EVENT FACTORY by renee gladman

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like a static sculpture that also seems constantly in motion or a dance momentarily evoking an architectural shape, renee gladman’s excellently strange new work EVENT FACTORY is a deliberate and skilfully sustained act of contradiction. gladman steadily is at play in moving the work forward, in its development — while committed to a flat, still affect. this commitment also gives the work a sense of unwavering integrity and moral purpose (as this affect perhaps the costume worn only by the true philosopher and/or depressive).

the story is of a visit to Ravicka, an odd place continuously evoking crisis and yet eerily absent of rage or tears or other emotional drama, except perhaps loneliness. this city-state seems on the verge of collapse (or at least utter transformation) but among its residents there’s an oddly muted reaction, a constant disassociation.

the rowdy, sage hitchhikers of the greater vehicle believe most of all in two ideas which for them are synonymous: emptiness and never-ending flux. so too in gladman’s new world, where the tender refrain, spoken by a prescriptive salsa dancer, goes: “It has to be done with movement” — but the ‘it’ has a necessarily obscure or inscrutable antecedent. a book also about the brittle and insufficient possibilities of communication, the uncanny EVENT FACTORY indeed is one, where the modular fabrications thus created are put together to move a reader from end to end, yet underscoring our locked, fixed positions within language.

Yet, what words besides “old” and “extraordinary” can I use to describe life there? And were I to write the description in the language of these hidden people what symbol would I use to represent air? You would want to listen to this language. I am sure of this, because to hear a person speak in gaps and air — you watch him standing in front of you, using the recognizable gestures — opening the mouth, smiling, pushing up the eyebrows, shrugging the shoulders — and your mind becomes blank as you try to match this with the sounds you hear. An instinct says tune it out, but something deep within fastens your attention. Your mouth falls open. You taste the strangeness; you try to make the sound with your mouth. That is speech. Now, how do you do this in writing? (61-62)

pick it up from the publisher, spd, or your local library.

Newcomer Can’t Swim by Renee Gladman

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who’s aiming higher than Renee Gladman? her wrestling with the basic ideas of fiction–and its osmotic border with poetry–can lead to spectacular instances of art, passages at home in strangeness, maneuvering with uncanny grace in fields of indeterminacy and unknowing.

i knew her mainly from reading JUICE, a strong, sustained meditation where she stretched the connections that mended sentences’ semantic gaps to their limit… this latest, NEWCOMER CAN’T SWIM, is a collection of “installations” and i found myself taking a shine to some more than others. i liked those with a stronger narrative momentum than those that constellate various portraits or scenes (but it’s pretty radical stuff and i may be too poorly equipped to apprehend some of these seriously new approaches.) …in any case i thought “Untitled, Woman on Ground” was awesome, heartbreaking, and completely new. it might be a breakup story, it might be a story about rubbernecking around an accident. it repeats a theme of the book–the various ways we fail to communicate or only communicate in desperate and blunted ways. another favorite was “kingdom in three panels,” especially louie’s dog-mind…

some came up short nonetheless, where i both emotionally and intellectually couldn’t connect. but i did think what she’s going for is some incredible place that requires real inspiration each time. and it’s pretty hard to hit that every outing. people get blamed for that much ambition, and i’m not sure wrongly–but when she connects the transport’s pretty phenom.

consume directly from kelsey st press.

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