My First Time is a regular feature in which writers talk about virgin experiences in their writing and publishing careers, ranging from their first rejection to the moment of holding their first published book in their hands. Today's guest is Rae Bryant, author of the just-released short story collection The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals from Patasola Press. Her stories have appeared in BLIP Magazine (formerly Mississippi Review), Opium Magazine, and PANK, among other publications and have been nominated and short-listed for several awards. Flavorwire had this to say about her work: “Will make you simultaneously laugh and cringe at the squeamish awkwardness of post-one night stand intimacies…witty…strangely fantastical and familiar.” Bryant lives outside Washington D.C. where she is the founding editor of Moon Milk Review, a nonprofit print and online literary and arts journal. Her website can be found here.
My First Rooftop Party
Place a rooftop virgin on Le Bain in the West Village. Lay a foggy spring Hudson below. Give the virgin wine and crepes and tell her, this, my dear, is publishing. This is New York. This is where you should want to be. It won’t much matter anymore, the fog, or maybe she’ll believe the fog is everything, an aesthetic necessity like impressionist gloom below a mountaintop. Bright and interesting and streets and cars, statues and liberties, are all wasted below the mountaintop.
On a rooftop in New York, the literati are svelte, fluid sculptures in black suits and dresses, leggings, full-mouths and considerations. Some even grin. They wear piercing, vacant eyes. The virgin will study the eyes. She will wonder how long it will take to develop these eyes like cocktail ironies and how long it will take to lose her first time rooftop sensibilities. Literati never towel drape when walking from bed to shower, couch to table, nor do they cover their breasts after sex. In this crowd, bodies are communal like intentions, and this will make the rooftop virgin nervous. She’ll wonder if losing her virginity will hurt. Will it be in degrees of cramping gesticulations or apathy, the way the svelte absently move and respond to collectives around them, everyone placeholders of themselves. They are there, but not really. They are across the roof already, speaking and air kissing to different collects, measuring stratospheres like cord lengths of invisible pissing because to actually pull it out and piss off a rooftop would be uncouth. Cliché. It is the metaphorical pissing that is vogue now. Tomorrow, it will be actual, after the release of the street artist, who now sits in a jail cell. He was caught pissing off his East Village rooftop through the fly of his jeans, top buttoned. Tomorrow, everyone will love him, the artist. They will philosophize his pissing and the zipper cuts on his penis and how he conceptualized pissing through his fly off a rooftop. He will get media coverage. And the literati will curse their short-sightedness for not being the first to see the potential of it all. Such a simple idea. They will empathize with the genitalia blood and the stylization of the arc, how the piss left a dark stain down the brick front of the building across the street. Then they will sign the artist for a three book deal and say things like, did you need stitches? Penis stitching is marketable.
Literati say things with their eyes. They build contracts and whisper boldness. Propose intimacies. Rooftop virgins should be aware. The whispers come with very real possibilities.
Flavorpill/Electric Literature with Harper Perennial BEA Party — The Standard, May 23, 2011