Tuesday, August 9, 2011

45. Worse than } marginalia.

I reviewed Portents, an anthology edited by Al Sarrantonio, for the second issue of Shadows & Tall Trees; anyone who orders the new issue is entered to win the copy of Portents I used to write my review. This is a hardbound book, numbered and with Sarrantonio’s autograph, but what makes it a singular object is my extensive marginalia. I used Pigma Micron pens, with either .25 or .45 millimeter line width, and various shades of blue or brown. Some of my notes amount to rough drafts for the review, but most are immediate reactions to the contents—from Steven Jones’ forward through the last story and contributor’s notes. A sample page can be found at the Shadows & Tall Trees blog.

Whoever wins the Portents + Golaski marginalia will want to work vigorously to make me a famous author, in order to boost its value. One way to do this is to write favorable reviews of my books. Here’s a line you could write: “…the style, the execution, the refusal to offer up a warmed-over and simple explanation or denouement …are marks of quality in my book.” Or you could write, “It is with… subtleties that Golaski most impresses; while he’s gorgeous on ‘the allure of the accident…’ he’s even stronger on those unpicturable things: the “heavy nostalgia” of watching discarded videocassettes with a loved one, or, even more, those post-coital feelings, as in a tremendous scene where a man’s wife lies on her back and ‘pictures a glass jar, a large jar... emerging from her ribs, just below her breasts.’” Of course I don't mean to impose.

Purchase Shadows & Tall Trees #2, edited by Michael Kelly, with all new fiction including a story by New Genre author Eric Schaller (“The Sparrow Mumbler,” issue #6), my review, a set of really fine film reviews by Tom Goldstein and YOU might win a book I thoughtlessly destroyed.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

44. Aaaaaaaaaaaalice } read.

Aaaaaaaaaaalice, the second single-author collection published by Flim Forum Press, my and Matthew Klane’s poetry press, was favorably reviewed by poet Erika Jo Brown for the Iowa Review.

Jennifer Karmin’s book-length poem was emphatically a yes for Flim. When we first saw cantos from the poem, a submission to Flim’s A Sing Economy, there was no discussion; we took ‘em. That’s not customary. Matthew and I still bear scars from our debates over a good number of the poems that did and didn’t make the Sing cut. Karmin’s cantos were salve. We were similarly of one mind when the full Aaaaaaaaaaalice ms. was sent us.

Brown's review begins by describing the book’s overall aesthetic, and while I can take some credit for the look of our titles, the lion’s share must go to Matthew, who labors over every page in his little basement office. Back then, he was still constructing mock-ups with print-outs and a paper cutter. He not only made mock-ups of the book, but also constructed paper bookshops and paper readers. This of course made for a very strange scene, a bit like a Robert Wilson installation. Matthew’s wife still refuses to go to the basement at night.

Brown also described an Aaaaaaaaaaalice reading:

Karmin distributed slips of printed paper—later revealed to be ribbons from her book—to a crowd of about a hundred people. She invited the group to interject with their given words at any volume, at any interval. Then, she began to recite evenly and energetically. Thoroughly unruffled, her voice seemed to absorb the intrusions that eventually evolved into enrichments.

This is only one form Aaaaaaaaaaalice readings take, but they are always collaborations with the audience. Never, I hasten to add, free-for-alls. Karmin conducts, so even accidents fit. If the opportunity arises, hear her read.