Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A reading by Sam Lipsyte is up next at Apostrophe Cast on December 17.
I read an older short story of mine, "Work Release", for Apostrophe Cast in October.
I don't know why I'm such a narcissist and have to keep mentioning myself.
But, seriously, Michael Kimball rocks the house. Listen. Read.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Dalkey Archive has a massive sale going on right now. This deal is too good to pass up. Here's the thing.
Also, Pushcart nominations are coming out. Check your local listings to see if you or your compatriots have been blessed with this fine line for the CV. Congratulations to all the nominees, and good luck.
He has been stricken with a bizarre malady. He has become incapable of reaching his thoughts; he has retained all his lucidity, but no matter what thought occurs to him, he can no longer give it external form, that is, translate it into appropriate gestures and words.
The necessary words desert him, they no longer answer his summons, he is reduced to watching a procession of images without very much connection from one to the next.
Monday, December 1, 2008
I have not 'thrown in the towel early' as the old adage went/goes. I've been writing in the spare moments I have when not working full time, warming bottles, changing diapers, and generally having an amazing experience being a dad. I seriously never expected how great this would be.
The thing (not sure yet whether it's a series of flash fictions, a short story, a novella, or maybe even a novel) I've been working on and rambling vaguely/annoyingly about in emails to people has me on the edge of excited and anxious with plenty of moments of disgust. It's a schizophrenic thing that is warping and growing nodules and transforming all the time. I have a feeling I'm aiming at and I'm trying to follow my intuition about things, and I think it's going well so far. But that feeling changes by the hour. It keeps growing.
I am behind on my book reviews and emails, but they are a comin'.
I have also been by far the most useless contributor at the illustrious HTMLGIANT, which I will work hard(ly?) to change.
Anyway, lots of stuff is happening elsewhere as always.
I meant to post about this when it came out a week or two ago (time and memory are also shattered for me lately), but Ryan and Christy Call's art/text collaboration entitled Pocket Finger has been released by Publishing Genius. I first saw some of the image/texts on Ryan's blog awhile ago and was blown away by how well the two complemented each other. I love the last drawing where the person is in pieces in the tool shed. Excellent work Ryan and Christy, and Adam Robinson, the Publishing Genius. Check out the interview with Ryan and Christy about PF.
HTMLGIANT has become a big deal in the indie lit world (and beyond?). The aforementioned Ryan Call has put together the first annual HTMLGIANT Secret Santa gift exchange. There's still time to sign up and give the gift of independent literature. This is a fun idea. Good work again, Ryan.
I wonder if maybe another similar kind of thing could be set up where people buy copies of lit mags, chaps and full length books by indie presses and get them into the hands of people who are not necessarily writers. You know, like a variation on Baltimore/Nashville is Reads, to get indie lit out beyond this big loving writer's circle? Indie lit into the hands and before the eyes of the 'general reading public' by leaving lit mags in doctor's offices, sneaking Shane Jones's novel LIGHT BOXES (available for pre-order now from Publishing Genius) onto the public or university library shelves, seeding the shelves at Barnes and Noble and Borders and etc with Blake Butler's novella EVER (forthcoming from Calamari Press, also available for pre-order now). Just an idea. I know lots of other people have had it already, but still.
Seriously, Shane Jones's LIGHT BOXES and Blake Butler's EVER. Can't wait. Blake says he's giving away extra free stuff with pre-ordered copies. There's no telling what you'll get. Maybe a set of chocolate covered eyelashes or a miniature paper door that will release the laughter of small children from inside your couch. Plus, Blake's novel in stories, SCORCH ATLAS, will be published by Featherproof Books on 09/09/09. Git it. Congrats to Blake for the cluster years of success. Couldn't happen to a nicer or more deserving guy.
CM Evans is running his all time favorite cartoons. I've enjoyed CM's cartoons for a few years now. This past spring he was invited by Dave Eggers to show his work in an art exhibit at Apexart in New York City along with the work of artists like Leonard Cohen, Henry Darger, Marcel Duchamp, Kenneth Koch, David Mamet, David Shrigley, Art Spiegelman, Ralph Steadman, Kurt Vonnegut, and more.
Also, Christopher Higgs, who I would like to spend at least twelve years talking to about everything, has a new piece in Abjective entitled "A Mash-Up of Caribou and Faulkner" and it is a language bomb of beats and rhythms that weaves its own potent web of movement. Chris also has a novel entitled Colorless Green Ideas Sleep Furiously forthcoming from Publishing Genius. PG is quickly building a staggering catalog of chapbooks and full length work. I am very anxious to get my eyes on this novel. Higgs's brain is an iceberg, a spiderweb, a byzantine schizophrenic interconnected supercomputer. I am reading Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus right now and will move on to A Thousand Plateaus, and I am going to ask Chris Higgs to lecture me at his leisure. And if you want to know anything avant-garde, see Christopher Higgs.
Johannes Göransson and Joyelle McSweeney on "Soft Surrealism"
The Guardian did a piece on Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard). Kimball is still getting rave reviews for Dear Everybody. No surprise here.
I know, I missed a ton of stuff.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Why are you eyeing my spoon like that? If it turns up missing, I’m going to be pissed. It’s pure platinum, not to mention my favorite spoon. Stir my tea with it, see?
I know you were trying to bend it. Now, please, sit.
Damn it, I’ll take both pills if it makes you sit down and stop moving. In fact, give me all your pills. Empty your pockets. The office staff loves pills. You’ll be a big hit. Come on.
That all? Good. Now let’s play a game. You sit down and pretend I’m someone who can be nice and save your career.
That’s excellent. You’re very good at games. Now let’s see if we can apply that to your acting.
As always, let’s start with a positive. You’re a very consistent actor. Whether it’s action, romance, comedy, sci-fi, you’re the same in every movie. We hate to ruin that for you, but we must.
Thing is, the Bill and Ted movies are done. Speed, too. We’ve seen them. Some people even liked them. However, it’s time to stretch for something new. You are the only one who can save us from any more still-born dialogue.
This is where we can make it a game.
Okay, now try it. Strike up a conversation with that chair next to you.
Go ahead. Improvise. Just regular old human conversation. Like people do.
Well, I suppose there is a certain complexity to the chair. So let’s get a feel for the emotion the chair emits. What kind of vibes are you getting?
Right, good, and now you try to one-up it, take the emotion to the next level. It’s a game, remember?
Yeah, sure, that was okay, I guess. Next time maybe a little more inflection. This is where tone of voice goes up or down, sometimes both in the same line. It gives the illusion of emotion. Go home and work on that.
Any old chair will do. Or a lamp, that might work. Feel free to mix it up. Don't be afraid to try new things.
Right. As far as work goes, something will come up, I’m sure. We’ll call you.
And something else that might help, Mr. Reeves—don’t rehearse lines with Stephen Hawking anymore. The voice synthesizer is fun, but it’s not doing you any good.
first published at Opium.com, November 4, 2005
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
You can hear me read my short story "Work Release" at Apostrophe Cast. Work Release was originally published by Thieves Jargon in 2005. Next week's reader at Apostrophe Cast is Ben Tanzer, whose poetry has also been in TJ, and whose book Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine is available from Orange Alert Press, like, right now. Randall Brown read one of his flash fictions for AC recently as well. Readings by Sheila Heti, Celeste Ng, Richard Siken, and many more can be found in the archives.
Here I answer some questions in an interview, where you can learn some things about me that you did not know before.
Thanks to John Dermot Woods for his help and for putting this together. He also took my fiction that appeared in the latest issue of Action, Yes. Check out John's work in the first issue of No Colony while you're looking into things.
Monday, October 20, 2008
While we watch TV, he spends most of the day asking Stacey to take him to work or complaining about phantom aches and pains. Then the breaker blows and he loses power. His eyes close and we pause for a moment to admire our dad, our father, noting the iconic dignity of a Che or a Nietzsche as seen on our t-shirts: an immortal, postmodern quality. Then, smirking, Avery says he looks more like Lenin with that bullet-clean scalp—those wrinkles on his forehead are for the revolution, not the people.
Our eyes roll and we find that someone has pulled the plug. Avery says he didn’t do it. Yeah right, we say, you’re the only one always saying you wish he would have died.
He says: Actually, I’d prefer to let his whole generation go. Don’t get me wrong, the docking gadget is really cool, and it’s comforting that dad’s body parts are right up in the attic, nicely vacuum-sealed in case we want to get nostalgic, but the whole living forever business, though it looks fun and all, it’s not doing anyone any good. If the Baby Boomers really care, they’ll move on so we can too. Then Avery turns to dad’s head and tells him, Just say the word, pops, and I’ll set us all free from this nightmare.
Stacey squeaks. She’s crying and glaring at Avery. We’re lucky to get this last little bit with him. It’s called making up for lost time, you asshole.
It’s a little late now, Avery snorts. He had a choice just like everyone else. And he chose to spend every moment of his life at work, Stacey, remember? He chose work and not you. Does it sound like he wants to be here when he’s always begging you to take him to the shop?
We gang up and explain that dad wants to go to the shop because it’s all he knows. He’ll get used to this. Give him some time. Besides, look around at all the nice things we have. Things we wouldn’t have if he hadn’t cared enough to spend his life at work. True, we shouldn’t have had him docked without his consent, but it’s better this way. Really.
Avery tells us where to put our nice things, and asks how many hours of dad’s life are packed in the closets and sealed in Tupperware.
How can you say no to a second chance like this?
Fine, he says, I’d like to trade in 10 or 12 of those video game systems rotting in the basement for a fishing trip, or maybe a game of catch. Fuck it, let’s rob a bank for all I care. He pounds the coffee table and sits down.
Dad’s head is still rebooting, so he misses all this. His eyes open and he asks Stacey to take him to work. Her eyes grow glossy again and she bites her lip, looking between us and him.
No, dad, you’re not going to work, Avery says. Your job at the plant still requires a body and you haven’t got one. That’s how you ruined it in the first place, remember? So, no. Just watch TV with us, your loving children.
We actually agree with Avery and encourage dad to watch TV with us. Besides, we say, consumption is the new labor, and you’ve instilled us with a great work ethic, dad. When we watch the new Tom Cruise movie, it’s just like working. We don’t always want to, but we do it anyway, just like you did. Watching TV is good for the economy.
Fine, he says, then turn me so I can see.
Stacey cranks him in fine adjustment toward the TV wall.
And now the TV doesn’t work. We troubleshoot by aiming the remote control at different angles, beating it against our palm like a pack of cigarettes. When we get up to inspect the cable connection, we see that the TV is unplugged. Avery gets the evil eye while we plug it back in, making sure he doesn’t cut dad’s juice again.
Whatever, you guys. We’ve got a choice, Medusa or TV. You know the circuit can’t handle both. He settles into the couch with a scowl.
Stop being an idiot, we say. We’re trying to make dad feel more comfortable, more at-home, so we turn on the Revisionist History Channel. Another documentary is about to start. The RHC voice recites the slogan: “History of the Boomers, by the Boomers, and for the Boomers.” Avery joins on queue, “Who shall not perish from the Earth,” changing ‘shall’ to ‘will’. The next three hours of programming look like this:
1 pm The New Greatest Generation
2 pm Death is the New Twenty
3 pm Baby Boomers: The Hub of Human History
More mockery from Avery, but no one pays attention to him. Instead, we watch grainy protest footage and shots of topless women with pointy breasts flailing about during outdoor concerts.
Avery says this is bullshit. Dad died a little to pay for that video camera in the closet, so let’s go out and make some footage of our own. If we really wanted to honor him, we would use it.
Shut up, Avery, they’re talking about the Cultural Revolution. If you’d listen once, maybe you’d recognize progress staring you in the face and be a little more thankful instead of whining about everything.
Still, we toss around the idea of reenacting a march or a protest. But then there’s the issue of looking after dad, so we scrap that.
Reenactment? What about doing something of our own? Don’t we have anything to say?
There’s nothing left to say that’s new, Avery, haven’t you been listening?
Whatever. Solomon declared the end of the new like 5,000 years ago. Clever way of demanding the last word.
It’s just easier to ignore him, so we do. Halfway through the summary of vast social upheaval, dad sniffles and the lights go out. His eyes are closed. His cheeks glisten with sunlight from the window.
At first he liked watching footage from his youth, but lately it just makes him cry. His streaking tears short out the docking station, which of course trips the hyper-sensitive breaker, leaving us in the dark with no TV and no dad. It’s Stacey’s job to dry dad’s tears when we watch this stuff. But she was moved by the documentary, too, and forgot about him. We’re always afraid that this time will be the last.
After we admire his silhouette, she cleans him up. Everyone is quiet while we find flashlights to go downstairs and restore power. The air is thick with the same feeling we had at the hospital when the doctor told us we had lost our dad.
Meanwhile, Avery stands up and looks at dad’s inanimate head on the coffee table. He sighs and says, You know, it did seem like a good idea at the time.
first published in Rivet Magazine, The Power Issue, July 2007
Friday, October 10, 2008
"It's such a small thing to remember someone's name." --J.D. Riso
"One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name." First line of a forwarded email from my mother.
"Listen--is there anything more useful as a means of control than names? Names aren't hopes--they're commands. Don't you see the danger in your calling it? In your giving names?" --Peter Orner
"But I passed away along with my name nearly two decades ago." --Mia Cuoto
"47. Dear god, make this list reflect the names of prayers I couldn’t fit. Include the prayers that have no name." --Blake Butler, List Prayer
"CLICK ON THESE NAMES AND FEEL SOMETHING" --Prathna Lor
"The most powerful person is he who is able to do least himself and burden others most with the things for which he lends his name and pockets the credit." --Theodor Adorno
"I don't even correct people when they mispronounce my name now." --Ann Beattie
"It's not name dropping . . ." --Jeffrey Bernard
" . . . her dead father, after whom the baby is named . . ." --copywriter for back cover of Hélène Cixous's book The Day I Wasn't There
"Her names were Beatrice, Margaret and Jane. Margaret was the feisty one." --Richard Froude, The Margaret Thatcher Trilogy
"There are a lot of people who really abused sampling and gave it a bad name . . ." --Beck
"Far from calling things up and bringing them to us, names seem to alienate us from things by negating their singularity. Names only repeat the incurable fracture, the laceration, the death that separates us from the world. Indeed, could they be the cause of death itself?" --Stefano Franchi
"He won't get far. He's got no mummy, he's got no names, he's got nothing. What happens to a bum like that, a nameless, mummyless asshole? Why, demons will swarm all over him at the first check point. He will be dismembered and thrown into a flaming pit, where his soul will be utterly consumed and destroyed forever. While others, with sound mummies and the right names to drop in the right places, sail through to the Western Lands." --William S. Burroughs, The Place of Dead Roads
". . . a name . . . itself is always already a homage to the namelessness or anonymity that makes all names both necessary and unnecessary, possible and impossible as such." --Leslie Hill, ""An outstretched hand . . ." From Fragment to Fragmentary", p. 2
"All the characters in this tale are given [OF COURSE] false names.
"All places have their true names but could [INDEED] be given other names." --Raymond Federman, Take It or Leave It
"Can he smell that new name they give him? Can he smell bad luck?" -- William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
". . . she claimed not to know any names." -- Brian Evenson, "The Sanza Affair", Altmann's Tongue
"That the name also expresses one speaker's phonic fantasies is made apparent by another coined word . . . in which the same phonemes are obsessionally disseminated." --Jacques Lecercle, Philosophy of Nonsense
". . . it was perhaps not entirely frivolous to consider the question of naming with some care." --Jean-Philippe Toussaint, Television
Saturday, October 4, 2008
UPDATE: check out the comment thread on Silliman's blog; for the predictably binary reactions, but also the discussions of the notion of "name". Interesting.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
REPETITION OF THE PARTY that we had last year on the same day at the same time. It's supposed to be exactly the same party again . . . The same guests, said Johanna, are going to have the same conversations at the same time and tell the same stories they did last year, with the same movements, the same gestures, same looks, same sentiments.
Except they haven't mentioned this to any of the guests.
We have to see if it's possible to establish a congruity of chronologically sequential feelings, sensations, thoughts, relationships, inferences, and insights, explained Diabelli--possibly not just conguity, but identity. Don't you see what we're after? Whether people can still feel, sense, think, experience, and discover exactly the same things one year later.
And so the novel begins. The central word/concept is obviously "Repetition". As I read these passages I immediately thought of Kierkegaard's book REPETITION (subtitled "A Venture in Experimental Psychology). Yeah, really tough, I know. Except there's more than simply the word Repetition. It's the entire concept of attempting to recreate the exact same "feelings, sensations, thoughts, relationships, inferences, and insights" that echoes (repeats?) Kierkegaard's character's return to Berlin in an attempt to relive exactly his time there the previous year. Whether or not Jonke had Kierkegaard's book in mind at all, it's a striking coincidence that got my attention.
HOMAGE TO CZERNY, what with the siblings' exact painting of the entire garden, recalls for me Borges's stories like "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" and "On Exactitude in Science", also obviously stories dealing with the idea of perfect repetition.
All of this and more unfolded in my brain by page 4 of Jonke's novel. So I am stoked to read the rest of the book. And I'll probably read Kierkegaard's REPETITION again, too.
Aside from the idea and uses of the fragmentary, I've been obsessed with the notion of repetition in literature. Not the boring rehashed and redundant, but a repetition that actually changes and paradoxically adds something new. I think of the last line of Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! where Quentin keeps saying that he doesn't hate the South, how the meaning changes and deepens as he repeats himself (speaking of Faulkner, I'd love to read a study of repetition in his body of work, too). I've think Carole Maso's AVA is a good example of work moving in both the fragmentary and using repetition. You'll find repetition in Beckett's work, and Deleuze certainly had a few things to say about it (not without looking at Kierkegaard, of course). Gert Jonke's novel doesn't seem to be overburdened with dry philosophizing, but is well balanced with living imagination where things happen.
So, that's all for now. I can already recommend checking out Jonke's work.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Hey, sorry if you're a loud one, but Nietzsche said it, so . . .
Leaves are changing colors here.
Survey: what kind of coffee do you drink? I'm not coffee snobbing here, I'm just curious. Starbucks, Maxwell House, Sanka, some special foreign blend? The only judgment I have about coffee is that I might rather drink out of the toilet than consume instant coffee. I've never been forced to choose, but that's what I imagine happening. Sometimes I'll buy Tim Horton's (there's one a block from my house that is also on the way to work). I've been getting Starbucks with a gift card that my wife, who is not a coffee drinker, got from work. Most often, though, I make coffee in my coffee maker that needs a good cleaning. I usually brew some darker blend of Maxwell House: French or Colombian. For whatever reason, it seems like every time I switch back to Colombian from French I get a raging sinus infection. Sometimes I brew a pot in the French press, but I'm lazy and usually don't like cleaning it out after I'm done.
Something that annoys me every time I watch TV: many many commercials feature men who are absolute idiots. And to a hyper-sensitive fellow like myself, I get at least two messages from these commercials:
1) X product will make your life better and more fulfilling
2) men, categorically, are really really stupid
1 Oct 2008: UPDATE: These are two particular commercials I'm thinking of:
Maybe it's just me being afraid of being stupid. I don't know. See, case and point. Stupid.
I will add this peeve to my tender nerves for commercials where the make believe consumer smiles gleefully when mock-using the product being pushed. For instance, any kind of sleep product, whether a pillow, mattress, etc, the person smiles while they sleep because they are so happy with the product. Now that, my friends, is stupid.
I've mentioned it before (though not really complained): the way the coffee cup signifies ease, security, and leisure in advertising. That hurts me a little. I really like coffee, and to see it pimped out like that stings.
It is Monday morning and I am complaining. Mostly about stupid things. I realize how petty I get about this stuff when I remember that some people are starving or worried about being in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone decides to blow up a public place. Yeah, insulting commercials just don't bite as much after that.
Elsewhere: I read The Bathroom by Jean-Philippe Toussaint over the weekend. I liked it. I am still feeling it and thinking about it, which is the mark of a good book for me. I will be reviewing it with Toussaint's novel Camera, which I am reading right now. I had previously thought that these were bookend novels, The Bathroom being his first novel and Camera being his most recent novel. But this is not the case. The former was published in 1985 (in French) and the latter in 1988. There is an interview with Toussaint as an afterword to Camera that I am looking forward to reading after I finish the novel. The Bathroom and Camera are being published (Camera for the first time in English) by the amazing Dalkey Archive.
Posts below: archived stories from print pubs that are themselves pretty much archived and not being caressed by any reading eyes. More stories to follow.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
After assembling the elaborate machinery of beakers and glass tubes, the aspiring chemist extracted liquid from containers with labels unreadable from the seats. However, stickers written in skulls, crossbones, and melting flesh -- images any illiterate could understand -- seemed to heat the room hotter than any Bunsen burner ever could. But everyone remained still, awaiting propositions and premises, the skeptics narrowing their eyes in anticipation.
finalist in The Binnacle's Fourth Annual Ultra-Short Competition, published in 2007
Loaf of bread from local grocery store: $1.34 (after discount for small mold spots starting on the ends)
Tampered pack of generic pre-sliced cheddar cheese: $1.79 (after discount for obvious reasons, plus some discoloring of slices)
Resulting grilled cheese sandwich with slightly crisped, nicely browned cameo of the Virgin Mary, or, if you hold it this way, a bearded John Lennon: priceless (well, actually $1,500 on eBay)
It could happen to anyone.
Finalist in The Binnacle's Second Annual Ultra-Short Competition, Ultra-Short Issue published 2005
"Just imagine, C," Don said. "They used to advertise all sorts of pills for this or that sickness, or even to keep one's organs functioning properly."
"You don't say, Don."
"Yeah, way before they cured death, even before organ cloning and the overseas baby farms."
"But get this, way back then they thought we would have flying cars in the future." Don looked out at the vehicles parked in his driveway, bloated rubber tires gripping the incline of the pavement. "What I wouldn't give for a flying car."
previously published in The Shantytown Anomaly, Issue #4, January 2007
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Things to read that I liked [not exhaustive]:
CM Evans posted a poem on his site that filleted my mouth with rubble. I enjoyed that experience. My eyes puckered.
An interview with Carole Maso in the new 'shue of Word Riot. I got AVA in the mail yesterday and am enjoying it. Again, the fragmented narrative. Similar-ish to David Markson's WITTGENSTEIN'S MISTRESS (and especially the text shape his later novels) as well as Raymond Federman's TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. R.M. Berry wrote an essay exploring these works in relation to the notion of 'avant-garde' and innovative fiction. Berry's essay is worth the eyestrain to read the miniscule font (or you can just zoom in on the page). Maso also has an excerpt in CONJUNCTIONS 48 from her novel in progress, The Bay of Angels, which she has been working on for fifteen years.
Maybe a Gertrude Stein revival is on the way.
Also, I think Norm MacDonald is working on his reinvention right now.
Books in the mail recently.
Maso's AVA, of course. Very nice.
FRAGMENTARY FUTURES by Daniel Watt: I searched pretty much everyday for months to find a copy of this for less than $100. And then, after I ordered it, I found another method of procuring it for much less money. Anyone want to buy a copy of this new (2007) groundbreaking work?
SPECIES OF SPACES AND OTHER PIECES by Georges Perec
WITTGENSTEIN'S LADDER by Marjorie Perloff
Also received review copies of two novels by Jean-Philippe Toussaint: one, THE BATHROOM, is his first novel, and the other, CAMERA, Toussaint's latest novel to be translated into English. I became aware of Toussaint only a month or two ago. I'm getting after these today.
Here is an interview with Toussaint from the latest issue of The Quarterly Conversation.
Other cool things:
New No Posit. Vol 3. It's packed. Sizzlin'.
New Harpur Palate w/ words by Blake Butler, T.J. Forrester, Jacob Appel, Denise Duhamel, Jim Daniels, Micah Ling, et al. Trade all your baseball cards for this one.
Lit mag named Cella's Round Trip wants submissions. Your submissions. Emissions. I'm on an e-mission right now. Ikay, I'm done.
I just bought a copy of the new chapbook available from Lame House Press: Kate Greenstreet's This is Why I Hurt You. Check it. Gina Myers makes excellent chapbooks. She works like full and a half time and still manages to run an independent press and keep up with, well, pretty much everything. She gives me hope.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Anti- :: The Aurorean :: Crazyhorse :: decomP :: Keyhole :: The Laurel Review :: Michigan Quarterly Review :: The Midwest Quarterly :: New York Tyrant :: Salamander :: Spinning Jenny :: Superstition Review :: Versal :: Whitefish Review
Includes my reviews of the third issues of both Keyhole and New York Tyrant. Both also impressive literary magazines whose new issues are now out (though I've heard that Tyrant's issue 4 is already sold out, too). My review of the print issue of Juked should run sometime soon, I think.
Due possibly to space issues or the fact that I can't go without mentioning Blake Butler's work every time it's in a magazine I review (and good luck finding many literary magazines without something from Blake's brain on the pages), my mention of said work by Butler was edited away. Well, it is probably more appropriate to do the lipping and tonguing on my blog anyway. Here are comments supplemental to my review of Keyhole 3, a mock block quote:
Butler’s five pieces feature dead celebrities. Each line begins with the name of the celeb (Chris Farley, Nancy Spungen, Sharon Tate, Tupac Shakur, and Andy Kaufman) and then bends the aura of each, shifting the cultural baggage attendant to each name. For instance, “Sharon Tate died tied neck to neck with another person while 34 weeks pregnant. Sharon Tate carried black pepper between her teeth. Sharon Tate felt a balloon inflated through the volume of her California home. Sharon Tate danced across the coffee table. Sharon Tate could not sign her name without a buzzing in her knees. Sharon Tate took the dictionary home from the dinner party and found its pages blank.” The repetition of the names eventually blurs them outside of themselves in the same way any word repeated enough begins to sound strange. Eventually the names are cut loose and become entirely different characters.
Since space really is limited for the lit mag reviews, I'm thinking about posting supplemental review fragments here. A lot of the issues have so much strong work or a few particular pieces that I want to spend more time on that 500 or even a bloated 700 word review just isn't enough. Maybe that's what I'll do. I don't know.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
This issue has more fiction than most previous installments, since AY has been primarily a journal of poetics captained by Johannes Göransson, Joyelle McSweeney, and John Dermot Woods. You'll find a piece by Amina Cain. And two more phenomenal stories by Blake Butler that, as usual, inspire awe and envy in me with the language, image, the movement. Here is the opening of "Year of Weird Light", which I believe is from his as yet (shamefully) unpublished collection SCORCH ATLAS:
I began to try again—and yet in want of nothing, as there was nothing I could taste. The hall outside my bedroom had grown engorged with dirt frittered full with raspy holes threaded by tapeworms and aphids, eating. I’d crack the door to let the looser dustings shake in so there'd be something I could chew on also. It didn't do much good. My tongue took to the texture of grass but my belly would not stop screaming, and the bug matter hung like gristle, my stomach so weak it couldn't grind. I could feel them moving elsewhere. I could feel the crawling behind my eyes. The old ceiling sat around me. The new ceiling: a smudged sky.
I have a piece in this issue entitled "Today the Smell of Worms and Wet Pennies", a rosary with beads named Martin Heidegger, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Rene Descartes, Claude Debussy, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Samuel Beckett, and Georges Bataille. The Bataille fragment is a short prequel to my piece entitled "Fiction with Teratoma Preserves" which was published in the latest issue of Phoebe. Re: my pieces in the first issue of NO COLONY featuring Antonin Artaud, Charles Darwin, and Franz Kafka, this piece in Action Yes is their mother. Here is the opening of the first node:
Martin Heidegger wore hearing protection out on the tarmac at JFK. The runways were broad and he danced and leapt with the freedom of a Cats performer while he guided planes to the terminal. Martin Heidegger pulled double shifts: he covered for co-workers whenever possible: anything to continue his dancing. He felt electric grace gather in his hands as he handled the batons under the midday sun. Martin Heidegger disliked sunsets, though, because they signified the end of the day, the end of his dancing on the tarmac. Martin Heidegger sought a seeing for which the sun did not set.
This installment of Action Yes includes essays by regular contributor Per Bäckström, Robert Archambeau's "The Avant-Garde in Babel: Two or Three Notes on Four or Five Words" responds to Bäckström's essay “One Earth, Four or Five Words: The Notion of the Avant-Garde Problematized” from Issue 7. Poetry includes work by María Baranda, translated by Joshua Edwards, Jon Leon, Kate Schapira, Mike Schorsch, and Mark Tursi. The issue has a lot of different media. I like Vernon Frazer's collage poem "from Emblematic Moon". Again, the fragmented nature with space and isolation drawing blood from the words.
THE NEVER-ENDING QUEST
FOR TAXIDERMIST FRONTAGE
I also really liked Bruno K. Oijer's poetry "from c/o Night". They're all excellent, but here's "Seduced Again", though I don't know how to reproduce the format:
Once You Jotted Down
The Word "Winter"
On Your Sheet
Now You Have
Something New To Offer Me
I Called Your Name
Outside The Door
You Turned Up The Music
Politicians & Other Corpses
Swing From The Coat Hangers
In Your Hallway
You Hold The Globe
In Front Of Your Face
& Put On Your Make-Up
The Blood Suits Your Mouth
I know it means something different, but that last couple of lines reminds me of the quintessential David Lynch moment where one character or another smears red lipstick around their mouth. Öijer poems are translated from Swedish, but even rendered in English every line is small, hard, and potent like a bullet.
Also, there is an audio piece that was written by Noah Eli Gordon and read by Eric Baus, Noah Eli Gordon, and Sara Veglahn. And check out Emily Hunt's "from Um Um: A Novel to Lips", which is an erasure of Tom Phillips's erasure entitled A Humument. (On an 'about me' side note, I think an erasure of Beckett's How It Is may work into the story I've been working on; I was amazed at how with a little erasure it seemed like Beckett had laid down a core sample of my story.)
And: a performance of integrated text/video/image/sound by Joe Wenderoth and Gibby Haynes.
I am proud to have been a part of this excellent issue of Action, Yes. Thanks to Blake Butler and John Dermot Woods for doing what they do.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Also in the issue are interviews with Carole Maso and Steve Finbow, as well as part five of a serial flash fiction by Steve Finbow, and poetry by Prathna Lor, and lots more.
Michael Kimball has begun his book tour. I'm looking forward to finally meeting him when he comes to Lansing.
Baltimore, September 15, 7 pm
Barnes & Noble @ Johns Hopkins U
With Jessica Anya Blau
Bel Air, MD, September 16, 1 pm
Harford Literary Society, Rockfield Manor
Washington D.C., September 18, 8 pm
Cheryl’s Gone Reading Series @ Big Bear Cafe
Baltimore, September 20, 5 pm
510 Reading Series @ Minás
Baltimore, September 26, 6-8 pm
Baltimore Book Festival • City Lit Stage
With Madison Smartt Bell, Rafael Alvarez,
Christine Schutt, Jen Michalski
New York City, September 27, 6 pm
Litquake's NYC Lit Crawl @ The Arrow
With New York Tyrant
Baltimore, October 4, 1-3 pm
Author signing at the Ivy Bookshop (rescheduled)
East Lansing, MI, October 6-8, (various events)
Department of English, Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI, October 7, 7:30 pm
Michigan Writers Series,
Michigan State University, Main Library
Lansing, MI, October 8, 7:30 pm
Talk & author signing at Schuler Books (Eastwood)
Detroit, October 9, 6 pm
Museum of Contemporary Art–Detroit
New York City, October 12, 7 pm
KGB-Bar, With Hannah Tinti
Washington, D.C., October 15, 7 pm
Olsson’s Bookstore-Dupont Circle,
With Jessica Anya Blau
Brooklyn, October 22, 7:30 pm
Word Bookstore, with Sam Lipsyte
Providence, RI, November 6, 7 pm
Myopic Books, with Darcie Dennigan
Cambridge, MA, November 7, 8 pm
Dire Reading Series @ Out of the Blue Gallery
With Kim Chinquee, Jason Tandon
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Forrest Gander's new novel As a Friend just out from New Directions. I'm looking forward to this one. The fragmentary shape of the text, with isolated sentences and paragraphs and sections, is exactly what I'm interested in right now.
Baby and I finished reading Samuel Beckett's How It Is and Eugene Marten's Waste.
I'll definitely be reading both again. I don't know if I have anything really coherent to say about How It Is just yet. But I can say that Waste tracked little hexes of dried blood across my brain with rugged work boots. It's definitely a dark novel. Dan Wickett alluded to Cormac McCarthy's Child of God when he said that there is more than a little Lester Ballard in Marten's main character, Sloper, and I think that's accurate. Sloper is a great name for this character. It does not stand out so strangely that it is distracting, but it is definitely strange enough to evoke that something bent about the character. The writing is a precise and rusty cutting instrument. Marten's sentences are clipped and rich. Distilled to the essence. The deadpan matter of fact tone creates the perfect feeling of Sloper's numb indifferent sickness that goes unchecked in his isolation. Sloper is different than McCarthy's Lester Ballard in that Sloper is not violent. Of course, his social paralysis is nearly crippling, but he is still functionally disturbed. Although he prefers to just be left alone, he still craves human contact in whatever way he can make that happen. He is not willfully destructive and does not just take what he wants, but makes use of what he finds already abandoned. Sloper is a sad, creepy, interesting character. And the writing is a perfect detox diet. I will definitely be reading this again. At 116 pages, Waste is a quick and potent read. Highly recommended.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Um, yes, Blake Butler wrote an amazing review of Michael Kimball's Dear Everybody for the feature on Kimball at Keyhole. Blake does a great job of prodding the feelings that DE will wring from readers.
Any day now we'll find out that Dear Everybody will be the next Oprah's Book Club selection. You just wait.
Here are all of the reviews so far (chronological), that I know of:
Matt Bell in the LA Times
My review in NewPages
Michael Miller in Time Out New York
Luca Dipierro in Greenpoint Gazette
Monday, September 8, 2008
i'm typing w/ one hand. fragments are all now.
no more caps. well, few caps.
peter cole linked in a comment to the very recent michael kimball podcast interview at Keyhole. very good. huge props: kimball mentions blake butler, elizabeth ellen, and me toward the end. great feeling.
again: Dear Everybody
NO COLONY in the mailbox today. attractive. so much excellent writing. take it on a date. my piece "from Today the Smell of Worms and Wet Pennies" will reward your purchase of dinner and drinks. ('dinner and drinks' = NO COLONY Issue 1)
tennis on tv. makes me feel tired. everything makes me feel tired. mostly because no sleep. partly: lazy.
finishing reading beckett's How It Is soon. i like it. don't understand all of it, but still like it. i like what beckett i've read. i heard from michael kimball who heard from luca dipierro that beckett drove andre the giant to school. i also read it again in bradley sands's interview with ryan manning (i heard you add 'the asian' to his name in your mind).
baby is sleeping.
boring groaning squeaking popping tennis.
time the conqueror
Matt Bell's review of Michael Kimball's Dear Everybody in Sunday's LA Times.
Got Keyhole 4 in the mail and it looks great. My review of the excellent issue 3 will be running soon at NewPages.
I will be posting previously published stories here to archive them.
Also: Names will drop soon. And they will not.
Time the Conqueror
Massive intentional incompletion
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Here's the full lineup:
Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball, reviewed by Josh Maday
Vacation by Deb Olin Unferth, reviewed by Matt Bell
Liam's Going by Michael Joyce, reviewed by Rav Grewal-Kök
In the Land of the Free by Geoffrey Forsyth, reviewed by Sean Lovelace
New World Order by Derek Green, reviewed by Dan Wickett
Sound + Noise by Curtis Smith, reviwed by Matt Bell
Bill's Formal Complaint by Dan Kaplan, reviewed by Micah Zevin
Lands of Memory by by Felisberto Hernández, Translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen, reviewed by Josh Maday
Who Can Save Us Now?, Brand-New Superheroes and their Amazing (Short) Stories Ed. by Owen King and John McNally, reviewed by Matt Bell
In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefeld, reviewed by Christina Hall
New literary magazine reviews posted today, too. These:
Brick :: Feile-Festa :: Jubilat :: Marginalia :: Mississippi Review:: Open Face Sandwich :: Pleiades :: Prick of the Spindle :: Raving Dove :: River Styx :: Seneca Review :: Skidrow Penthouse :: West Branch
Monday, September 1, 2008
So feel free to disseminate this image and the slogan as you please. Do not make any money and do not try to advertise your own inauthentic Americanized Mexican food with the slogan, should you somehow find a way to do so. I think I'm going to make a t-shirt and a bumper sticker for myself, though. And probably something for my dad, who gets all the credit for this subtle yet simple piece of advice.
This would make a perfect team morale poster at your workplace, a fine yard sign for those many questionable drivers, or simply a t-shirt or postcard to offer helpful advice for life in general. I urge you to not make money doing this, but, certainly, absolutely, make fun.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Check out John Reed and Jennifer Lee Carrell in Soho on September 5th at McNally Jackson Booksellers at 7pm, where both will read from their new work, which "directly involves the Bard."
All the World is a Grave
Also, next week is Dear Everybody week. The story of Jonathon Bender is officially released on September 1 (but can be pre-ordered, of course). Here's a new article/review in Time Out New York's Fall Preview. Sounds like the same Dear Everybody I read.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Downey does a flawless job of balancing the elements of this song. First, it's funny: you have the Stephen Hawking poke-and-speak computer voice, the wicked search string "dirty sex asian teen blow job 69 free pics" spoken by the computer voice.
It's tough to find a line that is not awesome, but you have simultaneously heavy and funny lines like:
And Google was good, and Google was good, and Google was good, and you were nothing
And Google was good, and Google was good, and Google was really fucking good.
And Google begat music. It sounded like this.
But also, the text of the song has some pretty big concepts and powerful images. Take the opening lines:
There was an explosion then. And others things. And then out of the darkness rose Google. And Google searched itself and found that it was relevant.
The image of this monstrosity of biblical proportion rising "out of the darkness", becoming familiar with and asserting itself in an 'overthrow of heaven' sort of way is powerful. The following lines reinforce this, being written in biblical style, sort of a coupling of the creation story and a retelling the Garden of Eden story:
There were few men then. And then more. And then more. And the days of dog pile were over. And Google looked upon its archives and found that these too were good. And Google begat Youtube, begat Blogger, begat Gmail. And man ate of the forbidden fruit of dirty sex asian teen blow job 69 free pics. And Google looked upon itself. And Google spoke to man, saying, In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 882 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.
And, of course, it's funny at the same time.
And the horns were gone. And the years rolled on. And Google found god and Google found god and Google found god thousands of times. And Google found Google.
And the horns were gone, and the years rolled on. And Google found god and Google found god and Google found god thousands of times. And Google found Google.
With the slide from "Google found god" to "Google found Google", the overthrow is complete. Google and god are interchangeable. Or, more likely: Google = god. An all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, etc, all of the traditional attributes, plus one: immediate results; so many results, in fact, that they will overwhelm you and Google even saves you from that, too. Don't forget: Google loves you.
And the horns were gone, and the years rolled on. And Google found god. And Google found god. And Google found god thousands of times. And the Iran War was a brand new search. And anal sex was a very old search.
Here things have moved beyond. Sex is old. Violence is the new sex. Or at least the consumption of violence (I'm obviously reading into things). As with any piece of moving art (text, music, film), the ending is vital, and I think Downey ends "THIS IS A SONG ABOUT GOOGLE, NOT NIKOLAI GOGOL" perfectly.
And the light from the computers drowned out the sun. And Google was god. And Google was god. And Google was god when the world folded over.
Those lines give me a blanket party à la Full Metal Jacket every time I read or hear them. The last clause "when the world folded over" reaches beyond and touches something that I feel but can't quite put words to, which keeps me turning the phrase over and over in my mind. This is the thing I think art aims for, a blend of clarity and mystery that keeps the viewer/listener/reader thinking about the piece long after they have moved on with their day.
Downey's piece is a prime example of the unique/new/innovative/strange/funny sensibility (would aesthetic be a more appropriate word?) Blake Butler fosters at Lamination Colony. Unless you overthink overanalyze overinterpret everything like I do, the song is a good listen and it is funny and none of the profundity gets in the way of that. So, like, go read/listen for yourself.
Thank you Ryan Downey. Your four minute song has given me hours of thoughtful entertainment.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I thought of something today that felt like it was an honest feeling, but I've forgotten it.
Got some books in the mail lately:
Waste by Eugene Marten, which I'm reading right now and really liking. I usually like to read the first page of a book when I get it, and I just didn't stop reading this one.
Soft Targets v.2.1: is a good looking journal with lots of names that get my buzzword chemicals pumping: opens with a quote by Jean Genet, Jean-Jacques Schuhl, Ariana Reines, Alexander Kluge, Lara Glenum, Nathalie Djurberg, Alain Badiou, James Tate, Johannes Goransson, Pierre Bourdieu, Alberto Toscano, Henri Michaux, Gary Lutz, Ben Lerner, etc, etc, etc, ad etc. Can't wait to dig into this. I don't feel that a breezy peruse here and there is going to do.
Also arrived: Rabelais and His World by Mikhail Bakhtin. Johannes Goransson mentioned it on his blog when talking about the literary grotesque.
The Cow by Ariana Reines & The Hounds of No by Lara Glenum: my brain is begging to eat the contents of these books of poetry.
Dear Ra by Johannes Goransson: read Blake Butler's post about this.
Marsupial by Derek White: ditto.
Chronoschisms by Ursula K. Heise: is also causing my brain to eat its way to freedom in order to read these pages.
There is another handful of books that I really want, but the mofo's are from $90 to $200. What is that? These books are already disadvantaged by their extremely narrow focus. That is totally bass ackwards of good old supply and demand. Really surprising that they go out of print so quickly.
Sweet lemons: I don't really need more books anyway.
This, is sick. Read it.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
In this video you will see Blake Butler. He will say words like "Friday", "August", "NO COLONY", and other words. He will shave his face while he says these things.
Spread this video communication like an STD.
I wish I could go to this show/reading. But today I am excited that my kitchen sink now drains and does not have dirty water backing up into it and smelling like an old woman's breath. I'm in that place right now.
Here are some photographs of the first issue. It looks very sexy. My eyeballs are sweating. The cover is badness. NO COLONY is a snake tangle.
My contribution to this issue is entitled "from Today the Smell of Worms and Wet Pennies", which features strange incarnations of Antonin Artaud, Charles Darwin, and Franz Kafka. I have to say, though, that Kafka may be the most over-written-about writer ever of all time forever ever. A moratorium on Kafka appearances/mentions in poetry and fiction is coming soon, I do believe. But, until then . . .
Order a copy of NO COLONY. Do. It. Now. Or. Else. Your. Face. Will. Eat. Itself.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
And it should go without saying, but I will say it anyway: Check out Keyhole Magazine. Issue 4 is like almost here and is already available for to order. I'm sure copies of Issue 3 are still available, too. My brain ran away and cried in a corner when I finished reading Issue 3.
Also: Publishing Genius has some fine fine chapbooks that you can read for free as a PDF, which is nice. But it is nicer actually holding a print copy in your hands and reading it. PG also publishes books. The latest offering is David Daniel's story collection entitled Six Off 66, about which Ryan Call said positive things.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Names dropped include: Jimmy Chen, elimae, Yankee Pot Roast, Michael Kimball, Gena Mohwish, Kim Chinquee, Jesus, Sean Lovelace, No Colony, Shane Jones
Praise Obama! Jimmy Chen has new mind children at the elimae nursery and the Yankee Pot Roast day care. They are bored. Visit them. Hold them.
Michael Kimball strikes again (albeit gently) with Gena Mohwish's life story on a postcard (well, for us, a blog). He did an excellent job with Gena's amazing story. No hyperbole, I promise.
Uh, it appears that Kim Chinquee has defeated Jesus in a flash fiction matchup as judged by Sean Lovelace.
Hey, everyone, there's going to be a muh-f'kin NO COLONY release party in NYC on August 22. Readings by Robert Lopez, Tao Lin, Giancarlo DiTrapano, Justin Taylor and Nick Antosca. Wear your Nomex suits.
My copy of Shane Jones's chapbook I Will Unfold You With My Hairy Hands and Peter Berghoef's News of the Haircut arrived yesterday from Greying Ghost Press. These chaps are gorgeous. I am excited to read them. I have been really impressed by the chapbooks I've seen from independent presses like Lame House, Publishing Genius, and of course Greying Ghost. I know there are lots more, but these are the ones my hands and eyes have caressed lately. Same thing goes for The Cupboard Pamphlet. Not only is the writing excellent, but the chapbooks themselves are beautifully designed and hand crafted. It is ridiculous to get something of this quality for these prices. Plus, most of them take PayPal. Sell some crap on eBay and you can get a mailbox full of good writing that feels good on your eyes and in your hands and will massage sparks through your synapses. It doesn't make sense to not order chapbooks from these presses. This is the hard sell.
Read "Dr. Maroon".
Read "Punch-Drunk Love" at titular. Sizeable archive taking shape with names/titles familiar and not, but all of loveable eye-gouging quality.
Also read Without Wax
Recent review and interview of/with WW in Providence Phoenix.
My review at NewPages.
Healthy and satisfying.