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They’ll have a music of wet streets / and lonely bars where piano notes / follow themselves into a forest of pity and are lost.

When I was 17, I saw a man on cable television chase a green Volkswagen Beetle until he slammed headfirst into a pole. He didn’t see the pole because he almost had his hands on the car. He was almost as fast. Also as big, almost. The shot of the man falling after he runs into the pole is full of beautiful slants and heights—leafless branches, latticed tower, streak of cloud, dazed knee—that can only feel as much like winter as they do when propped on top of all that flat. Flatness of a color that might introduce itself as green, and you’re like sure, dirt, whatever you say, we already met but don’t worry about it, this time you’ll get your act together.

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The shot was directed by Alison Maclean, whose cinematographer was Adam Kimmel. How they made that shot was first they read Denis Johnson’s book Jesus’ Son. I bought the book after I watched the movie to make sure it was Billy Crudup’s voice that was annoying and not the words.

In the book, the words were in sentences full of glow and ache and the proud civility of the self-fucked, the calm leak of “Excuse me, there’s a knife in my eye.” And also of course the weeping and calling bartenders your mother. They were words about clouds that looked like brains, but they were also words like “help” and “stay” and “save.” Those little words forever hitchhiking back to church and never making it all the way. Paragraphs would interrupt themselves to turn to you. I was 17 and hadn’t read Levinas or Buber, and yet here was the “you” that knew the face on the other end was always dark. Little words like “search” and “name.” Paragraphs that interrupted their description of a shriek to tell you they have gone looking everywhere. For the shriek, they mean, but mostly it’s the gone, and the looking, and the everywhere.

A voice smart enough to hear its own narcissism but still stuck at the age where it can’t believe all the things it gets to feel and hear and see to the point where it doesn’t care at all how slurry it sounds to use a word like “glorious,” a voice that slackjaws around in a sheepskin coat calling everything terrible and beautiful like Oprah’s and-you!-get-a-car-and-you!-get-a-car. Back and forth between wide arms and self-hugging and shivering the whole time and I was 17. Even though I knew the Goo Goo Dolls singing “and you bleed just to know you’re alive” was kind of stupid, it didn’t feel that way. Here was an unironic hallelujah named after a song by a band I went out and listened to because of this book. Here was a blurb from some guy named Barry Hannah, so I read him too. Hallelujah. READ MORE >

Author Spotlight / 1 Comment
May 28th, 2017 / 10:57 am

struggle

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April 25th, 2017 / 2:06 pm

Reviews

Marina Started to Wish: Rachel Bell’s Loving the Ocean Won’t Keep It from Killing You

Rachel is a cool person who moved into the room I recently left in Brooklyn, NY. This room has been the home of at least two other HTMLGIANT-adjacent writers in the past.

She gave me a copy of her new book Loving the Ocean Won’t Keep it From Killing You on Hello America press. It’s a small paperback with a sleek typographic cover. I had met Rachel previously–when we shared Adam Humphrey’s video production help two summers ago–so I knew there was something worth paying attention to inside the cover. Rachel is a driven, focused writer-artist and who is also fun to be around. We smoked cigarettes together. We went to the deli across the street. READ MORE >

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April 25th, 2017 / 11:22 am

trial

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April 11th, 2017 / 2:24 pm

“Mystery and Mortality,” Paula Bomer’s book of essays

Bomer Mystery CoverMystery and Mortality: Essays on the Sad, Short Gift of Life is, as the title says, a collection of essays. In this book, Paula Bomer (author of the powerful and unflinching books Nine Months and Inside Madeline from Soho, and Baby from Word Riot) looks at the work of writers ranging from Tolstoy to Ferrante and Kathy Acker to Brian Allen Carr. She combines her reflections about this literature with her mother’s dementia and her father’s suicide and, through this, she runs some painful thought experiments about why we are what we are and do what we do.

It’s very generous, for a writer to expose so much. It’s humbling to publish it.

Here’s the first paragraph:

Yesterday, I walked by a mirror and I stopped and looked into it and thought, or maybe said out loud, as I’m prone to talking to myself, being one of those writers who spends far too much time alone, “I am not my mother,” repeatedly. Then I walked away.

A few of the 15 essays originally appeared here at HTMLGiant before the turn of the decade, when Paula was a contributor here known as “pr.” Some readers might remember her being lauded for all that scholarship on Flannery O’Connor.

There’s an introduction by Meg Tuite where she says there’s:

no milquetoast in … anything she’s written. Straight on ferocity that doesn’t reek of the formaldehyde of sodden decorum and martyr-esque, flushed vaginas that pop out babies with a smile and a song. Bomer’s work rakes through brutality.

Plus, check out this cool spine:

Bomer_Spine

The book is available now from Publishing Genius, and right now it’s still just $10 (+ $3 shipping) through this week.

Author News / 2 Comments
April 11th, 2017 / 10:32 am

Retreat Left

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This is going to be long. I will discuss politics in the dangerous context of business and try to compare Seattle and New York, but I will go astray. You’re warned. I spent a long time to fix the structure of this essay. This first bit is about my vocation and leads into a bit about leaving New York. I think I wanted to give the political parts a level of context. It’s hard to read about politics if you don’t know what it comes out of. 

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Bath & Opinion / 1 Comment
March 29th, 2017 / 4:29 pm

Mallory Whitten’s God Box Available Now

via Monster House Press

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March 23rd, 2017 / 1:24 pm

What is a Real Substitute For Blood?: An Interview with Patty Yumi Cottrell

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What is a Real Substitute For Blood?: An Interview with Patty Yumi Cottrell

Patty Yumi Cottrell’s debut novel is Sorry to Disrupt the Peace, an “anti-memoir” about Helen Moran, a thirty-two year old adopted Korean woman who has to return to Milwaukee to investigate the sudden death of her fellow adopted Korean brother. It’s a weird little stall because the lurch of Helen’s brother’s death will get you to turn the page, but there are so many things that only Helen could say that will make you want to read and re-read them and cut them out and wear them into a suit of koan-like kernels to guide you through your each and every day. Helen drops gems like “the eye is a terrible organ” or “time itself is nothing but a construction to organize and measure flesh decay.” All the while cramming into this claustrophobic home that never really felt like a home with her adoptive white parents who are disappointed when she accidentally kills all the flowers meant for her brother’s funeral. There’s a vision of a balding European man. Books on drawings of trees in the Midwest. The abyss. Chad Lambo, the grief counselor. It’s a weird and dark and funny stroll. It nods to Sheila Heti, Thomas Bernhard, and Miranda July, but is completely of Patty Yumi Cottrell’s own making. After all, in the words of Helen, “everything in the world is a palimpsest, motherfuckers!”

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Author Spotlight & Interviews & Massive People / No Comments
March 22nd, 2017 / 11:54 am

Hear with your eyes, see with your ears, until it becomes an act of resistance.

 

Examples of Sound Classifications / Graphic Notation listed in Anthony Braxton's Composition Notes

Examples of Sound Classifications / Graphic Notation listed in Anthony Braxton’s Composition Notes

 

I’m on a huge Anthony Braxton kick right now. Like, inside a free jazz free fall vortex of kaleidoscopic music from Ornette Coleman to Cecil Taylor to Marion Brown to Albert Ayler to Don Cherry to Art Ensemble of Chicago to more and more and more, but right now Braxton’s speaking to me the loudest.

 

LISTEN TO THIS:

braxton

 

3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011 by Anthony Braxton

 

 

Braxton’s material moves in ways I find massively appealing: bold, dynamic, unpredictable, defiant, aggressive, persuasive, provocative, spooky, scary, creepy, cacophonous, rambunctious, chaotic, discursive, flagrant, abstract, unintelligible, bewildering, soothing, calming, inviting, indulgent, relentless, combative, mutinous, as if it were an act of resistance.

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March 17th, 2017 / 12:40 pm

plzplztalk2me: Elizabeth Schmuhl

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Welcome back to plzplztalk2me, a semi-regular feature in which I talk to folks who want to talk to me. Recently, I talked and made art with Elizabeth Schmuhl. Schmuhl is a multidisciplinary artist and the author of Presto Agitato (Dancing Girl Press & Zoo Cake Press, 2015) and Premonitions (Wayne State University Press, forthcoming). She illustrates essays for The Rumpus, has taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, works as a content strategist and writer, and currently lives in New York City.

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Elizabeth Schmuhl: Last night I saw the sky and it was navy blue with no stars I didn’t expect to see a navy blue sky in a city referred to as a fruit but here I am! Is this the beginning?

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p.e. garcia: I’m never sure what color navy blue is but then again I’m opposed to the military industrial complex. I tend to support pacifist colors, like brick red and seagreen. I wish the sky was brick red.

It’s a beginning, unless we cut it out or move it. Then it’s nothing, or it’s something else.

How are you?

Schmuhl: i have been vacillating and trying to just be and maybe that’s all i’m doing?

i feel like sitting down i feel like sleeping and that terrifies me because it usually means my depression is flaring is pulsing once again and why is that any surprise to anyone, least of all me? it’s not. no surprises in this state of emergency no surprises because and emergency is not a surprise it’s a response to an action that’s already happened ( loosing my train of thought because i’m loosing in general i am a woman so minus 5k points for me).
in my head i am writing a book titled WHITE: THE CULTURE OF SILENCE and yes that semi colon is definitely there intentionally.
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i will be in nyc and not at home i will be in this city in an apartment that is crumbling i am unafraid of anything i need to do i am here and i want to help i am here and i am ready i am getting stronger even on days when it feels like the sky is crushing down on me when that blue is just too much because all i want is peace because of the war i’ve been fighting inside for my whole lifetime i am hoping for peace and if someone calls me and says they are thinking of killing themselves i will never say “sorry , i don’t have time to talk! i’m going to the spa!” because someone said that to me and i know how it feels it’s as if i’m feeling these feelings so i will be ready so that i open even wider i am not my feelings but oh when they move through me they make a big space and i will listen to the memory i will hold it because i am a human and all i want is to be moved, to move you, to move.
garcia: What’s your favorite food?
Schmuhl: Pizza. You?
garcia: What kind of pizza? I like lasagna or any kind of baked pasta.
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Elizabeth: Goat cheese bc I’m allergic to all other cheese-cheeses. I wish I liked lasagna bc Garfield likes it.

garcia: I feel like Garfield is weird because cats shouldn’t eat lasagna, right? It can’t be good for them. What’s your favorite animal?

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Images are a collaboration between Elizabeth Schmuhl and p.e. garcia. If you want to talk2me, hit me up: plzplztalk2me@gmail.com.
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March 13th, 2017 / 10:28 am