Sunday, December 27, 2015

Richard Kostelanetz, NOVEL(LA)S

"Di./um's Lost Cover," image by Irene Koronas and Daniel Y. Harris



Richard Kostelanetz

5,000 words

In memory 

of Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375)

Any story that doubles back into itself before moving forward, even if only slightly, must be classified as a novel(la).

Overjoyed I was to discover that, after years of effort, my influence had finally prompted my innately wayward stepdaughter to discipline her life.

A virgin at twenty, she was a snob at thirty and a spinster at forty only to discover in her fifties her love for women.

Struck by lightning, with my feet in water, I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote until words no longer came.

In the story a that is palindrome is that a story the inn.

In a thousand pages of disgressive narrative were buried a plentitude of novel(la)s.

By marrying, separating, remarrying, separating, remarrying, and husband-swapping some lived and, relieved, relived.

Consider me a man inhabiting a woman inside a man inside a woman all desperately wanting to get out.

Alone in his lover’s house he spent a full week listening in sequence to all the versions she owned of J. S. Bach's Die Kunst der Fugue, crying every time the last triple fugue ended in mid-phrase, signaling the composer's death.

The greatest story never told is really an optimal subject of a novel(la).

A loved B who loved C who was loved by D, in love with E, enraptured with F, who loved G, who eloped with H, in spite his loving I, who was in love with J, herself in love with K, beholden by L, who loved M, who was infatuated with N herself smitten with O, who expressed his love to P, herself in love with Q, who loved R, who fell for S, who felt enslaved by T, himself enslaved by U, who loved V, who loved W, who was loved by X, himself loved by Y, who was loved by Z, who loved A. . . .

Better to make us performers seem ethereal, the master director filmed only the reflections made by our movements on water.

An attractive young woman betrays her family’s haughty claims to superior character with elaborate ruses designed to woo her older sister’s fiancé.

A family tree with many lines is a novel; with only one line, a story; with two or three lines, a novel(la), maybe.

Disgusted by his disagreeable relatives, he lets them know that he has no wish to speak with them again, and to the end of his life nothing done by anyone ever persuades him to break that pledge.

He published many books that received many awards and expected to continue scoring successes had not the stream of recognitions dried up along with his desire to write more.

Many texts publicly attributed to “Richard Kostelanetz” are actually written by a team of prisoners on death row while certain others must be dismissed as fakes, produced by Lord knows whom.

Renegotiating with one’s mistresses requires not only lawyers but psychiatric staff.

At the memorial service for a geezer who never remarried, each of a dozen mistresses from times past insisted upon publicly remembering her relationship with him, all of them telling stories so different that his friends couldn’t believe that they were talking about the same man.

Outside his windowless concrete bunker were posted over a dozen warrants for his arrest for a variety of trivial, victimless crimes.

Any writer favoring them concedes that longer narratives are beyond his imagination.

Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, maturity, and senility.

When I saw my grandfather and his girl friend both naked, my imagination felt stroked by erotic images of what they’d done and would be doing--I felt good.

No one challenged his intelligence until the secret of his vulnerability became public knowledge and he then for journalists became a kind of dart board.

Two children residing miles apart attend the same school where they discover after many lunches together that they share the same father.

He wrote letters upon letters, both long and short, mostly to himself, until he discovered, to his surprise, that he wrote enough to make an epistolary novel.

Punishments for heresy a radical writer could accept again and again only as long as his ideas continued to have influence.

Though haughty opera-house diva in her prime, she spent her remaining years singing in ever smaller halls until she ended her days croaking in her own soundproofed corner room in a nursing home.

How surprised I was to feel my brother-in-law release my ear to concentrate upon chewing something else.

Bit by bit the old bridge split apart, even after traffic across it was blocked, until in the wake of  a rain storm it collapsed completely into the river below.

Poverty, efforts, prosperity, speculations, and poverty.

A group of older widows and widowers vacationing at a sunny resort and scarcely shy about making love in the daytime gleefully exchange sexual partners as frequently as college kids reportedly do.

He was another compulsive debater who, once he got your ear near his lips, would deprecate you while asserting his own importance, never letting go until summoned by Nature’s call.

An exotic alphabet simply reversed is a story; with its letters shuffled, definitely and definitively a novel(la).

He peed and peed and peed and peed until he could pee no more.

To the endless succession of willing young women he assigns tasks that, were they not so available, he could just as well do himself and, as he aged, eventually did.

Soon after he announced himself gay, my father had the good fortune of meeting the one and only man with whom he would reside for the rest of his life.

My ex-husband changed his home address so often that I no longer know where he is, or was; nor do I care about not caring.

Thinking she could cure every philanderer of infidelity, she made more misjudgments than she would care to remember because she couldn't forgive herself for being wrong, ever, never.

I write a sentence and rewrite it, and then rewrite it again and sometimes yet again, until I realize a string of words as unquestionably unrevisable and thus perfect as the one you're now reading.

Definition, reconsideration, confusion, advice, and resolution.

If one baseball game is a story and a season, a novel, then mustn’t all in between a novel(la)?

Thanks to a series of initially thoughtful speculations initiated over a decade they lost everything.

So high she jumped that she never touched any terra firma again.

Injury, diagnosis, surgery, recuperation, and activity.

Even as the pace of his feet increased, the road on which he traveled continuously receded precipitously before him.

After making many calculations that he recorded on a map in his hand, he stood securely on a spot from which everything important to him on earth was equidistant.

Raising the bar yet higher and higher, he could no longer push himself over it.

As long as he made it his principal interpersonal strategy to tell his superiors whatever it was they wanted to hear, he would never emerge from behind their shadow, disqualifying himself from ever becoming a leader.

He could tell from how she clasped her arms across her chest, moving them up and down as she was talking to me, that she must be taking an interest, a serious interest, if not an erotic interest, in him.

The life savings of all his wife’s relatives he had seriously mis-invested.

If they number one million and we are only three, how can anyone expect us to win a fight?

With so many children by so many women I wasn’t sure whether a young man claiming to be my son was telling the truth.

Never knowing what to do with the years of life bestowed upon her, she succumbed to paralysis.

On the same day that he married his ex-wife's daughter by a later marriage, his ex-wife married his son from his first marriage, all of them becoming each others’ in-laws.

He lied because his colleagues lied, he cheated because they cheated, and he stole because he could see everyone around him successfully getting away with theft.

She wired the fence around her house to shock not only animals and burglars but relatives who calculated that, once they reminded her of their presence, they would not be forgotten in her will.

Returning home for the first time in two decades, she was continually surprised to discover that most of the people she heard on the streets were speaking the exotic language of her dreams.

Individual entries on RICHARD KOSTELANETZ appear in Contemporary Poets, 
Contemporary Novelists, Postmodern Fiction, Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 
A Reader’s Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, the Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia 
of Literature, Webster’s Dictionary of American Authors, and, among other selective directories.