Vintage Verbiage

28 05 2008

Q. What’s worse than a plagarist?

A. A time-traveling plagarist.

Close friends have been reading countless drafts of my nearly-complete debut novel, American Emperor, a pseudo-pornographic odyssey through the last years of the 20th century with an effortlessly awesome Manhattanite postmodern Caesar, Baligula (too obvious?  constructive criticism welcome), at its center.  And well they should re-read this manuscript in its myriad incarnations: it’s a burgeoning, blood-spattered masterpiece. The deposed and down-on-his-luck emperor resurrects himself as high society’s most divine pillar by establishing cutthroat professional “friendships,” ensconcing himself in über-expensive fashions to the point of obsession and gruesomely torturing those who may or may not have slighted him in the past, recording every tedious detail along the way.


Intellectual thievery, thy name is Bret.

All this work only to have the hacks at Random House tell me they see unmistakable echoes of a book published 17 years ago and want no part of the inevitable legal hoopla I’m inviting.  I suppose they mean my pending lawsuit against Mr. Ellis, who is recklessly abusing his apparent ability to hopscotch through history and, frankly, flattering himself by passing off my fictions as his.  I say: “fine!”  I will take this cad on by my lonesome.  How dare he re-write my happy ending!

Just the same, I have the feeling we might hit it off. 

—Caligula

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Zero Life

19 05 2008

You nerds have some explaining to do.  And don’t come at me with all this L337 5p34k, for the love of Jove.  I never even bothered to learn Roman numerals, so what chance do you have?  

Here’s the thing.  When I had Sextus, my head intern/slave boy, describe the conceit behind Second Life, I reeled at the idea of a world without heinous physical bonds, something out of cyberpunk lit that would virtually eliminate the need for these sweating, stinking bodies we lug about from day to day.  Taking into account the proliferation of depravity the Internet invites, I was sure my God-king status would only inflate once my inner space alter-ego was born, and that heresies and cruelty only feverishly imagined till now would follow as naturally as colonization does conquest.

Only to find out that Second Life is duller than an Uncle Gaius story about exporting figs.

My avatar considers another boredom-related suicide.

After accidentally wandering into an online college lecture, haggling with some designer geek for a Louis Vuitton suitcase knock-off, being thrown out of a United Nations meeting for indecency, getting lost in a hedge maze programmed to have no exit and searching in vain for a black market chimpanzee liver, I concluded that Second Life is of no use to anyone and run by a distinctly vision-lacking shadow junta. When I started saying as much, I was banished to an endless corn field of some sort.  Sigh.  I should have known, of course: of all the liberties I tried to exercise, freedom of speech was bound to carry the greatest risk. 

—Caligula