Though it is a monster of a book, in size in mind, I found I could not stop reading it once I started, blasting through all 616 pages in 4-5 days of continuous reading. Among its many forms and voices, it contains one of the most vivid scenes I think I’ve ever read: simply consisting of one of the main characters eating at a Mexican restaurant by himself, getting more and more drunk, and eating among a kind of mental fury, almost as if over the other pages of the book encasing him. It is truly a definition of how words can capture moments in a way no other art form is equipped for.
LA MEDUSA, I think, is a book of appetites, and cataloguing. There is something post-Beat in it in that way: lists (a list of strange barbies, a list of synonyms for vagina, though worked into the narrative thread somehow, a kind of shapeshifting that continually occurs in midst of the reading without managing to interrupt), and hyper consciousnesses, and combining the high with the low in these really rhythmic and syllabic and smart sentences. LA MEDUSA reminds me a lot of Lynne Tillman’s AMERICAN GENIUS, which is another of my all time recent favorites.
Anyhow, in the wake of my admiration, I spoke to Vanessa some about the ideas in the book, and her creative process, including ekphrasis, managing many voices, and craft.
Vanessa is also the author of DIES: A Sentence, which is literally a 50k+ word sentence, out from Les Figues Press (and is also a massive presence for innovative lit), which she co-directs. Her nonfiction book about sex-offenders and the morality of guilt will be published in 2008 by Other Press.
Do yourself a favor and check out her work: it is incomparable.
Interview after the jump.
There are three new titles just out from FC2 for summer: LA MEDUSA by Vanessa Place, LEDFEATHER by Stephen Graham Jones, and THE BRUISE by Magdalena Zurawski, all of which look incredible and make me want to order order order.
I really like when FC2 updates their new books as they always supply lots of info to troll around in. Each title has excerpts from the book, info on the the author, press, and so on. It seems pretty easy to get an idea of what the books are like and whether you will want them, and I usually do. You can also always dig around in their excellent archives for same sorts of info on all the great books they’ve done over the years.
They are also still accepting subs for this year’s Ronald Sukenik Innovative Fiction prize throughout the end of the month.