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Blink and the World Goes Blank (Micro-fiction novella)

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Second edition (2016)
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Blink and the World Goes Blank is a micro-fiction novella by Dan Tarnowski, originally published in 2010. The first edition was published as a chapbook by On Lives Press, under the pen name Filbert Conroy. Approximately 200 copies of the chapbook exist in print. In January of 2016, the collection was republished using Amazon Createspace, this time as a Print on demand (POD) paperback book that includes a new introduction written by Tarnowski.

Blink was written during the Great Recession, and its situations and tone depict a narrator that is disconnected from reality and from the economic and social status quo.

Plot Summary

The story includes everyday images such as plastic seats on hinges, like the ones along the walls of L Train subway platforms in Brooklyn

Set in 21st-century New York City, the story is loosely based on the author’s experiences of social isolation and under-employment during the Great Recession. The novella’s second-person protagonist wanders the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan in search of human connection and artistic inspiration. Across 56 episodes he meets, consorts with, or avoids a number of characters, including a girl with glasses, a record store clerk, several different unnamed friends, and a woman in a black dress. The episodes that do not explore the protagonist’s tenuous relationships typically portray his thoughts in a semi-ironic Stream of consciousness narrative mode.

“You haven’t cried in a long time and you wonder if when you do the tears will grow straight out of your eyes like gelatinous cylinders.”


Blink is a psychological novel, influenced by authors of European fiction including Herman Hesse, Knut Hamsun, and Jerzy Kosinski.

Writing Style

The micro-fiction collection uses episodic narrative, with each numbered passage depicting a short scene in the overall plot. It also uses second-person perspective, with the narrator being referred to as “you,” rather than as “I,” or by a name. This adds to the disorienting nature of the plot, with the writer’s engagement of the reader also seeming dream-like. Blink also includes elements of non-linear narrative, with occasional scenes being flashbacks to the narrator’s childhood experiences.

“Filbert Conroy” Hoax

A photo alleged to be Filbert Conroy in 1976

The first edition chapbook had the name “Filbert Conroy” printed on the cover. It also included an “About the Author” page in the back, containing a fictional author bio and a photograph of the fake Conroy. The fictional author bio was written by Mike Parish. Also upon release of the chapbook, the On Lives website added a special webpage titled, “Blink and the World Goes Conroy…”, with news updates about the chapbook, excerpts of reviews of the chapbook, and a fictional oeuvre for Filbert Conroy that included several nonexistent publications accredited to Conroy[1]. Dan Tarnowski cited “self-consciousness” as a reason for the Filbert Conroy Nom de plume in the 2015 introduction to the re-released novella[2].

‘About the Author’ by Mike Parish:

For 17 years, Filbert Conroy worked in Utica, NY at a shoe factory. As was the trend in those times (the 1980’s), the factory shut down. A decade or two wandered by and Conroy realized that shoes were not the only thing he knew something about; he’d always had a soft spot for books. He now does more sight-seeing than working and currently resides in a disheveled town in upstate New York, where he lives with the “sweetest German shepherd in the world” and wonders “if America will ever make anything again.”

The chapbook

A photo of the chapbook version, taken in Park Slope, Brooklyn

The first edition chapbook was roughly the same width and height as a Little, Brown Books pocket paperback. In the first edition printing, 100 of the chapbooks had glossy interior pages and 100 had matte interior pages. Both the chapbook and the Second edition of the novella were edited by Mike Parish.


Blink was promoted online through the On Lives website and Twitter, and was available in independent bookstores including McNally Jackson and Powell’s. It was added to the Amazon Kindle store as an eBook in 2011. Filmmaker Sean Cunningham created a two-minute film to promote the book, loosely based on the situations and tone of the story.[3]


The reception to Blink was positive, garnering several positive fan reviews on the literature-based social network Goodreads, one from the author Kevin Sampsell. The collection was also summarized in a blog post by Steve Roggenbuck of Boost House.[4]



1. ^  Blink and the World Goes Conroy…, On Lives Press, accessed 7 December 2016.
2. ^  Blink and the World Goes Blank, Dan Tarnowski, Second edition, p 8.
3. ^  Blink and the World Goes Blank (Video), Hero Status Films, accessed 7 December 2016.
4. ^  notes on ‘blink and the world goes blank’ by filbert conroy, Steve Roggenbuck, accessed 7 December 2016.

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