Our Bloody Valentines

After we had so much fun with Secret Santa, we thought we’d have a little mischievous enjoyment with Valentine’s Day. And you can join in too 🙂

So, between now and the happy hippy herat day, we will be offering a few “love letters” of a literary bent, and we’d love to invite you to do likewise, posting your literary Valentines as comments here. And, in a rare turn of events, they don’t HAVE to be jaded and cynical.

Something you wish you could have said to Salinger? An author you want to thank for getting you through those dark teenage nights? Or, er, a jaded and cynical message you’d like to send to Amazon, to the ebook industry, to chainstores, whatever? Or is there an author you’d like to see write a particular book? A reprint you’d like to see? A feature or retrospective you think it’s high time for?

Leave your literary valentines here – literary or otherwise.

~ by yearzerowriters on February 10, 2010.

27 Responses to “Our Bloody Valentines”

  1. Dear You,

    It’s been almost a year since you disappeared, since you decided to burn your bridges, cutting off that once-broken nose just to spite your sallowing face.

    If you were trying to put me behind you, forget me – you can forget it. You’ve been your own worst enemy. I will always be the one you never met.

    You on the other hand, by virtue of your absence, your clever disregard for etiquette, your own once-promise of something you would never do, yet, of course you did, of course – you burned something else, too, something more cruel than a way around your flaky, inconsistencies – your own unique brand on my skin. It is as black as the ink on my pages, the ones you’ll never read again. But the damage is done: I will think of you till the day I die.

    Whether these thoughts hold any fondness though, well, that’s another story.


  2. Säuberung

    Betrayed by your best friend. Brod refused to burn your books as you had charged him to do. And thank god on high for that. But God had other ideas and burned Brod’s own works in the Nazi pyres. Would have burned Brod too in the ovens had he not fled into exile. Karmic irony. Some great cosmic joke heaped upon Yaweh. Or possibly by Him, so perverse and abstruse is His mark of faith. God Himself killed all belief, all possible leaps of faith, not you. You merely depicted the gilt hollowness of mankind’s Golden Calf left in its stead. Yet still your books survived the Nazi book pyres as well. They demanded to be heard, for their words to be out. I would have cut out the middle man and thrown myself on any pyre, if it meant saving a single copy of any of your books.

    You broke with not only the Father up in Heaven, but your own pater familias. Absentee commandant-tyrants both. Mute assassins dealing only in despair. Every word I write is a letter addressed to my father also. But now he is virtually blind and for all the new media delivery systems of podcasts and the like, I can’t imagine him ever taking receipt. Your Mother returned your letter without ever passing it on to Hermann didn’t she? We each go to our graves unreconciled. Like you, I am an insomniac. Lying in our beds pricked at by our own persecutors. Do you toss and turn as I do? No, I bet you bear it with a seasoned stillness. I think I shall toss and turn just so when I am in my grave. All this is just by way of rehearsal.

    Arm in arm, I would be your guide. Gently steering you through the judicial system, conducting you through the bureaucratic labyrinths of the Castle. I would soothe you down from the ceiling and stroke your carapace. You like me must have felt born out of your time. I wouldn’t avert my face if you coughed up blood sputum into my mouth. I would have welcomed infection by you. Your lungs were congested; with me it is my very breath, saturated with consumptive words. Feverish lesions tear at my mind. Yet you endured with such equanimity. It is you who holds my hand with such grace and gentleness, even though I cannot see the woods for the tree pulp. I wish I could move with such a light tread as yours, but my self-expression is lumpen. Wooden- ha yes indeed!

    Why did Brod torture you so after death? Degrading you through veneration and establishing for you a reputation? Did you really not want your words to hear you out? To speak for you after your brief passing through the world? The letter that also never got delivered to your father. You could have tried again. Did you so doubt your own strengths and abilities? I could never burn my words, no matter how much I despised them. Since they are already released out into the ether like butterflies. I cannot now rein them back in. If you really did intend to be effaced so, rather than playing one of your delicious tricks on us, then we can bolster each other together you and I. Franz Kafka, be my (funny) Valentine?


  3. I was lying on a tiny secluded beach in my two-piece bathing suit near my grandparents’ place when I read Catcher In the Rye, in one sitting, age 13. I returned to the house talking like Holden Caulfield. Everyone’s a phony, life’s a game, “who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.” My grandmother looked worried. I snapped out of it long enough to tell her, “Don’t worry. It’s just the English major in me!” (Road taken.)
    I know your “soul’s in Heaven and all that crap,” but there’s an ancient 13-year-old who’s sad about it, and sez: B my Valentine, JD Salinger.

  4. Dear Mainstream Publishers,

    I send you sterile greetings from the land of the erotitian. I would offer you a brush of my nether lips, a quivering thigh, a warm, moist piece of my soul, but what would the point be in that, since you persist in pretending that sex has little or nothing to do with literature?

    Remmittance Girl.

  5. Not everyone enjoys Valentine’s Day. Amid all the insane preparations for meals had in crowded restaurants, there are hearts melting bitter love-juice over diaphragms everywhere we look. There are tens of thousands wishing for the day to just vanish into the nearest black hole this side of the universe. Love songs, for these people, have become wails of static torture. Against the sanity of the mighty love boat, as a special treat for Valentine’s day, I’ve prepared a list of moving-on songs that will incite anyone to groovy the pain away. Down with love songs for bloody Valentine’s Day!

  6. […] In the run-up to Valentine’s Day, we are sending our own literary Valentines. And you can add yours too. Here is a little something form […]

  7. There’s something about that moment you first pick up an old book. The crinkled, dog-eared, and sometimes yellow pages…smelling more of decaying ink than newly pressed paper, and still, you rifle through. Imagining a story already told yet alive right now in your hands. Feeling the hands that once held it before you.

    And rather than look for the new love that comes with walking in a bookstore, I look for this old love, in libraries and on used bookshelves. Not because it’s a feeling familiar or especially rare, but because it’s pure magic. It’s special. One of a kind.

    This is something you taught me. And I don’t forget it. Even on Valentine’s Day.

    – T

  8. I see him sipping on a tomato juice and doing a good job of it for an old man. His white hair still fans in wings from his temples. The frames of his sunglasses still are big enough to hide not just worlds but parallel dimensions too.
    I almost step up and force him to shake my hand, wake him up from the sleepy buzz of his old age and his tomato juice and the foaming Santa Monica waves that you can hear from the patio, if you care to.
    Then he sneers. I don’t know why: perhaps, he is rehearsing an old fight. Perhaps there is a fly in his juice. But the sneer is something I never saw when he was always on my mind. Then it was a smile big enough to decorate the speech of gods. It was always that smile. And the rhythm of his voice, Baptist to Shakespeare and the other big talkers of English.
    It reminds me of all the bad stuff I have since found out. The broken relationships, the jealous protection of his name, his scribbled everywhere, graffiti ‘I was here, I count’ name. All those amazing people he had and discarded, while I was unawares.
    Then he gets up. No tomato juice on his moustache. Immaculate and ancient. He gets ready to leave, but he knows about me. All it took was an old man’s eye to see my gaze lingering and he knows me. From front cover to back, with all the ads, and the letter page too. He raises his thumb and says to me, “Excelsior” and leaves.
    Stan Lee will never die.

  9. Marvellous!

  10. Use the fire escape Cathy
    Or the front door
    Its fricking perishing
    On the moor
    The double glazing salesman had me
    At u-values
    And I value u, u know I do
    But I got those integrated lock thingy’s
    That stop the windows being jimmied
    Hang on there a tick
    While I get my slippers
    Don’t want my feet slapping on the cold stairs
    Like flapping kippers

    You look like Helena Bonham Carter
    In that rig out
    Quit your tapping woman
    There’s no need to shout
    That Bronte woman had me painted like Eminem’s Stan
    Or a droog from Kubrick
    These fluffy puppy slippers
    Suggest another rubric
    I’ll just nip down and get the burglar alarm deactivated
    Cos when u and I are parted I just hate it
    I heart u Cathy, I always will do
    The pain just grabs me, stabs me
    Like a kind of voodoo

    What’s the fricking code again? Bugger
    A few more deadlocks, dreadlocks maybe
    Just a jiffy I’ll be there for you.

    Can’t wait, Your Heathcliff, baby.

  11. [Editor’s Note: The following letter was found in early 2013 in the Biblioteca Nacional de la República Argentina in Buenos Aires. The original manuscript was discovered folded up inside a volume of The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia (New York, 1917) by an anonymous patron. The text, which was written in Sanskrit, was sent to the Universidad de Buenos Aires for translation into Spanish. Subsequent attempts to translate the Spanish text into English have exposed the apparent shoddy and rushed work performed during the original translation. Attempts have been made to procure the Sanskrit manuscript for producing a direct English translation; however, it would appear that the manuscript has been misfiled through a clerical oversight and can no longer be located. As such, the present translation should only be considered as a true translation of the Spanish version, but cannot be guaranteed to accurately represent the original language.]

    I follow you through the fourteen twists and turns, zigzagging between stone ruins, steel skyscrapers, concrete underpasses, dusty libraries, and lush green hedges, beneath the intricate sun. We trace a circular path together, you an I, progressing only by degrees, if at all, pushing forward to the center, the supposed heart of it all.

    I never clearly see you. You exist only at my vision’s edge. Always rounding the next corner. Always one step ahead. Sometimes I go days without seeing you, and I begin to doubt that you are actually still there. I think that perhaps you taken some unanticipated turn and slipped away, leaving me alone to chase your ghost. Sometimes I wonder if you had ever been there at all, even at the beginning, or if it has truly been this ghost, this other one all along.

    But then I see you, and my mind is satisfied that we are indeed making progress, in defiance the arrow’s law, which keeps the others remain mired in the tyranny of ever-multiplying halves.

    I wonder what will happen when we reach the center and you have nowhere else to elude me. Will you turn to greet, extending a welcoming hand? Will you be like me? Or will I realize that you are in fact the other?

    The other one, the one called Borges, is the one things happen to.

    Moxie Mezcal,
    Author of “Borges and I”

  12. moxie you nailed it, baby!

  13. Yeah, I keep re-reading this. Haunting.

  14. Dear Mary Shelley,

    I wish I knew you. I know you always wanted a real friend, and that could be me.

    I know I couldn’t live when you did; couldn’t stand to be nothing more than a wife/mother/daughter. But if you lived now – a teenager knocked up by a married man – you’d end up on a chat show. Not a practical friendship, I know. Also, you’re dead.

    I just want to let you know that if you were still around, I’d like to hang out.

    K x

  15. Dear Philip Roth,

    I tried not to like you. I was convinced to read you by the most pretentious man I have ever met, on whom I also have an ill-advised crush. I practiced telling him that your books are dull, overwritten or just stupid. Sadly, I couldn’t tell him any of these things, as I loved your book. It taught me the valuable lesson that I am not the only person who is self-obsessed, paranoid and illogical. Aside from that, you really know how to put a sentence together.

    Thanks for not letting me hate you.

    K x

  16. Dear Samuel Richardson,

    You suck.

    I have wasted weeks of precious reading time on your ridiculous novel, when I could have been reading something decent. Your novel ‘Pamela’ is implausible, full, pointless, and most importantly, badly-written. There is no need for a single sentence to go on for twelve lines, You suck so much.

    I hate you and I hate your book.


    an angry reader.

  17. […] to  a call for literary Valentines I see him sipping on a tomato juice and doing a good job of it for an old man. His white hair still […]

  18. […] Valentine: I did this as a comment. I guess this was like my audition for Year Zero…writing short fiction in real time in a little […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: