October 8, 2008
The Mouse Story
I Don’t know why I doodled the cat and mouse on the end page of the short Julian Barnes essay “Literary Executions,” why that duo instead of, say, a dog and sheep, or a dog and elephant—after all, no cats are mentioned in the essay. I can’t say why, but I’m willing to speculate.
The essay, collected in The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work, is about the burdens of being the literary executor for a friend of Julian Barnes, author Dodie Smith (Dear Octopus, Capture the Castle, The Hundred and One Dalmatians, etc.). One of his executor responsibilities involved deciding whether or not it was proper to sell reprint rights to Japan, given that in life Ms. Smith had objected to such a deal because she believed the Japanese had a fondness for dogs fried, baked and par-boiled. (According to the essay that report was untrue, it was actually the Chinese who savored canine meals.) Meanwhile, the only direct connection between my doodle and the essay was that the essay mentioned, in passing, that mice had chewed the corners off some of Ms. Smith’s manuscript pages. Might my doodle mouse be explaining to the cat why he did that? But why a cat? Why not have the mouse explain its misdeed to a dog, one of the potential victims mentioned in the essay?
My guess is that the cat has been sent to execute the mouse for chewing the manuscripts, and the clever mouse is telling Scheherazade-like stories while trying to figure out how to escape. (No, wait—that’s an idea I had years ago for a children’s book—one with which, as usual, I never got around to doing anything. So many “brilliant” ideas, so little time.)
“The Mouse Story” is the third in a series of occasional posts under the title Marginalia. In these posts I’ll display and comment upon a page scan from one of my personal library books, on which I’ve doodled and/or underlined—or, as some would claim, otherwise defaced, a scared text (to the true bibliophile all text is scared). These folks, shocked by the desecration, predict (and seem to wish), that I will suffer some vile punishment for my transgressions. Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.
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Posted by Jim
August 4, 2008
Today’s Media Flash
“Klaatu Barada Nikto,” my short story, appears in the August, 2008 issue of Urbanite, a slick, full-color monthly magazine available FREE at hundreds of commercial locations (restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc.), in the Baltimore metro area. If you don’t live around here you can still read “Klaatu Barada Nikto,” online, by clicking the Urbanite Magazine link in the sidebar blogroll. (I could explain the title but if I did it would ruin the story, so I won’t.)
There are lots of good reasons to check out the 50th issue of “The Urb.” Take the August cover for starters, it just looks great. The delightful faux 40s pulp fiction-style illustration by Deanna Staffo serves as a visually ironic setup for Editor-in-Chief David Dudley’s serious Q&A interview with Patsy Sims about the current “truthiness” flap—is it fiction or nonfiction?—a hot topic in literary circles. Inside, too, aside from the fine articles, I’ve noticed a big improvement in overall graphic design—especially in art and photography selection, and page layouts.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Susan McCallum-Simth, the Urbanite literary editor, for her sensitive help in getting my bloated 8,000 word manuscript down to a svelte 3,500 words; and for her insightful essay introducing the five featured stories. As I’ve told Susan (and I’m only slightly kidding), when it comes to my writing I like to hide behind the “emotional truth” shield and claim to be an “Impressionist,” painting my version of the world with words, whether fiction or nonfiction. After giving it a moment or two of thought, I estimate that “Klaatu Barada Nikto” comes in at 98.9 percent true fiction. Copyright © 2008 Jim Sizemore.
5 Comments | fiction, short fiction, writing | Tagged: creative nonfiction, David Dudley, Deanna Saffo, editor-in-chief, emotional truth, fiction, Goucher College, graphic design, impressionist, Klaatu Barada Nikto, literary, litereary editor, manuscript, page layouts, Patsy Sims, short fiction, short story, Susan McCallum-Smith, truthiness, Urbanite magazine | Permalink
Posted by Jim