Fiction (et al.) on the Net

by Martha Conway

I can't tell anymore what is fiction and what isn't. I blame whoever made up the term "creative nonfiction," which may have come out of classes with names like "Writing Stories from Life." How's this for a term? Biofiction. It's a fine old art, created during the original cocktail party and refined nightly at restaurants after the ordering but before the meal.

Personally, I think we should forget the word fiction entirely, and just identify "story" or "advertisement." I like stories, and I don't much care how true they are. Currently, I am smitten with a site called "An Entirely Other Day," (http://www.eod.com/) which features humorous slice-of-life pieces by, like everything charming on the net, just some guy.

Press for the site (a site called "an entirely other site") explains the basic concept:

Created by noted bore Greg Knauss, "An Entirely Other Day" is a series of short stories chronicling random, pointless events in the author's life. Experienced in full, each EOD almost exactly simulates being trapped in a corner at a party by that guy who always has stuff stuck in his teeth.

The stories are indeed random and often puerile, but unlike the guy cornering you at the party, Knauss's stories are pithy and brief. And they have great titles, like "Reality Intrudes," "By Then, I was Starving," and "At Play in the Fields of the Lawyers." This last is a definite read; in this installment, the author is forced to buy a tux for his girlfriends' firm's Christmas party":

...if another guy with a tape measure around his neck gives me the once over and says, "There's plenty of room in the crotch, but the seat's a little tight," I'm going to throttle him.

Another particularly good one is called "Art Schmart," in which the author goes to a gallery in L.A.: "Hip people mingle around and munch on some sort of pulped animal spread on some sort of multi-grain cracker. There's generic jazz fusion playing. And the walls are covered with pictures of lawyers."

Most of them are 'So I'm doing this' type of stories, which can be annoying if you read too many in a row. About 80% literally start with the word "So." However, the site has a viewer-rating system - you can rate every story yourself after you've read it - and you can choose to read only the best of them, based on whatever your fellow readers deem the best ("we're always looking for ways to improve the quality of our product by pandering shamelessly to whatever you, the audience, wants").

It's a good site with a good tone. The stories are really just ordinary moments magnified for amusement: an entirely other day turns out to be any day, with the right editing job. Or at least I think that's what this site is saying.

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