“Fact check, Tyler! Was gorgonzola even invented in 1970? It (gorgonzola) seems like a more recent development (You should really check this out yourself, but I’ll ask your mother—you know how she loves cheese.).”

“Have you considered the implications your bank heist might have had if placed in the historical context of the Taiping Rebellion [1850-1864] rather than gangland Chicago?”

“I think you’d like to reconsider the line ‘The derelict howls that issued from under the subway platform brought his thoughts inexorably back to Vietnam.’ Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon, and before that Prey Nokor before being annexed by the Vietnamese from the Khmer in the 17th century) doesn’t have a subway and won’t have one until 2014, I think. Or is your narrator in New York now? Are we supposed to believe he was also in Vietnam? I thought that was another character with the same name…What’s going on here, son? Are you on pot?”

“Once again, I’m afraid, you confuse correlation with causation (didn’t I suggest a reading of Hume’s A Treatise of Human Nature some time ago?) when your narrator says, ‘My father, I saw as if through a kind of gauze. He was there, but ephemeral, his head always in some arcane history book and his temper—if interrupted from his study—was legion.’ What a shit thing to say about one’s father, eh? Your narrator is an ingrate. Did you know that in China, if a child didn’t show sufficient filial piety he could be EXECUTED? Your narrator should think about that. Just saying.”

“Have you considered writing under a pseudonym? I know there are a lot of Smiths out there, and Tyler is not a common name. But it’s not an uncommon one either, and when you throw in your middle name (pretentious), people are going to know who you are and, more importantly, who I am. And that will embarrass the hell out of your mother. Which is not to say that this book will ever be published. Most books aren’t. I mean, the ones that are published obviously are, but works like this are tough, almost impossible, to get into print. Especially if you’re going to stick with the three names thing (pretentious).”

“Here’s a bit of something, son: Your narrator is a maudlin inebriate (like Churchill—but you didn’t hear that from me), so I naturally wouldn’t expect him to give great speeches on love. But Jesucristo: “We never knew if we were falling in love or just getting scared.” I mean REALLY. Have you forgotten my casual remarks at the dinner table on Plato’s Symposium when Aristophanes speaks so eloquently on the subject of love, and where Socrates gives one of the most compelling explanations of love’s origin ever recorded?  The Symposium did have a variety of dilettante drunks hanging about to enjoy the conversation, though, a role your narrator could conceivably fill, as he is both drunk and unskilled. Socrates’ speeches in the Symposium and in the dialogue of the Phaedrus are sublime, and infinitely more resonant than your generation’s post-modern formulas for love—you know, the ones that spring forth from our endless stream of capitalist infomercials and pseudo-intellectual brain candy, like “Men Are From It’s Okay To Cry/ Women Are From Attend My Seminar And Pay Me Money.” 

“Socrates on a scooter, Ty. It seems someone isn’t familiar with the expression “Barba non facit philosophum. Just because you spent some time doing acid and looking at Monarch butterflies at Esalen with your African-American girlfriend, doesn’t mean you’re Franz fucking Fanon. Then again, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I suppose. Speaking of ventures, how did you manage to spend $10,000 living in a “tent” in Palo Alto for three months? Were you building a superconductor? I guess when you were small and we’d say to you, “Son, you can do anything you want in life,” we didn’t really anticipate that you’d interpret “anything” as synonymous with “nothing.” I’m not trying to browbeat you, you understand. I just want you to recognize that a.) We love you very much no matter what and no your mother didn’t make me say that; b.) If you don’t tear up that credit card, I’ll tear you a new one (and I don’t mean another card), and c.) I think we’re doomed. How are the Rockets supposed to make the playoffs with this bunch of assholes? I have to question Tracy McGrady’s dedication. Call to discuss.”

“Fact-checked gorgonzola for you. It seems you’re off the hook, as my junior colleague Dr. Munz, who teaches HIST 351, Europe 4th Century C.E to The Crusades, says that gorgonzola was invented sometime after the sack of Argentia by the Huns, but before the wars between the Guelphs and Ghibelines. (I know, I know. There’s a 500 year window of opportunity between those dates. Pretty damned imprecise. That’s why Dr. Munz isn’t getting tenure, but you didn’t hear that from me).”

“Your mother says you should write a children’s book.”







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Described as an "up-and-coming humorist" by Esquire, TYLER STODDARD SMITH's works have been featured in: The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes, The Best American Fantasy, Esquire, Meridian, Pindeldyboz, The Big Jewel, Yankee Pot Roast, Word Riot, Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, and McSweeney's, among others. Visit his website at: http://tylerstoddardsmith.wordpress.com

25 responses to “Comments on My Epic Fiction Novel by My Historian Father”

  1. Greg Boose says:

    Fact check, using your middle name is not the only way you’re going to fly.

    Let me know how that children’s book goes. And how that call about the Rockets goes, too.

    Funny, funny stuff. As always.

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      That’s the wet horse talking, isn’t it? You think I’m a crank. But we love you and your half-nude pony-ness all the same.

  2. jonathan evison says:

    . . .this is great! man, can i ever relate . . .a few from my mom:

    1. when i got my job as a syndicated talk radio host: “are you sure your voice is deep enough?”

    2. when i got my first book advance: “is that all?”

    3. when i won the washington state book award: “are you sure it’s not some kind of scam?”

  3. Ha! Your father sounds like an awesome guy. This is hysterical. Nice post. Loved the bit about Churchill (and “We never knew if we were falling in love or just getting scared,” is a great line).

  4. Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

    Thanks for the comments, dudes. Where would we be without this kind of sage gorgonzolian advice? Probably in the same boat, but you get the picture.

  5. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Thanks for reminding me why no one related to me by blood or marriage is allowed to read my work unless (a) I have a book deal or (b) it’s posted on line.

  6. bill cotter says:

    I think this is the funniest thing I’ve ever read on the internet. And there’s some funny shit on the internet. Right on, Mr Smith. Right the fuck on.

  7. Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

    Cheers, Bill! That means alot. I was having one dumpers of a “playing at writer day.” You have given me hope!

  8. Dorothy Lippert says:

    Geez, Tyler, that made my colleagues check on me because I laughed so hard I started coughing (I’m getting over swine flu.) What did you dad think of the piece?

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      Thanks, Dorothy! Dad was pretty cool with it. We have a long history of giving each other good-natured sh*t. So he approved. Although, he is legitimately in funk about the Rocket’s playoff hopes.

  9. Alison Aucoin says:

    Sounds like the ten grand in Palo Alto could easily have gone to therapy expenses.

    Thanks for making my mother of, “you’d be so pretty if you just fixed your hair and put on some make up” seem down right tame and just in time for the holidays!

  10. claude lamont says:

    Stoddard, you make me laugh. Your pops needs to recognize Aaron Brooks as his lord and savior, and not just because he looks like Chris Rock (Brooks, not your dad). Who am I, you ask? That is unknown…

    • Tyler Stoddard Smith says:

      He lives ze unknown, He loves ze unknown, He is ze unknown. The question, Claude, is where are you living now? And more importantly, if you were an alarm clock, how would you wake me up?

  11. Don Mitchell says:

    I have to comment on the pseudonym thing. My cousin, who announced to me at age 15 that she would be a novelist, and then did it, is named Margaret. As in Margaret Mitchell. Thus even after her divorce she used her married name.

    My father had died by the time I published anything but scholarly shit. My mother, though, was still alive (and in her nineties) when I published something that had many people saying shit and fuck, talking about evil things in relation to dogs, hard-ons, and the like. She read it and said she thought it was a good job. She probably did, too. She drew a firm distinction between proper behavior and demeanor outside of art, and that inside it. Thus I escaped censure.

    Your father sounds cool to me (this coming from another old professorial type). We rule, you know. You do know that, don’t you?

  12. “Have you considered the implications your bank heist might have had if placed in the historical context of the Taiping Rebellion [1850-1864] rather than gangland Chicago?”

    I don’t know, man. This seems like a pretty pertinent question. Have you considered these implications? I assume they would be both wide-ranging and far-reaching.

  13. Brad Listi says:

    Have you ever seen that Twitter feed called “Shit My Dad Says?”

    I think you should start one called “Shit My Dad Says About My Fiction Novel.”

    Seriously funny shit.

  14. I want to be in your family.

  15. Marni Grossman says:

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read all week. All month. Jealous in the extreme.

  16. Thomas Wood says:

    Your father is terrific. Please invite me over for next year’s Thanksgiving.

  17. Fyre says:

    Another setting for the bank heist could’ve been the Dark Globe…executed of course by using an interstellar overloader, telekinetic blast modulator, or smashmouth retrofitter…keep up the original work and glad to see both Dr. Dick and the tidbits of (Chinese) history you picked up as a tike see the light of your writing’s day!

  18. I love this. It reminds me of @shitmydadsays on Twitter, which practically makes me pee in my pants. Thanks for the laugh!

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