The Beginning of an Imaginary Autobiography

by J. J. Steinfeld

This is my autobiography, begun today at the crack of dawn, even before I’ve had my first coffee of the morning or felt my first pang of regret, yet it isn’t chronological or especially personal and has an awkward coherency. But it’s not dishonest, even if it may be short on the factual. Basically, fragments bouncing off fragments like an angry chain reaction in a far-off lab. I cannot tell you my name because God may be watching and I do not want to alienate God any more than I already have in my chaotic, jumbled life. I’m also not going to say whether I’m married or not, if I have any political affiliation, my favourite breakfast cereal, even my age, and I’m not going to divulge my religion, or whether I fear dying or not. Before I get too far into my autobiography I should mention that I’m imaginary, and don’t want you getting me mixed up with the author. What an uneasy relationship I have with the author, to say the least. We don’t talk, even over drinks. I like to keep my distance from authors, even the one who has created me. But all this said, or not said, most or all my autobiography is a love song, contradictory as that may sound. Off-key maybe, somewhat strident, but a love song all the same. Yes, a heartfelt love song of existing.

In my autobiography, dreams are important, both waking and sleeping. You know, the dream within a dream within a dream, and then there’s a gargantuan thunderstorm and Zeus thunderbolts wake you but you’re already awake, and you realize by the process of elimination that it’s not a reality-TV show, or a low-budget feature film, or a controversial stage play, or even a dreadfully tedious home movie. It’s one of those disjointed days. Along with the dreams, prominent in this autobiography will be musings and introspection and existential angst and— Whew, let me pause and take a deep metaphysical breath. A life lived, that’s what this fragmentary exploration is all about. How many thoughts does a person have in a lifetime? How many words and regrets and desires and fantasies and apologies? What is the proper measurement for a life? Where is the consciousness odometer? However, I’ll leave the statistical appraisal to the census takers and score keepers and those who have perfected systems of keeping track of the days while incarcerated. Let me continue before I run out of time. That’s one of the dangers about life or writing an imaginary autobiography: running out of damn time…

J. J. Steinfeld is a Canadian fiction writer, poet, and playwright who lives on Prince Edward Island, where he is patiently waiting for Godot’s arrival and a phone call from Kafka. While waiting, he has published fourteen books, including Should the Word Hell Be Capitalized? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Would You Hide Me? (Stories, Gaspereau Press), Misshapenness (Poetry, Ekstasis Editions), and A Glass Shard and Memory (Stories, Recliner Books), and over forty of his one-act plays and a handful of full-length plays have been performed in North America.

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