Cover Boy

I am giddily delighted to present the "official" "launch" of the website for my novel Fuck or Swim. As with most even moderately successful things I produce, it also reflects selfless contributions from some of this city's shiny starz-- marverlous visualz by artists Erin Wilson & Ben Passmore and an in-depth Q&A by the author Michael Patrick Welch.

Fuck or Swim is a hell of a good book. If you're a publisher or an agent, holler at me: xjulesbentleyx@gmail.com.

I've recently published a couple more book reviews for the Brooklyn Paper-- of a sex thriller and an esoteric philosophical treatise.

jules-bentley-cover
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of seeing a piece of my writing becomeĀ the cover story for an issue of Gambit Magazine. I didn't think positing that sobriety is a challenge and New Orleans is a drinking town would attract so much argument, but jeez, what a firestorm ensued. Gambit blogged and published multiple follow-ups to give vent to some of the dissenting opinions.

There were whispers-- murmurs, even-- that my piece as published didn't give due weight to sobriety's many positives. I will admit, my writing rarely succeeds in equally arguing all sides of an issue. Especially with bigger, broader topics, my own considerable circumference and the vehemence with which I argue generally constrain me to visiting at most two or three sides of an issue before I have to sit down and drink a soda.

I don't consider myself a controversialist or contrarian, but on the sides of an issue where the sun shines brightest, the glare hurts my weak eyes, and the crowds of sun-baskers who sometimes gather there render me socially anxious. I'm more comfortable on the shadier, less crowded facets of an argument, those cool, relatively quiet expanses where I can let my hyperbole wander off-leash and there's enough space to stretch my often painful analogies.

Make no mistake: there are very good things about being sober.

The statistics tell me I have some readers outside of New Orleans. That being the case, let me provide them-- you? -- with context. This city's former, soon-to-be-incarcerated Mayor Ray Nagin often accused those investigating or calling attention to his shenanigans of "hurting the recovery," meaning the recovery of New Orleans from the failure of the federal levees.

This brings us to what is surely the greatest gift of sobriety: anyone who criticizes me or anything I do-- shit, anyone who disagrees with me or denies me something I want-- can be accused of hurting the recovery, i.e. imperiling my sobriety. It's a beautiful golden trump that I find is only burnished brighter each time it's played. After all, what kind of monster would knowingly cause someone's relapse into problem drinking? My god... even if you don't care about me personally, please think about the numberless innocents who'll be imperiled by the wild orgy of destruction YOU will cause if you dare to challenge my ideas or conduct in even the smallest way.

This awesome cudgel-- this gleaming bejewelled scepter of piety I now wield-- is, though the chiefest, only one among sobriety's many positive aspects. And, although I still often experience sobriety as being tied down, naked and helpless as Prometheus upon the rock, while winged raptors embodying "the reasons I started drinking in the first place" flap down and rip my hot, miserable guts out day after day, humans are creatures of habit, and one does gradually become accustomed to not drinking. After a while your sobriety gains its own momentum. It begins to seem separate from you, something abstract and exterior. In a world of compromises and near-enough, sobriety's absoluteness and perfection, its flawless, gold-star quality, make it seem supernatural. Every moment I don't drink accumulates in my wake, joining the others in an ever-expanding reef.

On a good day, this exteriorized version of sobriety looms like a deepening sand-storm, filling the sky behind me. Its majestic heft is intimidating, and fear keeps me scuttling along, fleeing my shadow. It feels like if I stumble, this sandy, floating sky-castle built of empty, dry days and weeks will overtake and collapse atop me, drowning me in a mountain of dust.

On a bad day, the accumulation of sobriety seems like a delicate burden, an ever-weightier conglomeration of crystal borne on my back. Its immensity and fragility, the reverence demanded by this brittle, glittering non-achievement-- this somber, interest-compounding crystal cathedral built around a virtue of omission-- all make it perversely tempting to chuck a brick through.

But enough on that. Please go read the first thirty-or-so pages of Fuck or Swim!

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One Response to Cover Boy

  1. Editor B says:

    Well, I loved the article, and I thank you for posting the link cuz I missed the issue when it came out. I saw some of the reaction though, and found at least that one piece (you know the one) an amazing piece of writing. Anyhow your article was amusing and heartfelt so well done. I think one thing that has thrown people off is that you have a unique way of being in the world. You harp on all these negatives, but that is what's working for you, so in a sense it's very positive, and I think some people don't get that, but I also think it's part of what makes your voice so eminently readable.

    As for me, I've been almost sober for a year and a half now.

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