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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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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:

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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

Reviews

25 Points: Universal Harvester

Universal Harvester by John DarnielleUniversal Harvester
by John Darnielle
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
224 pages / $13.21 buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. I have not yet read Wolf in White Van, (but I hear good things). I also have not read (Black Sabbath’s) Master of Reality, (but I also hear good things).

2. Universal Harvester. The cover is pretty dope-looking. (Plus, it’s sorta cool that advance reader copies came in a VHS case). It totally vibes with my anodized rainbow finish razor.  (That’s 2 for 2 Darnielle, tho, I am not actually counting Master of Reality).

3. But hear me out. I want to get this out of the way, like, right away: the book is marketed as horror and perhaps maybe even a little bit mystery. It’s none of these things, really. Or rather, the story isn’t horror in the way you’d expect it to be horror. And it’s also not mystery, in the classic sense of the word, mystery. It’s a little bit of both, and then some.

4. I’m not taking points away from the book either, because of this, no. It’s not Mr. Darnielle’s fault. Rather, he did this on purpose, and I applaud him (in a way) because of these things—Darnielle is trying to do something new & interesting here and, as you might expect, the average reader is not going to be so into that (I’m guessing). (Maybe the not-so-average reader, as well). The narrative is sort of non-linear (so be prepared for that).

5. I must confess, tho, to what intrigued me initially—what made me want to read the book as soon as possible—the story takes place in Iowa (I got my BA from a school in Iowa, this is no secret; and actually, the town where I went to school is mentioned, pretty early on). Also, the fact that it has something to do with VHS culture and film. (I have never seen The Poughkeepsie Tapes but the idea of VHS tapes and weird things happening on VHS tapes made me think of this film, for whatever reason).

6. I also tend to enjoy most things taking place during a time when the VHS market is / was still booming. READ MORE >

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March 8th, 2017 / 6:05 pm

Trump in the Bardo

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March 3rd, 2017 / 12:17 pm

Rachel and Ben (episode 8)

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February 28th, 2017 / 2:12 pm

Walking with Dog & Sylvia

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Nothing is more difficult than lashing a vagrant mind suddenly into long self-imposed stints of concentration.* 

See the trees, the sidewalk, the trash can turned over, the Auburn flag, the dirty awning, the abandoned tricycle that will never not suggest something sinister. See the leaves, the dried ones on top and the molted ones beneath. See the neat ranch home, the Spanish colonial, the craftsman. Barking, birds, voices. Don’t think about what anything reminds me of. Don’t think about my childhood. Oh, my God–daffodils. Never not shocking with their yellowness, their alien mouths. Stop thinking about Sylvia Plath. Stop thinking about trying to write about her, the experience of re-reading her, the sex scene in THE BELL JAR that causes Esther to hemorrhage in a historical way, the rarest sex in the universe, the day-off-from-the-mental-hospital sex, the sex that punishes, the sex that touches death. How can the bleeding out not symbolize Plath herself, her genius, the violence she must have believed was embedded in her own ambition, in the very anatomy of female ambition.

So many cracks in the sidewalk, it would be impossible to play that game. Forgetting to remember and remembering to forget yield the same result: forgetting. A bird, another bird, so many birds. Too many birds today. How a certain number of birds signifies spring but one more than that number means something terrible is about to happen.

I want to live each day for itself like a string of colored beads, and not kill the present by cutting it up in cruel little snippets to fit some desperate architectural draft for a taj mahal in the future.

I am not an ‘in the moment’ person. The moment pains me with its borderlessness: how long will this last? When can I call it ‘over’? When can I call it the thing that came right before the real thing? When I was a child I sat in the church pew and was transmogrified by my longing for the service to be over. I mean I felt my blood blacken with disquietude, my limbs actually tingled. Sit still, my mother would say, but I would be sitting absolutely still. She could feel the friction in my mind, in my body, and it broke her concentration. Now, when I need to endure something I don’t want to endure, or when I need to wait for something, which I am still terrible at, and I can’t read or look at my phone, I try to pray, for something to do, and because that childhood pew was a crucible where my early ideas of God and suffering and forbearance and waiting got forged.

I’m newer to breathing as a form of coping. I used to become angry when people would talk about deep breathing. I like my breaths fast and shallow. Stop telling me to breathe, world. Stop telling me to slow down. Now I tell myself to breathe, to slow down. Mailbox, mailbox, crushed can, tire-flattened box of Eggos that must have escaped the recycling bin.

I catch up: each night, now, I must capture one taste, one touch, one vision from the ruck of the day’s garbage. How all this life would vanish, evaporate, if I didn’t clutch at it, cling to it, while I still remember some twinge or glory.

My dog–a phrase I never thought I’d say–sniffs everything. As though every day he sets out with one goal: to sniff every single thing. I pull him along, before remembering that I’m not supposed to be hurrying, I’m supposed to be pretending that time doesn’t exist, that all of these things around me are the miracles they’d be if I were a better person, or an animal. A chimney. A brick. So many bricks. I can’t fathom being tasked with building a house, or even just making a single brick. Trees, plants, grass–so much green and I only have the barest understanding of photosynthesis, of the very air I’m abusing. I have no practical skills, my God. Look at those bricks and meditate on the people who know what to do with them. Look at the litter without judging it. Stop judging the litter. The well-swept porch, the shabby car. This is not a cookie-cutter neighborhood. This is a real neighborhood. There is so much to see, if I could just stay with it, stay in the seeing, in the indexing, and out of the dictionary part, where meaning must be ascribed, or the memory part, where connections must be drawn. My dog eats garbage.

I keep believing that the world is loving because I am. I keep waiting for something to jump out of the bushes and harm me, but nothing harms me like I harm myself.

There is a certain clinical satisfaction in seeing just how bad things can get.

 

*All italicized portions are from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, ed. Karen V. Kukil

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February 24th, 2017 / 12:39 pm

plzplztalk2me: Mary Duffy

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Hi there! I’m so glad to see you. Welcome to plzplztalk2me, a semi-regular feature in which I talk to folks who want to talk to me about stuff they want to talk about.

Recently, I talked with Mary Duffy. Duffy works as an editor of interactive fiction at Choice of Games LLC and is an editor at The Scofield. Her work has appeared on Literary Hub, Fusion.net, The Scofield, and Pacific Standard. She lives in Colorado where she is writing a book about the Jewish refugee crisis that preceded America’s entry into the war and her family. She tweets @maryfduffy.

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February 22nd, 2017 / 12:02 pm

TRUMP AND IMAGINARY SWEDES

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A couple of days ago, President Trump made headlines around the world when he suggested that there had been a terrorist attack in Sweden “last night.” This was a big surprise to many people, not the least people living in Sweden, since none of them had heard of an attack. As most of you now know, it was soon established that there had not been a terrorist attack, and that the US president had lied.

Many Swedish and international newspapers joined in to debunk Trump’s claim, and the Swedish government asked the US government for an official explanation. The only answer Trump seemed capable of offering was that he had been inspired by a recent story on “Tucker Carlson’s” show on Fox News. The show had interviewed a propagandist film-maker, Ami Horowitz, was in turn proven to have not only peddled falsehoods but to have cut-and-pasted interviews with Swedish police officers in such a way that it seemed that they were talking about immigrants when they in fact were not.

In response to continued pressure, Trump has insisted that things are really terrible in Sweden and that the news is trying to cover up the real truth about how horrible Sweden is.

It’s true that Sweden has let in a lot of immigrants over the past three decades. And it’s true that it’s often been hard for a country that previously had very few immigrants to deal with this influx, and that right-wing politicians have successfully riled up a lot of xenophobia. But the claims that Sweden has become crime-riddled war zone are incredibly, incredibly exaggerated. Stockholm is not “the rape capital of Europe” no matter how fanciful that claim strikes right-wingers. The increase of refugees has not led to a substantial increase in crime. There’s zero evidence to back up these claims.

Still, Trump won’t go back on his charges. Instead he’s doubled down, claiming to know Sweden better than Swedish scholars and journalists. Why? READ MORE >

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February 21st, 2017 / 12:07 pm