Southern Festival of Books Day 1 Recap

I think my reading went pretty okay. And did I tell y’all that I got invited to participate in this Poetry Sucks! thingy? I’ll have ten minutes to read ghost stories. So, today, I picked out the two I’m going to read. It was funny, because it’s the first time I’ve read “The Ghost Who Thought You Were Lying” out loud and, wow, yeah, those characters really do pop. They just jump right off the page when you read them out loud. So that one and then of course “All the Same Old Haunts.”

I then sat around chatting with a friend in the Legislative Plaza until it was time for Chesya Burke and George Singleton’s panel. There was supposed to be a third person, but she had to bow out. But it ended up being a really interesting mix because Burke writes horror with a biting wit and Singleton writes hilarious stories about kind of horrible things.

And it gave me a kind of half-formed thought about the importance of humor in horror writing. That you need little release valves of humor, weirdly enough, to let the tension rise. Horror stories without humor are often so unrelentingly bleak that they kind of cease to be scary. It’s like your brain just… you know what it’s like? It’s like you need to stretch your brain to hold horror. So, a writer can stick her ideas in there and inflate the horror unrelentingly and your brain will quickly pop. It can hold no more horror, so the fun is over.

But a good horror writer knows when to stop pushing, knows when to let a little air out, when to give you a little breathing room, so that you can take the next onslaught.

Or something.

Anyway, it was cool.

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I Guess Being a Dude is More Complicated than It Looks

Scott DesJarlais now says, “During this conversation I was incredibly frustrated. As such, I used rather strong rhetoric in hopes that it would lead to her admitting the truth — that there was no pregnancy.”

Now, see, to me this

“You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along without one,” DesJarlais tells the woman at one point in the call while negotiating with her over whether he’ll reveal her identity to his wife. They then discuss whether he will accompany her to a procedure to end the sort of life the congressman now describes as “sacred.”

“You told me you would have time to go with me and everything,” the woman complains.

“I said, if I could, I would, didn’t I? And I will try,” DesJarlais says. “If I can [find] time, you’re saying you still will?”

“Yeah,” the woman answers.

–sounds like a man who is trying to pressure a woman into having an abortion while weaseling out of taking her to do it. After all, if she’s not pregnant, it’s going to be pretty strange when they end up at the clinic in Atlanta, you know? That place she’s trying to get him to go with her?

To my way of thinking–and again, I’m not a dude, so maybe it works differently–if you don’t believe a woman is pregnant with your child when she says she is, you say something like “I don’t believe you’re pregnant. Let’s go get an ultrasound. Right now.” You don’t whine about wishing she would go to the abortion clinic without you.

I mean, is DesJarlais arguing here that his strategy was to be such a big, annoying baby about the whole thing that she’d finally just throw up her hands and say “Whatever, you know, I’m not even really pregnant. Never call me again.”?

I think the truth is much more likely that he is exactly the man his ex-wife has accused him of being–an abuser who is used to being able to control the women in his life through threats against them or against himself. And this “I was engaged in Level 3 Trickery, where I was only pretending to love abortions when they’re convenient to me, but was really just trying to get this woman I fucked to admit she wasn’t pregnant without just accusing her of not being pregnant” is his attempt to use the same manipulative tactics he’s used on the women in his life on the voters.

He’d better hope this woman never comes forward to tell her side of things.

Allendale: A Shunned House Part 12

By 1880, the house had fallen into the possession of my direct ancestor, Lewis’s son, also named George. From him comes my great grandfather John, my grandfather, George, my father, Lewis, and me, also George after my grandfather. The house did not come down to me, obviously, but lies now in the hands of the Fitzgeralds, a lovely couple also descended from my great grandfather John.

They, like the Allens have since 1880, either rent or attempt to rent the place. For as fine a house as it was, it has never attracted upscale tenants. And the ones it did attract all have either died in the place or left it quickly.  And the poor Fitzgeralds have, for as long as I’ve been alive, been unsuccessful at getting anyone in there even to look at it. At least until they heard my story. They have now decided to let it stand, refurbish it, and rent it. At least three families from Nashville, looking for better schools, have inquired about it. The horror is gone.