Blake Butler Doesn’t Like Local HTML Giant Reading Posts and We Now Obviously Don’t Care anyway muncie is a large beast that sits in the middle of a burnt out church picking scabs out of its matted fur, flicking them into the rubble and sighing. it sits with its shoulders hunched low to the earth. muncie exists in a state of apathy and boredom. it takes naps several times a day and only ever leaves the walls of the burnt-out church to find food. if you approach muncie, it will not notice you, unless you crawl into its skin and become one of its many scabs (which happens often [it’s called “living there”]). muncie will never figure out what it wants out of life or what it needs to be happy. muncie needs a lot of love and attention, and fewer scabs. or for the scabs to start nurturing the skin of muncie. muncie needs to be taught to let the scabs heal and to walk out into the sun for a bit. that might make it feel better. and if muncie feels better, then muncie might actually try to fix itself. and i need the monster called muncie to stay alive because that monster taught me to be a monster, in my own way, and that is very important to me.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 8TH (MUNCIE, IN) 8PM: Muncie, IN presents: A Fiction & Poetry Reading w/ Peter Davis and Austin Hayden and Harry Potter. Everyone who’s never been to or lived in Muncie thinks it’s weird we’re going to Muncie, but Muncie people know that a pilgrimage is necessary.
Mike Young at a PG/Baltimore Adam Robinson reading and leaping off a couch!
Several items have been found recently by the Transportation Department. Owners may claim their items at the Transportation Office by this Friday. Call 285-9045 for directions.
-Black “Neff” beanie
-Black/red polka dot umbrella
-Navy speckled umbrella
-Digital camera with case (must fully describe to claim)
-“Association of Objectification of Women School Broadcasters” certificates
-Black/gray running shoes
-Black “Mike Young” tennis shoes
-Orange “Sky Zone” sock
-Black sunglasses (2)
-Black sunglasses with silver frames
-Leopard print sunglasses
-Racist Cell phone car charger
-Headphones with remote controls
-Black “ACE” bandage
-Sweater with red/pink hearts
-Gray “Adam Robinson” sweatshirt
-Prescription glasses with gold frames
-“No Colony” art posters
-“Kathleen Rooney” headlamp
-Blue bag with drinking glass and plate
-Clear drinking glass with “Sigma Chi” ink pen
-“Molly Gaudry” bowling ball
-White folder with class notes
-“Mary Miller” Bungee cord
-“Kentucky Chen” water bottle
-“Memorex” CD (“#8”)
Man Alive: A true story of violence, forgiveness and becoming a man.
by Thomas Page McBee
City Lights/Sister Spit 2014
172 pages. $11.17 Buy from: City Lights
- This is a memoir of transitions, journeys, and radical love/forgiveness.
- In this memoir, Thomas’ tells the story of his transition to manhood alongside his account of being robbed at gunpoint.
- I’m so glad this book exists. I’m so glad Sister Spit’s new imprint under City Lights exists. I’m so glad Thomas Page McBee exists to have written it.
- There is a very palpable danger in this book. Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena’s names flicker in the background as Thomas traverses the middle of the country, anxiously hoping that he passes as male during every interaction with surly bartenders and gas station clerks.
- Thomas and I were in the same writing program at SFSU eons ago when he was a poet. He has always been a kind, thoughtful chum.
- Thomas was the “masculinity expert” for VICE and writes the column “Self Made Man” for The Rumpus.
- This book gives a nuanced look at male privilege and gender constructs: Thomas acknowledges his male privilege within his terrifying robbery. The mugger gives directions to him, trains his eyes on him, points his gun at him. Thomas’ female companion, Parker, is a shadow, her words are ignored by the mugger, who eventually, reluctantly takes her credit card. I think this moment is a nice metaphor for the privileges and pitfalls of masculinity. Thomas, the man, is taken seriously, is heard and seen. Thomas, the man, is thrown to the ground, is expected to absorb violence and keep his composure. When Thomas speaks, his voice still high and feminine, as he has not yet started taking hormones, the mugger lets him go.
- Parker is such a lovable character (and great person in real life). She is supportive and honest and tough and sassy and smart and blurts out things like “wherever you are, whoever you are, you have a right to be here.”
- You get a sense of the strain that Thomas’ transition, all the societal implications that go with this change, the mugging, take a serious toll on he and Parker’s relationship, and that’s super sad, because these people are clearly so much in love.
- This book is filled with men doing awful things: There’s the robbery. A murder. The racist and vengeful court system. There’s Thomas’ father molesting him, when he was a young girl. There’s a dark family history full of incest and abuse.
- Anger is like the one sacred emotion that traditional gender norms have allowed men. Vengeance is the medium of expression. Thomas’ memoir rejects this construct and refuses to turn men into “monsters.” Again and again, Thomas refuses to succumb to vengeance. He acknowledges that a fistfight or a drunken argument is the prescribed remedy for men who’ve hurt each other, yet he does the best he can to SEE the men who’ve injured him. He refuses to reduce men to their worst acts by acknowledging their transgressions alongside their suffering. He tries again and again, as best he can to forgive them.
- Thomas used to edit a fashion blog called The Ironing Board Collective where he wrote about his style sense, his ideal body type (essentially Paul Newman at his hottest), Kanye West, etc.
- Here are two little sections I love:
- I looked so much like a teenage boy that I’d mostly forgotten my difference. It was only at odd moments that I’d pass a mirror and see shapes that shouldn’t be there, a stranger who looked like me but wasn’t me at all, a stranger like a kick in the chest.
- You’d have to be pretty destroyed to hold a gun to another person’s face and shoot it, I thought. And you’d have to have abandoned yourself to the core to want to annihilate a child.
- You know the particularly joyful, cathartic, queasy feeling of removing a frighteningly long ingrown hair, snipping out old stitches, squeezing pus out of a weeping wound? That’s what reading this book is like.
- I’d recommend this book to: Survivors of abuse. Men who aren’t satisfied with mainstream or even so-called alternative portrayals of masculinity. People who are in relationships with people who are transitioning. White people who feel confused/guilty about gentrifying their neighborhood. Victims of violent crime. Perpetrators of violent crime. People with violent dads. People with neglectful moms. People who do their best to love them anyway. Everybody else.
- With all the stories people are sharing around sexual violence/coercion/rape within the “alt-lit” scene, I keep thinking about restorative justice ( defined as “a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.”) The 6-12 school in Brooklyn where I work tries it’s best to use restorative justice models to address behaviors that range from mundane (talking in class) to horrendous (sexual predation/violence/etc.) Restorative practices compared to more traditional punitive approaches (which exclude victims and offenders from the justice process) take a great deal more resources: time, energy, follow through, patience, humility, generosity, self awareness, etc. Man Alive displays the work restorative justice requires: the difficult conversations between the abuser and the survivor, the soul searching Thomas must do to come to a place that resembles forgiveness, the pain Thomas bravely faces in order to move forward into a new gender identity, a new place, a new life…
- Men are committing most of the raping, abusing, acts of intimate violence. Therefore it’s critical that men are educated around these issues. This book is an important piece of that discussion.
- Now that I’m almost done writing about Thomas’ book, I plan to give it to this one trans student I have who I hope will enjoy reading it, although I fear she’s not a skilled enough reader to make sense of it all. Are there good books about transitioning for teens with low reading levels? LMK!?
- Here’s some more stuff from the book I liked:
- “Court is now in session,” the bailiff announced… “Please rise,” he said; and I thought of church as we, as one, did.
- A wedding had seemed the perfect opportunity to dress up like adults, and somehow magically become them.
- This book ends in the ocean as all things should.
- I <3 Man Alive.
October 7th, 2014 / 9:07 am
Q: Was your writing encouraged at home?
A: Mostly not, no.
Q: Have you matured as a writer?
A: What is my hot material? My Midwestern childhood, my parents, their marriage.
A: I’m that oddity of a writer who had a good high-school experience.
A: I had an idea of the social novel that I didn’t realize was already outmoded.
A: But that didn’t stop me from trying to write a Corrections-like book.
Q: Is that obsession with appearances still a concern to you?
A: Most of the book.
Q: You’ve described your first two books as “systems novels.”
A: Cigarettes had made me smart, and smart had been the organizing principle for a couple of books. Smart had been the locus of my manhood, but it was no longer getting me anywhere.
Q: Blake Butler?
A: I built an office up in Harlem in 1997. The people at the Swedish Academy, who bestow the Nobel Prize, recently confessed their thoroughgoing lack of interest in American literary production. The conflict in my marriage could no longer be ignored.
Hello! It has been ages! Well, not literally ages, like, you know, ages, but like a LONG TIME! Five years to be exact! Actually, I am not being exact! If I was being exact I would say 1893 days! I have been keeping track of this in a Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet!
Wow I really need to learn how to use Microsoft Excel to its full potential!
Anyway, GENE AND BLAKE are saying goodbye to HTMLGIANT and therefore have opened up posting to all of HTMLGIANT’S former members! Whoaaaaa! It is like a GHOST PARTY in here! Or it is like that scene in Metal Gear Solid 3: THE ONE IN THE JUNGLE NOT THE ONE IN THE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX LIKE THE OTHERS where you have to walk down that path with all of the dudes that you killed except they are ghosts! You may think that I am using a lot of exclamation points but it is actually because I am no good at Metal Gear Solid! and I keep getting! discovered! snake? snaaaaaaaake!?
ANYWAY how is everyone!? Do you all have twitter now? I hope so! Are we on ello? Haha just kidding I know you’re on ello even though no one knows how it works! The internet has gotten really weird since HTMLGIANT launched! How is your book? Oh that’s good! I’m sure it’ll get picked up right away. I believe in you!
This is where I get nostalgic! The internet was super magic back in 2009! No one really knew what writing was! Or there were independent presses out there! Or that every single day of the Internet has kind of turned into AWP CONSTANT WHEEL OF SADNESS, INTERNET, INTERNET with all of these voices and ways to express them! Writing was just some thing we did because we were kids who grew up making up stories in our heads and at some point we thought it’d be a good idea to write them down! Sometimes I feel like writing is the scene in the sports movie (do you watch sports? do you watch sports movies? you should really start they are great! both the sports and the sports movies! you might not understand the sports movies if you do not understand sports but that never stopped anyone from comprehending the human condition am I right?) where the star player (that’s you!) is feeling really down because he is not making super awesome basketball shots or super awesome touchdowns (ROLL TIDE) and at some point they have to remember what it was about the game that they fell in love with in the first place! And then they go out to the park and meet some ruffian teenagers who are just playing 4 the LOVE of the GAME! And then they regain their smile and go out into the world and win CHAMPIONSHIPS!
Sometimes there is a lot of digital noise when you are thinking about ‘being a writer’ and it can be super discouraging! I’m not saying that HTMLGIANT didn’t add to the white noise symphony (lol what did i just type (c) brian oliu) but it was a pretty nice beacon at times! I know it was for me! It is something that I am super thankful for and even though it wasn’t the best days of my life like that dido song (no not white flag the other one that was sampled in that m&ms song) it was pretty great to see in a weird vast sea of vastness because good lord that Microsoft Word document (two plugs for MS Word someone buy me a copy of Microsoft BOB if you are reading this, Microsoft) is absolutely terrifying when it is blank and extra horrifying when it is NOT blank and you have this thing that came out of your head and your heart and you are just like ‘what is this what do i do this how do i do this’! And this was a place where there were people like BLAKE and GENE and ROXANE and DONORA and MARK and MIKE and KYLE and MATT and JESSE and CATHERINE and JJ BARREA and SNACKPACK who were earnest and honest about writing and publishing and what it was to do these things in a magical world of land! Wow.
GOODBYE HTMLGIANT may you be like one of the stars in the background of your Web 2.0 design and shine brightly above us until you burn out and explode into a whole bunch of weird nothingness when website hosting dues come around because I’m pretty sure that’s how astronomy works but who knows because space is a mystery and so is writing on the internet but y’all made it less so and maybe Chelsea’s baby image of me won’t be one of the first images that comes up when you image search my name on google because that scared my mom once and she wondered if there was a way to take it off
Brian Oliu, famous writer
Tara Boswell, dead deer.