I’m particularly excited to announce that a new essay published online over at Gulf Coast, a journal co-founded by one of my favourite writers, Donald Barthelme.
“Second Best is Best” is one in a collection I’m working on where I try to cram as many creatures and entities into a single piece of prose as possible and still have it be semi-coherent. Inspired by the whimsical journeys of Amy Leach’s Things That Are and the mental leaps in so much of Italo Calvino’s work (both writers I’ve written about in Ekostories), I wanted to craft something that highlights the riotous and irrepressible nature of this planet and its inhabitants, even as we live through tumultuous times. Here’s a quote:
“Sometimes being at the top isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, like if you were declared the world’s tallest mountain one day by a Bengali mathematician and then named for a British surveyor you will never meet. The natural outcome of this is that tourists will start clambering over you, ascending your north and south sides, leaving trashed tents and oxygen tanks and corpse after popsicled corpse on your slopes. No, sometimes it is better to trail a thousand feet below and cultivate your image cautiously, like how K2 worked its magic on Italian mountaineer Fosco Maraini over the years. “Just the bare bones of a name,” he waxes about Earth’s second highest peak, “all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man—Or of the cindered planet after the last.” There’s nothing quite like when someone takes the time to understand the persona you try so hard to project: in this case, rarefied and insuperable.“
You can read the rest of the piece over at Gulf Coast. Be sure to check out the rest of the issue, plus the winning entries for their short prose contests—they’re fantastic!
Image from wikimedia commons by Henry Marion.