But for your first interview?!  I mean, you could have tried, don’t you think?  This is when people form their first impressions of you as a writer.

Oh, for God’s sake, does anyone really care if I show up in my Red Sox hat and pajamas?  At least I brushed my teeth this morning.  And what kind of a feminist are you anyway??  Would you be asking Jonathan Franzen about his fashion choices?

The-Other-Room-cover-200x300This was the amazing thing: I could walk into a roomful of strangers and nobody would know. My body and my face would move through the world as though nothing had happened, swaddling their secrets. I used to walk down the street pretending I was someone coming up from the other direction, imagining what I looked like from the outside. It was not a game, but it was something I did, I could not help it. Carrying groceries in from the car I would rest by the stoop and think: I am a woman carrying groceries into her house.