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[Contest!] Free book: A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed.

February 9, 2011 \pm\28 5:10 pm

Lovely stalwart, bastion of awesomeness, James Chapman, he of Fugue State Press, and J. A. Tyler, he of the beauty words, offer us Tyler’s new work, A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed:

This is a man being so much other than.

How the love falls out of him, replaced by beads, by water, by nails, by cardboard.

Bent on a curb, blowing kisses to dead lips in that window above, a voice calling out a name, her not looking down at the wreckage.

A man when there is none left.

This is a love poem, a love poem that doesn’t want to be, a love poem about shattering open, about groping for what is left when there is nothing left, when subsistence isn’t enough, when we are damaged and the memories of what was, are all that is.

To win a free copy, write in these here comments your shittiest love story.

Tyler will choose his choice on Valentine’s Day the 14th of Feb. Where choice = you, Chapman will send you this new book to the delight of your face.

Various sites are participating so make it extra super shitty as shit as is love. ♥

  1. February 9, 2011 \pm\28 5:18 pm 5:18 pm

    My first high school girlfriend and I went out for Chinese food. Her parents dropped us off at the restaurant and then we and they and her siblings were going to a movie after dinner.

    We had a nice dinner, for which I paid. As soon as the server left our table with my money, my girlfriend said, “I think we need to break up. Kissing you is like kissing my brother.”

    The server brought our change and we went outside to walk over to the nearby theater. Her parents and siblings parked the minivan and they all got out and walked toward us. As she approached us, my girlfriend’s sister yelled out, “Did you do it?”

    Then I got to sit with them all in the movie for two hours. Then they gave me a ride home.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!


  2. glassbottles permalink
    February 10, 2011 \am\28 2:27 am 2:27 am

    During my freshman year of high school, I dated a guy named Travis. I initially admired him because he seemed to be one of the only reasonably intelligent members of my biology class, but he later committed multiple blunders that proved otherwise. I seem to remember him breaking a piece of equipment at one point.

    Anyway, I asked him out purely because I wanted a date to my ~first homecoming ever~, which was a foolish decision.

    As soon as his mother heard that her son was planning to attend a dance with a girl, she signed us both up for swing dancing lessons. One took place at his house; the other, in what I presumed was his mother’s friend’s basement. I had to borrow high heels and repeat certain steps over and over. Neither of us was particularly good, but I’m convinced he had even less rhythm than I did.

    When homecoming night finally arrived, he was insistent on trying out our recently-learned swing dancing moves in the middle of the school gym. As a freshman girl, I was horrified by this. I was hardly comfortable with swing dancing as it was, but with him tugging at my arm and mumbling “remember the count of four we learned?” didn’t make me feel any better about the fact that ~everyone was watching us and silently mocking us~.

    Of course, I refused to swing dance, which only got him agitated, and as such he refused to slow dance whenever the opportunity arose. Frustration building, I retreated to find my friends and hopefully salvage this otherwise dismal night. A few minutes with them lifted my spirits considerably, so I went looking for him. Apparently he was irate that I’d left his side for even a moment.

    Seeing as I’d been reined in as it were, I sat down on a table against one of the walls in the hallway and made small talk with him to appease him. Little did I know that I’d sat on the only table with a gigantic wad of bubblegum still stuck to it. However, now over half of it was clinging to my shimmering burgundy dress.

    To make matters worse, at some point during the night, a guy approached me and began hitting on me, or at least engaging in conversation equivalent to what Travis would call flirting, because he flew into a jealous rage, pinning the guy down onto another table and bending his arm behind his back.

    After what felt like an eternity from my adolescent perspective, the night was over. Needless to say, I ended that relationship immediately afterward.

  3. Frank Tas permalink
    February 10, 2011 \pm\28 12:08 pm 12:08 pm

    When I lived in Brooklyn I shared an apartment with my friend M, and M lived very extravagantly – he got his weed delivered to him, he owned a keggerator, played golf on the weekends – so it wasn’t too much of a surprise when he suggested we get a cleaning lady to thoroughly scrub and polish up the place. Since he was paying, I offered to stay home the Saturday she came over, to supervise and pay and all that.

    Her name was J, and she was in her thirties, and she wore those Buddy Holly glasses that all the kids seem to wear these days. She was nice, but she chided us on our choice to supply her with non-organic, non-environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, and gave me some pointers on ways to conserve heat and energy that I don’t remember. She was also incredibly high-strung and laughed very, very loudly during uncomfortable moments or poorly made jokes while we chit-chatted when she first arrived. Think a Jewish version of a Tennessee Williams southern belle in distress.

    While she worked I played Madden on M’s Xbox 360. I was 24 at the time – only 25 now – and while I did note that she was kind of cute, and I wouldn’t mind making it with her, it would be better for the apartment to get cleaned up. I made a modest effort at wooing her by mentioning I was a writer, but outside of that I kept my distance. Every once in a while she stopped to make a comment about this or that or to ask where something was located. It wasn’t until she had finished our kitchen and M’s room that she asked whether I would kiss her. She asked as if it was any favor a girl might ask a guy, like “Could you open this jar for me?” or something. What I mean is it wasn’t very alluring.

    Naturally, I was a little thrown off, I was in the middle of an important franchise game, so I told her I needed a little time to decide. She was attractive enough, certainly, and for the story alone it was worth doing, but she still hadn’t cleaned our bathroom, and she had been working at such a snail’s pace that I was worried that it’d be too late for her to finish cleaning by the time we finished. I actually told her my concerns, and she promised she would still get everything finished. She just wanted to be kissed.

    She was a lot prettier with her glasses off. For a half hour we sat on M’s couch and made out in between her talking to me about things like not having had sex in two years and wondering whether she was gay. She told me I was like a puppy dog with a big back, and said the things girls always say, you know, things insinuating I was some sort of playboy (“I bet you say that to all the girls,” etc.). Meanwhile I debated with myself whether I should take her to bed or have her clean the bathroom. Fact is the bathroom was the room that needed cleaning the most, and I even wondered whether she made her move specifically to get away with not cleaning it. I decided that having some sex wasn’t worth not having a clean tub, so I stood up and asked her in a very nice way to get back to work.

    The rest of the day went along smoothly. I played some more video games while she kept working at her very slow pace, and by 9 PM that evening I paid her and she was on her way. When M returned I told him all about what had happened, and we agreed to hire a different cleaning lady the next time we needed one. What I hadn’t counted on was J keeping hold of my phone number, and calling me in the immediate future.


    • Frank Tas permalink
      February 10, 2011 \pm\28 4:52 pm 4:52 pm

      Part 2: Not so much “shitty” as “fucked-up”

      A day or two later I received a text message from J asking if I would like to get together again. At that time I was not interested. I didn’t really like J. She had such a high strung personality. Dating her was probably not worth the headaches, I thought. So I didn’t respond to her text. Later that night, she sent me a follow-up text, assuring me that it didn’t have to be anything more than sex. “It could be like physical therapy,” the text explained.

      It was comparing sex to physical therapy that hooked me. The next day I gave her a call and we arranged a night for her to come to my apartment again. She canceled our first meeting because she was concerned about the age disparity and thought she might hurt me. I didn’t know how to tell her that I had no interest in seeing her outside of the sex and the story I’d get out of it, so instead I just told her to give me a call if she changed her mind. Which she did, three days later.

      It was Wednesday, and after work I purchased a bottle of wine and had M loan me a condom. Most of my friends were aware of the situation at this point. I even gchatted with one pal on the day I made out with J, while she was cleaning the bathroom. M promised to stay in his room for the evening so that J and I would have the living room to ourselves, and when I got home I poured myself a glass of wine and waited for her to come to my apartment in Brooklyn, all the way from Staten Island.

      It’s always at this point of the story I have difficulty explaining how many weird things happened in such a small amount of time. J arrived promptly with a black plastic bodega bag. When I asked her what was in it, she told me it was a jar of honey. We sat on the same couch we had made out on before and she told me about how she had been on her period when she came to my apartment the first time and just wanted to have sex with any guy. She told me how her father died at an early age and how she felt this affected her ability to hold a relationship. I had drunk half the bottle of wine at that point. Things were going ok.

      After we made out for a little bit she stopped and told me we couldn’t have sex because she had genital warts, and even though they were only contagious when they were active, she had seen a “bump down there” earlier that day. She told me she thought she got it from her ex-boyfriend who had a very large penis, because she once saw a scar on it, and when she asked about the scar he wouldn’t tell her where it came from. She told me how once she went home with a guy but she didn’t like him so she “kissed his penis and walked out.”

      Half of me wanted her to leave after I heard about the genital warts, but the fact was she schlepped all the way to my apartment from Staten Island. She brought honey, for God’s sake. And what’s more, I felt the story would be no good if it ended so abruptly. So instead we retired to the bedroom.

      Since we couldn’t have sex she offered to give me head, which was fine, I figured it was better than nothing at that point. Problem was she had difficulty breathing through her nose while performing. That meant every fifteen seconds or so she had to come up, gasping for air like she was drowning, and each time I asked if she was alright, and she said she was fine, and then went back to work. It’s very very difficult for a young man to give up a blowjob. It was maybe ten minutes of this before I told her it wasn’t worth it, at which point she asked me if I wanted to “come on [her] boobs.” I told her that was fine, except when I finally did come something went wrong with the trajectory, and it got all over her face, and she had to keep one eye closed until I found her some tissues.

      For the rest of the night she wouldn’t stop talking. If she did stop talking she brushed her hand up and down my arm and said “Doo de doo” to the tune of a person who’s minding his or her own business. At one point she had me suck on her nipples because “I can orgasm from it. One time a Hasidic guy did it to me in a car and I was so loud that a cop came over.” I didn’t believe her, but I did it anyway.

      Around four in the morning she told me she had a headache, and when I couldn’t find any Tylenol in the apartment I went out to our local bodega to get her some. Then she said she wanted to lick honey off me. I told her it was a bad idea because I was very hairy, but she insisted, and put a little on my shoulder and licked it off. My shoulder was still sticky, so at five in the morning I had to go to the bathroom and wash excess honey off my shoulder. All the while she’s talking and rubbing my arm and going “Doo de doo.” Fascinating.

      When it came time for me to get up for work we left the apartment together. I had to take the G and she had to take the M. She asked if there was any way for her to get to where she needed to be by taking the G but I emphasized that it was better for her to take the M. She kept telling me I was a nice kid and saying that we weren’t a couple, you know, saying things out loud to remind her the way things were. When we reached the G I kissed her goodbye and went underground and had a shitty day at work.

      Since then, she’s called a few times, left voice mail messages, but I never picked up, and I never listened to whatever messages she left. I’d let my friends listen to them instead and have them tell me what she said. One friend told me the message she left sounded like one an ex-girlfriend of his sent him a few weeks back. I live in Chicago now, and the last time she called was about a month back. I still don’t know her last name and she is listed in my contacts list as “J Cleaning Lady.”

      <3 Fin <3

  4. February 10, 2011 \pm\28 7:57 pm 7:57 pm

    wow you guys. the bar is set keep ’em coming.

  5. February 13, 2011 \am\28 8:31 am 8:31 am

    In 1995 I was broken clean in half by Nicole Kidman. At least that’s’ who everyone said she looked like. They weren’t wrong. We started as friends when I first moved north. Reserved and beautifully clumsy with an infectious, goofy laugh. Things were fine for a while, but then things…stopped. By things I mean sex. I have always felt each of us has a “sexual self”, a mode we enter when our molecules get riled and our brains jump start our bodies. Sometimes that self is a lot like our alter egos. Sometimes it’s a version of us on acid, and feral hunger. When things got intimate, her other self emerged. Thing is, it always seemed like something unnatural, a character she would need to assume once in a while to keep things running smoothly. However, the more comfortable we became after moving in together, the more comfortable she seemed to just let that part go. We worked on it, but it just seemed too forced. I rode out my savior complex as long as I could, but month after month of sleeping next to her like a friend, I couldn’t take it any more. It came off as more of a relief when we had the big discussion. I soon moved out and tried to start the next chapter. I weighed my options, cut my losses, took stock. Started looking for my power animal around happy hour.

    Six months later, Diana Krall gave me an aneurysm. It was Sunday morning and I was driving my still single self to breakfast when “Sunday Kind of Love” came on the radio. Like some sleeper cell, it activated the old system, and I found myself driving around driving around the old days, until I had stopped the car on Dayton, right in front of our old place. To my knowledge she still lived there. Bad move. No, good move. It’s over. It doesn’t have to be. I walked up the rickety stairs I still remembered with a smile. I reached the landing and knocked. Movement inside. After a few seconds, the door opened a crack and one eye looked at me suspiciously through the crack. I could see her fluffy robe gripped tightly around her neck. Her cute short hair tussled. I was on emotional auto pilot. As she regarded me coldly like a salesman, I blathered about mistakes and true love and fate, completely ignoring the reality of the problems we tried so hard to work out. Finally, I ran out of happy-ever-after platitudes and watched her watch me with a mix of confusion and pity. Refrigerator door slam. Oh. The situation before me unfolded with sickening clarity. It was noon. She was in her robe. Her hair. There is someone in the apartment.

    “Oh. I see. I’m. I’m sorry. I’ll….”

    Her one raised eyebrow said “Get it, Romeo? Yeah, I thought so.” The door shut in my face while I still backpedaled like a moron.

    I stood on the landing, well the bottom part of me did. My torso was somewhere else, wondering what happened to the world. I made it down two steps before my knees gave out and I sat and cried like a seven-year-old girl. Nicole Kidman had broken me clean in half, and I would have to sit there until the two parts came together enough to get the hell off her stairs.


  6. February 15, 2011 \am\28 11:04 am 11:04 am

    Frank Tas, you win. Shitty & weird. Send me your mailing address and Fugue State Press will drop an advanced copy to you.

    Crane, glassbottles, & Gause, as a consolation prize, if you send me proof of pre-order I’ll hit you with a free signed copy OUR US & WE or THE ZOO, A GOING or INCONCEIVABLE WILSON. Thanks for playing along!

    • Frank Tas permalink
      February 15, 2011 \am\28 11:32 am 11:32 am

      Yes! It was either use the story here or get really drunk and tell it at The Moth.

      I emailed you with an address.

      Thanks again!


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