How I came across ‘Okstupid’ by Walter Mackey
Carnivorous Judy is Walter Mackey’s handle on Facebook. He had posted a picture of Bjork CDs that many of my FB friend’s involved in ‘internet literature’ had commented on. Jimmy Chen (my favorite internet writer) had photoshoped his face into a Bjork CD, and I wanted to link Jimmy Chen’s image, so ‘friended’ Carnivorous Judy. I messaged ‘Judy’ to introduce myself, and began chatting. He sent me an ebook/pdf ‘titanic’ a collection of poetry and I realized he was a ‘dude’ who named his handle after Judge Judy, as his poems had daytime TV and game show cultural references. I sent him a link of a story and chatted more. I liked his poetry. Today he FB statused about reviewing his new ebook. I responded and he sent me a pdf.
Review of ‘Okstupid’
Often people will quote a line from another story/poem/ or song that influenced the story; Walter quotes an excerpt from an instant messanger chat with Spencer Madison (an internet lit-er) and Stacey Teague (possibly the daughter of the model I can only remember in name, Cheryl Tieg. Oh, it’s “tieg”). After reading the story does this short chat excerpt make a lot of sense.
The story is told in the 3rd person from Sarah’s (the protagonists) view regarding meeting Greg on okcupid, chatting and going on a date to the library. The story begins with the line, “Sarah felt mostly let down by the men in her life.” This line, when I reread it, felt somewhat like Lorrie Moore or Mary Gaitskill, or some 1970′s-80′s New York American women writer. It’s emotional yet terse and ‘outside’ of the emotion, which is the tone of the story. I found the use of the female narrator by a man to be somewhat Proustian, and the story is influenced by the archetypal internet writer Tao Lin, but with a knowledge of this influence recognized with nods to Tao in the prose. Similarly to Tao Lin’s work, I felt reading ‘Okstupid’ that I was talking to smart and ‘in-the-know’ bookstore/record store workers or grad students with their clever inside jokes, often repeated and referenced back to, and a self-conscious, almost parodying of their behavior/emotional life.
Sarah is a bipolar, recent college graduate who studied women studies, and is currently on an upward swing in her moods that had her miss her psychiatric appointment and sign up for a pottery class. Her favourite (do Canadian’s (Walter is Canadian) spell “favorite” like the English “favourite”; seems so) author is Augusten Burroughs, he tells in the next sentence. This info made me laugh and introduced the character deftly and swiftly.
Sarah starts her day online, checking sites that ‘internet-lit-ers’ like to check, and oddly masturbates to a “really beautiful .gif image that someone reblogged on tumblr  of Rock Hudsen.” She fantasizes he isn’t actually gay. This initially made me think “Proustian” because, I think Walter is gay, and Marcel Proust used his real-life gay relationships and wrote them as male/female relationships. And the use of Rock Hudson, who was a mainstream heart throb paired with Doris Day in the 60′s, who was a closeted gay, or maybe not too-closeted to people in Hollywood, idk. I thought it was funny to masturbate to a tumblr image online and not porn, and wondered if women would masturbate to things like that.
The prose uses short, declarative sentences, “Sarah masturbated and felt alone.” that starkly show the emotions without any explaining or validation. Any self-consciousness is shown in the dialogue, or thoughts that are represented in quotes. Sarah is most likely anorexic because she weighs 102 pounds. She has an inner monologue of never going outside again and just existing on social media. Walter straight forwardly tells of Sarah’s depressed actions, and gives a nod to Tao Lin with the word ‘neutral facial expression’ and only using single quote or scar-quotes instead of full quotes. This is an important recognition to style influence, and, maybe, a ”beating critics/shit-talker” to the punch, like “yeah, I’m influenced by Tao Lin. Anybody who is depressed and chats online and likes literature and would write a story about people like that–WOULD BE BITCH.” I mean anyone that has chatting in a story, has to give Tao a ‘nod’ in my opinion.
His story is funny: “Greg said he was depressed and he was in an emo band called ‘Laura Croft’.” They chat, and actively in conversation bond about being depressed. The next morning Sarah does a similarly depressing, masturbating and internet checking routine before freaking out about her outfit before having guilt about her inconsequential ‘melt down’ when children are starving in Africa. For the rest of the story ‘Africa’ is repeated, along with Greg and Sarah’s self-conscious jokes about their depression. They joke about their depression in the I’m-joking-but-I’m-serious-way. Greg is smoking and then he says he’s straight-edge and vegan but when he was smoking that he ‘broke-edge’. They talk about existentialist things like death, the pointlessness of things. Greg talks about the death of animals in Africa in a way of sympathy and then later in the conversation says he likes brutal things. Greg seems to be joking around with his identity, like how people on dates show the self the person may want, by coming off as an ‘activist’ and ’vegan’ but maybe not. Sarah ’..had a Big Mac for breakfast.’ which was funny to read. They seem to be joking/parodying themselves. They talk about Africa (they go to the travel section of the library) and Skype sex (older women were being taught how to Skype when they entered the library). The story ends with them wanting to see each other again. She says, “This is weird. I didn’t have to make an OKcupid profile to talk to you. I could have just friend requested you on Myspace three years ago.” He says, “I know. Okcupid is pretty much OkStupid.” And it ends with her not wanting to go to Africa alone, but with him. But Greg doesn’t want to go anywhere. And Sarah jadedly and, or in a youthful-I-know-everything states, “… I walked on every beach in the world. They’re all the same.” Like you can’t escape suffering, nothing is good, but we had fun today, and maybe their is some hope and goodness.
Reading this made me laugh, and I recognized these characters as people I have met before. It was very human and true and, culturally, with all the internet references (even one to fellow Muumuu House writer Noah Cicero going to teach in South Korea) and social media references that could be looked back in a historical way. 30 years from now, someone could read this and experience how young post-grad 2o-somethings lived their lives.
 tumblr is a blogging platform that has a “following” and “feed” features that allowing reblogging and a non-static blog compared to blogger.com and wordpress.com.