When you drive from I-78 to your house, what exit do you take?
What little winding road do you always miss right after that?
How old were you before you learned to drive with a stick shift?
This is about your mother, isn’t it?
What do you always quarrel with Janet about?
How many times has she said in the past year that she’ll leave you?
What’s your favorite Netflix show?
What was your favorite show five years ago?
Which show does Janet prefer?
Who’s told you repeatedly, “Will you ever grow up?”
What food do you most dislike?
Why does Janet cook it at least twice a week?
When did you hire a maid?
So what’s her name?
How could you not even know her name?
Oh, so you could do a better cleaning job?
Where do you think Janet is right now?
Who really goes grocery shopping that often?
How often do you feel inadequate?
Why are you blaming that on your father?
When you can’t sleep at night and stare out the window at the neighbor’s lawn, glowing green-black in the moonlight, then reach out for Janet, her limbs at rest, mouth parted in a perfect bow, where do you think you went wrong?
What joke do you tell that’s made you unpopular at the office?
Which delicatessen do you go to for your favorite sandwich?
Who’s still willing to have lunch with you?
What is the point of your existence?
What would/will life be like without Janet?
Is that pathetic or what?
Where is Janet right now?
Is that just what she told you?
Did she accompany it with one of those false smiles?
Do these security questions make you feel insecure?
What do you suppose Janet’s security questions are?
David Galef has published extremely short fiction in the collections Laugh Track and My Date with Neanderthal Woman (Dzanc Short Story Collection Prize), extremely long fiction in the novels Flesh, Turning Japanese, and How to Cope with Suburban Stress (Kirkus Best Books of 2006), and a lot in between. His latest is Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook from Columbia University Press. Day job: professor of English and creative writing program director at Montclair State University. He is also the new editor-in-chief at Vestal Review. Website www.davidgalef.com. Twitter handle @dgalef.
by Lise Funderburg’s Id
as told to Lise Funderburg
Holiday party season is once again upon us—a time of dough-forward cookie trays and ornamental cabbages, of feigned interest and conversational quicksand. This year, why not ride the crest of incivility that has taken our nation by storm? Say what you mean. Say whatever you feel like, then get the hell out of Dodge. Examples follow:
“I thought you were more attractive from across the room.”
“It sure is noisy in here. I think it’s the sound of other people having fun.”
“Fish sauce is the ultimate umami, you say? Bye, I say.”
“I can’t hear you, and I don’t want to.”
“How do you know LA is ‘where it’s at for young artists’ when you are neither?”
“That person knows people, so I’m heading there. You stay here.”
“Was there a point to that?”
“What I’m getting from your airless and yet flatulent rant of the last eight minutes is that you, more than anyone, saw the current political situation coming. Now see me going.”
“When I said, ‘I don’t follow sports,’ I thought it implied baseball. My bad.”
“That woman blocking the food table is showing people YouTube cat videos on her phone. I think it would be better for both of us if you joined them.”
“I desperately need to refill my drink, and I will neither offer to refill yours nor rejoin you afterward.”
“Have you heard of tongue scrapers? They’re great for halitosis.”
“I’ve never put ‘home renovation’ and ‘Shakespearean’ together. I suggest you don’t, either.”
“If I understand you correctly, you’re saying jack shit about diddly squat.”
“That’s enough about your comics collection, don’t you think?”
“Oh, look! It’s my accountant! Want to meet him?”
Lise Funderburg’s id is based in Philadelphia and has done little or nothing of note, except to get Lise Funderburg in trouble from time to time.
FORTUNE’S FATE by Miriam Graham Unreal Imprints, 1075 pages
reviewed by Flair Coody Roster
Although I have never personally met Miriam Graham, I learned everything about her that I could possibly wish in what is her debut (and hopefully only) novel, Fortune’s Fate, forthcoming this August from Unreal Imprints.
As a veteran reviewer, I no longer assess a book by its contents. (All of the best authors are dead, except for TuPac.) Instead, I take a long, hard look at the author’s bio. The bio is the hardest thing to write—harder than a 100,000 word novel—and reveals more than most writers intend. Graham congratulates herself on her participation in several mid-tier workshops (tuition, not merit-based), name-drops a few nobodies, and dribbles out some gratitude for the emotional support provided by her eight Persian cats. None of this is important or interesting. The photo, however, says it all. Graham’s deep-set, cowardly eyes told me at once that I was in for a massively disappointing read, and that I should probably contact my therapist because Graham looks a lot like my mother and I was feeling very triggered.
Although my therapist has since reassured me several times that Graham did not deliberately write Fortune’s Fate to trigger me, I struggle with forgiving her.
The novel’s plot hinges on an insipid old chestnut: two babies, swapped at birth, each grow up feeling out of place. Kippy, a perky brunette who favors tight sweaters, yearns for a sporty family to nurture her interest in cheerleading. Corncob, pale and serious, hides behind her textbooks while her “family” practices ballistics and skeet on their mansion’s croquet lawn. Although it’s easy to relate to the angst, Graham introduces a deeper layer that is as disturbing as it is poorly incorporated into the primary narrative.
Her awkward mismanagement of the novel’s “resurrection/rapture” theme completely derails the already janky plot. When the time-pausing machine Corncob builds breaks, all Hell breaks loose. The girls’ adventure deteriorates into a stream-of-consciousness discussion of Graham’s personal politics, her psychic abilities, what the birds on the bird feeder augur, and a dreadful misreading of the lyrics of Don Henley’s hit “Boys of Summer.” The whole thing is a terrible, terrible car accident that should never have been printed on 80% recycled paper with nontoxic soy based ink.
However, there’s a grain of redemption in every work, even the worst, and I found it on page 835: “‘But I want to do horrible things,’ Kippy said, her pubescent breasts rising beneath her bright pink bejeweled sweater. ‘It’s all I ever wanted.’ Corncob removed the bandanna from her pallid face, like a deep sea fish tremoring to the surface only to burst into a roiling mass of guts and plasm. ‘Your whole life is horrible,’ she declared. Her eye began to excrete a white sputum.” At this point, I experienced a spiritual release that my therapist is calling artificial transference and which was unaffected by the heavy dose of Ativan I took before getting into Chapter 66.
The pure awfulness of Fortune’s Fate may never be outdone, and like it or not this novel has left an indelible mark on me—like a scar, which is making me feel even more triggered and causing me to wonder if Graham might have been reading my personal LiveJournal which has a weird username but is also not password-protected. Or possibly she has been talking to my mother, who is famous for sharing the most personal information about me, such as I am adopted and have been working on my time machine since 1997 because nothing was ever good after that year, for me or anyone, and I have the sweaters and skeet pigeons to prove it. Did you find the journal, Miriam?
Did you Miriam? Did you?
Flair Coody Roster’s seminal work Blaming Dave Eggers For Everything was shortlisted for the Pulitzer. Her reviews appear regularly in Cleaver Magazine, The New York Times, and Cat Fancy Magazine. Her whereabouts are unknown.
Search SolutionFinders > Near Los Angeles > Products and Services > Misc. Services > God
Contact Information: Reachable via lamentation, group prayer, rhythmic chant, written appeal, liturgical recitation, meditative outreach, dance, selected hallucinogens and dark night of the soul.
Note: In some markets, DBA as Allah, Krishna, Christ, Nyame, Ein Sof, Shiva, Jehovah, Yahweh, Creator, Brahma, HaShem, Shakti, et al. For a complete list, visit our website: www.AllKnowing1.com
Business Description:As humankind’s premier incorporeal source for moral guidance and answers to your ontological questions, God has provided supplicants with top-quality service for millennia. Equally at home with small-scale projects or massive upheavals, God combines the omniscience you’ve come to expect with an awe-inspiring arbitrariness you’ve learned to appreciate. Loyal adherents enjoy the peace of mind that comes with access to a broad range of services and a set of ritual practices tailored to your family, cultural heritage, lifestyle, region, and aesthetic sensibilities. Crews of God’s highly trained professionals are prepared to answer your questions and assist you in accomplishing your desired result. So whether you’re a neophyte, reformer, scholar, mystic, traditionalist, weekend dabbler, zealot or curious skeptic, find out today why God is the industry leader in Divine Wisdom. God is Holy, Perfect, Just, Merciful, Indivisible, Genderless and Eternal. Accept no substitutes. Family owned and operated.
Service Area: Infinite
Services Include:Omnipotence, comfort for the bereaved, moral parameters, fear and trembling, inspiration, awe, humbling, threat of retribution, blessings, punishment, shaming, acts of nature, spiritual awakening, extensive selection of religious rituals, unknowability, community, purpose, holiness, heaven and hell (not all markets), purgatory (not all markets), reincarnation (not all markets).
Overall:B- Workmanship: B Responsiveness: C- Punctuality: D Professionalism: B+ Eternality: A- All Reviews: 4,017,639,218 Member Reviews: 3,148,025,701 Disputes: 1,002,593,647
Comments from Recent Users:
Would definitely recommend! Until last summer, I had zero experience with this service. We didn’t grow up with God in the house or anything. But last July a bunch of friends and I rented a cabin inside Bryce Canyon National Park, which was awesome except my girlfriend had dumped me the week before, so I was too bummed to enjoy any of it. Our third night, we sat around the fireplace and took some shrooms. Everyone decided to go on a night hike, but I was in a weird place, so I stayed behind and sat outside. The night sky was intense. Deep purple and thick with glittering stars. They were swirling around and pulsating and some people don’t believe me when I say this, but I could hear them humming, like a cosmic vibration. It did something to me. I called out, “God, if you’re legit, and you think I’ll be okay, let me know.” Everything was quiet except for the humming. I called out louder, “Let me know!” Then this bright shooting star goes streaking low across the sky, right in front of me. I felt this heavy weight lift off my chest. I started to laugh and couldn’t stop. The rest of my trip was amazing. I’m a huge fan! ~ Yuki H.
Read the fine print Mixed reviews from me. I was a regular user for years. I grew up in a hardcore Polish-Catholic family outside of Detroit. My mom and my aunts practically lived at our parish church. I went to Mass every Sunday, attended St. Stanislaus through 8th grade, and was in the local Youth Ministry for five years. Growing up, I felt like God and I had an understanding. I’d do my thing and he’d look out for my family and me. Then my youngest brother committed suicide because he was too scared to come out to our parents. He was a freshman in college, probably still a virgin, but he was sure it would destroy them and that he’d burn in hell for being gay. Nice work, God. I left the church and didn’t look back for 12 years. But I got married last year, and my wife has been trying to get me to reconsider. She insists I was using the service wrong, and she wants me to try what she calls “God 2.0,” essentially a user-friendly update that’s more popular on the West Coast than where I grew up. Plus, we just found out she’s pregnant, and it makes me think maybe she’s right about giving it another try for my kid’s sake. But I still feel like, buyer beware. My advice is, read the fine print. Know exactly which version you’re signing up for. ~ Matrixx78, Oakland
He is not the problem Where I come from, we don’t judge the Almighty like He is an electric blender. Maybe this is why America is going downhill. ~ Carole Mitchell, Greenville, SC
Save your $$ Unimpressed. Takes forever to respond. Promises more than He delivers. Service is unreliable and his staff tries to nickel and dime you to death. Might be fine for births and funerals, but otherwise, I’ll pass. When my soul feels battered, give me a chilled piña colada and a comfy beach chair over this guy any day. You want to feel renewed? Spend your hard-earned money on a resort vacation instead. You’ll thank me later. ~ Sandra, Lansing, MI
Not your parents’ G-d I am a Cisgender Reformed Rabbi at an alternative, egalitarian synagogue. I am very gratified to see G-d on this site, as it demonstrates that s/he does not have to be a distant forbidding figure, but in fact is accessible everywhere. To the more hostile commenters here, I suggest they explore newer options for healthy G-d interaction in their communities. In our suburban shul, for example, we celebrate G-d as an LGBT-friendly Creator and agent of social justice. Each week, we usher in the holy spark with Buddhist meditation, original guitar music composed by our congregants, and an organic, vegan Shabbat meal.
~ Rabbi Rob Lerner, Buffalo Grove, IL
Blasphemers It is too bad that there is no Internet connection in Hell, because when you’re all there, twisting and burning for eternity because of your filthy decadence and arrogance, you won’t be able to go online and review your experience of it. Maybe for faithless dogs like you, that will be the greatest punishment of all: no Wi-Fi. ~ M.H.
Welcome to the 21st century I like SolutionFinders because it’s an eclectic nuts-and-bolts site. I found a new dentist here and got a solid recommendation for a bike repair shop in my area. My roommate buys used circuit boards and other geek items he can’t find as cheaply elsewhere. But God? Seriously? It’s hard to believe this is happening in the same century as advanced cloning, the Genome Project, the Large Hadron Collider, and high-res Hubble photos of the Andromeda Galaxy, (where 100 million stars are embedded in an area that stretches across an area of 40,000 light years). This is the 21st century, people. Science is moving forward while you lunatics wage holy war and log on to this site to write consumer commentary about a magical sky-daddy dreamed up by ancient nomads. SMDH. ~ Richard Raithel, Pittsburgh PA
Blessed, blessed, blessed Hello! I don’t usually write comments, but God has been so good to my family that I must contribute here. I was born in Mexico, one of 14 children. We were very poor. There were so many hardships, I won’t begin to describe them, but life was nothing like it is here. My American children hear our stories, but really they have no idea. My parents and older siblings worked so hard it hurts to think about it sometimes. Although God took my mother and father while they were still in their 50s, he made sure neither suffered too long. Growing up, whenever we were hungry, God made sure we had some kind of work so we could put enough food on the table to keep going. Over and over, He has given me strength and answered my prayers. In 1974, two years after I received my green card, God sent me my husband, Octavio. In our wedding photo, he is so tall and handsome in his blue suit. We christened our firstborn, Tomasito, in the same church where we married. When he was four months old, my son died in his crib and all the light went out of my life. For ten months I couldn’t say God’s name without a bitter taste in my mouth. Then Octavio came home one evening with vegetable seeds and some clay pots he got from a friend. I planted and watered them and it was the only thing I did each day that felt good. Slowly, my heart opened. Now we have four wonderful grown children. All of them went to college and three are married. We have five grandchildren, including tiny Lucas, born six weeks ago. God took my husband last year, so he is with our baby now, but I still feel his spirit with me. Every Sunday my whole family comes to my house for dinner. My son-in-law built me una pérgola for my patio, and he wired it with a chandelier. Usually it’s warm enough for us to eat outside. I sit at the table under the glow of the lights and look at my family. I remember those nights as a girl, lying under a rough blanket with my sisters, trying not to dream about food. I think of everything God gave Octavio and me. If I live to be 100, how could I ever forget? ~ Marisela, Cathedral City, CA
God is dead Such unbearable foolishness. In Prague in 1941, my father and uncle were shot in the street during a Nazi police action. My mother, sister and I were deported to Theresienstadt, where my sister died of typhus. In 1943 my mother and I were sent to Auschwitz. They separated us when we got off the train and I never saw her again. I was 13 when the camp was liberated. I weighed 68 pounds. Other than a second cousin who lives in Israel, I am the only survivor in my family. My parents and sister, my grandparents, all my aunts, uncles and cousins were murdered. Our story is not unique. There are millions like it. I saw such unspeakable things there, things I won’t mention. After such a war, how obscene to talk about God. For better or worse, there is only us. Please do not offer here any claims about your “services.” It is an insult to the memory of all those who perished with your name on their lips. ~ Jacob Kleinfeld, White Plains, NY
So what now Four months ago I dropped out of high school and ran away from home because I couldn’t handle being there. Trust me, anyone would have left. Since then I haven’t stayed any place longer than three weeks. I work for a little while and move on. I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m trying to stay hopeful. I’d like to get my G.E.D. I’d like to have my own computer instead of sitting in libraries or these weird Internet cafes with creepers and video gamers. I read these reviews and everyone here seems a lot older than me but no one agrees about anything. I don’t need you to tell me the world is shit. I’m trying to find someone who can tell me the opposite. ~ Kayla
Diane Arieff was born and raised in Wisconsin. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College. Her essays and fiction have appeared in The Milwaukee Journal, The Jewish Journal, the anthology, The World is a Narrow Bridge, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @DianeArieff
Jim O’Loughlin teaches in the Department of Languages & Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa. He is the coordinator of the Final Thursday Reading Series and publisher of Final Thursday Press. Read more here.