The following is a flash fiction written during a meeting of my writer’s group in September 2013:

Hens & Chicks

hens and chicks

“Think he’ll make anything himself?” asked Mother Hen.

“Undoubtedly, my son will be President of United States of America,” replied Papa Hen. “If we can elect a black man and a scarlet woman to the highest post in the land, there’s no reason our Ralphie can’t make it.”

While nosing her chicks toward Farmer Brown’s corn and barley grain, Mother Hen considered her husband’s statement. Indeed, after the recent election of Ms. Sarah Green-Peas (no relation to the Jolly Green Giant of frozen peas fame), there seemed no limits to what the American people might do. If Ms. Green-Peas, a belly dancer from New Hampshire, could capture the heart of the nation, then there was no reason her chick might not do the same.

“Mama?” Suzie Q stopped pecking and cocked her furry yellow head. “Penny for your thoughts?”

“A penny won’t get you far these days, sister,” chuckled Ralphie. “When I’m president , I’ll see to it that a penny buys each and every chicken in America a full bale of hay.”

While nosing her chicks to the pond behind Farmer Brown’s stately grey slate mansion, Mother Hen considered her son’s statement and wondered where he could have learned so much about political economics. Last she knew, neither Harvard nor Stanford accepted chickens for full matriculation although, interestingly, Notre Dame had just taken in a lamb.

“When’s dinner ready?” demanded Papa Hen. “I got an overpowering urge for scrambled eggs. I stopped by the duck pond next door on my way home from the office and wouldn’t you know it, I found four just laying there.”

Although she really didn’t approve, Mother Hen cooked the eggs to perfection. She was a good wife and mother.  But she had always wondered if there might be something wrong with a man who was prepared to eat another’s children? She hoped Ralphie wouldn’t grow up to be like his father but she supposed that he probably would.

After all, to be President of the United States of America, a chicken would have to do whatever it was that a chicken had to do.”

Postmodern Literature
Postmodern Literature

While writing query letters to literary agents, I was forced to classify my  new novel, The Curve of Capricorn  as belonging to a particular genre.

For better or worse, I’ve chosen postmodern literature.

That might sound a bit presumptuous but here’s what I think it means:

1)   Postmodern literature attempts to depict the crisis of human identity (ethic, sexual, social, or cultural) and its struggle for legitimization in a hypocritical society.

I realize that’s a mouthful – but suffice it to say that answering the question “who am I?” has become a good deal harder by constantly being forced to sort ourselves into predetermined boxes – (TICK ONE PLEASE): native American, Asian- American,  Hispanic, agnostic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, white, gay, lesbian, …. or ‘other’ .

To allow both my readers and my characters maximum freedom in this regard, I’ve chosen to categorize or identify the characters in The Curve of Capricorn in a way that unless you’re an astrologer, won’t carry much baggage:

 

  Greatest flaw Greatest Strength Greatest Fear Desires
ABBY

(Faithful)

Capricorn

Ambition Perseveres Inability to justify existence To be worthy daughter of a great man
JENNIFER

(Opportunist)

Gemini

Justifies everything Emotionally Detached To lose To ‘have it all’
CASSIE

(Earth Mother)

Taurus

Can’t

forgive and forget

Emotional strength To be a bad wife and mother Save her marriage
RICK

(‘nice guy’)

Leo

Pride Geniune To hurt others Not to be a failure
McCABE SR

(‘sugar daddy’)

Cancer

Can’t escape emotions Ability to amass followers To be forgotten Win love & respect of Abby’s mother
McCABE JR

(‘smart ass’)

Aquarius

Single-mindedness Strategy To be like his father Revenge on father for having ignored him
ALEX

(antihero)

Sagittarius

Lack of ambition Survivor To look into the mirror External stimulation and excitement
JACK

(hero)

Libra

 

Ability to see all sides Diplomat To be overcome by guilt Save the world
BELINDA

(princess)

Pisces

 

gullible Knows that to ‘err’ is to be ‘human’ To take charge Someone to take care of her

 

2)   In postmodern literary works, the idea of originality and authenticity is undermined and parodied – For example, when I first started writing this novel for NANORIMO 2012 using astrology as my superstructure I thought I was really on to something original.  I could have had no idea that Eleanor Catton in her Booker prize winning novel The Luminaries would beat me to it!

3)   Postmodern literature is closely connected with advances in technology. If Abby had lived in the days of snail mail, things would have turned out differently.

4)   Postmodern literature is also associated with the growing distrust that ‘reason’ can provide us with verifiable ‘truths’. Jennifer (Gemini = Opportunist) is the narrator in The Curve of Capricorn and trust me – her truth is most certainly not the same as mine or yours.

5)   Postmodern literature often questions its own fictional status thus becoming ‘metafictional’. This one’s a bit tricky – but how about ‘metafiction is a fiction about fiction’? In terms of The Curve of Capricorn, Jennifer and I always encourage you as the reader to imagine how things might have turned out differently if only, if only, if only…

6)   One of the most important aspects of a postmodern literary work is its intertextuality – suffice it to say that in The Curve of Capricorn, all those allusions to the heroines of Jane Austen are there for a reason.

7)   Another important aspect of postmodern literary works is the use of postmodern parody, which emphasizes the difference between past art forms and sensibilities.  My all-time hero is Henry James and while his novels exquisitely explore the psychology of their characters, poor Henry didn’t have the opportunity to study psychological astrology with Liz Greene as did I.

Postmodern Literature

8)   In postmodern literary works there is often an overlap between fiction, fantasy, dreams and sometime hallucinations in an attempt to demonstrate that unlike with modernist thinking, these spheres are not always distinguishable.  Jennifer covers that one in the preface where she explains her reasons for using Zen Ko-ans (along with astrology) as a structuring device.

Yes, America, it’s true.

Mitt Romney – Republican Presidential candidate (presumptive) – made such a fool of himself in London that your fellow Americans living here cried out in pain …. (Boris – the Mayor of London is – like myself and a good many others – a dual-national).

It’s one thing to insult your host from ignorance (we’d like to give Mitt the benefit of the doubt as was done with GW Bush), but it’s another altogether to do so out of arrogance – an arrogance so grevious – that the Prime Minister felt compelled to reply (although it’s likely that the full impact of this went over Mitt’s head – and that’s the best part).

In an increasingly ‘global economy’ in which the US wishes to be a big – if not the biggest – player, then (contrary to apparent popular belief) – it’s not just about the voters ‘back home’.

Everyone – including a superpower – needs more friends than enemies.  This is especially the case when America’s position as said superpower is no longer completely secure.