The Stephen Alvancio Appreciation Club

Portrait of Stephen

  This site is dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the writings and life of the late Stephen Alvancio.

  Stephen, known to his friends as a strange, often enigmatic figure, wrote extensively, leaving
  behind notebooks of roughly scrawled bits and pieces in various places as he drifted about the
  United States throughout his short life. With a bit of research and quite a bit of digging,
  we have come across several of these notebooks. Most of it difficult to decipher, we may not be
  able to publish all of it here, but we will compile as much as we can.

                            

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Who is Stephen Alvancio? 
Prose by Stephen
Poetry by Stephen
Letters to and From Stephen

 
 

Stephen claimed he photocopied this image from a police sketch of himself he stole
while escaping a Louisiana parish jail. It is the only image we've been able to find
of the man. We are aware of no existing photographs of Stephen Alvancio. 


Recently Discovered:

    Posted 12/05/2015 in Who is Stephen Alvancio?   
   
Personal Journal   
    Discovered 11/2015
    Undated
Astra lied to me about Robert.  I can't prove it, but I know it.  I don't trust him either, but he claimed he knew nothing about the re-wired control box.  She seems to be trying to poison my opinion of him--not that she needs to.  I think it goes back to what he represents to her--a man who thinks justifying one act justifies all.  I worry, though, that she thinks so little of me that she has to mislead me to the truth about him.  When I tried to defend him, she went on an on about how mistakes like that--she did air-quotes on the word mistakes--could kill people, and so should never be excused.  I don't think either of them knows who re-wired it.  We may never know, and I think that's what bothers Astra so much.  Robert just shrugged it off, like he was brushing something off his shoes.  He doesn't seem to care about the implications, just like Astra cares too much about blaming him for it.  



    Posted 12/03/2015 in Who is Stephen Alvancio?
    Personal Journal
    Discovered 11/2015
    Dated June 5 1991
After my failure to maintain the relationship with Len, Astra said I should explore my sexual history, so here goes.  I remember having sexual impulses long before I hit puberty.  Perhaps I shouldn't call them sexual impulses, really because they didn't involve a desire for sexual intercourse.  I knew nothing about sex at the time, but I think they have a distinct sexual undertone to them.  My first memory is of fantasizing about Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie.  In the fantasies, she would bring me into her Jeannie lamp and take off her clothes.  I had never seen a woman naked, so I had no idea what to expect beneath that harem costume, but every time I watched the series, I fantasized that I was Major Nelson and that I would use her magic and that she would take off that costume and let me see her body unadorned.
Astra suggested once that my interest in pornography might suggest a near pathological voyeurism stemming from some embarrassing moment in adolescence, but at seven I was watching Barbara Eden and wanting to know what her body looked like underneath her clothes.    I had a similar experience with a teacher in the third grade.  She came to our class once a week to teach us lessons in Spanish.  Her breasts were large and her hips wide, and she wore snugly fit dresses, which drew my attention to her curves, and just as with Barbara Eden, I fantasized that she would take her clothes off for me. 


Posted 11.27.2015 in Poetry 

Aubade

what's sad is
even if I went to heaven
Donne and Auden both
would deny me entrance into the club
of great dead wordsmiths
because it's unpoetical to say
the moon shouldn't be up still this late
hanging, glowing sick white
like a bloated boil in the sky
like the dark it should have
dropped a few hours back
has stained it uncleanable
by the bleach of the fog
of early morning sun
which they would have called god light
or inspiration's paint
but really only blinds me
on the road to work
flashing prism floods
through dust on the windshield
which sunglasses can't help.
they would never have scribbled
a rushed complaint like this
beside their jumbled paperwork
those puss-pushing mounds on the desk
of countless white squares of stained boil moons
endlessly repeating themselves
in endless repetitions of official questions
from managerial geniuses too stupid
to understand one or two or even three iterations
endless iterations that make me prone
to unpoetical and simplistic grunts
of line too stupid to black the page.
I won't go to heaven
and I won't get in the club
and Donne and Auden both
have never existed in my dreams
never guzzled whiskey together
in the ethereal cafe
or thrown darts at portraits
of Macgonagall and Mckuen
then waved empty glasses
and barked Garcon! Garcon!
to me, the unpoetical waiter
to ask for fresh glasses
of performance chart with a self-evaluative chaser.
to hell with Donne and Auden.






Posted 11.22.2015 in Poetry 
 
New Jelly

Herbert hated you,
prickly pear cactus jelly
a new jelly
he spooned a twisted taste of you
and though he spat you stain
forever pink on white marble
you thickened his spit
live still your truth
sweet now in his quinine mouth















Posted 11.17.2015 in Who is Stephen Alvancio?

The Workshop
We met Stephen in Dallas at a fiction-writers' workshop we ran at one of the local libraries. Stephen showed up one afternoon with a manuscript in a silver briefcase, like he was carrying cyanide pills for an Eastern European dictator. He sat in a corner of the reading room we had booked for the workshop, and he added a quiet comment occasionally. His movements and voice both shook with a paranoid fearfulness, but when it came time to read his own story—a two or three paragraph piece about being held hostage by the Zapatistas, in which he focused primarily on the physical make up of a scar on a rebel's face—he read through the short piece so slowly and smoothly, that when he'd finished we all responded with a good minute of awkward silence. We weren't quite sure if he had finished, and nobody could offer any comment on the writing. The writing was good—sort of—but the style and the focus both turned in such an uncannily unusual direction.


He continued to attend the workshops, most of his work being derivative genre pieces—I often wondered if he had even written them himself, the styles were always so different. Once in a while, he would bring something brilliant, and these occasional epiphanies kept the workshop members enthralled, not to mention the bizarre yarns he would tell about his life.


In 2014, we heard from some mutual friends in Olympia Washington that he had died—of causes no one was sure of, although they all guessed some sort of cancer. What shocked us, though, more than the tragic nature of the news, was what we found when we began to research his life afterward. Stephen Alvancio never existed: or rather, research into the name Stephen Alvancio turned up nothing. No such person ever existed, according to any official records.


So perhaps Stephen Alvancio was not the man we had known. We had never even considered the outlandish stories he told as reality, much less to connect their narratives together to come up with a coherent suggestion as to who this man really was. We trusted him as we trust everyone we meet and interact with on a regular basis to be exactly what he said he was—to a certain extent. When it came to some of his more extreme personal anecdotes, we assumed he simply enjoyed to spin a yarn, but he also presented anecdote after anecdote of a rather mundane American life.


This leaves a few possibilities: Stephen Alvancio is a purely invented person, worn as one particular mask on a particular human personality, to what purpose we have absolutely no idea, or Stephen Alvancio is real but insignificant enough to have escaped any official documentation, or some other, unconsidered and probably bizarre possibility.


Having found out that his persona as he had presented it to us was most likely a fake, we also began to wonder if perhaps some of the less believable stories he'd told us over the years were at least close to the truth.



The story he gave us involved a semi-rural upbringing in Tennessee, a few years of college in New Mexico, several years of traveling and odd-jobs, some forays into illegal activity, to which he only alluded a few times as his "years of rebellion" or "time on the wrong side of the law," and a failed attempt at journalism--among the believable parts of the story.  The other bits consisted of incredible, dime novel adventures, such as a stint in the Mossad, "contract jobs--"as he called them--with various drug cartels, the infiltration of and destruction of a white supremacist terrorist organization bent on destroying the US government, and other exciting but unbelievable tales.

One of the less frequent workshop writers, a Korean woman who wrote harrowing  melodramas about soldiers at war and who Stephen dated briefly, told a different story about his life--which she had heard from Stephen himself.  In it, his father had been a pharmacist and his mother a payroll clerk in a downtown Eugene, Oregon bank.  She said he had commented, frequently, on the irony of the fact that a woman who wrote checks for hundreds of dollars from an organization in possession of millions of dollars got paid less than a man who pushed a button twenty times a day in a city somewhere out east and the fact that his father sold more drugs than any punk street dealer in the country, and he made less money than just about any one of them.  That was the reason, he would tell her--although he never mentioned politics to us--the reason he had become a communist.

One of the librarians, a gregarious old man whose knowledge of books and proclivity for odd but brilliant commentary on just about any subject made him a favorite of frequent library-goers, said he had spoken to Stephen on numerous occasions, and that Stephen had inquired, researched, and read about a bizarre array of different subject matters.  Stephen told him that he had been adopted by a woman who owned a small chain of hardware stores throughout southwestern North Dakota.  The two of them would often debate on popular political issues, the librarian being a registered and active Democrat and Stephen, at least in this instance of himself, being a staunch Republican.  Stephen loved to point to his adopted mother as proof that success should be treated as a reward for hard work, not punished by an unfair tax system.

Not long before Stephen left Dallas, when one of the workshop writers threw a party after Doubleday had picked up one of her novels, Steven came with his sister, who he introduced to us as Clara.  The two of them seemed very close.  She spent most of the evening somewhere near Stephen, said little, and turned down all offers of drinks from our host.  When someone asked her what Stephen had been like as a child, she shrugged and said he had been a typical boy but very smart.  A few months after his death, someone ran into Stephen's sister at a convenient store.  At first, he didn't recognize her because, as he told it, "She was clearly a prostitute."  He assumed the woman simply resembled Stephen's sister, but she approached him, said she recognized him from the party, and asked if she could borrow some money.  He offered condolences for her loss, which seemed to confuse her.  "I mean your brother Stephen," he explained, and she laughed.  "Oh, that guy.  He's not my brother.  He paid me to pretend to be his sister.  I thought he had a weird kink or something, but he just dropped me off after the party."  She went on to explain that she had thought Stephen was a fake name because he had called someone on the way to the party to ask about a package, and he identified himself on the phone as Jerry.     

When we had gathered the notebooks from his apartment in Olympia, we discovered an old driver's license.  It contained Stephen's image, but the name was Albert Harrington, and the state and address on the license were Wisconsin.  We asked the landlord for a second look in his apartment and found a box hidden in a trap drawer at the back of his desk, within which were a series of letters, identification cards, credit cards, bills and various other paperwork, and another notebook, which contained pages and pages of cryptic notes and lists, often shifting from one style of handwriting to another in the middle of a line.  We then searched the rest of the apartment for other hidden treasures and found beneath a loose  board in the kitchen cupboard, behind a vent in the bedroom, and under a false bottom in a laundry basket, more letters, paperwork, and notebooks. 

With a list of numerous names, addresses, and identification numbers, we immediately set out to find as much information as we could about who this man really had been.