‘Less of Everything’ by Dave Shaw
Dave Shaw is a resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Aaron Funk, famous noise artist, once stated ‘Winnipeg is a frozen shithole’. I read this story with that in mind. ‘Less of Everything’ reminds me of the United States actually. Actually I’m not sure if this proves or disproves Mr. Funk’s point. The temperature outside (which is mentioned) points to this being accurate. Either way it is a good little story, compact, detailed, and unusually precise.
Anxiety lives his life. It seems to be a decent enough life but he doesn’t live it well. There appear to be all these problems anxiety has, due to how he interacts with his environment. However some state noticing these problems, at Subway, at Walmart shows Anxiety is aware of culture. As David Foster Wallace (who gets a shout out in the story) once said ‘This is water’. Culture is everywhere, even in the most isolated parts of North America.
2008 and Anxiety are friends, lovers or some such wonderful thing. While we hear about their relationship little details go on in the background. I enjoy the additional information. Anxiety appears to be highly tuned into the alternative literary scene. Things happen in threes: first Stephen Tully Dierks reblogs something of Anxiety’s through his ‘Pop Serial’ Tumblr. Next Steve Roggenbuck, a great internet poet gets a mention through an ustream where he reads Walt Whitman. Finally Neon Glittery, not part of the Chicago literary scene, but one of the biggest players in the Arkansas literary scene has her now-alt famous ‘nEonsense’ chapbook make a brief appearance. Anxiety gets the glitter all over his hands. I assume this makes him even more anxious.
The book dwells on loneliness. Anxiety has a band. He is interested in literature, studying at college, writing those shitty papers about dead writers. Usually Anxiety bikes home alone a lot. His friends support him. 2008, his girlfriend supports him. It can be hard to connect to people when they’re trying to help you. Sometimes you have no idea how to act. Weirdly 2008 seems like a really strange year to me, on a personal level. I don’t remember evolving at all that year. I feel like I regressed a lot that year, with 2009 acting as some life-changing sort of year, when I finally appeared to interact with other people in an ultimately more healthy way.
‘Less of Everything’ is a tight story. I find the title interesting as there appears to be reams of details, down to books read; number of paragraphs written, old friends, and music listened to. Perhaps the last one shouldn’t surprise me: Dave Shaw has a pretty excellent lit mixtapes special on his Tumblr. I kind of adore this story. It is a snapshot, an extraordinarily perfect way of capturing the alt lit community and relationships simultaneously. Basically, it is gorgeous and readable here.