A MAN WALKS THE PLANK | Jon Simmons.
⇒This is a really funny piece. It sort of relies on a gimmick, an absurd premise, but does so in a way that feels fleshed-out and not gimmicky. If that makes any sense.
I just finished reading Donald Barthelme’s Sixty Stories, and this piece, “A Man Walks the Plank” by Jon Simmons, reminded me of one or two of Barthelme’s absurdist masterpieces.
The premise is silly and fun and basically pokes fun and writers and editors themselves, which gives it a sort of meta-fictional slant. The premise is this: A bank robber attempts to rob a literary journal. (Apparently, the bank robber got the wrong address, thought he was at the bank next door.) When he realizes there is no money here–it’s a literary journal, after all—the bank robber goes for the next best thing: he requests a poem. A good poem.
That’s the premise, and the story pokes fun at various elements within the modern literary/poetic community: theft/plagiarism/appropriation, originality and authenticity, the inherent value/worthlessness of literature in general, and other literary things.
The language is spare and tight, the dialogue is snappy, and the protagonist/narrator’s discomfort in this absurd situation is palpable. The piece is definitely on the lighter side, but not every story has to whomp you over the head with pathos, does it? Go read this piece, and then check out the rest of Storyscape‘s latest issue.