While I suspect that some of you might be nursing a yen for happy wishful and firmly resolved pick-me-up for annus novus, be warned that it’s not going to happen with today’s story, with which you should prepared. If, on the other hand, you need a story in preparation for dirtying your hands or drinking too much, consider yourself In Luck.
To offset or maybe just counterpoise the thin slice of news conveyed in the audio introduction to today’s story, which, as has recently been pointed out to this podcastress, might be the most poetic science headline ever:
Which is fine, so long as they stay far away from these brackish ducts.
In the interest of spitting a sluicy cobwebbed thread to tie together the conversations in and around this corner of the infoweb and its earbound counterpart, I wanted to offer up one more chance to allow our space to double as the hotbed of information on the social and biological activities of the Tree Squirrel, and bring some attention to our relationship with tree squirrels.
For starters, Charles Willeford, of today’s story, frequently set works in Florida, and without being a Florida’s-my-bag sort, he invoked the sticky filth of sweat and exposure to fake everything and always-heated flesh as well as anybody. Another Florida writer, Douglas Fairbairn, writes with the same virtuosistic reverence for, YES, the tree squirrel.
You see? It’s like that Kevin Bacon game, only with rodents.
Nice title, right? In my efforts to knock your socks to obscurantist skies, I’m willing to offer a dollar to the first listener who can prove he or she already knows of this story (currently in the running (BY THE WAY) for Miette’s Top Short Fiction Find of the Decade, and how’s that for a reason to listen?). And how to prove this? I don’t know. Lie detectors can be beaten. FMRI scans are not inexpensive, and neither are my own telepathic services.
I’m willing to offer two dollars, then, one if you can prove you know tonight’s story before hearing it here, and another if you offer up a valid way to prove you did.
Today’s is another story by an author of whom I know very little, which I’ve plucked from a collection of Big Guns German fiction including Thomas Mann‘s Death in Venice, Kafka‘s Metamorphosis, Hoffmansthall, Hermann Broch, ad krautium, serious big-league uberplayers, which only deepens the rift in my brow over the fact that I don’t know much about Brentano. The biographical paragraph accompanying the story doesn’t reveal much, but does inform The Reader that “His was a restless, thoroughly unhappy life. Married to a hysterical woman, he divorced her, thus thwarting his subsequent ambition to become a priest.”
Which makes me think that whomever was responsible for penning these blurbs must’ve taken a gripe with Brentano, had unsettled family debt, or was the progeny of the next husband of this hysterical woman, or had had a very bad day. And it also makes Yourstruly a full-blooded Brentano sympathizer.
But would you believe that I spent the last couple of weeks dedicated to trying mightily and hard to uncover the identity of tonight’s author before hurling the fruits of these findings to splat on your walls. Maybe I spent the week after mired in self-pity at having failed you… failed YOU, the Internet, whom I adore. Maybe the week after I picked myself up off the floor of despondency was passed by trying, and trying hard because I’d already failed you in so many ways, to make it through this story without losing my beans entirely. Because it’s just that good.
Believe me? I suppose you don’t have to.
So, Ilf and Petrov met while working on a newspaper for railway workers, which is intriguing to me. For starters, where’s the podcastresses’ newspaper, and why have I not been invited to participate? My life’s literary collaborator could be waiting there, slinging the pen on the audio-coding equivalent to pieces on socialism and coal hauling, and if he or she is really someone destined to be -my- partner in literary fiendishness, well, better hurry cause Yr Miette is become quite skilled, multiple personalitily speaking. Maybe it’s just that I’m pretty sure I’d feel right at home in pre-war Soviet Russia. And, ehh, I don’t mean that in any sort of nationalistic way. I mean, if Ilf and Petrov managed…
Another Listener has asked whether I might be kind enough to share a few words about my reading process for aspiring podcasters and podcastresses. I am, of course, always glad to share secrets, although in this case I don’t think there’s anything illuminating about it. In typical sarcastresse fashion, I could just say that it’s a matter of opening a book and opening a mouth. Or, if I were giving a master class on the subject, I might conceive of ways in which you might make love to your microphone, but of course that would just lead to speculation about romantic leanings, and whether I prefer a boy microphone or a girl microphone.
In all seriousness, the trick, inasmuch as there is one, is to come up for air every few minutes. It’s not unlike when you were a teenager, petting and smooching while on innocent movie theatre dates. This can be all shades of fun, until you find yourself turning purple and panting for the wrong reasons. So, it’s not a matter of making love to the microphone, as much as it is trying to sloppily fondle around the obstruction of an r-rated armrest. Just take it slowly and breathe steadily.
Is there a real answer in here somewhere? I hope so.
I know the great controvery of the Scarlet Ibis has bothered you, and I confess to great shame at using this controversy to draw attention away from the various corporate scandals, celebrity affairs, and political horrors that are sucking the steam off the almost pervasive media coverage known to some as HurstGate.
And so, here is what I hope is the full-length, uncut, unexpurgated, absolute, and intact version of the Scarlet Ibis. I hope. It may take Mr. Hurst himself to convince me otherwise, but enjoy!