... SITM INTRODUCTION
We’ve never met, so I thought a hello and a handshake might be in order. For different reasons and in different ways, you and I have at least one very significant thing in common — we are both Not-Wand. (Two significant things if we count ourselves fortunate for the first.) Above all else, my pseudonym — Alexander Isaiah Wand — is a weird guy. He sometimes, but not always, writes using a pen name, Augie Christie. Augie decided it made sense for him to use a pseudonym also and dubbed his Sir Agatha (which makes Wand somewhat of a copycat and Augie, doubly so. I can say with complete authority it takes one to know one).
Unlike you or I, Augie and Agatha couldn’t claim to be Not-Wand, because Wand, Augie, and Agatha are really all the same. Using a multiple-persona trope for SITM was in no way a literary innovation (at this point, how could it be?), but it was a literary necessity, since this anthology wouldn’t exist otherwise. I wrote only one of these stories as myself; the rest of the time, I was pretending, trying on a variety of hats, scarves, wigs, and sunglasses as I wrote.
My goal from the beginning, once it finally gelled that something had begun, was to give Something in the Middle the feel of a multi-author anthology. I didn’t want it to read like a collection of stories written by one person, so I became many people while I wrote it. It’s disconcerting how effectively that ploy worked, at least from my end. (Reading SITM and thinking it has multiple authors is far less creepy than actually being those authors.) Nonetheless, I completed it, I’m happy to report, with my sanity intact. More or less.
Something in the Middle both is and is not many things simultaneously, most of which are touched on in the book. Before you read it, however, you’ll benefit from learning a few things upfront. No spoiler alert is needed, I promise —
1) SITM is Sir Agatha’s short debut novel that Augie wrote before he met his wife, Jillian.
2) SITM is a screenplay and an unfinished movie Jillian sold that died on the vine after she disappeared.
3) SITM is Wand’s anthology of short stories and microfictions inspired by Sir Agatha’s novel, and on which the screenplay was based.
4) Most importantly, SITM is a literary homage to Western pop culture, a tribute to the scores of talented performers, entertainers, artists, writers, singers, cartoonists, actors, musicians, photographers, producers, illustrators, animators, videographers, songwriters, rappers, directors, magicians, and comedians who have made our time on earth such a joy. Make no mistake, the world sometimes sucks (#AloneTogether comes immediately to mind), but an appreciation for the creative human spirit goes a long way towards insulating us from all that would drag us down.
Finally, please know this. I am not an academic, and SITM isn’t literature. Even at its most effective, it’s no trip to the Guggenheim or an afternoon with “All Things Considered” on NPR (which I adore, by the way).
If you read this anthology on a subway, in the park, on a playground, or at the beach, if your copy will sit on your nightstand or in your bathroom, then you may very well enjoy this book. If you peruse this while waiting in line at a gallery opening, over Martinis at a black-tie event, in the Student Center between graduate-level Western Lit courses, or with wine and cheese at a charity benefit auction, you might be disappointed. It isn’t, in any sense, highbrow. Think Young Adult fiction, not Joan Didion.
If I’ve succeeded, SITM is, in every sense, re-readable. I wrote this hoping some of it would be good enough for you to come back and visit again. For me, part of the pleasure of seeing SNL’s “More Cowbell” sketch for the thousandth time is how well I know it by now. It’s become an old, dear friend to me.
My wish is, after enjoying it once, you’ll enjoy SITM again, or parts of it at least, after you discover it hiding in a box under your bed or while you browse your older titles archived in the cloud. If I can give you an “Oh yeah, I remember that story! That was fun!” six months or ten years down the road, I’ll consider my mission accomplished.
Somewhere in America
At the Dawn of the 2020s