Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Contributor's Notes

I've done a lot of babysitting for a printer/designer who's offered to print me some business cards for free. This has been sitting on my desktop for months now. The idea is that it folds in half and when you open it up there's art on the interior.

It's not finished because I haven't figured out what to put on the inside, which is another 'what the hell is wrong with me' thing. It's not like I don't have art. I should just pick something and get on with my fucking life.

I have a confession to make. For me the very best part of being published is getting to write my contributor's notes. They deal with my very favorite subject (me, if you haven't noticed -- I'm not only self-obsessed, I'm actually pretty interesting in a grisly way) and they give me a chance to parade my narcissism and self-loathing in a public venue.

Those close to me hate them.

My wife has on a number of occasions tried to lay down the law to me about self-deprecation. (You can see how well that worked.) When my best friend read the most recent example he said, "You do understand that you're not that much of a bad-ass, right?"

But I think they're nifty and editors seem to agree. The woman who took the notes that pissed my music buddy off told me, "All contributor's notes should be like this." Spitting and bragging are among the traditions of my people and I aim to keep those traditions alive.

From Monday Night number three:

A stinking, shambling monstrosity of the 'he was always good with children and animals' variety, Sean Craven specializes in squeam-inducing fiction in which the taut fast-paced minimalism of James Joyce, the lushly baroque exoticism of John Updike, the warm humanism of Franz Kafka, the relentless savagery of A.A. Milne, and the good old-fashioned slam-bang storytelling of Thomas Pynchon mingle in a rather disconcerting fashion. Whiskey straight, beer chaser.

From Monday Night number four:

In rural South America, mothers routinely frighten their children into obedience with tales of Sean Craven. In the Cameroon he is regarded as a "two-step" prose stylist, meaning that his bite is so venomous that his victims can only take two steps away from him before expiring. Inhabitants of the East Bay Area believe that he is a harbinger of a weak, underweight, or otherwise inadequate drug purchase. Official sources state clearly that he simply does not exist. Air Force Colonel Adrian Mitchell advises that, "Depending on the location of the siting, this writer is either swamp gas or a weather balloon."

From Swill number one.

Sean Craven is a typical creative type. The miserable childhood, the mental illness with lots of symptoms and no diagnosis, the half-assed set of skills spread across writing, music, and the visual arts, the life spent in poverty due to an inability to prioritize anything over 'art' and intoxication -- these guys come off an assembly line in a small village in rural China. They're made with molds, which are never broken.

From Swill number two.

Anyone remember the New Age? Crystals, candles, and Nag Champa? Affirmations, tarot decks, and Lemuria? Flying saucer abductions, breatharianism, and Carlos Castenada's books being labelled as non-fiction? When Sean Craven spent some time on the periphery of that addle-pated psuedo-subculture, they had a lable for him. They called him a walk-in. The claim was that walk-ins had extraterrestrial souls -- that they were essentially non-human. This was the New Age way of saying, "Hey, I may make my living teaching clairvoyance but I think we all know who the freak is."

From Monday Night number six.

Every couple of years a casual acquaintence of Sean Craven comes up and says, "I just read a book/saw a movie, and there was a character in it that really reminded me of you." This 'character' inevitably turns out to be a sadistic genius cannibal psycho-killer, and not just the one you're thinking of. At first this was cute -- almost a compliment. Then it was annoying. But now that this has been going on for almost twenty years, the author is beginning to wonder whether or not there might not be something to the notion. Maybe he should engage in an act of profound and spectacularly brutal inhumanity. He probably wouldn't like it, and that would be a good thing. Right?

From Swill number three.

"I hate your author notes," the missus said. "They're always so self-deprecating."


Sean Craven is, let's face it, a fucking monster. You stand him next to an ordinary guy, the ordinary guy looks like a poached smurf. People who are as far below average intelligence as Sean is above it sit very still and are wiped with a chamois two, three times a day. Imagine a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Conan the Barbarian. Then imagine that he can cook. Some people think of him as a rude boy; others see him as Mr. Nice. They're both right and that ain't the half of it.

Is that any better, sweetie?

And from Milvia Street 2008...

There are words for people like Sean Craven -- oaf, lug, galoot, golem, ogre, palooka -- words that hurt, that tear at the soul. The world could not function if everyone were lithe, spritely, charming, fabulous, elfish, full of fun and frolic -- someone has to loom. Someone has to lurk. Someone has to club down prey and rend flesh, someone has to shift boulders, open jars and get things down from the top shelf. Someone has to knock Philip Marlow out in Chapter Five. The occasional piece of broken furniture, trod-upon housepet, inadvertent act of cannibalism or devestated metropolis is simply the price we pay to coexist with these magnificent creatures.

Haw! Haw! Haw! I crack me up.

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