COVID, or Covfefe?

Covfefe is the sound of an old man choking on his attempt to say “COVID”

While forced isolation has us looking for ways to pass the time at home, I look for something meaningful to read and settle on Poe.

The meandering path of my literary pursuit began this morning with Book Fight!, a Podcast by Barrelhouse editors Mike Ingram and Tom McAllister. Listening on the treadmill, it’s hard to tell one from the other, even if their personalities are distinct and their views often at odds.

I picture an episode where the two get into an actual fight, with a third party (not me) to describe them slugging it out.

After a hike in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (more meandering), I’m back to pondering quarantine and good writing and how maybe the president came just shy of premonition two years ago when he Tweeted: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”.

So close.

Finally settling in to write about quarantine and COVID/Covfefe, I remember this morning’s Book Fight! (Episode 255, Nov 2018). It was all about Denis Johnson and NaNoWriMo and this one person who dismissed Johnson’s posthumous The Largesse of the Sea Maiden with a one-star review on Goodreads that chirped: ‘Well, that was disappointing… I’m pretty sure I lost interest when he couldn’t manage a better compliment for his wife than a “great cook” and for his daughters, “harmless.”’

The reviewer seems to have missed the fact that the story wasn’t about the wife or the daughters and, more importantly, that the protagonist of meagre compliment wasn’t intended to be likable in revealing his thoughts.

Still, mistaking a narrator’s voice for the author’s views is far less consequential than owning the ‘Covfefe’ of disease premonition.

I skim through a few other episodes of Book Fight! and land on Chuck Palahniuk’s “Guts” (Playboy, 2004). It’s a lot different from my own story by the same name, first published by Atticus Review in 2012. My story, more about ‘the milk of human kindness’, does have a transgressive moment, but nothing like Palahniuk’s treatise on  the use of foreign objects during self-service. I did get to wondering, though: If you do it to yourself alone in a room, hidden from society, is it still transgressive?

Pondering transgressive literature, while those around me speak of quarantine today, I have finally settled on The Masque of the Red Death.





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