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by Julie Vick

A major survey of U.S. researchers has found that unethical practices are more common and widespread in science than previously believed. The study found that 33% of scientists admit to engaging in at least one of 10 behaviors considered unethical…

She’s Gone Electric

Polish Fact

Major illicit producer of amphetamine for the international market; minor transshipment point for Asian and Latin American illicit drugs to Western Europe.

Learn a Foreign Tongue!

Golpéeme, bebé, una más vez.
Hit me, baby, one more time.

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Literary Snafu
Thursday, February 2, 2006   |    Fiction

Open Mike

by David Galef

“It’s the tail end of open-mike night here at the Big Gig, and I see some new faces in the crowd. Let me emphasize that time is limited, so please keep it short. And now … ah, I see a volunteer already. And your name is?”

“Henry James. But my acquaintances call me Mr. Henry James.”

“Hey, there, Mister, and step right up to the microphone! Here, let me adjust that for you—better? Good. And what will you be reading tonight?”

“The real thing, the hoped-for eventuality, the opening from my new novel, The Wings of the Dove. Ahem. Trying to recover here, for recognition, the germ of my idea, I see that it must have consisted not at all in the conceit or ‘plot’—”

“That’s fine, Mister, but maybe you could—”

“Of course. Just a foretaste, a premonition. Here, as it were, goes. ‘She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him.’ This is the précis, at any rate.”

“Great, just great. Look forward to seeing it in print. Next we have—wait, are you stepping down already? Speak up, please. What’s your name?”

“Emily Dickinson. I’m sorry—I’m a little shy.”

“Aren’t we all?”

“Could I have—some water? That’s—better. Now: ‘Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me’.”

“Go on.”

“That’s all—I have right now. I’m trying to work it—into something longer.”

“Well, good luck. And now … the gentleman waiting in the back row. And you are—?”

“Sam. Sam Beckett. I’ve been writing a sort of trilogy, a man who bicycles with a crutch, someone who wants to return to the tomb, I mean womb, oh, it’s difficult to explain, but anyway, here’re some last words, I mean the last part from the last book, which hasn’t got a name: ‘That’s all I know, they’re going to stop, I know that well, I can feel it, they’re going to abandon me, it will be the silence, for a moment, a good few moments, or it will be mine, the lasting one, that didn’t last, that still lasts, it will be I, you must go on, I can’t go on, you must go on, I’ll go on, you must say words, as long as there are any, until they find me, until they say me, strange pain, strange sin, you must go on, perhaps it’s done already, perhaps they have said me already, perhaps they have carried me to threshold of my story—’ ”

“I’m sorry, but our time’s about to run out.”

“You mean I can’t go on? I’ll go on.”

“No, I’m sorry, but you can’t—”

“ ‘That would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am—’ ”

“I don’t care where you are.”

“ ‘I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know—’ ”

Silence is the key word here, Sam. That’s all for tonight, folks, and thank you for coming and drinking up. See you all next week!”

David Galef has published humor in places ranging from the old British Punch, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and Cosmopolitan to far more submerged venues. His latest book is the short-story collection Laugh Track. When not riding his bicycle, he’s a professor of English and the administrator of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Mississippi.