…You who do so wonderfully all that you do and whose splendid reasons, not bounded for me in unreason, dazzle and fall inexorably as thunderbolts. You, the most vital of beings, who seem to have been put in my path only so I may feel in all its rigor the strength of what is not felt in you. You who know evil only by hearsay. You, indeed, ideally beautiful. You whom everything identifies with daybreak and whom, for this very reason, I may not see again…
A wind blows across the parking lot. It smells of the sea. You are nowhere near the sea. A seagull calls overhead.
In the lobby, a small dog walks forwards, then backwards, then forwards again - never progressing, always squeaking. You have heard this sound every time you’ve entered the mall. It is never the same dog.
A furniture store’s display begs you to enter, promising the softest cushions, the coziest chairs. You step forward, but the man behind the counter locks eyes with you, abject misery in his expression. You know that if you go inside, you will never be able to leave.
Music plays everywhere. Songs overlap into an unearthly cacophony. But whenever you enter a store, you can only hear one song. It was not playing outside the entrance.
An enticing smell wafts from the tea store. It is sweet, almost sickening, but you are helpless to resist. You drink from the samples at the front, and it is not enough. Your nose is so saturated with the scent that you can’t remember ever smelling anything else. Is it still blood that runs through your veins, or is it tea?
When you walk back to your car, it is gone, replaced by one of the same make and model. It is identical except for the hubcaps. You look across the parking lot, searching, but all you can see is a sea of gray SUVs that stretches from horizon to horizon. A seagull calls overhead.
One day you get lost and stumble into a store you’ve never seen before. Everyone inside is friendly, the prices are incredible, the atmosphere is perfect. You leave feeling high, elated, at peace. When you come back, you can’t find it, and no one you ask knows what you’re talking about.
A store you admired as a child closed as soon as you were big enough to fit their clothes. Now that you are an adult, too big for their merchandise, it has returned. You wonder if your adolescence was a dream. Mocking laughter follows you as you walk past.
“Buy 3 get 3 free!” proclaims the red and yellow sign in the window of Claire’s (there is always a Claire’s, and it always has that sign). As you leave the store with a bag full of jewelry, you realize that you do not remember what you bought. You do not remember entering the store.
As you retrace your steps, you pass the dog. It is still moving. It is still squeaking. Does it ever stop? You look into the creature’s wide, dead eyes, and the question becomes, rather, can it?
A server asks if you’d like some chicken. You take it and move on. Another server asks you the same question, and then another, and another. Their faces begin to blur. How many pieces of chicken have you eaten? “Free sample?” you hear, over and over again. Capitalism is collapsing before your eyes. A seagull calls overhead.
The hammock was between two oak trees , which was our refuge. There, we told secrets and traded rings. Your tongue rolled with the ‘r’ and my heart blossomed. At midnight, the city lights outlined your silhouette and brought out your jazz soul; an abundance of surrealness swept over me.
I awoke from Nietzschean dreams to find my brain scattered across my room in five pieces. I picked them up and examined them one by one, finding:
1. The daffodil tongues of women with razor hearts. 2. Parents with infected hearts and bodies that eat themselves. 3. Friends with my flesh still lodged in their teeth of fallen kingdoms. 4. Bullet holes in my spine signed by family members. 5. Crying forearms begging me to take care of myself.
I opened my skull and put the pieces back. They must have went back in wrong because, ever since, I’ve been stumbling like a toddler nodding off from his first fix. I couldn’t be happier.
We need to have a serious talk about this Gilmore Girls fic.
As Will Smith once said, OK. Here’s the situation.
Someone is writing The Subsect. Jess’s novel. I’m frankly amazed that in all the years of online Gilmore Girls fandom that no one has attempted to do this before, and it’s entirely possible that someone has. But I’m too new to this fandom to know, and if someone tried to write The Subsect before, it probably wasn’t like this story.
Because here’s the thing. This version of The Subsect, in its current online metafictional form, is fucking amazing. It’s so good that I thought, after a first pass, that it might actually be very good, very well-placed guerrilla marketing for the revival. But I don’t think it is. I think it’s just a fic. Written by some wicked smart person somewhere out there.
If you want to read it, it’s here. The single most devastating thing about it, so far, is that it’s only two chapters long.
I have many thoughts about this story, but let’s start at the beginning, in the first chapter.
And as a note, the following contains many spoilers, so if you want to remain unspoiled in regards to this story – however filthy and corrupted your mind may already be – stop reading now, go read the damn first chapter of The Subsect, and then come back and read this.
Thoughts on the first chapter of the fanfictional Subsect, in no particular order. Here come some bullet points…
The first chapter is set in New York City, where we find Jess growing up as a youthful hoodlum and accomplished card shark, as you would expect. The level of accurate, ultra-specific detail about NYC in this story, though, is mind-boggling. Subway stops. The names of businesses. Geography. Every word of it – with a couple of fascinating exceptions, which I’ll talk about – is real. And it’s not just accurate in general. It’s accurate to the period of the story. An example: At some point, the narrator – called J., but I’ll presume it’s Jess – mentions a bookstore near Columbia University named Labyrinth. It’s real, but it’s now under new ownership and has a new name. You’d never know this, ever, unless you went to that bookstore before it was renamed. So whoever’s writing this is a New Yorker and has been for a while, or they’re a research freak of truly epic and admirable proportions.
The story contains a freakishly contextual reference to Italian opera, and an ominous quote from Julius Caesar in Latin that both foreshadows the conflict later in the chapter and harkens back to Jess’s growing affinity for gambling. This is not garden-variety fanfic, friends.
The story invents a completely genius plot device that has Jess leaving NYC for Stars Hollow not just because he’s bad and is doing bad things — although he is and does, per cannon and the details of this story — but he also leaves the city in the wake of 9/11. The craziest thing about this? It totally works. The episode where Jess steps off the bus in Stars Hollow aired on October 20, 2001.
There are two references in this story that are clearly fictionalized. (And there may be more. I just haven’t spotted them yet.) The first one is about Liz working at Shrafft’s as a waitress. Newsflash: There is no Schrafft’s anywhere in NYC, and there hasn’t been since maybe the 1970s. So why the fictional reference amidst all this hard, cold, New York-y reality? Well, here’s the deal. As the story mentions, the Scrafft’s where Liz works is on 79th Street, and there was indeed a Schrafft’s restaurant on East 79th Street, though it was closed long before the action of this story takes place, and has now been torn down. But this particular Schrafft’s is notable because it was mentioned in a J.D. Salinger novella called Raise High the Roofbeam. Who would write that kind of obscure reference into a novel that’s otherwise positioned as a thinly veiled memoir? Why, your favorite pretentious literature nerd and mine: Jess Fucking Mariano. In fact this reference breaks the otherwise factual fabric of the story. It fucks up everything that’s been so meticulously plotted before and after it — including the piece’s careful attention to geography. As Liz gets off her shift at the fictional Schrafft’s, she beelines it for the 2 train to head uptown to her next job in the Bronx. Well, the Salinger Scrafft’s was on the East Side of Manhattan, where there is certainly no 2 train. The point of all this? To make you, dear reader, believe in your soul of souls that Jess Mariano wrote this story. If he wasn’t a fictional character on TV show, I might think that he actually did. The other fictional reference is when J. describes being robbed and beat up in a park in Bensonhurst by the Jones Street Boys, who are a fictional gang in the video game The Warriors.
It’s also worth mentioning that the chapter’s opening language is so very, very true to Jess’ character. The sense of poetic surreality. The ten-cent words. The thin veil of fiction over what’s clearly a memoir. It is the kind of stuff that first-time dude novelists do when they’ve spent too much time reading the beats. The result? It’s all weirdly convincing. I don’t just believe that Jess wrote this story. I believe that there is, in fact, a Jess. So how did we get here? Where the best piece of metafiction I’ve read all year is a Gilmore Girls fanfic? Tell me that.
I have more to say about this story. But I need to re-read the second chapter first and this post is really long and annoying, so I’ll stop.
Hypnotic, Surreal, magical, exquisite, are words that pummel through my heart, body, mind and soul, when I think of the passion you ignite and the surge of feelings that shatter my senses that plunge me into the very depths of your being, it leaves me vulnerable and craving for more of you…in this chaotic world you are my steamy unbridled concoction of calm and peace.😍
Hello everyone! Here’s the first set of prompts from the wearywnet! I’ve decided to stick to the theme ‘surreal’ for this week, for a feeling of impending danger and moments strayed from reality. There are seven prompts of varying styles, left as open ended as possible:
“I find you constantly eyeing that portrait. Is there
something about it you see that I don’t?”
A scene or story taking place in a liminal space such as an
abandoned warehouse, roof levels of buildings, quite parks in the city etc.
Midnight isn’t the peak of ethereal events anymore. It’s better
to be careful at 3 AM.
A world where everything is the same, except, your favourite
constellation has disappeared from the sky and you need to find it.
“If we lose the sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, sound –
how do we know we still exist? That everything else still does? What does the
loss make us?”
There is no end to the ocean, if you swim deep enough, it leads
to another universe
A compass that doesn’t point north all the time, magnets and
Anyone is welcome to use these prompts, and if there are any requests for prompt sets next week, let me know. You can tag your writing with ‘wearywnet’ so we can see.
I have this sketchbook in which I keep drawing the same forest in autumn where people hang themselves and I swear they all look like me. One might almost hear the crisp of the wind dance with the trees, the wind, and the bodies if I wasn’t so far from an artist but everything is so jagged and fucked up. It’s so hard to sketch with a hand and an eye that prefer to tear things apart (even the wildflowers outside my window look more like machinations than something to be admired.) I once tore a few pages from these books and gave them to a girl who barely knew me, as if I were capable of love, and she dissolved into dust on the spot as the paper slowly floated to the ground. I left it there to dissolve because no one deserves to see it ever again.