Looking Back: “Thing”

“Thing” was the first of self’s dystopian fantasies to be published. It appeared in New Orleans Review, Vol. 38.1, 2012.

In the far future, a zoo for pigs exists in the desert. The minders are mutants, like the pigs they care for. The characters have names like Shrimp and Plankton (An editor asked if I got the names from SpongeBob Squarepants and I was so confused)

We feed the animals, clean their pens, that kind of thing. Our pigs are the result of experiments. They have all kinds of weird traits: one had a mouth in the middle of its forehead. Another had six legs. Another stared skyward, unable to bend its neck. Still another had the body of a snake and three noses. Each of the Not-Rights was unique and completely different from the others.

The mouth-in-the-forehead pig was mine. I named it Ed. I remembered that name from somewhere, I’m not sure where. When it cried, white foam spilled out of its mouth; the red of its pupils was astonishing, like fire. I never got tired of looking at it. It lasted longer than the others, I even let myself hope that it would happen differently. But one day its bristles started to fall out — big, black clumps of them, all over the pen. After that, it was just days.

But why should a pig cry, Shrimp said. What gives it the right?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

#amreading: THE THREE-YEAR SWIM CLUB, by Julie Checkoway

Self got this helpful reminder from Goodreads: You participated in the 2017 Reading Challenge. You have promised to read 30 books.

She’s on p. 326 of The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory.

The swimmers take part in the first post-war Olympics, which take place in a “positively dreary” 1948 London. They are welcomed to Wembley Stadium by this sign:

Welcome to the Olympic Games. This road is a danger area.

Over the scoreboard are these words (from Baron de Coubertin):

The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

Self is fascinated by the Chapter Detroit, Redux (1948) because the Europe it depicts is so starkly different. Plus, the opening ceremonies are July 29, and now is July 22. The anniversary is just one week away!

Among the difficulties of the time:

One practice pool was “open for practice to each of the thirty-seven nations for a mere two hours per day. The rest of the time they had to practice to distant pools . . .  In the end, the swim committee had to settle for having the teams practice in off-hours, during closing times . . . in more than twenty-three separate venues across the city.”

Very interesting.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

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