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I wanted to try writing a story in an American voice, and well, this is what I came up with...
My name is Jimmy, and I'm Jesus's son. Yeah, that's right, Jesus, everyone's
favourite Mexican magician, He's my dad. It might sound like a sweet gig, being the
grandson of God, and sure there are a few perks, like doing miracles and the
free wine, but mostly it's just a giant pain in my ass. I hear classmates tell
me their families are a problem and I'm like, dudes, you have no idea.
I'm studying a NYU, and being the son of the son of God means just about
everyone knows me, and I get all manner of phonies trying to ingratiate
themselves with me and skanky chicks throwing themselves in the direction of my
bed. That last part might sound fun, but trust me it gets old real fast. Worse
is that all the smart, classy, or interesting chicks won't come near me. They
think I'm going to be some religious freak, or super self-important or
something, just 'cause my family's supposedly a big deal. The crazy thing is,
I'm not even particularly spiritual. If it weren't for my folks, I'd probably be
an atheist, how nuts is that?
It isn't just skanks after a prestige lay either, I also get creepy attention
from the other end of the spectrum: The super religious girls, and guys. They
all tend to be very mixed up, with all manner of parent issues, conflicted
sexuality identity, repression and guilt. For some reason, they latch onto me as
the solution to all their problems. For a while I used to command 'em to go out,
get wasted and get laid. Figured it might do them some good. But then my Dad
found out and went apeshit. Nowadays I just tell 'em to go away.
To be honest, I don't see eye to eye with my Dad. Nowadays I only see Him when I
go home for the holidays. We usually manage to keep the peace for about two days
before we end up in some blazing row, usually over who spilt the milk or
something dumb like that. Then it's a week or more of silence and simmering
resentment, while Mom does her best to smooth things over, before I head back to
NYU. I tell you, for a guy supposedly all about forgiveness, he sure stays mad
at me for a long while.
I should be more understanding, I guess. I think my Dad's pretty stressed out.
His whole second coming hasn't really worked out like He expected. Turns out
bringing the kingdom of Heaven to Earth is harder than you'd guess, and now He's
got Grandpa on His back. I heard them talking when I was last home. It's weird to
watch. It kinda seems like regular praying, but then occasionally you'll hear
God talk back.
Anyway Dad was complaining about all the problems He's got in the church and the
trouble converting all the heathens blah blah blah, and I can hear Grandpa just
muttering and going uh-huh a bit like He does when He's getting pissed. Next
thing, I hear my Dad say, "Anyway, I'm thinking it might end up taking a third
coming." Well, the old man just about flipped, or came as close as I've ever
heard Him. Starts telling my Dad there's no goddamn *way* He's getting another
coming. That the only way He's getting back into Heaven is by building it on
Dad was in a seriously sore mood after that little exchange, as you can imagine,
and I steered well clear of Him. He spent the whole next day sulking in the
garage working on his woodwork stuff. I feel sorry for my little sister, Mandy,
being stuck in that environment, but she seems happy enough. Dad dotes on her
though, He always has. I think He's always resented me, 'cause I was one of His
first big fuck-ups and caused all sorts of scandal. I think Grandpa arranged
some kinda shotgun wedding, where He changed history so Mom and Dad were married
before I was conceived. I'm fuzzy on the details, 'cause the only time I ever
hear about it is when Aunt Dorothy gets drunk at family events and starts
I guess by the time Mandy showed up eight years later, Dad was feeling better
about the whole situation, or at least He'd resigned himself to it. Anyway, I'm
pretty sure He loves her more than He loves me. I reckon Mom loves us both about
the same though. I wonder about her and Dad though. Sometimes I think they're
both still into each other, and others I think it's all for appearances. I know
she was one of His groupies, back in the early days. When I was in the attic one
time I found an old photo from back then. It's weird. Dad was all in hippy
robes, with long hair and this gay little beard, and He's standing on a little
rock, teaching to this rapt looking group of stoners. Anyway, front row, there's
Mom, staring up at Him like He's, well, Jesus.
It seems like a pretty weird way to start a relationship, almost kinda
exploitative on His part, you know? I've never had the guts to ask either of
them about it though. Still, I sure don't see Mom giving Him any rapt looks like
that anymore, most often she's telling Him to stop watching the Football and
take out the garbage, or some such. That's where I differ from my Dad. If it was
me, I'd just miracle the goddamn garbage bag into the trash can from the couch,
but He actually gets up and does it. Says miracles aren't to be used for trivial
stuff, or some such shit. I say: That's exactly what they *should* be used for.
Using them for big stuff is way more likely to 'cause trouble. Like going around
feeding thousands of people, and putting all the food vendors out of business.
It's just one more thing we end up arguing about.
Incidentally, the whole Mom and Dad thing is another reason I steer clear of
religious chicks. Even when you get the occasional one who's cute and who
doesn't seem messed up, I can't help but think at the back of my mind, would she
even be talking to me if I wasn't the son of the son of God? And if we were
making out or getting it on, would she be thinking about my Dad, or even my
Grandpa? Ewwww. It's bad enough knowing that Grandpa is always watching me when
I'm doing stuff like that.
Oh, and that reminds me of the absolute worst experience of my life. Listen to
this and tell me if any possible family bullshit you have can ever compare. I'm
thirteen years old, and I'm turning into a typically horny teenage kid. One day,
a guy at school puts a porno mag in my schoolbag, as a joke. They all know about
my Dad and think it's super funny to pull stuff like that. Anyway, I find it
when I get home, and I'm looking through it, and there's some pretty hot chicks
in there, up to all kinds of business. So, for the first time, I start to do
what comes naturally. Next thing, there's this flash of light, and my Grandpa's
voice booms out, saying "STOP THAT!"
Seriously, what the fuck, right!? Can you imagine the horror and mortification?
Even worse, He went and told my Dad, who proceeds to give me a lecture and make
me promise never to do it again. I promise, and of course a week later I'm back
doing it again. Another flash, another "STOP THAT!", and another lecture from my
Dad. This time I last a whole month, but of course eventually I break. This
time, when my Grandpa yells at me to stop, I yell right back. I tell him to quit
watching me and keep His perverted omnipresent ass out of my business and out of
my room. Well, that was the last time He ever bothered me about that, but it
still freaks me out something awful knowing He's probably watching whenever I
jerk off or make it with a chick.
At least at NYU I have a few buddies who pretty much treat me normally. There's
Chris and Isfaar, who I met 'cause we have the same major (Social and Cultural
Analysis). Chris is an atheist, so he doesn't care about my family 'cause he
thinks it's all bullshit. I mean, I've literally performed miracles in front of
him and he's like, nah bro, don't believe it. And Isfaar's Muslim, so he doesn't
care too much. He just thinks my Dad is an important prophet, by no big deal
compared to Mohammed. And squaring the circle there's Hannah, who we met at a
Vampire Weekend gig. She's short and she's loud and she's Jewish, albeit non-
practicing. Me and Hannah like to joke that if we ever got together, all our
parents would have a coronary apiece. Together, the four of us sound like the
setup to a bad joke, but we're a pretty tight little circle.
Anyway, they're all chill about my family situation. They'll give me shit about
my "groupies" when some religious floozy is hanging around me, but they do their
best to shield me from it as well, 'cause they know how much I hate it. We
decided to all rent an apartment together for our second year, which might have
been a disaster, but actually turned out great. We had an awesome party right
after we moved in. I filled up the whole bathtub with water and turned it into
beer. Chris got absolutely slaughtered because he drank about a gallon of it,
insisting it was still just water. The guy's committed to his beliefs, I'll give
him that. Nowadays we spend the evenings marathoning shows on Netflix, playing
XBox, and helping construct Hannah's weird installation art pieces.
I dunno why I decided to write all this. Maybe more for my own sake than for
anyone else's. I guess I wanted to communicate who I am a little better, both to
myself and to anyone else who might read it. Being Jesus' son is not something I
chose, and I often wish I was just part of a regular family, but there's nothing
I can do about it. Hopefully, what I've written might at least convince people
that while my family is a big, inescapable part of my life, it doesn't completely
define me. I want to carve out my own path.
I guess, what I'm hoping is that, when I die, there'll be something more on the
headstone than just "Here lies the son of the son of God". Is that too much to
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Heh, I quite liked this. It's an entertaining concept. As to how... American it is, I'm not quite sure. I think American writing, I think Hunter S. gonzo style writing. Fear and Loathing locked in the toilet with a copy of Hustler. Or Chuck Unpronounceable, choke, fight club etc. Short, ripping sentences. High impact.
You planning on digging any deeper into this idea? There are a lot of interesting scenarios I can envisage from this conceit. Can't help but remember the assassination of Pope John-Paul, or maybe some religious crazy deciding to martyr Jesus' son as some batshit insurance policy for his own sin.
I'm no help with the actual sentence structure or any stylistic issues you might be debating internally I'm afraid, mainly because my inner editor is a fucking Nazi from Hell. Still, for what it's worth, I enjoyed it.
Praise from Caesar! Glad people have enjoyed it. It started out as a piece of free writing, I wrote the first sentence on a whim, then just went with it and tidied it up when I was finished. I hadn't planned to do anything else with it, but given how easily the ideas flowed, I might. I've always liked writing and reading about mythology in a way that grounds it in contrasting, banal reality. The problem is moving it beyond a gimmick, which works well enough in a short piece where you can play fast and loose with the ridiculousness of it, to something longer where I'd have to work out the mechanics of the situation properly, without losing what makes it fun to begin with.
By an American voice, I didn't really mean a literary voice, just literally trying to capture the nuances of American diction. Sort of like Neil Gaiman's American Gods, where he's clearly worked hard to eliminate any trace of 'Britishness' from his prose. I'd like to try the former as well, but it would require re-immersing myself in the authors you mentioned for a while to get the feel for it.
Awesome story, but if you're going for an American voice you better replace "row" with "fight".
Cool, thanks. I'm exposed to enough American culture that I can get the broad strokes, but smaller word choices like this are harder to get right.
I didn't read the whole thing, but it seems heavily influenced by Catcher in the Rye. The use of "phonies" was the first thing that tipped me off.
Definitely. I was aware when I was writing it that I was channelling Salinger to an extent, and did worry "phonies" might be a little too on the nose. It's pretty hard to write in a "young" voice without recalling The C in the R to some extent, its influence on writers and readers is just so huge.
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