The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents

Although I get annoyed by people who blog/tweet/facebook about the food they cook, I wanted to share with you the fact that when I cracked open my egg this morning there was a grotesque, half-formed second egg inside of it!

ovum in ovo



the little boy that lives inside my mouth

I was asked by Vol. 1 Brooklyn to write about my favorite Stephen King adaptation and obviously picked The Shining. I wrote a few hundred words about Kubrick's use of Freud's concept of "The Uncanny" as well as his mastery of "terror" over "horror."

The creepiest and most haunting parts of The Shining are moments of pure Radcliffian “terror,” filled with ambiguity and tension. Danny flinching his finger and squeaking in the voice of Tony, “the little boy that lives inside my mouth.” Jack staring eerily into the model hedge maze and seeing, somehow, his wife and child. The ghost butler telling Jack in a slow and deliberate voice, “I corrected them, sir, and when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I corrected her.” And the final ambiguous shot of the film, a slow zoom into the image of Jack Torrance smiling in a photograph that was taken decades before he was born.

The ten greatest Stephen King adaptations


status of the year's statuses

According to some random application, the above represent the frequency of words in my Facebook status updates for 2k11. I suspect this is more of a random picking of words than a true weighted representation. I doubt I used the word "buffoon" as often as "the." Either way, the words I immediately see--crotchety, crushing, uncaring, existence, despair, surreal, etc.--speak for themselves.


When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.
- Eric Cantona's entire press conference after jump kicking a fan


Game narratives

HTMLGIANT has, for a little while now, run a magazine club. Members read a lit mag together and discuss the various themes, stories, design, etc. I think this is a great idea. Far too often lit mags feel disposable. You can pick them up, read a few stories or poems you want to read, and ignore the rest. But the best magazines work more like books. They need to be read in their entirety. I think here of magazines like NOON or McSweeney's (and, hopefully, Gigantic).

The most recent lit mag club has been examining Beecher's #1. In addition to being an extremely beautifully (and minimally) designed magazine, and a brilliantly edited magazine, Beecher's includes a few stories of mine as well as stories by several close friends of mine like John Dermot Woods, Rozalia Jovanovic, Joshua Cohen, and James Yeh. The latest lit mag club entry, by Daniel B. Cecil, talks about interactive/game narratives and has some very nice comments about one of my stories:

Second person narration is used throughout the journal to back the reader into a corner as well. In Lincoln Michel’s “A Question of Commitment,” you are asked as a participant to imagine both a lover and murderer in the same story. The murder, however, isn’t clear, and that uncertainty, paired with the second person narration that draws you into the story, begs you to imagine two terrible possibilities. It is a horrifying take on the “choose your own adventure stories” we’re so familiar with from our childhood.

Anyway, check out lit mag club and check out Beecher's!


Some people have a way with words, and other people, uh... not have way.
— Steve Martin


PANK it, PANK it real good

You can order PANK #6 now, which includes two pieces from me (a poem and a prose poem) as well as work from John Warner, Sherman Alexie, Christopher Newgent, and others.


I don't deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.
- Flannery O'Connor


stream of consciousness search engine optimization

I am not getting enough hits on this blog, so let me tell you about how Kris Humphries was attacked at occupy wall street by zombie corpse of Steve Jobs walking dead with Gaddafi and reciting 10 ways to get hot body this winter while Zooey Deschanel used people's microphone to give student loan reduction tips to Greek debt crises where economy collapsing like Rick Perry presidential campaign but with less drunk speeches, possibly high quality Breaking Bad methamphetamine, and Herman Cain delivered "artisinal" pizza to police brutality seeking wall street bankers short selling stocks of free pornography, iPhone 5 prototypes, fall fashion trends for Williamsburg singles, Groupon grey poupon coupons, organic gluten free vegan locavore head cheese home recipes, The-Dream new single wifi download hipsteraes a;dkfjdskf;jadsjfkad;skfjask;kjfads


There are ten thousand superfluous heads at work in the world. It's clear, clear as day. The generations of men are losing the joy of life with all their treatises and understandings and knowledge...I like running down stairs. What a lot of talk!
- Robert Walser


A NYC-area Halloween message from Dracula

I have a grave message for everybloody going out tonight. There is a spooky storm outside that will send shivers up your spine and make your cheeks turn blood red! Unless you are as hairy as my pal the wolfman, wrap yourself up as tight as my other friend, the mummy. Put on your BOO-ties before venturing through the cold, slimy sludge of the streets. If you don't, you may end up shivering and moaning like an undead ghoul! If you think my warning is chilling, go outside without a scarf. Your exposed neck may notice a real BITE to the air. MUH HA HA HA HA!


the usual

‎...intoxication, sexual license, absorption by the primal horde, in short, dissolution of the individual (occasionally, actual dismemberment) and re-immersion into a common organic whole.
- disembodied Wikipedia quote.


Triple Threat

I have a poem out in the newest issue of Harpur Palate, which also has work from Sherman Alexie, Tim Jones-Yelvington, and many others. The poem is titled "Drift Ice in the Foreground." Haven't seen a copy yet, but the line-up looks great!

Along with new stories in BOMB and The Collagist, that is three new pieces for me in October.



We have a new online issue up at Gigantic. The issue features new prose from Brian Kubarycz, Dan Bevacqua, Lynne Tillman, Lena Bartone, James McGirk, Matt Dennison, Daniel Borzutzky, Mitchell S. Jackson, and Anelise Chen; a conversation between Gary Lutz, Mary Caponegro, and Tim Horvath; and gorgeous artwork from Maria Kondratiev. Check it out, if you'd like.


October Twofer

The October issue of the always fantastic The Collagist is up and I'm very happy to say I have a new story titled "Hike" in it. The issue also has work from friends Blake Butler and Kate Lorenz, as well as plenty of other rad things.

My story in there pairs nicely, I think, with my short story in BOMB magazine that went up one day before.


Filling Pools at BOMB

Very excited to so say that I have a short story called "Filling Pools" up at BOMB Magazine. It is the second installment of their Page Break series "showcasing original works of fiction by emerging literary talents."

Opening lines:

People say I have a baby face. You can look at me and pretend I’m drowning; I do this watery thing with my eyes. How you work the face is important in this line of work.



‎"Reality is not always probable, or likely."
- Jorge Luis Borges


‎"Let us not mince words: the marvelous is always beautiful, anything marvelous is beautiful, in fact only the marvelous is beautiful."
- André Breton


Wu-Tang Somerset Maugham

File this under Amazon mishaps. I stumbled upon this Amazon page for W. Somerset Maugham which describes him as "the third studio album by the American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan, released November 21, 2000 on Loud/Columbia Records."

Screenshot in case they fix it:


Harry Potter via Raymond Carver

Last night I was asked to read a two-minute "fan fiction" piece. Here it is:

Populus Mechanicus

Early that day the weather turned and the snow was melting into dirty water. Streaks of it ran down from the giant ogre-high window that faced the back of Hogwarts. Centaurs slushed by on the street outside, where it was getting dark. But it was getting dark on the inside too.

Voldemort was in the bedroom pushing dark robes into a suitcase when Harry came to the door.

I’m glad you’re leaving! I’m glad you’re leaving! Harry said. Do you hear?

Voldemort kept on putting his things into the suitcase.

Son of a bitch! I’m so glad you’re leaving! Harry began to cry. You can’t even look me in the face, can you?


Some Possible Sequels to Classic Novels

2 Naked 2 Dead
2 Savage 2 Detective
2 Moby 2 Dick
2 Wise 2 Blood
2 Pale 2 Fire
2 Wuthering 2 High
2 Crime 2 Punishment
2 Huck 2 Finn
2 Grape 2 Wrath
Nausea 2: Electric Boogaloo


The final countdown

New Animals in Midlife Crises strip up at The Rumpus. It is about lionesses and likely one of the final strips we do, at least for a while. So... check it out!


Summer Bummer Specials

Menu at a local taco joint. My friend's menu said Summer Special so this wasn't intentional.


So Google+, in a massive design flaw, has deleted every single photo I've ever uploaded to this blog. If you were curious about the many empty white squares now filling up this blog, there you go.

Will add some back slowly...


Boring personal reading habits 2k11 (halfway point edition)

A list of all the books that I've completed so far in 2k11. I've already read more books in the first half of 2011 than I read in all of 2010 (which was a real down year for me in this regard). However, I have to admit that much of my total comes from speeding through a lot of graphic novels and comic books during a two or three week period in June. This was research for a comic series John Woods and I will be working on soon.

These are only the books that I've finished. There are many others that I've started (2666, The Hundred Brothers, NOON 2011, etc.) that I will hopefully complete before the year is out. I've only re-read one book so far this year (the Carver). Favorites so far:

Taking Care by Joy Williams, Wilson by Daniel Clowes and Hunger by Knut Hamsun.

Full list:

  1. Wilson – Daniel Clowes
  2. The Death of Doctor Island – Gene Wolfe
  3. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love – Raymond Carver*
  4. The Mezzanine – Nicholson Baker
  5. Great Expectations – Kathy Acker
  6. The Clouds Above – Jordan Crane
  7. Hunger – Knut Hamsun
  8. Werewolves of Montpellier – Jason
  9. The Shadow over Innsmouth – H. P. Lovecraft
  10. Illustrated Three-Line Novels – Joanna Neborsky
  11. Baby Leg – Brian Evenson
  12. The Late American Novel – Jeff Martin and C. Max McGee
  13. The Baltimore Atrocities – John Dermot Woods (manuscript draft)
  14. Stories V! – Scott McClanahan
  15. Visitation – Jenny Erpenbeck
  16. Us – Michael Kimball
  17. The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt
  18. Antwerp – Roberto Bolano
  19. 1963 – Alan Moore
  20. Supreme: The Story of the Year – Alan Moore
  21. Supreme: The Return – Alan Moore
  22. The Killing Joke – Alan Moore
  23. Ultimate Fantastic Four HC Vol. 1 
  24. Ultimate Fantastic Four HC Vol. 2 
  25. Ultimate Fantastic Four HC Vol. 3 
  26. Ultimate Fantastic Four HC Vol. 4
  27. Ultimate Fantastic Four HC Vol. 5
  28. Love and Rockets New Stories No. 3 – The Hernandez Brothers
  29. Understanding Comics – Scott McCloud
  30. World War Hulk
  31. Ultimate Iron Man – Orson Scott Card
  32. Silver Surfer: Parable – Moebius and Stan Lee
  33. Bottomless Belly Button – Dash Shaw
  34. Taking Care – Joy Williams


Take a dip

I'm happy to say that I have a new dialogue story up at Hobart this month, Little Girls by the Side of the Pool by Lincoln Michel. Here is how it starts:

“Did you see what Suzy did when her father tossed her into the air?”
“No, I was looking at Jimmy.”
“She screamed. She screamed like a little piglet right until she hit the water.”
“My father is really good at tossing me into the water.”
“Yes, my father can toss me so high that I get afraid I'll never come down.”
“My father once threw me like ten feet out of the water and I did two cartwheels in the air before splashing.”
“My father once tossed me so high into the air that I was at eye level with the top of a tall tree and in that tree was a bird and that bird unfurled its wings and looked at me in a loving way, like a sister.”


The Joy Williams Commute

My new commute lasts exactly two Joy Williams stories no matter which combination of trains I take.


Animals in Midlife Crises (dot com)

Animals in Midlife Crises, the comic strip by John Dermot Woods and me that is published regularly on The Rumpus has a second home now at animalsinmidlifecrises.com. The only difference is that the comic runs vertically on The Rumpus and horizontally at Animals in Midlife Crises. You can read one or both sites based on your orientation preference.


Escaped Furries Beaten and Tranquilized in Chinese Zoo Uprising

Facing a shortage of exotic animals for the ever-growing zoo-industrial complex, the Chinese government has begun caging humans in amusing anthropomorphic costumes. The costume seams are held together with a form of bamboo-derived industrial glue to prevent wardrobe malfunctions. However, these caged and costumed attractions, being slightly more intelligent than the animals they play, have begun figuring out how to escape their cages. Two such incidents involving a "tiger" and an "orangutan" occurred recently in the Sichuan province to the great disturbance of the children and women present. Luckily, the escaped faux-animals were quickly subdued and returned to their enclosures before they could do physical harm to any of the zoo-going public who had, after all, paid their admission in full.



The new issue of Tin House is here and looks fantastic, as usual. It includes new fiction from Gary Lutz and Jodi Angel, interviews with Ann Patchett and Jean-Philippe Toussaint, and more. It also includes, I'm very happy to say, an essay by me on Herbert Read's enigmatic only novel The Green Child. My essay isn't included online, so you'll have to check out the print issue if you want to read it.


Coming Straight Outta Kansas

Beecher's Magazine, put out by the University of Kansas and edited by the fantastic Chloé Cooper Jones, has just released their first issue. I'm very pleased to say that Beecher's One includes two short stories of mine as well as work by great writers like Joshua Cohen, Rozalia Jovanovic, Yelena Akhtiorskaya, James Yeh, Alec Niedenthal and John Dermot Woods. You can check it out here.


Sunday Style!

We took a break last week at Animals in Midlife Crises, but this week we are back with a full-color Sunday style strip. Click on the hermit crab above to read it.


Greatest moment in American cinema?

- Harpo's tattoo barks at Groucho in Duck Soup


Harold Bloom once composed a short list of what he called the twentieth-century American Sublime. It included Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, the story of Byron the light bulb in Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, songs by Bud Powell and Charlie Parker, and, amongst a few others, the war scene that concludes Duck Soup.

I've always loved how Bloom is willing to pick very narrow and specific passages or segments of longer works in this list. Increasingly I find that art grabs me in these little moments. This is not always true, of course. A work like Blood Meridian overpowers with its totality. But often it is brief bits of brilliance in a work that I return to again and again. (At our old Gigantic blog, we explained our magazine's aesthetic in such fragments... although here I see I broke even Blood Meridian down and singled out Judge Holden's dialogue.)

But back to Duck Soup and The Marx Brothers. The war segment is indeed sublime, but my favorite moment is even briefer and even more surreal. From 0:33 to 0:47 in the following clip:



Gigantic print issue #3 is hot off the presses and here just in time for the big Gigantic launch party on Friday.

Party will take place at 285 Kent in Williamsburg and go all night long. We've got rad readers, an indie arcade installation from Babycastles, music from NewVillager, cheap booze, and late night DJing by Frank Gilbert Lyon II, James Yeh, and Me.

"Hopefully you aren't in the hospital with a horrible brain injury from biking"

"Hopefully you aren't in the hospital with a horrible brain injury from biking."
- voicemail from my mother


"Why do I keep coming here? I hate all these assholes."

Have you been reading Animals in Midlife Crises by Lincoln Michel and John Dermot Woods? The second strip went up this week. It even caught the eye of Flavorwire. New strips every Sunday at The Rumpus.

In unrelated Rumpus news, Nancy Smith reviewed issue six of Canteen magazine and gave a very nice shout out to my essay on disappearing deep ends:

Lincoln Michel writes, rather remarkably, about the loss of the deep end of the pool....I simultaneously loved/was terrified by learning to swim and overcoming the deep end was a rite of summer passage. I’m somewhat depressed by the fact that kids nowadays just splash around in a couple feet of water. As Michel so rightly concludes, “A pool can only be conquered if you actually have to swim in it.”

Very awesome to read! Also awesome to see reviews of literary magazines, something that doesn't happen enough.


mystic haiku, mortality haiku, capitalist haiku, foreboding haiku

I have four haiku up at elimae for the April issue. They are titled Mystic Haiku, Mortality Haiku, Capitalist Haiku, and Foreboding Haiku.


Animals in Midlife Crises by Lincoln Michel and John Dermot Woods

I'm very excited to say that The Rumpus is running John Dermot Woods and my comic strip about animals undergoing existential midlife crises (appropriately titled Animals in Midlife Crises). The first strip can be viewed here. Others to follow every Sunday.


Three readings and other upcoming things


March 11th: In anticipation of Blake Butler's new novel, This Is No Year, Harper Perennial is staging four consecutive readings where a variety of writers will read the entirely of Blake's novel. I will be reading on the fourth day, this Friday, at PowerHouse Arena. Other readers that night include good friends Adam Wilson, Catherine Lacey, and Blake Butler, amongst others. Giancarlo Ditrapano, James Yeh, Justin Taylor, and many others will be reading on other nights. You know you want to come.

March 16th: I'll be briefly reading my own work at the Monkeybicycle Lightning Round reading at the Cake Shop, 7pm.

We're happy to say that this edition of the Lightning Round will also double as a release party for our eighth print issue, which will be available shortly. Featuring: Paula Bomer, Vince Czyz, Scott Geiger, Jeff Grentharer, Michael Hickins, Suzanne Marie Hopcroft, Blake Kimzey, Lincoln Michel, David Moscovich, Dustin Luke Nelson, Steve Peacock, Edwin Rivera, Kathleen A. Ryan, Andrew James Weatherhead, and Katie Wudel, plus others.

March 23: I'll be reading a longer amount of my own work at Vol. 1 Brooklyn's monthly reading series at Brooklyn Winery alongside Marcy Dermansky and Norman Lock. The reading is co-organized by Big Other. Dermansky and Lock are both fantastic writers, so should be a good time! Here is the Facebook event with more details.


An essay in Tin House's summer issue on Herbert Read's The Green Child.

A short story in Indiana Review's spring issue about a dictator and his head bodyguard.

Two poems in PANK print issue #6, one about urination and campfires, the other about an evil grandfather.

A shorty story (from the last Unsaid) anthologized in Tell: An Anthology of Expository Narrative. This anthology is being put together by the very talented and awesome Molly Gaudry. In addition to writing and editing awesome stuff, Molly just launched an indie books publicity business that is getting tons of deserved buzz around the indie lit world. Check it out.

The anthology's contributor list is beyond amazing and I'm very excited to be included:

Contributors include: Matt Bell, Aimee Bender, Kate Bernheimer, Crispin Best, Blake Butler, Alexandra Chasin, Paola Corso, Rebecca Curtis, Justin Dobbs, Anthony Doerr, Stuart Dybek, Brian Evenson, Kathy Fish, Susan Froderberg, Roxane Gay, Thomas Glave, Michael Griffith, J. C. Hallman, Miles Harvey, Lily Hoang, Christie Hodgen, Shelley Jackson, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Lee Klein, Samuel Ligon, Robert Lopez, Gary Lutz, Charles McLeod, Ben Marcus, Peter Markus, Clancy Martin, Michael Martone, Lincoln Michel, Lydia Millet, Rick Moody, Richard Nash (Foreword), Peter Orner, Benjamin Percy, Dawn Raffel, Nelly Reifler, George Saunders, Christine Schutt, Ben Segal, B. R. Smith, Michael Stewart, Terese Svoboda, Christian TeBordo, J. A. Tyler, Deb Olin Unferth, Diane Williams, Kevin Wilson, Lidia Yuknavitch.


Gigantic Indoors (Gigantic issue #3) is heading to press pretty shortly and we are very excited about it. The issue will include fantastic contributions from Dave Berman, Diane Williams, Joshua Cohen, and many others. More info to come!

I have been working on a rad series of comic strips with the very talented John Dermot Woods that we will hopefully reveal pretty soon.

As always, I write a regular column on fiction at The Faster Times and pretend to post witty thoughts on Twitter.


Interview up at PANK

I have an interview up at PANK blog in which I use the phrases "children’s party clown with a mean streak," "organic oils and artisanal lotions," "air-dropped into the secluded hunting grounds," "undead howls," and "fool others into thinking I’m thinking."



Essay in Tin House

Fiction in Indiana Review

Poetry in PANK print

Interview in PANK online

Starting 2011 off with a mix of things. Will post more as they are posted or printed.


language as inside ideal

I know plenty of people have made note of the spam poetry that exists on the web and in emails---the bizarre sentences cobbled by computers to get around spam sensors---but since this one contains my name I thought I might as well post it:

Mondays and thursdays are considered already recent infantrymen for fasting. Ringed piers of different fancy of definitions acutely followed. Thinking contributors were a other interest often constructed over science and from one transcendence to another. Victoria's form is six pipes larger than endurance centrifuge. Lincoln Michel since i published some of his language as inside ideal at night train rocks inside.
I'll spare you the spam link, but I couldn't figure out what the spam was even for. Russian Viagra maybe?


Nice things people have said about me

Last month I had two short stories in Unsaid #5 and this month I have two even shorter stories up at PANK.

My two PANK stories were featured on BlackBook magazine's "Fiction For Your Lunch Break" series. Here is what writer and friend Adam Wilson had to say:

His two featured stories might only be a paragraph long each, but they manage to encompass big ideas and entire worlds. “The Soldier” hinges on a startling point of view shift, from that of a soldier abroad to that of a local dog the soldier has accidentally kicked. In “The Hunt,” men go off hunting only to return to a burnt shell of a village, the families there regressed to feral, pre-human instinct. Michel is a master at manipulating time, seamlessly shifting from panorama to personal close-up. Re-read these stories until your brain has been marinated in their dark wisdom.

On Facebook, Unsaid super editor David McLendon has been collecting photographs of Unsaid contributors and had a very flattering comment on mine that I hope he won't mind me repeating here (or perhaps using as a blurb in the future!):

Lincoln Michel knows where he is from. No matter the flask or bottle or napkin dispenser from which Michel imbibes, his pages are always poured from the greater vessel that is Michel himself. Or, more accurately, Michel's pages are poured from that part of himself that he wishes but refuses to shake: Home. In Michel's case, home is a more than a place - it is a journey. His pages always orbit the source they intend to flee, but with a kind of furthering recurrence that pushes home much closer to home than was ever possible before Michel framed home with language. In other words, you can never go home again. In other words, welcome home.
~ David McLendon

You can read one of my Unsaid stories, "Drive," over here. However, you should buy the whole issue because it is packed with amazing writers and McLendon is one of the most talented editors in the lit mag world today.


Two for PANK

I'm excited to say I have two short-short stories in the current online issue of PANK. I will also have a few poems in their forthcoming print issue.

The first story is about a a soldier that accidentally kicks a starving dog and the second is about abandoned women eating bark with their teeth. Here are two random sentences:

When he was hungry he sat on the ground and gnawed on his own leg.
Our beards grew long.
Check them out if you'd like!