Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Nice chicken, honey."


I’m always a bit behind the times in the realm of political ephemera, so I just realized that the son of my high school biology teacher in Cullowhee, North Carolina starred in a Herman Cain ad back in August. If you haven’t seen “He Carried Yellow Flowers,” well, it has the advantages of Nick Searcy, a sense of humor, genre playfulness, and (not least) chickens.

My motto: Chickens loom large.

If you have stalked me in print with maniacal fervor, you may know that one of my short stories (all uncollected, as I have never bothered to try and publish them in more than magazines and anthologies) deals with a biology teacher who I call “Circe.” Circe is a created literary lady and, as such, has nothing to do with Nick Searcy’s flesh-and-blood mama—my Circe lives in a magic world of illusion.

As to the real life woman who faithfully toted her son to campus so that he could be a child actor in university plays: I’m afraid that I gave Mrs. Searcy a great many reasons to dislike me, being full of ginger and silly at 15 and liking to do ridiculous things like investigate how high a frog’s eyeball can bounce. At any rate, there is little doubt that she did not love me, and it was entirely my own fault.

At the end of my story, I give the paper-and-ink biology teacher an enormous present. In real life, I gave my biology teacher a rather small but no-doubt welcome present by deciding not to go on to advanced biology, even though I had an outsize passion for botany. (That year I had collected and catalogued 120+ flower specimens from four states, including wild orchids and carnivorous plants, for a biology assignment. And that was a bit compulsive and mad, wasn’t it?)

So I made both my real life biology teacher and the paper one happy in the end.

7 comments:

  1. (o) Thanks for the stories and confessions, Marly! I hope someday there will be a collection.

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  2. I have been mostly just going with requests for the past few years... And have gotten one query about the stories, but they then asked for something else.

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  3. i don't find the cataloging of 120 flowering plants from 4 states to be mad at all. Not one bit. 'Tis a perfectly healthy, nice beginning, if you ask me.

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  4. zephyr,

    I knew that you were to be counted on in the land of flower-madness.

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  5. Marly,
    Any teacher who was really worth her salt would have seen potential in anyone with that kind of fervor for the subject. I think you razzed her for a good reason, most likely.
    Why not collect your stories? It couldn't hurt.

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  6. Robbi,

    I don't blame her a bit! People's lives are complicated, and we never know what else is going on...

    Some day I will think about stories. Right now I already am frying too many fish at once.

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  7. Great conference bro! Thanks for the share, lovely to find. Keep up the creativity.

    Sample Analysis

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.