5 Points: Negative Spaces

negative spaces

Negative Spaces by Nate Liederbach (elik press, salt lake city, 2014)

1) Besides the negatives spaces of time, sex, burial, vague gender and religious horror-what binds the three “stories” of Negative Spaces is the rich and thrusting prose, constantly churning, that made me think, variously, of McCarthy, Thom Jones and Faulkner.

On a language level, of course, but something also about the feel and swirling perspectives/impressions in Negative Spaces’ first piece, “Genghis’ Knoll“, made me think, many times of the blurrings, incest, etc, of The Sound & The Fury.

2)Liederbach has, most obviously in the collection’s 3rd and closing piece, used Tim O’Brien as a kind of model (“Is there any waste of time greater than retrospection?”). But it’s like Tim O’Brien, as a child, had been kicked in the head, repeatedly, and then became and grew up increasingly more and more brain interesting. Liederbach is, for sure, far more complicated, mud-splashed, textured, wily and rambunctious than O’Brien. And I mean both with respect to language and story-telling structure.


But good old Hahn, front-and-center, calms the fracas. She declares Neil’s on the money. “Amen! Mr. Neil, release the tenuously tenored woman long-swallowed by that punitive girl. Butterfly bursts its cocoon. Aphrodite squirms loose of dissected genitals. Or is it to conquer, to cannibalize? Artemis, Hippolytus staying chaste? Eve snatches the Knobbed Russet, fists it out on display for Adam—choiceless chump—to indulge her fruity proxy with brand-new front fangs of youcharist. Amen! A sudden understanding of binary and binary collapsed. Me, man. You, woman. Adult versus child. Whoa Nelly . . . ‘Pop the cherry, release the scary.’”

(from the middle story “Across from The Fish Station“)

4) The motherly horror of inherited and imposed religion in “The Long Tunnel,” Negative Spaces’ 3rd and longest story, is conflated with horror movie monstrosity. Ants radioactive and giant—“the beasts’ singular goal is reproduction, domination, blind ambition”—roaming about on the “altered earth.” The same earth where castration (the neutering of a protector, and maybe a lover, an inseminator) brings on collapse—the entire family, hanging, in limbo, waiting to take “the plunge to rural Colorado to wait for the rapture.”

5) And, so, this horror, damage and radioactivity lingers in the prose and mind decades later and is responsible for the beautiful mutant glowings, fuzziness, and growths (in and out, simultaneously) that are the unsettling achievements of Negative Spaces.

And, yet, almost miraculously, there is in the dusk of the book a kind of loosening, opening, quietening. A soft and fulfilling, merciful sort of Deliverance enacted, quite respectfully, through an old and many-versioned Japanese myth where kindness and magic turn to glowing dust.


nate jumping


you can order Negative Space’s from Amazon, here,

or from Ken Sanders Rare Books

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One Comment

  1. Melissa

      rich and thrusting mud splashed youcharist, neutering. horror, damage.