— This story: “Against Specificity” by Douglas Watson
The trouble: You want Thing A but are stuck with Thing B.
Shit, you say, turning Thing B around in your hands. Look at this thing, you say. It’s as dull as a bucket of dirt. It’s not half as interesting as a sculpture of a dog pissing on a dead man’s shoe in the rain, and you don’t have one of those. You don’t have Thing A, either.
— And this story: “Three Things You Should Know about Peggy Paula” by Lindsay Hunter
…How is there pee in the dumpster, it seems real inconvenient, Peggy Paula was thinking, and I swear seconds later, she’d say, seconds later a boy in a sequin robe thing stood on some milk crates so he could pee into the dumpster, his blond head looking up, and Peggy Paula still singing to herself so instead of screaming Hey or Stop she screamed TRAGEDY, and the boy so startled that his pee shot out and piddled the empty TV box just to the left of Peggy Paula, and he couldn’t stop, him apologizing Oh God sorry, Oh my God lady, I’m so sorry, my idiot dick I can’t stop, I can’t stop, and Peggy Paula just waiting it out with her eyes closed, thinking how it smelled like warmed butter, or buttered popcorn, something comforting like that, thinking it was kind of nice, kind of intimate…
— This quote:
It was a five-gallon bucket half-filled with water. Across the top, a spindle had been mounted, and an empty Pepsi bottle was speared on it. The bottle was covered in peanut butter. Three wooden yardsticks led up to the bucket’s rim. These were for the mice to climb. When they arrived at the top, they would be drawn to the peanut butter, but when they leaped onto the Pepsi bottle, they would spin and then fall into the water, where they would drown. Perky, joined by his fat, drunk-seeming cat, was mightily impressed by the bloated bodies of six dead mice floating in the bucket.
— And this quote:
“We imagine, in the modern world, that heroes are accidental heroes.” His enunciation is careful, as if giving street directions to a foreigner. “But, historically, many of the people who were heroes in their society set out to be heroes. They emulated their heroes, were obsessed with being a hero, wanted to be godlike. In contemporary society, that disqualifies you. If you’re trying to be a hero, you almost by definition can’t be. But Achilles wants to be a hero. When he gets grumpy, he says to his other, ‘You told me that if I agreed to die young and far from home I’d be the best among the best, now and in perpetuity!’” (Stewart struck the table in emphasis.) “Then Alexander the Great wants to be Achilles, and has ‘The Best Among the Best’ put above his tent. Caesar wants to be Alexander. Napoleon is obsessed with being Caesar. Byron models his carriage on Napoleon’s, and buys locks of his hair. Lawrence of Arabia travels with the Iliad and ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ in his backpack. There’s a narrative there, which people aren’t quite taking seriously.”