Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Story is in the Spam

Lately, I have been getting incredible spam emails. So much more creative then the usual enlargements, stocks, real estate, FREE DEGREES NOW, or drugs (just say no). No, these are very creative and almost tell a story. Has anyone else gotten these? Perhaps someone (Matthew?) can illumine me to the true puposes of these emails, but until then I have several theories:

1) As an aspiring fiction writer I have somehow unwittingly signed up for some "share your story over email project." (I cry for you, story email project.)

2) These are actually coded messages from either a) the CIA or NSA or b) terrorist cells. I just need the decoder. Please, I want the decoder! I am willing to send in cereal box tops or UPCs.

3) There is some link that I am supposed to click on in the email. (This is not working, by the way, I haven't ever even seen a link.)

4) Some nasty virus is contained in the email (since I have a Mac, nothing happens). But let's be honest. There is another type of virus that is spread by the language in these spam stories, as I like to call them.

So, for your enjoyment, I have pasted a spam story below, and included my italicized commentary and critique, as I would in a writing workshop. I neglected to save the email address to look up the domain. Next time I promise I will.


I rose quietly, so as not to waken the cowboys, took my fish spear, and went to the channel.

Very Hemingway here, but the cowboys threw me a bit. Cowboys by the beach is a fresh idea. Can they surf?

The only difficulty would be in getting the golfers.

That is always the difficulty. I prefer my golfers to be old, drunk and Scottish.

But later, when the wind freshened a little, I had to send Johnny on the outrigger itself. And then a verbose sermon, as unnourishing a crust as was ever thrown upon the waters.

WHO IS JOHNNY? We need some introduction to the character. Also, is verbose sermon functioning here as a metaphor? And for what?

To come about the canoe must be beached or sailed to shallow water where it can be held. Try to smell the clean breath of an island untainted by habitations. My heart missed a beat and my knees went weak. Now and again she would gasp with emotion, her eyes would become soft and almost sensuously happy.

This is some fine work, really. I find that islands tend to have the cleanest breath when they use Scope. But why do the narrator's knees go weak here? Is it because the island's breath is so sexy? And is the island gasping for emotion, or is this Johnny as a girl, or a new heroine?

The fish retaliated by biting Elaines tongue! Their smug self-complacency annoyed me a little. Another things I proposed to teach my children to take care of themselves. Their smug self-complacency annoyed me a little. I try to remedy this by giving her mostly drawing, at which she surpasses her older sister.

Well, maybe Elaine felt sensual because the fish bit her tongue? I admit, it is a bit of a stretch, but there are some crazy fetishes out there. I would suggest, however, placing the fish biting incident before Elaine feels sensual, unless the bite was supposed to interrupt the mood.

Elaine, trying to reciprocate her sensual feeling.

Soon we were in deep water, too far from the reef to make it swimming should the canoe capsize.

To be honest, this is how I feel about your story.

The trade wind blows fresh and fragrant through the house. Not even the whoops of the cowboys jar my nerves, for they are on the end of the wharf fishing. We pitched our camp under a big tournefortia bush, within a few feet of the beach.
The cowboys, fishing.

YES, I was waiting for the cowboys to come back, although I still wish that they were surfing instead of fishing. I think you might also include some dialogue here between the narrator and the cowboys, those saucy fellows.

Every island has a reef peculiar to itself.

No man is an island, except the one that has sexy Scope breath, and causes Elaine to feel even more sensual than when she was bit on the tongue by a fish.

I pulled him out, dropped him in my bag, and moved on. By the time we had retrieved the spears there were five sharks circling about us.

The suspense builds!

I woke at about four and put in two hours of hard work clearing a path to the north point. Probably not, for the rafters area foot apart and the roofing sheets close together. She always makes a great to-do about her pains. Johnny stayed at home, for she has a boil on her knee. The tide was low in the forenoon and the reef dry. These plaited fronds give both a beautiful effect and a raintight shelter.

I knew it! Johnny is a girl (or maybe just a cross-dressing, surfer cowboy?)

The cowboys ride off into the sunset, but where is the narrator?

Dear Email-a-Story Project Participant,

On the whole I thought the piece lacked the focus it needed to succeed. The revelation of a female Johnny comes too late. The split-personality disorder of the narrator (as Johnny, Elaine, her own children)has been overdone, e.g. Fight Club, Identity, and etc. Continuous description and unification of voice would help achieve a greater clarity. I also wondered about the endearing cowboys, so obvious in their comraderie, and why they would exclude the troubled narrator? The loose end of the problematic golfers still bothers me as well. In short, you have some work to do.


hederka said...

This was really funny, Brent. Thanks.

Bree said...

Haha. I've never gotten one of these story spams...maybe I'm just not special enough. Or maybe it is some sort of story email project. ;) Kathy's been getting them too and she does creative writing like you... (K wrote about her friend the story spammer Sara Herbert. ( )

Speaking of friends, you should come visit your friend (the sister) bree. :D

ps. next time you're looking for a random rare movie, could you borrow "the shop around the corner" for me? i want to see it... :)

~bradley james said...

I received a story yesterday that was perhaps written by a family member of the author of your story:

Boris told me of an exiled Russian duke whom he had once met, who frequented expensive restaurants.
By sympathy, I answered; I had never joined any organization.
I stood in the background, preparing to tell some big lies about my experience as a dish-washer.
It was a woman who, besides having been his mistress, owed him two hundred francs.
Well, say the opposite of what the DAILY MAIL says, then you cant be wrong.
Boris slept the night at the house of a cobbler, another Russian refugee, in the Commerce quarter.
But it was a consolation that we had paid only five francs instead of twenty.