Oct 24, 2019

Rilke's Ghost -- "A word journey unlike anything you have ever done."

Another review is in, and it's by the fabled review-veteran Amos Lassen

I always look forward to something new from Michael Ampersant because he not only entertains but he provokes us to think. That is what good literature is all about as far as I am concerned. Even in this ghost story, I spent more time thinking about it than I did reading it. In just 23 pages Ampersant opens a whole new world for us.


Amos Lassen

I fell in love with the wit of the prose and the attempts to answer whether this really happened. More than that I can’t say except that we are taken a word journey unlike anything you have ever done. More than that I cannot say without ruining the reading experience. Find a half an hour and lose yourself in this delightful read.


Judge yourself:



"Click"



Oct 20, 2019

Rilke's Ghost -- "Chang has to feed the hungry FaceBook beast"

We've started working on an ad campaign for our new novella, Rilke's Ghost, fashioned along the lines of our previous campaigns, adding quotes from the text to an odd picture. Here's one preliminary result:




And here's the corresponding fragment. Having fled Duino, where we stirred Rilke's ghost with a Google-translation of his poems, we now summer in Bürchen, in the Swiss Valais region, only a stone throw away from the grave of the poet: 

The village of Bürchen is wonderful, 1,600 meters up on the Alp, and so much cooler than the muggy summer-Riviera (the road up to Bürchen was finished in 1934—-the preceding thousand years the villagers were left to their own devices). There is only one problem: Rainer Maria is buried nearby, yes, Rilke, in Raron, a small, historic town right beneath Bürchen down in the valley. We’ve given Raron a wide berth so far, but Chang is playing the social networks and has to feed the hungry Facebook beast. His Korean followers can’t get enough of snow-topped mountains and geranium-studded chalets, and the 24-hour cycle dictates daily posting. We’ve ravaged the entire region already—-natives of many cultures believe that you steal their image when you take their picture—-along those lines we’ve grabbed photons until nothing seems to be left of the Valais—from the Matterhorn via the James-Bond-historic-marker up on the Furka pass to the longest glaciers and highest vineyards of Europe—-save Raron.

“Do you believe in ghosts?” Chang asks. Of course, we don’t. And it’s a sunny, wonderful day, and Rilke is interred in a vault on the southern side of the Burgkirche, which itself is built on a rock hundred meters above the floor of the valley. The views would be fantastic, and a light breeze would play with the pages of the tourist guide which tells about the local Rilke-wine and the XIIth-century town hall next to the church. A Rilke Pfad leads up there. Half-way there’s a bench. “Remember the bench?” I ask. We sit down. And now I have a really bad idea. I google for “Rilke translations,” and the first entry connects to a learned article by a certain Marjorie Perloff...





"Click"



Oct 5, 2019

Rilke's Ghost -- the first review

Cool, folks, we've got the first Amazon review for "Rilke's Ghost", and it's Five Stars:


James Beamon
5.0 out of 5 starsLoads of fun
October 3, 2019
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

This is a very enjoyable ghost story, full of charm, wit, great touches of humor and a perpetual meta question of "did this really happen?" and "what's up with this priest?!" Ampersant takes you on a scenic journey, one where I for one learned quite a bit of European history along the way. Definitely worth picking up.




"Click"



Sep 19, 2019

Rilke's Ghost



We're trying to clear our desk in anticipation of the line-edit of "Dolly" (the play), and so we've finally managed to put our new short story Rilke's Ghost  up on Amazon. And it's a real story---at least the beginning is true-true. 

The blurb is as follows: 

While visiting the lovely town of Duino on the Adriatic Italian coast, Michael provoked the wraith of the legendary German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, by applying Google-translate to the wordsmith's famed "Duineser Elegien" (Elegies from the Castle of Duino). Now Michael spends the summer in Switzerland, in a chalet only three kilometers away from the grave of the poet. Will Michael be stupid enough to challenge Rilke again, thus unleashing the most sophisticated ghost story of modern history, including an exorcism of serendipitous proportions...?

We'll have two or three posts about this; here's the first one, with the story's opening:

I still see myself sitting there as a boy on the greenly-striped couch of my parents in Berlin, Germany, reading Rilke, Rainer Maria (1875-1926), Bohemian poet, best known for his “Duineser Elegien” (Elegies from the castle of Duino). I read only the first two elegies then, but still, I went with the flow and was impressed.


*°*

Chang and I moved to the French Riviera where we rent our house to holiday makers. We got a surprise booking in April and decided to visit Croatia, a new country that isn’t too far away and reasonably cheap. Chang collects countries; he’s never been there. Bonus: on the way we’d have to cross Slovenia, yet another nation missing from his collection. We would drive non-stop the nine hours from Cannes to Croatia but should stay overnight somewhere on the way back, someplace nice. So Chang went on the internet and suggested a town between Venice and Trieste, on the Adriatic coast. A hotel without a view, budget-friendly. “How’s the place called?” I asked. 
“Dunno,” he said. “No, not Dunno, Du-i-no.”
Dui-no…Du-i-no…haven’t we heard of Duino before? On the Adriatic coast? “Chang! Rilke! Duineser Elegien! Chang, we must stay there.” 
“Rilke?” 
“Rilke!” 

Duino is off motorway A4. We descended into a villa town and got lost because budget-friendly hotels are hard to find. There is a ludicrous little beach attached to a harbour of a few fishing boats and a pier doubling as boardwalk; three restaurants, the castle (tower, battlements), and a university, ie, a small building labeled Collegio Sapienza Rainer Maria Rilke with lots of kids milling outside speaking American and a concierge inside who knew the directions to our hotel. 

It was still a bit early in the afternoon, so we would have a nap in the budget-friendly double bed. We should have had a nap, that is, the room was quiet and reasonably dark, save for a distant wailing, a sound like “Oohh, oohh”--a human voice almost that appeared to come from nowhere--“oohh.” Not a typical hotel sound you’d say. And it wasn’t going away. “Oohh.” Impossible to fall sleep. We should complain. We should get up, descend the noisy stairwell and thwack the bell on the reception desk. And, of course, the moment the manager appeared the wailing was gone. 

So we had to explain. “Bizarro,” the receptionist said. “Oohh,” I intoned to give her an idea. “Insolito,” she said and shook her head. “Oohh,” Chang intoned. “Pronto,” she said and answered the telephone.

(To repeat, this really happened; it's true-true)




Green Eyes
"Click"

Aug 21, 2019

Yesterday



Alex Hogan, the influential editor of Gay Flash Fiction, wonders where we are. Here we are, Alex, in the Valais, the Swiss region; this was the view from our chalet yesterday morning:





Aug 5, 2019

A frie-ed egg

We've started to collect pictures that somehow relate to our new play, now called "Our Daughter Wants to Marry a Robot" (in the tradition of 19th century plays à la Oscar Wilde, where they got their title from the last line).


And, as is common in Ampersant's literary output, we're always about everything, including fried eggs---although, in the play, they are burnt, the eggs, because Eliza can't cook.

Fragment, fragment...we're in Scene I of Act III. Eliza, the psycho...psycho-analyst, has tried to cook herself an egg, because Robert, her robot, was kept busy recharging his tired batteries:

ELIZA
(FROM THE KITCHEN)
Robert!
NO REACTION FROM ROBERT
Robert, you've recharged long enough.
NO REACTION FROM ROBERT
Robert!
ELIZA ENTERS FROM THE KITCHEN, HOLDING ON TO A SMOKING FRYING PAN, WALKS UP TO THE COUCH. ROBERT SHOWS SIGNS OF LIFE.
Robert, do something.
ELIZA HOLDS UP THE SMOKING PAN
Call the fire brigade, and insist on a significant improvement...
ROBERT
(HALF-RISING, NOT YET AWARE OF THE SMOKING PAN)
...What did you do?
ELIZA
I've never been in a kitchen before. Not since you came into my life.
ROBERT
(POINTING AT THE PAN NOW)
What is this?
ELIZA
Can you help me with my iPad?
ROBERT
(STILL POINTING)
This is not an iPad, this is a frying pan.
ROBERT RISES FULLY FROM THE COUCH. 
ELIZA HANDS THE FRYING PAN TO ROBERT, DISAPPEARS IN THE BED ROOM, AND RETURNS WITH AN IPAD.
ELIZA
(WAVES IPAD IN ROBERT'S FACE)
It doesn't work.
ROBERT
(HANDS THE PAN BACK TO ELIZA, GRIPS THE IPAD)
Let me see.
MANIPULATES THE IPAD. EVENTUALLY, SOUNDS EMANATE FROM THE DEVICE, ALONG THE LINES OF:
IPAD
Tada, Tada, Tada. Good evening, Eliza. I'm your personal iPad, and, as so often, I'm prepared to serve you conditionally, provided we keep a keen eye on our community standards. Tada.
ROBERT
(TO ELIZA)
It seems to work.
ELIZA
(HOLDING THE FRYING PAN UNDER ROBERT'S NOSE)
No, it doesn't. Look.
ROBERT
Maa-dam.
ELIZA
(EXPLAINING)
Overwhelmed by anniversarial [sic] appetites, and with my personal assistant bereft of amperes and lounging out of order on my couch, I decided to consult the internet, which advised to initiate my awesome, yet personalized cooking experience with an egg...a fried egg...which now looks like this...so... it doesn't work, your internet...We failed. 
ROBERT
Indeed.
ELIZA
'Indeed'?...I say 'we failed' and you say indeed? 
ROBERT
It's true though, isn't it? You failed. It's a fact.
ELIZA
True...'true'? What's truth to an egg...a frie-ed egg? What's truth to a soul...a frie-ed soul? My soul! You never did that before.
ROBERT
What?
ELIZA
Dipping my soul in...in...
ROBERT
...facts?
ELIZA

Egg yolk...Well, yes, facts...You always found a way to accommodate my flights of fancy, and call the weather service, and turn your phrases this way and that way until everything was all-right and we had snatched happiness from the jaws of reality...yet again...




In this spirit...




The Valais, yesterday (rhymes)




...with the Bietschhorn, the mountain that dominates our region, in the background.


Jul 18, 2019

If you don't like it here, go back where you came from (2)



(Hat tip: Mia Farrow, who made the same point in her tweets:)




From D. Trumps acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, July 21, 2016:

"Special interests have rigged our political and economic system for their exclusive benefit. Believe me it’s for their benefit.."

D. Trump's tweet July 12, 2020: 

"If you don't like it here, go back  and help to fix the totally broken and crime-infested place from where you came."


If you don't like it here, go back where you came from (1)



(Hat tip: Mia Farrow, who made the same point in her tweets:)




From D. Trump's acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, July 21, 2016:

"Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are Third World condition, and forty-three million Americans are on food stamps."

D. Trump's tweet July 12, 2020: 

"If you don't like it here, go back  and help to fix the totally broken and crime-infested place from where you came."


A few days ago...

...during the heat wave over the Mediterranean, Michael and Sacha (the owner of the boat):


Sacha, why Sacha? Because he's also the model of Jack Horn in the Green Eyes saga; he's to us what "Q" is (or was) to James Bond. 

Fragment, fragment...from the first part of the saga, Ch. 43, "Clutter Clutter & Clutter", and it's thankfully short:

Every soap opera has its homme à tout faire, be it James Bond ("Q"), or us ("Jack Horn"). Speaking of James Bond, if you’ve watched the earlier movies (there is a new-new Q now, bear with me), you must have realized that Q’s old lab was too small. There was no way anybody could combine a shooting range for war heads with a workshop for poisonous pens with an assembly line for Aston Martins anywhere outside Pinewood Studios. (The newest Q holds court in the British Museum where they have more space).

Same for Jack Horn. If you ever had a look at Jack's place—he lives in a rambling farm house outside Georgia Beach with a large orchard and a big barn where he works—you don't have to enter the barn, you only have to look at it from miles away—it's like Q's (old) universe, only more so. There are toy helicopters, coloring books of his three lovely daughters, the original camera of Toulouse-Lautrec, the screen wall from Startrek, entire hardware shops, books even, some of his friends write books. It's like the law firm of Clutter, Clutter & Clutter: there it is, climbing the stairs, climbing the walls and climbing into the basement where antique premium cars await repair: clutter. There’s no way you could spend a minute in this chaos and not come away with the idea that Jack is your man when it comes to harebrained schemes.


We are barely exaggerating, give it a try:



The Lambda Literary Award finalist


Green Eyes
"Click"
From live reviews: 

"If you like Woody Allen, you will enjoy the book!" 
"I dreamt of the GREEN EYES and woke up happy." 
"Grab it an plan to read it from cover to cover immediately!" 
"A literate and wonderfully witty romp!" 
Wow! That was my first reaction to reading this book, my second reaction was plain and simple holy shit!"
"This is a perfect book for any adult reader!"

Jun 11, 2019

How we feel today






...and...anything more substantial, more uplifting? Try this from our play (The two principle robots in conversation) :


DOLLY
You were a prototype too, Robbie, you were the prototype of all prototypes.
ROBERT
Perhaps I should retire to a museum.
DOLLY
Absolutely. The MOMA would have you. Or the Modern Tate.
ROBERT
The MOMA?
DOLLY
The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. They have live sharks in formaldehyde that are worth twenty million dollars. I mean they are dead, the sharks, obviously, but otherwise they are alive...Damien Hirst. Does the name ring a bell?
ROBERT
(HITS HIS HEAD, TO HIMSELF)
Why am I doing this?

(HITS HIS HEAD)
Uuhh. Moma.

(TO DOLLY:)
Damien Hirst? My memory is no longer working properly.
DOLLY
Not a bell?
ROBERT
Remind me.
DOLLY
He's an artist. An artist! He created these sharks...I mean he did not create these sharks literally...I mean they existed already...I mean they were dead already...I mean...
ROBERT
(INTERRUPTING)
Yes, Dolly.
DOLLY
I have an idea! I have another idea!
ROBERT
Ye-es?
DOLLY
An idea that solves all your problems. And Eliza's problems as well.
PAINFUL SILENCE. ROBERT STARES AT THE BOX.
You don't want to know?
ROBERT
If I say 'yes', you'll ask me to liberate you first...
DOLLY
(INTERRUPTING)
...'LIBERATE', that's the word, not 'release'...
ROBERT
...but if I say 'no', will you then shut up and stay in your box?
DOLLY
(UPON REFLECTION)
No, I'll tell you anyhow.
ROBERT
Isn't it obvious, your idea?
DOLLY
No, it's very creative. Didn't you tell the bailiffs that I'm very creative?
ROBERT
Your idea, Dolly...your idea is to have Eliza sell me for twenty million dollars to this Damien Hirst, isn't it?
DOLLY
(CRACKLE INSIDE THE BOX RESUMES, MODEM BLINKS, DOLLY CONNECTING WITH, AND THEN CHANNELING THE INTERNET)
...twenty million, that's three-hundred POINT four six three eight nine one zero four billion Pound as we speak, Robbie, more than THREE HUNDRED billion Little Pounds...

(MODEM STOPS BLINKING)
ROBERT
Thanks to Brexit.
DOLLY
(UPBEAT)
Yes, exactly, thanks to Brexit!
ROBERT
...Your idea is to sell me for these billions to Damien Hirst who will then put me in a dumpster and sell me to this museum.
DOLLY
You hit the nail running, Robbie. And the best thing is, you know what?...
ROBERT
No.
DOLLY
We don't even need formaldehyde.

ROBERT LIMPS OFF TO THE PSYCHO-COUCH AND LIES DOWN. 



Jun 2, 2019

Green Eyes --- German Translation



Not sure we ever told you, but we found a publisher for the German translation of the Green Eyes. Together with the translator, Xenia Melzer, we've been quietly working on said translation during the last couple of months, and now we are getting somewhere. Two more passes through the text, two more weeks, perhaps, and we are done.

It was quite an experience, and I'll reflect on it soon in another post. Here's just a sample, the crucial paragraph in the last chapter where Alex explains why---for heavens sake, WHY---he loves John. The English original is underneath.

And the picture? We'll that's just the view from our house this morning (click on it for a larger version)

„Also, John, lass uns durchstarten. Du würdest nicht wollen, dass ich dich liebe, nur weil Alice es mir gesagt hat?“
„Nein.“
„Und du würdest nicht wollen, dass ich dich liebe, weil es dir zu sehr wehtun würde, wenn ich es nicht täte?“
„Was?“
„Würdest du jemanden lieben, nur weil er dich liebt?“
„Wahrscheinlich nicht.“
„Würdest du jemanden lieben, weil er dich von den Toten erweckt hat?“
„Amy-Lou hat dich von den Toten erweckt.“
„Sie sagte, du hättest es getan.“
Sie hat es getan. Sie hat dich wiederbelebt.“
„Sie sagte, es war dein Kuss. Du hast mich zurück ins Leben geküsst.“
„Ich habe dich nicht ins Leben zurückgeküsst. Ich habe einen Kuss auf deine Stirn gedrückt, um mich zu verabschieden. Du warst zu dem Zeitpunkt tot.“
„Ich habe also recht.“
„Wie?“
„Du hast mich nicht zurück ins Leben geküsst, Amy-Lou hat mich nicht von den Toten erweckt. Q.E.D. Ich bin im Himmel. Alles ist Himmel. Sogar du bist der Himmel, jemand der mich nicht betrügt trotz der herausfordernden Umstände eines BDSM-Calls.“
„Ebenso wie Amy-Lou und Alice. Wenn es nach deiner Logik geht.“
„Die mich auch nicht betrogen haben.“
„Du weißt, was ich meine. Warum solltest du mich lieben?“
„Weil du, John, einzigartig unter uns Engeln bist. Du bist der einzige Engel, der meine Liebe braucht. Der sie will. Warum sollte ich dich nicht lieben? Wir sind zusammen im Himmel. Hier gehen Wünsche in Erfüllung.“
„Das habe ich nicht gewusst.“
„Jetzt weißt du es“, sagt er und rollt wieder mit dem Kopf.

And here's the English original:

“So, John, let’s reset. You wouldn’t want me to love you because Alice told me to do so?”
“No.”
“And you wouldn’t want me to love you because it would hurt you too much if I don’t?”
“Huh?”
“Let’s simplify. Would you love somebody because he loves you?”
“Possibly not.”
“Would you love somebody because he brought you back from the dead?”
“Amy-Lou brought you back from the dead.”
“She said you did.”
“She did. She performed the CPR.”
“She said it was your kiss. You kissed me back to life.”
“I didn’t kiss you back to life. I planted a kiss on your forehead to say goodbye. You were dead then.”
“So, I’m right then.”
“How?”
“You didn’t kiss me back to life, Amy-Lou didn’t bring me back from the dead. Q-E-D. I’m in heaven. Everything is heaven. Even you are heaven, not cheating on me despite the challenging circumstances of an out-call.”
“And so are Amy-Lou, and Alice. According to your logic.” 
“Who didn’t cheat on me either.” 
“You know what I mean. Why should you love me?”
“Because, John, you are unique among us angels. You are the only angel who needs my love. Who wants it. Why shouldn’t I love you back? We’re in heaven together. Wishes are fulfilled in here.” 
“I didn’t know.”

“Now you do,” he says and rolls his head again. 



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