Thursday, May 24, 2012


The word is a virus, said the author of The Naked Lunch,William S. Burroughs. Rub out the word.

I was 21 the first time I read The Naked Lunch. It changed the way I thought about writing: the possibilities with the written word, what I could say and get away with, ideas about narrative, philosophy as a writer, and just about everything else. I had written a lot of poetry, short stories, essays, some of which was published. But I had never tackled a novel. Then, at 26, I became infatuated with a man 11 years older than myself. I couldn't get him out of my head. It annoyed me. Strangely enough, someone 11 years younger than myself became infatuated with me. And that age difference began to strike me as interesting. My infatuation border-lined obsession once too often for my taste, and I became tired of such obsessions that would lead nowhere. Burroughs's words hit me repeatedly over the years, but with full force that time: The word is a virus. Rub out the word. It occurred to me that the thought was more what Burroughs was talking about. That we needed to cut off this thing that just spreads right where it spreads.

So I wrote Constant Carl, which is free today and tomorrow on Amazon. I wrote it as an experiment. That I could rub out the word with the word. It's not so experimental that it is devoid of a storyline. However, I think its experimental nature is evident in some places. I wrote about this man for months on end in order to rub him out of my head. It worked.

It's true. The word is a virus. Rub out the word.

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