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Understories

Understories
by Tim Horvath
Belleveue Literary Press, May 2012
192 pages / $14.95  Buy from Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Understories rises and falls in the geography of an infinitely complex urban landscape. The book maps a city made up of cities. Narratives made of indirect, minor narratives; stories within stories. The larger tales—Circulation, Runaroundandscreamalot!, The City in the Light of Moths, and The Understory, rise like skyscrapers in that expanse. In between which are a half-dozen case studies on “Urban Planning” that examine topographies where the only buildings are played on film projectors and entire economies and social structures are derived entirely from restaurants. Those crevasses are populated further still by shorts and one-offs that are the equivalent of strolling upon a brilliance of a hidden spot that had previously gone unnoticed:

Our talking is a kudzu of carotids in which we lose our marbles. Hours later, they tumble out as we are snoring, awakening us one at a time, hard little tumors we flick underneath one another. By morning, we lie like border states whose boundaries are rivers, anomalously straight, canals funded by nature.

Horvath is a master of the small who exercises a very precise and peculiar brand of metaphysics. Each of these stories has unique moral and ethical dimensions that are penned in by the fantastic and the absurd. If you look closely, the larger narratives readers are used to—dramatic juxtaposition, struggle for meaning, moral dilemma, justice, life and death—get their fair treatment, but they are compromised by an elusive force. Each story contains within its dominant logic an under-nature running concurrently against it. It is a dialectic that at its very most implicates the mutual manifestations of subject and object which create a world just ahead of us able to be perceived and at its very least does well to reinvigorate some of the stale and deadened devices of storytelling.

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Reviews / 9 Comments
August 6th, 2012 / 12:00 pm

Conjunctions 53

conj53bis out now, the Hybrid Histories issue, and as always full of magic power. Among those: Andrew Ervin, Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Robert Coover, William Gass, Tim Horvath, Peter Gizzi, Francise Prose, Paul La Farge.

Matt Bell’s incredible long story His Last Great Gift is also included, and can be read online here. It’s a brain eater, as we’ve come to expect on the regular from Mr. Bell.

Its first graph:

SPEAR HAS ALREADY BEEN living in the cabin overlooking High Rock for two weeks when the Electricizers speak of the New Motor for the first time. Awakened by their voices, Spear feels his way down the hallway from the dark and still unfamiliar bedroom to his small office. He lights a lamp and sits down at the desk. Scanning the press of ghastly faces around him, he sees they’re all here tonight: Jefferson and Rush and Franklin, plus his own namesake, John Murray. They wait impatiently for him to prepare his papers, to dip a pen in ink and shake it free of the excess. When he’s ready, they begin speaking, stopping occasionally to listen to other spirits that Spear can’t quite see, that he doesn’t yet have the skills to hear. These hidden spirits are far more ancient, and Spear intuits that they guide the Electricizers in the same way that the Electricizers guide him.

There aren’t that many magazines you can count on to be provocative and powerful from end to end most every time. Conjunctions is one of those. And you can subscribe for a year for $18 in the US. You will wish you had earlier, I can pretty much promise.

Uncategorized / 33 Comments
November 18th, 2009 / 4:24 pm

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