Friday, February 13, 2009

John Ashbery re: Michel Leiris re: Raymond Roussel

As Michel Leiris points out, "Roussel never really traveled. It seems likely that the outside world never broke through into the universe he carried within him, and that, in all the countries he visited, he saw only what he had put there in advance, elements which corresponded absolutely with that universe that was peculiar to him . . ."

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blake Butler Reads from EVER at Apostrophe Cast

The man reads from EVER. Badassness. Listen now, and when you're lying in the dark waiting to fall asleep. And probably, order and read EVER.

Landscape with Fragmented Figures by Jeff Vande Zande

My good friend Jeff Vande Zande's new novel Landscape with Fragmented Figures was just published by Bottom Dog Press, a press that has been around for 23 years, focusing on literary writing about all things working class/blue collar. I've read the novel twice now, once a couple of years ago right after Jeff finished it, and this past December when I had the privilege of proofreading it. Landscape is a traditional realist novel where the wildly different worlds of blue collar factory work and tenure track academia come together, often with explosive results. The novel was relevant when Jeff first wrote it, but it's amazing how much more it speaks to most people's situation right now. Here are blurb and copy from Bottom Dog:

Betrayed by his art and disillusioned by his job as a professor, Ray Casper finds his long-time girlfriend has just left him. At the death of his estranged father, he links up with his out-of-work brother Sammy, and things really get complicated. Sammy moves in with Ray and needs a job; Ray needs inspiration to paint again, and both have to keep from killing each other.

Landscape with Fragmented Figures unites academia and working class in a tale of brothers, fathers and sons, art and love. It’s a tale of what it means for all of us to live in America in these times.

"Jeff Vande Zande's Landscape with Fragmented Figures is about being lost and searching for truth out of longing. On the way you drink cheap beer and pass through some smoke stacks. You are north of Detroit in a mini-metropolis off the I-75 corridor but not quite to God's country. And you find yourself splattered on an abstract canvas, layered with shallow middle class aspirations and working class failures. Haven't we all been there? It's what makes us human; it's what grounds us. At some point in life we all face ourselves - that is if we are willing to take risks."

-Lolita Hernandez, author of Autopsy of an Engine

“Jeff Vande Zande's new novel is a wonderful contemporary working-class story. This crafted story is an engaging page-turner filled with keen detailing and vivid style. Landscape with Fragmented Figures is the real deal--an intense story about real people involved in day-to-day life experiences that readers will identify with and relate to their own neighborhoods and Midwest houses, not in New York, LA or Chicago. This is a novel full of working-class heart and soul that will appeal to all readers.”

-M.L. Liebler, author of Wide Awake in Someone Else’s Dream & Director of Springfed Arts: Metro Detroit Writers

Jeff Vande Zande has spent most of his life in Michigan, where the talk is always of jobs, loss of jobs, and the beauty of the landscape. His books include a novel, Into the Desperate Country (March Street Press), a collection, Poems New, Used, and Rebuilds (March Street Press) and, also a short story collection, Emergency Stopping and Other Stories (Bottom Dog Press). He lives in Midland with wife, son, and daughter and teaches English and writing at Delta College.

Light Boxes, Chris Higgs, William Burroughs, novella, AWP, and such

Got my copy of Shane Jones's new novel Light Boxes the other day (I can't remember which day; time and memory are slippery like watermelon seeds now). I've looked at the book (it is very attractive; the cover image is beautiful and has planetary gravity). People are saying good things about Shane's novel. Shane posted Chris Higgs's notes on his blog.

I want to drive to Ohio this summer and hang out with Chris Higgs and talk about Deleuze and all things avant-garde.

I've been increasingly obsessed with William S. Burroughs. I read Nova Express in a night. I've been reading Naked Lunch and his letters. It's another case of finally reading something and wishing I had read it years ago.

Everything I read lately (for the past year) seems to be the exact thing I need to be reading. It all feels relevant and even reflective of the novella I've been working on. Passages, phrases, images stand out and recontextualize themselves in my own work. Sometimes it's strange and exciting. Sometimes I wonder if I'm writing a rehash. I think part of the novella is going to be a mash-up of all of these things reset in the context of my own work. Burroughs, Beckett, Faulkner, Deleuze & Guattari, Blanchot, Blake Butler, Thalia Field, Johannes Goransson, Nathaniel Mackey, Ben Lerner, J.G. Ballard, Gert Jonke, Robert Pinget, Bataille, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, William H. Gass, David Markson, Carole Maso; any of them, a combination of form and content and perspectives all intertwining and warping with the novella. Things keep changing and opening up and unfolding. I wouldn't have written about this if it was still only an idea, but I've already begun the mash-up, and the main text is almost ready for early readers. I haven't shown any of it to anyone, so I'm interested to see what kind of reaction it gets.

AWP is soon. I thought I would be able to go. I even had a generous carpool/hotel room offer. But, as an outsider (and procrastinator), my registration would cost $205, plus about that much for room/gas/etc and then easily that much for food and drink and wild partying. So, I will not be going to AWP. I was looking forward to the dance and rock-a-bowl.