Coming Soon!!!: A Narrative

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9780618257300: Coming Soon!!!: A Narrative

In this novelistic romp that is by turns hilarious and brilliant, John Barth spoofs his own place in the pantheon of contemporary fiction and the generation of writers who have followed his literary trailblazing. Coming Soon!!! is the tale of two writers: an older, retiring novelist setting out to write his last work and a young, aspiring writer of hypertext intent on toppling his master. In the heat of their rivalry, the writers navigate, and sometimes stumble over, the cultural fault lines between print and electronic fiction, mentor and mentee, postmodernism and modernism.

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About the Author:

JOHN BARTH’s fiction has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Malamud Award, and the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. For many years he taught in the writing seminars at John Hopkins University. He is the author of such seminal works as The Sot-Weed Factor, Chimera (for which he won the NBA), and Giles Goat-Boy.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Its opening mini-icon:

READ ME

Call me ditsy, call me whatchadurn please; just an old-fart Chesapeake progger’s what I am, with more orneriness than good sense — else I wouldn’t be sitting here a-hunting and a-pecking on “Big Bitsy’s” ergonomic keyboard whilst the black wind roars and the black water rises and the power flickers and the cabin shakes. I’d’ve hauled my bony butt across Backwater Strait to high ground over in Crassfield whilst the hauling was still doable, before the storm- surge from Zulu Two (stay tuned) puts Hick Fen Island* eight fingerforking feet under Backwater Sound.
“Whoa ho there, Dits,” my mind’s ear hears the gentle reader gently interpose: “Where’s Hick Fen I.? Where’re Backwater Sound and ditto Strait and mainland Crassfield? Who’s Zulu Two, and whaddafug’s a progger, and who’s thissere EARL character, that you haven’t even mentioned yet?” All in good time, mon semblable et cet, which Yrs Truly don’t happen to have a whole skiffload of just now. Anyhow, old Ditsy- Belle’s a gal that likes her stories straight up, if you read me: Get things going, says I, then cut to the chase, or old Dits’ll chase to the cut. Once upon a time’s about as far as we’ll go in the way of wind-up for your pitch. You say It was a dark and stormy night? We copy, mate: now on with the story, ess vee pee.
Ditsy-Belle, Ditsy-Boy: I’ve done time in my time as mainly male and ditto feem; have attained the age where what’s between my legs matters less to either of us than what’s between my ears or just twixt you and me. Which is to say, a certain high-density disk-in-the- hand that I progged from the bush this morning after Zulu One (a dark and stormy night forsooth) in the westmost marshes of B.E.W.A.R.(E.), the Backwater Estuarine Wetlands Area Reserve (East): a double-sided disk triple-zipped in a ZiplocTM baggie inside another inside another and hence bone-dry enough, as bones go hereabouts, that I could read its blot-free label through all three bags in the mucky marshgut whither it’d wended from wherethefuckever. To wit: COMING SOON!!! Not quite your classic message-in-a-bottle — of which, by the way, I have found none in seven decades of dedicated progging — but piquant, piquant, no? After Tropical Storm Zulu, however (now redubbed Zulu I), the marsh-pickings were uncommonly plump, and tempus was a- fugiting — the Weather Service warning all hands that Tee Ess Zee had made an unheard-of U-turn off the Jersey shore, regrouped and refueled, and was chugging more or less back our way as full-blown Hurricane Zulu; first time they ever reached the end of the alphabet, and with autumn prime-time yet to go! Anyhow, a chap can’t just kick back in the cordgrass and thumb through a computer disk with his/her bareassed eye, capisce? So I tossed CS!!! in the crab-basket with my other objets trouvés and carried on with my progging, I did, figuring I’d cull and triage and boot up and peruse at my fatherfreaking leisure.
But stay: zQué quiere decir, Q’est-ce que ça veux dire, Was bedeutet ein progger, prithee? A: One (of any gender, both/all/none, in good old low-inflected English) who progs. And that’s a long Oh, mind, as in programmer, not a shorty as in, well, long. Q: And to prog? Or, as some may spell it, progue?
Let us begin with the Chesapeake Estuarine System, kiddies, and cut thence to the chase. Formed in its current configuration 10K years back, it was, at and by the end of the latest glaciation, with a probable prompt 35,000,000 years earlier from a mile-wide meteorite- strike 140 miles SE of Our Nation’s Capital. The drowncd mouth of your Susquehanna River, is your C-peake Bay, and your largest mothering estuarine system in your USMFA, maybe your ditto world. At 300-plus kilometers north/south but only an average dozen-plus east/west and a mere measly average three Ditsy-depths top/bottom, she’s as tall and slim and shallow as the female lead in a dumb- blonde joke, is Ms. CB. And she is a she, make no mistake as you could with me: Your Old Man River might just keep rolling with his one-track male no-mind, but our vagrant Chess not only ebbs and flows like the moonstruck mother she is — any old off-the-shelf ocean does that — but mixes salt and fresh till her average salinity just about matches that of the sack we all first swam in, or for that matter human tears. Add to which, her western shore’s mainly high ground, her Eastern mainly low, and her lower Eastern mainly tidemarsh; add to that that her prevailing storm-winds are northwesterly, and in your southeast quadrant you’ve a proper progging ground: e.g., B.E.W.A.R.(E.).
Strike that, mate: A proper soggy prog-bog is what you’ve got. TThis brackish isle, this crab- and skeeter-rich wetland labyrinth: this . . . Hick Fen.
To prog, or progue (“origin and sense-history unknown,” says my juust- nowwww-downloaded dictionary — but prog on, pal, and see below) in general, to pick and poke about, to scavenge and to scrounge. More particularly, hereabouts, to beachcomb where no beach is, only the odd sandspit or low-tide mudflat ’mongst the marsh; to putt or pole or paddle one’s shoal-draft johnboat, skiff, or own canoe* along the inches-deep but megamiles-long margins of the Bay’s lee shore in leisurely but sharp-eyed search of . . . Whatever. “Seek,” saith Scripture, “and ye shall find,” whereto your proper progger doth append “Amen — long’s ye seek nothing in particular.” Go ye forth a-progging for a certain length of half-inch braided nylon dockline or a spare red plastic fuel funnel, and you’ll turn up a brace of used condoms like tired sea-nettles (but Day-Glo green, with ticklers), a snarl of fishermen’s monofilament, a former spaniel, and the usual Big Mac boxes and Coors beer cans. Prog ye on the other hand for Whatever’s Out There, and in addition to the routine assortment of usable lumber, salvageable gill-net, cork floats and other piscivorian accessories, doubler-crabs a-mating in the eel- grass, and yachtsfolk’s hats sunspecs boathooks and personal flotation devices, you may turn up (to cite a few choice items from my own life- list) an entire summer tuxedo fetchingly entwined with a strapless ball gown, a former CIA clandestine-services officer with forty pounds of scuba weights ’round his waist and a 9 mm bullet hole abaft his left ear, a ship in a bottle (the latter uncorked and stranded one-quarter full of mucky Backwater; the former, a miniature square- rigger, storm-battered but still bravely afloat inside), a bottle in a ship (grounded and abandoned thirty-five-foot cruising sloop, both sails set, lunch half eaten on the dinette table, course plotted on the nav-station chart, and an unpopped liter of Dom Perignon in the wine-locker along with sundry inferior vintages, all which I liberated, finders keepers), and — different decade, different marsh, same old progger — a ZiplocTM’d computer disk entitled COMING SOON!!! Yeah right yes well: not as soon as Zulu II, was Ditso’s guess, so I progged on for a spell, netted me a clutch of peeler-crabs, an orange rubber oysterman’s glove (left hand, just right for right-hand shucking, and afloat fingers-up like a drowned waterman’s last bye- bye), also the aforementioned brace of french-ticklered french letters (good as new once inside-outed, rinsed in Backwater Creek, air-dried, and recocked for firing; you never know who might turn up, and a girl can’t be too careful these days with all them Ess Tee Dees floating ’round, d’accord?), and a pink glass fishnet- float, size of a canteloupe with net still rinding it, that must’ve blown either transatlantic from Portugal or transchesapeake from some gussied-up crabhouse across the way, as no waterperson hereabouts ever used such kitsch except for the odd decorative accent. Then I hustled home as the wind rerose and the sky redarkened over B.E.W.A.R.(E.); hauled my progging-skiff (Nameless, I call her) ’bout as high as high goes on H.F.I., which is atop of my dock-deck and slip-knotted to my porchposts, ready to be jumped aboard of with my Getthehelloutahere bag atop Big Bitsy’s workstation when cometh push to shove. Tidy anal- retentive that I am, I next stashed my take here and there as appropriate, and only then hauled my arse and the ZiplocTMs three to my cobbled-up workstation and peeled off those serial containers the way Sir Summertux and Lady Strapless must’ve peeled off theirs, to have at the Thing Contained: the pearl within the oyster within the shell within the shucker’s bushel, COMING SOON!!! Which doth remind me, that trebled exclamation, of lusty EARL&me a- hollering the like as we went to it once upon a time in yonder saltmarsh (“Your skiff or mine, hon?”) or up on my dock-deck or over to her/his lab, wherever the rut smote either of us and whoever was that day’s humper & who humpee. Sometimes a question, sometimes a warning to them as’d rather spit than swallow, most often a hopeful ejaculation, pardon my English, as me&him both were of an age more prone to ooze like the marsh we mucked in than to hey-diddly-diddle cow the moon. EARL! EARL! EARL!: mainly male through our joint marsh- tenancy, he was, as I was chiefly fe-, although our having each burnt her/his candle at both ends helped bring us together, you might say. E.A.R.L. is what his billcap advertised: the Estuarine Aquacultural Research Laboratory over to B.E.W.A.R.(W.) till the Navy reclaimed Westmarsh Island for an aerial gunnery target during the Persian Gulf Set-To. And “EARL”’s all the handle on that chipper chap I ever had or wanted, just as he in turn made do with hailing me, as boatfolk will, by the name of my skiff — old Nameless? — leaving off its first syllable by way of tutoyer (Less is More) as we came to know each other better.
Which I trow in very sooth is why we came, dear EARL and I, each for and/or in/on the other, depending on who et cetera in our Hick Fen hump-du-soir: to know each other better, not via names and résumés but in the King-Jim-Hebrew sense, the all but wordfree knowing of skin and eye and nose and tongue, of show-and-don’t-tell, of scratch- and-sniff and lay-low-and-behold, of stroke and poke and squeal and sigh, of lick and split — of, in short and at length, the intercourse of Intercourse, COMING SOON!!! Not. But come it did and came, not so long ago, till it went with the wind of our Pentagon’s latest, and the E.A.R.L. facility went with it, and pissed-off EARL with phased-out E.A.R.L. — not before, however, one glorious fuckitall joint progging of his half-dismantled aquacultural establishment, wherefrom we liberated not only a banquetsworth of prime tilapia and home-grown Ostreae virginicae (two of his graduate students’ dissertation-projects down our pipes, EARL grumbled, shaking a free fist at the F-16s violating our airspace from their base at Patuxent, ’cross the Bay) but a Zip drive here, a modem there, here a keyboard, there a 17" color monitor and a laser printer and a CD-ROM gizmo and a hutch-topped workstation — all destined for recycling and replacement anyhow, so swore he. Thus came it to pass that before she could say Shucks or Shiver me timbers, old Dits was multigigabyte wired, man, and Big Bitsy (as we dubbed our only joint creation) was online — via what net-server, don’t ask. Showed me how to up-and-run the sucker, dear EARL did, as I’d showed him a thing or three about snagging the odd out-of-season goose and rockfish, never mind how. Set me up proper for a different kind of progging, did the pearl of E.A.R.L. — that salty dog of B.E.W.A.R.
(E.), that tongue-in-cheek namer (my tongue his cheek, then skiptomelou and all hands change partners all partners hands) of Hick Fen Isle, pop X2 1 and holding: I mean a-progging through the warpcd woofs of your World Wide Web, a high-tech dreck-catcher if ever there was and a not-bad second-best companion on a dark and stormy night when there’s not squat to do on H.F.I. except pick one’s nose and suck one’s home brew and watch sitcom reruns till the power goes, sometimes all three at once. Nowanights that menu’s larger by one mighty item, with its own menus of menus of WWW menus. . . .
And here (some pages past) is where I came in: booted up Big Bitsy, unzipzip zipped and slugged in its slot that proggcd program, then open-sesame’d with mouseclicks twain its triply exclamatoried icon. Found in the window thus 4squared upon my monitor one of those Start- Here mini-icons called Read Me; clicketyclick and what to my wandering eyes should appear but the text you’ve just read (if you’ve read it, my dear) — I mean Read Me, “Call me ditsy,” et cet — followed by the option-buttons below, wherefromamong (skipping most of the text, as I’d read it this far already) I no sooner clicked O (for On with the story) than Z Two struck as if Z-squared: power down, storm-surge up, cabin shaking, lights out for the territory — and that’s all she wrote.

Or almost all. Zulu Two’s a humdinger, all right, fit to fin this tempest-tossed siccle with: But there’s those of us as’ve weathered the stormfraught alphabet before, and learned therefrom a few things the hard way, and survived thereby to tell the tale, so to click; anyhow to run enough versions thereof to catch its drift. Will therefore now rebag(bag[bag]) this disk, refloat it off on the surge To Whom It May Concern, catch me a few raftered z’s till Z has zed, then set out a-progging manana after washed-away Nameless in hopes of refinding her and the porch she’s moored to and/or EARL or/and who knows, maybe my own ventriloquizing self. Let me however just leave you, TWIMC, with this wrap-up sentiment, and then the option-buttons are all yours: It is one thing for an A-10 attack bomber to disappear into Colorado’s wild blue yonder, or a multigigaton bulk carrier to break up in the Roaring Forties with nary a trace; you may invoke your Yew Eff Ohs and your Bermuda Triangles to your nutcase heart’s content. But man & boy et alii I’ve worked the Bay since Hector was a pup — a-oystering, a-crabbing, a-haulseining, a-rod&reeling, even a- bay-piloting and a-hydrographic-charting a once upon a time. I know this Chesapeake the way I once knew my EARL’s sweet bod, is what I’m saying: every blessed freckle and lump and cranny-hair. Even know her bottom, durned if I don’t, I mean my Chessie’s, the way some seasoned Bay-sailors know her top. And you can’t tell me that there is or lately was (as this here disk claims) a great mothering showboat stuck on a shoal with all hands somewhere out there, that nobody’s yet caught sight and fetched the TV newscopters athwart of: Nosirreebob! But if somehow there subjunctively were, after all, so improbable a beastie as The Original Floating Opera II aground out yonder on “Ararat Shoal” and floating SOSs off in ZiplocTMs while en attendant Zulu, you can bet your bottom shekel she’s history now.
But don’t take Ditsy’s word on’t, mate, for I’m a coin as 2-sided as this disk: For more on TOFO II, click Less (you get the idea) or whateverthefug else you opt. Hop to’t now ’n click something, though, luv: Curtains-time’s a-COMING SOON!!!

0 Less Something

Copyright © 2001 by John Barth. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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Descrizione libro Mariner Books. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Paperback. 420 pages. Dimensions: 9.2in. x 6.1in. x 1.1in.In this novelistic romp that is by turns hilarious and brilliant, John Barth spoofs his own place in the pantheon of contemporary fiction and the generation of writers who have followed his literary trailblazing. Coming Soon!!! is the tale of two writers: an older, retiring novelist setting out to write his last work and a young, aspiring writer of hypertext intent on toppling his master. In the heat of their rivalry, the writers navigate, and sometimes stumble over, the cultural fault lines between print and electronic fiction, mentor and mentee, postmodernism and modernism. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Codice libro della libreria 9780618257300

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Descrizione libro HOUGHTON MIFFLIN, United States, 2003. Audio cassette. Condizione libro: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.In this novelistic romp that is by turns hilarious and brilliant, John Barth spoofs his own place in the pantheon of contemporary fiction and the generation of writers who have followed his literary trailblazing. Coming Soon!!! is the tale of two writers: an older, retiring novelist setting out to write his last work and a young, aspiring writer of hypertext intent on toppling his master. In the heat of their rivalry, the writers navigate, and sometimes stumble over, the cultural fault lines between print and electronic fiction, mentor and mentee, postmodernism and modernism. Codice libro della libreria APC9780618257300

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