I read this chapbook on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, and now, as I write this review on Saturday, May 21, 2011, I'm still thinking about Oh No Everything...moreI read this chapbook on Wednesday, May 18, 2011, and now, as I write this review on Saturday, May 21, 2011, I'm still thinking about Oh No Everything Is Wet Now. Its two prolific authors, Ana C. and Richard Chiem, are young and more or less belong to the desensitized generation about which they write; not that they themselves are similarly bored or constricted to the sort of emotional wandering found within the characters in this chapbook, just that they know such characters well and can probably relate to them easily. That's quite a bit of assumption on my part, but it's how I think that Carrete and Chiem have managed to write so effectively and with so much development. A possibility, at least. And speaking of development, how the authors incorporate the ongoing phenomenon of Internet literature formatting into the novella is truly remarkable, for it makes Oh No Everything Is Wet Now that much more of a powerful and significant read.(less)
There is a lot to be said about these twelve stories, but in short, Look! Look! Feathers is an impressive first collection and Mike Young is a gifted...moreThere is a lot to be said about these twelve stories, but in short, Look! Look! Feathers is an impressive first collection and Mike Young is a gifted new storyteller. Young's narrative voice is like that of an entire community of unique personalities, each presenting its own history with a special hospitality and confidence that draws you in instantaneously and stays with you long after the tale has been told. Some stories are more interesting and vivacious than others, but they all possess an essence of great character that gives them their strength. Favorites of mine included "Burk's Nub," "Susan White and the Summer of the Game Show," "What The Fuck Is An Electrolyte?", and "Restart? Restore?"(less)
Now that that is out of the way, I must begin by stating that little else in life thrills and enthralls me in the way that an incredi...moreFirst off, I WON!
Now that that is out of the way, I must begin by stating that little else in life thrills and enthralls me in the way that an incredible book from a still new or undiscovered author does. As an aspiring writer, I tend to have those occasional moments of doubt, panic, and uncertainty that I am sure any wannabe author has. Despite what people may say about my work or what praise I may receive, I sometimes wonder whether or not I will be able to actually make anything of myself one day. After all, Creative Writing is such a competitive field. Folks such as Christy Leigh Stewart (as well as Megan Hansen) then come along at just the necessary moment, helping me to keep my chin up and reminding me that it is still possible for someone to capture the dream of reaching out to others with writing. All sentimental fluff aside (which seems so unfitting for this particular book), "Loath Letters" is thoroughly impressive, every single page of it. Stewart's short stories tell of the macabre, the absurd, the surreal, the disheartening, and the hilarious in distinctly tongue-in-cheek mannerisms, and her flash fiction packs pure adrenaline and emotion within the context of spacious, detached sentences along with a vividly depraved imagination. Think the fanzines of Harmony Korine plus the transgressive fictions of Anthony Burgess multiplied by the empty narratives of Anton Chekhov. Whether the tale is that of a woman who cannot accept the reality behind her deformity, or a teenager who has "a problem fitting in," or a father who is struggling to separate his past from his future, you will be left somehow inescapably affected by this anthology.
As a side note, it seems that people dog Christy Leigh Stewart for her sparse mistakes and typos throughout this book, but for now "Loath Letters" is self-published and we are all human beings. However, I honestly believe that if the author wills it to happen, this publication shall become an early draft of an authentically published masterwork. Until then, consider this edition the "Stephen Hero" to James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."(less)
Other than the story "Sasquatch" from his other collection Bed, this was my introduction to Tao Lin's short fiction and I really, really loved it. Eac...moreOther than the story "Sasquatch" from his other collection Bed, this was my introduction to Tao Lin's short fiction and I really, really loved it. Each story was either very funny or very sad, or it possessed a magnificent intertwining of severe funniness and severe sadness that I've never experienced from any other author before. Some favorites of mine included "Driveway," "Cancer," "Tapei, Taiwan," "Mistake," and "The Novelist."(less)
Russ Woods's work never disappoints; it always carries this dazzlingly precise visual aesthetic that is just fantastic. with swords is a vital piece o...moreRuss Woods's work never disappoints; it always carries this dazzlingly precise visual aesthetic that is just fantastic. with swords is a vital piece of Internet literature.(less)
Just as one of Stephen King's best short story collections encourages the reader to work the "Night Shift," this riveting anthology from Jeremy Robert...moreJust as one of Stephen King's best short story collections encourages the reader to work the "Night Shift," this riveting anthology from Jeremy Robert Johnson encourages the reader to enter the "Angel Dust Apocalypse." Reading this book does indeed have the feel of entering a newfound, blissful end of the world (or, more accurately, of the world as we know it). Johnson's writing clearly pulls influence from not only great horror authors such as King but also great satire authors such as Vonnegut, literary authors such as Wallace, and even occasionally, experimental authors such as Pynchon. With these influences in mind, however, Johnson also manages to clearly present a unique style of his own. Each of these 20 or so short stories, be it classified as bizarro in the context of a man's determination to shock the most residents of an already shocking world, or as tragedy in the context of an irrational phobia gradually consuming a life, or as slice-of-life in the context of a burdening brotherhood driven by spite and circumstance rather than love, is narrated with a conversational yet captivating voice that perfectly accompanies the hilarious, heartbreaking, or horrific plot.
The only short story collection I've read that seemed absolutely flawless to me has been James Joyce's "Dubliners," and literary fanatics ought to know the obvious reasons. "Angel Dust Apocalypse" comes very close though, for these stories range from surreal to unreal to ugly to beautiful, and everywhere in between, and regardless they are always gripping and powerful. They serve as proof that Jeremy Robert Johnson possesses an unparalleled talent for storytelling and deserves to have a great writing career ahead of him.(less)
There is a somehow hypnotic and projective quality about all of Harmony Korine's works. What is presented never ceases to be both stunningly beautiful...moreThere is a somehow hypnotic and projective quality about all of Harmony Korine's works. What is presented never ceases to be both stunningly beautiful and unbearably ugly simultaneously. "Gummo" is currently my overall favorite film for a nearly infinite number of reasons. One of these reasons is that every scene has the potential to be picked apart and/or pieced together literally and symbolically. Another reason is that the film succeeds radiantly at inventing and presenting a world that is both 100% realistic and entirely dreamlike. I had originally purchased this book mainly to read the original screenplay for "Gummo." I have found that the other two screenplays, "Jokes" and "julien donkey-boy" are nearly just as riveting. The transcript of "julien donkey-boy" that concludes the collection does not serve much justice to the film. (It is widely believed that the transcript was not even written by Korine.) Otherwise, this is a marvelous treasure for any fan or enemy of Korine's films. I do recommend watching the actual movies beforehand (sans "Jokes," which was never completed), but this is a must-read collection that helps to explore Harmony Korine's works further for all of his fans.(less)
I live in the Youngstown area, where the majority of Noah Cicero's fiction is set, and I never thought of myself as white trash until I read The Colle...moreI live in the Youngstown area, where the majority of Noah Cicero's fiction is set, and I never thought of myself as white trash until I read The Collected Works of Noah Cicero Vol. I.(less)
Thanks to the helpful maps and knowledgeable staff at the Marriott-Wardman Park Hotel in D.C., my first AWP experience ended up consisting of signific...moreThanks to the helpful maps and knowledgeable staff at the Marriott-Wardman Park Hotel in D.C., my first AWP experience ended up consisting of significantly fewer panels than I'd intended, but that's perfectly okay considering how many other wonderful things happened over the course of those three days in February. One panel that I did manage to make it to was the one on this nifty little anthology, "Hint Fiction: An anthology of stories in 25 words or fewer." It featured editor Robert Swartwood and contributors Michael Martone, Daniel A. Olivas, Randall Brown, and Roxane Gay, all of whom are geniuses and all of whom provided great insight on the topics of brevity, story, constriction, space--the list could go on for a while. During the Q&A session, I managed to articulate myself for once and ask the panelists something decent. You can read about it in Gay's review of Davis Schneiderman's "Blank: A Novel" on HTMLGIANT.
Anyway, to keep the rest of this "review" brief, I love this anthology for a multitude of reasons--how it pushes, how it creates tension, how it pivots some conceptions about writing and gives a second wind to others. In short, it is a miniature collection that walks taller in a few thousand words total than certain novels I've read can with a downright gargantuan word count.(less)
I enjoyed each and every piece of bizarro (non)fiction contributed to this anthology, and I now intend to explore the other works of these authors, bu...moreI enjoyed each and every piece of bizarro (non)fiction contributed to this anthology, and I now intend to explore the other works of these authors, but I will never read nor purchase anything from Bradley Sands ever as long as I live. After all, Bradley Sands is a dick.(less)
Toward the end of last month, I attended the 2011 APCA conference to give a presentation on asemic writing for a panel called "Co...more2011 Brief Review #4:
Toward the end of last month, I attended the 2011 APCA conference to give a presentation on asemic writing for a panel called "Collecting as Pedagogy," and during the Q&A session, the concept that asemic writing is in fact not synonymous with "wordless writing" was brought up. Later, I was chatting with asemic author Michael Jacobson about that same subject, and he said that, to him, the pwoermd is one of the best examples of totally semantic literature that nonetheless possesses asemic sensibilities. Now having read Geof Huth's ntst, I completely agree. Huth is the father of the pwoermd--the "word poem"--so it makes sense for him to have such an extensive history with writing them. It also makes sense that this collection, despite consisting of 775 pwoermds overall, is only a fraction of what Huth has produced. The man has been writing these swift, poignant, and vivacious little forms of poetic abstraction every single day for years upon years upon years. So of course there is plenty more to be read, but ntst is a great starting point if you have any interest in the literary medium that is the pwoermd. I would list some of my favorites, but checking out the online sampler provided by If P Then Q should be more than enough to give you a solid idea of Geof Huth is doing to redefine poetry.
Here is the first pwoermd that I myself ever wrote. It is a visual re-interpretation of a pwoermd by Satu Kaikkonen, which can no longer be found online since she chose to remove herself from the influence of the blogosphere.
Just when I begin to suspect that I have stumbled upon every author who is willing to experiment with the definition of literature or embrace language...moreJust when I begin to suspect that I have stumbled upon every author who is willing to experiment with the definition of literature or embrace language at its most elementary and beautiful or try to express something significant without any particular significance, I somehow come across (or in this case, I win) a book or a writer that puts that suspicion to rest. I do not know what happened to Mairéad Byrne's poetry blog (whatever did happen, I can't access it for the life of me without a computer crash), but I am so glad that she was able to preserve most of the work in this anthology. Byrne is not simply willing to tackle poetry in a refreshing avant manner--she is eager to. Each of her poems, be it found or fractal or wild or traditional, provokes the mind and appeals to the heart.
Since everyone else seems to be sharing a few of their favorites, I'll do just the same:
SHE IN THE BIOS OF 21 IRAQI POETS
published published Shelley
published published published published
published published published published published published published published published
published She She She published HASHEM published published published She published she published She published published published
A FRENCH SECRET
Caught. Cooked onshore. Eaten.
Better than a William Carlos Williams poem.
nice white kids clean up green margins in black neighborhoods
saturday morning on chalkstone yellow bus grimy already black
children's faces staring through windows like moons,
sponges, eager to soak up a joy barely there—
cherry blossoms for a week in spring gold drenchings of leaves— flames—in October
always the incandescent sky whose color cannot be named
on the bridges, overpasses republicans & democrats— scraps—
peer through the wire holding up paper signs— every 10th car honks
maybe & every once in a while the long rolling trumpet of a truck
Tim Gaze once commented during an interview, "I believe that it’s possible to create rich pieces, which work on a number of levels, without using word...moreTim Gaze once commented during an interview, "I believe that it’s possible to create rich pieces, which work on a number of levels, without using words. Sometimes, they look like illegible writing; other times, they’re abstract, unidentifiable shapes. Or combinations of those two, with recognizable things." He went on in much deeper detail to attempt to explain the correlation between asemic writing and etymological fallacy, the value of lettrism, and the politics of moving beyond the English language or the Roman alphabet. Gaze does indeed seem to be the godfather of asemic writing, and rightfully so. As an author/artist/creative entity, he tries his very damnedest to unleash the cultures of asemic writing and visual poetry further into the literary world. With this particular zine, bluntly titled "Asemia," Gaze works with a number of other writers from the scene in an ultimate attempt to display this still new and still undiscovered realm of literature for those interested or unaware.
The publication begins with a very free, unorganized flow of ink blotches, xenoglyphs, and alphabets from all of the different contributors. Unfortunately though, each author seems to only present a new style or piece of asemic writing/visual poetry on rare occasions, resulting in the bulk of "Asemia" being overrun with the same scraggly patterns or the same francophone hieroglyphics. Despite its title and concept which so straightforwardly intend for the whole collection to work as the introduction to asemic writing, "Asemia" is imperfect against its primary purpose, especially in comparison to the works of Rosaire Appel or Michael Jacobson or even Gaze himself that are explosive and dynamic from every page to the next.
However, Jim Leftwich does conclude this anthology very well with a prose-poem that perfectly puts the concept of asemia into words: "an asemic glyph is everything other than a return to the thing recalled, thus its campanulate kinship with the syllable, its stylistic refusal of the word, even as the letters revolt, serfs wielding their serifs like swords words worlds collapse into their opacity, unless we chance to sing them in defiance of azoic intent. asemia is not silence, nor is it any sort of absence, it is a song imploded everted, imbricate membrance."(less)
"The book is called, 'A Crackup at the Race Riots.' Harmony Korine wrote it, although he can't really recommend it." -- David Letterman
To me, there is...more"The book is called, 'A Crackup at the Race Riots.' Harmony Korine wrote it, although he can't really recommend it." -- David Letterman
To me, there is something majestically and inarguably captivating about this first novel from the so-called "enfant terrible" of dramatic independent film. Its synopsis states clearly that no plot, linear narrative, character development, or scene setting exists. Everything is somehow connected though, as each and every page investigates and/or muses upon the fractured leftovers of everywhere and everyone on this planet. Korine perfectly presents "a novel setting about the bastard wisher" with a pure, refined combination of pulchritude and putridity. Throughout his entire career, Harmony Korine has managed to turn the beautiful and the ugly into each other simultaneously, thus, allowing those who willingly acknowledge his work to possibly find some sort of new meaning within life. I personally believe that pages 6 and 175 serve as bookends that connect and complete all that lies between them. T.S. Eliot's words accidentally anthropologically endorse Korine both as a novelist and as a person. The paragraph of text that ends the book serves a very similar purpose. Most people have deemed "A Crackup at the Race Riots" as a literary companion piece to "Gummo," but moreover, this novel is actually a companion piece to everything that Harmony Korine has created (or destroyed).
My only possible complaint would be that the book may end up being read with lightning-speed by any diehard fan of the author. Otherwise, "A Crackup at the Race Riots" is an essential collection for those who either appreciate or despise how Korine has developed an ultimate portrait of omnipresence.(less)
Tim Gaze is a strange fellow indeed. He can be found on the Internet intoxicating himself in order to follow psuedo-asemic-pioneer Henri Michaux's wor...moreTim Gaze is a strange fellow indeed. He can be found on the Internet intoxicating himself in order to follow psuedo-asemic-pioneer Henri Michaux's words to the fullest extent and presenting early Brazilian visual poetry to a soundtrack of industrial noise music. Regardless (or possibly because) of Gaze's eccentricity, his collection entitled "Noology" is a truly ideal and dreamlike introduction to the majesty of asemic writing. Certain pages of the book appear as if Gaze had intended to create a different asemic piece, but (un)fortunately spilled water onto the canvas before attempting to wipe the mess away with a dishrag. Some pages resemble these achieved pieces without any accidents, aside from being melted Videodrome-style. Some consist of variations on the traditional scribble method of asemic writing or bear similarity to windowpanes and piles of photographs. Other pages, however, deliver completely fresh visuals, all of which are highly provocative, creative, and introspective.
"Noology" promises to offer not only asemic writing but also glitch poetry and visual noise, and much of the publication is in fact poetic in malfunctioning fragments as well as strongly emotional in the otherworldly manner of noise music which only I and however many other people on this planet seem to understand. Gaze has not released the most linear collection of asemic writing, so if dynamicism is not for you, then you may look elsewhere. Actually, if dynamicism is not for you, then you may look elsewhere from asemic writing in general, as it is a rather particularly expressive literary revelation.(less)
Few musical groups have very notably intertwined their music with literature; Jonathan Ford's instrumental band known as Unwed Sailor has achieved suc...moreFew musical groups have very notably intertwined their music with literature; Jonathan Ford's instrumental band known as Unwed Sailor has achieved such a connection to the point of it being a true triumph of both arts. I purchased this crisp leather-bound book at an Unwed Sailor concert in Cleveland, Ohio. Though I had missed the band's performance, I luckily didn't miss an opportunity to purchase "The Marionette and the Music Box" from Ford himself. After having him autograph my copy, I enjoyed the remainder of the atmosphere and the night, all the while eager to head home, examine the titled paintings within the book, and listen to the attached CD at the end of the binding.
Never have I felt a story to be so well constructed, as a literary work of its own and with the accompaniment of a marvelous soundtrack. Jonathan Ford, Nic Tse, and Unwed Sailor's other orchestral members have collectively fused two inarguably and obviously powerful arts together. The power of "The Marionette and the Music Box" is not at all obvious though. The story must be naturalized into the reader/listener's five senses like a fine, aged wine. It is a mystical, inventive, and ardent book/album that ought not to be forgotten.(less)
Jordan Castro and Mallory Whitten's CUTE is a true example of brilliant poetry, combining the warmth and naiveté of children's books with the bleaknes...moreJordan Castro and Mallory Whitten's CUTE is a true example of brilliant poetry, combining the warmth and naiveté of children's books with the bleakness and uncertainty of existentialist literature. The many anthropomorphic animals observed throughout these poems are cute and cuddly as much as they are nihilistic and confused.(less)