I can only remember two–the first-first glimmerings of BIRD & FAST, then the full glossary for BIRD (okay: there were two novellas as well, but they’re gone, now, sorry).
That FAST piece, I wrote it deep in the morning, after having just lied to an editor at a party that I’d finished the novel already. so I went home and started it. and, BIRD: it ook forever to find the right and proper voice for that one. but then of course it turned out to be many voices. as for that glossary, it’s surely best FC2 had me edit it down so much. some of those terms, though, I miss them. anyway, three links, here:
Early, scary stuff here. All of it right about fifteen years old. Not sure how I ever learned to write, really. Just that I had to. Included: “The Parrot Man,” which has a scene in it I’ve still yet to stop trying to tell; “West Texas Dirt,” which got me my first-ever fiction award, and $150; “Breakfast for Two,” which maybe had potential; then the first story I ever turned in for workshop, “Whiter Shade of Pale.” back when I thought song-lyrics were cool in stories. Or when I thought nobody else knew that song. I don’t know. Then the first story I ever wrote, sitting in another emergency room at nineteen years old, a blank spiral in my lap–all I’d had when the cops pulled me from World Lit, escorted me to the hospital for a three-day wait. What I remember best from those seventy-two hours–it was Halloween–would be this huge, big guy, who’d taken his kid trick or treating but got a flat, was changing it, got hit and dragged by a drunk driver. He was tore up all kinds of bad, of course, and really shouldn’t have been alive, but–I still get all shaky talking about it–the way he kept rising from that bed, fighting the lines and wires, fighting everything, just to live. It’s never left me. And, at the end of it, I had a story in my spiral. And here I am. But maybe I’d trade it just for that guy, I think. So he could have just taken his kid door to door, collecting candy.
So, yeah, I’m on a desert island, can only have ten books. A strange, impractical set-up—that the dungeon master here can assume I’d grab a round number of books instead of a two-way radio or a knife—but so be it. I’m there. I can only have ten books. Which is a lot like punishment, but, too, is a lot better than just nine books. Here goes:
1.Don Quixote. Not because it’s a classic and not because it’s on the required reading lists and not because it was the first real novel, any of that. I’d have it with me just because it’s good. Because I still think often of the way Dulcinea’s world must have reordered itself just a little, when she ceased being a princess. Because Don Quixote is able to preserve that romantic idealism most of us lose in the process of growing up. For him the world’s a magical place. I envy him that.
Or, really, just all of R.M. Berry’s stuff. It starts with Plane Geometry and Other Affairs of the Heart, ramps up to Leonardo’s Horse, then hits with The Dictionary of Modern Anguish. Each brilliant. His short story “Metempsychosis” has been, along with VALIS and COL49 [The Crying of Lot 49], probably the most influential, for me. In the sense of this is a thing I’m always trying to pull off, each time I sit down to write.