love is a four-letter word ed. michael taeckens

as much of a commitment-phobe as i am confirmed to be, i can honestly say that there is no foreseeable end to my love affair with the phenomenal hold system at the toronto public library. this system, obviously, is predicated upon the wealth of materials available. case in point-the new malcolm x is waiting for me at my home branch, and i’m giddy just looking over at my shelf at the stack of amazing books that i have to strategically read through to give it the attention it deserves. if ever there was a historical record in my time here, this sponge-ing of words as i figure out where i’m going to write next, that list (and i guess this one), is/was it. i am like dood from memento when it comes to tracing back exactly how these books came to be on my list, but that just adds to the charm of it all. this particular collection, because of its subject matter and its all-stars (lynda barry, pasha malla, junot diaz, wendy mcclure, etc.) could have come from any and/or all of my usual sources. it didn’t beget as many spinoffs as i thought it would, but this and hosting the moth have been enough for me to put rock on, and office power ballad by dan kennedy on hold. in a related tale of podcastery, i’m watching the moth, OMG: stories of the sacred (LIVE from the nypl) from the fall as i write this, and i just transferred the seattle public library’s reading of little bee to my ipod for elliptical machine accompaniment. life is great. love? we’ll get it next time.

“None of that had anything to do with it, though. Even now, you occasionally meet trans people who say: Oh I’m a woman too! I love to make cookies and play with dolls! To which you want to wearily respond: Jesus fuck, if you want to play with dolls, play with dolls. You don’t need a vagina for that.” (27)

“Of course, nobody really gets cured by love, but then transexuals are hardly the only people who believe that romance will lead them outside their selves. We all believe this, at times, even if this belief turns out, in the long run, not to be true. You can’t fault a person for hoping that love will make her into someone else, someone better. The world is full of false hopes, most of them dumber than the hope of being transformed by love.” (28) Trans by Jennifer Finney Boylan


4 thoughts on “love is a four-letter word ed. michael taeckens

  1. insecurity in ourselves most certainly leads to insecurity in relationships (duh):

    “But that didn’t stop me from engaging in the debates that were going on all around me regarding the recent election and Santo Domingo’s eternal President Belaguer-blind, deaf, and dumb but still jodiendo el pueblo. A president that the United States gave our country after its last military occupation, in 1965-God bless them all! Just before our flight was called, I was asked by a group of locals what I thought of Balaguer. I went into fulmination mode, and said he was a murderer, an election thief, an apologist of genocide, and, of course, a U.S. stooge of the Hosni Mubarak variety.
    See, the newspaper seller announced triumphantly. Even the gringo knows.” (6-7) Homecoming, With Turtle by Junot Diaz

    “I felt no envy, only curiosity. I knew he really loved only me. I knew I had the real power here. Women like Tammy and Carol, I thought arrogantly, were the ones he turned to because he couldn’t have me.” (55) Shadow Dancing by Kate Christensen

    except that same “crazy bitch” that hates him so much he runs to us for comfort is the one that always “wins”. or something.

    “Though we didn’t consummate the attraction for another week, our launch into a poisonous three-year love affair was now inevitable.” (94) Conversations You Have At Twenty by Maud Newton

    “I decided on a strategy of proposing a three-way to begin with. I’d learned enough to know that three-ways were the most dangerous threat facing gay couples. Global warming is nothing compared to the chill that descends over couples after their first menage a trois.” (112) Twenty-Five to One Odds by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

    “I don’t want to brag or claim soothsaying capabilities or anything, but I think that, deep down, she /wanted/ a man in her life who did things like pee in the cat box.” (188) Marking Territory by George

    “I wish I could explain that male psychosis. But I can’t. We are dumb animals and willing to ignore lots of shit from a potentially crazy person if we think the crazy person will suck our dick.” (262-3) The Guy Who Was My Boyfriend by Dave White

    banana cream pie.

  2. anatomy of an invisible relationship (is it a writer thing?!):

    “I realized that I was probably not the best-looking person he’d ever slept with, but I had the distinct advantage, I thought, of being nonfictional.” (111) Twenty-Five to One Odds by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

    ah, but the key words here are “I thought”. but no…sometimes they love you better when you’re fictional-just ask daniel johnston.

    “It took two cities for us to break up.” (147) Texas by Gary Shteyngart

    “I couldn’t decide if these stories were more for my benefit or his. He clearly liked to hear himself talk. Listening to him was like didactic foreplay, and I felt rather boring in comparison. We’d have sex and then he’d kick me out so that he could practice. I’d walk back to campus happily, because I was ass-over-teakettle in love with him. In this irrational state, I justified his behavior by constantly revising my definition of the Platonic ideal of cool.” (194)

    it’s worse when he just wants to masturbate over skype every seven months or so and retreat to write his book. or something.

    “I wondered with what, beyond his making love and my fucking, he was falling in love. The phone calls always lasted at least thirty minutes. They would begin with me saying hello and then adding an uh-huh during the moments when he took a breath, until it was time to beg off and hang up. It wasn’t a lot of work, really, and I became fascinated by how little of me he needed to sustain the conversation.” (266) The Guy Who Was My Boyfriend by Dave White

    “he’s not that into you” is so much harder to take when it’s really “he doesn’t actually care if you’re a flesh and blood person, in fact, it would be better if you were a blowup doll.” make a book out of that one, SATC folks.

    “We didn’t break up or even argue about it. Our letters and phone calls continued through that fall as though nothing had changed-and maybe nothing had. Our love affair had never been predicated on geographical proximity, physical reality. Anyway it was only temporary, I told myself, just until I felt more secure. I did not yet understand how security makes it harder, not easier, to change one’s life, how even the smallest move takes more and more effort with each passing year.” (278-9)

    it’s not less depressing if you stop counting.

  3. it’s hard out here for a word farmer:

    “I guess that she finally realized that I wasn’t going to change anytime soon, that it was hopeless to wait around to see if I’d ever get published, quit drinking, and be kinder to the ones closest to me as opposed to complete strangers. I do not think she made a bad decision there.” (183-4) Marking Territory by George Singleton

    “Amy was still without a directing job, and i had begun to realize unhappily that she was not as successful as I had first thought. In fact, she was something of a complete failure. And she was a failure precisely because she thought of herself as having already achieved success. This perspective placed her in the unfortunate position of refusing work that she saw as being beneath her, while at the same time being unable to obtain work that was really above her. So she drifted in a sort of snobbish unemployed artistic limbo that she blamed on sexism.” (71) Runaway Train by Said Sayrafiezadeh

    there’s a camel in this story. a kid yesterday told me this: “my sister calls me a camel sometimes because of how much i drink. she also says that my mom has camel toe.”

    “This anthology isn’t going to help you solve your own relationship problems-anyone who considers taking romantic advice from a bunch of writers is beyond help anyway. But, at the very least, it will give us plenty of retroactive gossip material as we drift toward cultural irrelevance. It’s always nice to know that no matter how badly you’ve screwed up your love life, someone else has done far, far worse.” (xx) the intro by Neal Pollack

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