November 29, 2011

Writers' Toilets 2 - Frances Madeson on Her Toilet

What’s missing from this picture? Can you spot it? Right-o, no built-in toilet-paper dispenser in the master bathroom!

The actual toilet is from Levengers─their high-end Notabile model with the Lakota seat cover. I could go on and on about its familiar marbled composition and the ruggedly textured bison leather sure-grip seat (sorry you can’t really see it). Perched thereon, cheek to cheek with the gamey hide, I hit authorial pay dirt, and the below excerpt issued forth. It’s from my new forthcoming blockbuster, an experimental novel (temporally: it actually reads like it’s being written before you in real time just as you turn the page, possibly like the feeling of having one’s life flash before one's very eyes—imagine!) composed in episodes. I won’t bother to contextualize the scene, only to say this one’s about a third of the way in, and by then, you’re likely already half smitten with the fearless unconventional protagonist, with her brazen stools and loose-by-any-standard morals.

Happy reading!

Episode 72

I turned the hot water on maximum force in Hank’s plexiglass-enclosed shower stall and sat on the American Disabilities Act toilet that was surprisingly tall, feeling queenly on the elevated white porcelain throne. My piss didn't burn as it hissed out, and fears of an infection in my urethra from friction’s rub on the latex molecules that had emanated from Danny's condom-covered boner were happily unfounded. I voided my bowels in mere seconds, which frankly astonished me that I could be so at home in a near stranger's bathroom. I felt completely cleaned out, so that if “touching me anywhere” involved my anus, I could meet the moment with confidence.


Frances Madeson is the author of the novel Cooperative Village (Carol MRP Co., 2007). The working title for her current novel is Kissing Booth. Thank you, Frances!

November 25, 2011

Writers' Toilets

After the success of its Writers' Rooms series a couple of years back, The Guardian has just launched a more tech-sexy, new-millennium sequel, Writers' Desktops, featuring shots of authors' computer desktops and some accompanying chit-chat from the authors themselves in order to give us insight into . . . into . . . oh, I don't know. There's some language about having writers "show us around their working lives," and the suggestion that we might learn something about the relationship between technology and the "creative life" of contemporary writers. Writers in this case means a parade of Booker Prize short-listees and winners, as well as producers of the "better" genre fiction and "serious" non-fiction, all of whom will happen to have high profiles in recent literary journalism and contracts with the major corporate houses. In other words, here is yet another exercise in author-as-celebrity voyeurism, a gentrified and "distinction"-conferring version of something you'd find in a tabloid, like having one of the Kardashian sisters give you a guided tour of her thong drawer.

So, in the spirit of taking the piss, I'm launching this series of Writers' Toilets, starting with my own. The bowl and rim are a little cleaner than usual because we had company yesterday, but it still looks close to what you'd find on any average day when I might step across the hall from the room where I do my Literary Creating. The tile-work on the floor is attractive to look at but clammy and cold on the bottom of my feet - for some reason we still haven't purchased a mat. There's hardly any cabinet space; hence the case of TP on the back of the tank and the plastic storage box under the sink. Open on the plastic storage box is my reading for that morning's bowel movement, a recent issue of Chicago Review devoted to contemporary Italian writing. Like geological strata we can also see evidence of earlier bowel-movement reading peeking out from under the case of toilet paper - a copy of Dalkey Archive Press's Review of Contemporary Fiction (Vol. XXX, #3 The Editions P.O.L. Number, in fact). On a typical morning I have my bowel movement after my second cup of coffee and my first cigarette; afterwards I am ready to begin writing. At the end of the day I always read in bed before falling asleep; my wife pokes fun at me because I take my book with me to the toilet and continue reading while I stand there to pee. The toilet itself has a very satisfactory flush, something I had originally been worried about because the plumbing is quite old, and a definite improvement over the toilet in our previous place. We have only lived in this house for three or four months, but I have already had several fine story ideas while using this toilet.

Writers! Send me your toilet pics, plus any accompanying text and links, and I will post them here.

November 9, 2011

New Fiction at S/Word

"Everyone was talking into their handheld devices, except those whose devices did not require hands, who were just talking. Alive to every permutation, I’d had a good day, I’d had a bad day, I’d had a so-so day..."

I've got a story "Devices," in the inaugural issue of a new webzine devoted to innovative writing, S/Word. Also appearing are Ben Nardolilli, Brett Elizabeth Jenkins, William Doreski, Ben Segal, Ray Succre, Francis Raven, Len Kuntz, Joel Mitchell, Matthew Davies. Props to editors Seth and Chelsea McKelvey for making it happen.

"Devices" is the third of my experiments playing with the inclusion of appropriated text to be published, along with "Valley of the Dolls" and "A Paper Moon."