@

How did this story come about?

Influences.The writers you love, and the writers you hate[1].The thing about influences is that writing or talking about them can easily turn into a list.And a pretentious list, at that.But there is a list of people who made work that mattered, and still matters, to me: Francois Camoin, Raymond Carver, Amy Hemple, Darrell Spencer, John Steppling and Chuck Jones.Then, there’s a the list of work that appeared at the perfect time in a person’s life…the most common would probably be, for the young male, “Catcher in the Rye” or “On the Road”…for me it was James Baldwin and Richard Yates.I haven’t read either of them for a while, but they were essential to me for many years. Hemingway. And, later, Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby is still the longest 169 page novel ever written…not a wasted phrase in there).

I

At this moment, Tommy Cronin, whose mental capacity has been professionally measured at equal to that of a three year old is being pelted with raw eggs by me and his father who everyone except Tommy calls Pops.  Tommy’s one of those carnival ducks at a shooting gallery; every time he’s hit, he turns and marches the other way.  The misses, the eggs and garbage, they smack and drip on the wall behind him.

Is it true that you’re so neurotic, so worried about your general lack of appeal, that you read every single one of The Nervous Breakdown self-interviews to try and get the tone right? That you read them over and over, looking to see who went cute, who went smart, who went all meta-postmodern, and that you ended up frozen with all the potential to look foolish. And that you were concerned, among many other things, in coming off as:

1) A pretentious idiot if you talked too seriously.
2) A loser trying too hard to be funny.
3) Some combination of an idiot and loser?
4) A writer who was so unknown and so obscure that none of these issues could possibly matter to anyone but you.

Is it true that you’re this neurotic as a human being?

Yes, that’s true.

Broken

By Rob Roberge

Original Fiction

The band was supposed to be on the road for two weeks, so I spent the last few days before we left Florida trying to get enough drugs to last the tour. We were booked up the East coast in some great clubs, the record had just come out on a good, albeit small, indie label, we were getting some press and it had the look of a good time on the road. At the time, at least before things turned bad, the band was getting along and the tour seemed like it would be one party after another in a new town every night.