Julian Gallo's Blog

March 2, 2017

I am very pleased to announce that a new short story, ‘Animals’ , has been published at Youssef Rakha’s The Sultan’s Seal. Very special thanks to Youssef for publishing this story and for his generosity. Youssef is an amazing novelist and photographer. Be sure to check out his essays and photography work at The Sultan’s Seal (as well as the work from other fine poets, writers, and photographers). Also check out his two brilliant novels, ‘The Book of The Sultan’s Seal’ and ‘Crocodiles’. Again, many thanks to Youssef. Greatly appreciated. 
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Published on March 02, 2017 18:14 • 20 views

February 5, 2017

From The Publicity Dept. 
Three new prose pieces up at Medium this week: 
First is 'Dust Running Down The Middle of The Page' — Basically a ‘word play’, a fragmentary approach to a long ago memory; alone in my little apartment, lost, confused, it was a dark time for me. Disjointed thoughts, ricocheting from one end to the other. Incomprehension. Unable to make sense of what I thought was going to be a relationship at the time but turned out to be anything but. 
Next is 'New Apocalypses' — that feeling that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, all you do is find a way to self-destruct and taking everyone else out with you. It’s what happens when one is mired in self-pity and can’t seem to get his shit together. Rather than try to work things out, fuck it, blow it all up. 
Lastly is 'Quixotic' , which is the most straightforward of the three. Spending the night with a beautiful woman but knowing that it’s not going to progress any further, that is is what it is; that all the plans you have are merely a fool’s errand; that you are putting way more into it than she is and finally accepting it. 

Thanks again to those who read/shared/commented on these pieces. Anyone interested in reading them, just follow the links. Have a great week. 
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Published on February 05, 2017 02:57 • 15 views

February 4, 2017

Of course I’d been familiar with Arthur Miller’s plays for years, as well as his brilliant novel ‘Focus’ (which I’m sure will be rediscovered considering today’s political climate). However, I wasn’t aware how many short stories the playwright had written over the course of his long career, so finding this book was a treat. 
Many of the stories cover the same themes Miller covers in his plays: the plight of the everyman, the perils of fame, ruminations on childhood, ethnic and religious identity but there are also some surprises here (i.e. ‘The Performance’, whose premise I won’t give away. You have to read it). Another surprise was ‘The Misfits’, the story in which the 1961 film is based (the film is highly expanded from the short story version). Some of the stories didn’t resonate with me as much as some others but overall it’s a fantastic collection of short fiction, harkening back to a time when short fiction actually told a story. 
Well, Miller is a master storyteller and a fine prose writer. It was interesting to see him expand on his ideas, beyond the constructs of his usual dialogue driven pieces, and witness how he approaches the two different mediums so differently. If you are an admirer of his plays then I highly recommend this collection. You won’t be disappointed. 

Rating: * * * * 
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Published on February 04, 2017 04:09 • 7 views

January 29, 2017

From The Publicity Dept. 
First I want to take the time to thank those who wrote me/interacted with me regarding last week’s post when I attempted to explain what these pieces actually were. Was glad to hear your thoughts/ideas on them. Always greatly appreciated. 
Three new prose pieces this week: 
‘The Fragments Impale The Eye‘ — When one encounters another who hates silently, benevolently; where resentment is hidden behind soft words, a soft touch, a gleam in the eye. Where one’s misery needs comfort, needs a companion. 

Next is, ‘Winter’ , where one retreats into solitude on those cold winter nights and realizes that one’s life seems to be a never ending one, mostly self-induced, mind you; when one feels, in a strange way, comforted by their sadness, rather than taking the steps to make the changes so desperately needed. 

Finally, ‘Warsaw 4am’, when one is laughing at you, even silently, and you are too wrapped up in the fantasy in order to hear it. 

Thanks again for those who took the time to read/comment/share these pieces. It’s always greatly appreciated. For those who wish to read them, just follow the links.  
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Published on January 29, 2017 04:26 • 12 views

January 22, 2017

From The Publicity Dept. 
Three new prose pieces up at Medium this week but first I have a few words about them: Occasionally you get a random email or message sent to you from people you don’t know (which is always a great thing) and this particular person was curious about these pieces, wanted to know what they were exactly. ‘You have them tagged as ‘essays’ but they’re not really essays — more like prose poems...’ Well, yes, I suppose so. Here’s my answer, this way those who are reading this or have been following them will get a better idea on what they are: 
‘I agree with you wholeheartedly that they aren’t ‘essays’ in the proper sense. I call them ‘essays’ because they are all true, autobiographical, are ‘moments in time’ during different phases of my life whether that be childhood, adolescence, and/or adulthood. A lot of these pieces are old. Some of them have been reworked a bit, of course, but while some are new writing, most are not. Most are things I’d written over the past twenty years but didn’t know what to do with them. They’re too short for the magazines, they’re not exactly ‘essays’ or ‘short stories’ or anything else for that matter. Honestly, I don’t know what you call them. ‘Prose Pieces’ may be the more accurate term for them but I call them ‘essays’ because even though they are drawn from moments of my life, I also try — key word: try — to write them with a sort of ‘universal’ theme, something that another may be able to relate to, an overall ‘meaning’ to them which goes beyond myself. I’m not sure whether that’s working or not but it is what it is. I also decided to approach them using the techniques of fiction, since that is what I primarily write. So some of them are written in third person, some are in second person (in order to put a distance between my then self from my current self), some are straightforward first person narratives. Anyway, I didn’t want to just write a ‘document’ of these moments and I didn’t want to approach them like ‘traditional essays’ so in the end what I had in the end were a mountain of these short prose pieces that I didn’t know what to do with. So I thought Medium was the perfect vehicle for them, this way I can get them ‘out of my hair’ so to speak, clean the slate, and do something with all these old pieces that really have no other purpose, nor will any publisher (the lit mags) be interested in them (with the exception of one, which was published in ‘The Sultan’s Seal’ in Cairo some months ago). Anyway, thanks for writing and of course, thanks for reading. I’m sorry that I can’t really describe them any better but they are what they are, whatever they are. Hope you keep reading. Thanks!’ 
Receiving messages about them, even those of a query nature, is enough for me to think it’s worth doing. It’s what every writer hopes for — to connect, in some way, with someone, anyone. Writing is like a message in a bottle — we write, we toss the bottle into the expanse of the ocean, hoping someone will find it, read it, connect with it. That’s all we can hope for. 
Okay, so the first piece this week, ‘New York City Nocturne‘ — sad and lonely, in love with someone who wanted nothing to do with me, in my wanderings about the streets of New York I imagined the object of my desire being present with me. In essence she was, though not physically. It’s a projection, a fantasy, a ‘wish fulfillment dream’ while being awake. I never did connect with her in the end but this is a moment in time, lovesick and frustrated, as the snow fell over a cold New York City evening. 
Next up is ‘No Exit’ , which is more or less set in the same time, dealing with the same subject — unrequited love. It’s a shitty feeling and when you’re young (though I wasn’t so ‘young’ at the time) one tends to look at things a bit melodramatically. It will take years before all of it becomes more or less a heap of bullshit and you just learn to live with it, carry on. But when you’re in the thick of it, it sucks, and my hope with this piece was to connect to that feeling, a feeling I’m sure all of us have felt at one point or another over the course of our lives. 
Lastly, there’s ‘Show Biz’ . We all have that one person in life who does nothing but crave, eat, and breathe drama but it’s never good enough for them to experience said drama on their own. They need a cast — supporting players or varying importance. During the late 1990s I’d been around too many people like this and there was an overwhelming feeling that my presence in this person’s life was more to be a member of the cast rather than being an actual friend. Over the years I still encounter people like this, only now I’ve gained enough wisdom to simply walk away from them. Life is short. Who has time for all this needless drama, especially when you’re only significance is to help perpetuate that drama. 
Thanks again for those who read these pieces, commented and shared them. Those who are interested, just follow the links. 
Peace, love and abundance. Onwards... 

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Published on January 22, 2017 03:21 • 16 views

January 15, 2017

From The Publicity Dept. 
Three new prose pieces up at Medium this week: 
First is ‘The Circle Spins Black’, another moment in time, consoling a good friend who had just ended her relationship with someone who didn’t turn out to be all that she thought he was. There is an element of irony here. While I sat and listened to her heartbroken story, I was thinking of how she had once broken mine, though we did remain friends in spite of it all. She was a strong woman and I knew that this temporary setback would be only that — temporary — and soon enough someone else would come along and she’d forget all about it. As we discussed the often tragic moments of failed relationships and heartbreak, outside the cafe window, a homeless man peered in at us as he collected his bottles and cans, smiling at us. He seemed damned happy, despite his situation. It occurred to me at that moment — though I’m not sure why — that we never truly know what another is thinking and feeling, that is, unless we are that person; that in some ways we enter this world alone and check out of it alone, ultimately. We may think we know another person well — but unless we are them, there’s no way to truly know exactly what the other is feeling. We can only hazard a guess based on our own personal experience. So who really knew how hurt she was? Who really knew how ‘happy’ the homeless man was? In the end, we really just don’t know. 
Next up is ‘Michelangelo’ , which is that moment when one realizes that not getting involved with someone is probably the better choice, especially when you know you’re a fuck up, a King Midas in reverse. I went through a phase like this for a while, fearing that whatever beauty I would try to build for someone would only turn into a crumbling disaster; an awkward sculptor with big, clumsy hands who didn’t know how to hold the chisel properly. 
Finally, there’s ‘Never In A Regulation Sized Ring’ , when two people come to an implicit understanding that the only thing keeping them together is the drama between them. Without all the fighting, arguing, drama, passive-aggressive bullshit and manipulation tactics, there isn’t anything else holding them together and without it the whole structure would come crumbling to the ground. Not a pleasant situation to be in — one I vowed never to be in again for as long as I live. 
I again want to thank those who read these pieces, shared them, commented on them. Immense gratitude. For those who would like to read them, just follow the links. 

Onward and upwards. 
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Published on January 15, 2017 04:50 • 13 views

January 14, 2017

My first foray into the fictional world of Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. A contemporary of fellow Czech author Milan Kundera, Hrabal’s approach is quite different although the satirical elements and surrealist influence are present in Hrabal’s work as much as it’s in Kundera’s. However, the two authors couldn’t be more different stylistically. 
Most of the seven stories in this collection revolve around the quirky characters in and around post-war Prague, a good number of them taking place with in the steel mills in which Hrabal ‘volunteered’ his labor. The people he encountered obviously affected his creative output at this stage of his career and he approaches each story with a mixture of humor, whimsy, and a healthy dose of the absurd, all of which is commentary on this new ‘revolutionary society’ which he finds himself a part of. 
There is evidence of a Rimbaud/Baudelaire influence on his prose and there are times when the more surrealist elements rears its head to craft these often bizarre but thoroughly enjoyable stories. For those not familiar with Hrabal’s work, this is the perfect place to start. Recommended. 
Translated by Paul Wilson

Rating: * * * * 
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Published on January 14, 2017 03:25 • 13 views

January 8, 2017

From The Publicity Dept. 
I hope everyone is having a fantastic start to the new year. One week has passed already and to me, it felt like it went by way too fast. I guess this is what happens when one starts getting old. 
Three new prose pieces up at Medium: 
First is, ‘Coffee’ , which is pretty straightforward. An account of listening to a young girl and her hipster friend on the subway as she yapped on about Starbucks (which were fairly new to New York City in those days), internships, and being in Manhattan while annoying just about everyone on board who simply wanted to get home after a grueling day at the office. It isn’t meant to be an angry piece (though I suppose it does come off that way). It’s meant to be more amusement than anything else, about how when we’re young, excited and full of energy and optimism, before the daily grind begins to gnaw away at you; before all the subtle realities of life begin to chip away at one naivete. It’s also about longing and how sometimes we simply will not get what we want, in this case, the poor hipster bastard who was obviously enamored with his friend, who didn’t see him the same way (one could tell by their interaction), and how my initial annoyance at him was eventually tempered by empathy. Every guy has been in this position at some point in their life and it sucks, but that’s the way it is. When you’re older, it doesn’t matter as much. When you’re a kid, it’s the ‘end of the world’. To me, and this was only my interpretation of the events at the time, I saw this poor guy eventually spiraling into the melodramatic realm of unrequited love and the ‘agony’ he was going to go through over it. 
Next up is ‘Under Black Light’ , which is a moment in time. I was seeing a much older woman and this was our first night together after a few years of cat and mouse. At the time I was naive enough to believe that what I was experiencing was ‘true love’, since I was mad about her. She had other plans, however (that a much older man would clearly see). It relates to the ‘agony’ described above about the kid in the previous piece. This was my experience of ‘unrequited love’ only we did spend and evening of fun and games together (there would be more but each of us had two entirely different expectations). Looking back, it’s kind of bittersweet. I don’t regret a moment of it. She was a beautiful woman. 
Finally there’s ‘Tickets, Fifty Cents’ , which is an account of me being stabbed with a pencil by a kid in the third grade. I don’t mean poked, or jabbed, either. The damn thing was imbedded in my side. Naturally, I fought back, yet my classmates were more concerned with the onset of this kid’s asthma attack than they were with me standing there bleeding with a pencil sticking out of my ribs. Lessons learned at a very early age. 

Thanks again to those who read, shared and recommended these pieces. For those interested in reading them, just follow the links. Wishing everyone a very happy, joyous and successful new year. Make the most of it. I fear we have a hell of a bumpy ride ahead.
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Published on January 08, 2017 03:41 • 13 views

January 5, 2017

A writer from Uruguay who had more influence on later major writers (Julio Cortazar, Italo Calvino, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to name a few) than his own commercial success, which is a shame because Felisberto Hernandez was a brilliant writer. 
Off center, surreal, it’s hard to classify Hernandez though the influence of Proust is clearly evident. Bizarre stories where the everyday takes a turn towards the fantastic. The stories within are fable-like with their just off-kilter sensibility. There are moments where the reader is reminded of the ‘automatic writing’ experiments of the Surrealists, silent film comedy or just outright head scratching imagery where every day objects can often have a consciousness of their own. 
Fans of Cortazar in particular will enjoy these strange tales and their inherent surrealism (a man who believes he’s a horse; a woman who never leaves her balcony;  a theater usher whose eyes glow in the dark; a house full of life sized dolls that act out bizarre scenes, etc) appealed to me greatly. One of the lesser known Latin American writers for English readers but one English readers (and over all admirers of Latin American literature) must explore. 
Highly recommended. 
Rating: * * * * * 

Translated by Luis Harss
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Published on January 05, 2017 05:10 • 5 views

January 1, 2017

From The Publicity Dept. 
2016 is probably going to go down in history as the year that everyone came to a consensus that it sucked major ass. Between a brutal and infantile election season and the loss of so many musicians, writers, actors and artists, there seemed to be no end to the steady stream of bullshit. Now we enter a new year, and as far as I see it, a new era. Personally, I don’t feel much more hopeful now that we are embarking on ‘Trump Era America’ but I don’t want this to degenerate into mindless politics and I adamantly refuse to allow that idiot to bring me down, no matter what happens. Nevertheless, even though we are now entering these uncharted waters, I want to wish everyone a very happy and joyous new year. Do whatever you can to make the most out of life.
Playing catch up here, since I was away for the Christmas holidays: 
New prose pieces up at Medium: 
'Madella and The Sparrow'  — Pretty self-explanatory. Witnessing an adorable little girl and a small sparrow having a private encounter in the Jardin du Luxemborg in Paris during the spring of 2000. It’s these little incidents in life what we sometimes never forget, especially so when it deals with a child’s wonder. I’m sure Madella will never remember this incident, yet some stranger who lives across the ocean, even 16 years after the event, did. 
'Everywhere, Here, and Nowhere'  — Another look into the recent past — mid-1990s — during a trying emotional time for me. Each and every day I thank ‘The Gods’ that I am no longer in this place and have moved on. However, it still makes for decent material, something to write about — a vignette of a very unhappy thirty-something wandering the Lower East Side not knowing where the fuck he was going. 
'Hunger'  — Continues along the same lines. Broke, depressed and yearning to experience the better things in life, I wasn’t yet in a frame of mind to figure out that if I wanted this, I had to take the steps to get there. More wallowing in self-pity and ‘pseudo-existential dread’, a melodramatic period of my life which I vow will never return. 
'Kafka'  — Working a 9-5 gig and being surrounded by drones in a hive with a desperate yearning to break free and, most importantly, not become one of them. 
Again, thanks to everyone who read them, commented and shared these pieces. Always greatly appreciated. Those who would like to read them, just follow the links. 

Now go forth and begin a happy, fulfilling, joyous new year, in spite of it all. 
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Published on January 01, 2017 04:07 • 19 views