Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Blog by Ben Tanzer

I Am Your Father

I don't know what it is about the Cort Bledsoe that makes me want to talk Spider-Man, Star Wars, video games and nostalgia. Nor am I entirely sure how I am supposed to tie doing so into "The New York Stories 2012 Tour" and today's tour stop.

But I will. Promise. And frankly, I may protest too much, because none of that is so far removed from this tour, much less my obligations to it. Promise.

Just hear me out.

The stories that comprise The New York Stories come from the two collections I have worked on with CCLaP, Repetition Patterns in 2008 and then So Different Now in 2011.

All of the stories are set in a highly fictionalized version of my hometown in upstate New York. The stories of Repetition Patterns are those of teenagers interacting with their parents, friends, themselves, and world around them. They are also intended to explore the sins of the father and they get integrated into the lives of their children and those around them. In the pieces that populate So Different Now, I wanted to revisit those teenagers as adults, as parents themselves, and as children to aging parents, whose sins may be long past, but still linger in ways large, and small, over time, and stretched across the generations.

I did not plan to write these stories, but in talking about the pieces in Repetition Patterns during that blog tour I find myself wondering, sometimes consciously, other times unconsciously about what happens next, and how it might play out.

And while the pieces in So Different Now were not written in direct relation to the particular stories in Repetition Patterns, only two of the stories truly even connect in my head, Shooting Stick and No Nothing, I did find myself caught up again in the ebb and flow of that town and in new stories.

Stories about what happens as we age, our friends age, and our parents age. As these relationships twist and bend. About what happens when we stay in a world we know, and people come home, and though we're dealing with our parents, and illness, fucked-up relationships, and the confusions we can't quite tease through, we're still caught-up in the fact that no one wants you to be something other than how they think they know you.

Well that, and the past hurts that endlessly come back, haunting our relationships, our dreams, and the generations that come after ours.

All of which is to say, that this fictionalized world is both the same and different from I where I came from, but what it has in common is who I was, someone who loved Spider-Man and watched Star Wars twenty-five times, and who I became, someone who left, and never quite went back, resulting in some part of that world becoming trapped in my head, that part of me that did not leave, or maybe left and went back, but still a world once lived-in that is now exists as a series of snapshots, images, and stories, always stories.

Though not just stories, because there is nostalgia too, for a place that may not have even quite existed, but still needs exploring, and still remains fertile and endlessly fascinating to me. A canvas where anything and everything I ever cared about and ever will care about it has a place to roam and breathe.

Which as promised, is how I tie it all together.

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