My Short Fiction Will Restore America's Romantic Spirit

In This Section

Vol 32 Issue 03

Microsft Bids $2.1 Billion For Milton Berle Joke File

REDMOND, WA—Continuing its massive content-acquisition drive, Microsoft paid $2.1 billion Monday for Milton Berle's Joke File, the world's most vaunted collection of insults, gags and one-liners. "We aim to build the greatest archive in human history," Microsoft spokesperson Samantha Franks said, "and, as such, we needed to acquire the world's greatest jokes." Culled from the legendary comedian's six decades in show business—spanning Vaudeville, radio and television—the Milton Berle Joke File is believed to be the largest collection of zingers in existence, covering subjects ranging from mothers-in-law to schwartzes. Microsoft is also rumored to be interested in acquiring Rich Hall's extensive "Sniglets" lexicon.

New Toothbrush Slightly Different From Already Existing, Perfectly Good Toothbrushes

BELMONT, CA—At a press conference Monday, Oral-B Laboratories unveiled its much-anticipated new DentuTek 6.0 toothbrush, touted by its designers as slightly different from the hundreds of perfectly good toothbrushes currently on the market. "This toothbrush design is perfect for those who are not satisfied with the 846 existing toothbrush designs currently on the market," Oral-B director of product development Julianne Wuerfel said. "Finally, the American consumer has an 847th choice." According to Wuerfel, the DentuTek 6.0 features a patented ErgoDynamic(TM) handle, tapered to a curve vector almost .002 inches from its nearest competitor, the Colgate 34-XB, as well as a revolutionary new Tri-Level Bristle-Control System(TM). "We're very excited," Oral-B CEO Palmer Esch said. "Our team of toothbrush designers and engineers labored intensely to develop a toothbrush that fit within the infinitesimally small window of as-yet-undesigned toothbrush styles. And they did it."

AARP Calls For 'Comfier Booths' At Denny's

WASHINGTON, DC—Taking a bold stand against discomfort, the American Association of Retired Persons called for "comfier booths" at America's approximately 500 Denny's restaurants Monday. "How long can Denny's management stand idly by while our nation's elderly eat their senior breakfast specials at booths that are merely adequate?" AARP president Marge Littlefield, 77, said. Among its principal demands, the AARP called for increased cushiness, more leg room and an adjustable back-rest feature for those seniors suffering from lower-back discomfort and/or osteoporosis. Additional demands included waitstaff-dispensed shawls, Epsom-salt foot baths at select tables, and specially designated nap areas.

Baseball Hall Of Fame Elected To Hall Of Fame Hall Of Fame

MAPLEWOOD, NJ—In a gala ceremony Monday, the Baseball Hall of Fame was inducted into the Hall of Fame Hall of Fame. Said Hall of Fame Hall of Fame president Darrell Quinlan: "There have been many extraordinary Halls of Fame through the years, but few quite so extraordinary as the Baseball Hall of Fame, with its long, proud tradition of inducting only the most extraordinary baseball players into its ranks." The Baseball Hall of Fame joins such legendary Halls of Fame as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Aviation Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame in the Hall of Fame Hall of Fame.

The UPS Strike

The weeks-old UPS strike is badly hurting America's small businesses—employers of 50 percent of the nation's workers—prompting many to call for President Clinton to step in and resolve the dispute. What do you think?

Strom Thurmond Calls For Construction Of Transcontinental Railroad

WASHINGTON, DC—Citing the need for cheaper and faster shipping to the Western Territories, the need to unite the Republic after the long and bitter War Between The States, and the recent discovery of gold in the California region, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) urged Congress Monday to support funding for the construction of a transcontinental railroad.
End Of Section
  • More News
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Small Business

Fun

  • Night Out Consecrated With Opening Exchange Of High-Fives

    CHARLOTTE, NC—Kicking off the evening with their customary expression of excitement and camaraderie, a group of friends reportedly consecrated their night out on the town Friday with a ceremonial opening exchange of high-fives.

My Short Fiction Will Restore America's Romantic Spirit

Sadly, when I look around America today, I see a lack of romantic spirit. Men and women are no longer filled with wonder for the ethereal forces that drive them together. They're not looking up, starry-eyed, at the shimmering night sky. They're not dreaming of the dawn. They're not talking about love! But once my short fiction starts getting published, that should all change.

Do you doubt the power of love? If only you could read my work. I recently wrote a semi-autobiographical piece about a torrid love affair which occurred some four years ago at choral camp, wherein my heart was opened to the wonders of love and then cruelly quashed at summer's end. You surely would have been moved.

I recently decided to share a piece of my short fiction, a work titled Stopwatch, with Anna, a young woman I know from The Writer's Nook. It's about a man named Etal who watches a dog playing in the street while he eats his morning breakfast. Finally, Etal brings a ham-on-croissant out to the dog, but the dog turns and runs away.

Anna said she didn't really understand the story, because nothing seemed to happen. She didn't even notice the anagram! This is what I struggle with daily—minds that have been welded firmly shut, leaving romance and intrigue out in the cold.

When Anna sees my work reprinted in Granta, America's leading short-fiction quarterly, she will reconsider her opinion. I've gone through Writer's Market and submitted tales of love and anguish to over 150 different publications, including my favorites, Ploughshares and Glimmer Train, with no reply as of yet. I was ecstatic to get a letter from Story yesterday, but upon opening it, I found it to be an offer for 30 percent off a year's subscription.

I haven't actually had work published yet—except for a pamphlet on Hepatitis B I once did for the Campus Health Service—but it won't be long before an editor catches wind of how fresh, new and different my work is. Then, all of America will be losing themselves in the rhapsodic prose of Michael LaFleur. Then, once again, America will look at the world and see beauty beneath the thick, impermeable coat of the dust of discontent.

Until I can earn a living doing short fiction full-time, I'll still have to keep my job at Books-A-Lot. All of my free time, though, I spend with pen in hand, formulating in my mind that crucial opening paragraph. Again and again, I must tell my roommates to keep their game of Pictionary a little quieter, because I am busy creating the next Great American Novella.

I like to carry my special writing notebook wherever I go, in case I am suddenly hit with the ending for one of the many tales that are percolating in my head. Sometimes, when I'm in line at the convenience store, I am struck by the particular way the cashier is holding her head, and I am compelled to get out my notebook and capture it. I notice these little things.

When I'm at Shakespeare's Espresso, I spread my notebook, my Powerbook and my velveteen-covered dream journal across the table and spend hours laboring at my art. All the employees know how driven I am. Sometimes they worry for my welfare and suggest that I stop for the night and go home, as I'm usually there right up until closing time, slaving away. But that's the kind of dedication it takes.

Everyone at last summer's Concordia College Young Writer's Workshop was very encouraging, praising my ability to come up with countless metaphors for crying. They know talent when they see it. You can bet on this: Once America finally gets the chance to read my short fiction, Michael LaFleur will be as big a household name as Ethan Canin or Lorrie Moore!

Next Story

Onion Video

Watch More