Archive for November, 2011

How I Met My Friend Wendy Wimmer

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Wendy Wimmer is a full-time cubicle resident, a part-time creative writing graduate student and a most-of-the-time blogger (www.wendywimmer.com).  She would like you to know that she thinks that toast is the most perfect food known to man and the best accessory for it is peanut butter and bananas.  She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and can be reached by dog sled, helicopter or at wwimmer@uwm.edu, but do not try to argue with her about the toast thing, as she refuses to listen to reason.

[from the “Author’s Bio” section of Barrelhouse#3 (2006)]
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From:  Christopher Snyder
To:  wwimmer@uwm.edu
Date:  Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 7:43 AM
Subj:  A toast to you for “Billets Doux”

Dear Wendy:

I loved your story, and still do.

I know time passes, and, even though people say that, they tend not to write letters to the stories they love, once other things claim their attention.  Not even a phone call!  I mean, once a week, coming over for lasanga, would that be so bad?

Your story’s calling me.  I feel guilty, but it’s a guilty sort of pleasure.  A “guilty pleasure,” if I may coin a term  (or, alternately, take credit for one already existing).

Yes, “Billets Doux,” I’ll be at your apartment by 4:30 sharp.  4:45 at the latest.  And the lasanga will be MEATY, not just SPINACH this time!

Kudos to you, Wendy Wimmer.  I say “kudos.”

Sincerely yours,
the-as-yet-mystifyingly-unpublished-short-fiction-author,
Christopher Snyder
PORTLAND, OR

P.S.  I won’t try to argue with you about the toast thing.  I tend not to listen to reason, either.
But, here’s a quote from Paul Lukas, that I posted on my MySpace blog (www.myspace.com/theunintentionalvagabond):

Your morning rituals may involve coffee, but mine center on toast.  I don’t know who first thought of heating a slice of bread until it got all brown and crispy (Webster’s dates “toast” ‘to the fifteenth century), but it sure was a fine idea.  I just love toast – white toast, rye toast, raisin toast, wheat toast, toasted English muffins, toasted bagels – whatever.  As a friend of mine once said – and I’m jealous not to have said it first – bread is just raw toast.
So you can understand how excited I was when Pepperidge Farm recently unveiled their Toasting Bread line.  Imagine – bread specifically made for toasting!  This sounded like the greatest thing since sli-  uh, right.  Still, toast is a very personal matter – one person’s almost-burnt is another’s just-right, and you may discard the heel slice while I savor it most of all.  Which factors would Pepperidge Farm consider when devising a toast-tailored loaf?  [ . . . ]
     Pepperidge Farm Corporate Communications Vice President Edie Anderson says it’s a bit more complex than that, however.  [“That” being ideas tossed out by author in previous, speculative paragraph – ed.]  “Toasting Bread is a specially formulated product,” she explained, “not just another bread sliced thick.”  Anderson said the firm’s market research shows toast consumers are hankering for precisely what Toasting Bread offers: a thicker, denser slice that gets crunchier on the outside while staying squishy on the inside.  When I asked if consumers were also allowed to use Toasting Bread for, say, making a sandwich, she said, “Absolutely – we don’t mind at all.”  But in a moment of surprising candor, she later admitted that untoasted Toasting Bread “really doesn’t have as full a flavor” as regular bread.  She had fewer reservations when I asked if Toasting Bread was suitable for feeding to ducks.  [ . . . ]
     That said, Toasting Bread does make a decent batch of toast.  I sometimes find it a bit too thick – two slices feel like more of an entree than an appetizer – but the extra density is great for dunking, if you’re so inclined.  Try as I might to focus on this product’s practical utility, however, I keep coming back to the larger implications.  Specifically, what does it mean when manufacturers begin marketing this sort of extreme componentilization of function?  As another acquaintance of mine remarked when she first heard of Toasting Bread, what’ll they think of next – Sniffing Glue?  (Pepperidge Farm, Inc., Norwalk, CT  06856)

– Paul Lukas, in his mid-90’s “Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption” zine, Beer Frame, as reprinted on pp. 168-169 of The Factsheet Five Zine Reader, ed. by R. Seth Freidman, pub. Three Rivers Press, 1997

P.P.S.   In Portland, where we are blessed with plenty of delicious breakfast eateries, they tend not to offer “white” anywhere I’ve gone (with no exceptions that I can think of, offhand).  It’s always Sourdough, instead.
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From:  Wendy Wimmer
To:  Christopher Snyder
Date:  Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 5:08 PM
Subj:  Re: A toast to you for “Billets Doux”
Dear Christopher,

When a story goes out into the world, for one delicious month or week or day, you know that people are reading it, but then the volume gets old, dusty or thrown onto the top of a recycling bin and it’s a sad dismal feeling. It makes me happy to know that it’s still floating around in someone’s brain. We will not speak of the lack of lasagne. In an extra special weird coincidental way, even though I live in Wisconsin, I’m actually in San Francisco this weekend for the first time in two years, staring out my hotel window at the tourists in Union Square, and I’m meeting the inspiration for iPod Guy tomorrow morning for breakfast before I fly out. I hope very much that there will be sourdough toast.

Toast is a wonderful thing but I have not tried the new Pepperidge Farms toasting bread. I’m a little suspicious of the consumer packaged goods industry, actually. My favorite bread is made by nuns. I envision them wearing wimples as they fill bread pans. The little paper that they stick into the bread bag suggests that their bread “makes excellent toast” and the sisters, they do not lie.  Forsaking their bread for something cranked out by the Campell’s Soup corporation would make me sad and also, I fear, have implications in the afterlife. They don’t make sourdough though, but that’s because it’s the Midwest, and they don’t trust fancy concepts like sourdough.

I’ve heard that Portland is pretty. I’ve always wanted to see it, particularly to visit this little perfume house that only sells to you if you come in person and actually smell their fragrances in their boutique. Rich people make silly rules, I think, and yet, their violet perfume is so wonderful I can’t help but abide by them. Ah well.

Sincerely,
Wendy

PS. Your email really made my morning and reminds me that I need to be better about submitting stories. Thank you. Also, the short fiction markets stink. It’s a tough gig.

PPS. Why Christopher Robbin? Are you trying to lull the Myspacers into a false sense of nostalgia while juxtaposing it with the image of cigarette butts?
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From:  Christopher Snyder
To:  Wendy Wimmer
Date:  Sun, Jul 27, 2008 at 5:39 AM
Subj:  Re: A toast to you for “Billets Doux”

Dearest Wendy:

You are too awesome for words — and yet, they shall have to do, as I have no guitar handy.

I’ve been to San Francisco; it’s too hilly.

I mean, really: what are you, kidding me?   Some dynamite would surely take care of that, amply distributed!  I hardly want to be out of breath, just walking two blocks for coffee and a cigarette!

Madison, WI is north of where I lived and went to school, in the University of Chicago.  But: I’m not that smart, as I stayed and completed my degree, instead of simply dropping out.

Miranda July, in an e-mail exchange with my brief-love-dalliance Jena Malone (cf, “The Go-Getter”; and no, we’ve never met) published in “Black Book” magazine, mentioned she had dropped out of her univ. after only two years.  This inspired me to throw my ugly, un-aesthetically-pleasing degree in the dumpster (it’s in a landfill, somewhere on the Oregon coast, now, I believe).

Portland RULES.  There is an abundance, as I mentioned, of breakfast places, all of which close by 2:00 p.m. or so, but have many varieties of egg scrambles and various benedicts (salmon is popular here).  The Jupiter hotel — which I worship — has a music venue, akin to Metro in Chicago or CBGB’s in NYC, in the basement.  I saw the American Analog Set there, my first show in Portland.  Also, they serve $10 soda-pop boar ribs in the restaurant [which I upgraded to a $15 entree in my story, “A Bite-Sized Piece,” submitted to [sic] journal, but no word on acceptance (or not) yet], as well as lime eggs benedict.  They obviously rule.  Throw in the write-on-able doors, with a basket of multi-colored chalk and washcloth provided for drawing Garfields and such [to name but one thing I’ve seen] on your entryway, and you can understand why the place has such a problem with people creaming their jeans that the laundry facilities are, shall we say, ample.

I’m out of amusements for this email.  But: you still rule.  Is that enough?

Sincerely and truly yours,
Christopher Joseph Snyder, the First

P.S.  Christopher Robin is the only Christopher I know of in modern-era English-usage who goes by “Christopher,” not “Chris.”  [And, yes, Christopher Walken goes by “Chris” among his intimates, much as Martin Scorsese goes by “Marty” and Richard Linklater goes by “Rick” — as you can see, I read a lot of public-figure interviews.]  “Christopher Robbin” is my way of expressing a “Winnie-the-Pooh goes ‘Gansta'” type vibe, as well as employing the use of my full name (which, apparently, either means “strength” or “Christ-bearer,” depending upon whom you talk to, or which “Baby Names” book you consult).

P.P.S.  F.Y.I., cigarette butts aren’t actually bad for you, as they’re already been smoked, and therefore can’t give you cancer.  So there, C. Everett Koop, you party poop.
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From:  Wendy Wimmer
To:  Christopher Snyder
Date:  Thu, Sep 4, 2008 at 1:37 PM
Subj:  Re: A toast to you for “Billets Doux”

Chris,

Oh don’t be silly, it’s not too hilly (whoops, hate when that happens). The hills act as little flavor savers, holding in all the goodness and keeping it from rolling down into the sea. Although I do agree with you… in Wisconsin, the pioneers would have looked at such a place with vertical grades in the 50s and said ‘Yeah, it’s too hard to build a city here, let’s go find a flatter place.”  If it ever snowed in San Francisco, the entire city would die in one giant car collision started at the top of the California Street hill.

Were you really in love with Jena Malone? One of my friends and I have a battle cry, which is “Jena MaLOOOOOOOAN”, said in a very bad Irish brogue. It’s more of a drunken battle cry, actually. I probably shouldn’t have brought it up, considering your feelings for her, past or otherwise. I’m with you on Miranda July, although I sort of hate her, but most of that is jealousy. Also, I’m impressed that she had the wherewithal to trust her ability after only two years in higher education. For some reason, I had the need for validation afforded only by the walls of a university. It is what it is.

I broke down and ordered the violet perfume from a middle man, but at some point I’m going to have to make a visit. I don’t like being beholden to anyone, specifically a spurious internet fragrance middle man, which is actually kind of a weird profession and makes me wonder what they put on their resume. I’m sure that you were dying of curiousity to find out how I dealt with the lack of perfect couture violet fragrance in my life.

Yes, it is always enough.

Let go and let God,
Wendy

PS. Cigarette butts will be our undoing. Do you really want to go down this path any further? Ponder that deeply in your heart.

PPS. Now I want to know the story about your email address. [Pasta] with [fruit]? Hmm. In syrup or fresh? Is it [pasta] the dish or [pasta] the type of noodle? So many questions.

PPPS. I wrote another story about Liz recently, although my writer friend cohorts said that I’m employing a totally different voice in the new story, so they think it’s a different Liz. I say it’s the same Liz and also tell them to bite my left one. And then I shout “Jena Malooooooohhhn” at them. That usually puts them in their place(s).
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From:  Christopher Snyder
To:  Wendy Wimmer
Date:  Thu, Sep 11, 2008 at 3:49 AM
Subj:  THIS EMAIL HAS A NEW SUBJECT LINE

Wendy:

I really was in love with Jena Malone, at least whilst watching The Go-Getter at the Living Room Theater here in Portland.  They serve beer there, and I think I was on my fourth by the time I sauntered into the dark and thusly became spellbound.  Once she exited the flick, I took a break from the film myself, to spin delightedly out on the sidewalk sucking down an American Spirit whilst cars whizzed by more closely than I would have liked.  “Jena, oh Jena” I said [to myself; I did not incur any strange stares from others, in my double-intoxicated state].  But then, I got it out of my system, and adjusted to the prescence of Zooey Deschanel, which was the director’s point.  Time to move on, I guess; what ever makes Lou Pucci happy.

(Wait; where they playing characters?)

Personally — while we’re on the subject, and vis-a-vis your “situation” with “Liz” — I’ve always found the word “characters” somewhat distancing.

I’ve hit on the word “personas,” and for me, that works better.  I mean, who is “Leanna MacFarlane,” this “persona” of mine who “emerged”  in my story, “A Bite-Sized Piece,” such to the point that I feel the need to “explore” her [more like, “follow” her, where she goes], in both a going-forward-from-the story novel, Resentment, Inc., and a “prequel” detailing her history, a 500-page-ish planned epic modeled on the general structure of Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow called Leanna Strikes Out on Her Own?

I don’t know — but that sure is an overloaded sentence that I just wrote.  Sorry ’bout that; I’ll catch up with you at the P.S.’s — see you there.

Signing off purely as a formality,
Chris (in case you’d forgotten)

P.S.  Cigarette butts are no good.  They should not be eaten; I agree with you on that.

P.P.S.  This email addressed was inspired by my boss at my previous canvassing job, Trent, breaking with any sort of office confidentiality policy you could possibly hope to have by revealing the email address of another canvasser, Enid, which was: [title of Dead Kennedys album]@gmail.com.  Being a writer myself, I can understand why he (also a writer, aspiring [aren’t we all!]) couldn’t resist blurting it out to a few of us whom he knew he could trust (having all been in the office for a while), and from there, the inspiration for me was born.  The writer Rachel B. Glaser, whom I admire (and can count myself lucky enough to have as a friend at least on MySpace), has “bassethoundfound@gmail.com” as her address.  (I don’t know what it is about gmail, but it seems to inspire such addresses).  I also came up with one for the fake “persona” I’ve been using to parody those can-sometimes-be-creepy “I Saw U” ads in the local Portland Mercury (I’ve sent one in for what clearly is a drinking fountain, with stuff like: “I saw your metal gleaming in the sun, and knew I had to press my lips against you!”), which I hoped would be sure to keep sketchy types away (“icrapmypantsalot@gmail.com”) — but then again, nowadays, you never know.

I would not advise mixing [pasta] with [fruit] in real life under any circumstances; it’s just a phrase that’s easy to catch in the mind, as words. If you should bring this into physical reality at any point, I will summarily deny any responsibility.  Sounds gross.

P.P.P.S  “Bite my left one” is incorrect.   “Suck my left one” is the name of a Bikini Kill(*) song, with the sentiment expressed therein (natch).  I’m sure that if you try again with this amended phrase, your co-wordsmiths will grasp your point that much more efficaciously.
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*EDITOR’S NOTE: SINCE I WROTE THIS, I’VE COME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT I DON’T “LIKE” KATHLEEN HANNA; SHE’S A “SCENE HOG,” WHO APPARENTLY FELT IT WAS HER “DUTY” TO “CORRECT” AARON COMETBUS & (LIKELY) IAN MACKAYE FOR EXPRESSING ANYTHING ABOUT FEMALES WHATSOEVER — IN ADDITION TO MAKING UNKIND, INACCURATE & DIVISIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT TANYA DONELLY IN THE EARLY ’90S, WHEN SUCH ENERGIES WERE NEWLY-ACCESSIBLE AND KILLING THEM OFF OR PUSHING THEM FORWARD WOULD’VE REALLY COUNTED FOR SOMETHING — ONLY TO BLITHELY SIGN ON TO A MAJOR LABEL AND COVER THE POINTER SISTERS, OF ALL PEOPLE, ONCE THE “SCENE” HAD BEEN WELL-ESTABLISHED NATIONWIDE.  AS SUCH, I’D LIKE TO RETRACT & DENY ANY IMPLICIT “ENDORSEMENT” WHICH MAY BE IMPLIED BY THIS STRAY REFERENCE!

THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR ATTENTION IN THIS MATTER, AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!
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From:  Christopher Snyder
To:  Wendy Wimmer
Date:  Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 5:15 AM
Subj:  Fwd: THIS EMAIL HAS A NEW SUBJECT LINE

Wendyerrific:

Did you not get this email?  I am puzzled.  I sent it to the [other, alternate] email address and thought you just hadn’t gotten back to me yet.  Then, I realized you might not have gotten it yet, and were wondering what had happened to me.  If so, I’m very very sorry, as you’re irreplaceable to me.

Regards and much love,
C.J.S
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From:  Wendy Wimmer
To:  Christopher Snyder
Date:  Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 7:51 AM
Subj:  Re: THIS EMAIL HAS A NEW SUBJECT LINE

I did, I did, I’m just a poor correspondent and I received it while traveling extensively on the west coast. I made the mistake of checking email via the phone, which makes responding quite difficult to do and then I always tell myself that I’ll respond when I have a keyboard that requires more than two thumbs, but then of course, by then there are more emails and….I’m very sorry. Should I do something to earn forgiveness? Something? I don’t know what. Here, here’s a story that is not about Jena Malone at all. I really do need to change the main character’s name, though, as mentioned in an earlier correspondence, just to alleviate a false connection with “Billets Doux”. I have many e-mail addresses, and sometimes the little pulldown in Gmail confuses me. Or I get distracted, probably. Usually something shiny. What were we talking about?

I watched The Happening in my own living room theatre this weekend, only because Zooey Deschanel was in it and I mistakenly thought that she couldn’t possibly pick a bad script. Maybe it wasn’t her fault, nor the writing (which was… oh, just no. No.) but rather Mark Wahlberg, whom I might have been able to enjoy had I not watched the Andy Sandberg impression of him earlier in the week and realized that yes, Wahlberg really is as ridiculous and one note as he appears and his performance in Boogie Nights wasn’t controlled farce but rather bumbling luck.

Onto the character discussion: I guess I really don’t think about it, at all. Or rather, I try not to get too meta about fiction (except when I do). It could be argued that I keep writing the exact same female character, over and over again, and that she is me, blahety blah blah, and while I think there’s something to that (I am totally an armchair psychologist, if you can’t tell from the attached story), I worry that if I think about the process too much, then I become too conscious of what I’m doing when I’m writing. Which is simply to say that I don’t think you owe anyone an explanation for wanting to follow “Leanna MacFarlane” a little longer via text. It is what it is. Which is to say: tell everyone to (verb) your (adjective) one.

Sincerely and apologetically yours,
Wendy

PS. What is it about writing? Everyone thinks they’re a writer. I’m sure that your friends were really writers and not just wannabe(*) writers, but it’s a sore point for me. I don’t even tell people I’m a writer, even though a fair percentage of my income is earned via my own little fingers striking the keyboard (not fiction, sadly, I do freelance writing for “The Man” and in fact, I’m ignoring a deadline right now to answer this e-mail promptly), because I feel like it’s a weird thing to say. Everyone thinks they can write and the sad truth is that over 99 percent of the people who fancy themselves a writer either a) do not write more than 10,000 words a year, if that b)think they can market the story of their mediocre lives c)wrote a story once in high school lit class that received praise from a teacher and now feel that it is their ace in the hole, should the whole day job thing not work out for them because it’s a lot easier to sit behind a keyboard wearing a sweater and drinking tea and cranking out novels than it is to become a ditchdigger or something. I think Stephen King moaned that no one ever smugly walked up to a brain surgeon and boasted that they too would like to try their hand at brain surgery sometime, maybe on the weekends, because they really think they’d be good at it. This may negate everything I said in the previous PS but damn it, writing well is hard as hell (I’m a poet and don’t know it) and it offends the bejeezus out of me that everyone thinks they can do it as well as anyone else. Fuck, I don’t even think I can do it very well, and when I do pull something off, there’s a good half hour where I sit in stunned silence and try to remember how I did it so that I can possibly do it again in the future. And don’t EVEN get me started on the abysmal NaNoWriMo thing that is about to start up on Nov 1. It makes me want to punch a baby.

PPS. Let’s leave the vehemence of the previous PS and start anew. You know what I recently had? Pasta tossed with prosciutto and figs. It was at a very fancy restaurant and it made me think of [your email], and also, it wasn’t bad. Not at all. I also had my very first fresh fig, prepared for me by a friend in the backseat during a road trip and then slurped messily while trying to avoid oncoming traffic on Hwy 29 in Oakville, CA. Now the two sensations are indelibly linked in my head: the sweet insides of a fig, juicy and gritty with seeds, and the sun glinting off of windshields of BMWs and Benzs as they rush to sign up for wine clubs before the holidays. I highly recommend it. The figs, not the wine clubs.

PPPS. I was surprised and delighted recently by a second voice out of the ether regarding “Billets Doux”, the art director from Barrelhouse, asking if I’d be interested in optioning the story for an animated short film that he wants to do over the winter, and he asked me to write more vignettes for the past lives, including one that involved superheroes. As it turns out, the fiction editor had asked me to cut a few in the interest of space in the book, so at some point, there may be a “director’s cut” of “Billets Doux” out in the world and Liz might be in motion, or maybe have a voice, which would be weird. I’m only telling you that so that I could match you PS for PS.

the other Liz story.doc
74K   View   Download
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*EDITOR’S NOTE: SADLY, THIS PROVED TO BE MORE UNTRUE THAN ANY SANE PERSON COULD HAVE PREDICTED, AT THE TIME: THE PERSON IN QUESTION (LET’S CONTINUE TO CALL HIM, “TRENT”) LATER FOLLOWED THROUGH ON THE “PROMISE” NONE OF US REALIZED HE WAS “SHOWING” BY CONTINUING TO “FILCH” LATER IDEAS — AS HE FIRST DID, IN “REVIVING” A LONG-SINCE-GONE-FROM-THE-OFFICE-CANVASSER’S “IDEA” TO RANDOMLY START READING EACH DAY’S THREE-PANEL “JUDGE PARKER” COMIC AT OUR “ANNOUNCEMENTS” MEETING, AS THOUGH HE HAD “THOUGHT” OF IT HIMSELF (OR, ALTERNATELY: AS THOUGH IT WERE THE “OBVIOUS” THING TO DO, AND LEAVE THE FELLOW WHOSE “IDEA” IT ACTUALLY WAS, SLYLY UNCREDITED).

PERHAPS UNSURPRISINGLY, THE SELFSAME TALENTLESS WINDBAG ALSO WENT SO FAR TO ARBITRARILY GIVE THE “HARD SELL” ON HIS ALMA MATER TO A 20-YEAR-OLD FELLOW OFFICE ALUMNUS IN A CLEAR-CUT BUT BIZARRE & GRATUITOUS EFFORT TO KEEP HER OUT HIS NEWLY-FOUND “BASE OF OPERATIONS” (I HAD RECENTLY RECOMMENDED DENVER UNIVERSITY TO HER [“I HAVE NO IDEA ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, BUT MY OLD FRIEND ALBA FROM COLLEGE TEACHES THERE,” I TOLD THE LEGITIMATELY-LIFE-STARTING COLLEGE-ASPIRANT IN RESPONSE TO HER BLANKET REQUEST FOR COLLEGE-APPLICATION ADVICE ON MYSPACE)].

YOU KNOW, SOME OF THOSE “NEVER-WAS,” FAILED-IN-LIFE FOLKS CAN GET SO SENSITIVE ABOUT ANYONE POTENTIALLY “STEPPING ON THEIR TOES” … I SWEAR!
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From:  Christopher Snyder
To:  Wendy Wimmer
Date:  Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 8:15 PM
Subj:  Re: THIS EMAIL HAS A NEW SUBJECT LINE

Dear Wendyriffic:

Oh my God: could I love you any more?

This story is awesome.  It’s funny, the way it works; since it’s another “Liz” story, the whole time you’re reading it, you’re thinking (“you’re” here being, of course, me) “Oh no, it’s not as good, oh no, it’s not the same old Liz,” — but then when you get to the end, you’re like “Oh my God!  That’s awesome!  It’s a total advance over the last story!”

My theory being: naming the character (or “voice”) Liz again — to someone who’s coming to this story having read the last one, at least — leaves the reader with their parsing psyche going, “no no, no no,” just because it’s “another Liz” and not “the same Liz,” the net result being, the payoff is more, shall we say, boffo.

Being completely incapable of critiquing this story’s actual text in any way [other than to say that, somewheres, there’s a plural with an apostrophe-“s” which would make it a possessive, but I forget where; sorry about that!] I would however, have to say that my best guess to where all these “Liz”‘s are coming from would be something on the order of, say, the Wendy Wimmer version of Kieslowski’s Double Life of Veronique.

Have you seen that movie?  There are two Veroniques, living in two separate countries, pursuing two separate lives and professions; near the end, they see each other in passing.  Then, one of them dies.  (Irene Jacob plays both Veroniques; she’s also quite naked in some of the scenes, which I remember fondly).

So the question is: how many “Liz”‘s are we dealing with here?  (If, indeed, there is one to be asked.)  Two?  Five?  Eight?  And do they need to meet, at the end?  — maybe not with each other, but in front of the reader/viewer in one story.

Hard to say . . . other than that you’re obviously a genius (or: a genii) and deserving of worship, which your certainly getting from me [I find myself in the curious position of being jealous re: the interest in filming “Billets Deux” — not of you, but of whomever dares champion you to the world other than myself!  … Hey, that’s my job! … But: I suppose I can’t do everything for you, so: so be it.]

Other than that, interestingly, I would have to qualify this story as the first narrative artwork I have ever encountered that should decidedly not be read by anyone under 18.  With all the blah-blah-blah talk about violence in the media and all that, it seems clear to me that your story alone is the one that you need to have a certain amount of fallback-knowledge to be able to cope with [i.e., the ending specifically].

So: bravo! for writing a story for grown-ups!

Yours devotedly,
Christopher the Snidelier

P.S.  Truly, my heart swelled for you whilst reading every progressive page of this story.  Whatever other stirrings might have been felt we will leave to conjecture, and omit out of discretion.

P.P.S.  While I haven’t encountered any assholes who just feel they can write because they say so per se, I have encountered a related species of asshole: one who says, “Oh, I’d be happy to read your writing!” as soon as you tell them you’re a writer, assuming you need the “critique” and “feedback,” and they’re just the one to offer it.

Amusingly, the particular specimin I encountered who was so kind as to proffer this “assistance” [which you just know will end with only one response: they’ll read your story, and then look up and immediately say, “Well, I think you could improve on this part . . . ” blah blah blah] preceded by saying (of course) “my father was an English teacher/professor” (or whatever), but then later got into a debate with the counter-guy at the coffee shop we were in here in Portland once the guy raised the subject that this dude was, in fact, barefoot (and no, I hadn’t noticed up till then, actually).  The guy responded by saying: “Oh, well I’m a ‘barefooter’? . . . ” — you know, leadingly like that, like it’s a concept he was trying out to see if the counter-guy had heard of it before [I hadn’t; have you?  I have heard of concrete, broken glass and tires, however . . . welcome to city living, dude!], and then proceeded to start this whole thing about “well, while most people don’t know it, being barefoot is not prohibited in the Oregon Health Code” and you feel like an idiot either for believing this guy or, alternately, not knowing the Oregon Health Code inside and out to cite at him, so you can’t win either way [the counter-guy, needless to say, had to give up, at least for this visit].

Moral of the story being: free advice — worth every penny.

P.P.P.S.  I’d write more, but I’m in a mad dash to see Wong Kar-Wai’s Ashes of Time Redux at Cinema 21 in a few minutes.  I hope my name-dropping will cover for the fact that I’m not trying to skip out on writing a more thorough email, as though I don’t love you very much, which, I, of course, cannot help but do.
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From:  Wendy Wimmer
To:  Christopher Snyder
Date:  Mon, Dec 1, 2008 at 7:43 PM
Subj:  Re: THIS EMAIL HAS A NEW SUBJECT LINE

Hmm… a weird possessive, huh? I’m going to have to fine tooth comb it again, because that’s going to niggle, but right now I can’t stand to look at the piece. Do you find that your stories fall in and out of favor with you, like misbehaving children? Or perhaps an ever-fluctuating teacher’s pet? Right now, I’m chasing after a story set in the Farallon Islands, where a plague of zombiism may or may not have broken out on the mainland. It’s a love story. I’ll bet you guessed that. And as such, I’m not looking at the stuff that’s floating out in submission land right now. I’m not surprised that an errant apostrophe got into a place that it didn’t belong. My pinkie finger, it seems, occasionally has Tourette’s. It made playing the flute in high school a real bitch.

I have not seen that movie, I’m afraid, but will add it to my Netflix queue. That is, anyway, if Netflix should have it, which they don’t always have these things. I waited for years (YEARS) for Netflix to clue in and get Waydowntown, and then finally, it just happened to air on Sundance one day and my ever faithful Tivo caught it. And then (THEN!) (!!) Netflix finally got their grubby little hands on a copy. I don’t mean to build that movie up, to make it seem as though you should go out and get it (actually, it’s a fine movie, but doesn’t stand up to the movie by Don McKellar that I really did like, which was Last Night. Neither movie has Jena Malone in it but both do have the aforementioned McKellar and also Sarah Polley, who is a much better Jena Malone than Jena Malone could ever hope to be, in my humble and most earnest opinion) where was I?… that was a very long parenthetical. Oh yes, Netflix also didn’t have Trainspotting for a very long time as well, but I just sucked it up and bought a copy for my own, as sometimes one should. But I will add Double Life of Veronique to my Netflix queue and see what happens. Well, that was very anticlimactic. Let’s hit return now and move to the next paragraph?

So, your question: there’s two people who happened to be named Liz. I really wasn’t trying to make a statement, just was being lazy and I like one syllable names for my pivotal characters and quite frankly, didn’t want to stop writing and sit there and think of one. Sometimes, I’m lazy. I should really just rename the second Liz “Jane” and be done with it. It would still work, and in fact, be even less quirky than Liz. However, I find it interesting and somewhat taking aback that you feel that the story shouldn’t be read by anyone under 18. Why exactly do you feel that way? I actually didn’t think it was all that dark, but people have commented to a strong undercurrent of darkness metaphysical weirdness in my stories before. I don’t have an opinion about it either way, but rather hadn’t really put that much thought into it. It makes me wonder how many of my other stories would be considered “truly adult”. As for the jealousy, don’t be jealous. We’ll just see what comes of it […] But I’m not going to think about it right now. I had to send him the pre-Barrelhouse version, aka the Extended Director’s cut, because there were many many more letters to innocuous things and I think two more past lives. Since you have an affinity for the story and for Liz (and Liz nee Jane), would you be at all interested in seeing the pre-pub draft? Or do you prefer to not pay attention to the man behind the curtain?

Sincerely yours,
Wendy

PS. I don’t know how to correctly convey an eyebrow raise via emoticon. I hope it involves a tilde. If so,   ~

PPS. You are very lucky that you haven’t encountered that kind of asshole. I actually don’t let many people read the stuff I consider “my serious writing” (I don’t know if you’ve googled me, but I also write a lot of [reference to fine, upstanding company that pays the rent omitted – ed.]), so my primary defense these days is to only allow trusted friends (and lovers of [pasta] with [fruit]) read the unpublished stuff, mainly because I’ve had too many experiences with such assholes. As for your particular bain, I know nothing of this barefoot business, but I heartily do not approve and might have spit in this annoying man’s coffee. I wonder if that is against Oregon Health Code? I bet it isn’t. Anyway, does he have a copy? Can he look it up right then and there? Maybe I could just call myself a Salivaist if people took offense.

PPPS. I would write more myself, but I am about to leisurely stroll into my bedroom, where I will be going to bed before ten pm. This is the very exciting life one leads in the wilds of Wisconsin.
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
From:  Wendy Wimmer
To:  Christopher Snyder
Date:  Wed, Nov 11, 2009 at 6:46 AM
Subj:  A long lost correspondence barely picked up

Are you on fictionaut yet? I just posted Billets Doux as my inaugural post there and the story made me think of you.

w
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
From:  Christopher Snyder
To:  Wendy Wimmer
Date:  Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 8:04 AM
Subj:  Re: A long lost correspondence barely picked up

Dearest Wendy:

No, I’m not on fictionaut yet — though I appreciate your telling me about it (I had never heard of the thing before).
Currently, it’s “invite only,” and since I haven’t been published yet . . . (yadda-yadda-yadda!)

Although, currently, I do have a bunch of stories and/or “pieces” ready to go — which, with the exception of the first Leanna story (“A Bite-Sized Piece”) which has both copyright (the topic sentences from The Worst-Case Scenario Guide: TRAVEL) and  (I know realize) formatting problem(s) — have never been submitted.  So we’ll see.

How are you?  I’ve been reading your blog a bit, and send ten pages to my friend Jessica, who’s in the Navy, in a C.A.R.E. package with other books and goodies (Trader Joe’s food, a mug, a t-shirt, etc.).  I’m happy to hear you got your old job back, only better (that’s the accurate way to phrase it, right?  I mean, I know it’s not the same job . . . but still!).  How are things outside of that?  Progress with your “novel” a.k.a. “the thing [you’re] doing” going smoothly?  (And, yes, I can totally understand why you would say that (repeatedly, I guess): it feels weird to “announce” it to people.  Maybe that’s part of the reason I’m calling the longish Leana piece I’m working on now — ENTITLEMENT, INC. (or, “Leanna’s Inner Journey”) — a “novellette.”  I like the way it sounds better than “novella” — which, for some reason, strikes me as being a self-defeating assignation, given the current market — and, in addition to personally having a bit more facility with French than Spanish, I like the fact that a “novelette” sounds within striking distance of a “pamphlet” — something you just pick up and read.

I figure it’ll either go over the way I think it does, or it’ll come across as affected and off-putting (“A ‘novellette’? (groan)   Who does he think he is?”).  Either way, I’m shooting for about 140-or-so pages, with a running “visual” side on the left page (photos, some drawings, &c., not clear on just what yet) and all the text on the right — sort of a “left brain/right brain” kind of thing, as well as an attempt to justify a written text in a visually-distracting world . . . as well as my taking an opportunity to get some images out there that I personally like.

(“Yeah, but . . . what’s it about?”  I hear you saying.)

Don’t ask.

Yours,
Christopher (or, at least, “Chris,” depending on context)

P.S.  I totally can’t think of a good “P.S.” this time.

Sorry: I’m “bone dry.”
—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
From:  Fictionaut
Reply-to:  Wendy Wimmer
To:  Christopher Snyder
Date:  Thu, Nov 19, 2009 at 10:10 AM
Subj:  Wendy Wimmer has invited you to Fictionaut.

Fictionaut brings the possibilities of the social web to literary writing.

Part self-selecting magazine, part community network, Fictionaut is a way
for readers to discover new voices and for writers to share their art, gain
recognition, and connect with their audience and each other.Please click on this link to accept this invitation:
[link since deleted]

Wendy Wimmer wrote:

Welcome to the fold.

w

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