This Wednesday, on June 16th, 2021, the I will be doing a live reading for PULP MODERN LIVE. Thankfully, I had a wonderful short fiction piece waiting in the wings to read, a little dose of modern horror called “The Tower Made of Glass”. Originally written for the monthly flash fiction challenge over at Crystal Lake Publishing’s Patreon, I didn’t have much time to really talk about it. I came in third during the voting, but had no plans for what I would do with the piece after. Thankfully, you’ll be able to hear me read it live soon, but in the meantime, allow me to give you some of the background details for “The Tower Made of Glass” MOODBOARD post.
The Original Challenge
The original Crystal Lake Publishing prompt was “hotels, motels, and apartments”. Instantly, I had the perfect concept of an Airbnb in a metropolis, inspired by a trip I’d taken a couple of years back when I went to see Mike Birbiglia in Vancouver, B.C. We rented an AirBnb apartment in a high rise in downtown Vancovuer, which gave us some nice views.
That said, the experience was also really awkward because the apartment wasn’t exactly cleaned all that well and all the public spaces in the building had signs all over the place forbidding short-term rentals. Honestly, the whole concept of short term rentals in a city with a MASSIVE housing shortage problem troubles me, and I don’t plan on ever using AirBnb on again based on that principal alone.
Nevertheless, that experience did give me some fodder to write “The Tower Made of Glass”, as I love big cities and skyscrapers and just the chaos of the concrete jungle in general. As a person who doesn’t drive, lemme just say how much I fucking love big city transit.
I don’t write flash fiction, I have a very difficult time with it, as most of my recently-published stories hit between the 6000-8000 word mark. Keeping the story contained to the 1200 word limit proved tough but I fucking did it and felt so fucking good about it.
Taking on that challenge was quite fun. The larger story lover in me, however, feels almost like I “wasted” a story idea that I could have expanded. Perhaps one day I might, but every time I read over this thing, I feel like I got the tone and the concepts down enough to create a decent impact.
“The Tower Made of Glass”
This story is about a young man named Shane, who books a short stay in an AirBnb in a high-rise apartment so he can apply for a job at a nearby Amazon Fulfillment Center. Through this “vacation”, aspects of his small town past haunt the apartment and his future prospects as well.
All About Amazon
I enjoy listening to political podcasts when I’m getting ready for work. One of my faves is The Majority Report with Sam Seder. Often times they interview authors of some rather interesting books and this one with Alec McGillis, the author of Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, proved major fodder for “The Tower Made of Glass”.
Now, I enjoy joking about eating Jeff Bezos as much as the next person, but the whole concept of Amazon’s absolute retail domination over the western world is pretty scary to me. It doesn’t just impact stores, but entire communities, as is evidenced in this interview, which I def urge you to listen to if you’re interested in Amazon at all.
At the 22 minute mark, the interview touches on a particular subject within the book, a young man who grew up in Dayton, Ohio. After his father’s trucking business went under in the great recession, Todd went through a copious amount of low-paying jobs to support his family. Eventually, he got a job working at a factory that made cardboard boxes for Amazon. The author talks about how his economic disparity affected his family life and his mentality in a negative way.
It’s stories like Todd’s that always make me excited to write about men. Other than breakup stories, I do always love writing about men’s issues. Now, I realize that as a feminist that I should probably be telling female stories with my perspective, but I completely disagree. As tempting as it is to joke about “straight white men”, I’ve made it a part of my philosophy to not disparage others who are struggling.
Men struggle in plenty of ways. I’d argue that plenty of them stem back to the concept of toxic masculinity, but I also hate arguing about feminist stuff and would prefer to just…put all that shit in a story in order to encourage empathy instead.
So yeah. If you wanna know what’s what, then reserve yourself a spot for the very first PULP MODERN LIVE!