Friday, January 11, 2019

188. Notes made yesterday } & today.

[ image: scan of first poem in Poetry, November 2018 issue (Lucia Perillo, "Say This") with cross-outs ]

Brookline Booksmith 7:04pm packed house. Maybe two people of color in audience for Teju Cole / Elisa Gabbert conversation.

Elisa reads “Variations on Crying.”

Gone With the Wind made Elisa weep; controversy re. Vanessa Place retweeting Gone With the Wind line x line

“When I was 26, I got 13 stitches in my chin after fainting toward a French door and breaking a pane of glass with my face.” Twenty-six? More than a decade ago? I shot footage of those French doors on my Motorola RAZR.

T. Cole offers “a special shout out to the nonwhite people in the audience.” He claims he’s the reason they’re at the reading; E. Gabbert says, “I brought you.”

T. Cole reads his anthology ocliché observations.

Elisa reads “one more”—“We’ve never owned property, and our families aren’t in a position to contribute to a down payment.”

Mentions her friend Katie, crushed by a gallery wall, in both essays. The power of this anecdote. Richard Serra.

T. Cole talks. Doesn't lead a discussion or engender conversation. Elisa listens. T. Cole asks of the audience if anyone is happier than they were ten years ago. Four women respond. He categorizes each response. He is pleased women commented because, he says, it’s usually men who comment. He interrupts Elisa. He decides to read another essay from his book during q & a. He tells anecdote about losing keys and worrying that he’ll end up in the news like Henry Louise Gates. He asks, “How is everybody feeling? Uncomfortable?” Yeswhen will you give Elisa an opportunity to speak uninterrupted?

She answers a question about the lack of an index in The Word Pretty. Is frank about it—there was a rush to get the book done. She's asked about craft. Her answers are concise and honest.

Outside Booksmith, police cruiser, lights flashing. Blue.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

186. Can an audience } be wrong?

Saturday evening [6:30pm – 9, Dec. 1st] I read with [ — ] as part of the Arcade Asylum Author Series. I don’t know much about my co-readers. Larissa Glasser sings with Hekseri (a black metal outfit) (I’m listening to Microstoria Init Ding); Barry Lee Dejasu writes about horror movie soundtracks and reviews books, or did (I can’t tell); and Julie C. Day’s first collection, just out, is Uncommon Miracles (from PS). And Clint Smith.

Not Clint Smith the poet whose “the drone” was published in the October issue of Poetry. I don’t like Smith’s poem “the drone.” Here’s the passage that first put me off: “the drone could have been something other than a killing machine || the drone could have been a house || the drone could have been a spoon || the drone could have been a swing” I get it. Replace “drone” with “cannonball.” Or reconsider what drone could be as a drone. Or don’t list three things that are meant to be—what? Good? Is a house good?

Smith’s “the drone” never grows up. It’s just drone = man-made bad that kills. It fails to consider drone as machine than can be used for a variety of purposes. Consider the drone footage at Standing Rock:
But some of the clearest and most impactful footage offered a literally new perspective. Myron Dewey, a journalist and founder of the indigenous media platform Digital Smoke Signals, was capturing the scene from above with his drone and sharing it on Facebook Live. The footage, which clearly showed torrents of water falling down on protesters, now has over a million views on Facebook and was used to challenge statements by law enforcement suggesting the water cannons were primarily used to put out fires. [from Witness Media Lab]
I digress. The Clint Smith I’m reading with on Dec. 1st writes horror stories. His second collection The Skeleton Melodies is due soon. He reached out to me after I praised his story “Fiending Apophenia.”

Why not come hear us read? It’s free and there’s a bar/coffee joint nearby. I’ll be there for the whole event. Readers’ books will be there too. The series is put together by Farah Rose for the Lovecraft Arts & Sciences bookshop.

Yes, by the way.

[ image from Tales from the Darkside episode "Seasons of Belief" (1986) ]

Saturday, November 3, 2018

185. Weaving a great cloth } a crimson cloak.

Read Tatiana Dubin’s “fictionalized essay”—i.e. hybrid non/fiction published by new New York journal Xeno.

The journal looks good. Dubin’s essay, “I Am a Daughter of the Hebrews, but I Am Fleeing from Them” is great—it maps Judith, the Hebrew beheadress of Holofernes, to Beth Berenson, an Israeli pageant winner who runs away. It’s about weaponized beauty and ordinary cruelty. Holofernes’ head on a platter. Or in a sack. Served with bitters.

[ image: bust of Helen of Troy by Antonio Canova (replica), circa 1812. ]

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

184. Addendum to } “from the heads talk.”

Gorgon Medusa’s severed head makes a winged horse, stone men, coral, a golden boy with a golden sword, mountains, and Libya’s snakes. Her head defends Minerva.

A lock of her hair "would put the enemy to flight." 

From F. Marion Crawford’s “The Screaming Skull”:
That’s a good fire, isn’t it? When driftwood gets started at last there’s nothing like it, I think. Yes, we get lots of it, for I’m sorry to say there are still a great many wrecks about here. It’s a lonely coast, and you may have all the wood you want for the trouble of bringing it in. Trehearn [the sexton] and I borrow a cart now and then, and load it between here and the Spit. I hate a coal fire when I can get wood of any sort A log is company, even if it’s only a piece of a deck beam or timber sawn off, and the salt in it makes pretty sparks. See how they fly, like Japanese hand-fireworks!
Comforted by fires made from shipwrecks—Captain Braddock knows what it means to burn a salt-encrusted deck-beam, just as he knows whose skull it is that screams, though he pretends not to— “You think you would like to see the skull? I’ve no objection. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have a look at it, and you never saw a more perfect one in your life….”

Cole Swenson writes,
… For a while my footsteps are the only sound I hear until I pick up something going on somewhere up ahead. The noise grows louder, and soon is clearly a party in full swing, clearly coming from a building down the block, which I soon pass and notice that, despite all the noise, every window is dark.
from “A Walk on June 21” in On Walking On

reminds me of the “Paris Macabre” Lights Out! episode: two Americans attend what they think is an “artist’s ball”; outside, the house where the party is supposed to be is dark, inside… it’s a masquerade. “Will you get a load of the screwy masks they’re wearing?” “They may be masked, but fella, I know honeys when I see them.” They dance to organ music— “I never saw a dance like that… they sort of glide.” It’s not an artist’s ball. “Don’t be a lily. What’s there to be scared about?” They wonder if it’s “a clip joint”—and it is, of a sort. The dancers all are victims of the Revolution who hope one day to be liberated. “One hope, a hope that one of you will blunder among them, and give one of them deliverance.”

A trade.

[ read: "Excerpts from the 'Head' Talk" at The Plutonian. ]

Thursday, October 11, 2018

182. of the Best } of the Best of the.

An anonymous Publisher’s Weekly reviewer writes “[Ellen] Datlow’s 10th-anniversary volume of horror shorts [The Best of the Best Horror of the Year ] is a stunning and flawless collection” and that it’s “nothing short of exceptional.”

It’s unlikely PW’s reviewer read the whole book. But I have, and there are good stories in it: “The Nimble Men” by Glen Hirshberg, “Shepherd’s Business” by Stephen Gallagher, “At the Riding School” by Cody Goodfellow, “Grave Goods” by Gemma Files, "The Ballad of Ballard and Sandrine" by Peter Straub, “The Days of Our Lives” by Adam L. G. Nevill, and “Nesters” by Siobhan Carroll.

Files’ “Grave Goods” and Carroll’s “Nesters” were both written for Lovecraft-themed anthologies. “Nesters” is lovely—it’s all about two images juxtaposed: the dust bowl and the Garden. “Grave Goods”—on Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug First Nation land a transgender African American and an indigenous woman angrily argue identity politics while excavating the grave of an unknown species of hominid. It strikes me as problematic to posit one of Lovecraft’s racist creations from Innsmouth as the actual indigenous peoples of North America. It’s a compelling story. I’ll leave it at that.

I haven’t read a Best of since the first volume, published in 2009. All the stories—except for my own (“The Man from the Peak”) and E. Michael Lewis’ (“Cargo”)—are thus new to me. As are most of the authors. I’d be curious to know what folks familiar with the series think of the selections. I don’t mean to second-guess Datlow—she chose her favorites.

I'm often surprised by what people like and don't like. My favorites from vol. 1 are “The Clay Party” by Steve Duffy, “Loup-garou” by R. B. Russell, “Beach Head” by Daniel LeMoal, and “The Narrrows” by Simon Bestwick. I’m trying hard not to be too pleased that my story was included in place of any of those superior tales.