Category Archives: literary fiction

Intro to my new novel on The Strange Recital podcast

Charlie Besso narrates the opening scenes from my new novel, “C0VID-1984, The Musical.”  It’s not a musical; it’s a novel that satirizes that genre.

The Strange Recital, is a literary podcast featuring fiction “that questions the nature of reality.” On Spotify, YouTube, and Instagram.

 

“Cheek to the cold floor, thick sole on my back, I began to sense my place in this moment in history. I had thought I was playing the hero, arriving just in time to save my mom, when I was put in a chokehold, thrown to the ground and tasered in the groin.”

A young Winston Smith faces a dramatic cultural shift: lockdowns, masks, surveillance, riots. “How did we get here?” he wonders, in a new satirical novel that looks back at the last four years. Can this story end more happily than Orwell’s?

My Off-Guardian article about Locus Amoenus & Co\/id-1984, The Musical goes viral

Just before the anniversary of 9/11 this year, I wrote and article for the Off-Guardian about how literary works can be useful for neutralizing the brainwashing effects of propaganda. Please click over to Off-Guardian to read it and come back when you’re done.

As most of my readers know, my 2015 novel, Locus Amoenus, which was nominated for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize (by the publisher, don’t get too excited), retells the story of Hamlet as a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.  It’s a high comedy, written to lure in the Atlantic Monthly subscriber, to trap the Vanity Fair reader with my erudite and clever prose. Once inside the story, I have them.  They cannot unsee the scenes I paint. Continue reading

C0VlD-1984, THE MUSICAL, a dark comedy about conspiracy theories


My new novel, COVlD-1984 The Musical, is a dark comedy about the 2020 lockdown and the 2021 vaccine roll out. As the title suggests, I have tried to rewrite Orwell’s story of totalitarian oppression so that it ends happily.  Nineteen-Eighty-Four, starts low and descends even lower, with the hero Winston giving in to Doublethink. Orwell didn’t have any faith in the “proles”. I do.

My first inspiration to write this story came from the Danser Encore protests in the Paris train stations, where people took off their masks, forgot about social distancing rules, and starting singing and dancing. That defiantly joyful display presented a stark contrast to dance videos of the medical professionals that were so popular then, showing those automatons doing their absurd clockwork dances, so symbolic of the mass formation psychosis erupting around the globe.

Although the plot follows the lead of Orwell’s novel, the tone of C0VlD-1984, The Musical is inspired by the gallows humor of Kurt Vonnegut’s, Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death.  Readers of E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime will hear echoes of his descriptions of J. P. Morgan and Henry Ford in my descriptions of our modern day equivalents.

This novel is a sequel to my last novel, Locus Amoenus, which retells the story of Hamlet as a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. Ben Jorgensen narrated the audiobook. He was suicided by the lockdowns. C0VlD-1984, The Musical is dedicated to him.

I’m talking to a really good publisher.

A short synopsis (contains spoilers) Continue reading

Message without a Sender

Once again, the masters of The Strange Recital podcast, Brent Robison and Tom Newton have brought my short stories to life.  In this episode I read two, “The Narrative” and “Signs and Symbols,” from a collection that I’ve been working on called Chance that Mimics choice. Like the other stories in this collection, these are about the art of making/finding meaning.

Why do writers write? Why do readers love to read?  If you’ve ever wondered why people might enjoy fiction so much that they spend the better part of their waking hours engaged in it, listen to this podcast and the interview that follows.  There is no greater pleasure for this writer than being able to sit and chat with other writers, like Brent and Tom, about writing. It’s the only kind of reward I need.

Listen to find out what a “message without a sender” might be.

You can also listen on Spotify.  Just search “The Strange Recital.”

 

Alternative Local Currency: Hudson Valley Currents

I have long been interested in monetary policy in general and local alternative currencies in particular.   In Locus Amoenus (2015) I wrote about an imaginary community in upstate New York that created an alternative economic system.  As I begin to write part 2 of the Locus Amoenus narrative, I note with pleasure how life imitates art: such a community now has started in the Hudson Valley. Continue reading

Hudson Valley News

It’s news in Amenia when a local novelist starts thinking about writing.  Over salads at Four Brothers Pizza in Amenia, I chatted with fellow novelist, Steve Hopkins, about my plans to continue the story line of my 2015 novel, Locus Amoenus. That book is a satire about a 9/11 widow who remarries and her son Hamlet becomes depressed.  You get the idea.  I think of the new work as a Hamlet Part 2, or possibly Covid-1984, or Covid 9/11, or some other such satire in the posthumous style.

Seeing my plans in print, I’m committed now to writing it. In fact, the work has begun. Thank you, Steve, for getting me started.

George Orwell’s works seems rather too relevant these days.  But his Winston Smith is unlikable, without wit or irony. He is not funny.  This tragedy needs some dark humor. And a happy ending.

See Covid-1984, The Musical.

 

Strange Recital podcast features Chapter One of Locus Amoenus

This month the Strange Recital features Ben Jorgensen reading Chapter One of Locus Amoenus. Following the reading, the show hosts, Tom and Brent, interview Victoria Alexander about writing that novel and working on the sequel.

“As you drive northeast through Dutchess County in upstate New York, farm scenes strike calendar poses: leaning barns, well-tended white Victorians, winding roads tunneling through overhanging maples.”

A pastoral paradise… but is there something dark under the surface? Troubles in America manifest in the personal. Let Hamlet tell you about it.

Hamlet Blues by Ben Jörgensen

Goodbye to my dear friend, brilliant actor, crazy good memoirist. He said it was dangerous to play the part of Hamlet, but he had to.

I posted yesterday about my friend Ben’s death and deleted it later because it was up for awhile and didn’t get any likes. So goes our virtual existence now. The shredded fabric of society hangs in tatters. We don’t see or hear from a friend from months but we don’t notice because we don’t hear from a lot of friends who have succumbed to the isolation and fear.

I forget the timeline, but it was probably 2015 when Ben went to Australia to his family home Montsalvat to try to recover from an Adderall addiction and deal with his depression. He played piano regularly in the Elsinore-like stone halls. If I believed in ghosts, I’d say that’s where he is now singing the Hamlet Blues. He went into hospital to heal his body, but to heal his mind he later went into a studio where he recorded this song at night and my novel Locus Amoenus, playing the part of my 21st century Hamlet as a kind of therapy. He said it saved him, doing that. He said he knew that actors who played Hamlet had an uncanny tendency to end up dying by self-slaughter. But, as you can hear in the sung rendition of the famous soliloquy, Ben had worked through the depression and he was very much alive. Continue reading

Chance the Mimics Choice published in Pangyus

I’ve working on a collection of short stories and essays about artistic creation entitled after a line from Nabokov, “chance that mimics choice, the flaw that looks like a flower.” The introduction to the collection describes my work as a philosopher of science and literary fiction author and how these two parts of my life are seamlessly interwoven.  This month the online and print journal Pangyus offers the introduction in their science section.

My work in science and art has been inspired by Nabokov and the volume will include several Nabokovian stories and essays about Nabokov’s work in lepidoptery. My science is also inspired by Alan Turing, who provided some theories about butterfly wing pattern development that I’ve used in my work on Nabokov’s theory of the evolution of mimicry, and I also need to mention Goethe, who, as the quintessential artist-scientist, plays an important role in all this too. The last story in the volume is a Faustian tale about Turing with Nabokov making a cameo appearance.

I hope you enjoy this piece.