Lyrical Somerville – January 24

On January 24, 2018, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

And now for a little prose/poetry – flash fiction – or whatever you want to call it. Michael C. Keith is the author/coauthor of 30 book volumes and dozens of articles on the subject of radio and broadcast studies. In addition to his non-fiction titles, Keith has published over a dozen creative works, including an acclaimed memoir, The Next Better Place, a young adult novel, Life is Falling Sideways, and several short story collections; most recently Slow Train and Perspective Drifts Like a Log on a River. Mad Hat Press will publish his next story collection, Let Us Now Speak of Extinction. His fiction has been nominated for several awards, among them the Pen/O.Henry Award, the Pushcart Prize, the National Indie Excellence Award, and the International Book Award. He is professor emeritus at Boston College.


The Dinosaur Was Still There


The first time George was on Larry Corbin’s cable show, “Writers Talk,” he was asked what short story writers he most admired. To what he later attributed to nerves, he drew a blank and sat looking like a deer in the headlights. Bloody shit!! he grumbled to himself, frustrated by his inability to come up with any name other than John Cheever, who he hadn’t read in nearly 20 years. “Ah, let me think . . . sorry. Jeez, I just can’t seem to . . .” Finally, Corbin chimed in. “Let’s move on. Many of your stories are reminiscent of the work of Augusto Monterroso. What is it about his fiction that attracts you?” Again, George was at a loss for an answer. Who the hell is Augusto Monterroso? he wondered, his anxiety level surging. Hoping to avoid looking like a complete fool, he tried to bluff his way through the situation. “Well, he has a rich voice . . . and economic style . . . that resonate perfectly with his . . . innovative plots and themes. Oh, my God, what bullshit! “As I’m sure you know,” said the television host, “he’s the author of what’s considered one of the world’s shortest stories. To quote, ’When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there.’ Certainly economical . . . as you say.” When Corbin moved on to another subject, George was more than a little grateful. When the program was over, he apologized for his embarrassing mental lapse and left the station believing he’d never be invited back. Hoping to redeem himself two years and a new story collection later, he contacted Corbin, asking to come back on “Writers Talk.” To his surprise and relief, he was booked. It was his plan to reference his inability to answer the host’s question about his favorite writers during his first appearance and then rattle off the names of several. With that aim in mind, he brought a crib sheet in the event he suffered from another bout of temporary amnesia. A few minutes into the interview, George cited his earlier gaff and enumerated the monikers of his literary inspirations: “Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy . . .” It wasn’t until he saw the strange look on Corbin’s face that he realized he was reading from the list of serial killers he’d been researching for a new story.

— Michael C. Keith



To have your work considered for the Lyrical send it to:
Doug Holder, 25 School St.; Somerville, MA 02143



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