Babble, or Babel


Found something odd yesterday when I was looking for the link to the story I wrote last year, “Daphne Alluvia.”  It’s an odd title, and although “alluvia” is a real word (geological, having to do with sediment), the combination of words is unique enough that if I search for the exact phrase, everything that comes up is probably related to my story.

Except for this:


Not sure what it is — looks like a blog site, except that it’s all nonsense.  The words are real, or at least derived from real words (“nakedish”, “overgloominess” which I kind of like).  A cryptic sidebar implies that it might be a computer-generated page, which makes sense.  But the weird part, highlighted, is that my story’s title appears as part of all the babble.

(The date on the post was August 2012, three months before my story was published.)

Just a coincidence, obviously, but my kind of coincidence.  Combines two of my favorite ideas — that names have potency in and of themselves (thinking of Pynchon, and Delaney’s Dhalgren, and LeGuin’s Earthsea books, and even my favorite Vonnegut passage ever, when Unk finds his own scrawled name at the bottom of the journal he’s been reading), and that we’re always looking for signals amid the noise.  Lot 49 was really all about the signal/noise question, and so was Crowley’s Aegypt series, although Crowley opted for transcendence instead of despair as his angle of approach.  (Actually Oedipa’s despair was kind of transcendent, too.)

About the author

Tom Howard

Tom Howard is the author of Fierce Pretty Things (Indiana University Press, 2019).

He received his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Fierce Pretty Things won the 2018 Blue Light Books Fiction Prize, and his individual stories have won the Ninth Letter Literary Award in Fiction, the Indiana Review Fiction Prize, the Robert and Adele Schiff Award for Fiction, the Carve Magazine Prose & Poetry Contest, the Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction, the Innovative Short Fiction Prize, the Willow Springs Ficiton Prize, the Rash Award in Fiction, and the Robert J. DeMott Award for Short Prose.

He lives with his wife in Arlington, Virginia.

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