Q & A with Gary Lutz


“I’m more fond of the colon. I think the colon is an undervalued punctuational device. And I’m extremely obsessed with the hyphen, which is the most difficult to master of the punctuation marks.”

vid thanks to jess row.

“pools” by gary lutz

calamari press publisher derek white shot some footage at the recent EVER release party. here’s the incomparable gary lutz reading from “pools,” from his chapbook PARTIAL LIST OF PEOPLE TO BLEACH. At Word Books in Brooklyn on Mar 5, 2009.

Partial List of People to Bleach by Gary Lutz


unlike the poetry-prose amalgams of someone like renee gladman, who is arguably equally as painstaking with her sentences, lutz writes a kind of extreme non-poetic prose. while gladman can approach the sentence with habits associated with contemporary poetry–e.g. ashbery-like slippages between clauses, shifting subjectivity, broken signifiers–a lutz sentence is extremely parseable. and unlike a prose-writer like diane williams (whose stories are also made up of, at least grammatically, generally traditional sentences), lutz isn’t a master of indeterminacy and suggestiveness… what i think makes lutz unique (and so attractive to imitators) is his taking of sentences’ normative grammar and subverting and transcending (but not breaking) its rules. the singular result is a clearly identifiable style that is simultaneously emotionally clamped and devastating.

the size of this chapbook was also for me just the right amount of lutz. he’s pretty intense to be with for much longer. but maybe one can evolve to him. i kept wondering what a lutz novel would be like.

or maybe the story collections are what a novel would be like. for in each story, there’s just enough plot to ground the language–usually we’re dealing with aborted love and/or aging. characterization is also minimal, at least the broad strokes kind. instead we have recordings of instances of personality–too far in close up to make a character–or a kind of everyperson abjectness. so that, maybe the novel would just be this, a carefully sustained and perfectly familiar heartache, rendered in deviously straitjacketed prose that would go impossibly on and on.


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