Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

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First blurb for The Fugue

The first blurb for The Fugue, my forthcoming novel (December, CCLaP) is a kicker:

Gint Aras’ epic novel ‎is nothing less than a tour de force masterpiece. In a morality play that takes place against the bleak backdrop of Cicero, Illinois, we see the lives of an amazing set of characters (“displaced people”) haunted by nightmares and dark obsessions. Like a musical fugue, the complex recurring thematic materials of the story carry the reader on a nail-biting journey that sustains incredible suspense until the very end of the novel. The imagery is masterfully portrayed throughout, and the deep sadness of the story is also juxtaposed with the possibility for beauty and redemption. All I want to do now is read it again!

David Krakauer
Grammy nominated international performing and recording artist‎

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The tender hell of unrequited adolescent infatuation

I’m pleased to announce that my latest work of short fiction, titled “Nothing Extraordinary, Nothing of Note,” is now available in Issue Seven of The St. Petersburg Review. This is a story inspired in part by my Zen practice but also by a brief return to central Illinois when I attended an academic seminar and got to spend the night in Urbana.

The story’s main character is Milt Ilsa, an optometrist and socially awkward amateur poet who spends his time obsessing over lines he knows are loathsome. He has virtually no social life and lives a mundane, tiresome daily routine of meals in diners and visits with patients. One day, of course, he’s met with a realization—it actually happens while he is masturbating—that provokes an experience not unlike a satori, or a Zen awakening, in which the impermanence of all things becomes ultra-clear to him.

Here is a sexy excerpt:

The other woman Ilsa had known only as a teen. This was Deanna, the freckled and red-haired girl for whom he had felt the tender hell of unrequited adolescent infatuation. The youths had never shared any more than a few awkward dances at their high school mixers, nights when Deanna had come with actual dates while Ilsa had to muster all his courage just to show up to the gymnasium, then clench his raging heart into a fist and ask Deanna for a single slow dance. Sure, she sometimes sat with him at lunch, but she did it out of conceit, to feel how powerfully he wanted her. Ilsa knew but sat hoping for some miracle of Cupid. On Homecoming and Prom nights, Ilsa would lie in his boyhood room with the tortured thoughts of what Deanna was doing with the imbeciles who always took her out. On the spectrum of imbeciles, they were far worse than Ilsa, the sons of the Caltoon’s wealthiest: doctors, lawyers, one guy a former college quarterback, another the owner of a factory that packaged frankfurters into plastic.

Although he had never even kissed Deanna, and while he had last seen her more than two decades ago, he still fantasized about her, imagining an adult woman between twenty-five and thirty. The helplessness he felt to these automatic fantasies could actually drive him to fury. This Tuesday night he wanted Melanie, but as if on train tracks, his consciousness left her bed and curled down to the valley station where thoughts of Deanna waited. Of course, he imagined Deanna far more often than Vera.

Interestingly, he often didn’t touch her in his fantasies. The thought of her sitting naked for him at breakfast or on a boat in the middle of an isolated lake could drive him to agonizing climax. In a reoccurring fantasy, he saw her posing for him in a birch forest as he photographed her body, her pubis unshaved, a few yellowed leaves in her wild, frizzy red hair. He was having that fantasy now, himself in the birch forest, a fully manual 35mm Leica in his hands, Deanna leaning against a tree, then arching her back and lifting her arms toward the forest canopy. Now she knelt for him, knees pressing into soft moss, mouth open only gently, green eyes a shade lighter than the verdant background divided by narrow white trunks. For the next sequence of shots, she spread her legs and flashed an intoxicating glance, allowing him to adore her, remaining wildly beautiful for him, freely giving her beauty over so that he could possess it in photographs, return to it whenever he wanted, whenever she was absent.

Purchase Issue 7 here, or order it from your favorite bookstore in July.

Photo on 6-24-15 at 9.51 PM

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Last minute culture

Mobile phones have changed the world in ways that exhaust and confuse me. Today’s experience is a perfect example.

I made an appointment to meet with a repairman this morning at between 9:00 and 10:00 AM. Because it’s summer, my children got up a bit late, and we had breakfast at around 9:00. I don’t sit around at the breakfast table with my mobile phone or any electronic devices out. In fact, I had no idea where my phone was at that moment. What I knew was that a repairman was coming any moment and I’d have to let him in.

It turned out that this repairman was outside. He was sitting in his car right in front of my house and texting me, calling me, leaving messages. When he heard nothing from me, he decided to drive away and deal with other appointments. This despite being a few yards outside my front door, quite literally in a position to hear me talking beside a wide open window.

Back before mobile phones existed, this man would have come up to the door and rung the doorbell. That’s what I, an old time geezer, expected him to do. But now we’re expected—even when someone is depending on our business—to be tied to our phones, to respond to messages from someone who’s standing outside.

I called him at around 10:00 to find out what’s going on. He asked if I could reschedule today, that all he’d have to do is cancel some afternoon meetings. So, someone else would have to rework their entire day because this man cannot ring a doorbell. He actually said it was against company policy to ring doorbells. The rationalization was more absurd than than a chapter out of Camus. “Sometimes people cancel last minute, and they get angry if you ring their bell.”

Perhaps that’s true. It seems true that, these days, the appointments we make need to be checked five minutes before they’re to occur, because appointments made weeks in advance are only theory. Something better might have come along; someone might have texted us in the meantime to let us know they wanted to take us to something so cool we couldn’t miss it, and that person we spoke to a week or a fortnight before should just understand.

“Hey, are we still meeting today?”

No. We’re not. Thanks for checking.

Here’s a picture of some creatures who’ll show up so soon as you bring them food.