Our Stories Literary Journal

Piccadilly Romance


William Litton

Winner of the 2008 Best Emerging Writer Award




Piccadilly Romance
A Novel by Otis Litton

Author’s Forward to the 2009 Edition:

HOW STRANGE TO BE REVISTING THIS TEXT, NEARLY A YEAR AFTER ITS FIRST PUBLICATION. I must admit, I had almost forgotten that I’d ever scribbled it all out; it reappears to me now as a hallucination of some other life, a set of dentures that don’t quite fit. I reread it as if it were written by someone else entirely;1 and yet, I still feel such a vibrant connection with the text—its exuberance, its innocence, its wild over-ambition. It is still my child, right down to the absurd title I chose, named after a cafeteria I used to frequent in my old haunts.2
____When I first began composing Piccadilly Romance, I was conscious of falling into the trap to which so many young writers succumb: my fiction was strictly autobiographical. Indeed, my writing felt like cheating at first, like concocting a grand and mendacious ruse. (Ironic, isn’t it, that telling the truth in fiction should feel deceitful?) But slowly, I learned to love my devious craft, to make it a way of life. I would spend my nights gallivanting, my mornings recounting precisely with pen and pad, and I’d pawn it all off as fiction; I’d wash my hands clean of any sort of responsibility to ‘the real,’ while preserving it fervently within the text—a strange and erotic game! It excited me; it seemed naughty, even perverted, like masturbating to yearbook pictures of a good friend, and then calling her directly afterwards to admit it, without shame, but proudly, lovingly, and longingly.3
____Let me detail my process: if, during the night prior, I had been making advances upon a beautiful woman, and, seeing my opening with her as clearly as one hears the sweet splash of whiskey filling a glass,4 had leaned in to kiss her, letting the clove cigarette fall from my puckering lips into my lap; and if this cigarette, still smoldering, had suddenly set my polyester pants ablaze, despite the moistness of my crotch—well then that is certainly what I should write about come morning. Truly, how can one live so colorfully and not let that same color come alive on the page? Why waste time dreaming up some rubbish when life is feeding you gourmet, pant-lighting literature? Yes, the key to becoming a good writer is becoming a good liver, so to speak; and it was well known among my comrades that I had a good liver.5 An object of pride!
____Indeed, Piccadilly Romance opens with flaming polyester, precisely as I’ve just described it; my narrator “makes a move”—to use the parlance of our times6—on a beautiful woman (who he later discovers is a prostitute), drops a cigarette into his lap, and his pants light afire. I must commend the literary critics for finding the elaborately designed symbolism in this scene: the flaming crotch, the lust—what brilliant connections these collegiate types can make! But, truly, I meant none of it (oh, how I despise authorial intrusion, but I despise these babbling English professors even more, so please bear with me); I was simply recounting factual autobiographical occurrences, nothing more. Read into it if you please, but you’ll be missing the true point: the rawness, the realness, the sexiness.
 ____It is my contention, as should be readily apparent in my fiction, (this novel especially), that all good writing must be sexy. In fact, the sole mark of a great work of literature is whether or not one can make passionate love to the book on tape blaring from a significantly massive sound system. Anyone who hasn’t had a wild orgiastic romp to Updike’s climactic scene in the third Rabbit novel7 (read by the author, of course) shouldn’t even be allowed to use the word ‘sexy.’ Make sure to crank the fucking bass, friends; Updike has a low, cinnamon voice that can only be fully appreciated with a 22-inch, 10000 Watt super woofer.
____Well look, I’ve lost my train of thought.8 I’ve been blathering long enough, I suppose. I’ll allow my novel to speak for itself. (It can truly speak for itself if you purchase the novel on CD, read by the illustrious Tennessee Nelson9—talk about a deep, cinnamon voice! It’s really an experience, particularly hearing him narrate the scene involving the madwoman that he and I nearly killed.)10
____But enough. On to the novel!

Author’s Forward to the 2010 Edition:
Oh these editors, always juicing authors for some insignificant nugget to slap in a new edition—all so they can suckle one last drop from the blistered teat of the cash cow. What pimps!
____Well, I don’t mind. I could write about my Piccadilly Romance for pages upon pages and never exhaust my own interest in it. I remember writing it so well; I remember each moment, each scene, with perfect clarity. It is my best work, without a doubt. I should write an entire book on the making of the novel, although I suppose it would end up much the same as the novel itself.
____And yes, the editors are correct in saying that I left the reader dangling on a cliff with my last forward; I am, after all, easily distracted, and so this cliff-dangling nonsense is prone to happen in most of my free-writes. The scene with the madwoman11 is indeed very peculiar; it is, perhaps, the most enigmatic scene in the novel—it is certainly how everyone remembers the book (“oh yes, you mean that book with the madwoman soiling herself and singing ‘America the Beautiful’?”)
____Well, just for these money-grubbing editors, I’ve gone into my archives and dug up some original manuscripts of the scene from my first draft (or even pre-first draft, as this came straight from my journal). I offer it willingly for public consumption, because I am not ashamed:12
____We stumbled back to the room to find a young woman shivering under a blanket, slumped against the door. God knows who she was or how she got there. She was a hideous creature to behold13—a skeletal frame wrapped in bruised veins, a face with several scoops of cheek bone chunked out, and eyes that looked constantly strangled. She reminded me strangely of a mannequin from a lingerie store—something about her taught, twig-like build, her fragile dry-rot wrists and fingers, her thin elongated neck that might bow and splinter against a strong wind: an innocent doll, once left bankrupt and straining for quiet beauty, then brought into an ugly, overbearing world of noise—battered by the opulent American circumstance.
Kentucky stopped and scowled. “Fuck me. Do you know this thing?”
____I shook my head.14 “She looks dangerous,” I said.
We asked her name and she refused to answer, only smiled at us and licked her lips. So we invited her in.
____You’ll notice this excerpt is not at all different from the version in the novel itself—not in any meaningful way, anyhow. Perhaps, though, there’s a certain lucidity to it, a certain nudity, that can only be achieved through the immediate and open remembrance one finds in a daily journal—like the way one wakes from a dream and must vomit the details onto the page right away before they are lost forever. There is such precision in my description! The editors, of course, dirty realists themselves, whittled away all the flavor, leaving only the gristle. I’m not at all opposed to this school of writing, but perhaps it made the final product seem too composed, too reserved. This is how it turned out in the final draft; please compare:15

“What the hell are you on?” I asked her.
____“Mescaline,”16 she said. “And maybe some opium, I can’t remember.” She twirled a finger through her grimy hair.
Kentucky grabbed me by the buckle of my belt and dragged me into the corner of the room. He threw his arm around my shoulder and murmured in my ear. “Sweet Jesus,” he said. ________“Mescaline? Do have any idea what this means?”
____“Goddamn right,” I said. “We’ve got to fuck with her.”
____Tucky leapt up and grabbed at the light switch, then began flicking it on and off rapidly. I started screaming and kicking shit over—chairs, lamps, life-size cardboard cutout posters of Bill Clinton thumbing and grinning. Madness. The woman’s eyes turned silver and she began slapping her face in quick jittery spasms. Tucky and I took to hollering at each other in some faked foreign gibberish tongue, periodically vaulting into bouts of hysterical laughter and then slowing to a low, Gregorian moan. “Blahgleebiddy Glay!” I shouted. Tucky pointed a finger at me and snarled. “Mooaah,”17 he retorted, and tossed over a book shelf. The show continued as such for a solid seven minutes—pure schizophrenia. Finally, once the room was properly trashed, we flopped on the floor as if suddenly sent into a coma, and the woman began clapping and squealing like a loon.
____Soon her laughter devolved into a series of sharp, asthmatic gulps of air, punctuated with terrific hog-like snorts. Then she eased herself into a soft, choked whimpering and finally became disturbingly silent. No respiration, no rustling of sheets, no human noises. Nothing.
I lay still for a minute, then gave a quick sniff. I detected the distinct pungent pinch of urine. I popped my head up like a prairie dog18 over the pile of filthy laundry I had landed behind and looked at the woman, sprawled across Tucky’s bed. She was lying on her back, legs thrown high and spread into the air, and a large stain was growing from the crotch of her jeans.19
____“Hot damn,” Tucky said. “We’ve made her piss herself.”
____“Jesus Christ,” I said. “Check that filthy hophead’s pulse. And get her off the bed; you won’t want your sheets soiled.”
____Tucky pounced on the woman and pressed two fingers into her neck. She didn’t move. He picked up her wrist and held it tight, then let it flop down to her side. She was completely limp.20
____“Cockfiend!” I cried. “Wake this woman up or we’ll both be charged with murder and rape.”
____“Mother of balls,” Tucky said. He grabbed her at the ribs and shook her violently. Her neck was long and loose, and her head, frowning, flopped and bounced about the mattress like a twisted bobble-head.
____“We’re fucked!” I yelled.
____“Goddamnit, get your mind straight, man,” Tucky barked. He whipped his head around and glared at me. “I can’t have you losing your shit on me. This woman needs my expert medical attention, and I’ll need you to assist me every step of the way. Now go fetch me some whiskey.”
Suddenly, she shot upright and burst into wild laughter. “Oh, you boys are fun!” she squealed.
“Sweet god,” I sighed, and fell back to the floor.
“Madame,” Kentucky said, taking her shoulder, “I’ve concluded my diagnosis. I do believe you’ve micturated21 in your pants.”
The woman gasped and stared wide-eyed at her crotch. The stain was still growing. “Wow,” she said. “Wow oh wow.”

‘How can urination be literary?’ the critics asked. Well, just ask our friend Updike. By god, when Rabbit22 sits in that bathtub—his friend’s wife squatting above him—and he feels the warm stream of her piss splash across his chest, one can’t help but feel the entire force of a man’s life blossom for a moment, breathe anew, and then instantly shrivel in the frost. The whole American paradigm is explained in one drop of urine! Look beyond the piss to the man being pissed on, look to the way of life he represents, the dull propulsion, the agonizing restraint, the weight of impossible, convoluted responsibility—look at America! And then look back again, at one single drop, at the expectation it creates yet never fulfills, and see how the warmth of that piss resonates, reverberates, and finally reifies this man’s brief salvation and ultimate doom. It is just as the preacher says: ‘All is vanity,’ and, ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’23
____These words ruin me. They leave me slaughtered in a porcelain tub of perfect, perpendicular measurements—clean, healthy, predicted. By the logic of these great ancients, there is nothing left for me to write in this miserable world, and thus no more reason to live—only recycled dreams to capture and translate, in some foolish attempts at transcendence.
____On we go, then. On to the novel.24

Author’s Forward to the 2011 Edition:

Another year, another forward—at my own request, as always. The editors hate it when I force additional commentary into my work, but I insist. My stapler looks like a killer shark,25 and there is so much I have to tell the reader directly, so much contextualization needed to understand my true meaning. Allow me, please, allow me to intrude; it is the only way to be perfectly alive—oh, if only I could sit down with each individual reader and coach them through this work! But alas, life does not stop and start at our convenience.26
____Well, let me attempt a dialogue, then (or, more realistically, a monologue posing as a dialogue, though one’s just as real as the other). I’m sure I know the question on everyone’s mind; I have divined it from your dreams: ‘Why Otis, would you attempt suicide?’ It is a pertinent question, indeed, but a bit misdirected. All the recent news, which I’m sure you’ve all read, has completely twisted the actual series of events and intentions behind them. It is my duty, as omniscient author, to clear a few things up.
____Technically, I didn’t attempt suicide, because I never really wanted to die. An attempted suicide is when someone wants to die, but fails. I wanted to remain alive, and succeeded. So why the pills, the mouthwash, the slit wrist? Well, I wanted to come dangerously close to death. Terrifyingly close. I wanted to be uncertain, in each moment, as to whether I would make it into the next moment with the sweet breath of mortality still inflating the lungs within me. But make no mistake,27 I wanted to live! You have no idea what it feels like, to be splayed in a tub—the reaper straddling28 your melting body—to see the very milk of your being leaking from your arm, and to want nothing more than to hold on for one more bite… I have never wanted to live more at any moment in my life than in the moment of my own death; truly, every day since has brought only stagnation, misery, vanity.
____The preacher speak-eth unto thee: I have experienced the exhilaration of death and discovered that it is the only way to live, the only true, existential cleansing. Death, my children, is the floss of life.
____I managed to scribble two lines of verse before fainting in the tub. These were my last words, potentially, the last thing I wanted to be remembered by:
____Behold our porcelain jungles,
____Impervious to napalm and seasonal rot.29
____I’m not entirely sure what the words mean, but I do remember the dream I had just before dying. It was a reoccurring dream, in which my teeth turned to glass and shattered, transforming my mouth into a mess of mangled bloody sores. My therapist said dreaming about your teeth is symptomatic of severe stress. I made it a point during rehab to brush frequently, but, for obvious reasons, I avoided mouthwash.
____And yes, I had indeed prepared a suicide note beforehand, which I adhered to the bathroom mirror. I wrote it, of course, not because I truly intended to die, but because it was necessary for the authenticity of the farce—the verisimilitude of the fiction, if you will. Luckily, I saved the note, and I present it here, unabridged, because I am not ashamed:30

I looked back and Kentucky was laying into her with a fierceness like I had never seen before, nor care to see again. But she was grappling right back, even more assertive than he, flailing her legs around him, wrenching his hair out and screaming for more. It was horrifying.
____I hollered at him, something stupid, “I’ll see you in the morning,” or one of those type banalities. At first, he couldn’t break pace nailing the madwoman to respond—she’d grabbed him by the ass and sure as hell wasn’t going to let the bastard ease up—but he did look over his shoulder with a menacing grin, and then he managed to shift his weight a bit so that he could lift his left arm off the mattress and throw me a stiff salute. He held it firmly, the whole while still pounding away.
____And then began the singing.
____Kentucky struck the opening note, and the woman—legs seizing, veins green and bulging in the dark—quickly joined with a scream. “Oh beautiful for spacious skies…” It was a tremendous, drunken bellowing, erupting from the deepest, burning craters of hell. “For amber waves of grain…” Twisted throats rasped with the carnage that might come from inhaling a thousand Marlboro Reds at once—a chorus of sickly goats and mules, all slaughtered in unison.
____I ran in fear, thumbs plugging my ears, while wailing pitiful prayers throughout the hallways at seven in the morning to any deity that would listen, asking for some mercy in washing clean that blistering image and shaking forever the echoed cries of “America, America!

What poignancy!31 What profound sentiment embedded in such terrible acts—this is truly the work of a genius, but not I. I merely attached it to the mirror, reflecting all the words—with a staple nonetheless. Yes, readers, a staple: paper to mirror. You may not think it plausible, but that is the most common reaction to great fiction, and so I shall absorb all doubt as compliment. What does it matter if the mirror cracked? My note stays nonetheless, stapled and stilled.
The staple is such a cruel, crude curious instrument, with thick layers of internal philosophy: in order to cohere anything into a whole, you must puncture its various parts. It is indeed the most romantic of all office supplies—steely, menacing, melancholy. And all true romance, like the staple, is not sexy, but sorrowful; every brilliant author knows this. Let nothing be sexy or exciting in American prose, for sexiness is the most abhorrent of all lies…

____Fuck it.32 I am tired, America. I am running a high fever. My throat is sore, my teeth ache, I am losing my voice. Sometimes the walls move. I am ill, and the only thing I desire is to be reborn as something straight and new and bleached. Brace me! There is only one design. Onward we’ll flock, to the only honest organ we’ve left. On through the grit and bare, America. On to the saddest truth, on we must go, always on to the novel!33

____No, one last note: It is said that Piccadilly Romance has an impertinent ending, one of little merit and depth. Well, so do most lives, so do most real stories. Can’t you see that’s all that matters? Everything must end tangentially, or order would overcome meaning.
____And what’s that noise? Does anyone else hear that noise? 34 That glorious gurgling harmony? The angels have discovered Listerine; they clean before kissing, before making angelic love to one another. They condescend to us from heaven, with sweet menthol breath, whispering precious gifts: stories worth telling, if not worth living. They speak in gibberish, sharing with us Apollo’s great secret: that any ordeal may be suffered as long as one lives to live about it later, to make it worth the telling. Do you hear them? The angels? They smile like idiots. Their teeth are tiny ice skaters.35







Sidenote Annotation by Sasha Evelyn

1Tennessee Nelson, a close friend of Litton’s, accused the author of plagiarizing large chunks of Piccadilly Romance straight from Nelson’s personal diary. The charges were settled out of court.

2 Piccadilly’s was a cafeteria located in South Square Mall, some five minutes from where Litton grew up. Many contend, however, that the title is a reference to the old English term, ‘Piccadilly’—a slang name for upper-class gentlemen who would pick out one of the whores (known as ‘Dillies’) loitering around the statue of Eros in central London. Litton was himself a critic engaged with the ontology of prostitution. In 2008 he published a collection of essays titled Passion and Shame: Moralizing Lust and the Prostitute in American Literature.

3 This perversion is, in fact, not mere simile, but an actual activity in which Litton frequently engaged. He once described these nostalgia-induced masturbatory episodes, and the subsequent phone calls, as his strongest source of inspiration as a scholar. One might reasonably say, then, that some acknowledgement is due to the woman and muse he most often masturbated to.

4 Litton was known as a womanizer and a drunk, and by all accounts reveled in this reputation. He subscribed to a libertine ethos, claiming lust as the only honest American emotion. His breath constantly reeked of sweet bourbon, and he had perfect teeth.

5 Litton eventually died in 2012 of liver failure, as predicted in the Mayan calendar. (Some absurd conspiracy theorists, however, still claim it was murder.)

6 Litton frequently lifts quotes directly from ‘The Big Lebowski,’ a 1998 Cohen Brothers film. This is one such occasion.

7 Litton is most likely referencing the wife-swapping scene in Updike’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, Rabbit is Rich, the third in the Rabbit series. In it, the protagonist engages in anal sex with his good friend’s wife, and then the two urinate upon one another. It is indeed one of the most powerfully sexual scenes ever rendered in American prose. Updike portrays a moment of profound, explosive desperation for ‘the new,’ derived from the pervasive stagnation in middle-American life. The book, however, has never been released on tape.

8 Another Lebowski lift. Litton rarely manages an original thought.

9Piccadilly Romance was indeed released as a book on tape, but it was narrated by Litton himself, not by Tennessee Nelson. When polled, Nelson stated clearly and vehemently that he hates Litton’s fiction and Litton’s stupid face (except, of course, for his perfect teeth). To quote Nelson: “Otis? That miserable fuck is a low-down poser-ass thief. He’s a thief posing as an artist. Because dig this here: the artist is the creator of truth, and the thief is that villain who snatches it away.”

10 For the record, I wasn’t ‘nearly killed,’ unless Litton means contextually, or textually. I was alive the whole time, and designed it that way.

11 I resent this absurd tag. Labeling someone as ‘mad’ implies that they have lost their sense of reason. I, on the other hand, have not lost my reason, but willingly defy it. And, in order to defy any code (such as reason) one must know its syntax intimately. To quote Tennessee Nelson, “You can’t oppose what you don’t understand, dig? If you want to break with the real, first you gotta get real. And if you want to be the opposite of real, first you have to be slave to the real, see? You have to be hip to all its arrows, and follow their tails like a thief. You have to fucking bow down and pray to that shit, mercilessly, so you can stab it in the jaw.” If Litton had ever taken a lesson from Nelson, he would know that she who by her own design is consistently unreasonable has, in fact, achieved mastery over reason.

12 Litton often argued that ‘shame’ is the central thematic concept of his work (and personal evolution). One need only look to the title of this novel: mustn’t the Piccadilly transcend shame in order to find romance in the act of soliciting sex from a stranger? Is that not, indeed, his most important task?

13 Anyone who cares to form their own opinion of my physical appearance can Google image search me. I am a picture of pure, porcelain health, unstained by the proverbial American piss stream. Make sure to check all of the cached links because a lot of sites, in obvious attempts at slander, have photo-shopped my picture after the recent suicide scandal.

14 Litton and I had, in fact, met several weeks prior at an imaginary beachside bar on the Outer Banks. I told him about the time I had seen Apollo burning over the Atlantic at sunrise, and he pretended to be a goddamn expert on the subject. “Whatever happened to that shark?” he kept asking me.

15 The following excerpt actually comes two pages later in the novel; it is merely a continuation of the narrative, and not, as is apparent, an edited version of the first excerpt. It is unclear why Litton presents it as such, but it cannot be a mistake.

16 I purchased Litton his first copy of The Doors of Perception, and his first sack of peyote beads, some three weeks after this incident. He has been exploring transcendence through the drug ever since, though he rarely accredits me as his spiritual advisor and muse.

17 Roughly translated from the gibberish, the exchange goes something like this: Litton cries ‘I am slave to my own design!’ to which Kentucky (a rather lame attempt at disguising Tennessee’s name) replies, ‘Death is the best dentist.’

18 I once explained the mythological importance of prairie dogs to Litton. The Greeks and Romans believed that the dog’s subterranean sleeping habits very closely resembled death (for after all, what is death but eternal slumber under earth?). Thus, when a prairie dog popped up from his hole, he was often perceived as flaunting his powers of self-resurrection. Litton seemed intrigued by the idea.

19 The urine is real, but the conversation that follows is not. The exchange, in fact, came to me in a dream. I never related it to Litton, so I’m not sure how he ever captured it in writing. Perhaps he divined it.

20 The question I’m sure all readers must be asking themselves is: “Was she faking it? Would she stoop to feigning something as severe as death itself?” The answer is, of course, very complex. I would first mention that it is nearly impossible to fake something that is itself not entirely real to begin with. And, it must be said, to fake something realistically, one must treat it as absolutely real; which is to say, to fake death, one must, in fact, experience death. Have I experienced death? Why, there is nothing so exhilarating, nothing else worth living for.

21 The word ‘micturated’ is certainly another Lebowski reference. The inciting incident in the movie is, in fact, an act of micturition, which is why many unfairly dismiss the film as low-brow pop flotsam.

22 Again, a reference to Rabbit is Rich. Litton once propositioned me with a similar act of sexual urination, and, although I did not decline, we never got around to recreating the scene. For the life of me I can’t remember what stopped us.

23 This is a reference to the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. Updike frequently alludes to Ecclesiastes’ themes in all four Rabbit novels, as they relate strongly to his presentation of the American predicament. Updike also uses internal textual clues to point the reader to specific passages within the Book of Ecclesiastes which help explain his novel’s more particular movements and linguistic motifs. Litton was in the middle of writing a large work of criticism on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, an album that references both the Rabbit novels and Ecclesiastes, when he suddenly died of unknown causes (though some suspect a subtle form of murder).

24 Strange, isn’t it, that we should name our most prominent literary form with a word that quite literally means ‘new,’ ‘original.’ Tennessee Nelson once famously remarked that “to be new is to be alive for the first time, read me, but being new is getting old.”

25 I myself have seen the stapler—its black rubber belly, its melted-plastic smudge-mark eye, its silver Swingline teeth. It tells the strangest stories.

26 Another Lebowski quote, somewhat altered, but not so much as to lose its stupidity. Life does, in fact, stop and start at our convenience and our command, if only we find ourselves capable.

27 Litton, of course, did make a mistake: like an idiot, he forgot to lock the bathroom door (textually speaking, I mean). Tennessee Nelson, by an unfortunate fluke, found Litton unconscious in his bathtub and rushed him to the hospital. According to Nelson’s report, Litton certainly meant to end his own life: he had swallowed various sleeping pills and pain killers, chugged two full bottles of mouthwash, and lacerated his left wrist in gruesome fashion with a staple gun. In addition, Nelson found a long suicide note taped to the mirror. The note, scribbled in Litton’s handwriting, was actually plagiarized from a short story Nelson had written one year prior, titled Two and a Half Dreams.

28 It was not the reaper straddling him, but me. Litton had solicited an unspeakable act from me, and although I did not decline, I could not carry myself to fruition—not without some acknowledgement, not without due compensation.

29 These may very well be the only original words Litton ever wrote. I had them inscribed on his tombstone after he committed suicide in April of 2012, this time successfully. (I happen to know it was a murder, of sorts, though the line between suicide and murder is not always so clear cut. In fact, the cut may be jagged and gruesome.)

30 What follows is not, in fact, the plagiarized suicide note, but again a continuation of the excerpt presented in the 2010 forward. This is the climactic moment in the episode. Litton’s editors, for obvious reasons, wanted him to revise this section heavily; but Litton insisted on the strange, violent sex, calling it ‘the mouthpiece of Piccadilly Romance.’

31 Oh, Litton. Your furious rants are poignant love poems. Disgust is simply the form, morbid joy its content—depression and hatred merely a guise for the excessive satisfaction derived from wallowing. You wanted the filth, Litton. You wanted me. I am the only one who ever truly understood your work, and does that not make me an author in my own right?

32 The final, most profound Lebowski quote. Yes, Litton, ‘Fuck it.’ Fuck this eternal masturbation, this constant revision and reinvention of the world already written. What is masturbation, literally and literarily? You wrote this bit yourself, Litton, probably just after hanging up on me: “Masturbation is the final metaphor for American excess; it is a violent and joyful self-cogitation—a hysterical euphoria one must love and hate to repeat, for its only satisfaction is shame.” Yes, fuck it. You should be ashamed.

33 Now end it, Otis. Brahma is finished; he has been ever since the beginning. Stop playing Vishnu’s fool and embrace the jaws of Shiva. Quietly now, lock the door on your work, leave my cut on the dresser, and I’ll steal back your meaning for my own.

34 Ah yes, I hear it. It’s the sound of a stapler snapping shut. It’s the sound of a roaring waterfall, of circumstance’s golden descent. It is the call of perversion and lust, those cornerstones of the American paradigm and the American paradox: we loathe what we have come to love and celebrate this act of loathing. It is the sound of my voice, which can only find volume through another: I quote Tennessee Nelson, “Demise is the telos, desire the track. Metaphor is its own undoing, dig it?” Truly, Litton, it is the sound of piss. And this I swear to you: none of it, not a bit of it, makes a goddamned drip of sense.

35 Look at him, grinning even in the moment of his own demise. Regardless of any ill sentiments I may still harbor, I must admit: Otis Litton has the teeth of angels.



William Litton




William Litton studies Literary Arts at Brown University. Sometimes he likes to say that he's working on a collection of short stories, or maybe even a novel. What he really means is that he's got a large assortment of oddly labeled Word documents on a flash drive somewhere. Currently he's enjoying his summer job as a teaching assistant at the Governor's School of North Carolina. 'Piccadilly Romance' is his first piece of published fiction.



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