Last spring, I wrote the script for a performance piece, in conjunction with local video/image/&c. oddball troupe/units Weird Fiction and Future Death Toll, called Redshift. The script itself was, in a weird way, this kind of culmination of everything I had ever written, or maybe even had ever done, y’know, created, up until that point. I’ll explain, or at least, I’ll try to. The narrative, as it is, is a fractured set of stories kind of spliced together, based on the factual details of my own life, the way my life felt as I was experiencing it, the way I remembered it, the way I fictionalized it in fiction, and the way I currently remember said fictionalization. It’s not so much navel-gazing as it is kind of examination of everything around me, surrounding me — everything I had expressed, had created up until this point, the results, the evidence piled up on the desk. The main story was originally was entitled “Mount Laurel”, and it was the last in a sequence of ten stories I wrote for the Twenty Stories About Twenty Towns In New Jersey event I co-hosted with Matthew Korfhage. “Mount Laurel” itself was a kind of meta-reexamination of a sequence in my current novel-in-progress, The New American Novel, a sequence which itself was a reexamination and almost summation of the nearly 900 page unpublished novel I finished in 2001, The Pilot and the Panda. It’s confusing, I know.
All of this, really, is what I would like to consider one of the (the only?) key advantages to being an unpublished author: since there is no audience to read it, there is no audience to alienate. I am my only reader, and my best reader, thus I will write what I want to read. And I wanted to see these decade old themes again, in the shadow of what had passed, in the light of what would arrive.
The script for Redshift, then, was these pieces combined, the always-risky attempt to create the sum totality of everything I had ever created. Of course, as a piece, it is a failure, which is why I have reworked it safely in the much-stronger community of my novel-in-progress, where it serves much better as a cog than as a wheel. As a collaboration, with too-talented visual imaginees/executers, it more then works: crazy as it seems, it actually happened.
I didn’t perform during the live event, although I was supposed to. I got sick, a horrific stomach virus that had me in bed for half a week. Mack McFarland, of Weird Fiction, read the piece in my absence. It’s as rad as I could have hoped it would be, as strange and flattering it is to see ones own work read by someone else. Here’s hoping you like it too.