I’m getting on in my years, and I suppose I’m telling this story because I crave a certain sympathy, a certain understanding. I hope you’ll truly believe of me that all of my actions since my life became knocked loose have been beyond my control. Sometimes I even wonder: am I someone else’s dream? Is that why I feel that I can’t take hold of my life? For that might make more sense than what I’m about to tell you: that all my actions feel as though they are the orchestrations of a foreign subconcious’s unfathomable puppet strings.
I was flattered to be asked to take part in Medium’s new visual storytelling project, alongside two other writers, Spencer Strub and Peter Prato. We were asked to choose photographs from Richard “Koci” Hernandez’s Instagram account and build our stories around them. Click through here if you want to read a really weird story about faceless doppelgangers, playground antagonists, and Mardi Gras hallucinations!
-A man who was a Civil War re-enactor. Attractive in a haunted, gaunt, Captain Ahab-esque way.
-A man who stated that his only talent was making prank phone calls.
-A man who looked just like Louis CK and had a dog named Huey Lewis. A package I didn’t realize I wanted until I was confronted with the possibility.
-A man whose only photos were of him wearing a head-to-toe full body neon blue latex suit.
-A man who told me my chakras “looked angry.” (They are).
-A man whose username was “old_cat_lady.” If only to offer to buy the name from him. Also because he is probably my soul mate.
-A man whose “About Me” section just read: “feral nihilist.”
January 3rd, 9am: A friend needs distraction from relationship troubles. “Here are all the places I can’t go because they remind me of him: The ocean. Green Apple Books. Oakland. Bernal Hill. That noodle place. San Francisco. Earth. I can’t eat a bagel or see the color blue or breathe oxygen.” I take her to a winery owned by a former Doobie Brother where we trick them into pouring us each two glasses of wine at 10am and then to a pioneer cemetery. Handling: 8.2/10
January 4th, 10:30pm: An ex-boyfriend texts me—unwarranted and apropos of absolutely nothing—a video montage he made set to sappy music of his current girlfriend and their two dogs playing on a beach. I text him back a video of my cat listening to Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” in the dark. Handling: 10.5/10
In 1851, six men landed on the Farallones, declared themselves owners by right of possession, formed a stock company, and began gathering murre eggs and selling them in San Francisco. The enmity between rival eggers grew to staggering proportions, culminating in the heartbreaking “Egg War” of 1863, during which two men were shot dead.
Before I had visited the Farralones, I had pictured them as the essential San Francisco. I imagined that they were the city stripped of superfluity, the city with its clothes off. But they didn’t feel as much to me like the city with its clothes off as like the city with its skin off. They were skeletal, the granite embodiment of King Lear howling in the storm—naked, terrifying, crazy.
-Gary Kamiya, from “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco”
Have you been wanting to read my YA novel, Vivian Versus the Apocalypse, but you only buy books in bookstores and you’re like, I don’t trust non-American publishers? Well, you are a very idiosyncratic individual, but you are in luck, because Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be publishing it in the United States in January 2015. Yes, that’s right! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! That’s what we in the business like to call “not too shabby.”
Keep in mind that Vivian will make her debut in the US under a brand new title—VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD. This is a pretty great title. I am pretty happy about this title. Among other things, this name change means that all of you who have (very kindly) taken the time to read it can be like, “Vivian Apple at the End of the World? I was reading that back when she was Versus the Apocalypse.”
As if this were not enough, both Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Hot Key Books will be publishing A SEQUEL, tentatively titled Vivian Versus America. I’m writing it now. So far, there’s plenty more cursing, lots more feminism, kissing, and HOLLYWOOD. I’m pumped about it.
Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your local bookstores. Let me know if you want me to come to your town and try to sell your acquaintances books. Get Vivian Apple at the End of the World tattooed across your chest. Add it on Goodreads. I love you.
Vivian Apple at the End of the World. VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD.
Katie is the best and I am hashtag blessed to be able to hang out with her every Tuesday and read her stories about teen witches and outer space malls before everyone else does. She also gets as indignant as I do over basically everything (men who get applauded for translating stories into wingdings font, men who shame us about eating hummus in public, small pours of wine, people who don’t keep accurate score at literary trivia, etc.), which makes me feel a little less alone in the world. I’d say she’s the next J.K. Rowling but really she’s the first Katie Coyle, which is even better.
Buffalo Nat’l River, Arkansas / September 2013
Early morning in the fog of the Ozarks. Looking for the town of Rush, an old zinc mining town. If you want to believe what the locals tell you, it’s the only ghost town between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.