"And somewhere, even farther away, there was this vague recollection, the dimmest of the dim stars, that all of this, at one time, used to be fun."
I was obsessed with ferreting out the sequence of events. How did all those socks fit into the story told by the rest of the house? Did his subterranean masturbation drive her to leave? Or was the utility room his refuge from an already broken home? Did she wonder about his penchant for changing the furnace filter while barefoot? What was his annual sock expenditure? These were the questions that haunted me.
An exclusive excerpt from When We Were Locusts, the latest novel from our March 2015 Writer of the Month, Nathan Graziano.
Nyla’s mother told her about the slave trade when she turned seven. The bodies stacked high like wrapped wads of cash, the piss and shit and vomit in the hull of the ship. Suffocating. So much dying. Nyla could hear the sway of the ocean beyond the wooden planks of the bow; she heard the moans; she saw the darkness; she imagined being inside a beer barrel for weeks, months. Forgotten. Infrequent food and too little water, despite the waves crashing against the wall that imprisoned her. She imagined it while being held in her mother’s arms.
God is my Personal Trainer. He watches over me as I do my power squats and my abdominal holds, my bear crawls and my box jumps. He blesses my push-ups. He sanctifies my sit-ups. He is always by my side.
"We are hopelessly trapped, like ostrich heads in a fight-or-flight situation, or goldfish circling their heartbeats away in a bowl. Imagine bodiless blue eyes stupidly blinking in the Great Voids, or eye-less bodies wandering without aim, tongues stretched out to add trails of flesh on lone pavements. And because we are trapped, we are ruthless ... "
The suicides didn’t surprise me. I’d vaguely listened to the news that morning. Some kids had locked a garage door, freebased and let the Pinto run. I didn’t know anything about the departed until my mom called, asking, Did you hear? Did you know H and W from town? I knew them, recalled their pimply, not yet man faces from middle school. Wasn’t friends with them, I told her, they ran with a different crowd. I tapped on the counter, staring at the clock until she finished talking. It was my freshman year of college. I had to do library research before meeting underage friends for margaritas. I didn’t care about dead boys who, while living, had humiliated me. I wanted to get her off the phone.
It has been six months since you left her apartment with a bag of clothes and the cat, six months since you’ve spoken to her. But what could you have done differently? The red panties on the bedroom floor didn’t belong to her, and you both knew it. But she looks great now; she has lost weight since you dated. In fact, in a gray hooded sweatshirt and black yoga pants, her dark hair pulled back in a tight ponytail, it is reasonable to assume she has just come from the gym.
She first met Stanley on a lovely June morning when he came on the Feast of Saint Anthony. His dark business suit, plain tie and shined shoes announced that he would spend the rest of the day at a well-paid job in some office, but she read in his face the need for something money could not buy.
Even as a kid I knew Mom was different than Dad, and not just because she had these heavy bags pulling down off her chest. I mean, something in the way she thought her way through the world, the way she interacted with others, was vastly different.
It's hard to quantify this sort of film. Unlike the unintentional racism of films like Rush Hour, Get Hard knows exactly what it's doing and tries its best to play everything for a laugh. Surprisingly, much of it works and that's purely to the credit of the cast. Everyone is happy to make a fool of themselves and you can almost imagine them saying "no hard feelings, right?" after every take.
I may not like Sean Penn as a human being, but he does a fantastic job here. A few times in the film he manages to project more emotion with a look than some actors can do in an entire scene. Bardem is fun to watch even if you know exactly what he is going to do and say. Trinca does a lot with very little. It just stinks that The Gunman itself is a virtual paint-by-numbers movie. Despite the R-rating it still feels incredibly watered down and almost boring at times.
Red Army isn't just a sports documentary, but a look at a cloaked adversary from their own eyes, and the astounding greatness that came from a political machine.
I love Mr. Neeson as a leading man and I have since seeing Rob Roy. People talk about his late-career resurgence as an action hero but I personally prefer him when he plays a complicated character. The Taken series never bothered to make him anything more than an expert killing machine and that was a waste of talent. Fortunately Run All Night does not waste anything.
Filled with strong imagery and performances with nuance and flair, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night delivers a unique, soulful look at an old genre through new eyes.
I like passion. I love discourse. I like arguments that seem to fill in the blanks for your heartbeat. What I’m sick to shit of are snobs, and it seems like people who honestly believe their aesthetic choices hold sway over all others are more prevalent on the internet than ever.
Though seemingly hard to imagine things getting any worse, the action and the bodies begin to pile up in the third act, and I’ll use the word striking again to describe my utter surprise that each and every death in this movie is treated with a reverence and solemnity that is rarely seen in cinema. There are no faceless goons here.
Watching the trailers, Chappie looks like a film where a brilliant programmer/scientist/geek creates artificial intelligence using what looks like a beat-up old police robot. Then the robot is taught by two South African rappers on how to become a conscious being. Word gets out and the powers-that-be seek to destroy it. Well, that's not really the film at all.
The Drunk Monkeys Film Department looks head to the blockbusters and indie movies that everyone will be talking about for the rest of the year.
But when Nimoy died, and when we collectively wept upon hearing the news, we were not just sorry that a great actor passed away. Beyond the multitude of relationships we as an audience enjoyed with Spock, we also felt a connection to Nimoy himself.
You remember nothing of the show itself, other than a rustic tree projected in yellow light as the stage's backdrop, running your fingertips over the dark blonde toothbrush fuzz of Tom's buzzcut, the surprise of it after last seeing him with purple locks down to his ears. But that was in March, and this is a new school year and everything. This is post-break up, and there's even an older boy you've got your eye on, but so rare is it that you have some tactile evidence of another body that vaguely welcomes yours. You reach for his hand. Acoustic guitar strings let out their distinctive squeaks. He squeezes back.
Most fighting games, and definitely video games in general, seriously downplay just how damaging fighting can be. While it’s true that a one-punch knockout is rare, a knockout isn’t the only damage that can be done to a person. Cuts, bruises, contusions, concussions, sprains, and broken bones are just the tip of the injury iceberg that is downplayed or flat-out ignored in video games.
Suddenly, the call to prayer blared from the speakers in the minaret. Only in Syria is this call made by a choir rather than a single muezzin, and the harmonic effect is haunting. We were allowed to enter the mosque to observe, but we were relegated to the women’s side only. As thousands, women on one side, men on the other, knelt in murmured prayer touching their foreheads to the carpets, no one seemed to notice the American women clad in gray hooded robes watching from the corner.
This scene shows Snyder’s approach to horror in Wytches. He’s using childhood fears, be it of a bully or of something strange in the nearby forest, and suddenly making it adult- the bully has a gun and the strangeness in the forest turns out to be horrific, yes, but something that forces you to radically change your social life because everyone blames the incident on you. The fears of childhood are being matched with the fears of adolescence and the fears of adulthood.
I’ve learned and mastered the skill of ignoring inappropriate statements and questions like these. It’s nothing I haven’t heard before, so I can just brush it off as I always do even though I feel nearly powerless and weak. I can’t answer their questions or assertions or else I will become a joke that they will mock. Helpless.
They expect me to show proof that I’ve exhausted absolutely every other option before accepting the orientation as true for me. It only exists as a last-resort diagnosis—given, of course, under the authority of someone they trust—and even then, I probably ought to be trying to cover it up or at least not talking about it publicly. If asexuality became a thing we could all accept as part of our reality for a minority of people, well, then asexual people might start recruiting and nobody would have babies anymore.
I picked the route that would take me through places like Kansas and Idaho. Those places can become somber, desolate collections of crumbling small towns very, very quickly, but at least the landscape changes to a certain degree. Even someone who feels a legitimate spiritual connection to the desert is going to find themselves wishing for something, anything that doesn’t resemble the background of a goddamn Roadrunner cartoon, if they go through the entire American southwest by car or bus.
The kind of life I liked to lead on the road is the kind of thing that’s cute when you’re nineteen. When you’re twenty-nine, you start to wonder if maybe, just maybe, you’ve wasted your entire goddamn life. After getting back from Denver, I had to deal with this question. I also had to decide if traveling at a near-constant rate was really something I enjoyed as much as I used to.
Geoff listened intently. He spoke English to me, keeping his voice at a normal conversational volume. “She’s not a hooker,” he said. “Not yet. But he wants her to be.”
The lack of power and the pursuit of it have defined my life. In truth, we all have power, for we all have choice. It took me a long time to understand that, so I was like the beggar in the old Buddhist parable. The story goes: a man lost his fortune and had to live in the street with nothing but his clothes and a coat his father had willed him. He spent his days begging for food until one day a man asked him why he was begging. The beggar, of course, explained that he had no choice. A Zen-style dialogue unfolds between the two, and by the end of the conversation, the beggar has discovered a priceless jewel sewn into the lining of his father’s coat. The beggar had been rich all along; he just didn’t know it.
If only I could relive the joy
in overhearing her gossip with galpals
but my ability to repress ain’t what it used to be.
The walls of that Jericho fell
one of the days that the past arrived.
The first time we met, he was loping up the shadowy path behind the house. I was splitting kindling in the oak grove. I saw him first—a graceful rusty red banner, from arrow nose to white-tipped tail, angular ears and chin, frosted cheek tufts. When he saw me, our gazes locked: his face, simple, sad, sympathetic, his yellow eyes zealous, vibrant.
In Anticipation of My Next Bad Decision
My therapist says I have a drinking problem
and calls it a form of insanity. He compares it
to a helium balloon I expect to stay grounded
without a string tying it to anything solid. He says
I should try to get some exercise in the winter
when I tend to be depressed, so tonight
I’m going to shadow box in the garage
by the light of a lamp my wife and I never used.
He smells of hickory smoke and berries.
This smile is unfamiliar, in his palm he holds
a wildflower, she can’t name it but it’s beautiful.
A gift for a girl special to no one.
Non sequiturs stalk me.
They pounce at any pregnant pause
in my run-on consciousness.
Yes, I know its all caps MY FAULT—
after all I did graduate work
in evasive studies …
Unexpectedly, I catch
my reflection in a mirror.
Is that woman me?
My life slips away.
I imagine soaring mountains,
icy snow I seldom see.
I glimpse a snow leopard,
soft paws and fur of white.