Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. (Jan. 19-26)
A lot of things were happening, and I thought I was in love, maybe, ultimately, wrongly, but I was distracted. And I was devastated, and I decided to challenge myself with a difficult read. I hadn’t been reading much by the end of 2015. Bad things were happening. The light in my room was affected by a red lampshade from a previous tenant, and I lived in Bushwick, and I often raced to get through my allotted daily seventy or so pages so I could go to sleep. I wasn’t talking to anyone, and I had no one to talk to about the book. The book is about history and the removal of the experience from the event. I felt like I missed a decent amount, that there seriously lacked the emotion of Faulkner’s other great works, but I enjoyed the places and the desperate, pre-suicidal voice of Quentin, who felt like an old friend, from a time when I had been more excited about literature and life. I was happy when the novel was over.
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (late Dec. 2015-Jan. 31)
I started this book sometime in December (but it was not the first book I read in 2016), and found it pedantic and boring. But after finishing Absalom!, driven (not in a car, but figuratively) to my parents’ house, I felt I had no excuse but to push through it. I hate letting a so-called classic defeat me, or get past me, and I hope to one day lay that feeling to rest. If people like this book so much it must be for a reason; there are some nice sentences, but people probably just like it because it’s like a movie, and I read it by the fire, while my parents watched TV. I read the majority in two sittings that way. Sometime earlier, however, a woman approached me, at my cashiering job at the food coop, and told me I was disgusting for reading Lolita in public. I told her I wasn’t.
The Tennis Handsome by Barry Hannah (Feb. 1-2)
I had fallen into some weird freelance things after quitting my salaried, union-benefitted, university library position the previous summer. I had reason to join the public library and was ripping video of a fashion label to media cards, testing that they worked and mailing them out all over the world at a highly inflated rate. It was nice to make money off so little work, but the work soon went away, and I had to find more. Hannah’s fourth novel is an amalgam and extension of several stories from his hit collection Airships, and is mostly about sex, like a lot of his early work. It was a pleasant read for the most part, even making me laugh, and then I was in Massachusetts. I didn’t have a car and was out of touch with most of my old friends. I didn’t have much reason to go back to Brooklyn.
January 2nd, 2017 / 11:46 am
I gladly add my voice to the chorus of Goodnight and Thank You to Gene and to Blake. Thank you, for creating this bizarre little hole that grew & grew, a hole I happily fell into time & time again. I didn’t post often, and haven’t in ages, but I visited regularly and learned a lot here–about books I would not necessarily have found otherwise, and presses, and people asking important questions and creating amazing things. Thank you to those of you I haven’t met in person, but feel I know vibrationally, which can be better than IRL.
I know there were flare-ups and hurt feelings, but if I’m going to be honest, I more often than not left this space with more–not less–empathy. Behind each voice, behind each screen, is an actual person, and therefore, I think it’s safe to say, a person in pain. Pain is a good teacher.
It might sound silly, but one of the things I learned from the past 4-5 years of clicking around here: the internet is the ultimate nobody & the ultimate everybody. HTMLGiant was a very good place for negotiating this weird, constantly askew binary. And I think, at its best, it was an exemplary art forum–many people here seem to know that the only way to talk about art, really, is to make it. Questions of good or bad, like it or don’t like it, generally didn’t resonate for long. People risked ridicule and criticism to talk about things that moved them.
People risked. I guess I can’t think of a higher compliment.
An analytical approach to living, that is a problem. I said it to S, I said I didn’t think that the examined life was the right one. I said it was, well, I could look it up it was on Gmail, but I’d rather try to remember. The point was, I was trying to tell him. I didn’t try that hard. I knew he wouldn’t like it if I put it that way, but the point was what I was feeling, which was that the too examined life lacked the types of brief, transcendent emotions that made it meaningful. If everything was studied very precisely, tried to be understood, attempted to be made into language, something was lost. More thoughts seemed to occur without language. Its usefulness to one’s, like, being could be put in question.
He seemed to think I was an idiot, he might have said so. G said what could I expect, he made his whole life based on that kind of tenet. That way of looking at things—S is a PhD—and trying to put that into some comprehensive explanation. Also he’s a poet. He never talked to me again. I can’t remember if I tried to strike up conversation with him. It must have been in winter. Could it have been during the time I was still doing crosswords? that was obviously a conflict of interest for me. There was a thing where I would always see the same words coming up, which was distracting. They’d be too easy or too hard.
I can find very little middle ground in stuff like that. I don’t know if I’d had the thought, but what if, what if, I had told him that I was more concerned with the exact reality as it appeared from an empirical, outside perspective, and that inner thoughts deflected it… Would it have been a lie? that actually bothers me a lot. How when you pose a question in writing (not a question in terms of “idea” but in terms of, like, a person thinking a question, I often think one vies to answer it), I always want to answer it immediately.
It was sort of a great relief, one less force to fear incurring—is it incurring?—my madness. My ideology appears, like it had sprung, only through disagreements with people. It’s weak. I felt like I’d escaped from the possibility of living S’s life. Something that required so much attention to the things beyond itself might cease to be substantive. Things are more often than not, I assert, concerned with what is directly, immediately happening.
July’s a funny time because of vacations and America and hot dogs and home run derbies. It’s also funny because sometimes you are born and everyone wants to get together and just be born together (see above). It’s also also funny because who has time for anything anymore.
Here’s the shit that was the shit this month.
This was a big week for Kim Kardashian, who recently became my BFF in an iPhone game. It was also a big week for poetry because–like Dan Gilbert–poetry can’t stop won’t stop.
Don’t worry, I’m still here.
mouth mouth mouth
some words onto righthere rises eyed
from under full lift my arms hold
(this weight of you)
Alexis Pope, “(soured)” (Leveler)
I heard the mothers
call me trash. Beyond
me lay some other
me: a supine body
in the summer heat.
Caylin Capra-Thomas, “The Mine Fire Speaks” (Boiler)
My greatest flaw is that I’ve granted my future-self permission to question myself at any time.
Michelle Dove, from “Alt Vices” (ILK)
Jon tells me
about a girl
to put her hair
It’s a thing
Rob MacDonald, “Fetal Position” (interrupture)
I want to teach this song
to the children we won’t make.
Ruth Awad, “Shame, Abridged” (Diode)
All weekend I was in New York, which is like AWP all the time (((minus the one time they had turkey legs ((although I’m sure if you put your mind to it you can find a turkey leg in New York (although maybe not because that seems to be a “country” fair type thing and believe it or not I didn’t see a damn deer until I was 18 years old so what do I know)))))). I got back to DC on Sunday and at work on Monday I gchatted Mike and I says “Sucks, dunnit” and he says “wha” and I says “not being there” and he says “TRU.” Which was a little confusing, since it wasn’t really that memorable of a weekend, but then I saw that Lauren Russell interviewed Dana Ward at Hot Metal Bridge and Dana said:
“I can’t imagine writing, or thinking at all, without doing so somehow with others, especially those friends permissive enough to co-create, & then perpetuate, a space where its ok to fuck things up by writing stuff that might say really really stupid shit, change each other’s minds, & then still be around no matter, going on doing writing, not writing at all, keeping up with one another out of need & love, for the specific forms that people make, so doing.”
And then at that point the cab rides and the dad shirts and boxing gloves made a little more sense.
Before I begin to say what will be the thing that will be the first
thing you hear today, let it be known: we are all in distress.
Erin J Mullikin, “Naked On The Internet” (Alice Blue Review*)
Every day I exercise and I tone and I skinny myself into a spectacular hell
Natalie Eilbert, “Freaky Friday” (at COVEN, Brooklyn, NY)
& ask again & my uncle out in the field with the spade & my uncle out in the ditch with the spade & I went into the lake & thought about the farm & I went into the lake & made my will & all of the farm to my brother & my sister in the house & my father in the ditch of his fields & the goats up in the mountain struggling with the grass.
Lisa Ciccarello, “I only thought of the farm” (The Volta)
I have gotten good and high, you see.
And I do sometimes try
to be at least
a little pretty.
Joshua Kleinberg, “Yorick” (Spork)
I could cry at anyone’s home movies.
Bruised haircuts, inflatable pools—
I would score them all in B minor.
-Kathy Goodkin, “Ancient of Days” (Dreginald)
*K, so that’s the link to the poem and doing that removes the nav frame. Here’s the link the whole issue but that link isn’t going to work forever, because it’s just a link to the main page and one day it’s gonna have a completely different issue, so if you’re reading this in 2039 and you can’t find this poem, give me a call and we can find it together.
OK, we spend a shitload of time talking about books in this piece and just about absolutely no time talking about all the free-ass online “content” (LOL) that exists in the world and that seems weird and absurd considering that me and 3.7% of you wallflowers used to read this thing (and other things) in Google Reader and now that’s not a damn thing anymore but you’re a thing and I’m a thing and the follow lines are the thingiest things I got googly-eyed over this week yanawahmean.
The law does not say sorry. The law says get inside with our skin but do not leave home without it.
Gina Keicher, “Naked On The Internet” (Birdfeast)
I will also admit
how moved I am
by instrumental versions
of terrible songs
in restaurants and that
I’ve never understood
why at the end
of the nightmare
the murderer and I
eat a meal together.
Anne Cecelia Holmes, “If You Ask I Will Tell You” (Sink Review)
If toilets flushed forwards
there’d be more poets.
-John Ebersole, “Until My Stomach Is A Microchip I’m Not Impressed” (BOAAT)
a new myth in which my hands are put down
at the wrist. where the bone is cut off at the elbow
and thrown to the hounds. a new constellation
where a boy drags his dead dog across the night sky.
-Sam Sax, “Hands” (Smoking Glue Gun)
Perhaps I cry because I can’t believe how much there is
that I don’t believe in
Whatever I am, please look later
-Monica McClure, “Skunk Hour” (GlitterMOB)
Oh boy and check out the new issues of Anti- because the whole this is just whoa.
The handmade books of Spork Press are spreading across the literary universe, leaving the Spork collective ‘more psyched than ever.’
On any given evening, in the middle of any given week, just off of Fourth Avenue, you might stumble across the editors of Spork Press as they dutifully work on their next set of printings.
They might have music blaring out of the carport in which they work while they press ink onto boards using a half-century-old machine. They might be sipping beers, mixing and transferring music mixes onto cassette tapes. They could be listening to audiobooks, evening out the edges of their work—literally, with a belt sander.
(…..from The Tucson Weekly, “An Analog Experience”)
Yes, Spork makes beautiful books and recently debuted their 6 newest creations (“artifacts”) at AWP here in my backyard (Seattle, which is just across the lake from Kirkland, home of Costco, etc). The Tucson Weekly reports that AWP was a “huge success” for Spork, selling “more than 400 books.”
So, anyways, here is a bit of a roundup of Spork’s 6 new books with a bit of verbiage about each book and/or the author. (and, yes, I’m one of these 6 authors so if you think this is uncool, well, go ahead and sue me).
Christmastime is the best time. There are sparkly lights and cute reindeer and cute snowmen and cute songs, and so on. There’s also a lot of gifts to be given, which is great, especially if you like books and things, as I do. Alas, almost all Western culture subjects won’t get any gifts from Santa at all, as they only care about their Twitter feed, their sexuality, and leading a “grievable life” so that this doesn’t happen to them. But for those thoughtful boys and girls who don’t go around kissing dead Nelson Mandela’s tushy, they should expect estimable presents. These are the ones I want:
Gossip by Samantha Cohen: Gossip can be malicious and harmful, so everyone should do it.
Cunt Norton by Dodie Bellamy: While the cannon is actually quite commendable, so is cutting, which is what Dodie does to one of the Norton anthologies.
Salamandrine: 8 Gothics by Joyelle McSweeney: According to Diane Sawyer, those divinely deathy Columbine boys “may have been a part of a dark, underground national phenomenon known as the Gothic movement and that some of those Goths may have killed before.” So…
Begging For It by Alex Dimitrov: This boy was the subject of some criticism for his appropriation of some kind of AIDS-related art. But AIDS is silly, and Alex is sort of cute.
Butcher’s Tree by Feng Chen: Her Spork book, “Blud,” was really cute and sassy, so these poems probably will be as well.
Our Lady of the Flowers, Echoic by Chris Tysh: Jean Genet was a violent, cutthroat boy, and I want to see Divine and Dainty Feet in verse.
Haute Surveillance by Johannes Goransson: Johannes read an excerpt from this at the first and only ever Boyesque Reading (also featuring Peter Davis, Tyler Gobble, and me). It was violent, stylish, and totalitarian.
The Memoirs of JonBenet by Kathy Acker by Michael du Plessis: JonBenet Ramsey was cute and tragic. This year, she published a collection of rhymes for my cute and thoughtful Tumblr, Bambi Muse. I want to see how Michael portrays the pageant princess.
The Mysteries of Laura by Andrea Quinlan: It’s a collection of poems that are Victorian and gothic, which is to say it’s Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronte and Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.
Mother Ghost by Casey Hannan: I like ghosts.
Since the outside is important too, you should be decking a delightful outfit while you wait for Santa to come. For girls, picking out what to wear isn’t arduous at all, as all girls should wear what they should wear all the time, a babydoll dress, a big but elegant hairbow, and ballet flats. For boys, choosing the correct clothes is much more vexing. Most boys hold the opinion that tight jeans and an ironic top are stylish. But this isn’t so. Style should have meaning. Boy in the vintage Supersonics Shawn Kemp jersey, can you inform everyone who Shawn Kemp is? Are you aware that he once showed up to the Cavaliers training camp as an unacceptable fatty? No, you’re not. Style, like literature, must have meaning. So, while anticipating Santa’s arrival, all boys should wear a meaningful outfit, like the one that I am:
Sunnies because eyes should be kept secret.
Basketball hoodie that I stole from a friend, because basketball players are like monsters.
Purple-striped dress shirt because it’s proper.
A skirt because boys should wear skirts.
Skull-and-crossbone pants because they’re deathy.
Werewolf purple socks to match the purple dress shirt.
Buckled shoes because they’re proper too.
2013 PO’ IN REVIEW–85 (or so) Lines & Quotes That Effed Me Up, in chronological(-ish) order of when i reddit
Right about now is the time of the year when everyone with a goddamn login gets all hyperboled about whatever dumb book they read way back in March, just so they can save a .jpeg and write a bunch of convoluted bullshit about that dumb book and some other dumb books for some dumb literary blog. Those things (blogs, books, hyperboles, et al, et al) are cool. But books are books, and books cost money, and I’m sure that you’re probably broke because you bought me a bunch of Yolo Polos for God’s birthday. Oh, you good little sigh, you.
So instead of giving you a list of books you’re never going to read, I figured I’d go through my pockets and pull out the best lines and quotes I came across in 2013, because (and I know I might be alone here) 2013 felt like a winning fucking lotto ticket to me. Happy holidays. Now give me a hug.
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Out there, in the Between, it’s kiss or be kist
R.M. O’Brien, “Poem For Chris Toll In The Between” (Sink Review, Jan. 1)
He could have laid me back
in the middle of the Atlantic; we could have been on a raft
loaded with exotic cargo, parrot eggs and pigeon blood rubies
rather than egg sandwiches and a bottle of wine
thick and pungent enough to be blood. It was hard to imagine
anyone here, not him shucking his shirt onto the deck,
nor ancient sailors or drug dealers in their bullet-boats.
Bridget Menasche, “Claudine Goes Sailing With A Man Who Hates The Hamptons” (PANK, Jan. 15)
a huge amount of fire to see much.
Daniel D’Angelo, “The End of the Sound of Waves (Alice Blue Review, Jan. 29)