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In Which I Share The Fruits of My Labor.

Road Skiing. Guaranteed to be as good as Road House.

Over the past few months some of you have asked, and I'm not making this up, when I was going to write a book. In fact I am working on one now and have a snippet of it for you to preview here. Writing the book is the part I know how to do. Finding an agent and or publisher is another matter entirely and one which I have met with something less than success so far, but never mind, that hasn't kept me from writing yet. Here's all you need to know to understand the chunk I'm throwing out here like spoiled meat to hogs (no offense). The subject of the novel is a family vacation. The Narrator is Jimbo, the youngest of the Gallagher clan. Alex, the oldest has suddenly departed the trip with his fiancé, the front desk girl at the hotel where they stayed last night. Others on the trip include Mr. and Mrs. Gallagher, their daughter Mallory and Gramaw Ginny. Frodo is their dog.


If I was ever called to testify in a court of law which of us it was first hit upon the concept of road skiing, I would have to say I did not recall, so organically did the idea grow out of the conversation we were having inside Matilda to keep from thinking about the loss of Our Alex. The sport of road skiing, which I am pretty sure was invented for the first time that day by us Gallaghers, is not all that different from water skiing except in that the surface upon which one skis is a road instead of water and in place of a motor boat you have a car. So there’s Gramaw Ginny racketing along behind us, clutching the tow rope for dear life and hellfire, sparks flying out from under her skis, hollering like a Texan on a wild bull, me half out one window cheering her on, Mallory out the other window doing likewise except for a deal more cussing, Our Father gripping Matilda’s wheel fit to crush it, stomping the accelerator halfway through the floor, shouting something at the top of his lungs about Iphigeneia in Tauris, Our Mother finally getting in the spirit of this vacation, really letting her hair down for once just screaming with laughter, kicking her naked feet so the fuzzy dice spun up round the rear view mirror like a tetherball and by God, here come the cops.

So the Old Man gets as far out his window as he can go while still holding on to the wheel, cranes his head half backwards on his neck like an owl at the pursuant Fuzz, his eyes in no way any longer attuned to the road and traffic ahead of us which we are now approaching if anything even faster than we had been due to the spastic extension of his entire bodyweight pressing down upon the gas pedal, he begins lecturing the Stateies chasing us on the subject of Armageddon and it’s salubrious effects upon the rigidity of laws and strictures governing such thing as vehicular speed. And I’m yelling at him that no matter how charming and persuasive his argument might be, it is physically impossible for the Coppers to hear him under the current circumstances, but he himself can’t hear me over the wind and the sirens and his own shouting, though I’m a hell of a lot closer to him than the enraged bacon now climbing up Gramaw Ginny’s ass, and his situational deafness would illustrate my whole point pretty nicely if he could only hear me which of course he can’t! The passenger cop squeezes halfway out his window fixing to shoot our tires out which at this speed on an Interstate desperately in need of infrastructural attention is near on impossible, not to mention the obstacle presented by the skeletal octogenarian slaloming wildly back and forth between him and his target, trailing medical tubing and old lady undergarments, the cobwebby remnants of her frantic, wirey white hair peeling straight back from her speckled scalp, dentures banging around in the wide open maw of a toothless old mouth stretched wide open by at least three gees combined with complete unleashed geriatric glee, it was a sight entirely magnificent and then we went off road. Careening down the median, jouncing up and down, Frodo howling canine curses, huge divots of turf and dust spraying every which way, Matilda finally protesting, throwing her hood up in outrage, shooting steam out her radiator like a cartoon bull, banging down once and twice and in the end at last stopping, the cops going sideways, tearing the hell out of some Sunday Schools municipal roadside beautification project, and all of us tumbling out of our cars, Gallaghers and police alike, laughing our heads off at the crazy ass impossible fun of it all.



Alex (Guest) on 07/21/2008 2:07 pm

I like run-on sentences.

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captain516 on 07/21/2008 3:20 pm

Have you thought of a title yet?


Poop on a Stick (Guest) on 07/21/2008 4:23 pm

Sounds more like an autobiography than fiction. Hope Gramaw was okay. BRAND MAX BURBANK!!!

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Kamrom on 07/21/2008 5:23 pm

I'd request you change the last name of the family, since it's my last name as well, and i already have enough trouble googling myself ^^

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HeroliciousDeBlanc on 07/21/2008 6:08 pm

"which at this speed on an Interstate desperately in need of infrastructural attention is near on impossible"

HIlarious. I agree with Alex though: The excerpt is great, but any English teacher would flip a major league shit with all those commas and words. But hey, screw English teachers, right?

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Dungeonbrownies on 07/21/2008 6:41 pm

thats a heluva nice piece, but it hink you should look through Elements of Style for some tips on cleanup. Alot of awkward chunks, but once you write a bit longer, i think youll smooth out. this is gonna be a heluva book.

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Optimistic Socks on 07/21/2008 7:08 pm

I'm in some sort of awe...this is on par with Steve Martins "Cruel Shoes"....actually I think this goes one better!

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greenimp on 07/21/2008 7:56 pm

hell, id buy it

also lol @ kamrom

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Colonel Flagg on 07/21/2008 8:17 pm

Any one or all of these sentences are, as usual, Bulwer-Lytton worthy. Great job, Max! I especially like the multiple upon multiple dependent clauses, only to end with the phrase "and then we went off road."

(This sounds like one trip that I might have experienced first hand - how odd ...)

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Max Burbank on 07/21/2008 9:12 pm

Indeed, colonel.

At the risk of being flippant, I'm aware the run on sentence is frowned upon. It's a choice, not a mistake, though, and I champion the run on sentence, mostly feeling multiple looping clauses convey the mood I mean to more than standard grammatical structures allow.

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-RoG- on 07/21/2008 9:13 pm

For those talking about Max's grammar, let me help clear something up for ya. From my years of working with Max I've come to know two definite things about him:

1) He's worked hard to become one of the funniest, most talented writers I've ever known.

2) He'll make damn sure that anybody who does act as the editor for his book will have to work to earn their cut of the proceeds.

I know some other things about Max, but I'd rather not slander the guy just because he "accidentally" set a few orphanages on fire back in the 70s. I don't know how you "accidentally" spill four barrels of gasoline onto the roof of an orphanage, but it held up in court, so more power to ya, Max.

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Mister Tea on 07/21/2008 9:14 pm

Believe it or not, and you may as well do so, I'm writing a novel too. The plot has absolutely nothing in common with what you're working on, but like you, I'm a little apprehensive about my chances of publication; it's the only part of writing that's out of my control. Of course, I'm not even bothering to look for an agent until after the manuscript is finished, so we'll see how it goes.

And hey: If you've never read it, check out Stephen King's "On Writing." He gives a few good tips on how to find representation. Best of luck on your project.

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rizzo on 07/21/2008 9:21 pm

Absolutely hilarious...then again, so is everything you write, Max. Good luck finding a way to get it published, I'll be buying a copy.

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Colonel Flagg on 07/21/2008 9:51 pm

Max said:

"... I champion the run on sentence, mostly feeling multiple looping clauses convey the mood I mean to more than standard grammatical structures allow."

I wholeheartedly concur. In this specific case it is a valid literary technique, albeit one you will not find when perusing "The Elements of Style". Dare I speculate the mood you are attempting to convey is not wholly dissimilar to the effect of a sportscar going 75 mph, then accidentally shifting into reverse?


Ken Hart (Guest) on 07/21/2008 10:50 pm

"...his situational deafness would illustrate my whole point pretty nicely if he could only hear me which of course he can’t!"

Get rid of that exclamation point, and it is absolutely perfect

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Mister Tea on 07/22/2008 12:19 am

I didn't see anything wrong with Max's prose, because he's writing from the point of view of an adolescent boy. If you are one, or have ever been one, you'd know that a teenage boy's train of thought is basically one long run-on sentence until he turns, say, 30.

Of course, since such a style can be a little difficult for some readers, an editor might whine about it. But hey, it worked for Cormack McCarthy.

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El Sammo on 07/22/2008 2:33 am

Fuck the critics. I like it. Max, baby, yagonnabe a Star

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wobzire on 07/22/2008 8:26 am

Thank you Max.


Alex (Guest) on 07/22/2008 10:57 am

Geez, I guess people failed to notice that I said that I LIKE run-on sentences ... ;)

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El Sammo on 07/22/2008 1:00 pm

Editors can kiss Max's ass. Read a Hubert Selby story, and you'll know what I'm talking about. Grammar meant NOTHING to that man and it still made him a assload of money...that he spent on heroin and morphine...but still!

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-RoG- on 07/22/2008 1:34 pm

"...that he spent on heroin and morphine"

Man, now you're REALLY gonna inspire Max to write a book.


Jim (Guest) on 07/22/2008 1:47 pm

Please don't go with the run on thing. The story is entertaining but the run on deal makes my head hurt.


bertleman (Guest) on 07/22/2008 5:14 pm

I remember Frodo and he never told me that story.

I like it. Write more words Mister Max.


Jimbob Jones (Guest) on 07/23/2008 1:24 pm

Honestly, you don't want my honest opinion (since you seem fairly defensive about it), but, unless this gets slapped with a "From the creators of" logo, this thing will NEVER get published.

If this poor writing is "because it's told from the perspective of an adolescent boy", why is said adolescent boy using words like "salubrious" and "octogenarian"?

I'm an avid reader and a published writer -- this would, at best, sell as a novelty only because of the moderate success of I-Mockery, not on its own merits, and the writing would turn off anyone who isn't already a fan of the site.

(Welcome to the world of writing, Max. You'll learn to appreciate honest criticism, even if it sucks to hear).

Sites/books you need:

'On Writing' by Stephen King
'Elements of Style' by Strunk and White (A blog by a reasonably new author with information on how the business works from the inside)

I fully expect to get flamed for this, because that's the way honest opinions work on popular sites, but I would recommend you spend more time writing how you write on the site (which is generally awesome, by the way), and less time trying to sound "like a writer" by using big words and sentences that nobody will read.

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Max Burbank on 07/23/2008 8:19 pm

I welcome honest criticism but reject didactacism, which I can't even spell. NEVER is a long time to not get published, and while you may end up being correct, only the Pope is allowed to speak ex-cathedra. I own both the books you mentioned, and I like them and have found them helpful.

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Mister Tea on 07/23/2008 9:25 pm

JimBob: it's the same reason that Hi from Raising Arizona and Calvin (of "and Hobbes" fame, not the one that pees on the Ford logo) used big words; it's because the cognitive dissonance of seeing someone who shouldn't know such words using them is amusing. Because Max is such a good writer, I trust him to know exactly what he's doing.

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Jigby Huggletinks on 07/23/2008 9:27 pm

This... IS how he writes on the site. It feels exactly like every other story style piece Burbank writes, except with more consistency.

It's gold. I've already shown this to a whole room full of guys who've never heard of this site once, and they all found it hilarious.

So maybe some Starbucks sipping Macbook yuppie retard won't buy it, but fuck them, people like me are your target audience.


Jimbob Jones (Guest) on 07/23/2008 10:30 pm

OK. Good luck with that.

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Max Burbank on 07/23/2008 10:46 pm

<p><p>Okay, I got drawn away from the conversation by the reality of bills that needed paying. I'm back now.</p><br />
<p>Jimbob should be cut some slack. He didn't like the piece and that's fine. My only objection is the assumption that I have never heard of the elements of style. </p><br />
<p>I'm a big King fan, and on writing is a great book. He's written some really great stuff and some tripe. That's not the point.</p><br />
<p>As you yourself pointed out, I write in more than one style. The snippet I put up is written the way it is by choice. It's not accidental nor am I trying to impress anyone with my big words. I'll just say I chose each word carefully for rythmn, sound and meaning. No one has to like it, but I'm 46 and I sold my first story fifteen years ago. My copy of elements is nicely dog eared.</p><br />
<p>It might be hard to get it published, but it's what I want to write just now and I like it ok so far.</p><br />
<p>George Saunders got one of them there genius grants, and he's been known to string a few dependent clauses together. Thomas Pynchon is way harder to read than my stuff, but mostly worth it.<br /><br />
Jonathan Lethem has written a best seller (Motherless brooklyn) but he also wrote a novella for McSweeneys called "This Shape We're in" and I recommend it highly. You should see how loopy the prose style is in that one, but it's grand.</p><br />
<p>I don't mean to say I am any of those guys. Here's all I think I have in common with them. I'm purposefully trying to do a very specific thing each time I write. When I break a rule or let a narrator use a word you wouldn't think was in his lexicon, I've chosen to do that for reasons of flow, resonance, voice and humor. I try to hear it, and that's the way this book sounds to me.</p><br />
<p>I'm not a naive whippersnapper thinking I can turn the publishing world on it's ear. I'm a middle aged guy who's been writing for a while now and I'm actually very careful about each word I use. I suppose that might make getting published harder but that's ok. I'd like to be a big sucsess, but I will or I won't. I gots to follow my muse, you see. You like some of my stuff, you don't like some which is fine.</p><br />
<p>All that being said, you should pony up, sir. Honest crit is a two way street, and I'm not too old to learn a thing or two. I've showed you mine, now show me yours. Who are you and what have you done, and where can I read it?</p></p>

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Genmo_DaCombs on 07/24/2008 12:29 am

Well, the exclaimer to all rules given by writing professors and fine folks who write essays for Writer's Market or blogs like this J.A. Konrath is that there is always an exception, if you can make it work you can break them all into a mess of letter's, looking much like a freshly shaken Scrabble bag, if it works. After reading these two long-ass paragraphs, the chops are here where the writing is good and action is happening despite the stream-of-consciousness molasses the story is thus far steeped in. I'd figure a guess that most people would have trouble doing that, resulting in some self-absorbed fetal alcohol syndrome drool.

So good job, and good luck!

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Genmo_DaCombs on 07/24/2008 12:30 am

Oh and I'm sorry if I gave you a BJ just then, its just that I don't see the point in giving a detailed hard time for an intro, just my overall impression is all.

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El Sammo on 07/27/2008 11:21 pm

I was reminded of the comedian. You might have to ask him if you can use that scene...Unless you're writing about Him...Then I guess it's okay.

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0dd1 on 08/10/2008 10:56 pm

On the day this makes it to the shelves, I'll be at Barnes and Noble faster than a rabid Harry Potter freak if another HP book came out!!!

(In other words, I'm SO getting this if it gets published!!!)


Echoslove_4 (Guest) on 09/21/2008 4:23 pm

Love the start, Max. And keep the run-ons, they are the best part of a Burbank:) I still read "An Open Letter From Santa" to every new group of friends I come across. Keeps me from having too many friends......

Anywho, you publish, I buy. Promise. Much love - Sarah Marie

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