excerpt from THE STRANGERS

an excerpt from the manuscript i’m working on from THE STRANGERS, a novel forthcoming from Black Square Editions — via the latest gimmick.

She said, “If I had a twin, and I’m not saying that I do, I would say we grew up in a simple house, squatting on a hill that overlooked a debased island, one used only as a trash dump.”
“Go on,” I said.
“If this were the case and in no way am I admitting that it is, then I’d say our mother and father were examples of a kind of utopianist, a type of idealist or religious seeker. In short, they were drug addicts and debilitated. My twin and I (should those two referents signify any aspect of reality) raised ourselves eating handouts from the market women and making toys and tools out of the junkyard, which was an ocean that seemed to us then almost as infinite as the real, but was not, no not nearly.”
“I see,” I said.
“You see what?” the captain said.
“No, nothing. Please continue,” I said.
The captain touched the tip of her tongue with her pinkie. I took out a pair of zebra-patterned sunglasses and placed them on top of my head. She said, “If this happened to have happened, and please understand I deny and affirm nada, squat, zilchy-zilch, then it may have occurred that my twin and I began experimenting, playing, fooling around with at first electronic equipment then computational devices and then daisy-chained elements and then nets within and without other nets and then highly personalized and only occasionally brought-forth, never-uttered languages. With this expertise, if one is to believe such a tale, an action I neither endorse nor condemn, my twin and I might have begun reaching out from our trash island to stroke the belly of far away commodity exchanges, purring stock markets, and deeply dreaming arbitrage centers. Twins of this type, in this manner of story, may have taken odd numbers from that ambush of bewildered and half-sentient financial tigers, unliving or savage or mystical or deformed digits buried inside calculations and data and spreadsheets never actually handled but whose shadowy existences were made necessary by other gravitational events, other more obvious and prosaic numbers closer to the minds of drone bankers. Twins of this sort, though it isn’t in my nature to speculate on their existential possibility, may have corralled these iridescent integers into more worldly shapes so that they, the hypothetical twins, could, should they want to (should they exist to want to), purchase not only the entirety of their own debased island but fleets of archipelagos and pinwheels of peninsulas and infinite itineraries of isthmuses for, in short, these perhaps possible twins were now—had become—bandits of an extreme order and therefore godly rich.”

She said, “If I had a twin, and I’m not saying that I do, I would say we grew up in a simple house, squatting on a hill that overlooked a debased island, one used only as a trash dump.”

“Go on,” I said.

“If this were the case and in no way am I admitting that it is, then I’d say our mother and father were examples of a kind of utopianist, a type of idealist or religious seeker. In short, they were drug addicts and debilitated. My twin and I (should those two referents signify any aspect of reality) raised ourselves eating handouts from the market women and making toys and tools out of the junkyard, which was an ocean that seemed to us then almost as infinite as the real, but was not, no not nearly.”

“I see,” I said.

“You see what?” the captain said.

“No, nothing. Please continue,” I said.

The captain touched the tip of her tongue with her pinkie. I took out a pair of zebra-patterned sunglasses and placed them on top of my head. She said, “If this happened to have happened, and please understand I deny and affirm nada, squat, zilchy-zilch, then it may have occurred that my twin and I began experimenting, playing, fooling around with at first electronic equipment then computational devices and then daisy-chained elements and then nets within and without other nets and then highly personalized and only occasionally brought-forth, never-uttered languages. With this expertise, if one is to believe such a tale, an action I neither endorse nor condemn, my twin and I might have begun reaching out from our trash island to stroke the belly of far away commodity exchanges, purring stock markets, and deeply dreaming arbitrage centers. Twins of this type, in this manner of story, may have taken strange numbers from that ambush of bewildered and half-sentient financial tigers, may have taken unliving or savage or mystical or deformed digits buried inside calculations and data and spreadsheets never actually handled but whose shadowy existences were made necessary by other gravitational events, other more obvious and prosaic numbers closer to the minds of drone bankers. Twins of this sort, though it isn’t in my nature to speculate on their existential possibility, may have corralled these iridescent integers into more worldly shapes so that they, the hypothetical twins, could, should they want to (should they exist to want to), purchase not only the entirety of their own debased island but fleets of archipelagos and pinwheels of peninsulas and infinite itineraries of isthmuses for, in short, these perhaps possible twins were now—had become—bandits of an extreme order and therefore godly rich.”

 

a fuller excerpt available here: http://exploringfictions.blogspot.com/2011/06/eugene-lim-from-strange-twins.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY NIGHT IN CHILE by roberto bolaño

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i keep thinking maybe this next bolaño that i pick up will be somehow minor or irrelevant or merely clever. but it never is! it’s always consistently great and consistently surprising with thin yet deep connecting seams of evil and loss, tiny to large explosions of sex and examples of worldly power… structurally so genius and yet so natural, hopeless wisdom, sad beauty, perfect jokes…

and parts to remember (spoiler alert if you believe in such) : the first visit to Farewell’s estate (for some reason, reminding of Zuckerman the young writer meeting Lonoff “the great man” in THE GHOST WRITER) (the repeating scenes in all the varying literary worlds); the build-up, the launch to (and the story of) heroes’ hill/helsenberg and the visionary aftermath scene with Farewell; the audacity of depicting the marxist crash course with the junta; the collapsing telescope of history intertwined with Fr Urrutia’s reading of the greeks; the basement of the maría canales salon (the basement of history being a torture chamber) — but he pulls off that rather heavy metaphor …how much he pulls off(!) …the falcons… and overall that our narrator is a right-wing critic, pinochet-collaborating opus dei cleric, haunted by the wizened youth who is himself or bolaño or the other or…

and here’re bits from a sweet 2001 interview just stumbled upon:

“As to my writing, I don’t know what to say. I suppose it’s realist. I’d like to be a writer of the fantastic, like Philip K. Dick, although as time passes and I get older, Dick seems more and more realist to me. Deep down—and I think you’ll agree with me—the question doesn’t lie in the distinction of realist/fantastic but in language and structures, in ways of seeing.

…The truth is, I don’t believe all that much in writing. Starting with my own. Being a writer is pleasant—no, pleasant isn’t the word—it’s an activity that has its share of amusing moments, but I know of other things that are even more amusing, amusing in the same way that literature is for me. Holding up banks, for example. Or directing movies. Or being a gigolo. Or being a child again and playing on a more or less apocalyptic soccer team. Unfortunately, the child grows up, the bank robber is killed, the director runs out of money, the gigolo gets sick and then there’s no other choice but to write. For me, the word writing is the exact opposite of the word waiting. Instead of waiting, there is writing.

…Yes, plots are a strange matter. I believe, even though there may be many exceptions, that at a certain moment a story chooses you and won’t leave you in peace. Fortunately, that’s not so important—the form, the structure, always belong to you, and without form or structure there’s no book, or at least in most cases that’s what happens. Let’s say the story and the plot arise by chance, that they belong to the realm of chance, that is, chaos, disorder, or to a realm that’s in constant turmoil (some call it apocalyptic). Form, on the other hand, is a choice made through intelligence, cunning and silence, all the weapons used by Ulysses in his battle against death. Form seeks an artifice; the story seeks a precipice. Or to use a metaphor from the Chilean countryside (a bad one, as you’ll see): It’s not that I don’t like precipices, but I prefer to see them from a bridge.”

http://bombsite.com/issues/78/articles/2460

_____________

PS and NB: according to this, “ Urrutia Lacroix is modeled on a real figure, the priest and right-wing literary critic José Miguel Ibañez Langlois.”

and here’re bits from a sweet 2001 interview i just stumbled on:
http://bombsite.com/issues/78/articles/2…
“As to my writing, I don’t know what to say. I suppose it’s realist. I’d like to be a writer of the fantastic, like Philip K. Dick, although as time passes and I get older, Dick seems more and more realist to me. Deep down—and I think you’ll agree with me—the question doesn’t lie in the distinction of realist/fantastic but in language and structures, in ways of seeing.
…The truth is, I don’t believe all that much in writing. Starting with my own. Being a writer is pleasant—no, pleasant isn’t the word—it’s an activity that has its share of amusing moments, but I know of other things that are even more amusing, amusing in the same way that literature is for me. Holding up banks, for example. Or directing movies. Or being a gigolo. Or being a child again and playing on a more or less apocalyptic soccer team. Unfortunately, the child grows up, the bank robber is killed, the director runs out of money, the gigolo gets sick and then there’s no other choice but to write. For me, the word writing is the exact opposite of the word waiting. Instead of waiting, there is writing.
…Yes, plots are a strange matter. I believe, even though there may be many exceptions, that at a certain moment a story chooses you and won’t leave you in peace. Fortunately, that’s not so important—the form, the structure, always belong to you, and without form or structure there’s no book, or at least in most cases that’s what happens. Let’s say the story and the plot arise by chance, that they belong to the realm of chance, that is, chaos, disorder, or to a realm that’s in constant turmoil (some call it apocalyptic). Form, on the other hand, is a choice made through intelligence, cunning and silence, all the weapons used by Ulysses in his battle against death. Form seeks an artifice; the story seeks a precipice. Or to use a metaphor from the Chilean countryside (a bad one, as you’ll see): It’s not that I don’t like precipices, but I prefer to see them from a bridge.”
http://bombsite.com/issues/78/articles/2…
and parts to remember : the first visit to Farewell’s estate (for some reason, reminding of Zuckerman the young writer meeting Lonoff “the great man” in THE GHOST WRITER) (the repeating scenes in all the varying literary worlds); the build-up, the launch to (and the story of) heroes’ hill/helsenberg and the visionary aftermath scene with Farewell; the audacity of depicting the marxist class with the junta; the collapsing telescope of history intertwined with Fr Urrutia’s reading of the greeks; the basement of the salon (the basement of history being a torture chamber) — but he pulls off that rather heavy metaphor …how much he pulls off(!) …the falcons… and overall that our narrator is a right-wing critic, pinochet-collaborating opus dei cleric, haunted by the wizened youth who is himself or bolano or the other or…

RIEN NE VA PLUS by margarita karapanou

two times the amour fou! …a writing of passion and extremes not dissimilar to marguerite duras and georges bataille, karapanou’s RIEN NE VA PLUS tells a break-up story twice, completely shifting not only perspective but wholly changing event and characterization. the effect is more subtle than simply the apprehension of relative truth à la a he-said-she-said story—but rather something is revealed about our own ability (and desire) to be both brutalizer and willing submissive.
there’s something about this type of passion tale that’s inviolable, so evidently pure that it appears impossible to fake. it respects something, keeps something holy so that, despite itself, it maintains its integrity. and yet karapanou’s novel is also entirely about the deceptions and lens of narrative, about the malleability of truth. it’s the congress of a pure erotic truth meeting with skilled and pointed artifice then that gives the book it’s force.
also its immaculate style (beautifully translated from the greek by Karen emmerich), e.g.
–I love you more than anything, Alkiviadis told me, eyeing the boys around him the café, who returned his gaze.
–Alkis, are you only attracted to boys?
–Yes, but it’s you I love.
My cup of coffee spilled on the lap of the blond boy at the table next to outs. He was wearing green corduroy pants.
–It’s nothing, he said, catching Alkis’s eye.
was an appreciated kablooey in an otherwise reading dry spell.
having hit a little of a dry spell in reading revelations, stumbling onto it in a bookstore, margarita karapanou’s RIEN NE VA PLUS has been the best
Karapanou’s RIEN NE VA PLUS there’s something about passion that makes it rare, inviolable, and so evidently pure that it seems impossible to fake. It respects something, keeps something holy so that, despite itself, it maintains its integrity. karapanou

RIEN NE VA PLUS

two times the amour fou! …a writing of passion and extremes not dissimilar to marguerite duras and georges bataille, karapanou’s RIEN NE VA PLUS tells a break-up story twice, completely shifting not only perspective but wholly changing event and characterization. the effect is more subtle than simply the apprehension of relative truth à la a he-said-she-said story — but rather something is revealed about our own ability (and desire) to be both brutalizer and willing submissive.

there’s something about this type of passion tale that’s inviolable, so evidently pure that it appears impossible to fake. it respects something, keeps something holy so that, despite itself, it maintains its integrity ….and yet karapanou’s novel is also entirely about the deceptions and lens of narrative, about the malleability of truth. it’s the congress of erotic truth with skilled and pointed artifice then that arguably gives this superb book its force.

also its immaculate style (beautifully translated from the greek by karen emmerich), e.g.

–I love you more than anything, Alkiviadis told me, eyeing the boys around him in the café, who returned his gaze.
–Alkis, are you only attracted to boys?
–Yes, but it’s you I love.
My cup of coffee spilled on the lap of the blond boy at the table next to ours. He was wearing green corduroy pants.
–It’s nothing, he said, catching Alkis’s eye.

pick it up from clockroot books or your local library.

__________________

an essay on karapanou, who died in 2008: http://www.criticalflame.org/fiction/0110_fragopoulos.htm

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