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The interview is a rare opportunity to experience the inner workings of a person. Unless that person likes to call himself a writer, then the interview is just old news to those who’ve read his stories. Fiction can be the ultimate autobiography, though a structured and controlled autobiography it is. Fiction is makeup.So what’s a writer to do when he wants to wash away the mascara? He answers some questions in an attempt to categorize his life, similar to the desires of the protagonist in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea:

I wanted the moments of my life to follow and order themselves like those of a life remembered.

And like this protagonist the writer understands that “You might as well try and catch time by the tail.”
Oxyfication LinkJason Kane and Justin Holt, both writers themselves, were kind enough to pretend I had interesting things to say, to pretend I had a some thoughts worth organizing.… Read the rest

Flash fiction: feeding a demographic composed of people without much time to read but with plenty of time to think. I used to think of flash fiction as a pompous intellectual commercial; there is something buried in there, but more often than not it doesn’t want you to know what it is. The burden lay with the critic. But then I happened upon a little thing called the internet, where flash fiction has been allow to flourish outside—and even influence—academe. Amy Hempel, an author who writes in a very flash-fiction, minimalist style uses the following lines in her story “The Man in Bogotá,” which textualizes my eventual change nicely:

“It took months. The man had a heart condition, and the kidnappers had to keep the man alive […] He wondered how we know that what happens to us isn’t good.”

The internet has without a doubt promoted the art of flash fiction more than any other medium.… Read the rest

Reaching for conversation I once said to Ron Carlson, author of many short story collections including The Hotel Eden and At the Jim Bridger, after his book reading in Emporia, KS (USA) that touring has got to be one of the best things about being a writer.“No,” he said. “It’s all about the writing.” Yeah, I said, but knowing that people actually want to hear you read has got to stroke your ego just a bit. He insisted still that “it’s all about the writing.”

Okay, so it’s all about the writing, but the occasional piece of fan mail must help push through the days, weeks, months of solitude as the writer writes what he can later claim it was all about. Can I say this from experience? Yes and no.

Last month I received a couple pieces of fan mail. How, I thought, do I have a single fan, let alone a group whose tensions might provoke one member to single him-or-herself out to make such boisterous claim?… Read the rest

Any form of expression is arguably one committed “under the influence.” What we eat, what we say, how we walk—hell, human beings simply walking is really just a biological influence. But historically, for writers, one of the most iconic influences of all time is Absinthe—The Green Muse; a devastating liquor. Everyone from Ernest Hemmingway (his short story “Hills Like White Elephants” comes to mind) to Joey Goebel (with his novel Torture the Artist) has capitalized on the image of Absinthe. What better way to weave my own way into this cultural icon than by way of a lit mag called The Green Muse, with “Refill,” a story about a man governed by substance? I suppose a better way would have been for me to actually use the word “Absinthe” somewhere in the story. But I didn’t.

 

One of my writing heroes, Denis Johnson, has a few pertinent words on the topic of writing under the influence (of drugs and alcohol):

“I think it’s silly for anyone to think you could write under the influence, but if they’d like to think that, I’d like to keep the legend alive.

Read the rest

Online literary magazines seemed to me for the longest time some form of blasphemy. Not much compares to the tactile and aesthetic appeal of a printed, bound journal. Maybe that sounds a little creepy, but I’m a creepy guy.

So when writer and friend Christopher Dwyer posted over at Write Club about this online lit-mag called Dogmatika I wasn’t exactly crushing keys to get over there. But call me a convert.Dogmatika was the eye opener. It stands as not only the first online lit-mag that I read with regularity, but also the first I loved so much that I felt compelled to submit my own fiction. Head over to Dogmatika now to read my short-short, “Petty Injuries.”

Maybe I was a literary snob. Maybe I yearned too much for the prestige that comes with a printed journal. Maybe I was too focused on the canvas, not the art.… Read the rest

It happened sooner than I expected, sooner than I wanted, and sooner than necessary, to be sure, but it’s here. And to be honest, the idea of a personal homepage still seems a bit arrogant to me. “Who cares?” right? But we all must accept the times, I suppose; must accept our technological evolutionary tendencies. As Mrs. Rose, a character in one of my current projects says, “only when you accept control can you really be free.” I don’t know if I agree with that, but it justifies this ego-trip homepage swimmingly.

This is the Caleb Ross Official Homepage (call it CROH because the acronym sounds really urban). I’ve held off contributing to the already brackish stagnancy that is the majority of personal online fiction sites, writing instead for me, for lit mags, for friends, but now anyone can be charged as an accomplice.

For those of you who arrived here by blindly clicking or via an attempt to find this guy I apologize.… Read the rest

Note: This review originally appeared in the now defunct DepravedPress.com

Jason M. Heim. Remember to Blink. Lulu.com, 2003-04. $15.99, paper, ISBN: 1-4116-1121-7.

The narrator of Jason M. Heim’s debut novel, Remember to Blink, suffers from what might best be described as a chronic case of boredom. Taking a cue from his mundane job in computer software maintenance at one of the world’s largest computer manufacturers, the unnamed narrator creates for himself an autopilot personality which he uses to handle tedious tasks while a separate, conscious part of his brain can ponder deeper ideas: “[…] whatever high concept my mind thinks is the flavor of the month. Things like evolution” (19). And evolution is one of the many trains this mind rides throughout the novel’s stream-of-consciousness styled rant, presented successfully, as a well crafted novel about a struggle for control and the resulting infinite burden this struggle carries.

What might initially seem like a cheap gimmick, the narrator claims early on in a faux forward that he is not an author, and later (but still very early in the novel) that he has done no research, outlining, or preparation, ultimately proves to be a necessary admission.… Read the rest

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