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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:

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

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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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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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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