Sunday, September 13, 2009

from Gabriel Orgrease

From This World to That Which Is To Come

I live on Long Island halfway to Montauk on the south shore near to the Atlantic. On occasion for business in Manhattan I take the train. It used to be that I drove to an office in Brooklyn, alone on average 5 hours a day for twelve years. If you spend two hours driving without the radio playing it gets to a point that you are stuck with yourself, and it also gets to a point that it is worthwhile for a writer to make up very short stories... ones that we can remember long enough to get to the end of the drive and then write them down.

But this particular story was composed while I was riding on the train and had recently acquired a smart phone that seamlessly works with my word processor. The entire story was composed on my phone. There was something about the tool of the composition that lent itself to the brevity and compactness of the piece, in particular that my fingers and thumbs are too large for the keyboard. Read "Tree Reader" at elimae.

After this story was published in elimae I was contacted by an editor of school textbooks and asked if I would mind to have it published in an anthology of American short stories for HS students. They sent me a check. I am very happy that it goes from phone on train to online to print and that it will appear at the back of a book that starts with Washington Irving and Nathaniel Hawthorne and moves forward. It being likely one of the shortest stories in the anthology I anticipate that it will be read, and thus, leave a bit to the world of writers that is to come.

My other story here has to do with transportation as well. It dates back to when I had my office in Brooklyn and was weary of so much lonely commuting, but also a bit mystified at how long stretches of time seem to vanish from our memory and that in our lives our times of travel in retrospect seem very fleeting, almost instant. Read "The celestial teletransportation conduit" at insolent rudder.

In an authorial tradition it is a contemporary recasting of Hawthorne’s "The Celestial Rail-road" which in itself was an antebellum recasting of Bunyan’s "Pilgrims Progress". I very much enjoy allegory as writerly phenomena and the problems of comprehension and understanding that it introduces into a modern text. I enjoy the tradition of recasting, and I enjoy a whole lot reading Hawthorne, and not solely The Scarlet Letter. I feel an element that is missing in a great deal of contemporary short fiction, much of it written in a very hurried and untutored manner then nearly instantly cast onto the Internet, is a measured sense of the past of a well ploughed literary tradition. You may notice that Hawthorne's story is shorter than Bunyan's, and that my story is shorter still. A lean toward miniaturization and tight brevity of expression I consider a traditional literary movement.

My occasional musings can be found at my blog, Orgrease Crankbait. You will also find a list of a whole lot of blogs of authors and online zines. Not only is it of value as a writer to read old work of long dead authors, but to read and support the work of our immediate contemporaries as well.



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. revising my original comment to be less narcissistic-- I wonder if a lot writers of vsf and other contemporary forms aren't influenced by Hawthorne, along with the usual array of 19th C Americans? I know I am, possibly even more deeply and permanently than I'm influenced by Joyce and Faulkner--the writers I set out to imitate in in the first place.

    This is a great story GO. What was the name of the anthology?

  3. I missed the original comment.

    I think it is hard to say where influences derive for writers as a group, as much as for individual writers I think it important to seek out our personal influences and while on the one hand to be influenced by them to also explore them further with an idea to understand more of who we are in our own writing.

    It is from Perfection Learning Company but as it has not been listed in their catalog as yet I do not know the title. My latest communication was in receiving a check in the mail. I need to send them a note, though.

  4. Congratulations on "Tree Reader" -- a wonderful piece.