About Me and My Cousin
by Scott Garson
In that house was a carpeted dining room. Into its longest wall my cousin’s dead father had built low cabinets with sliding doors made of dark veneer paneling. The doors were moved by recessed pulls which were round, like golden coins, but I couldn’t touch them; I wasn’t allowed to go in. My cousin would switch his flashlight on, close the doors against me, then work the scored dials that controlled the tuning and volume on a portable radio. Loud static had meaning: my cousin had left the physical space of his father’s cabinets. My cousin was loose. He could be in the room, next to me, a specter. Or he could be moving in time. It was a fine ploy. Since I wasn’t allowed to go in, I couldn’t ever verify that my cousin had not in fact flown.
The relative ease of publishing fiction online is more or less a matter of economics. In comparison to paper, websites cost nothing. Money doesn’t do very much to limit the number of online mags.
If it's harder to publish fiction in print, it's going to be more prestigious. For this reason, nobody really likes being called an 'internet writer.'
In writing "About Me and My Cousin," I think I was trying to imagine a different model – a future one, maybe, where the internet becomes something more than a cheaper alternative to print.
The question becomes: what's the experience of reading something on the internet, in a cognitive sense? What can we do to advance a fiction that works well, or even best, within the parameters of that experience?
Or to put it in a less brainy way: how do we embrace the medium?
When I was writing, I was just writing – like most people do – but here are some things that emerge for me when I look back:
• The five parts are all short. Which is to say: at each point, you've got both the beginning and end of something there before you on the screen.
• When you hit the links, you're not 'turning' a page or moving a page down. How I'd put it: the links take you, as a reader, deeper. Something is pulled back: you're moved further in.
• Content-wise, "About My Cousin" may take its cue from the medium, moving 'into' what you get in the first piece, "Country Music," rather than forward in the usual narrative way.
Again, these are just possibilities I see, in retrospect. You might see different possibilites, and they'd be just as valid.
The ultimate question, for me: does the story work better here than it would on paper? I'm hoping the answer is yes.
Scott Garson has stories in or coming from Hobart, FRiGG, American Short Fiction, New York Tyrant, SmokeLong Quarterly and others. A collection of very short fictions, American Gymnopédies, will be out sooner or later from WWP.