Modern novels read like Esoteric Instruction Books for the Mildly Curious. Start anywhere but the beginning. Terse, quick prose and provocatively off-kilter subject matter. Intense description and detail should move to an overall theme or place. Never reveal too much, mostly the details are what’s important. The anatomy of a gerbil for insurance purposes. The precise number of seconds in an average orgasm. The fluid retention of…whatever. Its not quite a formula, but that’s the first word that comes to mind. Piece a plot together somewhere between these snippets of either autobiographical or carefully researched background detail and not only does it make you look really smart, it’ll give an obsessive/neurotic aspect to your character, preaching to the choir, it adds depth for people who crave the weird. A plain old story just doesn’t interest the new generation of readers. Guy meets girl, whodunits, tragic, epic, slice-o-life, its all so worn out.

So my story is not about any of this. My story is about two cans in my cupboard. One is black beans, and one is corn. I’m not going to tell you what kind, or the processing plant that birthed them, the supermarket that sold them, the dye used in the label. Use your god-damned imagination. Two cans. And aside from some peanut butter and an old tin of cookies, they’re pretty much alone in there all day in the dark. They whisper to one another in the back, gathering dust like years. They talk about my days, when I don’t get my work done, bitching about that ugly red coat I found in the trash and fixed up. I’m getting so snippy, they say. I’m grumpy all the time. I should stop smoking. He needs to eat better, take some eccinacea to build a better immune system. how can he stand being sick all the time like that? Why doesn’t he ever clean this kitchen? That damn cough keeping everyone up all night. Why hasn’t he been writing? When is he going to finally get his shit together? They’re right, of course. But that’s only because canned goods don’t talk, it’s just nice to have a place to stuff the tired voices of my conscience.

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