BLIND SPOT by Harold Abramowitz

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 godard poetry

“One thing I tried to do while writing Blind Spot was translate the text into an imaginary French, since I can’t actually speak French, as if the text were actually the voiceover to a French New Wave film.”
–Harold Abramowitz

blind-spot-cover2-cr

though not quite with the immediately accessible vocabulary of a philip glass composition, harold abramowitz takes similar risk with a modular, repeating structure in his latest book BLIND SPOT. the result is a very very beautiful and meditative work, the experience of which i thought of as like watching the haunting and mesmerizing sway of tree branches in a summer wind… the thing that can be grating or even mockable about philip glass’s music is also what makes it elsewhere revolutionary, i.e. its foundation on modular phasings and accretions, which can verge on boring repetitiveness but which also on special occasion, after toying with dull sugariness, suddenly transcends to find deep emotion.

along with abramowitz’s artful use of repetitions, recursions and phasings, there is also throughout an elusiveness — a blind spot — which the reader seems to have a different vantage of than the protagonist and which houses some violence, trauma, or crime. the book begins with a section called HOTEL that tweaks the bygone europa tropes of hotel life as appearing in such disparate sourcetexts as thomas mann or norman lock or marie redonnet or wes anderson. a guest, perhaps an undercover agent of some kind, consorts with a general, has a bad car accident where he hits some form of beast, is on vacation. similarly the second section, FUNERAL, involves a cemetery, a missed rendezvous or two, an explosion… with a few elements like these, abramowitz builds a space full of both movement and stasis, one that is anguishingly incomplete and with a feeling of entrapment and yet also one that achieves a very sublime and melancholic beauty. BLIND SPOT takes a great risk and by it becomes an innovative and ravishingly elegant triumph.

Harold Abramowitz reading from Blind Spot

more info and an excerpt at CCM

find it at your local independent bookstore.

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PS and utterly beside the point : PG’s Wichita Sutra Vortex

 

PPS just through arpeggio association that glass bit brought me to this. which then led me to this. so, like, um, yeah. the internet.

mark baumer 1983-2017

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i barely knew him. but i loved him. probably many people feel this way. he was a seraph mash of andy kaufman, ray johnson, and tehching hsieh. what am i saying. he was entirely his own being. but like these, his mindful performances carefully studied empathy and mortality. his video diaries are fantastic! precisely raw, absurd documentaries of his compassionate durational art. watch his last entry, from his 100th day walking, in which he shouts YOUR IGNORANCE IS KILLING PEOPLE! then watch all the rest.

 

among other things, his walk was a fundraising effort for the environmental FANG collective. please consider donating.

 

an interview with mark baumer on steve roggenbuck’s plantliker podcast

https://notgoingtomakeit.com/

http://thebaumer.com/

Mark Baumer died. He was hit by a car and killed while walking along US 90, in Crestview, Florida. Mark was walking barefoot across the country to raise money for the FANG Collective, but also, I suspect, to both find solitude and meet people. Mark was an artist, not only through his poetry and videos, but in his life, and he was always searching for inspiration.

Mark was at the fringes of lots of labor, social justice and climate actions in Rhode Island, but occasionally he stepped up to take a more central role. His work always seemed to be based in a deep sense of compassion…

http://www.rifuture.org/mark-baumer/

ji jang bosal ji jang bosal ji jang bosal

FISH IN EXILE by Nao & SUMMER OF HATE by Kraus

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two quick takes:

SUMMER OF HATE has the kind of honesty i like. one with a thin sheen of fiction and, on occasion, a thick glob of style (but this mostly subtle, a french exit or a tasteful gesture). mannered yet truthful. paced here with a good and slow buildup but not quite manipulatively suspenseful. an effective documentary-ish presentation re: class, race, and cultural capital… and, reading it in january 2017, the appalling realization the bush II years were a restrained preview and not the nadir. dug this book.

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emo like duras is emo. grieving, brave, and deracinating, i found FISH IN EXILE unafraid to wear emotion on its sleeve. and yet sui generis; made with a charged, defamiliarized language… making the old (classic) story somehow all her own (the persephone retell a favorite bit), the book has a little of karapanou or lispector in its ability to poetically sear to the heart of the matter — but clears its own ground. loved it.

 

Two upcoming readings

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I’ll be at Naropa on October 4th. I’ll be giving a talk at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University on October 4th at 2:30PM (and I believe the class is open to all). That evening, I’ll participate in a reading with Jeffery Pethybridge, Sara Veglahn & Gabrielle Lessans. Details about the reading here: http://naropa.edu/academics/jks/events/index.php

And I’ll be reading at Wesleyan University on November 30th at 8PM.

DOUBLE TEENAGE by joni murphy

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dt-by-jm

loved this book. celine and julie are two narrative mirrors erupting out of a desert in new mexico. consistently smart. a work that through anecdote, analysis, and aphorism — along with elemental doses of despair and anger — exposes the systemic construction and confines of “girlhood,” arguably defined here as an integral, lower limit Tiqqun upper limit Bratmobile.

or, another way: the various acts of defining found to be inextricably tautological to the problem. this dilemma at the heart of the book. murphy in an interview says: “For a long time the manuscript was developing as a longer and longer narrative essay and a series of poems. Both tried to get at some central questions, namely: Why does girlhood feel like a trap?…”

published by the on fire Canadian small press bookthug : won’t you seek it out?

joni murphy interviewed by chris kraus

and with tobias carroll:

I needed to find a way of communicating that this story was not really about the two main characters, that fiction uses individuals to get people to care about society, but that can become a way of fetishizing the singular. I would never write a story from the point of view of a girl working in a maquiladora in Juarez, but neither would I want to just describe their bodies as things (as Bolaño did to devastating effect in 2666) because I related to them as beings, but at the same time I am not in their position.

So the end of this book, this different style, was my way of saying individuals matter, but we’re all embedded in systems and structures. They/ we belong to a world of connections in which we’re told these connections don’t exist. Only when a pattern is overwhelmingly horrific does it get recognized as a pattern.

I’ll be at the Queens Book Festival on August 7th.

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QBF panel

I’ll be at the brand spanking new Queens Book Festival on Sunday, August 7th, at 5PM. The venue has moved and the fest is now at the Kaufman Astoria Studios. I’ll be speaking on a panel is called “The East is No Longer Far: The Power of Storytelling” and will be with authors Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,Gina Apostol, Hirsh Sawhney, and Mia Alvar. Register for free tickets here.

 

three spring 2016 readings

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reading at unnameable memorial day 2016 reading for john madera 20160505 at berl's April 2016

from “Headfirst” by Ocean Vuong

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night sky with exit

Don’t you know? A mother’s love

neglects pride

the way fire

neglects the cries

of what it burns.

AN EMPTY ROOM by Mu Xin

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mu xin

A terrific collection, which at times grazes the sentimental, but even then transforms it into bittersweet knowledge, THE EMPTY ROOM functions, in its selection of stories over decades, as a mediated autobiography of an extraordinary life. All “selected works” inevitably can be seen this way, but it seems purposefully done here (and Toming Jun Liu’s enlightening translator’s afterword even argues it can be read as a “linked bildungsroman”).

A well known writer and painter in China — this is his first collection in English — Mu Xin was born in 1927 and survived the Cultural Revolution, imprisonment, and exile. And this book, like Mu Xin himself, crosses from classical Chinese literature to western nouveau roman fragmentation and back again. In a way the book can also be seen as cousin to the fiction-essay hybrids of a Sebald or an Emil Cioran or a Paul Valéry or a Maggie Nelson (which themselves could be called, with only a little imagination, western reflections of sanwen or suibi/zuihitsu traditions)…

The stories span worlds, as makes sense of a collection written during exile (in Forest Hills, Queens). The first story “The Moment When Childhood Vanished” is almost a pre-modern fable about childhood with a sly allusion to Chao-chou’s Newborn Baby koan (case 80) in the Blue Cliff Record; while the title story is an imagistic love poem (but with images that could have been provided by David Lynch); “Notes from Underground” is a profound meditation on solitary confinement that recalls Mu Xin’s actual imprisonment; and “Fong Fong No. 4” depicts the horror and transformational power of the Cultural Revolution through a seemingly quotidian prism of the aging of a love affair’s participants…. In fact each story is in tone and technique quite different, yet a unifying voice and mind clearly is evident throughout this belyingly slim, sorrowful, and sublime triumph.

buy AN EMPTY ROOM or
find it at your library.

mu xin2

 

THE SYMPATHIZER by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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Nguyen-SYMPATHIZER

a book of books. it ends, after several transmutations (and before a coda of only a slightly lighter shade) with some dark dark evil. i liked it best when this historical novel with its characters unblessed with political correctness spotlit the hidden racism of the present. and the memorable, thinly veiled critique of APOCALYPSE NOW (the vietnam war movie that via good old american megalomania redacted from itself any speaking roles for vietnamese*). great terrifying opener. great terrifying closer. in between it moved swiftly and darkly through worlds.

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an excerpt, on some american dark hearts:

By the movie’s last shot, of innocent Danny Boy sitting in the open doorway of a Huey helicopter ascending slowly into the clear blue heavens, weeping as he gazed over his war-ravaged homeland, destined for a country where women’s breasts produced not just milk but milkshakes — or so the GIs told him — I had to admit to the Auteur’s talent, the way one might admire the technical genius of a master gunsmith. He had hammered into existence a thing of beauty and horror, exhilarating for some and deadly for others, a creation whose purpose was destruction. As the credits began rolling, I felt touched by shame for having contributed to this dark work, but also pride in the contributions of my extras. Faced with ungraceful roles, they had comported themselves with as much grace as possible. There were the four veterans who played VC RAPIST #1, VC RAPIST #2, VC RAPIST #3, and VC RAPIST #4, as well as the others who had made their screen debuts as DESPERATE VILLAGER, DEAD GIRL, LAME BOY, CORRUPT OFFICER, PRETTY NURSE, BLIND BEGGAR, SAD REFUGEE, ANGRY CLERK, WEEPING WIDOW, IDEALISTIC STUDENT, GENTLE WHORE, and CRAZY GUY IN WHOREHOUSE.

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PS in this interview, nguyen says,

One of the things that characterizes both Vietnamese and Asian American literature is that it’s often times not very angry. There’s not a lot of rage, at least not in the past few decades. And if there is anger or rage, it has to be directed at the ignorant: the Asian country of origin or Asian families or Asian patriarchs. While all that is important, I sensed a reluctance to be angry at American culture or at the United States for what it has done. That’s why, in the book, I adopt a much angrier tone towards American culture and the US.

this reminded me of an overlooked asian american novel that is angry, though it uses humor in a way not unlike paul beatty: yongsoo park’s BOY GENIUS.

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(a side thought a few days after finishing the book… the happa’s multiracialness reads as contextually chameleon’ed/camouflaged. in The Sympathizer’s particular case, he reads most of the time, despite the book’s explicit attempts to foreground his “bastard” identity, as asian. this has less to do i think with any automatic othering by white characters (or by readers) but race operating (differently from gender) in prose. in this mediated form, racial identity performance, absent immediate markers, cannot effortlessly sustain its foregroundedness — and this is especially true of multiracial’s less rigid category.)

I’ll be reading on Thurs, May 5.

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https://www.facebook.com/events/1310672165614968/
http://www.threesbrewing.com/eventscalendar/2016/5/5/fiction-stranger-than-fiction

Fiction Stranger Than Fiction: Anelise Chen, Lisa Chen, John Haskell, Eugene Lim, and John Madera

Join us for a reading series spotlighting writers whose work “explodes” language, content, form, and structure. Following the readings, John Madera will lead a conversation with all the readers.

Date: Thursday, May 5, 2016
Time: 7:00pm-9:00pm
Venue: Threes Brewing
Address: 333 Douglass Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Website: http://www.threesbrewing.com/

Anelise Chen earned her MFA in fiction at NYU. She is currently fiction editor at The Margins, a publication of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Born in Taipei and raised in Los Angeles, she lives in Manhattan’s Chinatown. She teaches at Columbia University. (www.anelisechen.com)

Lisa Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Iowa. She lives in Brooklyn and works as a freelance writer and editor. (www.kaya.com/authors/lisa-chen)

John Haskell is the author of a short-story collection, I Am Not Jackson Pollock (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), and the novelsAmerican Purgatorio (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005) and Out of My Skin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009). His stories and essays have appeared on the radio, in books, and in magazines. He’s taught writing and literature at Columbia University, Cal Arts, and the Leipzig University. He is the recipient of a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and lives in Brooklyn.(www.johnhaskell.home.mindspring.com/)

Eugene Lim is the author of the novels Fog & Car and The Strangers. His writings have appeared in FenceThe Denver Quarterly,exploring FICTIONSThe Brooklyn RailJacket2The Coming EnvelopeEveryday GeniusDazed DigitalSleepingfishelimaeLittle Star, and elsewhere. He is founder and managing editor of Ellipsis Press, works as a librarian in a high school, and lives in Queens, NY. (http://www.eugenelim.com/)

John Madera holds an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. His work may be found in Conjunctions, the BelieverSonora Review, the Brooklyn Rail, the Collagist, DIAGRAM, the MillionsReview of Contemporary FictionRain Taxi: Review of Books, theQuarterly Conversation, and many other venues. He edits the forum Big Other. Madera also runs Rhizomatic: Publicity Services for Small Presses with Big Ideas. (www.johnmadera.com / www.rhizomatic.org / www.bigother.com)

THE LIE by alberto moravia

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the lie by moravia

pretty crazy. and not a little side order of misogyny. late in the novel the narrator has dream about saving his step-daughter, who his lust for pretty much forms the core of the book, from the nazis. there’s also the wife who runs the brothel and whom the narrator falls in love with becuz she was working class and thus genuine …all described in narrator’s metafictional diary, which is prepwork for the real novel — and thus full of asides on which is real-er.

over. the. top.

but there is no doubt a genius displayed in it. and its grappling with modernity seems fresh. it is dizzying to think how prominent moravia was just fifty years ago, and compare this with now how he’s unthought of, almost dismissed (except perhaps as a dim memory via godard and cinema). the paris review interview with him from 1954 is, while trying to strike a tone of defiance, utterly reverential.

Here’s a beautiful, caustic bit from the novel on the state of journalism, which (technology advances aside) could’ve been written yesterday:

Still clasping his wife’s hand in his own, Consolo resumed: “You ask me to tell you what is the formula for the modern newspaper article. I will answer you with an analogy. You know the moving staircases in the big shops, with people going up and down continually and yet standing still on the stairs? Well, you’ve created what I call the moving-staircase newspaper article… What is the object of moving staircases–or, in fact, of any sort of machine? To save time and fatigue. Your articles, indeed, save the readers time and fatigue. They jump, so to speak, onto the first line and then, in a moment, without making the slightest effort, almost without noticing it, they find themselves, as if by magic, at the last line. They haven’t moved; it is the article that has moved. Actually, they haven’t even read the article; it is the article that has caused itself to be read, or rather, that has read itself. A moving staircase, in fact” (257-8).

 

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and this prognosticating from that 1954 interview:

INTERVIEWER

Incidentally, what do you think of the future of the novel?

MORAVIA

Well, the novel as we knew it in the nineteenth century was killed off by Proust and Joyce. They were the last of the nineteenth-century writers—great writers. It looks now as if we were going toward the roman à idée or toward the documentary novel—either the novel of ideas, or else the novel of life as it goes on, with no built-up characters, no psychology. It’s also apparent that a good novel can be of any kind, but the two forms that are prevalent now are the essay-novel and the documentary novel or personal experience, quelque chose qui arrive. Life has taken two ways in our time: the crowd and the intellectuals. The day of the crowd is all accident; the day of the intellectual is all philosophy. There is no bourgeoisie now, only the crowd and the intellectuals.

 

science fiction novel

A state power co-opts the intense, ingroup binding, herding force of social media with agents who incrementally steer comment strings toward desired perceptions. The protagonists begin by having racist but also anti-business views. However, through the subtle messaging of agent provocateurs, these come to sublimate their racism into anti-government stances, which not coincidentally happen to be pro-business. Or, anti-racist activists and white socialists are encouraged to radicalize rather than form a coalition. Or, less fantastically, a cyborg who falls in love with a robot is brainwashed into thinking Planet X19 will be haven for their illicit romance. The book is called THE NETWORK ENTANGLES or TWO PLUS TWO IS FINE.

[one of three]

Samurai Among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life

Last night, I finished Diane Fujino’s biography of Richard Aoki and wanted to write a quick note/review on it…

Because of its method, which is largely a presentation of Richard Aoki’s autobiographical oral history, the book is an odd mix of autobiography and biography. We read Aoki in first person talking about his parents breaking up in the internment camps, his time in the army, his involvement with the Socialist Workers Party, the Black Panthers, the Asian American Political Alliance, the Third World Liberation Front strike, and so on. Fujino then adds her own commentary at the end of each chapter (and throughout also has useful, extensive footnotes).

A few quibbles with this necessary and important work… While her method gives us a direct and a useful sense of Aoki’s style, the reliance on interview-transcription allows Aoki to guide and frame his story often to the detriment of context, and Fujino’s followup commentary often seemed more redundant than clarifying. As well, since the interviews were no doubt extensively edited for clarity (for a minor example Fujino says in one footnote that she added words to give a statement context; p 369, note 17) it would be informative to know more about this editing process.

Reading this in 2015, three years after the informant revelations, to say the obvious and easy: many episodes beg for reconsideration and revision. The book if nothing else is a continuous lesson in historiography.

Obviously much to chew over, but two things stay with me in particular. Whatever status he had, his almost play-by-play account of the TWLF strike at Berkeley was deeply moving. Even though I don’t really care to read tactical or military history–and Aoki’s accounting of the strike (the costliest in UC history) seems unique in that it focused mostly on such things–and even though I’m reading as someone partly already suspicious of his motives, Aoki’s palpable involvement and risk, as well as the investment and risk of so many others, to create a program of academics where they could self determine their own education, is astounding and very moving.

The other episode, and one that seems virtually unrelated to any stain due to his informant activity, is Aoki’s reaction to the riots after the Rodney King verdict. At this point he’s a college administrator and a colleague says to him, “Richard, how’s it feel? You know how to start riots. Now you’re getting paid to stop one.” It’s not a little disturbing to read him confronting that conflict, thinking about the trap he’s in as an employee of the state. Aoki’s assessment of the radical left’s losses as nearly total since 1968 is also familiar and familiarly disheartening.

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PS Today, following up in the library, I read one of the more radical revisionist readings of Aoki’s informant activities. According to Black Studies professor and Aoki friend, Douglas Henry Daniels, being paid by the FBI (for assumed useless knowledge) was, “one of the earlier attempts to recoup remuneration for the internments…” Ha! I’ll take that for a dollar!

yellow-peril-Black-Power-sign

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Other Aoki resources I found useful:

Momo Chang’s good summary of the revelations of Aoki’s informant activities and its aftermath.

The A-Files: Richard Aoki & the FBI, written by Aoki friends Belvin Louie & Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, discusses what it was like as close friends to hear and process the informant news.

Mostly behind a paywall, A Richard Aoki Forum: What Does It Take to Destroy a Legend? appeared in Amerasian journal and has responses by several Aoki supporters, including his close friend, long-time activist Harvey Dong.

Why Couldn’t Richard Aoki Have Been an Informant? by Tamara Nopper

And the excellent multi-part, in-depth coverage of Aoki in Hyphen Magazine by Momo Chang and others: Who Was Richard Aoki?

The Aoki documentary

A NOTE ON THE MONGRELS

AWP is pronounced mwahaha i’d said and meant but nonetheless had a good time there and met and talked with good folk . but the demographics of the event brought me to think and talk about and keep thinking about the mongrel coalition against gringpo … some said they saw the mongrels by what they’re particularly reacting against and so as all about KG and conceptual poetry, which frankly i could give two shits about. for me i love the mongrels cuz they give voice to an anger and to unsaid, long-suppressed complaints not through academic footnote but with shotgun poetry. (i love the mongrels too cuz they could give a shit whether i don’t or do.) so my ardor is not precisely becuz their enemy is my enemy since their enemy number one is floating methane on some not-mine moon. it’s for me less to do with anti-CP than finally making more visible the way power moves (and thus how oppression done) : making more visible how that happens in my own then shamed mind and in those important rooms. so i love the mongrels. it may all turn robespierre next month but the initial strikes are mayhem and genius.

 

 

Happy to have a new story called “First Days on Father Island,” which is almost as autobiographical as it sounds, in the latest Little Star.

Little Star 6

 

Little Star #6 (2015) is here! Already on shelves at Greenlight and Book Culture, on the way to St. Mark’s, McNally Jackson, Porter Square, Powell’s, more. Order here littlestarjournal.com/issues

A darkish ditty in upcoming issue of GIGANTIC

gigantichaha

Thanks to editors Lincoln Michel and James Yeh, I’ve a short piece called “Normcore” in the upcoming Gigantic. The issue is available now for pre-order for a mere eight bucks — includes shipping!

Launch party on 10/18: https://www.facebook.com/events/1473548316257710

Our forthcoming issue complicating and, in some cases, demolishing understandings of comedy and jokes features new or newly translated fiction by Franz KafkaJincy Willett,Amelia GrayDaniil KharmsOsama Alomar, and Mike Topp; a special fold-out “New Gigantic-er” poster featuring cartoons by Roz ChastCarolita JohnsonDrew DernavichMichael Crawford, and Corey Pandolph; interviews with comic book artist Gabrielle Bell and writer J. Robert Lennon; the latest installment of Joe Wenderoth’s Seizure State; the winner of our first-ever Penny-a-Word contest; illustrations by Andrew Bulger; and much, much more—all in a unique, uniquely Gigantic“grab-bag” format designed by Erin Grey West
Arriving at bookstores in October, pre-order available now for the special price of $8 (save $4! including shipping and handling).

An excerpt from THE STRANGERS in Secret Behavior

Great thanks to Keith Newton for including an excerpt from my novel THE STRANGERS in the 2nd issue of Secret Behavior magazine.
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The second issue of Secret Behavior will launch at the New York Art Book Fair at PS1 in Queens. If you are local or visiting NYC please stop by our booth, the fair opens Thurs evening Sept 25th, and it is all day Fri 26th- Sun 28th.

Featured in Secret Behavior Issue 02: Kostas Anagnopoulos, Tom Andes, Morton Bartlett, Lisa Blair, James Brett, Nicola Canavan, John Clang, Victor Cobo, Marilène Coolens & Lisa De Boeck, Jonathan Durbin, TR Ericsson, Farrah Field, Jason Glasser, Nicolai Howalt, Susanna Howe, Rachel Kash, Brian Kenny, Erik Kessels, Eugene Lim, Malerie Marder, Myriam Meloni, Keith Newton, Jason Porter, Jana Romanova, Amanda Ross Ho, Juliana Sabinson, Mathias Svalina, André Viking, Jack Webb, Eric White

Order the issue here: http://secretbehavior.bigcartel.com/product/secret-behavior-issue-02-family

 

Some new fiction in YOUR IMPOSSIBLE VOICE

Thanks to Stephen Beachy, I’m happy to have some fiction in the latest edition of YOUR IMPOSSIBLE VOICE, a digital magazine. Maybe you’d like to download its elegant bits and read them on one of your exobrains? … My story takes place in a karaoke bar and has in it a rambling about life in Queens that goes:

I leaned toward Gus and hoping not to appear rude by talking during our friend’s performance (but she wasn’t paying any attention to us; when she was singing Muriel was truly transported to a different dimension), I said, “The thing about this corridor of our city – from Woodside through Elmhurst through Corona through Flushing and on to Bayside and beyond – an incredible swath, at times like the Kowloon Walled City in its density and inventive bricolage, and superseding it in terms of the diversity of its immigrant populations, is that this often praised mixing shoulder to shoulder of people from every dominion on the planet breeds a respectful and intimate but insuperable separation, which is made all the more vexing due to proximity. In the morning one can see the parents of – among many others – Sikh children and Uruguayan children, Romanian children and Cameroonian children, Bhutanese children and Basque children all dropping off their kids at the school. One perhaps can’t imagine such a sight without experiencing it first-hand. The place is awash in color of both traditional costumes and very au courant if off-the-rack business casual; the Cantonese-inflected English mixes with scrubbed Midwestern and Punjabi lilt as I hear striver family heads discussing playdates and swapping recipes. Nowhere on any other place on earth does this prismatic confluence occur. And yet for its singularity, everyone is rather ho hum about the spectacle. The smoothing of all that difference into capitalist civility is remarkably unremarked upon. Oh the omnipotent digestive juices of the market’s gut – it eats it all! And maybe the non-remarking is but one other aspect of the digestive process. (How quietly it eats!) So it’s true that one, in a moment of weakness, could think it a commercial for American utopia and racial harmony: the interlocking of all these communities, the painless and insidious assimilation, the simultaneous proud and painful resistance to that assimilation, the flow of first to second to third and fourth generations, the seemingly unifying and seemingly ubiquitous materialist ambitions. And yet like the city itself the complex is unknowable, one’s neighbors are so close yet so far away, we each find ourselves alone and lonely, and the functioning diversity miracle itself is only another demonstration of how far short the most miraculous will fall in the futile ambition to save ourselves from ourselves.”

I paused as Muriel finished her second song and the room again convulsed in raucous applause. She waited with great showmanship before beginning her concluding number: “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. On hearing the first notes the crowd instantly went wild.

I had to shout in order to be heard but leaned closer to Gus and yelled, “And yet at other times – when I trundle down its street and avenues, weary from my day’s labors or the prospect of my nightly ones, when I am going to the greengrocer for bell peppers and onion to make another basic bachelor’s supper, when I stop to hear the busker’s tambourine for just a minute before shyly dropping in a few coins, when I order some sweetly marinated meat over rice from the food trucks, when I’m in line to buy Band-Aids and deodorant at the pharmacy – at these times I look around and see all my harried neighbors doing the same, the gimpy and spry, ill- and sweet-tempered, nebbish and vampy, and yes it’s then I do believe in some unity of purpose, despite the chaotic provenances of Diaspora City, and I see the essential program provided to all is not to acquire or win but rather is just to exist – and to avoid pain – and we are not at all making the world and are therefore not at all responsible, but in the moment have only been given it, the prospect and circumstance of the hour, and we are forced to navigate this place, each of us, as best we can.

“Then I think: Fellows! Sisters! Cousins!

“But,” I concluded “the feelings then, while not marked so much by loneliness, are drenched with a resembling error, namely self-pity.”

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The fall issue of Your Impossible Voice is here with incredible new work from Aaron Shurin, Eugene Lim, Kathleen Jesme, Mary Carroll-Hackett, Fernando Vallejo (translated by Laia García Sánchez and Robert Jackson), Kyle Hemmings, Daniel J. Pizappi, Steve Weiner, Michael Shou-Yung Shum, Rachel Nagelberg, Marianne Villanueva, Nicholas Alexander Hayes, Gerard Sarnat, Nels Hanson, Laura Bernstein-Machlay, Kent Monroe, Mara Naselli, and Nicola Waldron with cover art by Padma Prasad.

“Ursula’s Curse” now up at Dazed

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Thanks to Dennis Cooper, my story “Ursula’s Curse” (originally published in The Coming Envelope #9) is up at Dazed Digital as part of their summer long #dazedstates series on American fiction. There’s also an interview with DC and great work by Joyelle McSweeney, Darby Larson, and Frank Hinton.

flying over venice li wei

 

 

Dennis Cooper, the punk pioneer of the written word and Visionaries collaborator, brings his transgressive spirit to Dazed today. There’s an interview with the man himself – “America’s most dangerous writer” – as well as his curated selection of other writers who go against the grain: including Eugene LimFrank Hinton and Joyelle McSweeney with her Oscar Pistorius opera (no, really).

Eugene Lim. Just take it from us when we say: remember that name. The writer’s got countless contributions to anthologies and chapbooks, as well as two novels – Fog & Car and last year’s acclaimed The Strangers – under his belt. What links everything penned by the Brooklynite, however, is their sense of adventure: and not the kind of adventure, as his short story for Dazed would inititally (incorrectly) suggest, that connotes a rollicking science-fiction adventure to the stars and back. It’s best, with Lim, to instead expect the unexpected. Read our online exclusive, “Ursula’s Curse” – taken from the novel that Lim is currently working on – to discover a loosely poetic prose that seems to come from another time altogether. And, in true Cooper tradition, that’s looking forward – not back.

Dennis Cooper: “Eugene Lim is amazing because he’s really adventurous with form and style in this way that I really like, and it’s so refined. It’s so hard to break apart fiction and do something really unusual with it, and to do it so gracefully. Eugene seems to be able to use form in a really exciting way, but he can also just continually make it beautiful. I mean, it’s very poetic; it’s just lovely. He’s a very good writer. I think he’s really special.”

Read the story here, illustrated with fantastic non-photoshopped flight by artist Li Wei.

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