The Strangers by Eugene Lim
Praise for The Strangers
I reviewed five fiction titles for the latest (and sadly, the last) issue of Harp & Altar: NONE OF THIS IS REAL by Miranda Mellis; A BREATH OF LIFE by Clarice Lispector; LEAVE ME ALONE by Murong Xuecun; SCARS by Juan José Saer; and GEORGE ANDERSON by Peter Dimock.
“None of This Is Real… manages to speak precisely to that helplessness and guilt permeating the simultaneity of the climate-changed, apocalypse-always zeitgeist and the rapturous technowonderful singularity as advertised on your hand-holding device.”
Read the reviews here.
This great issue of Harp & Altar also has: poetry and fiction by Tom Andes, Jessica Baran, Leopoldine Core, Ian Dreiblatt, Matthew Klane, Linnea Ogden, Jennifer Pilch, Michael Rerick, Jason Snyder, Donna Stonecipher, Sally Van Doren, and Tom Whalen; Jesse Lichtenstein on The Arcadia Project; Bianca Stone on Farrah Field; Michael Newton’s gallery reviews; and art by Adam Stolorow.
Peter Dimock’s latest novel George Anderson: Notes for a Love Song in Imperial Time is written as a letter to the former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel — a lawyer who drafted and signed one of the Bush era’s infamous Torture Memos. While it’s true that a handful of soldiers who participated in the beatings, rape, vicious strappado hangings, and other savage abuses at Abu Ghraib were charged and convicted, the masterminds of the legal reasoning that allowed the torture, now euphemistically branded as “enhanced interrogation techniques,” of prisoners-of-war have never been held accountable.
Dimock’s slim fiction rages against this and a host of state sins while also deftly functioning as a sorrowful, secular confession for an entitled race and class. It does this in an altogether unique style, which one reviewer described as coming from a “speaker who may be in some kind of rapture, or who is ironic, or who is mad, or who is all three.” I met the author, a long-serving editor in the New York publishing world, at a restaurant near his home in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.
Both of your books are stylistic gambles. The purpose and direction of that style is not immediately recognizable. We don’t know why you’re making these stylistic choices. In your author’s note you write that the success of your ambition will “rest upon the reader’s response to [your] invention of a form… no matter how estranged or estranging the results may seem at first.” While writing, how aware are you of your gamble? Did it seem like a gamble? And how did you reconcile yourself to this risk?
My experience is the history I have lived through. I was born in 1950. And so I was eighteen in 1968. That’s a moment. I was draftable at the height of the Vietnam War. So I have a particular relationship to that time, like everyone who lived through that period. But I remember being overwhelmed — I still am — by the sense that we don’t have a language adequate to the history we’re actually living. I was brought up and trained — I had all the best education and the best positions from which to assume an intellectual role either as an academic or a literary critic — but always felt I never could actually assume any such role in good faith. I feel strongly that — with the exception of contemporary literature, I’m thinking of Morrison, Marquez, Pynchon, and Bishop — we have not as a culture yet truly grappled with the inadequacy of the language we have available to us for the history we are living. I think we are crippled by this lack of a language.
Read the whole interview here:
I’ll be reading on Tuesday, March 5th with John Yau, Rick Moody, Tim Davis, Charles Bernstein and Elizabeth Willis. Please come!
Double Take IV
Tuesday, March 5: 7 pm
Three pairs of authors write original pieces about shared experiences.
Rick Moody & Tim Davis on the dinner where they met.
John Yau & Eugene Lim on remembering the Robert Creeley memorial.
Charles Bernstein & Elizabeth Willis on the obvious.
Watch videos from the previous Double Take program.
Charles Bernstein‘s new collection of poems, Recalculating, will be out this Spring from the University of Chicago Press, which also published hisAttack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions. He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.
Tim Davis is an artist, writer, and musician. His photographs are in the collections of the Metropolitan, Whitney, Guggenheim, Walker, Hirshhorn, Brooklyn, Baltimore, and many other museums. He is the author of My Life in Policits (Aperture), and The New Antiquity (Damiani). Having written song lyrics for years for the band Cuddle Magic, he is currently at work on his first album of original songs, which will be accompanied by a set of music videos entitled “It’s OK to Hate Yourself.” He teaches Photography at Bard College.
Eugene Lim is an editor at small for Harp & Altar and is founder and managing editor of Ellipsis Press. His fiction has appeared in Fence, The Denver Quarterly, EXPLORINGFictions, The Brooklyn Rail, sleepingfish, No Colony and elsewhere. His first novel, Fog & Car, was named a finalist in Blatt Magazine’s 2007 Novel of Novels competition. His second novel The Strangers is forthcoming from Black Square Editions. He works as a librarian in a high school and lives in Queens, NY.
Rick Moody is the author of five novels–including The Ice Story and, most recently, The Four Fingers of Death—three collections of stories, a memoir entitled The Black Veil, and, most recently, a collection of essays On Celestial Music. He is a music columnist at The Rumpus, and he also plays in and writes songs for The Wingdale Community Singers. He teaches at NYU and Yale.
John Yau is an American poet and critic who lives in New York City. He received his B.A. from Bard College in 1972 and his M.F.A. from Brooklyn College in 1978. He has published over 50 books of poetry, artists’ books, fiction, and art criticism. Yau has received awards and grants from Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation, the Academy of American Poets (Lavan Award), The American Poetry Review (Jerome Shestack Award), the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the General Electric Foundation, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts.
Elizabeth Willis‘s most recent book, Address (Wesleyan, 2011), won the PEN New England Prize for Poetry and is just out in paperback. Her other books of poetry include Meteoric Flowers, Turneresque, and The Human Abstract. She is a 2012-13 Guggenheim fellow. She teaches at Wesleyan University.
Albert Mobilio is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and the National Book Critics Circle award for reviewing. His work has appeared in Harper’s,Black Clock, Bomb, Cabinet, Open City, and Tin House. Books of poetry include Bendable Siege, The Geographics, Me with Animal Towering, andTouch Wood. He is an assistant professor of literary studies at the New School’s Eugene Lang College and is an editor of Bookforum.
Please join us.
All events are free and open to the public.
apexart‘s exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., The William Talbott Hillman Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
291 Church Street, NYC, 10013
t. 212 431 5270
Directions: A, C, E, N, R, W, Q, J, M, Z, 6 to Canal or 1 to Franklin.