Salutatorian, Class of 2011, White Plains High School (NY)
Class of 2015, Haverford College
Moderator and Question Writer for the National History Bowl and Bee
I am an inspiring writer of fictional novels, plays and screenplays (and critical analyses) of the highbrow literary variety who will be using this page to post some small works and previews of some larger works.
I will be constantly updating this page, so keep looking back for new material, and get in touch with me if you find something worth responding to.
OFFICIAL PREVIEW TO MY WORK IN PROGRESS, "THOSE DYING GENERATIONS"
“Out of your chair, Jane. It’s utterly uncivilized not to run wild one hot summer of your life. …”
These two sentences—cut out from some magazine, the rest of which was long ago recycled, and taped onto the uniformly black frontispiece of an anthology of stage plays entitled Modern Theatre: The Canon—are staring back at Maddox J. Syzygy as he is sitting in the swivel chair in the immediate center of his bedroom in 69 Impala Road, Requadriplaque, New York, at eight AM on Friday, September 13, 2013. Maddox is, well, puzzled. The quote evidently has been in this book long enough for the tape to have congealed to the rough-surfaced page permanently, after spending a sum total of years being kept in place by the volume being closed with dozens of other tomes stacked atop it, and thus by the intermittent pressing up of the front cover against the frontispiece. The tape can’t be peeled off. Maddox has tried in the past to unpeel the tape (something he was traditionally good at), working on all possible corners and edges with a surgeon’s prudence, perhaps out of some bizarre curiosity to see just what was on the other side of this clipping—all for naught.
The reason for the selection of this specific quote for preservation is beyond Maddox and lost to history. But this is not concerning Maddox right now. What is concerning him is the very meaning of this quote. He isn’t understanding it; it isn’t making sense to him. How can it be utterly uncivilized to not run wild, and utterly civilized to run wild? Paradox. Maddox had assumed from the quote’s satirical use of paradox that it had come somewhere out of Oscar Wilde—not that he’d read anything by Oscar Wilde. The closest to it is that he’d gone with his parents and other assorted family members to see his cousin Debra perform in her high school’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest when he was seven and Vada was five, and the one thing he’s recalling from it was the satirical use of paradox in the dialogue, or, as Maddox had described it back then in his second-grade rhetoric, “a way of making the audience laugh by putting together opposite things that make no sense put together.” He’s also recalling the auditorium’s vastness and the ionic columns flanking the stage and that one actor with the jagged scar on his cheek and Vada consuming sour-flavored Skittles in a way that made them sound like charcoal when her teeth pulverized them and Vada not sharing any with Maddox because she was a bratty bitch (and still is, a little) and the redheaded fifty-something woman who during intermission would not cease yakking about how gorgeous the costumes looked and the cantankerous old hag sitting in front of Maddox who kept on turning around to chide him into sitting with appropriate posture as opposed to slouching and pressing his feet rather brazenly against the back of the old hag’s chair—
As it is, the quote does not come from anything written by Oscar Wilde, who naturally has two plays in this anthology (Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan) that Maddox contemplated reading in their entirety just to see if the quote could be found in either of them. Alas, he saved himself the trouble by looking up the quote online. Turns out, it was from a magazine advertisement for some hole-in-the-wall bikini store in SoCal circa 1966 that was most likely no longer open for business. So, that was settled. But that isn’t the only thing that has to be settled. And thus, Maddox is slouching in his swivel chair in a way almost identical to the way he was slouching that evening in Yarrowwood High School’s auditorium, beating against the quote with the lead mallets of a tenacious logic stating that it is utterly uncivilized to run wild and utterly civilized not to run wild. Furthermore, he is wondering who Jane is, what she looks like (in a two-piece, no less), what type of chair she’s sitting in (wicker? Barcelona?), who’s telling her to get out of that chair, and whether she does end up running wild one hot summer of her life.
Maddox is too aware that such questions will ultimately come down to his interpretation.