what I do and why I do it

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An American journalist and author living in St. Petersburg, Russia.

I am an American journalist and author living in Russia whose works include The King of FU, The Babushka SocietyDeath at a Preschool Christmas Party, and Flash-365. I create monthly projects on Patreon with various artists.

I contribute regularly to Russia Beyond where I also write a column: Conversations with Russians.

I publish articles and stories on Medium in P.S. I Love You, The Junction, Scribe, Lit Up, Slackjaw, The Weekly Knob, The Writing Cooperative, and more. If you are an artist and would like to do a project with me, I split the monthly payments 50/50 with collaborators. Please contact me.

Why do I write? 

I write because cats can’t. I write for the same reason that musicians play, mathematicians add (I presume), and psychopaths murder people. I write because, really, what the fuck else am I supposed to do with all of this.

I remember the first story I was supposed to write. I was five. My parents were in therapy after a recent separation. My brother and I were in therapy due to an ongoing and messy divorce of our own that has never seemed to stick.

The therapist worked out of her house down the road from the decaying liquor store that I’d like to think was called “Death’s Door” or “Sloppage” (which are two names I think liquor stores should be called, for different reasons) but it was probably called something like “Jim’s” or “Tony’s” or “Chucks.” She was a frump of a woman–that therapist–with a moldy chin. She decided we should spend one hour a week with one parent or the other, writing a story (because it was the 90s and therapists could say literally whatever-the-fuck they want to a middle-class white family without fearing a bad Yelp review.)

And so, we did. And I do not remember the story. I do not remember a single time where we actually sat down to write it, but I remember that if we did, I would have laid half-curled in the gullet of my parent’s king-sized bed and felt like a beetle. I know I drew a picture inspired by the story though, an elf—but I was always drawing elves. Something about them turned my child-brain on. It was a decent enough drawing.

The thing is, everything has been just “decent enough” throughout my life. My bar, my rock bottom, my “oh-fuck-what-can-I-do-now” moment always landed at boredom. What a lucky son-of-a-bitch I was. I used to imagine fish that could talk, people that had fish-mouths, and mouths that said things they never said but damn I wished they would like, “come and save the world,” or “you’re a wizard kid,” or on occasion (any occasion) “let’s fly, baby.”

I am fond of magical realism whimsy and humor and death. I like to believe that everything that I’ve ever known and been sure of in the world is a complete and utter lie. I want my father to be my uncle who murdered my father in a dirty plot that had something to do with love and too much whiskey and regret. I want to wake up in the middle of the night and be scared out of my mind by something other than an oddly shaped hanging shirt!

What I mean by all of this is that my stories are meant to entertain. My aim is not to teach a life-lesson, imitate the tragedies of the world, or solve anyone’s problems. If I do my job right, they might make you laugh or cry or think or say, “hmm,” “hah,” or even, maybe, “oh dear.”

What is my writing like?

As for writing. I like parenthesis—and dashes—for effect. I don’t know how to use them. I throw them around a page mostly because of how it looks rather than a should-be shouldn’t-be debate. Then I end up with comments from editors like, “these don’t need to be here” “what is this?” “why not a comma?” or my favorite one (after I’d strangled three words between two semi-colons) just said “vonnegut rule.” But mostly they don’t say anything and just quietly work around, picking up my mess like a parent cleaning the mouth of a toddler after they’ve gone six rounds with a birthday cake, blind drunk.

The most important thing I’ve learned about writing is that no one knows everything, but most people will know at least one thing I don’t. In that way I will always improve and never waste my time reading people who think they know everything.

The King of FU

May of 2018 my first book The King of FU was published by Nada Blank Press. It a magically realistic poetic memoir about growing up in America in the nineties on the cusp of the age of the internet. It is a voyage that navigates through family tribalism, supervisors, white-gloved Sheriffs, bullies, sex, suicide, dead prisoners, drugs, porn, middle school, and Jesus; all in search of answering one of life’s greatest mysteries: what is the point of adults? An artistic masterpiece with illustrations by Russian artist Nikita Klimov.

You can find all of my social media links above, and if you’d like to purchase my book you can find it below.


https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js Interview with Benjamin Davis from Alena Koleso on Vimeo.


One comment on “what I do and why I do it”
  1. Jake says:

    I’ll be sure to pick up the book soon. Subbed.

    Liked by 1 person

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