Monday, March 10, 2008

The Nine Ideas for a Happier Whole

This story, "The Nine Ideas for a Happier Whole,"(PDF) appeared in in Southwestern American Literature in Fall 2003 and then in an anthology of previously published fiction from graduates and then-current students of the Indiana University MFA program. The anthology was called The Habit of Art: Best Stories from the Indiana Fiction Workshop.

I wrote the first draft in a single sitting, and worked with Lee Martin, then a professor at the University of North Texas, on revisions. I can't remember how many times I sent it out, but not too often. I didn't think it was so great. This is back when I thought making people laugh in fiction signaled a lack of serious intent.

The narrator is a fusion of people I knew, including myself, and people on television. He's creepy but in a likeable sort of way. The girl in the story is based on someone I dated a long time ago. She never drove a car like that, but another friend of mine did. Sneaking into Oklahoma for beer is a rite of passage in Fannin County. It's what passes for high drama when you attend Bonham High School.

Once, on one of our "red barn" beer runs, a friend of mine leaned over and popped his glove box door to reveal a 9 mm handgun. Presumably he intended to show this to the TABC officer who made his living trying to nab Texas teenagers hauling watery beer back across the state line. Luckily for all of us, we didn't get caught.