Reading

permafrost

I’ve started Many Subtle Channels by Daniel Levin Becker, as well as The Recognitions by William Gaddis.

Becker’s book is thoroughly charming so far, as any book concerning Oulipo should be. The Recognitions is funnier than expected. My previous experience with extremely long books is limited to 2666 and The Man Without Qualities. They’re both incredible books, but they haven’t made me laugh out loud as much as Gaddis’s book. I’m also fascinated by expressions of faith that fall outside the norm, and the book has those in spades.

I read M. Kitchell’s Variations on the Sun, from Love Symbol Press. Some thoughts on that after the jump.

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Reading

Read Best American Short Stories 2012, New York Tyrant 4.1, and Christine Schutt’s Florida.

BASS 2012 has some great pieces in it — Tom Perotta, this years editor, seemed to want to strike a balance between traditional and experimental pieces, but the whole thing still felt a little safe. Some standouts: Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank,” Roxane Gay’s “North Country,” Mike Meginnis’s “Navigators.” However, pieces like Lawrence Osbourne’s “Volcano,” and an unusually weak story from Stephen Millhauser made it more of a mixed bag.

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GODDAMN TUBA

1.

Elimae is an online literary journal founded in 1996 by Deron Bauman. In 2005 Cooper Renner took over editing and design. Kim Chinquee joined him from January to October 2010, followed by Brandon Hobson from November 2010 onward.

A few days ago Cooper Renner and Brandon Hobson announced that the forthcoming November issue would be the last.

Let’s go back a second. Elimae was founded in 1996. 1996. At that point the concept of legitimate fiction published online was mostly dismissed. Bauman saw potential in the medium though — he put out work from established writers like Gordon Lish and Diane Williams, as well as writers whose work would grow in stature over the following years (Brian Evenson, Gary Lutz).

Renner, Chinquee, and Hobson have continued that work through to the present day. The fiction is often short and sentence oriented. It is work that is meant for the internet. The design is minimal but sleek, focused on the text presented.

2.

Here, some highlights:

David Ohle – Der Kroetenkusser
Marc Peacock Brush – Congratulations! It’s a Superpower
Elizabeth Ellen – Two Fictions
Blake Butler – Gift (bonus interview by Michael Kimball)
Matthew Salesses – Two Fictions
Sarah Rose Etter – Cures
Sara Levine – Two Fictions
Lincoln Michel – A Note on the Type

And many more. Renner and Hobson have expressed some uncertainty about the continuing existence of the archives, so, you know, get on it.

3.

Elimae has published two pieces of mine this past year. They’ve run an incredibly tight ship, and usually respond to submissions in less than a week (less than a week!). The second piece, “The Fox and the Choir,” is an excerpt from a longer work that I was finishing when I submitted it. It gave me some much needed reassurance that I was on the right track.

The journal will be missed, and I wish the best for all involved.

Reading

I’m conflicted by Michel Houellebecq’s “The Possibility of an Island” and I’ll try and work that out after the jump.

Read the first two books in “The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel.” Really wonderful, minimalist prose. She doesn’t bend language quite as far as Christine Schutt, but she has more of an emphasis on point of view and some well executed metafiction elements in there.

My wife finished “A Queer and Pleasant Danger,” a transgendered ex-scientology memoir, and the story was too interesting not to read. The author, Kate Bornstein, does a fine job in laying out their narrative — it’s mostly told in a linear fashion, with just a few flashbacks and forwards to fill in the blanks. However, the post-scientology section of the book felt more like a whole book in itself. The level of detail dropped and there were fewer full scenes and more explanation. It may have also worked to structure the book into only two sections (pre and post scientology), but given the number of transitions ze goes through in the book, that may have rung false. A binary structure probably wouldn’t suit this book.

Finished the first book in Vladimir Sorokin’s “Ice Trilogy.” Beautiful, but cryptic. Felt like if I knew more about Russian history more of it would have made sense. Still, expert use of voice and repetition.

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Reading

Read China Mieville’s Embassytown. Good beginning and ending, felt like it lost its way in the middle.

Started Best European Short Stories 2012. Thoroughly enjoyed Zsofia Ban‘s When There Were Only Animals — it’s the highlight of the collection so far. I’m worried that, like the 2010 edition, it’ll be too focused on traditional narrative, but we’ll see. Zsofia’s story gives me hope.

Read parts of Cyclonopedia and Zone. Both excellent, slow books.

I keep coming back to Mary Stone’s story We Will Plan Big Things in kill author 15. It refuses to exit my brain; I refuse to shut up about it.