The Weird Week in Writing: Book trailer of the year, and what really happened when Picasso, Proust and James Joyce got together

Freaky Friday—the latest from the weird and wonderful world of writing this week:

Victorian authors are rolling over—and rising from—their graves: From Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to Android Karenina, literary/horror mash-ups are thriving.

Truffles, alcohol and awkwardness: The meeting of Picasso, Proust and James Joyce (from a larger piece on meetings of great minds—and how they often fail to live up to expectations).

Comedian Zach Galifianakis cracks a beer and pretends to be author John Wray; Wray, meanwhile, conducts a pensive interview of him as Galifianakis: As Jacket Copy asks, is this the book trailer of the year, per the Moby Awards?

A few years late on this one, but, still: Which political campaigns did your favorite writers support? (And who backed Rudy Giuliani?)

Nonagenarian Nancy: In people years, Nancy Drew is 98.

Joining the breakfast club: Alongside celebrities like Lauren Conrad and James Franco, Molly Ringwald has found her way into print with Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family and Finding the Perfect Lipstick.

* * *

:  Hush.

free to take the following prompt home or post your
response (500
words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below.
By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional
around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the
captcha code sticking, e-mail your story to me at, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll
make sure it gets up.

The library was silent—until they walked in. Then, things erupted.

The Top 101 Websites for Writers. An entire feature package on genres,
from romance to YA to blended forms. An interview with Bird by Bird
scribe Anne Lamott. How to write from anywhere. Click
here to check the May/June 2010 issue of WD out!

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7 thoughts on “The Weird Week in Writing: Book trailer of the year, and what really happened when Picasso, Proust and James Joyce got together

  1. Discount-NHL-jerseys

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  2. Zac

    Hijackers to the rescue! (And absolutely love the pieces.) Sorry for the delay, my 144 Club comrades. As I mentioned to Martha, I disappeared into my apartment cave to conquer a final edit of the July/August WD early this week, but have emerged, shielding my eyes from the sun, victorious. (At least I hope–time, and reader mail, will tell 🙂

    And Martha, you’re right about another thing: To slay the robot, that had to be the world’s most dedicated spammer. I wish I could have seen the battle that ensued…

  3. Martha W

    SH#2 reporting in…

    Mark, that was just damn funny. Loved it.


    "How does it work?" Edna said, lines of tension deepening around her mouth.

    Darla jabbed her with a boney elbow. "Haven’t you done this before?"

    "No." Edna sank slowly onto the bench. Her knees wouldn’t do anything fast anymore. "Why would I have?"

    "Please. You can fool anyone but me." Darla snorted, most unladylike. "You’re the original sinner, I think."

    "Doesn’t mean I’ve done this."

    Darla let it drop. Edna would never admit it anyway. "Do we do it at the same time? Or do you wanna go first?"

    "You go first."

    Darla stared at the tiny wooden box off to the side of the room. It had two doors. One for her. One for him. "Let’s do it together."

    "No." Edna’s tone was sharp, stinging Darla’s pride. "Your idea. You go first."

    "You old biddy."

    "He was your husband."

    Darla thought for a moment. "True. But he was your lover."


    They sat and stared at each other. Waiting.

    A man in a long black robe came down the aisle. The only spot of color was the white collar at his neck. And Darla didn’t know if she could call that color as it was really devoid of color, being white and all.

    He stopped next to them and cleared his throat quietly. "Can I help you lovely ladies? Communion perhaps?"

    Darla pretended she didn’t see Edna roll her eyes and make a face. It was bad enough when a teenager did that but an eighty-year-old woman? It was like watching a Shar-pei dog shake it’s head. All the wrinkles jiggled.

    Again the priest cleared his throat.

    Edna leaned toward him. "Do you need something to drink? There’s a basin of water by the door… I can get you a glass if you’d like."

    The color drained from his face and he swayed a little on his feet. "No. No. That’s-"

    "She knows what it is, Father." Darla cast a warning glance at Edna. She’d better cut it out or lightening was gonna strike her down before they even left the church.

    Color leeched back into his cheeks as he flicked his gaze between the two women. "Did you need assistance?"

    He clearly wanted to leave, which is probably why Edna decided to go first. She loved to torture the younger generation. "I want to do confession."

    "Are you Catholic?"


    "Then why-" he started to ask then stopped. "Follow me."

    The willowy man spun on his heel and disappeared through one door of the box.

    Edna cackled as she tugged herself to her feet using the pew in front of her. "Let’s see how he takes this."

    Darla groaned, hoping against hope the young priest didn’t come screaming out of his little room.

    Edna hobbled over to the open door of the confessional and winked at Darla as she closed it with a soft click. It might as well have been the gunshot that killed her husband- Edna’s lover- just that morning.

  4. Mark James

    The Serial Hijackers strike again . . .

    We chose "How do you think it works?" from The Writer’s Book of Matches.

    “How do you think it works?”

    “I don’t know. Do I look mortal?”

    Raphael ignored his brother’s question and lowered his face to the woman on the wet sand. “We don’t have breath to give her,” he said.

    Michael looked out at the stormy sea. “She’s gone, Rafe,” he said. “Thanatos is probably on his way.”

    “Help me.”

    No one could resist the call of Raphael, archangel of healing.

    “I don’t know what to do,” Michael said. “You do the bringing them back thing, not me.”

    “She’s not gone yet,” Raphael said. “Go into her mind. Bring her back.”

    Michael stuck his sword into the sand. “I scare them to death when I do that.”

    “Scare this one back to life.”


    “I know who you are,” she said.

    “Good. Wake up. Or get not dead. Or whatever mortals do. My brother wants you alive.”

    Alana walked around Michael, her eyes taking in his sculpted muscle, his long black hair, his green eyes. “I didn’t know angels wore jeans,” she said.

    Michael sat on the sand, looked out at the same stormy sea. “I gave the Angelic Host my armor so they could wash away the blood.” His black hair blew around his face, played along his full lips. “How come you’re not scared of me?” he said.

    “Because I know your names,” Alana said. “I spoke them in my last confession. Michael. Viceroy of Heaven. Archangel of War. The Fourth Horseman. Prince of Light.”

    “You didn’t just drown, did you?”

    “I want a baby,” Alana said. “A nephilim warrior. He’ll save the world.”

    “Angels don’t make babies.” Michael got to his feet. “Look. Come back. Talk to Raphael. He’ll make you feel good.”

    “We knew you’d come to one of us.” Alana took a step closer. The wind whipped her thin red dress against her slender body. “Don’t you like me?”

    “How’d you know I’d come?”

    “The Thirteenth Sisterhood. Across the world this day, we walked into the sea. Our mothers raised us to be the Sacrifice. The pain of our death ripped through their souls. Raphael felt the suffering, but he doesn’t know why, and he can’t enter a mortal mind unless we ask.” She pressed her warm body against him. “So he sent you.”

    Michael turned his back on her. “We’re in a Between Place. That isn’t your body. This isn’t mine. No babies. No saving the world. Open your eyes. Talk to Raphael.”


    The archangel had what he needed. Refusal. “If I drag you into the ocean,” he said. “You’ll feel like you’re drowning all over again and you’ll go back. Let’s do it the easy way.”

    “Come for me,” she said.

    Michael spun around, ready to wrestle her into the deep water. But she was naked. Her smooth skin glowed with desire; every curve of her body called to him.


    “What have you done to her?” Raphael said. “Why is she breathing so hard?”

    Michael, in his gold armor again, pulled his sword from the sand, slid it into his sheath across his back. “Can angels make babies?”

  5. Martha W

    Nancy Drew is 98? Wow. I don’t feel so old now… lol.

    Mark, wow. Great spin. Loved it.


    He sighed as he walked into the library. He’d tried to disguise himself as much as possible but there was nothing he could do with the long white beard.

    "Where do you think it would be?" A small voice came from inside his jacket pocket.

    He rolled his eyes. "I told you to shush."


    An elderly gal with sharp blue eyes approached them. "Can I help you find something?"

    Father Time shifted from foot to foot. "I need to find out about the tooth fairy."

    One slim white eyebrow raised a notch and laughter lit her eyes. "Really? Lose your first tooth?"

    He chuckled, nervous like never before in two-hundred years. "Um. Granddaughter did."

    "Oh." The woman didn’t look like she would believe him if his tongue was notarized. "This way then, sir."

    He followed her stiff back down the main aisle, turning left at dinosaurs and soon found himself in the children’s section.

    The librarian pointed toward a section of pink books. "She’s in there."

    Father Time cleared his throat. He knew this would be difficult. "No. I meant the real tooth fairy."

    "Pardon?" The woman wasn’t bothering to hide her agitation and a little tick had picked up next to her eye. "Real tooth fairy?"

    He cleared his throat, shifted again. "Yeah. She was from Ireland I believe."

    A light snort from his pocket drew her attention. "What-"

    "Oh, my. I’m sorry." He cracked a smile, shoved his hand in his pocket and pinned the sprite to the bottom, muffling her protests. "I had beans for lunch."

    Both the fairy and the librarian froze.

    The woman coughed gently into her hand, keeping her eyes averted to the bookshelves next to them. "I haven’t heard of her before."

    "Somewhere around Killarney, I think." He enjoyed her discomfit, for once.

    She waved her hand to another section on the opposite side. "Maybe look in folklore. That’s the spot in the corner. If she’s not there, she’s not here."

    "Thank you."

    The little old lady couldn’t move away fast enough.

    He strolled to the shelves and selected a couple books. "She’s gone."

    "So are you." The tiny fairy soared out of his pocket, showering him with fairy dust. As he erupted in violent sneezes, she poked him with her wand. "You’ve finally dropped off the deep end. BEANS for lunch?"

    Father Time sneezed again and laughed, holding his sides, attempting to keep quiet. "You asked for my help."

    "I should have known better."

    He wiped his eyes free of tears, patted the spot next to him where he sat. "Come now, let’s see what we can find out about you."

    She sighed and fluttered to sit cross-legged on the mahogany table. "I just wish I hadn’t hit my head last year."

    "What did happen, anyway?"

    "I don’t want to talk about it." The tooth fairy flapped her wings, stirring up the dust again. "But who puts windows in a doll house, for cripe’s sake."

  6. Mark James

    Zac: I’m holding out for "War and Peace Among the Stars"

    Libraries were supposed to be big solid things, with stone lions guarding granite steps and thick columns holding up a giant roof that said something like “To read is to be full of the world”. At least, that’s what Audra had seen in holograms.

    The books lining the shelves were holograph images of what historians thought a thing printed on paper with words all over it might have looked like. Life without downloadable text must have awful, Audra thought. She couldn’t imagine sitting in one place, staring at words, reading them one by one. Maybe it had been a punishment.

    “Where are they?” she whispered.

    Ronin, who’d only come because he promised her a crystal hug, looked up as if he thought the ceiling might have a secret. “It should be here,” he said, “in the Room of Yesterday.”

    Why were boys so stupid? “Stop talking so loud, they’ll hear us.”

    He pulled her into his strong arms. “What do you want with a whole lot of words on paper? Do you even know how to read?”

    Audra felt his solid body against her and almost gave in, but she couldn’t forget the strange words that had been embedded in her morning news text yesterday. “You promised.”

    He pressed his lips to her thick black hair, trailed his fingers down her back. “I’ll climb the highest shelf for you. But after, we hug.”

    Audra’s navel crystal was humming, driving her crazy. She forced herself to turn away, to think about the real books with real pages that were here somewhere, made herself stop thinking about showering his face and arms and neck with desperate kisses.

    They walked through the narrow aisles of metal shelves. Audra passed her hands through the images, hoping to hit something real, something no one in her district had ever seen. None of them would even think of wandering into Unauthorized Space, but when Audra’s crystal didn’t hum, she sometimes had strange thoughts.

    Behind her, Ronin said, “There’s something up there.”

    She turned and watched him climb the shelves with the quick agility of the soldier he was becoming. One more year, and he’d be gone for the war. Audra didn’t know where Kandahar was, but it sounded far away, a dry dusty place, with too much sun, like all the other war places.

    “Out of the way,” he said.

    Then it all happened at once. Something heavy with flapping pages was falling toward her. A book, she thought, a real book. Then Ronin was beside her, caressing her, and the holographs on the shelves turned into holo movies of people coupling, their crystals glowing crimson.

    Her own crystal responded to her conditioning. She reached for Ronin, wanted nothing but to be in his solid arms, rubbing up against his hard body, begging him to take off his clothes, to take her, here, now, on the cold floor.


    When they were done, they slept. The book they’d come to retrieve lay beside them, forgotten.

    The Firemen who came ran green laser light over the sleeping bodies, ensuring that the book Audra had come so far to see would fade into their memories, no more real than the dreams of ecstasy and pleasure given to them by the state.

    When their lasers passed over the book itself, “Fahrenheit 451” by a writer no one in this generation would ever hear of, they set their instruments to Burn.


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