The Writer’s Handful with James Tadd Adcox


Mondays + Writers = Finally something to look forward to.

Curbside Splendor is at it again–publishing cutting edge work by butt-kicking emerging writers. Does Not Love is the debut novel of JAMES TADD ADCOX, and folks are paying attention to it. Roxanne Gay says “…Adcox is a writer who knows how to make the reader believe the impossible, in his capable hands, is always possible, and the ordinary, in his elegant words, is truly extraordinary.” And Electric Lit tells us “Does Not Love is funny, surreal, satiric, pensive, and strangely haunting.”

On his blog tour, James Tadd Adcox stopped by The Writer’s Handful, and I am glad he did.

Welcome James!

Did you write today? If yes, what? If no, why not?

I feel like I’m basically always working on something. I do a lot of writing in transit. I’m planning to spend some time on a train, later, working on an essay about Donald Barthelme.Man & Woman Front


What’s the first thing (story, poem, song, etc.) you remember writing, and how old were you when you wrote it?

A game, actually–I spent most of my childhood and early teenage years writing/designing games, mostly really complicated board games or card games, and then later on roleplaying games. I thought for a long time that I might want to design games as a career. (A friend of mine who used to be a collaborator in writing these games is doing that now, publishing them through indie games publishers on the West Coast).

The first game I remember writing was a book, something like a Choose Your Own Adventure but with some role-playing elements to it (you could collect items, buy things, your character advanced over time)–probably ripped off of this series of books that was around then, Lone Wolf, which did basically the same thing. I don’t especially remember the game’s plot, except that it had something to do with saving the world, and at some point a character who you were supposed to trust turned on you.

I’ve always preferred designing games or watching other people play them to playing games myself, though. I don’t know what that says about me, but I feel like it makes a kind of sense, as a disposition, for a writer.


What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Silence: A Christian History by Diarmaid MacCulloch, and Either/Or by Soren Kierkegaard. MacCulloch also wrote a massive history of Christianity called Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years; this one’s a bit shorter and more focused.


What’s the most important advice you ever received? (Writerly or otherwise.)

I’m terrible at taking advice. Mostly I have to keep doing something wrong long enough to learn not to do it.

Though it isn’t really advice, and wasn’t directed at me, Bertolt Brecht at some point in his journals talks about needing to develop sufficient butt-strength to write a novel; he says, at the time, that he has not gotten good enough at sitting down long enough to write one, but he is working on it… Does Not Love is a short novel, which I’m okay with—I wanted it to be a short novel, and it ended up being right around the size that I’d planned for when I started—but I’d like to develop enough sitting-ability or butt-strength to write something longer.


If your writing were an animal, what animal would it be? Because…

There is a kind of spider that makes a decoy of itself out of leaves and dead insects, and can make the decoy move, just like a real spider. It looks realistic enough that at first it fooled the scientists that discovered it into thinking that the decoy was, in fact, the spider. Ideally I would like my writing to be something like that.

Image from
Image from


James Tadd Adcox is the author of a novel, Does Not Love, and a collection of stories, The Map of the System of Human Knowledge. He lives in Chicago.

Friday Flash with Lindsay ~ “Milly in Love”


Photo by Dayanita Singh
Photo by Dayanita Singh


Sometimes she couldn’t do it. And Milly clenched her fists into small hard roses, and she stamped her feet making a small drum thunder on the wooden floorboards, and she screamed.

It’s what she did when the dance steps she’d learned left her and she tripped over and that was done in front of the dance teacher, Miss Elspeth; in front of all the girls in the class, too, and they laughed at first and then they held the gasp of worry in their cupped hands raised to their mouths. There were tears then and Milly made much of the twist in her ankle and Miss Elspeth felt for more than a bruise and finding nothing she said that Milly would be fine in a day or two and fine enough for the performance the following week.

But Milly said she couldn’t do it and her fingers were fists and her sore foot stamped and no wince or cry of pain, and Milly did not see the mistake she made in that. ‘I can’t do it,’ she cried. ‘And I wont.’

Same thing over again when she was learning to sing and she broke the tune, was the only girl who did, and she held a hand to her throat and said it was sore and maybe she should rest and Mrs Burgundy prescribed honey and lemon and hot water, and she should be fine in a day or two.

But Milly couldn’t and wouldn’t sing again, and she threw herself on her bed and there was something elegant and posed in the picture she made, and her tears were something musical.

Then there was Eddie and he was in the year above Milly at school and all the girls in her class talked of Eddie and what it would be like to be walking beside him, so close they were touching. Eddie and Pamela or Eddie and June, and each of the girls looked for some match between Eddie’s name and theirs. And kisses were talked about and debated and the girls took turns touching their lips with their fingers and imagining what it would be like. And in the dark below the school stage, Carol caressed the softness of her breast, her eyes closed, and she made believe it was Eddie who touched her.

And Eddie had eyes for Milly, and that made her special.

‘You have to,’ said Sue. ‘You have to, and afterwards we want to know. Everything. What it was like, what Eddie was like.’

But though she said she would, when it came to it Milly couldn’t. Alone in her room her fingers curled into knotted fists and her feet stamped and she screamed. She threw herself on the bed and wept, for she could not get the picture out of her head, the picture of Carol and the dark under the stage and the look on the girl’s face, so like an angel suffering bliss, and her fingers leaving small pink marks on her budded breast.


→For my own delight, and for yours I hope, I am introducing a new series of short pieces to be posted on Fridays: Friday Flash with Lindsay. I don’t really know Lindsay, but I sort of feel as though she and I are writing buddies. Lindsay (that’s the only name I have) is a long-time visitor to my site, and a frequent contributor of brilliant small pieces of writing drawn from the Daily Journal Prompts I post. Together, Lindsay and I will bring a selection of these works to you…if not every Friday, certainly many of them. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I do. And I hope they inspire you to try out theDaily Journal Prompts yourself. Oh, and take a trip over to Lindsay’s site, too, for more good stuff: Just a Writer’s Page.-PMc←


7.20.2014 Journal Prompt

Photo from Murphy's Romance
Photo from Murphy’s Romance

July 20, 2014: How could she not love him?





(RIP James Garner, April 7, 1928 – July 19, 2014)