UNITED STATES—Graydon Miller rarely came out of the jungle, both imagined and utterly real in its warm, humid embrace. Only for the sake of the work-in progress would Miller take a walk around the block. You know, Finnegan’s Wake was panned when finally published in 1939 and had first appeared in the Little Review as “Fragments of a Work-in-progress” but the Boston prudes savaged Sir James Joyce. (Well, he ought to have been a sir—that much we now know with benefit of hindsight).

For Joyce’s last, culminating work to have been recognized as banning bait was a badge of honor for those champions of decency. Yet it became a novel incomprehensible yet sweet water music, the sweetest music and a bit of blarney, yet it might never have seen the darkness of ink.

“If only sole letter ‘A’or ‘T’ were left after the day of the locust, from there we would build to glory again. Civilization should not be what it is, were it not for the irrepressible Arabic alphabet, which attests to our inextricable link between the West and the Mideast.”

Aye, the worst is yet to come, Grady lad. Graydon Miller was both created by accident, according to the most reliable of sources, namely the holy Mother and the holy Father, due to a defective condom. Each parent independently corroborated this ticklish matter at different points in time. Miller had this one last chance to clear it up, by asking his mother, gulped a deep breath and asked sitting at the foot of the bed, in that dark room, lying in that bed to which her life had been reduced:

“Was it true what Dad said? That my being born wasn’t something you had planned for?”

She took it in, and Graydon held his breath. She was remarkably matter of fact, Mom was, as she usually was with serious matters.

“Oh yes, by the time you came, we had already resigned ourselves to being childless,” she said matter-of-fact in that old oak bet with the high headboard. We’d been married almost ten years.”

An accident conjoined by a manufacturing defect, destiny incarnate. It was recalled in the Great American Northwest when Miller strolled past a gaggle of people holding signs in the blindingly radiant morning by the bridges of Yakima, ABORTION IS KILLING BABIES, the author and future cultural statesman mused that he was the walking, living proof incarnate of an abortion averted, a chauvinist for life and yet its melancholy ally…And Miller, being a bilingual writer could appreciate the tenderness that lurked behind the scowls and the heart of the biting, teething dog, fudrucker that was driving him berserk.

The sweetness and the abyss of it all was like the mad dog that must be put down, and yet one does not do it without tears in the heart, though its elimination if necessary for the good of all. Time, time, time, backwards and forwards.

Aye, the best is yet to come. The rest is yet to come. Miller could appreciate the vast contours of the widely unread final work by Jamie Joyce, the book entitled requiem for the end again, fin, let’s do it again. Wake woke walk, or wok—let’s do a little stir fry, y’know the Chinese eat their dogs, and in central America so many are left for strays, they’re scrappy and their rubs show through.

Oh, by double accident Graydon drew breath in the land of U.S. currency, the dollar-store Republic, into those oddly comforting dark open spaces, and ever flowing highways. And here, at the edge of perfect failure he was daily plotting Operation Jackpot, but he innately knew that for Operation Jackpot to be a success he ought to devise first Operation Failure—and then it had a chance of succeeding. It made no sense to anyone but Graydon.

Universally dismissed by critics: there is hurt of hurt at the end for Jamie Joyce, and the specter of blindness, pursued by furies. Feel the hurt of the hurt…Finnegan’s Wake was an aporia. That is, the book is ruled by logical dissonance (i.e. the statement “A cretin declares all Cretans to be liars.”)

“If I can startle people that really is quite an accomplishment,” Dr. Graydon said, donning his bright blue robe fresh from his ceremony, honorary doctorate in Humane Letters, as he smacked the sh-t out of a cute cuddly rat, that staggering tenderloin as he sauntered out on the campus gates and donning his robes, that same light blue found on many flags of Bananaland, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and especially Guatemala. That department chair who’d long ago passed over Graydon to teach English 101 had been both avenged and vindicated.

To be continued…

Graydon is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)