Tag Archives: Freight Stories

Awful Interview: Christopher Newgent

29 Mar

Once, Christopher Newgent and I shared a pair of Strawberry Shortcake themed, cell phone shaped walkie-talkies. They were dwarfed in Christopher’s big-ass hands. We bought them for when we were bored at our respective jobs, but they weren’t capable of carrying a signal across the few hundred feet between his Jimmy John’s and my coffee shop, so we pitched them and reverted back to paper airplanes.

Sometimes Christopher puts things in his face and writes words about those things. At all times there are words all over Christopher’s arms. Some other times words come out of his hands. He makes those words into things, like his chapbook from Tiny Hardcore press, or these stories at these different places.  Some other times times he pushes words out of his face to a crowd. He calls this process ‘reading.’ If you are in Atlanta on Friday, April 6th, he would like to show you how he does this ‘reading.’

One time we talked about stuff and dubbed it an interview. It went like this.

Christopher. Let’s get serious. Let’s answer the question that’s been plaguing everyone for years. What are you doing to save the bats and the bees? I heard you might be a super hero.

The extent of my environmental superhero’ism is pretty much Googling for sad images of animals and frowning at my computer screen, then posting them to facebook and typing, usually in all caps, LOOK AT THIS SAD POLAR BEAR. IT’S TRAPPED ON THIS ICEBERG. Which is bullshit, really. Polar bears are amazing swimmers and have been known to swim dozens and even hundreds of miles in a single swim. Basically, my activism is misinformation. I’m a superhero of misinformation.

I guess I was misinformed. Wait- what?! Whoa! You ARE a superhero. What’s your favorite way to use capslock?

My favorite way to use capslock is life. I want to live my life in capslock. Sure, some randmas argue that caplock is best reserved for emailing and instant messenger, but I personally believe capslock needs no reservation. Fucking live it, man.

Don’t you think people will feel that you’re yelling at them? What does your barbaric yawp sound like?

Make no mistake. There’s a difference between capslock and yelling. Only those who’ve not probed the depths and nuances of all caps usage think it’s simply yelling at people. Caps lockers have been known to whisper in all caps, actually. It’s pretty amazing to behold. It’s like those Buddhist monks who can throat sing 2 different pitches at once.

Regarding my yawp, have you ever heard the lid blowing off a pressure cooker? It sounds mostly like that, but imagine a Kodiak bear exploding from the pressure cooker.

That is quite a mighty yawp. So, like, what have you been reading lately?

I don’t read a lot, actually. I don’t even really like books that much. They’re too, I don’t know, hands on. Reading is like carpentry for your brain. I’d rather have someone build my bookshelves for me, metaphorically speaking of course. And not that I’d need bookshelves.

Yeah man, I totally get you! Books are so OLD and stuff. I used to own some books, but then I gave them to some homeless men to burn and keep warm with, since the low was 40 degrees that night. Pr’chilly. I mean, who reads these days anyway?

Movies are so much better than books. They’re like books, but someone’s already done the work of imagining it as real life. Have you seen the new Vin Diesel movie?

I am morally opposed to watching movies where the male lead is shorter than I am. Mostly just Vin Diesel and Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise violates me on many moral levels. First of all, he’s shorter than me. Secondly, he looks like Justin Bieber got his face stuck in a suction cup. Thirdly, there was that one time he jumped on those couches in front of Oprah like a rabid monkey, and then I had nightmares.
May we change the subject?

Oh, absolutely. It’s never good to dwell on being violated by Tom Cruise. Change away.

Thanks. So… huh. Sorry, I keep thinking about Tom Cruise. …Tell me about what you’re wearing. Wait no, that’s creepy.-such a Tom Cruise thing to say! HELP!

Coincidentally, my wife just came home with 4 bags worth of new button down dress shirts for me–a bunch of plaids and stripes. I need more patterns in my life, to be honest.

Patterns are grand! Tell me about the reading on April 6th, what fresh dose of amazing-ness are you preparing to unleash on my dear A-T-L?

If stampedes of buffalo were commonly kept on leashes, you could expect that. But they are not, so you’ll have to settle for a metaphorical stampede of buffalo. Buffalo with hooves the size of your head, metal wings, and rocket launchers on their haunches. That is what you can expect from the April Vouched Presents reading.

SSM: “The Geologist” by Megan Cummins

17 May

My mind today is disquiet. There is weather outside, and it is awful. I have a story to write about, I know this. Maybe I’m burning out. Maybe I’m out burning.

Days like today, I tend to reach for Sigur Ros. If you’ve not heard or listened to them, you should. Here. Here is this. Watch this. Listen.

It only makes sense that listening to this, watching this video, reminds me of “The Geologist” by Megan Cummins. It’s an old story in internet years, published I think 2 years ago, maybe 3. The story takes place in Iceland. It has passages like this:

So we stayed. We didn’t know where we would go when the tour ended, when the bus dropped us off in Reykjavik and drove back to its base in Selfoss. But it wasn’t important, not right away, not while he looked and I listened. Rocks: they were art to him, art and beauty and truth and history he could break apart with his hammer. He laughed when I closed my eyes just to hear: the water, the wind, the birds that made noises I didn’t know—when I first heard their calls, I thought a child was dying somewhere, or a cat. And all the beautiful words, the way the language fell like hair to the ground. It made English sound slow, weary, worn out. On the page, the Icelandic words were as full of consonants as they could be; but spoken, they had as many vowels as water. They slid. They moved as the human body does to music, slipping between all the cracks we didn’t know existed.

This story takes place in Iceland. In it, a lady breaks her leg on a trip to Iceland, befriends a geologist who cares for her throughout the tour. It has passages like this:

I even tried to follow to the edge of the water in Vik, to the storm in each wave of the North Atlantic. Walking on crutches in sand: it was a comparison I would use for years after to describe difficult things in my life. I made it only to a cave of columnar basalts; water ran like tears from its ceiling, and I looked up to find the source, but I had found the only darkness in the whole country. Why were the rocks crying? I wanted to ask, but Andrew would have laughed.

I leaned against the edges, let the water trickle down my neck. The columns felt like the spines of books against my back as I let myself rest, breathing heavily, as though I had walked on water and knew better than to think it easy.

This story takes place in Iceland.

SSM: “My Mother’s Ghost” by Mary Swan

3 May

What I think I like most about this project, this celebrating of Short Story month, is I get to dig around in all these old stories I read a good while ago, dust them off, and pass them on to you. I get to think, “What was that one story about the mountain lion?” and do some searching, maybe I remember the journal or collection it was in or who it was written by.

And so it was with “My Mother’s Ghost” by Mary Swan, an incredible story in the first ever issue of Freight Stories.

Ruby told my mother that she didn’t know what to expect, the night she stood at the top of the plane’s steps, wondering how air so cold could burn when she breathed it. She thought maybe a room with blue walls and a balcony overlooking a garden, a job at a desk with a nameplate and a telephone. Her cousin’s car clunked and rattled but Ruby barely noticed, looking out at the snowy streets, the tall buildings, the bright windows full of everything you could ever imagine wanting.

My mother had a brother, my Uncle John, who always did what he was told. When she was older she wondered sometimes about the long gap between them, but she never asked. Uncle John was only four when their father died and he was always asking for stories about him. My mother usually said she couldn’t remember; she was afraid of using them up, of thinning them out. He went to my grandmother instead, and my mother sat very quietly on the stairs, just out of sight.

I remember reading this story and being blown away by it, how it juggles each character, how each character contains each their own grief and how each grief touches another’s grief and how everyone tries so hard. I remember now as I read it again, and think of all the angry people and the people who know who they are and the lucky ones, the ones who get to forget, and the lucky ones, the ones who get to remember.