Ghosts-of-Applebees3

I have a new story, “Desperate Love,” online at new publication See the Elephant.  Some of you may recall the story from readings I’ve done at ICFA and elsewhere.  Check it out here.

Also novelette  “Adult Children of Alien Beings” will be appearing in Tor.Com June/July 2015.

Destruction_of_Leviathan

For Part One go here; Part Two here; Part Three here.

 

Chapter 19. Looks Downhill To Me

 For the more we look at the story (the story that is a story, mind), the more we disentangle it from the finer growths that it supports, the less shall we find to admire. It runs like a backbone—or may I say a tapeworm, for its beginning and end are arbitrary.

 —E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel

 

 I swing by the shop to get some donuts to take to Whit’s, and because I’ve just got to see it—the new parking lot, even more lovely than I’d imagined, a pristine black plain with crisp white stripes and not a speck of trash. It gives me a good feeling; all the cars parked in front of the shop, an even better feeling. I even love the guy standing out front talking on his cell phone, making what-are-you-an-idiot? gestures as he speaks, so he’s even obnoxious to watch. He’ll be all right once he has a donut. It’s today’s newspaper in the machine, and I don’t even mind the headline is about my favorite President. People can read the bad news eating my donuts for a change. (more…)

mona-lisa-prado-detail

 

For Part One go here, Part Two here.

 

Chapter 13. Even Steven

The art of writing is rewriting.

—Sean O’Faolain

I open my eyes. We’re stopped. It’s dark. Where the hell are we? We. I look to the driver’s seat, and Nicole’s not there. I jolt awake. Where is she? The ignition’s off, but the motor’s still ticking, cooling, contracting. How long does it do that? I crank my window down. It’s cool out. I check my watch. 3:22 am Monday morning. The big moon sits low in a starry sky. We’re on a country road somewhere, on the narrow shoulder, in front of a darkened white house. A meteor arcs across the sky. My first short story ever was about people living on a meteor. That was the surprise ending. Zap. Just terrible. If that kid time-traveled his ass to the here and now and showed me that story, what would I say? A couple of stupid pages. No characters, no plot, no point. Give it up? I get out of the car and close the door. Who am I kidding? I know what I’d tell him: Revise. (more…)

Derby Hat

 

For Part One go here.

 

Chapter 7. The No-Holes Situation

The beginning novelist who has the gift for inhabiting other lives has perhaps the best chance for success.

 —John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist

 

I’m an hour and a half late. All the way here I’ve been longing for the comfort of work, both aching feet on the ground, instead of flying through the woods—the last man to speak with Nicole before her explosion experience. I try not to imagine it. I want a dough, a plain of floured canvas, a pin, a cutter. Roll and cut. Order out of chaos. Ouroborus sweet and fried. It’s not like I can talk to anyone about Nicole unless I’m looking for arrest or treatment.

Except Nicole herself. And Whit, Whit who got me into this mess without a word of warning. If she was keeping that big a secret, what was I to make of our newfound friendship and old-fashioned flirtation? What part of that was real? What did I want to be real? But now I’m here, at the shop. Sanctuary. Home. Where I’ve exhausted such questions a long time ago. I’m standing just inside the door, the bell still ringing in my ears, but something’s not right. (more…)

donut

It’s time to post another novel.  Thanks to everyone who read Bad Angels.  This one’s a bit stranger.  It’s a science fiction memoir based on a crossroads in my life being revisited, a personal alternate history.  All of the important bits are true.  It’s also a tongue-in-cheek singularity tale.  As a bonus, it’s chockfull of information about making donuts, something I spent a significant portion of my life doing.  I’ll publish the novel here in four parts for your dining and dancing pleasure.  Thanks for reading.

THE DONUT MAN

 

A Portrait of the Artist

As a Middle-Aged

Donut Cook

by

Dennis Danvers

As you ramble on through life, brother, whatever be your goal:

Keep your eyes upon the donut, and not upon the hole!

—Murray Banks

 [T]he reiteration of vacancy—voids that themselves contain gaps, hollows yielding pockets of emptiness—is everywhere in science fiction and fantasy, indeed is peculiar to it…. This undermining of something by nothing (which proves susceptible to erosion by deeper nothings) is present throughout the genre.

—Gregory Feeley, “The Hole in a Hole: A Theory of Science Fiction.”

CONTENTS

Part One

1. Bob’s Donuts

2. Helpful Criticism

3. Following My Father

4. Finding Nicole

5. There’s Your Trouble

6. On the Road Again

 

Part Two

7. The No-Holes Situation

8. Poker in the Moonlight

9. Got Anything Hot?

10. Sunday Punch

11. The Wild Blue Yonder

12. The Guy in the Derby Hat

 

Part Three

13. Even Steven

14. Absolutely Sweet Marie

15. Sunset in Eden

16. What Kind of Fiction?

17. The Bad One’s Redemption

18. Son of Da Vinci’s Smile

 

Part Four

19. Looks Downhill To Me

20. Adults Only

21. There Is a Small Mailbox Here

22. Whirlwind Romance

23. Thanks for the Dance

 

 

Chapter 1. Bob’s Donuts

[G]reat novels are always a little more intelligent than their authors. Novelists who are more intelligent than their books should go into another line of work.

        –Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel

 

For almost a year now, the city has been laying new sewer pipe in front of the strip mall where my donut shop resides. It’s killing my business. It’s dead when I arrive at dusk, what used to be a busy time for us. Nobody wants to clank across a steel plate over a moat in the failing light just to indulge a sugar buzz. Cowards. Even the pizza joint at the other end only has two cars for their triple cheese special. Last Tuesday’s half price pitcher night had a Suburban full of softballers more off road than planned. I can’t complain. The tow driver bought a couple dozen. Between me and the pizzeria is Antique Paradise, a big, empty hunk of nothing that’s never open. It used to be a liquor store and then carpets. The carpets moved further out in the ‘burbs, following the money. I don’t know where the liquor store went. I’m sure they’re doing okay. They used to bring in a lot of business. You’d be surprised how many people like a few donuts with their alcohol, or maybe you wouldn’t. Indulgences people call them, special treats to make life worth living, as if it weren’t already. (more…)

Drum roll, I suppose.  The final episode of BAD ANGELS.  For the first go here; the second, here; third, here; fourth, here; fifth, here.

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Chapter 31:  The Tree of Life

And all amid them stood the Tree of Life,

High eminent, blooming Ambrosial Fruit

Of vegetable Gold; and next to Life

Our Death the Tree of Knowledge grew fast by…

John Milton, from Paradise Lost

 

When you hitch a ride with a trainload of angels on a mission—Zoe’s opinion—you just don’t expect the thing to break down in transit because of what the nuns used to call an Act of God.  If a tree falls across the tracks in the forest, turns out even the angels don’t hear about it in time to have it removed.  They’re stopped outside of town in the driving rain, all 3K+ of them, by a lone tree.  It’s a huge thing, its roots undercut by erosion, its enormous crown heavy with rain-soaked leaves.  Very much alive but fallen.  The stranded angels can relate. (more…)

The penultimate episode. For Part One go here. Part Two, here. Part Three, here. Part Four, here.

Moby

Chapter 25:  Stairway to Heaven

No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet

From chain-swung censer teeming;

No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat

Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming.

—John Keats, from “Ode to Psyche”

George can’t move.  Can’t find any reason to.  He thought he was going to die.  He can’t remember why he thought that, only the certainty, the immediacy.  He’s lying on his bed, the morning sun streaming through the glass doors, the garden flooded with light, his heart filled with lead.  He’s surrounded by piles of clothes he dumped on the bed and never put away.  Everything’s old, stained and worn, nothing really clean.  They scream loser.  One pair of jeans particularly offends him, and he balls it up and hurls it at the ugliest most pretentious and maudlin of his wretched canvases, the stone angel looking upriver at the city.  They bounce off her, leaving her hanging crooked but unharmed.  (more…)

The story continues.  For Part One go here.  For Part Two, here.  For Part Three, here.

Landscape with Wing (detail)

 

Chapter 18:  Landscape With Wing

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster…

—W. H. Auden from “Musée des Beaux Arts”

 

The museum galleries are closed for the day.  It doesn’t matter if they’re open.  No one could see him even when there were dozens of onlookers shuffling past seeking truth and beauty.  No one wants to see him, and why should they?  Even when they stare, lean in and peer so closely, curious about the wing—how it’s made, how it’s attached, what it’s made of—that the docent must ask them to step back, they don’t see him.  Beware.  The man in Heaven might reach out and grab hold, beg you to drag him out, but he can’t move, can barely think about moving except inside here.  Alone.  Now.

He knows where he is—Anselm Kiefer’s Landscape with Wing hanging in the Virginia Museum—a fallen wing fashioned from lead in a tortured landscape of tar and straw.  It’s a huge canvas over ten feet high and eighteen feet wide.  The wing’s as big as he is.  When he first saw it he was immediately taken with the unconventional materials, left when the gallery closed with wings winging through his art ever since. (more…)

The story continues… For Part One go here.  Part Two, here.

Moby_Dick_p510_illustration

Chapter 11:  Nero Remembers

Adieu! Adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades

Past the near meadows, over the still stream,

Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep

In the next valley-glades…

—John Keats, from “Ode to a Nightingale”

 

There’s a lot of talking in the yard, a flurry of yet more angels, but Nero doesn’t pay it much mind—they’re not here for him—until he feels the angel drop on his back, light as a child, and he stirs and stamps.  She wraps her legs around him, covers his eyes with her palms, her little head alongside his.  She helps him remember.  Nero remembers seeing.  Nero remembers running.  Jumping.  Nero remembers… flying?

Nero, the angel whispers, we must fly!  Get us out of here!  Bust loose!

The barn is even older than Nero, the boards weathered, gnawed by insects, rodents.  In the still of the night, in the long afternoons, you can hear them chewing, chewing, chewing.  Years ago Nero had to be broken of kicking in his stall.  It’s so long ago, no one imagines him doing such a thing now, so his is the last stall on the north side where the light leaks in and Jonezie the tomcat comes and goes through the loose and missing boards.  He’s careful not to step on him.  He likes the old tom.  Nero remembers more than once kicking his stall to splinters, the light streaming in, and he was off into the moonlit fields. (more…)

The story continues… (for Part One go here)

Bad Angel 2

 

 

Chapter 6:  To Fun

Awake, arise, or be for ever fall’n.

—John Milton, from Paradise Lost

 

Peter Arrowsmith isn’t his real name.  He has a proper angel name, but he never uses it anymore, living mostly on Earth as he does, like one of the fallen.  Like Shannon whom he’s been pursuing for some time now, he’s had to learn to interact with humans, to put them at their ease.  He’s found an ordinary, straightforward, human name helps distract them from whatever peculiarities may come up in their encounters.  He shakes their hands.  Touch calms them.

Some claim the angel runs a particularly dangerous risk, touching a human, of becoming entangled by their protean emotions and desires, but Peter’s rarely found that to be the case.  The pull of such entanglements is inevitable for the sympathetic angel.  No one sense is any more treacherous than the other four, as far as humans are concerned.  A look.  A smell.  A song.  More than one angel has been led astray by a song.  The only protection an angel has against unwanted entanglements with humans is the absolute certainty that it should not occur—for the good of either one of them. (more…)

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