My new story “MANY WAYS TO FIND OUT” was featured at the BULL magazine website earlier this week. Bull specializes in quality fiction (and some essays) directed in varying ways at the complexity and dynamics of masculinity here in 2017.
There’s a theory out there that men don’t like to read “serious fiction.” I think a lot of men just don’t like to read crappy stories that have little to do with them. I might be wrong. Who knows?
The whole idea of TV, movies, and video games is to help people grab room to fantasize about other worlds and more heroic situations. Many novels have done that, too, for centuries. However, maybe now more than ever stories that try to make sense of the life we all actually lead should have a special place of value. Fiction is effectively about virtual consciousness. It’s the only art form that delves into human thought and emotion. Stories should always transport readers, but sometimes they should also help the reader realize:
“Yes, that’s right, I feel that too, that’s something I think about…”
I try to write about what seems to be in the minds of the men I know in the world. Sometimes I stay close to home. Sometimes I get flamboyant and leak bits of the collective unconscious into my stories. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing stories for all of us to help explain to women what’s really going on inside our famous coconut noggins that seem so dense and even scary.
“MANY WAYS TO FIND OUT,” graciously printed this week by BULL, approaches the complexity of being both middle-aged and miraculously still married here in this new era of doubt and turmoil. What happens when your wife starts to enjoy time away from home on her own? What happens when she becomes less and less concerned about making it home for dinner? What happens when she starts taking showers more and maybe isn’t interested in sex? Most of us by the time we’re in our fifties don’t even have friends we talk to about that kind of stuff. There’s nothing like feeling vulnerable as hell here in the years approaching 2020 with no one to talk to.
Watching what happened to Harvey Weinstein in October and what has ensued since struck me as ironic when I thought about what I was portraying as the emotional reality of a normal guy in MANY WAYS. Yes, a portion of us are confused and willing to be assholes to women, and maybe power makes some men worse than others (I do know a few guys who are total dicks to their wives), but a lot of us over fifty still struggle with questions about the meaning of romance, and whether we’re still adequate in bed, and whether we’re even worthy of being loved anymore. We know we’re no longer “attractive” with our pot bellies and our hair loss and our doubling chins.
Sounds pretty sad, I know, maybe even overly sentimental to those of you toughened up by life and/or made cynical by all the crap you went through in your youth. But that’s kind of the story told in “MANY WAYS TO FIND OUT.” Being in love with your wife and not really understanding what she’s up to all of a sudden can really mess with your head–and your heart.
So I hope you’ll take the time to read “MANY WAYS TO FIND OUT”. It’s part of a group of seven stories called The Cannibal Talks Collection that I finished working on earlier this year. Other pieces deal with what it means to pick up litter for a living, the politics of a private school for mixed race kids only, confronting the metaphysics of orphaned cats, romance and sex wandering off into dementia, and, of course, the importance of suburban cannibalism in the very near future.
Go check out “Many Ways to Find Out” at the BULL site. Let me know your thoughts. BULL doesn’t have a comments section, but I do here. Writers don’t get rich on money these days. Most of us just hope for comments and maybe a special place in our readers’ hearts. Keep your eyes peeled for other stories from the Cannibal Collection shortly.
Life is short. Read up.
Also published on Medium.