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Caitlin Horrocks will give a public reading at the Piper Writers House on Nov. 4 at 7:45 p.m.

From "The Lion Gate"
by Caitlin Horrocks

He asked how she’d ended up in Nafplio and she started her story in the wrong place, too early, so that she thought she must be boring him, taking about her sabbatical from work, the years she’d fantasized about a trip to Greece. This was supposed to be the land of her lunch hour romances, the novels of her airport layovers and waiting rooms: the strong-thighed women of Sparta, the oracles of Delphi, pledged to the Goddess until strapping soldiers tested their resolve; the difficulty of courtship in the Late Helladic in their language without love letters, whose written form included only numbers and nouns. Linear B script was meant solely for inventories. In her favorite novel, an ingenious suitor managed to write his beloved a poem, a list of the gifts he would give her: One woman, one gold bowl / One woman, one gold cup.

A Brief Biography of "The Lion Gate"

1. Eight years ago, I was traveling in Greece with friends who made a lot of wonderful, stupid jokes. I stole several of those jokes, and two of them survived to the final draft. I should probably ask my friends’ permission.

2. We also participated in an act of death-defying tourism, which, having survived, I knew I wanted to someday write about.

3. Six years ago, I wrote the first lines of what would become this story. I set them aside. I pulled them back out once, aged the protagonist 20 years for reasons I wouldn’t understand until much later, and put them away again.

4. Two years ago I made a bar bet with a fellow writer to insert a specific 70s-era children’s TV show in a short story.

5. Last year, that fellow writer had to buy me a beer.

6. The story also contains an invented romance novel, invented ancient Greek love poetry, and a real-life comic book about dentistry. Nobody bought me beer for any of those.

7. Last year, this story was written in twenty-five sections that all began with the word “Tick.”

8. Four months ago I came to my senses and retold the story using these flexible, helpful things called “normal paragraphs.”

9. The story changed tense three times, but only changed titles twice. Now it’s in the past tense, with the same title it had six years ago.

10. Except for the last line. That is in a whole other tense, and if you come to the reading you can tell me what you think.

11. At the reading, I will sing the opening lines to that 70s television show. This will be your one and only opportunity to hear me sing, but you won’t want another one.


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