The Literary Bone: Pacione’s Chess Game

Here’s a quote from Nickolaus Pacione’s Blogspot entry of Sunday, July 29, 2007:

“This is going to be a huge game of chess, knowing what his motives were and now I am going to keep the motherfucker guessing my move now.”

It’s in reference to Lawrence Dagstine folding his The Literary Bone magazine, and withdrawing a story from Pacione’s upcoming Tabloid Purposes 4.

Here is a rather long list of observations I’ve made over the past few days:

  • The Literary Bone at first made its MySpace friends-only after all the fallout from publishing the Pacione interview
  • As of today, The Literary Bone MySpace no longer exists; the account has been closed
  • At first the split and commentary back and forth between Dagstine and Pacione was amicable–too amicable, knowing Pacione’s legendary temper
  • The Literary Bone announced it was folding on Blogspot, with quite a dramatic flounce
  • Pacione began berating Dagstine in blog posts on his Blogspot
  • Dagstine used to have his WordPress blog hosted with a free WordPress address; that address has very recently been redirected to
  • Another interview is released on in which Pacione and Mike Philbin are interviewed
  • The good folks at TODP appear to be running with the theory that the falling-out between Pacione and Dagstine is fake, and is really a conspiracy between Pacione, Philbin, and Dagstine
  • The “masterpiece”at the center of all this baloney is a scathing tell-all memoir that Pacione is writing to blow the lid off “Teh Genre,” which is more likely to be 200 pages worth of “these people are so evil–call me a waaahmbulance”
  • Philbin encouraged Pacione to write this “memoir,” and suggested he turn it into a Hollywood movie
  • Dagstine did nothing to discourage writing it, and indeed claims to have read several scandalous chapters of it that Pacione sent him
  • Dagstine hasn’t been given the sympathy he wanted, judging by the comments on his Blogspot–the flounce was greeted with apathy

The alleged falling-out may or may not be fake, but I find it hard to believe that it’s a three way conspiracy to fool everyone. My understanding is that Philbin prefers to work one-on-one. If that is the case, he really has no reason to work with Dagstine.

I suspect that Philbin and Dagstine both want to see Pacione’s memoir get published, so they can sit back and watch either the fireworks or another career or two implode without getting their hands dirty. They may share a goal, but I can’t see them collaborating to make it happen. It just doesn’t make sense.

Though I find this entire thing fascinating to watch, I don’t have a horse in this race. Which brings me back to the chess game.

There’s a reason why a three-way collaboration to trick everyone else wouldn’t work: Pacione can’t remember how the knight moves. He thinks a rook’s a bishop, and a pawn’s a queen. The strategy further eludes him.

I’ll bet he’s awful at poker. I cannot imagine Pacione not showing his cards prematurely. He lacks patience, and doesn’t understand the odds. I wouldn’t want him to be my partner at bridge or tarot.
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3 Responses to The Literary Bone: Pacione’s Chess Game

  1. Stephen says:

    I’ve been following this story with interest. I published a Dagstine story earlier this year, and so I’ve been concerned to avoid getting caught in the blast…

    My initial feeling about this was that Dagstine thought he had found a well-known but on-the-skids author that he could rehabilitate and make use of. Maybe he didn’t realise at first just how bad Pacione was (though I’ve read that several people tried to warn him).

    I think Dagstine really did want to run a magazine. But I’ve received submissions from people published in that first issue of The Literary Bone, and, though I don’t like to be rude, they weren’t generally written as if English was the first language of the author. My guess is that Dagstine accepted a lot of stories, however bad they were, with the intention of rewriting them into some kind of sense (which explains why the second issue was continually put off – you can’t run a magazine that way), and maybe that’s what he intended to do with Pacione.

    But once I’d read the actual interview, and seen that at the very beginning of it Pacione talks proudly about “getting into it” with gay people, and follows it up with one piece of homophobia after another, you’re forced to ask whether Dagstine shares those values. If he doesn’t, then why is it only now, after the backlash, that he says he’s realised Pacione is a bad egg? Surely that shines through from every single line of the interview?

    The problem for Dagstine is that he’s only apologised for “posting” the interview, not for conducting it, not for the way he wrote it up, and not for publishing it. Pacione wasn’t at all responsible for the publication of the interview – as editor, Dagstine is entirely responsible for the publication of every word of it.

  2. Rusty Nail says:

    Stephen, thank you for commenting. I appreciate the additional intelligence you’ve provided.

    I did come across a short story of Dagstine’s on “Down in the Cellar” a few days ago. If it’s representative of his body of work, I don’t think he’s up to editing a magazine.

    It was called Thursday’s Children or something like that. While the premise had promise, the execution was sorely lacking. It’s difficult to edit others’ stories when your own need a good dose of it. But, as I said, I don’t know whether it’s representative of his material.

    Best of luck with your work.


  3. Jeff says:

    This whole thing was a mess waiting to happen. I don’t think this is a conspiracy, either. I don’t think either of these guys has the ability to come up with anything so grand.

    But the two boys are alike in two main ways. Dagstine himself has an ego and thinks everything he writes is gold, and has basically bragged it to everyone he can find. He also has a temper, and has been known to start rows at various forums. (He got himself banned from one for a month.) I’m not too surprised by the pairing of these two individuals.

    Rusty you are right, Dagstine does need a good dose of editing–every one of his stories. His cliched plots, flat characters and poor execution are indeed indicative of all his work. I am not trying to be mean or nasty, but I’ve read enough Dagstine to know.

    Anyway, two real characters who should be–in my humble opinion–ignored. And that is just what I do.

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