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my many murders
may 1, 2016
The other day I was in our high-ceilinged garage, stuffing flattened cardboard boxes into our green recycle bin, about as tall as a woman, when a question occurred to me: Is there any author whose fiction does not include a single death? Where all his or her characters, over the course of a writing career, survive the final sentence?
I started going through different authors in my head, and each time, at some point, usually right away, other times only after a minute or two, my fingers, rooting through the bowl, would unearth a black jellybean.
Which makes sense. If you're going to write, why would you not, at some point, or repeatedly, write about death?
Like a lot of you, my own writings are dark. So of course there's a lot of death in their pages. But then I started wondering: Just how much death?
So what I've done is gone through my stories, and for each story determined if anyone dies, and if they do, how they die.
I am not including my published novels (there'd just be too many pages to comb for deaths, plus you have some ambiguity: In my novel As Dead As Me, for example, do billions upon billions of people die, or just one?) And I am not including stories that have not yet been published, or stories that have been sold but not yet published.
Also, for each story I am not including people alluded to in the story who are already dead when the story starts. The character must be alive at the start of the story, and dead by its end.
There are also a number of stories where it seems likely a character dies soon after the end of the story, but since they don't die during the story itself, that is not counted as a death.
Finally, although a number of animals die in my fictions, none of those small deaths are recorded here. This list obviously includes major spoilers for all of my published short fiction. To try to make it a little less spoilerish, I have eliminated the characters' names.
Here we go.
WHEN YOU SURFACED
SEX ON SHEETS
DESPAIR AT MCDONALD'S
WHEN THE BIG ONE THAWS
THIS MOMENT OF BRILLIANCE
THE WOMAN IN THE WALLS
THE MACHINE OF A RELIGIOUS MAN
PUSHING DOWN THE TOMBSTONES
THE HOLE AND THE SPIKE
THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES IN THE WOODS
THE BURDEN OF WORDS
FLEEING, ON A BICYCLE WITH YOUR FATHER, FROM THE LIVING DEAD
TRUTH BE TOLD
MY FIRST KISS
STEAKS IN THE CITY
STRANGERS WEAR MASKS OF YOUR FACE
LIKE AN ANIMAL IN A HOLE
GRAPPLING WITH URINE
IN THE TUNNELS OF THE AGOGS
NOBODY I KNEW
RAIN TURNS TO SNOW
THE MAN WHO COULD JUMP OFF ROOFS
SUDDENLY THE SUN APPEARED
THE WET MONTHS
THE BAD BOY
DOGS WANT TO EAT YOU
THEY HIDE IN TOMATOES
ELEPHANTS ON THE MOON
ABOUT TO BE KISSED
DADDY'S GLAD HANDS
THE ONE WHO ALWAYS GETS TO SIT IN A CHAIR
SHE HAS MAIDS
THE YELLOW FRUIT
ALL YOUR FACES DROWN IN MY SYRINGE
THE SPACE BETWEEN (co-written with Ray Cluley)
THE MIDDLE LEG
WHEN THEY COME FOR YOU THEY'LL LOOK NORMAL
GHOSTS PLAY IN BOYS' PAJAMAS
SOME SORT OF EDEN (co-written with Allen Ashley)
BANG, BANG, THUD
MEN WEARING MAKEUP
LEARNING NOT TO SMILE
YOU DRY YOUR TEARS IF THEY DON'T WORK
Deaths in sold but not yet published stories:
Deaths in novels and stories not yet published.
So all in all, looking at this list, finally compiled, I realize that a lot of my characters who do die either drown, commit suicide, or are in automobile accidents. And realize even more so, with some surprise, that I haven't really murdered as many people as I had always assumed I had. So much less blood on my hands! Fingertips definitely dripping, but maybe my palms are still clean? More or less?