two takes

The Talk Show

by Stephen Dixon

     Enraged, the writer walks off the stage and out of the television studio.

     "Where'd he go?" the host says. "Hey Mal, where you going? God that guy walks fast. Come on back, will ya, and let's be friends. Then let's have a walking race. Then we'll just stare at each other while the announcer reads sonnets. And you didn't even sing that old ballad you promised. Sure, you can go. Made a mint with his last two novels -- not that I'm mocking it, you understand. It's the international way, comprendo? Nicht so? But me? Walk off once like him and that, my friends, would be show business as they say -- forever. And bestsellers I don't write. Some people will even say I can't write, and there won't be many who will take issue with them. Because anybody here read my last book? Come on, don't be ashamed. Stand up if your belt and garters on on tight. Well let's not all rise at once. Anybody even remember the title? What was that? Be brave and shout it out. No, it wasn't Gone With the Wind, but thanks, mom. Huh? No, not Madame Bovary either -- but Flaubert, right? And you people thought I never went to college. Crime and Punishment? That's what the readers thought I inflicted on them. War and Peace? A good description of what went on between the editors and me perhaps. It was ... Madame Bovary Returns, the hopeful horticulturist in the front row says. We're all quipsters here. No, I said horticulturist. That's a hearts and flowers man with brains. Swann's what? Never heard of it. Oedipus Sex? Never saw it. Be a Wolf? Who even wrote it? And is that a nice thing to advise a married man? Dead Souls? -- you said it, brother, not me -- is what I think I have in devoted readers in this audience. The Trial? What this guessing game's getting to become, but Wild Walter's World. There it is. My autobiog. Born with a silver spoon and golden locks in my mouth, which is why I talk this way. My mom never took them out because she thought they might improve my face. Someone once suggested our retitling it in paperback to Crazy Publisher's Catastrophe, because you know what that book sold? How many fingers you got on your hand? Not you. Our orchestra chief just held up six fingers on his right hand and seven on his left -- but the lead fiddler next to you. The one who got his hand caught in some thingamagid and had to have a few fingers removed. Well, his hand. Only the one that was operated on. Count how many fingers he's got left. Subtract two. That's how many copies my book sold. I still got it home. Under a broken kitchen chair leg. In the same brown paper wrapper they sold it to me in. My wife didn't want it on the bookshelf, as we already had a book there. And our youngest boy refused to sit on it to reach the dinnertable and the mutt still thinks it's the oddest looking fire hydrant around. Truthfully, it sold pretty well and in more languages than I knew existed. And starting this month, any one of you out there can be one of its two million paperback owners. Wild Walter's World. I said the title too low? That was Wild Walter's World, folks. Not Wild Walter's World Folks, but just Wild Walter's World. Okay. Now did our guest really go? He's not back there. Daphne, did you look? Nobody? Dashed out of the studio with our library prop and ordered his chauffeur to drive him in his limousine home? Well this is a very intellectual show tonight. But before introducing our next eminent author -- and it beats me how we're going to carry out our literary discussion format if it's now just going to be me and her here. Or I. All these brilliant writers around the place are making me unsure with the language. Maybe we could bring up some members of the audience to join in the discussion. They'd like that, right? Yeahhh. Anyway, before all that, time for plugs. Have you always had a deep-seated yearning to write great novels and fiction articles and lead the happy enriching life of a successful author, but everyone said you had to have a big name or your work would never sell? Well, the Westport Famous Writers Correspondence School ... I'm kidding. But this all but indescribable product I have here, which is really something to write home about, folks, as it can literally do the magical cleaning work of a thousand and one genies--."


by Raymond Federman

Everybody is writing a novel these days nobody knows why but still everybody is writing a novel anyway there are those who write for money and those who write for glory and those who write for peanuts and those who write for fun and those who write for business and those who write for nothing and those who write for themselves and those who don't give a shit if anybody ever reads the novel they have written and those who don't write at all and those who are thinking of writing a novel but never write it and those who once upon a time thought of writing a novel but now don't give a damn if they ever write it and those who think that someday they will write a novel and those who have given up writing the novel they were writing and those who are starting all over again the novel they gave up writing long ago and there are those who write poetry instead of writing a novel or who write essays cookbooks telephone books grammars tickets checks dirty jokes graffiti in shithouses and naturally there are those who never think of writing a novel and those who gave up disgusted even before starting and those who stopped in the middle of writing a novel and those who will never try to write a novel and yet continue to pretend that they will and those who have already written one or two or three or four or five or six or even seven unpublished novels and now write poems or essays or telephone books or cookbooks or reviews of novels and those who decided to quit everything job wife kids security to write a novel and naturally those who have never thought they were capable of writing a novel and yet attempted to write one and those who knew they could not write a novel but wrote the piece of shit anyway and those who did not try to write a novel because they knew they could not write a novel and those who gave up trying to write a novel out of despair and those who never gave up and continued to write a fucking novel which they could not finish and those who went at it again after they stopped and those who failed miserably and those who failed at first but succeeded later then failed again and those who burned

the novel they had written and others who went on writing another novel after they burned the first novel they had written and others who wrote novels and kept them in a garbage can and even though they were no good kept taking them out of the garbage can to send them to publishers who threw them into other garbage cans and others who threw themselves into the garbage can with the novel they had written and others who after years of sweating and bitching and waiting and writing decided to give up everything and committed suicide and others who discovered that the novel they had written was not bad after all and sent it to a publisher who made a best-seller out of it and then it was adapted into a bad movie and the poor writers were criticized for allowing their work to be exploited and others who keep taking out the novel they threw into the garbage can in order to throw it back into the garbage can and others who convinced themselves that they had written a masterpiece and went around trying to convince other people of this fact and others who never thought anything and others who thought they thought they had written a good novel but nobody else thought so and others who were not really sure if they had written a good novel and therefore could not bring themselves to show it to others for an opinion and others who could not admit to themselves that they had written a piece of shit and others who gave up thinking that the novel they had written was good and so on until finally one day (I believe it was July 16, 1999) the novel was declared dead and so everybody gave up writing novels ...



Everyone has written a poem at one time or another but nobody knows why still everybody has written at least one poem during one's lifetime and so on and so on blah blah blah ...
                                                                                           [not to be continued]