A SILENT MOVIE by Chris Dankland

On the sixth day, Victor started staring at Antoine's feet. A pang shot through him every time he saw Antoine's plump toes wiggle. They were soft, pampered feet that had only walked on the prostrate backs of others. I bet they're tender, thought Victor, licking his cracked and bleeding lips. Like the winged feet of Mercury, Antoine's feet had only trod the most rarefied of airs. He didn't even carry his fucking camera onto the boat, thought Victor, snarling. The chauffeur had done it.

Antoine appeared to be passed out. Not dead yet, his chest was still moving. But how close was he? Victor wondered. Close enough to not put up a fight when his foot got chopped off with an axe?

It was the sixth day that they'd been floating in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico with no gas, no food, and no water. Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink, like the fucking piece of shit junkie poet had said. Victor curled his bloody hateful lips. I oughta chop that cocksucker’s foot off on principle, he thought.

Antoine said he'd been inspired by Victor's red cringing face in the mirror when he was fucking his ass. You looked poetic back there, he'd said. So wild. And so lost. Can I make a film of you?

Will there be drugs? asked Victor. Antoine nodded. Will you suck my dick? asked Victor. Antoine nodded faster. Do I have to memorize a bunch of shit?

It'll be a silent movie, said Antoine. I'll make my own version of The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. On my dad's fishing boat. I'll give you some mushrooms and we'll have it done before you start to come down.

That cocksucker didn't say he'd be taking mushrooms too, thought Victor. I thought he knew something about being in a boat. I thought he was used to it or something. I trusted him. When the sun started going down the first night, they decided to stay on the boat and fuck all night and watch the sunrise in the morning.

You killed me, Victor moaned. He was surprised by the sound of his own voice. It barely sounded human. It sounded like the whistling wind. You killed me, he moaned. Victor crawled under a tarp to keep the burning sun off his face. He drifted into utter darkness and void.


Six hours later, Victor started staring at the axe. The sun had gotten into his bones now, moving through the marrow like underground lava. He wasn't hungry anymore. He wasn't thirsty. He couldn't tell if Antoine was breathing anymore, or if he was dead. Victor sat up and the bright reflection of the sun slid across the axe's curve like a snake's tongue. He crawled over to the axe and grabbed the handle. It weighed much more than he'd expected.


Ten minutes later, Victor started staring at the foot. What the fuck am I gonna do with this, he wondered. He wasn't hungry. There wasn't any way to cook the foot. Antoine had rich boy toes, but it must be tough to bite into a human foot. The foot is not the part that a starving person should be eating anyway. Blood gushed from Antoine's stump. Well, he was dead for sure. Good fucking riddance. What a stupid idea this whole thing was. I can't even remember what the fuck happens in that poem, I was stoned when we covered it in high school.

Out of the corner of his eye, Victor spotted a giant fishing pole. I know what I'll do, he thought. He pulled back the skin on the foot and used the tip of the fishing hook to make a small hole in it, big enough to pull the line through. He snipped the end of the line with some pliers and tied it together.

He held the severed foot necklace up high, as though he was presenting it as some kind of sacred offering to the Gods. He slipped the necklace over his head. Victor's tragic death was completely pointless and insane. Why not embrace it.

FUCK YOU! he screamed, flipping off the sky.


Three hours later, Victor started staring at the sun. He couldn't move anymore. Flat on his back in the boat. Could barely breathe. Looking up. The severed foot necklace had oozed blood all over his body. Some thin worm-looking tendon had slipped out of the foot and fallen into his lap. Victor was waiting. The longer he stared at the sun, the blacker it got.

He'd dumped Antoine's body over the railing a few hours ago. He was tired of looking at it. What was the point of this idiotic death trip they'd taken? Did it mean something? Did it say something about Victor? About Antoine? About this miserable idiot universe? Was it...did it mean something, that ancient mariner bullshit? Was there a significance?

When you slowly die over a week, this is how you start to think. This is the train of thought that consumes you, chasing everything else away. What does it mean? What does it mean? What does it mean?

The big black sky started to pulse and turn slowly. Windy tentacles stretched out from its perimeter, slowly spinning. The sun was turning into some kind of whirlpool, some kind of gate. The ocean coiled into long spinning strings that were sucked up into the sky, down the black sun's devouring hole. Victor could feel the sun pulling at him too.

What's the symbolism? he moaned.

The boat slowly lifted up into the sky off the face of the waters. Caught in the whirlpool.

Is this it? thought Victor, panting. And nothing else answered? Nothing revealed, nothing shown? Nothing? Nothing? Nothing else answered. Just sucked up by the sun. What does it mean? Just nothing? Nothing? It's all just a  big nothing? It's nothing?

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TIME TO MEET YOUR GOD by Chris Dankland

Mr. Coyote stuck his long down-curved nose through a crack in his apartment door. He pushed his head outside and looked left. He sniffed the stale apartment building hallway. He looked right. Nobody there. Thirty seconds later he left his posh 30th floor apartment holding a big bag of trash slung over his shoulder. He was wearing black gloves. Mr. Coyote calmly walked down the hall, opened the building trash chute, and dumped the bag of trash down the chute. He looked left. He sniffed the stale apartment building hallway. He looked right. And that, he thought, is the end of that.

Three hours ago, he’d been staring at a traveling collection of paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder. The paintings were showing at the MoMA. They were exquisite. His favorite was a painting called Venus, showing a petite naked woman holding a transparent veil. Her eyes were thin and cat-like. Her thin pink lips were dented in a narcotic grin. Mr. Coyote couldn’t help but get as hard as a rock as he stared at her perfect painted skin. The true sign of a masterpiece.

The painting was still superimposed over his brain as he walked out the museum doors into the hot summer air, heavy with the smell of street piss and exhaust. Under his breath he absentmindedly mumbled the lyrics to Mystic Stylez as he strolled down the sidewalk a long way. Mr. Coyote suddenly looked up. He stopped. A petite teenager in a red t-shirt and jeans was passed out on the street, half leaning on a park gate. She obviously homeless. A thin layer of grime had accumulated sweat coated her skin. Her emaciated body spelled out junkie. Mr. Coyote though she was gorgeous. He walked closer and looked down at her. Two braless nipples poked through her skimpy t-shirt. Her jeans hung off her sharp skeleton hips, showing a small white lip of panties around the edge. Her thin pink lips were dented in a narcotic grin. Mr. Coyote put his hands in his pockets and moved them around.

A minute later he pulled out a bottle of Oxycontin. He bent down and shook the girl’s shoulder, shaking the pill bottle. Hey, he said, shaking her. Hey there. Do you see?

The girl stirred and slowly opened her eyes. She must have been doped up to seventh heaven. Anyone else who had been woken up in that position would have bolted upright. But this girl nearly climbed into his arms. Her eyes slowly flickered to life like a newborn butterfly. The girl looked up at him. She moaned, her body full of sleep. Daddy? she mumbled. Is that you, daddy?

He held the pill bottle inches before her face and shook it. That seemed to wake her up a little. Holy shit, she said.

That’s right, said Mr. Coyote. Holiest thing in the city.

She slowly looked up at him with purring kitten eyes. What do you want? she asked.

I want you to follow me home, said Mr. Coyote. Understand?

She nodded. I’ll follow you home, Daddy. She stood up, stumbling a little. Her clothes sagged off her. She was halfway dead already. Lead the way, she said.

Mr. Coyote shook his head. You walk in front of me and I’ll tell you the way.

The girl grinned. But I’m so little, Daddy, I’m not gonna hurt you.

It doesn’t take much muscle to slip a knife into somebody’s kidney and make off with their pills, he said.

She laughed. Do you have a cigarette?

Sure, he said. What kind do you smoke.

I don’t care, whatever you got. I like Camel Lights.

Mr. Coyote put his hands in his pocket and moved them around. A minute later he pulled out a pack of Camel Lights.

Thank you, Daddy. She pulled a cigarette from the pack and he lit it for her. Where’d you get that big bottle from, hmm?

Mr. Coyote put the cigarette pack in his pocket, pulled his hand out again, and pointed. My apartment is that way, he said.

She took a long drag and turned around and started walking. A long silver river of smoke curved through the city air as she moved from one cracked cement square to another with Mr. Coyote close behind. They walked four blocks like that, and she hardly turned around to look at him. She could feel his gaze on her body. She knew that he was following her as much as she was following him. Her tiny skeleton ass was fastened to his black, flesh devouring pupils. She was going to get high, all right. And anything else she could get, too. She was young and confident and stupid.

Back at his apartment, Mr. Coyote had her get on her knees and open her mouth to receive the pills he doled out. He put the pills on her tongue like a priest giving out the sacraments. He sat down on his expensive sofa and waited for them to kick in. He played Mystic Stylez on the stereo.

Soon the girl was floating through the apartment like a helium balloon, swaying and bobbing in the air, taking off her clothes exactly like he told her.

Mr. Coyote narrowed his eyes and stared at her. He licked his lips and spoke. You’re one of my babies, aren’t you? I think I recognize you.

Yesssss, said the girl. She floated through the apartment like a plastic bag in the wind. You’re my daddy.

As the girl’s body grew lighter and more and more weightless, the apartment darkened and sunk. Although they were on the 30th floor, the apartment was sinking underground, down below the never-ending battlefield of bloody, twitching hearts. The apartment was sinking down into the trenches. Down into the bone fields we call earth.

A flash of realization struck Mr. Coyote’s face. You’re a child of mine, he said. He stood up, walked over to the girl, grabbed her hands, and pushed his face close. The girl was suddenly frightened. Yes, said Mr. Coyote. Yes. Yes, I’m sure of it.

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Scott McClanahan is the author of The Sarah Book, The Incantations Of Daniel Johnston, Hill William, Crapalachia, and The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1. He is the owner the finest small volume library in the state of West Virginia

What’s a book that first put the hook in your heart? Or if there isn’t a single book or author that got you hooked on reading, maybe you can tell me what age you were when literature started playing the pied piper song to you.

I think I’ve always fetishized books. There was a ton of children’s stories my mom used to read to me. “The Little Fir Tree” and “The Shoemaker and the Elves.” The stories she told me about herself were just as important though. I checked out John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men from the Rainelle Public Library when I was in fifth grade. My mom said, “You’ll like this. He’s easy to read.” I read that book the same weekend I played Tecmo Bowl for the first time. Sort of a life changing weekend. I was a weird kid though, reading a lot of biographies. Weird shit like Oliver North’s autobiography and Norman Schwarzkopf.

I think probably the book that made me start discovering things was a biography of Jim Morrison called No One Here Gets Out Alive. It’s embarrassing to say, but true. I found out about Antonioni, Artaud, Godard, Van Morrison, Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Beat writers, Saint Exupery’s The Little Prince. It was all stuff that I had absolutely no access to in West Virginia. That would have been in the 8th or 9th grade. I always used books to find out about other books.

I used to imagine books before I read them just simply because I couldn’t find them. I don’t know if we do that anymore in the age of on-line books. I used to imagine what a book was like and sadly the book was never able to measure up. I remember reading about The Executioners Song in high school for a long time before I actually found a copy. I used to read the World Book Encyclopedia and that book was mentioned in three different places, but then when I read the book I was like, “This sucks.” I feel differently now, but you know.



The Collected Short Prose of James Agee

The Life of Alexander the Great by Plutarch

Mishima: A Biography by John Nathan

The Portable Rabelais (The Viking Portable Library) by Francois Rabelais

First Love by Ivan Turgenev

My Life by Benvenuto Cellini

An Egyptian Childhood by Taha Hussein

A Christmas Memory: One Christmas, and The Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote

The Western Lands by William S. Burroughs

Pages From A Cold Island by Frederick Exley

Death On The Installment Plan by Celine

Epitaph Of A Small Winter by Machado de Assis

The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

The Nick Tosches Reader

Ravelstein by Saul Bellow

The Whole Motion: Collected Poems by James Dickey

Careless Love: The Unmasking Of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick


Do you read compulsively? Do you feel like reading is an addiction for you, sometimes? What do you think is the main driving force behind your desire to read more and more books? Are you looking for something?

Yeah I’m compulsive. Reading has always been kind of weird necrophilia. I can’t think of a more intimate act with a living writer as well than reading. The only thing that can compete with it is music and even that’s not the same. I usually go through 2-3 books a week. I’m sure it’s tied in to OCD or some slight autism. I always think of that robot from Short Circuit. Need more input. At this point I don’t think I’m looking for anything. But when I find a new writer like Machado De Assis or Lu Xun (two writers I read for the first time last year) it feels like a conjuring. I may be the only person who went bankrupt buying books.



Tonight I'm Someone Else by Chelsea Hodson

Roughing It by Mark Twain

garden, ashes by Danilo Kis

The Garbage Times / White Ibis by Sam Pink

The Collected Essays of Elizabeth Hardwick

Gargoyles by Thomas Bernhard

Memoirs From The House Of The Dead by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes

Coma by Pierre Guyotat

The War by Marguerite Duras

The Kingdom by Emmanuel Carrere

The Anatomy Of A Moment by Javier Cercas

Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis

Wartime Lies by Louis Begley

The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

Outline by Rachel Cusk

The Atlas by William T. Vollmann


How often do you put a book down? Do you have rules about how much of a chance you’ll give a book before moving on to something else? If I book doesn’t catch me by page 75, I usually throw it out. But some books are late bloomers.

I don’t put down any books usually. I have lists of books that I want to read. If it gets slow, I start to skim and sometimes by skimming you can get back inside the book again. Most of the times I’ve read about the book so much that I know I want to read it. This is what is in my Amazon cart right now.

Denton Welch, In Youth is Pleasure

George Perec, Life: A Users Manual.

Imre Kertesz, Fatelessness

Nathalie Sarraute, Tropisms

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Sei Shonogan, Pillow Book

Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier

Gustaw Herling, A World Apart

Anita Brookner, Look at Me

Hopefully someone will buy these books for me and send them to me.



The Pump House Gang by Tom Wolfe

Nothing Like The Sun by Anthony Burgess

Rimbaud Complete (Modern Library Classics) by Arthur Rimbaud

Justine by Marquis de Sade

King Of The Jews by Nick Tosches

The Thief's Journal by Jean Genet

Miracle Of The Rose by Jean Genet

Nikolai Gogol by Vladimir Nabokov

The Selected Letters of John Keats

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

My Childhood by Maxim Gorky

The Bible

Martial's Epigrams

Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

The Diary of Samuel Pepys


You seem to read a lot of biographies, which is a big blank spot in my reading life. Can you recommend five or six great biographies that I should read this year?

Oh I don’t know. I guess these are my favorites.

Elizabeth Gaskell Life of Charlotte Bronte, Richard Holmes: The Pursuit: A Life of Shelley, James Boswell: The Life of Johnson, Emanuel Carrere: Limonov; and I am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick, Enid Starkie’s Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Ellmann’s Oscar Wilde. Judith Thurman’s bio of Isak Dinesen is pretty great.

I also love a book by Gorky called Reminiscences’ of Chekhov, Tolstoy and Andreyev. Not a biography, but just these little moments or impression and anecdotes. The description of Tolstoy’s hands is something else and easily tells us more than a 1,000 page biography would.



Reminiscences Of Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Adreyev by Maxim Gorky


Does a biographer need to be trustworthy, for you? Should a biographer carefully research a life and stick to the facts as much as possible, like a journalist? Or should a biographer just try to tell the most interesting and entertaining and compelling story they can, even if it involves exaggerating or making up lies? Does a journalist need to be trustworthy?

1. No. 2. Not necessarily. 3.Yes to an extent. 4. Yes trustworthy journalists are essential to any representative republic.



Poems by Pier Paolo Pasolini

Criminal Desires: Jean Genet And Cinema by Jane Giles

Selected Poems And Prose by Paul Celan

Classic Crews: A Harry Crews Reader

The Complete Poems Of John Keats

Hellraisers: The Life and Inebriated Times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed by Robert Sellers

The Beleaguered City by Shelby Foote

Patriotic Gore: Studies In The Literature Of The American Civil War by Edmund Wilson

The Lives Of The Artists by Giorgio Vasari

The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski

The Creators: A History Of The Heroes Of The Imagination by Daniel J. Boorstin

Oscar Wilde by Richard Ellmann

You Can't Win by Jack Black

The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan

The Life Of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell

Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons by John Carter

New York Tyrant Vol 1 Number 1

Seven Plays by Sam Shepard


In an interview, you said: “I don’t think there’s a novelist today who can even compare with Robert Caro.” What do you like about his biographies? What can novelists learn from him?

Oh the usual. I think all great writers have just three skills. The ability to surprise and transform, the ability to propel you through a narrative, the ability to conjure emotion or laughter in a reader. Caro and John Richardson and Hilary Spurling and Jimmy McDonough all have that. Even some of our best writers can only do two out of those three things. Somehow I feel like biography still feels sort of primal or primitive and still connected to something very old in stories and magic. They're sort of still interested in these things. Also, some of these folks are spending whole decades writing these books. I'm talking about losing homes and running through advances in order to make something. I think that's beautiful and almost monastic in the age of corporate fiction, and experimental tenure fiction.



Joe Gould's Secret by Joseph Mitchell

Monsieur Proust by Celeste Albaret

The Civil War: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox by Shelby Foote

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

Selected Writings by Gerard de Nerval

Lectures On Russian Literature by Vladimir Nabokov

The Rise And Fall Of Athens by Plutarch

A Confederate General From Big Sur / Dreaming Of Babylon / The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan

Collected Poems by Dylan Thomas

The Complete Works Of Nathanael West

Genet by Edmund White

The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius

Selected Writings by Antonin Artaud


If you had all the time in the world, whose biography would you write? (I’m thinking about a famous person or a historical person, but it could be anyone.) Would you be a trustworthy biographer?

I’m going to write about my mom and dad. So no. It’s going to be a book called Vandalia or Rainelle Stories or something like that. A big family book. Like a Tristam Shandy or Rabelais almost. I’m going to see if I can’t take what I’ve learned from these books and write about two people who are just ordinary. I'm going to write it for my kids. Been struggling for six months though so who knows. This writing shit is hard.



Reminiscences Of Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Adreyev by Maxim Gorky

Tristram Shandy & Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne

Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar

Montano's Malady by Enrique Vila-Matas

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

The Oresteia by Aeschylus

True Stories by Sophie Calle

Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas

Memoirs From Beyond The Tomb by Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand

This Is Not A Novel And Other Novels by David Markson

Dark Back Of Time by Javier Marias

One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Collected Writings Of Joe Brainard

Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas

King Lear by William Shakespeare

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald

Vertigo by W.G. Sebald

In Search Of Lost Time Volume 6: Time Regained by Marcel Proust

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


What are some poems or other pieces of literature that you have memorized and could recite at any time? Do you have a trick for memorizing things like that, or just have a good memory?

Oh gosh I have reams of stuff. I've known Whitcomb Riley's "Little Orphan Annie" since I was a boy. I've done that so many times in readings I'm sure people are sick of it, but it makes me think of my mom. There's some Neruda I know, a section of Under Milk Wood, John Donne always kills. I used to do a section of Virgil's Georgics in a reading. I don't know if it's a trick, but I can memorize pretty easy. I've always liked doing it in readings because it gives you an element of control. You can move around, etc. I wanted to memorize the whole of Sarah Book for these final readings I was going to do, but I ran out of time.



The Portable John Steinbeck

The Red And The Black by Stendhal

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

Ramones by Nicholas Rombes

Limonov by Emmanuel Carrere

The Blacks: A Clown Show by Jean Genet

The Art Of Destruction: The Films Of The Vienna Action Group by Stephen Barber

Of Walking In Ice by Werner Herzog

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust

The Book Of Laughter And Forgetting by Milan Kundera

Ferdydurke / Pornografia / Cosmos by Witold Gombrowicz

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Odi Et Amo: The Complete Poetry of Catullus

Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera

Lost Highway: Journeys And Arrivals Of American Musicians by Peter Guralnick

My Mother's House and Sido by Colette


Who are some of the readers, living or dead, that you most admire?

I guess Amelia Gray is always the gold standard. Lindsey Hunter as well. I think Sam Pink is the most likable reader I've ever watched. He just has that quality about him. People like him. Chelsea Hodson is a great reader too. I saw Kiese Laymon read in Iowa City a few years ago and he really blew me away. It sort of feels like readings are dead now or something, but maybe that's just me. Five years ago people used to talk about them more and seem excited. Now it seems like they've dried up or something. I had a great time though at the Franklin Park Reading Series a month ago, which is easily the best reading series in the country.

Oh and I'm biased, but I saw Juliet Escoria give a reading with a video back drop in Brooklyn a few years ago. It was with some witches. One of the top three readings I've ever seen.



Son Of The Morning Star: Custer And The Little Bighorn by Evan S. Connell

Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus

The Big Sea by Langston Hughes

The Education Of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

Boswell In Holland, 1763-1764 by James Boswell

Cruising Paradise by Sam Shepard

Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays On Art And Artists by Robert Hughes

Voyage In The Dark by Jean Rhys

The Poems Of Francois Villon

William Faulkner And Southern History by Joel Williamson

Satan Is Real: The Ballad Of The Louvin Brothers by Charlie Louvin

Psychotic Reactions And Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs

The Georgics by Virgil

 interview by Chris Dankland 


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LONGBEARDS by Chris Dankland

Before The Smiths signed the contract for the brand new house they were set to purchase, the real estate broker said: I have to tell you that in the last few weeks a few of the construction workers have sighted some Longbeards near the woods. I'm only mentioning it because you said you have a small dog.

Yes, said Mr. Smith. Thank you. We'll be sure to keep him inside the house at night.

That's what I'd do, said the real estate broker, nodding. Just in case. I'm sure that as more and more people move into the neighborhood, the the Longbeards will retreat further into the woods. Longbeards like to be left alone. Maybe you'll hear them howling late at night.

Gregory! said Mrs. Smith, playfully poking their seven year old in his chubby belly. Are you excited about hearing some Longbeards howling? Sounds like fun, huh?

Gregory nodded ecstatically, lifted his head and cried: A-WOOOOOOOOOO!

Laughter filled the office like the bubbles in their glasses of champagne.


The first time the family heard the Longbeards was two weeks after they moved in. A sound like seven singing trumpets broke the seal of night. It was 3am. Mr. and Mrs. Smith sat up in bed at the same moment.

Longbeards! said Mrs. Smith in a hushed gasp, touching her lips.

There's a lot of them, said Mr. Smith. He headed toward the window.

Gregory appeared at their bedroom door. Mommy! he shouted. On stubby chubby legs he ran in and dived into their bed.

It's okay baby, said Mrs. Smith, cradling her son to her stomach. It's just Longbeards.

Everything's fine. Listen! Do you hear them howling?  Gregory moaned and pushed his face deep into his mother's side.

Sparky ran into the bedroom and hid beneath the bed.

They sound sort of spooky, don't they? said Mrs. Smith. The Longbeards' howls were a combination of tornado sirens, rat screams, and alligator snarls. Woe to the usurping inhabitors of the earth, they howled. Woe to those who wear the crown of pride. Woe to those who scatter and destroy the sheep of the pasture. Woe to the wicked gluttons. Woe to you all on the day of our furious wrath.

Mr. Smith nodded. They do sound strange, he said. A wave of unease rolled through the room. But they're much more frightened of us than we are of them, he added.


The Smiths were one of the first families to move into the new neighborhood. All day the surrounding streets were filled with the sound of hammers and buzzsaws and the chatter of Latin American construction crews. But at night, after the construction crews had gone, the neighborhood was as still and silent as a stone dropped in the ocean.

Mr. Smith was proud of the new house that he'd bought for his family. It had not been acquired easily. It had cost tens of thousands of hours of toil at the law firm where he worked. His legal specialty was handling peanut allergy lawsuits. Mr. Smith worked for a candy company that made a small chocolate covered confection called Bloopers. The candies were sold in nearly every movie theater in the country.

But, six or seven times a year, some unfortunate soul with a deadly peanut allergy would purchase these candies, consume them in the dark theater seats, and go into immediate anaphylactic shock. Due to the contents of the candies, which contained a particularly potent peanut butter cream center, these allergic reactions were sudden and almost always fatal. Men, women, and children alike would swell up and suffocate in a matter of minutes, choking in their seats even before the previews were over. This created terrible litigation problems for the company. It was Mr. Smith's job to ensure that lawsuits from grieving families had a minimal impact on company profits.

But they are gone! the families whined. The ones we loved are dead forever! And now we are alone.

It's the unfortunate nature of the universe, answered Mr. Smith. The universe gives and the universe takes away.

You are responsible! the families cried.

We are not responsible, answered Mr. Smith.

You are the cause of all our misery! You have destroyed our happy home! the families cried.

It wasn't on purpose. We all just want nice houses, answered Mr. Smith.


The house is on fire! screamed Mrs. Smith. It was ten o'clock at night.

What? asked Mr. Smith. He was in the living room, watching cable news.


They ran to the backyard and poked their head over the fence. The fucking house is on fire! shouted Mr. Smith. Luckily it was an unoccupied house far away from them, in another part of the neighborhood that was still being built. Bright orange flames swirled through the house's walls and windows like solar flares on a distant star. A giant black river of smoke snaked up from the burning roof.

Longbeards! shouted Mrs. Smith.

Fifteen or twenty Longbeards surrounded the house, jumping up and down on their heavy hindlegs. They were screaming. With giant clawed paws they beat their furry chests and kicked dust into the air. Their gaping mouths were wet with slobber, silver in the moonlight. Their huge eyes glowed like yellow light bulbs. Thick mossy beards hung from their jaws all down their bodies, tangled hair tossing through the air while they danced and howled, blurring the air. They shook their fists above them as if to rip open and tear down the sky.

I'm getting the machine gun! said Mr. Smith, rushing inside. Call the cops!

A minute later Mr. Smith had his machine gun in hand, pointing it over the top of the fence. He pulled the trigger and sprayed wild bullets at the Longbeards. The Longbeards darted in twenty different directions. In less than fifteen seconds they had completely disappeared into the night.


Mr. Smith didn't sleep that night, but his family did. Mrs. Smith dreamed that a Longbeard arm was growing out of her mouth. At first the arm was limp and dead, but then it started moving. Little Gregory dreamed that there were thousands of lollipops in his veins. Suddenly a hundred gaping slobbery mouths appeared all around him, sucking at the air. Little Gregory rose up into the air and was pulled apart by the suction. Sparky dreamed that he was trying to run away on broken legs.

After the fire department put out the fire, after the cops came by the house and wrote down his report, Mr. Smith stayed up in the living room with the machine gun resting on the loveseat. His wife had wanted a house with lots of big windows. She loved sunlight. Mr. Smith drank coffee and sat in the living room till dawn. He watched. He listened. He waited. He worried.


In the deep dark woods, The Longbeards huddled in their cave. The Longbeards waited too. They lay awake, stretched longwise against the wet March soil, full of freshly sprouted spring buds not yet emerged but slowly clawing out. One by one by one the humans would all be turned to whispers, mere coils in the wind. Evaporated. Dissipated. Forgotten. Tear their poison roots from the ground and purify the dirt that life might rise anew. Better to blast the trumpet and drown the deafened world with silence than to let it mumble endlessly its parched and wicked sickbed hallucinations.

Furious breaths filled The Longbeards black twitching noses. Kill them all and eat the children.

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PENNY GORING’S hatefuck the reader REVIEW by Chris Dankland

GET THE BOOK (read online + download epub and mobi versions for free)

LENGTH: 7,000 words

PUBLISHER: 5everdankly publications, 2016

YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS BOOK IF YOU LIKE: Kathy Acker, Édouard Levé, Sarah Kane

Penny Goring’s book ‘hatefuck the reader’ starts with the sound of someone talking so close to your ear that you can feel hot breath:

when i was invincible i believed beauty lasts forever and i died every day. you gave me nothing. i prefer to think you hit me because you are ill. i prefer to stroke my cold pillow. i prefer to sit on a chair than a sofa. i have a plastic joint in my right big toe. you permanently damaged every part of me. my aches and pains are not caused by ageing they are the aftermath of the violence. the end of a story is something i forget. in the month leading up to the twin towers event, i kept waking from a dream where an aeroplane was crashing through my window. i look better in photographs than irl. i don't truly believe in anything. i am startled when anyone calls me Pen, it implies familiarity and affection. i am slow to learn from my mistakes in life, but not in my work. i am attracted to boys girls women men anyone anything anybody. competition repels me. to describe what remains would distress me. i wonder if i will ever truly want to give up smoking. when i sit on the edge of my bed i worry about damaging the mattress, i try to sit on a different area every time, there are not enough different areas. you said i was boring in bed, then you fucked me every day for 2 years. i have cheated on all of my lovers, they were easy to fool, so was i. i joke about Art when it is invoked with a capital A. i wonder if i love anybody except my daughter, it often feels like hate. i do not intentionally remember hurt. i do not trust you. i was fined £1000 for criminal damage, this is how it happened, you punched me in the face until i stopped talking, then you grabbed a knife, then you stabbed holes in my thin plaster walls, then you ran outside, then i knew what had hurt me was outside, then i wanted to hurt the hurt, then i hurled dirty plates and cutlery out the window, then a plate smashed the sunroof of a BMW parked in the road way down below. it is a serious crime to damage a car because car equals money on wheels, and that is the true meaning of beauty.

The book comes at you in a non-stop flood of confessions:

“i got my 1st black eyes, broken nose, walking home through the park after school. i curled in a ball in the mud, a crucial bone in my spine got kicked into a new shape”

“at times i have lived with people who are now dead, believing it to be a forever thing.”

“i have seen a dead junkie hovering 2" above me in bed, yes, i have known ghosts, and i have felt their fabric.”

The book looks beautiful to me. It’s one of my favorite examples of digital literature. I look forward to the time when print versions of books become collectors items and pdfs become the norm. Nowadays most of us consume our music and movies in digital, streaming formats. We don’t need cds and dvds to enjoy albums and movies. We don’t need print books to enjoy great works of literature.

‘hatefuck the reader’ never stops to take a breath, and even by the last sentence it seems like it could keep going forever. What does Penny talk about? Poverty, abuse, art, memories, sex, habits, apartments, dreams, death, children, drugs, unconsciousness, sickness, hope, and everything else. It’s hard for me to think of many other books that have as much sustained energy. It’s relentless.

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GHOST SEX by Chris Dankland

Lucille died of leukemia in Utah. Richard died in a car accident in Seoul. They were both 16 years old when they died, and now they'd be 16 years old forever, two pissed off sulking virgins condemned to populate the dreams of the living. All those faceless extras that appear in your dreams, where do you think they come from? Just whipped up out of nowhere? No you idiot, those people are ghosts.


In 1967, a Dominican garbage man in Queens dreamed about winning the Nobel Prize. Lucille and Richard were in the audience, sitting next to each other. Richard was wearing a tuxedo and Lucille was wearing a beautiful dress made out of a giant wet tongue. At the front of the room, the Dominican garbage man ranted about how he invented trash that doesn't smell. Every ten seconds, every audience member was supposed to stand up and cheer.

Richard looked over at Lucille, looking her up and down. Nice dress, he whispered through the side of his mouth.

Lucille stood up and cheered. She sat back down. Thanks, she said, grinning. It's the only good thing about this dream. What a jackass, she said, nodding at the stage.

Richard grinned. He stood up and cheered. He sat back down. The Dominican garbage man droned on and on and on. The two teenage ghosts managed to have quite a long conversation during that time. They introduced themselves. They complained about the afterlife. (What a fucking disappointment, sighed Lucille.) They talked about how they’d died. They talked about all the things they missed. They talked about the things they never did.

I never kissed anyone, said Lucille, quietly. She stood up and cheered. She sat back down.

Really? said Richard. But you’re so pretty!

Lucille blushed the same color as her red tongue dress. Thank you, she mumbled through a grin. Nobody wants to kiss somebody that’s dying, I guess. You didn’t see me the last year of my life. I was bald and pale and skeletal. I was throwing up all the time. I could barely get out of bed.

Can I kiss you? said Richard. He stood up and cheered. He sat back down.

When they sat back down, Lucille nodded enthusiastically. Richard leaned over and pressed his soft lips on hers. Everyone else in the audience stood up and cheered. But Richard and Lucille just stayed sitting there, pawing each other, breathing hard, making out.

Hey! said a nearby ghost. Pay attention!

They didn’t even bother to peel their faces from each other long enough to tell the creep to fuck off.


In 1983, Richard and Lucille met again. This time it was in the dream of a Japanese house wife who was taking an afternoon nap. She was dreaming about a haunted house full of pillows with arms and legs. The pillows had giant mouths full of razor sharp teeth, and they were running around murdering people. Richard and Lucille were both dead bodies laying on the kitchen floor.

Hey! said Lucille, quietly. She moved her foot and nudged Richard. Richard opened his eyes in a squint, but when he spotted Lucille they shot wide open.

HEY LUCILLE! he said loudly.

Lucille grinned and said: Shh shh shhhhh. The pillow monsters were running all over the house, chasing the Japanese housewife. Those fuckers have sharp teeth, she said.

Richard nodded and quietly crawled over, closer to her face. He kissed her. I missed you so much, he said.

Me too, she sighed.

Who knows when this bitch is gonna wake up again, said Richard. Lucille nodded sadly. Do you want to know something that I never got to do before I died? he asked. Lucille nodded happily. Richard stretched out his hand and put it between Lucille’s thighs. She blushed. Thirty seconds later, she was squirming. Lucille looked over at Richard’s pants. Something big and long was bulging down his leg, twitching like a chrysalis eager to shed its cocoon. She unzipped him and pulled it out. It felt good in her hands. Warm and hard and swollen. For a long time, they rubbed each other like that, watching each other grin and grimace and pant and whimper and groan.

All the sudden, a pillow monster scampered into the room, bug-eyed and wild.

Fuck! said Richard, jumping to his feet, hard as a rock. He jumped in front of Lucille and wrestled with the pillow monster, punching it in the face and throwing it around. Lucille! he said, between kicks. Meet me in the dreams of the first baby born in 2078! Find me! The pillow monster snarled and screamed.


The Japanese housewife woke up.


In 2078, the first baby born on the planet was a girl from Nigeria. Her first dream came on the the third day of her life. Newborn baby dreams don’t usually have ghosts in them. Babies know nothing of the world. They know nothing of other people, not in the way that you and I do. To babies, people are amorphous blobs with liquid vibrating voices. And that was how Richard and Lucille appeared. Two naked lava lamp bodies with voices like singing waterfalls. The baby floated in a fractal womb full of patterns and squiggles. Richard and Lucille were playing the baby’s father and mother.

Your dick looks like a bowl of red jello, said Lucille, giggling.

Richard smiled and rolled his eyes, which nearly floated out of his head. He had to reach up and grab them so they didn’t get away from him. Look who’s talking, Miss Picasso painting, he said.

Lucille looked down and laughed. I have like fourteen breasts, she said. I guess the baby is hungry.

I think it’s kinda hot, said Richard.

You do? Well, I have to admit your jello boner is kind of doing it for me, too. Let me try something. Lucille floated down until she was six feet from Richard’s waist. She started sucking in air through her mouth like a straw. Richard groaned. His jello dick start stretching out, slowly pulled toward her mouth. Soon his dick was six feet long, filling her mouth. Richard held his head back and groaned.

Come here, he gasped.

Lucille floated over like a wiggly amoeba. Richard’s six foot long dick gently pushed through her skin, deep into her center. She wrapped her arms around him and gasped.

They finished fucking two hours later. In the newborn baby’s dream they held each other tight, their hearts pumping in perfect synchronized rhythm.

We have to do this again, said Richard. We have to.

Yes, said Lucille. I don’t want to be without you. I love you, she said.

I love you too, said Richard. Next time, let’s meet in somebody’s wet dream. Lucille nodded enthusiastically.

Lucille hugged Richard as tight as she could. I love newborn babies, she said. They sleep all fucking day.

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LIMITLESS by Chris Dankland

Rhubarb Jones died choking on vomit in her teenage bedroom. Her favorite kpop album still hung in the air when her corpse was discovered nine hours later. The name of the album was Limitless. She had set it on repeat.

An hour before, she had slapped together and eaten a ham sandwich. It was the only thing she could manage to make on {a high amount} mg of xanax. Pre-sliced slivers of ham inside two pieces of bread. She fell asleep four times, mid-chew. But she swallowed it down. She passed out on her bed with the crumb-littered plate only six inches from foamy lips, more shining and ominous than a bloody knife.

She had passed out and drifted into a dream about Kuala Lampur. She was visiting the city with her boyfriend, the dead French writer and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupery. He had flown Rhubarb into the city on his little silver plane. They had gotten a hotel and were smoking a blunt on the patio.

You’re so wonderful, she sighed.

I need you, my darling. I want you to be with me always, said Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Me too, said Rhubarb Jones. But I’m scared. I’m scared that if I stay with you, I’ll never come back.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery took a long drag and laughed. But why should that scare you, my darling? That should thrill you! Thank God that you’ll never come back! The world you know is nothing but piss and shit and ashes.

I love how I feel when you kiss me, she said. I love when you take me flying. It’s like I forget everything. It’s like nothing else exists.

Yes, isn’t it perfect? said Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Let’s soar into the night and disappear into the shadows.

I don’t know, said Rhubarb Jones. Give me another puff of that blunt, please.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery took a long drag and leaned forward, pressing his warm pink lips to hers. He sighed a long slow warm lungful of smoke into her. They kissed for a long time. When he finally pulled away, she sat in the chair grinning, her eyes closed.

When you kiss me like that, said Rhubarb Jones, everything feels limitless.

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