My novel Flicker in the Porthole Glass was published by MAMMOTH Books in 2002. The Review of Contemporary Fiction observed that, “…the achievement here is Desautels’s prose, an aural event both jagged and elegant, assaultive and inviting, that moves with the clipped, dangerous, urgent kinesis of hard bop jazz.” Seven years down the road, I’m going to publish Flicker here on Maximum Fiction in serial form.
Today, I give you the fifth chapter of Part II, The Projection Booth: “Paintwork.” Look for a new installment soon. Enjoy! And if you like what you see, please see my Flicker in the Porthole Glass page for information on ordering the MAMMOTH Books edition.
Zane becomes animated in an attitude of loquacious concentration I’ve never seen him adopt before his paradoxically tattered canvases; paradoxical because savaged by his own hand, the same hand now laboring over the super-realist aesthetic with which his canvases shimmer. “So, like I was saying, you really ought to get that ball-peen hammer back.” His apartment is alive with the buzzing of a half-dozen fans strategically placed to evacuate the fumes of paint and thinner. From time to time he scuttles around the West Philly apartment, checking the fans, his Mohawk ruffling in their wind. “Made by Zephyr Fan Company, Parma, Ohio,” he tells me, wafting his stained fingers in the wash of cool air. They momentarily linger there, interweave with the red, white, and blue streamers he’s attached to the fan’s grille (to all the fans’ grilles) that ripple and flutter in the artificial breeze. “Just like the appliance department at John Wannamaker’s,” he says, taking a can of WD-40 from a table littered with spent paint tubes and soiled rags; the black and white postcard, overpainted with green and red watercolor highlights, depicting a bearded Kirk Douglas aping Van Gogh in a cornfield populated by huge black crows in Hollywood’s adaptation of Lust for Life; a half-empty bottle of Fresca; a number of brushes and putty knives showing various degrees of use; a John F. Kennedy half-dollar smudged with a purple thumbprint; a roll of toilet paper; a mason jar one-quarter filled with murky turpentine; a taco shell painted with the lifeforms of Joan Miro’s imagination (a gift?); two bottles, one open, of ibuprofen tablets; and, at the same time curious and appropriate, nine clear marbles in which are suspended what appear to be plastic black ants. The WD-40 he applies to the pin-hole sized oiling orifice bored into the motor casing of the table-top Zephyr nearest the canvas. Zane bends and listens carefully as the fan oscillates from left to right and back again, then, satisfied, tosses the can of WD-40 back onto the table from which he’d plucked it and turns back to his work.
Read all of Installment VI. (PDF)
For more information about Flicker in the Porthole Glass, and to read installments I – V, see the Flicker in the Porthole Glass page.