Underwater New York/From the Parkives: "An Oral History of Atlantis"
These private oracles served as a fix, but I passed my days in a benthic haze: I wanted to swim again, to be by my blowhole familiar. Unable to resist, abject as any addict, I finally made a return visit uptown, but the entire district had been rezoned; the mayor, linking Metaphor to vice, had decreed that only pizza parlors could operate there now. They’d renamed it MUNGO, for Municipality near North Grosvenor and Orange, as if that would make people forget...
In November of last year, Nicole Haroutunian asked if I had any stories that might be suited for Underwater New York, an online lit and art anthology that she co-edits. A few months had to pass before I remembered this story. "An Oral History of Atlantis" was written in the early summer of 2001, for a reading at the old Galapagos in Brooklyn. It was a beautiful evening; I remember we ate delicious corn outdoors at Veracruz afterward. The reading was for a San Francisco–based journal called 6,500 (long defunct), guest-edited by my friend Paul La Farge. (6,500 had just run a different story by me; when I can, I still like to write original pieces for readings, mostly as a way to get myself writing anything at all.)
Later that summer I gave the story to Manuel Gonzales at Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art; he published it in the 35th issue, circa late 2002. "An Oral History of Atlantis" is thus both a pre-9/11 story (it was fun to imagine my city falling apart), and a post-9/11 one (I stopped writing like this for a while).
I believe this was my fourth published story. Indeed, this story is so old that the version on my computer can't be read by two out of three people I've sent it to. (Old hard drives, old word-processing programs might constitute the secret Atlantis of our time.) So I'm very happy to see it resurface, after nearly a decade, at the perfectly named Underwater New York; it's also a nice surprise to be teamed up with my friend and New-York Ghost photographer Adrian Kinloch, himself a frequent contributor to Underwater NYC.
You can read "An Oral History of Atlantis" in full here. The only other thing I'll say is that I've always liked the title.