Authentically European

Brandon Scott Gorrell from Thought Catalog published this choose-your-own-adventure gem. The story is short, takes place in Barcelona, and is sure to make the reader at least smile (if not all together roll on the floor laughing). Here is an excerpt:

“Wait,” she says. “I forgot about this one restaurant. There’s this restaurant that has flamenco on Fridays for free, it’s here [she’s pointing at an intersection on the map which she has displayed for you]…” You two are now facing each other in the middle of the pedestrian-only street – a narrow, “authentically European” cobblestone corridor lined with colorful apartment buildings whose tenants hang their laundry outside strung on lines across the avenue which indeed give the street an “authentic European feel.” You feel sort of averse to going to flamenco, because you simply feel as if you’ve only “signed up for” going to dinner, not a night of music, flamenco and drinking until 2 a.m. At the same time, you know that you two haven’t yet seen flamenco and that you both have talked about wanting to see flamenco and that to see flamenco would be to have a “traditional and authentic European experience” and naturally you feel a certain pressure to tell your girlfriend that yes, sure, you two should just go to see flamenco. Besides, you know she wants to.

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Plagiarism and Suicide

Joshua Cohen via Wikipedia

Author Joshua Cohen answers the questions of the ‘Ask the Paris Review‘ section of the November 12th ‘the Paris Review Daily.’ The question:

I have been unable to write for the past three weeks, bordering on a month, and it hurts. More than the act of writing ever did. It hurts. More than the pain I no doubt cause others with poor literary attempts, but I’ll have to go selfish on this one, even if it is poor writing, I’d rather that than just blinking. So, do you have any tips or a potent elixir to kick writer’s block? Thank you. —Ayat Ghanem

Cohen answers that there is no real solution to writer’s block because science has not catalogued and categorized the multiple variations on the block. Solutions to writer’s block are unique to the infected.

Thing is, there’s no single cure for the Block (this is what serious writers call it; cf. the Clap, the Syph, the Herp). And the reason there’s no single cure is that there’s no single type of Block. The Block can be daylong, or weeklong; it can last for years (Truman Capote) or decades (Ralph Ellison, Henry Roth). I can’t think of any other writers just now.

Cohen’s advice is simplified to ‘don’t fight it and apply your time to other skills.’ The skills, you ask?

You might take comfort from the fact that while writing can’t be forced, time spent not writing can be put to good use. Try acquiring other skills, like rolling cigarettes or reading. Learn to differentiate between scotch and bourbon. Learn the differences among corn whiskey, rye whiskey, and wheat whiskey. Learn what, if anything, separates whisky from whiskey. Ayat, take comfort from the fact that a writer does not always have to write—and not all scotch comes from Scotland.

Don’t expect whiskey and cigarettes to rid the fingers of that stubborn inability to flow a narrative. Cue narcotics and DMT. Last piece of advice:

Finally, Ayat, don’t discount the two greatest cures for the Block: plagiarism and suicide. Good luck!