Not For You Studios Presents: A Rare Literary Find!

[Note: Sorry, kiddos, for not tunin' in at the same Despair-Time, same Despair-Channel last week. I was at Small Press Expo, kickin' it anachronistic-school, takin' names and creepin' out Meredith Gran. Sorry I was wierd. You're a real nice lady. Anyway, more con details later, maybe. And now: As the title says.]
James Joyce is undoubtedly one of the most famous authors of the 20th century, with a collection of works as dense with meaning and allusions as they are influential. Perhaps best known for his Ulysses, his unquestioned masterpiece, but his neither is his earlier work unforgotten. His infamous collection of short stories, Dubliners, was composed between the ages of 22 and 25, yet is just as complex and rewarding as anything he's written. Recently, yet another classic Joycian composition has been unearthed: a previously unknown collection of stories that compliment and build on the rich themes of Dubliners: Americaners. Here, we are pleased to present some excerpts from this recovered marvel, which we are sure is not long off from being elevated to most celebrated positions in the literary canon, as well as some brief introductory analysis.

In our first excerpt, “A True Patriot,” Joyce once again explores the theme of man's struggle against the horrible inevitabilities of the universe, of the common worker's endless battle to retain some control over his existence, and the sad lows that this losing war drives him to. “Sunday Mornings” turns Joyce's attention to the church, as one might expect of that classic religious provocateur. “Hard Work” focuses primarily on the senseless brutalities that are so often encouraged by male bonding rituals, touching briefly on the question of where the blame in these situations lies, on the individuals, or on the society. “Gentlemen Prefer Blonds” continues Joyce's exploration of manhood, this time directed towards the study of often predatory male sexuality and its consequences.“Wastes” is truly classic Joycian stream-of-consciousness, which is always a deceptively complex delight, giving wonderful insight into the amazing mind which gave rise to so many complex, wonderful characters.

A True Patriot

A dark red truck races along a tired back road. The driver's heart races along with, faster, setting the pace as the lead car. His name is short and crude, either Frank or Earl or perhaps even Bob. It is irrelevant, much like his suspended license and his pending court date. He is tense, willing the Earth to somehow compress so his destination might be closer. He will make it, he tells himself, he has to.

A single rock sticks out of the barely-paved road, a mineral-based iceberg in his path. Bloodshot eyes weary of long hours at the mill and longer hours at the bar fail him. The truck sails smoothly over the rock like a longboat cresting a wave. The heap reconnects with the road in a jarring cacophony of scraping and shaking. It is too much for him. For an instant, he eases, and in that instant, he is lost. The man releases a long, greasy tube of excrement into his coveralls.

His face reddens with shame. He mutters some curse towards the minority that served him his ethnically flavored yet inescapably Americanized dinner. He blames them, the Mexicans or Italians or perhaps Chinese who prepared his meal, though his heart is not in it, and the ugly slur tastes bitter upon his lips.

He finally arrives at home. He pounds through the front door of his trailer and back to the bathroom. “What stinks like shit?” his wife calls. He kicks the dog, and then the other dog, and thinks about chasing the other three down and kicking them, too, just to show them, but goes to clean himself instead. He sees the mirror hanging over the sink and avoids looking at himself. He wipes the massive, smeared pile of crap from his good pants and studies the bumper sticker taped onto the mirror: “These colors don't run.”

Sunday Mornings

Sunday mornings, Father Randy stood before the crowd and told them God's inalterable, immutable will. Sunday afternoons, he followed them to the local sportsbar and indulged. He was a good man, a pious man, and after all, beer was not so different from wine. Father Randy often joked about his Buds being sacramental booze. People rarely laughed at his jokes.

Father Randy almost never drank alone, and there was no one he wouldn't drink with. He drank with old Hershel, who preferred Old Testament stories, and he drank with young Tommy, who never wanted to “God talk” with Father Randy. Father Randy drank with the ladies about town, as well. Norma Jean and Bobby Sue and Sally Sally all consented to pass the time with the good father, in and out of the bar. Some places might have talked about such conduct, but people around these here parts were decent, God-fearing folk, and they knew that Father Randy was a man of God, and God moves in mysterious ways, and after all even a man of God is still just a man, let he without sin cast the first stone, and so on.

Besides, Father Randy still maintained his duties as a reverend. He was never late for services, and he always made sure someone was taking confessions. He himself manned the confessional four days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Wednesdays were slow, and he felt sure he could simply skip that day's services, but he didn't because he was a man called by God, after all. Saturdays were the busiest day, as people wanted to get themselves right with the Lord in time for Sunday morning. Saturdays he heard all sorts of sins. He heard about cheating, lying, lusting, and even stealing from time to time. He never judged them, for it was God's domain to judge mankind. He showed them the way back on to God's path, and he prayed for them to be strong and resist the Devil's wicked temptations.

Out of all the people Father Randy prayed for, he prayed for Joey Gren the most. Joey came in every Saturday night to seek forgiveness for his sins. Joey never said it was him, but Father Randy could tell. He'd drank with the boy many times, still drank with the boy, in fact. Ever since Joey started confessing, though, Randy felt strange, sitting next to each other, sharing a pitcher. Joey'd take a drink, and Randy couldn't help thinking about the places he knew those lips had been. Joey'd laugh over something, maybe one of Randy's jokes, and his laugh was so easy, so friendly, that Randy could only think about all the other boys that Joey had laughed with. What drove a man to do those things, those horrible, disgusting things? How could he just sit there, knowing what he'd done? Knowing what people would do, if they knew? More than that: why did Randy still share his Sunday afternoons with him? What drove him to hear more about those illicit sins?

One Sunday morning, Joey didn't make it out to services. Father Randy filled his sermon with the full severity of God's wrath. Father Randy couldn't wait for it to end. He needed a beer. He needed a lot of beers. He rushed through the proceedings in a sweat. At the bar, he drank like he did back in his school days: recklessly. On this day, there were no jokes. Father Randy couldn't help but speak. He spoke the truth, but without honesty. He poured out the knowledge he had of Joey Gren's sins. “In a town this small, how could I not tell who it was,” he asked them. The places, the times, the acts, the men. All of this he heaped on them, hoping to free himself of this terrible knowledge. No one interrupted him. When he could not say anything else, he simply left.

That week, he could not sleep. Why had he said all that? No, the real question was: why did it matter that Joey wasn't there? This Saturday, when they met again, in the confessional, he would ask. He'd ask more than that. He'd ask questions he thought he could never ask.

Saturday came. Father Randy could barely contain himself. He did all things in his normal way, careful not to let anyone notice anything different about him. But every time he heard the confessional door open, he felt himself stir.

“Forgive me father, for I have sinned.” It was just old Hershel. He didn't come into confessional all that often; Randy had the distinct impression it was something against him, personally. “Though I done it in the Lord's name, I have committed the deadly sin of Wrath. That little queer you done told us about? Well, I done strung his ass up, inna tree, the way folks used to.” It was old Herschel. In a town this small... Randy stared at the floor of the confessional, searching for something. But of course, he knew that this was the only way it could end. Closing his eyes, he blessed old Herschel and sent him on his way.

Hard Work

Thunder split a dull gunmetal sky, but the men gathered in the bar couldn't hear it over their cheers. The television was broadcasting images of brightly colored cars speeding around and around a track, and they all marveled at their speed and their circling ability. Their drinks are staggeringly cheap and plentiful and do nothing to soften the incessant pain of their pedestrian lives. But the cars drove on, and that was such a clever thing for them to do.

Someone won and the race ended. The men continued to cheer nothing throughout the evening, even as they were thrust into the miserable, storming night. There were four of them, there, stumbling through the parking lot. In a dazzling display of cunning and skill at the very least equal to that of the race car drivers', all four make it to their own chariots and persuade them to life. The first, Bobby Mitchell, dashed himself against a tree in a truly tragic scene. “Big” Curtis Lee was far more successful, only hitting a passing vagrant. Billy Bobson made it home unmolested, parked his car askew across the driveway, filled his passenger seat with vomit, and passed out. But Russel Hass took home the gold. His voyage home was a simple thing, as was easing the car into its proper place, as was finding the right keys for the front door, as was beating his wife, nightly, for reasons that only true gentlemen could understand. Tonight, he beat on her before taking in the meal she had prepared him, and even before his customary glass of whiskey. It is not that these things brought Russel any joy; but, one does what one must to get by.

Gentlemen Prefer Blonds

It was Friday, and for Hank Johns, this meant two things. The first was that it was payday. The second was that he could afford to buy some pussy. The women he purchased often referred to it as “attention” or “company” or “a date,” but in this act, Hank did not harbor any illusions. He knew he was buying nothing more or less than a few hours of their time and a big, messy farewell.

Hank loved whores. He loved to watch them walk, carrying confidence in their product and anxiety. What was it exactly that worried them, Hank sometimes wondered. Was it fear? Of arrests, of being robbed, left bound and gagged and maybe gutted out in some cheap hotel? Of blacks, perhaps? Hank's father taught him how to pick out whores, how to know their tricks, how to avoid getting caught up in their personal tragedies. Hank wondered: what did their fathers teach them? Were they taught how to hide a gun, how to shoot it, how to squeeze men for their last dollar? Were they taught how to drown it all away in the same bars they worked?

Hank's father always told him not to think about whores, just holes. Hank used to think this was wise advice; it was certainly the easiest way to avoid getting taken in, after all. But Hank found that half the fun was in the thought of it. Thinking about their fears. Thinking about what made them do it. Desperation? There weren't many jobs around, that was for sure, and everyone needed to eat. He could tell, from stretch marks and the occasional cesarean scar, that many of them had children. Hank liked to think of those children, liked to imagine them watching him as he used their mothers. Sometimes he stood in screaming crowds outside the doctor's offices, and as he looked at all the signs urging to “think of the children,” he'd get hard. His wife, standing beside him, always seemed to notice, always turned away in disgust. Did she know? It didn't matter. Perhaps she whored too, maybe she was in other bars picking up men, or being picked up. The thought of this, though distasteful, was not enough to stop him.

This Friday night, Hank was lucky. A fresh one walked into the bar. Hank could tell by the way she avoided the bar, avoided ordering a drink, that she hadn't done this before, and actually thought it mattered to the bartender that she was underage. Hank wondered how underage she was, and felt a furious stiffness growing in him. He walked up to her. “Hay thaar, sweet thang.” She flinched as he laid his hand upon her, withered under his smile, but he knew she would not turn away. “Is thar a keg in yer shorts? Kuz I can't wait to tap that ass.”


A fat, blotchy redneck drinks awful booze. His face is horrible and his mind unbelievably dumb. He loves only awful things and is just a stupid jerk. He hits his wife and his kids and minorities sometimes when no one is looking and what a miserable piece of crap you're thinking well you know what surprise he's the perfect metaphor in every way for this stupid goddamn country.

—Sweet American dreams, kiddies, from your very own oogie-boogey man,
a certain Mr. Johnny Despair, Esq.


Red X said...

I hate that you wrote something I'm gonna have to sit down and read for a long time about James Joyce. ><

Johnny Despair, Esq. said...

I'm officially dedicating part 2 to you, my dearie.