Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:


I’m not convinced that Facebook (and certainly not technology, in its many forms) is simply a hothouse for our basest instincts. With regard to Franzen’s indifferent world – from which we’ve allegedly fled into the consoling, vain-sexy domain of Mark Zuckerberg – I can’t scroll far at all without meeting that natural world, in the form of concern and fundraising for earthquake victims, outrage about environmental catastrophes and domestic abuse, and, individually, detailed accounts of friends’ travails. Dead pets, sick grandmothers, struggles with divorce and disease, all of these tragedies unfold each day, often each hour, in my newsfeed…


[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


Last week: Man Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things.



Here are the rules.  Here is the excerpt of the week:

I don’t remember what actually started the discussion, but somehow the next thing I knew I was complaining about my TMJ. TMJ is a jaw disorder and hurts like hell. You can get it for a number of reasons. One of them is the repeated blowing of a Superhuman Member for a period of nearly 20 years.


When the guy I was setting my girlfriend up with heard about the Giant Penis of my husband, and my afflicted jaw, he seemed nervous. Actually, I didn’t notice it at the time because he’s the sort of guy who often seems nervous. But later, when he and my friend were actually dating, sometimes the topic would come up when they were alone. Like my friend would say, “Oh, Gina and David asked if I could watch their kids tomorrow night because they have to go out,” and the guy would say, “What, are they taking his Giant Penis for a walk?” Or it would be raining when we were all going out somewhere and after David and I had left for our car he’d say something like, “Maybe they can use his Giant Penis as an umbrella.”


You get the picture.

[Who am I? Read more and find out!]

Last week: science fiction master Robert Heinlein, author of, among many other classics, Stranger in a Strange Land.


Here are the rules. Here is the excerpt of the week:

“Mom, I want to have my fourteenth birthday party at the Twisted Kilt.”

“No, son.”

“Ah, man. Why not? Miles had his party there. You never let me do anything. Everyone has a bigger TV than us. I hate this family!”

“I don’t approve of businesses that train scantily clad young women of a very specific aesthetic type to offer sexual innuendo as they serve burgers. I believe this contributes to a climate of sexism—even to a culture of sexual violence. And although I know sexuality has been part of the marketplace since forever, I really think, as a young person, you should develop your own sexuality and discover that of others in a more organic, more egalitarian, less pre-packaged fashion.”

“Does that mean I should hide my search history when I look at porn on the computer?”

[Who am I? Read more and find out!]

Last week: Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women and also some pseudonymous erotica.




Here are the rules.  And here is the excerpt of the week:


When my first book came out, I had no idea that so much of writing has nothing to do with actually writing. At least in terms of trying to get a book on shelves and have it stay there for a while. I learned that lesson hard. How do I feel about promo now? It still leeches away one or more of my essential vitamins. Asking people for favors, even if that favor is just giving my book a little attention, fills me with existential dread. But, unfortunately, you have to get your title into the buying-realm somehow, or they won’t let you put out another book. Also, your parents will be disappointed. My ultimate hope is to miraculously sell enough so that I can transition into not giving a shit about my Twitter follower total (a staggering 150). In the meantime, you sort of have to flog Facebook, ask friends to write Amazon reviews, do self-interviews, and generally act in a manner that is diametrically opposed to The Four Pillars of Writing–solitude, independence, intellectual rigor, and a complete disregard for public opinion.



[Who am I? Read more and find out!]


last week: seminal hipster poet e.e. cummings, whose lifelong struggle against capital letters continues to this day.


who am i? 


Here are the rules.  And here is the “Who Am I” excerpt of the week:


I’m advocating an affirmative belief in the reality of transcendental knowledge, and therefore would like the opportunity to officially describe myself as a ‘Gnostic’. 

Intellectual fascists insist that the point we’re at now in the progression of knowledge and ‘reason’ is the be-all and end-all of the development of mankind—claiming exclusive hold over the legacy of the Enlightenment, and steadfastly turning away from the fact that their burgeoning ‘movement’ is being used to legitimise ‘corporate’ leakage into the realm of thought—as if the colonisation of every other literal and metaphorical space of modern life wasn’t enough. 

[Who am I?  Read more and find out!] 


Last week: the British romantic novelist Daphne Du Maurier, grand-daughter of Trilby‘s George Du Maurier and author of Rebecca and the short stories on which two other Alfred Hitchcock films are based.



Here are the rules.  And here is the “Who Am I” excerpt of the week:

Evy approached from having greeted Paul; she was wearing a pitying half-frown, half-smirk.  “He has poison oak all over his hands.”  She covered her mouth to stifle her schadenfreude, lifting only her pinky and ring fingers to intimate, “It’s bad.”

“How did he get poison oak?  There are no plants here.”  I looked around for shade.  Poison plants like shade.  Or poison ivy does.  I wasn’t sure about poison oak.  I wasn’t sure what poison oak looked like.  I knew I didn’t get a reaction to poison ivy.  I probably didn’t have to worry about poison oak.

Paul approached from the pavilion in his Class A uniform.  He hugged Evy, doing his best to hold his hands away from her hair, skin, and clothes.  His hands were swollen like inflated surgical gloves; they were scabby, weeping, and covered in chalky pink-white calamine.

[Who am I?  Read more and find out!]

Last week: Louis-Ferdinand Destouches, better known by his nom de plume, Céline. His Journey to the End of the Night is the favorite novel of both Brad Listi and D.R. Haney.


This is a new feature we’re kicking off this week, so you’ll want to read the rules. (We’ll wait).  Okay, now on to the “Words” segment:

I saw Robin Williams at the Virgin Megastore. He was looking at the DVD new releases. I was standing on the other side and I looked up. I saw him. And I saw him see me.

Let me be clear: Robin Williams looked like shit. I love Robin Williams, but he did. He was skinny and unshaven and his skin was almost gray. He was wearing an old army jacket.

The worst thing about it was he looked so sad.
Robin Williams! I wanted to say. You’re so funny!

But he didn’t look funny. He didn’t, at all. He looked like he might crumble away.

For a minute I just stood there and tried to decide how to go about saving Robin Williams’s life.

Maybe I could buy him an omelet or something, I thought.

I couldn’t think of anything else.

[Who am I?  Read more and find out!]

Novelist, blogger, poet, teacher, and pride of Bakersfield, NICK BELARDES is the author of Random Obsessions (2009), about which Jonathan Evison said, “For the reader who needs to know why the characters in Dilbert don’t have mouths, your oracle has arrived.”

He is the author of the book Lords: Part One and Small Places, the first Twitter novel, as well as the driving force behind the Random Writers Workshop and more Web sites than you can shake a virtual stick at.

One time, back when he was in school, something really embarrassing happened to him (hint: underpants were involved).

Another time, his…how shall we put this elegantly?…his wiener was smashed by a toilet seat.

D.R. Haney came to visit him in Bakersfield during a rainstorm.

He’s talked to alleged CIA operatives.

He’s talked to a woman named Julie.

He’s talked to himself.

Ladies and gentlemen, behold the magic of N.L. Belardes (and a pig from Akron, who is also magical).

BEN LOORY‘s first book, the short story collection Stories for Nighttime and Some For the Day, comes out this week. (Holding this gorgeous volume in your hand, incidentally, is a compelling argument against the e-book).

Let’s look back at his TNB offerings, in which he’s regaled us with tales of an open (and blank) book

…and the time he saw Robin Williams looking like crap

…and a dream he had in which he’s at Walgreen’s

…and his own death (let us remember him fondly as a guy who was OK at tennis)…

…and how to write a screenplay without reading Syd Field…

…and the down side of mental institutions

…and other posts that never were.

This week, TNB contributor and resident Payne killer SEAN BEAUDOIN serves up a list of his favorite pieces:

D.R. Haney’s sardonic primer on how (or at least why) to fuck writing and get into retail.

Hank Cherry’s testimonial to the beautiful doom of James Carr.

Leslie Jamison’s Tom Drury-esque tale of embracing the Mid if not the West.

Joe Daly’s vaunted de-Matthews-izing, which has, over time, asserted itself as the moral compass for TNB.

Peter Schwartz’ genuinely excellent balls-out poem.

David S. Wills’ informative and hilarious paean to Korean trash-pop.

Sappho of Lesbos writes better than you do.

Marni Grossman Sleeps With Danger, wakes up, does it again.

Tom Hansen steps on the heart of Seattle.

This week, TNB’s DON MITCHELL lauds those who’ve taken him where he’s never been (and this is from a guy who’s been almost everywhere):


Matt Baldwin was safe in an underwater cage as a Great White circled. He didn’t stick his arm out.


Sean Beaudoin took me to a batshit crazy house party. The pre-party was pretty crazy too.


Ronlyn Domingue showed me what it’s like to be a stranger at an early-teen party.


I went with MJ Fievre and watched an autopsy that didn’t prepare her for what else she found.


What could be better than going with Ben Loory to the looney bin, except going to the Loory Bin?


Tyler McMahon battles with bureaucracy in a prison; loses that one, but wins with the prisoners.


Our own Prince Uche Ogbuji shows us Nigeria from the inside.


Erika Rae deals with personal space issues in a sauna with an asshole — in a public sauna he thinks is his.

This week, TNB doyenne Irene Zion selects some of her favorite pieces:

ERIKA RAE is THIS close to enlightenment, if only her anus would smile!


GINA FRANGELLO doesn’t want to be an asshole, but she’s afraid she might be anyhow.


JOE DALY has a really bad trip, worse than you did, no matter what you come up with!


DAVID WILLS teaches a bevy of really, really famous children.


Rodent and JUDY PRINCE speak entirely different languages.

Wherein JESSICA ANYA BLAU explains that no one remembers that story you’re too afraid to write.


DON MITCHELL is physically fit, just not as fit as the fairy. There really is no justice.


ANGELA TUNG is not always patient with you people. She has a lot in common with Gina Frangello.


We should all be this lucky.


LENORE ZION didn’t tell her parents until more than a week after she was in this accident. Seriously. Her parents are still sputtering about it.