Connor de Bruler’s When We Fell in Love: Where I Write From

I love the beginning of James Agee’s A Death in the Family. It was right around the time I had heard (from where I can’t remember) that good writing uses almost no adverbs or adjectives, and here this guy was describing his corner of Knoxville as “fairly solidly lower middle class.” As someone who has always had a difficult time with authority, I’m charmed by a blatant disregard for any rule as long as it works. And of course, Agee makes this wishy-washy line work better than any simple phrase could have to describe the neighborhood.

All of us can envision something as being “fairly solidly” something, which brings me to my long-winded point: I’m fairly, solidly sure that I’m dyslexic. I don’t know the difference between right and left and I invert numbers and letters constantly. I’ve taken multiple self assessment tests and scored off the charts. School was always a struggle and I was given glasses in third grade because my parents thought I couldn’t see well. I could see fine. My brain just didn’t route the information the same. In high school, I demanded my guidance counselor sign me up for a free dyslexia screening the school was offering but she refused. My grades were too high to qualify (they were mediocre, but I wasn’t actively failing anything).

I remember pretending to read Harry Potter in the second grade. Everyone around me was taking these massive tomes home from the school library over the weekend and finishing them and I couldn’t get through a fucking paragraph without having to re-read it eight or nine times. I was an inveterate TV and movie watcher at the time, and, as much as I loved the Ninja Turtles, I was equally obsessed with the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh. I had a little bookshelf in my room but I couldn’t read any of them without getting lost or nauseous. Books and reading became a secret pleasure that everyone else enjoyed accept me. I wanted to be apart of that secret knowledge.

I was not able to read a book by myself until I was eleven years old. It was two days before the nine-eleven attacks. I was reading a Garfield-themed novelette for second graders. It changed my life. I suppose it was the difficulty and the darkness that surrounded literature that drew me to it in a slightly perverse way.

Connor de Bruler has been published in The Rambler, Pulp Metal Magazine, Fleas on the Dog, FRESH, The Horror Library Vol. 6, Yellow Mama, and The New Flesh. He is the author of three novels : Tree Black, The Mountain Devils, and Olden Days. His story “Return of the Death God” appears in Litbreak Magazine.