Short Édition literature vending machine at the Seattle Public Library

Speaking of magically real: A French company has designed a “short story kiosk” that will dispense a story of between 1 and 5 minutes to you for free. It’s a slip of paper that spews out like a receipt. It’s free, and you can find these machines at hospitals, airports, coffee shops, and yes, at libraries.

Read more about the invention here.

Well, guess what? The Seattle Central Public Library (the big postmodern one) has one of these vending machines. And two of my little stories are in there along with some great Seattle area writers.

This is the first time I’ve been identified as a Seattle area writer. Of course, what I really am is a displaced New Yorker who lived in the Los Angeles area for 30 years. Who now lives on an island off the coast of Washington State. The identification feels odd. I don’t write like any of the PNW writers I know or have read. I don’t exactly write the usual “Look at the beautiful pines!” PNW writing. Or the “coffee-drinking-hip-tech-person-tells-an-ironic-tale-with-cool-insights-in-capital-hill” kind of writing. I’m such an outsider where I live that it’s been hard to find a way to write about it without sounding completely cranky and unappreciative (the pines ARE beautiful, by the way), or just incomprehending (“uh… what’s salal and why don’t deer like it?”).

So it’s a thrill to have found a “voice” that can express a little bit of the oddness of living in a place, where I so completely do not belong. Not belonging in a place does, as it turn out, have advantages artistically. You get to encounter people whom you would never encounter normally, and you are forced to see things differently, because the usual parameters no longer apply. You are so at odds with your environment, that you have to look at yourself and wonder “hmm, I seem to be a very weird individual…. how might that weirdness shape how I see things? How might I see things differently? “Lets try!”

So check out these two little tales about island life. Then go to the Seattle Public Library and push the button at the story kiosk! Who knows what story will come rolling out. Mine, maybe. Or someone else’s!


The Beautiful Pilot

Island Story

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