[Editor's Note: Dan Bergstein's piece below originally ran earlier this year. A note from Daniel Menaker about our August schedule follows.]
I am a fiction writer, poet, lyricist, documentarian, and did I mention poet? I have written over 1,700 pieces of flash fiction, a genre that, as the novel and the symphony once did, is just waiting for its time to shine.
I am a frequent contributor to flash fiction websites Gruff Town, Mug Rump, Gruff Town Quarterly, Story-zilla, The Word Slinger, Little Platz, Lil’ Words, Gruff Town Monthly, Word Shack, Did Someone Say “Flash Fiction?”, Bobo’s Story Brigade, Gruff Town Weekly, Night Fantastix, Gruff Town Daily, Knight-Night, and Gruff Town Hourly. I also write the regular “Author’s Lament” column at Gruff Town for Kids.
Here’s a brief snippet of my latest piece: “Claudia looked at the tattered umbrella with a sense of …” (You can find out what happens next with a paid subscription to Gruff Town Weekly.)
Oh, but I create more than just flash fiction! My twenty-three-part serial “Mr. Henderson’s Tea Cup” was published online at both Dragon Goblet and Mysterio Malady under my pen name Thaddeus Q. The Floridian Dream Pillow (a small, but up-and-coming e-zine) gave it nine Library Ladders out of ten. Comet Birdfeather, author of such fan-fiction pieces as “Horry Patter and the Boots of Poison” and “Cheers: Sam Malone Hooks Up With Carla,” said this work was, “The best piece of online literature since ‘Sandworms Ahoy’ and I expect great things from Mr. Q.”
My collaborator, Ethan (last name redacted) and I are currently working on an online novel, for the Online Novel Depot. I’m hesitant to talk openly about the work, but let’s just say it’s a sequel (of sorts) to our previous internet novel (or webovel, as everyone calls them) “Oh Come All Ye Witches to the Stairs of Hellpit,” except this will be much darker, but also satirical and sincere. Ethan describes it as “A Clockwork Orange meets Calvin and Hobbes.” And much as I wish I could, I can’t think of a better analogy.
We will also be releasing an audio version, as read by me and recorded via my voicemail, available for download at my Aunt’s website (JackiesFlowers1967.org) which is usually about flowers, but she’s letting me post this as part of my forty-first-birthday present. (Thanks, Aunt Jackie!)
Not to brag, but “Ophelia’s Lust,” my novella about a 17th-century sea voyage and 23rd-century nano-robots, was published in the “Foyer” section of Chomper’s Lounge, a website devoted to speculative shark fiction, and has received 45 comments thus far, although most of them are invective from Ethan.
At the age of only 41, I have outwritten, in terms of sheer bulk if nothing else, the greatest masters of literature, and I consider myself a true wordman. If you are considering contacting me about publishing my future work, let me whet your appetite by divulging that I’m half-finished with a story about a dog that is also a cat.
Dan Bergstein really does contribute to Mug Rump. No, really– he does.
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A Seasonal Note to Our Readers from Grin & Tonic Editor Daniel Menaker:
Mainly, what on earth are you doing, reading this in the second half of August? Trade this screen for sunscreen, get out there among the stinging jellyfish and tarballs and riptides, ogle men if you’re a woman, women if you’re a man, men if you’re a gay man, women if you’re a gay woman, yourself if you are alone and not entirely hideous, collect shells and then throw them away when they start to make unsightly bulges in the pockets of your trunks or the tops of your bikinis, marvel at the horshoe-crab exoskeleton just above the tideline, recall that it is one of the most ancient survivors among all living things, ogle it, very quickly get over your sense of wonder, kick the horsehoe-crab thing, take a swig from the styrofoam cup filled with now-warm sangria that you bought at the beach bar, gaze in awe at the ocean waves crashing ceaselessly one after the other, kind of like a pile-up on I-90, or like an angry mob storming the legislature in Lima, or like an annoying neighbor who plays the sound track from “South Pacific” over and over again, or like the sound of heavy broken glass falling from a great height onto a Posturepedic mattress, or like thousands of crumpets, if only because the word “crumpet” sounds like the waves crumpeting down on the sand–or like an Irish pennywhistle, a fig newton just sitting there, or Caruso’s C above high C, if you are crazy.
But if you must read on, zoris still in the closet, understand that it is the second half of August, and that even if you’re not, we at Grin & Tonic are on that beach, or more likely stuck in traffic on the way, and so are most of our contributors, and so, over the next few days, we are bringing back some of the classic humor pieces we’ve posted over the last year, with an eye to making you laugh–or say, “This isn’t particularly funny, in my opinion”– all over again.
–Daniel Menaker, Editor, Grin & Tonic