Monday, September 29, 2008

Nietzsche Coffee Tender Nerves Toussaint Dalkey Archive

"Anyone with a loud voice is almost incapable of thinking subtleties." --Nietzsche

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.

Thank you.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Open Mic Night at the Chemistry Club

The HazMat suit scared them a little. However, their well-trained faculties of judgment remained objective. Admittedly, the preceding chemist hadn't brought his A-game, but neither had the audience brought their goggles, gloves, or eyewash.

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

Unemployment Daydream While Standing Over a Fryin' Pan

It was any afternoon, same old bread, same two-tone cheese. Same old reverie inspired by a once-in-a-lifetime, luckier-than-a-two-peckered-goat story on the twelve o'clock news:

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

Longing in the 21st Century

Don watched TV with the family android, CX2050. A commercial for an offspring outsourcing company moved into its second segment between whatever show was airing.

"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

A Well-Administered Headbutt

Was going to wait and see if I could let traffic fizzle to zero before posting again. But

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?



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

Literary Magazine Reviews at NewPages

New literary magazine reviews. NewPages.

Such as:

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

Brian Evenson May Be My Brother

Everytime I read or think about Brian Evenson's Afterword in his collection Altmann's Tongue, I feel like I am connected somehow and that Brian Evenson is my brother. Same goes for his fiction, too, of course. His story in NO COLONY feels like something that would fall out of my head. Not that I am anywhere near him as a writer, but that I feel a close kinship, the same intellectual orientation. My mental eyes follow a similar trajectory, with a different yet very much the same launch site. The notions of fracture, disconnect, misalignment, and definitely violence and transgression in many forms, with many faces. The thought of Deleuze, Derrida, Blanchot, Bataille, et al commingling in the periphery. Evenson's fiction is for me the perfect balance of fiction and philosophy. I would like to talk with Evenson for hours and see what kind of a cloud forms in the air. I will write more about this some time. Something less abstract, less vague. Or not.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Action, Yes Issue 8

The Autumn 2008 issue of Action, Yes is cutting off hands and feet and gouging eyes.

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.



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

Interview with Michael Kimball in Word Riot

The September issue of Word Riot is live. My interview with Michael Kimball is there. I had a great time interviewing and getting to know Kimball.

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

Dear Everybody

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Somebody yelled and the music faded

In the mail recently:

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

Blake Butler Reviews Michael Kimball's Dear Everybody for Keyhole Magazine

Been awhile since I posted about something Blake Butler. I'm thinking of starting a blog syndicated with Blake's blog. That would be easier than retyping and linking to everything he blogs or publishes.

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

vast tracts of time

Baby is here. 5 lbs 5 oz. small. fun. tired. beautiful.

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

The Paradox of a Baby's Power to Crush You

Life and Things.

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

New Book Reviews at NewPages

September book reviews are posted at NewPages. This month I reviewed Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball, which I have been shouting about for months. I also reviewed Lands of Memory by Felisberto Hernandez, published by the excellent and important New Directions.

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

*** UPDATE ***

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

Life Awareness Public Service Announcement

Well, I was going to try and capitalize on this 'parody' of an advertising slogan and hopefully be able to quit my job and write and be a dad full time, but I did a little extra research and found that that plan might have backfired and helped me to get out of my house and other possessions more quickly than I had anticipated. So, I'm just putting it out there. I'm not making any money on it. Maybe it will go viral and make a big stink anyway. That would be fun.

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.