RON KOLM is one of the founding members of the Unbearables literary collective, and an editor of several of their anthologies; Crimes of the Beats, Help Yourself!, The Worst Book I Ever Read and The Unbearables Big Book of Sex. He is also the co-author, with Jim Feast, of Neo Phobe, and the author of The Plastic Factory.
My name is Ron, I work in a plastics factory. The particular factory I work in is new, and it squats atop a man made mound of grass-covered rubble.
I have a picture of him at the age of twelve, before the sun permanently creased his face, in knickers, knee socks and ankle length boots, standing on a well-tended lawn, holding a golf club longer than he was tall; his steel-rimmed glasses framing a smile for the camera. He joined the Merchant Marine as a wireless operator in 1914. He must have been big for his years even then.
I worked in a bookstore in Reading, Pennsylvania, when I was in college. It was quite different from a New York City bookstore; we sold furniture, school supplies and an interesting assortment of snacks. I did my best to make the stock we carried respectable; I ordered Joyce, Beckett and Updike, who had lived in Shillington, a suburb of Reading, in his youth. Most of our customers just wanted a fast read. I sympathized, but pushed my favorite authors on them anyway.
The worst book I ever read was one I wrote myself. Im not trying to be cute, or ironic or anything, and Im not just talking about lousy prose or a lack of comprehensible plot -- though my book had no real plot.