Monday, December 15, 2008

'Can't Concentrate' Manatee

The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee’s article on Kafka for Bookforum was due in 8 hours. She stared at her computer thinking about pasta. She had a very small and vague urge to eat pasta. She made pasta. She brought the pasta to the computer. She had a medium-small urge to put agave nectar on her pasta. She put agave nectar on her pasta. She ate her pasta. She accidentally headbutted her bowl and the pasta went on the keyboard. She vaguely thought “fuck,” or “shit,” or something, she wasn’t sure. “I think I actually thought something like ‘[obscenity]’ or ‘[bad word],’” she thought. “I don’t know. I think I meant to think ‘fuck’ probably but my brain didn’t produce enough power.” The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee remembered her plan from a few hours ago to remove all idiomatic language from her article on Kafka for Bookforum. She clicked “find and replace” and typed “sort of” and it went to an instance of “sort of.” She headbutted pieces of pasta off the keyboard that were on top of certain buttons she wanted to press and accidentally headbutted the side of a small blue whale’s body. The small blue whale looked at The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee with a facial expression of excruciating pain. The small blue whale floated upside down for about twenty feet and hit a turtle and the turtle and the small blue whale floated upside down out of view. The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee felt afraid and opened MySpace. A piece of pasta was on a button she wanted to press and she headbutted the pasta and the keyboard broke in half and floated upside down very quickly, because it was made of something that usually floats. The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee went to a deli and bought a ginger kombucha and opened it and it fizzed a lot onto her face. The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee laughed out loud. A bluefin tuna looked at The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee with a bored facial expression. The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee swam around aimlessly at .08 mph for more than an hour without thinking anything and began to hear a noise from somewhere. She focused on the noise and it became a little louder. “Is it a cruise ship,” she thought. After a while The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee realized the noise was herself subconsciously thinking a combination of “FUCKKKK,” “ARRGGHH,” “SHITTTT,” and other things like that which resulted in a “white noise”-like effect on the conscious level. “Haha,” thought The “Can’t Concentrate” Manatee.

Tao’s novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel, will be published in Fall 2009 and his second novel, Richard Yates, will be published in early 2010, both by Melville House.

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