"I stopped being funny the day my wife was electrocuted by her underwire bra."
So begins "Aftermirth," a dark comedy that explores the absurdity of death through the eyes of 36-year-old comedian, writer and actor Michael Larssen. What is horribly funny to the rest of the world is devastating to Michael, who loved his wife deeply, especially her captivating laughter. In the aftermath of her death, he loses his sense of humor, along with his career.
One day, after two years of mourning, Michael sees an article in the paper about a factory worker who was kneaded to death in a giant vat of dough. For reasons he doesn’t understand, he decides to go to the wake. There, he meets and bonds with the victim's daughter Elena, who is reeling from her father’s unexpected and preposterous death. A few months later, at her instigation, the two of them drive to North Carolina to speak with another survivor like themselves. The ensuing road trip is a blackly funny journey of healing that takes them deep into the heart of their grief and then beyond it.
Read my review of Kevin Powers’ gorgeous second novel here.
My first McSweeney's piece, part of a powerful series called "One Small Blow Against Encroaching Totalitarianism," featuring essays by socially engaged writers who oppose Trump and his policies. Each offers one simple action, chosen by the author, that you can take to fight for our democratic values. Read the essay.
The Donald’s Going
(With apologies to W.B. Yeats)
Rooting and rooting in the White House drain
The plumber cannot hear the moving men;
Things go in boxes; the hairspray takes up four;
Marine One has lifted from the lawn,
The orange-tinged malaise has lifted, and everywhere but Fox News
The Veuve Cliquot and Tattinger are downed;
The GOP lacks all credibility, while the plumber’s fist
Is full of matted yellow hair.
Surely this is a revelation in his hand;
Surely the greatest hair ball of all time is in his hand.
We’re talking yuge! Hardly are those words typed
When a cartoon image off a New Yorker cover
Delights my sight: somewhere in the skies above D.C.
A shape with hippo body and the head of a Cheeto,
A gaze as vile and heartless as a pimp’s,
Is wringing its wee hands, while beneath it
Sound cheers of the ecstatic citizenry.
The darkness may drop again; but now I know
That twenty months of venal rule
Were vexed to nightmare by a special prosecutor,
And what foul brute, his resignation turned in at last,
Slouches towards Mar-a-Largo to be irrelevant?
My first published poem, written during my November 2015 residency at The Studios of Key West, in response to the gorgeous needle-painting of fellow artist-in-residence Cristiane Mohallem. Read it below or view the poem on the Scoundrel Time website.
I always wanted to be that woman
That brazen hussy clothed in red
The color of a torch singer’s lips or a rooster’s wattle
Fecund, inflamed, unashamed
My trembling limbs spread wide
In rampant, ecstatic bloom
Defying you and your mortal fears
Beguiling you with my lazy sway
As I sing to you in a low, sweet glissando
I will rain my petals down
And make a lush scarlet bower for you
Will you lie in it
Will you roll in it, writhe in it
Will you live before you die?
A reporter gets too personal.
View the piece on Huffington Post.