Franz Wright has passed…just fuck. The reason I ever cared about poetry. ‘Entry In An Unknown Hand’ made me a poet. I’ll be in David Dodd Lee‘s debt forever for teaching Franz’s work. I was lucky enough to correspond with him occasionally over the past few years and he was always genuine, generous with his advice and time to a nobody writer like me.
Time, to be honest,
so much like crying
when the last hour comes,
inconsolable in its own silence.
So off with the boneclothes
surrounding the heart
with all its sickness.
Waiting for winds laden
with unpublished landscapes.
Bloom, bloom with running
and ineffable dresses,
other bones and other hearts
stacked broad with minutes
that were so honestly lost
behind, unheard when clattered.
Oceanfront winds and flotsam
dying to be eternal.
Just a quick post to give whatever minor signal boost I can about this stunning chapbook. I had the pleasure of hearing Kristen Eliason read pieces from this series a few years ago at Notre Dame where she was the 2008 Sparks Fellowship winner. She’s a powerful reader and the poems are complete knockouts. It made me so happy to finally see them in print, and this chapbook from Dancing Girl Press is more than worth your dollars. Somber, quiet, introspective, heartbreaking, and very funny.
‘Yours,’ is available HERE
It’s about that time again, isn’t it? We’re all just about ready to shrug into an awkwardly fitting new year, and all of the LISTICLES are flowering. Here then are my top 5 reads of this past year; note, these aren’t necessarily books that came out this year.
1) The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
2) The Martian, by Andy Weir
3) The Peripheral, by William Gibson
4) Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami
5) Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
Honorable Mentions: In the Dust of This Planet, by Eugene Thacker, and Gun Machine by Warren Ellis
“…All will be
forgotten, everything you perceived, thought,
dreamed, hoped, remembered . . . all the past
all the crawling fucking coughing chestpounding
nose-picking and deathward attempts
to make real some desperate desire, like
standing upright for a minute in the sun. The
sun that will die.
Let’s say that five a.m. arrives and finds you fully dressed in
the clock set for six.
It’s bad, no question about it, and yet.”
“Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no “sacred and primordial site.” I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then “melt into air.” I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.”
Came across this man’s work today at random and have been utterly obsessed with it. I have to imagine William Gibson has been inspired in some part this aesthetic — it screams the interstitial constructions and communities that are a large recurring theme in his books (chiefly, ‘The Bridge’ of The Bridge Trilogy comes to mind). Woods spoke about needing a way to see architecture in chaos, in the throws of climactic events… some deep part of my brain is trying to tie this in with all of the bleak, gorgeous brain-scrambling Warren Ellis has been doing of late over at MORNING, COMPUTER.
Also, there’s Gibson’s newest, ‘The Peripheral’, finally out…I’m reading it at a strangely slow pace, partially because this is how I read my favorite writers, typically, and Gibson always. Partially it’s the structure of the book — it has absolutely zero ‘fat’ to it, it’s completely lean. It’s sparse in a literal sense but so immensely dense that you have to digest it slowly. He has more or less removed any kind of exposition at all, an ultimate gesture of ‘show don’t tell’. Description and dialogue, mood and character. The sci-fi markers and associated language of slang and other misc. signifiers are set before the reader, demanding to be made sense of. I remember way back in HS when I tried to get a friend into Neuromancer and he couldn’t get through 50 pages, saying it was just too hard to understand. Neuromancer practically spoon-fed you by comparison. I think some of this has to do with the fact that Gibson knows he has the sort of rare cachet with his readers, he knows that they’ll not only do the work but will love to do it. It’s ambitious, period, and possibly only something that could’ve been done with the confidence that comes with having done something well for a long time and been recognized.
There’ll certainly be a lot more to connect these two current obsessions after I finally finish the book, but they keep screaming to each other across the nether regions of my brain. Both of the futures in The Peripheral are fractured, cascading, held together by grand walls of customized minutiae and thin black cables.
‘Bird Box’, by Josh Malerman — 4
‘Asylum’, by Madeline Roux — 3.5
‘The Martian’, by Andy Weir — 5 !!!
‘Friendship’, by Emily Gould — 3.5
‘Gun Machine’, by Warren Ellis — 4
‘Virtual Light’, by William Gibson (reread) — 5
‘Pattern Recognition’, by William Gibson (reread) — 5
‘Ready Player One’, by Ernest Cline — 4.5
True Detective (season 1) — 5 !!!
Masters of Sex (season 2) — 4
House of Wax — 3
Mama — 3.5
Not much to note; have been getting some good reading in. Cannot overstate how good ‘The Martian’ is, better than all the hype had even lead me to believe it would be. So incredibly smart, funny, and well paced. Ready Player One was as well, a book I wish I had gotten around to reading sooner. Warren Ellis’ latest was everything I hoped for — the man simply doesn’t know how to put bad writing out into the world. He’s just so damn funny, in the blackest way possible, and simply knows how to write a good story. I was building my altar to him after ‘Transmetropolitan’ back when I was 17, and he’s never once disappointed me since. There’s something incredibly earnest about how he approaches writing and his readers, he’s simply harsh enough on himself that he’ll never let a piece of shit out and tell you it’s worth your time. If he puts his name on it, you’re going to get him at his best.
Reread a bit of Gibson as sort of an old ritual, as he has his latest coming out later this month. I don’t really mark my calendar for any writer except Murakami and Gibson. Everyone is I love is insanely great, but those two are floating in their own universe, and getting new novels from both of them this year feels like winning the lottery to me. Was thinking of rereading the entire ‘Blue Ant’ trilogy, but I’d really like to clear off some other pressing to-reads, as after finishing Gibson’s new ‘The Peripheral’ I plan to very seriously set aside most if not all of my reading to focus on writing again. I’ve had a couple ideas really eating away at my skull the last few years. Not sure which I’m really feeling right now, but I’m starting to lean a bit, having begun spending my time (via catching up on Ellis’ newest comics work) with comics again. We’ll see.
Stopped very early in the ‘Under 40’ alt-lit anthology just because…I don’t know. I feel the ‘alt lit’ ‘thing’ here and there, it never seems to quite sustain for long. Then I caught the slightest whiffs of all the mega cluster-fuckery going around Tao Lin ant HTML giant and everything and I just didn’t feel like it. There’s great writing in this anthology and I plan to come back to it down the road, it’s just not ringing my bells right now.
I’m working through Yerra Sugarman’s ‘The Bag of Broken Glass’, but I only read it in the late hours when I feel most focused, and it’s easily the most emotionally charged poetry I’ve read in a very, very long time, maybe ever. It’s a truly heartbreaking collection and I just can’t read it quickly, so it’ll take a bit.
I don’t know what to say about True Detective (season 1). Like Breaking Bad, I was sure it was good and had heard enough about it from people whose taste I trust that I knew it’d be good, but I had no idea it’d be the truly dark and strange and perfect beast that it is. Whatever big awards it pulls in (especially MM) it absolutely deserves without reservation. It took me to places I hadn’t felt since maybe Twin Peaks. I think it may have shot it’s own load though, I don’t know if any further seasons will ever match the voodoo that season 1 did, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. Easily, easily the best writing / acting / direction of any TV show since Breaking Bad, hands down, no contest.