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Todd Seabrook on Todd Seabrook.

December 13, 2010 \pm\31 4:11 pm

Todd Seabrook reviews a story by Todd Seabrook
from [C:] an mlp stamp stories anthology 

This stamp story is formed by two sentences, each of which is composed by a handful of words and a smattering of punctuation. Before a frightful series of edits, the tight-rope walker was a million-word manuscript intended to be published as a trilogy of novels, the original theme of which has been lost to time. However, the story still reads as the author envisaged it: a non-stop thrill ride, a bonanza, really; a tortuous maze of signifiers and ampersands distilled from the dregs of Mamet’s nightmares. As one slides through the language (which can only by described as being on par with a public-school 4th-grader, nay!—a 5th grader) the reader comes to understand that it is he or she who has never left the rope; it is thy own selves who cannot choose a side. What side? Exactly.

The two-sentence structure mimics the profound dichotomies of life, the crushing cycle of birth leading to death and world records leading to lifetimes. Do the spectators create the applause, or does the applause creates the spectators? Plural nouns creating singular nouns, two nouns becoming one when tight rope turns into an adjective—chaos reigns. But the story cannot be without its words even if they are annoyances, just as the signifying knots can(k)not be untan/gl(u)ed. While the two sentences seem inseparable in there sheer linguistic and thematic brilliance, the author manages to separate them with a period. In fact, the punctuation marks may be the most interesting aspect of this piece, which is to say, the most interesting thing, ever. While I would say that the punctuation is what glues the tight rope walker to his line, some critics/roommates of the author, have said that the punctuation is about level with the ingredients list on the back of a Diet Coke, or maybe the small print of a Nissan commercial. But as it is written, the spectators (readers) are supposed to applaud, and the silence is so, so deafening.

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