Title: Narration Unlimited
Subtext: Backstory to the backstory.
Date: 17 May 15 (Sunday in the AM)
Time: 2 minutes
Replies: 33
Revisions: 8
Publicity: Workshop

For instance, I can tell you that Bill Slattery’s real name is William. It is in fact William Henry, William Henry Slattery, and I can further relate that he never wanted to be a banker, which he did become and is, but would have preferred the life of a stuntman in the traveling circus that went through his town, which I can tell you is somewhere in northern Florida, when he was but nine years old. And I can relate in good faith that Billy, or Billy Boy, as he was known then, was enamored with the motorcyclist extraordinaire, the Frenchman Guy de Motorcrosse.

What I know about Guy de Motorcrosse – King of the Death Globe and the only man to jump thirty busses without breaking his tailbone – from various sources I would classify as reliable is that he never wanted to become a motorcyclist extraordinaire but in fact wanted to be a chef. His father had taken him to a fancy restaurant one day when he was but nine years old and, as his father knew the owner, they were able to tour the kitchen. Young Guy became fascinated by the man in the tall white hat barking orders at his sous chefs, who scrambled about like the inferiors they were. Who is that? asked Guy. That, said his father, is Chef Raphael Grigolini.

Chef Raphael Grigolini, of course, never wanted to be a chef, but, from what I’ve read, would rather have become an opera singer. When he was but nine years of age, yes, a small boy of only nine, I have it on good authority that he was able to sneak into the Teatro alla Scala, where he witnessed (before being removed from the premises) the indomitable Dmitri Velosov, the famous Ukrainian tenor, and from that moment on, he wanted nothing more than to be an opera singer.

Alas, I know nothing, or nearly nothing, about Dmitri Velosov. I can tell you little about the man. But I can tell you this. Once I was in a bar, in a far off part of the world I’d never been to and would never go back to. It had been a long dusty day, but in the afternoon came the onset of a severe thunderstorm. I needed a drink, and to escape the rain, I entered the nearest watering hole, a place called The Stinging Nettle. It was packed to the gills. As I attempted to reach the bar proper, a man, obviously drunk, jumped atop a nearby table, whistled for attention, and seemed set to begin some sort of auditory performance. The room quieted and the man assumed an expression of utter gravity. But before he could utter a single word, a brown beer bottle flew across the room and knocked him broadside, sending him careening into the crowd. With that, a melee broke out and chaos ensued. I was able to remain on the periphery of the ruckus and order a strawberry daiquiri. As I took my first sip, a man, bloodied and bruised, crawled from under the writhing mass of violence three feet before me. It was the drunk, the would-be orator. On the verge of expiration, he pressed a torn and tattered note into my hand and fell, breathing a last tormented breath before entering the next world. Dismayed, I unfolded the note. It read but one line.


Bear » Authorship
Bear » 9:04 PM 17 May 15
Bear » 9:00 PM 17 May 15
Bear » 8:58 PM 17 May 15
Bear » 11:43 AM 17 May 15
Elk » 10:28 AM 17 May 15
Bear » 9:03 AM 17 May 15
Bear » 8:58 AM 17 May 15

The Thread (33)

 Author's voice in grey. 

  1. With the advent of revisioning, I’ve gone ahead and made all the changes I would ever make (liberally), so you can see instead of read my thoughts. Take as many or as few of the suggestions as you wish by either letting it be, rolling it back all the way, or rolling it back and making a few of the suggested changes. Let me know if you need help understanding how to roll things back with the touch of a few buttons. (I think everyone knows how to do this but I’m happy to explain again.)

  2. Looks like you kept all changes but removal of the quoted question mark (an interesting punctuation conundrum) and removal of the early “and is” about banking, which was clever but disruptive. I don’t think either is an unreasonable thing on which to insist.

  3. And of course you didn’t keep the possessive version of circus. I can’t blame avoidance of that curiosity either.

  4. I haven’t finished.

  5. What happened to my revision? That was a lot of work on a Sunday while my kids clawed at my legs.

  6. Don’t know. Glitch, I guess.

  7. Well that was a rough introduction to revisioning. Bear and I had several offline text convos about it. We’re going to discuss and aim for a protocol and balance of ideas/writing as well as revisions/thread.

  8. I need to know what that note said and I need to know now.

  9. “I would have rather been a banker.”

  10. It says it right there. It read,
    “But one line.”

    Couldn’t be more clear.

  11. Well, you could have set it off with a comma, and capitalized ‘but’, and wrapped it in quotes. Although I admit you don’t utilize such things at other opportune points of the vignette either — so I guess under your rubric it’s as clear, but no more clear, than average.

  12. According to my calculations, the line clarity of the vignette sentence in question is the exact mean of all averages of all line clarities of all vignette sentences. Nothing could make more sense without making slightly too much sense and nothing could make less sense without lacking some sense to some degree. Incrementally speaking, of course.

  13. The utilization of standard utility merely serves to maintain. This vignette is an advancement.

  14. Upon review of your calculations, it is clear you forgot to carry the one.

  15. Dammit.

    I read an essay by George Saunders in which he contends that an ending should transcend the rest of the story. Would that, in this case, be a sincere note about wanting to be an opera singer?

  16. In other words, the end, were it to be expanded upon, should not complete the cycle, as Elk suggests, but somehow break the cycle.

  17. “I choose not to run.”

  18. Perhaps the one line would read, “Tell the world my story,” or some such nonsense. Maybe it would be a grocery list like they found in Carver’s pocket. Or maybe it’s the combination to his luggage – one, two, three, four, five.

  19. I agree it should be some non-linear thing, though not purely nonsense.

    It was a lot easier to just say I wanted to know what it was. Creativity’s such a pain sometimes.

  20. Yeah. That’s why I left it out.

  21. “Creativity’s such a pain sometimes.”

    That’s the perfect last line. It addresses both situations in the story – it tells us what a man cut short during a drunken impromptu opera and beaten to death might write in a rather sardonic note and it metafictionally comments on why the narration can go no further.

  22. I like it.

  23. Might need to be contextualized, i.e. that wording is not quite in keeping with the aesthetic of the piece or Dmitri himself.

  24. Maybe Dmitri didn’t write it. Maybe the note was a gift from God.

  25. This seems a fitting line from

    Above all, I am an opera singer. This is how people will remember me.

    Ultimately, though, the line is best left unsaid.

  26. Best, @rabbit.

  27. That’s some top level diplomacy.

  28. Rereading. I disagree with the non-linearity. I’d prefer something on the note to continue the pattern, and then for the piece to stop right in the middle of the next link in the chain because of some ambiguously fortuitous or unfortunate event in the narrator’s life, like death perhaps.

  29. Horse, isn’t that exactly what happens here?

  30. But it’s the “would-be orator” who breaths the last breath, not the narrator. But yes, it’s close. As is, it’s good.

  31. Right. I see your point.

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