BLOOD FABLE by Oisín Curran

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wah! i hadn’t realized BLOOD FABLE was already out. such a blur these past few months have been that somehow i missed its release. well no matter, but this is a singular portrait of childhood by the great Oisín Curran, author of the fantastic MOPUS. here’s what i wrote about Blood Fable:

This careful and loving rendering of a child’s mind proves that acts of storytelling were once not so much vehicles for escape but instead crucial rehearsals for being. A remembrance of lost time—or maybe, to reference its Buddhist undergirding, an alaya-vijnana, a storehouse consciousness—Curran’s vision of boyhood is perfect in details and sublimely moving. Blood Fable is a magnificent double take, which—like a bistable optical illusion (duck or rabbit?) —allows two universes to coexist. A rapturous adventure tale where the very essence of adventure is subverted so that fantasy and reality conflate; this is done not for temporary trickery but to deepen our comprehension of the real.

from the great canadian press: Bookthug

RED CLOCKS by Leni Zumas

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there’s so much smart, non-sentimental wisdom in this, so much ferocious heart — it provided me with actual honest-to-gaia hope. i love this book.
(also the more everyone loves a book, it puts you off and you don’t want to read it, right? should you be that contrarian of my own likeness, better you read this book early so you can run point and be scene not herd. pubdate: 1/16/2018)
anthem without manipulative soar, just a hummable unforgettable tune you believe in. a feminism that’s so fundamental and organic its ambient teaching happens by osmosis, has an easy touch (except those instances which explode with perfect articulation). within its setting and near-future, there’s also a subtle abstraction so that its world hovers above, just a bit more pure than the real, so its model of reality allows us a more crystal insight into ourselves. 2018 flagship.
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“Leni Zumas here proves she can do almost anything. Her tale feels part Melvillian, part Lydia Davis, part Octavia Butler—but really Zumas’s vision is entirely her own. RED CLOCKS is funny, mordant, political, poetic, alarming, and inspiring—not to mention a way forward for fiction now.”   —Maggie Nelson

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PW profile

Dear Cyborgs one of Vol 1 Brooklyn’s Favorites of 2017

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“Eugene Lim’s third novel is about many things, including protest movements, pulp heroes, the nature of (and need for) storytelling, and the frustrations of history. It’s like nothing else you’ll read this year: a bold, thought-provoking novel that unfolds in unpredictable ways.” —Vol. 1 Brooklyn

DEAR CYBORGS selected for BOMB Magazine’s year-end roundup

Chris Kraus and Tobias Carroll both mention DEAR CYBORGS in BOMB Magazine’s year-end roundup. Chris Kraus writes:

Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs (FSG Originals) is a novel of the future. It’s surprising, and—while giving despair its full measure—it’s surprisingly inspiring. A Bolano-esque labyrinth of shaggy dog stories flow through the narrator, describing the existential and physical conditions of a present in which it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism, but it’s written in calm and succinct, elegant prose. Lim nails the amnesia of sensory overload perfectly. Attending a cultural event, the narrator and friends are enthralled by Jonas Mekas’ chilling meditation on history and mortality but when they repair to a bar and watch a reality TV show on screen, his words evaporate.

see the rest of the selections here.

Interviewed on Lumpen Radio’s “Eye 94”

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out of chicago, Lumpen Radio (105.5 FM WLPN) has a books and literature program called Eye 94. this year’s past shows have included interviews with Open Letters publisher chad post and translator charlotte mandell. their full archives are here.

i was happy — though a little nervous — to be interviewed live this past sunday by the trio of gentlemenly hosts: jeremy kitchen, mike sack, and jamie trecker. you can listen to the interview through the widget above or here.

DEAR CYBORGS among great company as one of The Brooklyn Rail’s best books of 2017.

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DEAR CYBORGS among great company as one of The Brooklyn Rail’s best books of 2017. Thanks to Books Editor, Joseph Salvatore.

Dear Cyborgs listed on Dennis Cooper’s “Mine for yours” 2017 round-up list

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Dennis Cooper’s “Mine for yours” is a most necessary annual starmap of novels, poetry, music and movies. and this year he includes DEAR CYBORGS(!) along with excellent work by Renee Gladman, Gary Lutz, Lidia Yuknavitch, Nathaniel Mackey, Jen George, Eileen Myles, Michael Seidlinger, Jarett Kobek, and many great others.

his blog in general is worth following. the most recent entry, for instance, is an epic collection of “cutaway” illustrations, from which this “kiss” is but one example of things once seen not unseeable.

Tobias Carroll interviews me at The Scofield

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i’m interviewed and have a box over my head in the latest issue of The Scofield, the theme of which is : Kōbō Abe & Home. a big thanks (again!) to Tobias Carroll.

Year in Reading up at The Millions

“Our current condition of ambient despair gets an excellent portraiture in Evelyn Hampton’s The Aleatory AbyssIt’s an obscure book about being obscure—or at least it is a book about occupying forgotten interstitial spaces and about being of and among technological detritus. In Hampton’s world we live our lives not in streets, schools, libraries, parks, or other public commons but online and in Barnes & Nobles, Starbucks, malls, parking lots, and other privatized spaces; that is, Hampton shows us a familiar world. Personhood and agency here in the Anthropocene are moribund concepts, if not already vestigial, and great creatures called multinationals and state actors roam the terrain while we endure like plankton or parasites below and beside their decisions. This short book also pays homage to and is haunted by Hampton’s friend, the activist and writer Mark Baumer, who died in the middle of a mythic project that found him walking barefoot across America. Both artists are turned helplessly into elegists. Baumer’s work was part durational performance piece, part environmental fundraiser, part quixotic publicity stunt, and part personal protest. He kept record of his walk through a series of videos and blog posts, many of them heartbreakingly prescient, especially his final video, posted the day after the Trump inauguration, the day he died when struck by an SUV. Hampton’s work transmutes Baumer’s extroverted dissent, his syncopated poetic voice, and his manic video edits into its twinned flip: an equally clear-eyed but introverted analysis, a quieter but no less fierce objection. The Aleatory Abyss is a beautiful work, and profits from sales will go to the charity Mark Baumer was walking for: the FANG collective…”

Read the rest at: https://themillions.com/2017/12/year-reading-eugene-lim.html

Revisiting that which can’t be revisited: Merce Cunningham

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Merce Cunningham sits very high in my personal pantheon. In 2011 we got tickets to his company’s final performances. These were big, moving nights for us — even as I’ve always found it hard to describe what is so emotionally moving about his work. I wrestled with this and wrote about it for the Paris Review’s “Revisited” series.

…So even prior to (or outside of) the physical dance, there was already a parallel conceptual-art project that was an intense durational-performance work, an almost literal dance with death, a mourning ritual, an explosion of life within death, and an enlightened embracing and letting go of time all at once.

Read the piece here: https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/09/22/merce-cunninghams-posthumous-legacy-plan/

LYNN CRAWFORD’S SHANKUS & KITTO

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i’ve a review up at fanzine of Lynn Crawford’s wonderful new novel: SHANKUS & KITTO. here’s a bit from it:

Lynn Crawford’s new novel is an inside-out family epic where, instead of the usual sweep of generational time, we are given a perspective that allows us to see familial heartbreaks as a telescoping and ever repeating fractal… Crawford is an accurate, sometimes mordant, more often earnest, observer of a new normal… Crawford’s voices capture a particular type of everyday speech. William Carlos Williams, arguing for an American (immigrant) context said that his work derived from “the mouths of Polish mothers.” By writing in a poetry of vernacular, Lynn Crawford has similarly and bravely gone against the grain and in doing so has slyly re-constructed the family epic.

read the rest of the review here: http://thefanzine.com/on-lynn-crawfords-shankus-kitto-a-saga/

but the book here.

Jeremy Hoevenaar’s Insolvency, Insolvency!

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Jeremy Hoevenaar’s Insolvency, Insolvency! is now available for pre-order. Here’s my blurb for it:

Making a precise and brilliant artwork out of the transaction-speak of the internet and the baked-in indeterminacy of theory talk, Hoevenaar’s poems have the circuitry and compressed connection you’ll find once you scalpel out the microchip they’ll soon implant in your skull. These are multisyllabic bars of actuarial nerdrap, featuring an exacting stutter-rhythm, and with a fragment-studded and polished lyric. Want to know what our insolvent and complicit-making world looks like from the inside out? Follow Insolvency, Insolvency!’s links.

more info here: https://www.uglyducklingpresse.org/catalog/browse/item/?pubID=593

profile in the Village Voice

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thanks to Ross Barkan.

[and additional thanks for the illustration to Mich Yeh. you can find her work here, here, and here.]

There’s a point in Eugene Lim’s slim, haunting new novel, Dear Cyborgs, where the cyborgs finally reveal themselves. They are not, it turns out, cybernetic crime-fighters or machine killers with human hearts and laser blaster hands.

“When I say cyborgs, of course I mean us,” Lim writes, laying bare what lies at the crux of his project, an unusual book now drawing the sorts of critical accolades that should vault him into the first rank of American writers. The New Yorker and New York magazine were laudatory. Jonathan Lethem said the novel blew him away.

read the rest here: https://www.villagevoice.com/2017/08/15/how-eugene-lims-dear-cyborgs-explores-life-death-and-asian-identity/

New work called “Returning to the Problem” up at the Brooklyn Rail

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I’ve some new work (an essay-poem-fiction smoosh) just up at the Brooklyn Rail. With great thanks to Donald Breckenridge.

It’s not true I didn’t remember. I did remember some things. I remembered the city. Big avenues and parks and terminals and plazas. Crowds going to and from work. People strolling. A Chinese writer I’d read said it’s impossible to say if a person is good or bad when they’re walking the street. They may be coming from evil or good, or on their way to committing evil or good, but in their moment of walking they are neither. Thus they are most human at that moment. Blankly human. The Chinese writer had been in prison when he wrote that.

Read the rest at http://brooklynrail.org/2017/07/fiction/Returning-to-the-Problem

Christian Lorentzen in New York Magazine

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Eugene Lim’s Dear Cyborgs is a novel of ideas, small, elegant ideas about art and protest, and one of the most striking literary works to emerge from the Occupy movement . . . The possible futility, complicity, and co-optation of protest are the ideas Dear Cyborgs circles around without ever giving up on the idea that resistance is essential . . . I had expected the decade’s wave of protests to yield a raft of conventional social novels—some earnest, some satirical, perhaps not a few reactionary—but in Dear Cyborgs Lim has delivered something far more idiosyncratic, intricate, and useful: a novel that resists and subverts conventions at every turn.

Christian Lorentzen in New York Magazine

 

 

Interview at Kartika Review

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Thanks to Paul Lai for this interview in the latest issue of the Karikta Review.

Eugene Lim is a singular voice in contemporary American literature—read one of his novels, and you’ll never forget the stories, characters, and atmosphere he evokes in his quasi-dreamlike narratives. His first novel Fog & Car (Ellipsis Press, 2008) traces the diverging and converging paths of a recently divorced couple. The man settles into a quiet life in a small town while the woman starts anew in New York City, and the people who enter their post-marriage lives are not always as disconnected from their married lives as they may seem. In his second novel, The Strangers (Black Square Press, 2013), a larger cast of characters centers around various twins separated by geographical distance as well as starkly different worlds. His third novel, Dear Cyborgs (FSG Originals, 2017), is framed by the story of childhood friends who re-encounter each other later in life, and the stories within this frame consider spies, superheroes, and very pointed commentaries on protest and art. In all three novels, Lim explores resonances, coincidences, and links between characters that bring up questions of fate or otherworldly design. He carries over names between novels as well, so even though the novels seem to concern very different characters and worlds, there is a semblance of continuity that lingers.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Lim’s novels is that the worlds he creates seem at once generic (with a timeless, universal quality) while also strongly rooted in contemporary political concerns. In his latest novel, Dear Cyborgs, for instance, the characters reference South Korean activist Kim Jin-suk who famously spent a year on top of a construction crane; Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden; the Occupy movement in the United States; and the large scale anti-war protests during the build-up to and start of the second Iraq/Gulf War. Lim also includes Asian American characters and narrators regularly in his novels though the plots and themes generally engage obliquely, maybe allusively, with more traditional narratives of racialization. Overall, at least for me as a reader, Lim’s novels also present a haunting atmosphere that treads on possible supernatural elements without tipping over into outright horror or fantasy. We are excited to talk to the author about his writing and working life in the interview that follows…

Read the interview at the Kartika Review.

Interview at The Millions

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Thanks to Evan Allgood for this interview.

Eugene Lim will not choose between superheroes and soliloquies. His new novel, Dear Cyborgs, shifts between quick bursts of pulpy action and long philosophical monologues. Characters kidnap, shoot, and poison one other, then weigh the merits of protest and relay brushes with gentrification. Capitalism looms over the book like one of Marvel’s Sentinels — inescapable, maybe indestructible. Low art sits next to high, smudging the hierarchy. The term “thoughtful dystopian romp” comes to mind. The year or universe is hazy, but we can make out some of our less fine hours, our targeted ads. Two worlds slide together and a third comes into focus. Is this how people write in the future?

Lim and I exchanged emails about the value of protest, the act of reading as resistance, and the death and rebirth of the novel.

Read the interview at The Millions.

Interview on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate show

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Eugene Lim joins us to discuss his novel Dear Cyborgs. The novel begins in a small Midwestern town, with two Asian American boys who become friends over their mutual love of comic books. Meanwhile, in an alternate/future universe, Lim tells the story of detective Frank Exit, who is trailing a cultural terrorist named Ms. Mistleto, and their chase around the world.”

Listen to the interview here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/eugene-lim/

Dear Cyborgs gets the Double Take treatment at Electric Lit

spoilers contained, should you believe in such, in these smart, honest (double) takes of DEAR CYBORGS. thank to Jw McCormack and Rosiė Clàrke.

here’s my favorite bit:

“I was certainly misled by the superhero element!”

& also:

“In a way, it’s the most lucid book I’ve read lately. All the books I’ve related to lately have basically brought up the question(s) — what are we doing here? What are we party to? What is desirable? What is apt, given that the correct socio-political view is the horrified, baffled, fearful, woke one?”

& also:

“I think to write a book about immigrant experience that isn’t about immigrant experience, about superheroes that skews their whole purpose, and about capitalism and resistance that doesn’t succumb to bright-eyed idealism or weary cynicism is quite an achievement.”

read the rest here.

Hua Hsu in The New Yorker

“I was a few pages from the end of Eugene Lim’s wondrous new novel, DEAR CYBORGS, when I flipped back to the beginning and started again… His writing is confident and tranquil; he has a knack for making everyday life seem strange—or, in the case of DEAR CYBORGS, for making revolution seem like the most natural thing possible. His writing is transfixing from page to page, filled with digressive meditations on small talk and social protest, superheroes, terrorism, the art world, and the status of being marginal… there’s an intoxicating, whimsical energy on every page.”

Read the rest of Hua Hsu’s review in the New Yorker.

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