My upcoming book of short short stories, Shake Away These Constant Days, originated as a project called Our Band Could Be Your Lit, in which I wrote a story under 1000 words every week. To generate this much content, I based the stories on songs suggested my musicians and writers from around the world. The original idea was 100 songs, 100 stories: find the creative common ground between two mediums and cultivating the virtue found therein.
Until September 25th, I'll be doing a blog post a day about the stories in the book. After that, it's all up to you.
Originally OBCBYL #24. I don’t write about mother/son relationships because I don’t think I have anything interesting to say on the subject. Hamlet and Freud pretty much covered it. Besides, a man’s most interesting parental tension is usually with his father—Marc Maron calls it a “battle to the death”—and because I don’t have anything much to say about that, either, I don’t. My mother makes me lunch every Monday and my father’s feelings on me waver consistently between tolerable and favorable. What more is there?
That said, I think the mother in the story was a good choice for a foundation. I pulled a bunch of concrete imagery from the song: Pet Sounds, Mona Lisa, an aneurysm, Black Russians, black birds, and the title itself. I wish I could remember how chess became a sort of odd backbone for the story, but I'm drawing a total blank. It could have been the movie Angus, for all I remember. I'm assuming I looked up something about Pet Sounds and worked my way back from there to find a teenage narrator, stumbling upon the 1960s and not wanting to suck its dick in the usual ways.
Before this, my knowledge of chess extended to pretty much knowing that I wasn't very good at it and that there was that Bobby Fischer movie in the 90s. (That movie didn't actually have anything to do with Bobby Fischer, I think I later found out and stopped giving a shit about immediately.) Something about Russian names really appealed to me, too—in small doses only, as my multiple failed attempts to tackle Chekhov will prove—so just having Boris Spassky be mentioned a couple times at least gave me a faux-sophistication I could rest my hat on long enough to finish the story.
I go back and forth about the girl in the story, whether or not she’s a tool or a worthwhile character. I’d like to someday rewrite the story from her perspective and find out. Also, like when I worked at a gas station and a meat processing plant, my narrators have been getting custodial jobs ever since I got one. Punch me in the face if I ever start writing about writers.
Tomorrow: A story named "Wide Right Game" that is based on the song "Helps Both Ways" by Mogwai.
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Pre-order the book if you either love cake or have diabetes.