Pop Quiz: This Last Time Will Be the First

10 Jun

Answer the following for Jeff Alessandrelli’s This Last Time Will Be the First.

Which is NOT a statement by Alessandrelli in the book?

  • “Always burn the sheets after you fuck in them”
  • “Don’t bob for apples in gasoline”
  • “Dressing in clothes that don’t fit properly is one way to refuse the future”

The best metaphor for Jeff Alessandrelli’s This Last Time Will Be the First is:

  • “You” as your own imaginary friend
  • Not a picture, but rather a series of endless frames
  • Marginalia of an erased text

Who is NOT a person referenced by Alessandrelli in the book?

  • Erik Satie
  • Harryette Mullen
  • John DeLorean

When reading Alessandrelli’s book, it’s most important to ask:

  • How will one ever learn the years are a test?
  • Is there anything impossible to whistle?
  • What is so wrong about playing the flute?

The best way to understand Jeff Alessandrelli’s This Last Time Will Be the Frist is encapsulated by which statement?

  • The world is just a box full of people
  • The voice is not what is discloses
  • Poems are postcards to a continually receding “you”

Review: Normally Special by xTx

5 May

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The phrase “big things come in small packages,” is normally cliché, but it’s completely true when it comes to Normally Special by xTx. Her collection of flash fiction fits snugly into any back pocket, but carries the weight of a ten-ton anvil. The pieces cover a broad range of topics; father/daughter relationships, standard relationships, abuse/neglect, regret, and stalkers. The writing and content doesn’t allow you to put the book down. I was in awe and instantly fell in love.

xTx’s writing style is simple but breathtaking. She pours herself every word to get that fire between the lines. Every sentence breaks you down and leaves you begging for more. xTx has the ability to lead the reader to the edge of something resembling an emotional epiphany and turns them away, but at the last second the dagger comes out and gets you. That’s especially how I felt when I read “Father’s Day”:

“He’d always be the opposite of melted and I’d never felt like a princess. Even when he’d call me princess soft and soft, then louder and louder as if he were trying to make it true.”

Those two lines forced me to set the book down and stop everything for five minutes while I pulled myself back together. xTx paints these terrifying pictures that haunt the reader, that remind me of a car crash whose image you can’t shake. It’s terrible but you just cannot stop looking. She creates this game of tug-of-war over the emotions of the reader. There is no buffer. xTx has clearly picked each and every word meticulously to wring out as much emotion as possible, like in “The Mill Pond”:

“Mister Dean watched and Mister Dean made me say please two more times. Later on the only please I would say would be followed by the word, ‘stop.’”

xTx doesn’t mess around when  there’s a point that she feels needs to be made. There’s no concern for what the readers may think. She is bold and not afraid of anything. I loved that as a reader. I felt closer to the prose; it made me connect more with writing, and it left an impression on me that I still cannot shake off. I got a better sense of who xTx is not only as a writer, but also as a person. She pours herself on every page, and encourages the reader to drink all of that up. All of that combines for one intense and emotionally draining read.

One of my favorite aspects about xTx’s writing style is her ability to make certain off-the-wall subjects drenched with emotions, just like her story “Because I Am Not a Monster.” The story talks about how the narrator is dealing with the end of a relationship. She constantly references all of the terrible things she could do, but she always finishes them up with: “Do not worry, I will never find you. You are safe.” The rest of the story follows suit. Narrator saying she could drive, bike, or walk to the person she is addressing until the very end. That’s when things get turned upside down. It turns into this grand scene between the narrator and their ex to meet for the final “confrontation,” and the narrator believes that their ex is egging them on and wants the narrator to find them. She then ends it with the chilling lines:

“But you and I both know I wouldn’t. You are safe. Do not worry. I will never find you. But I could. If I really wanted to.”

The only real issue that I found was the discrepancy between the emotional barrage and the reader’s ability to recuperate in the stories themselves. Each piece is designed to demolish the reader, but there is no time to catch your breath. The pieces are relentless. I found it slightly unbearable after reading a few pieces back to back. It left me wanting a bit more of a gap between each stab of the dagger. I started to leave my guard up; losing some of the “oh snap” effect of the pieces.

Beyond that one thing, I loved absolutely every aspect of this collection. She has a mastery over flash fiction and the gift to rip out your heart and make you ask for seconds. xTx is an unstoppable force, and there seems to be no signs of her slowing any time soon. Her new book, Today I Am A Book, is available from Civil Coping Mechanisms.

Normally Special can be purchased here.

A MELTING: Vouched Presents (+ The Rumpus + Omni Commons!)

19 Mar

 

 Our favorite literary angels, Mike Young and Luke Bloomfield are in town for their Western Snowmelt Tour!

In a related story: TONIGHT Vouched,  The Rumpus, and Omni Commons are throwing them a party! Featuring readings from people we love, a Vouched table full of new goodies, and a Very Serious Contest, wherein you stand to win a book-prize from the Rumpus! As usual, there will be donuts.

Behemoth

 

This is a FREE event with readings by:

Mike Young

Jayinee Basu

Na’amen Tilahun

Leora Fridman

Luke Bloomfield

We can’t wait to see your faces at 7pm! Confetti!

The Rumpus is a place where people come to be themselves through their writing, to tell their stories or speak their minds in the most artful and authentic way they know how, and to invite each of you, as readers, commenters or future contributors, to do the same. What we have in common is a passion for fantastic writing that’s brave, passionate and true (and sometimes very, very funny).

The Omni Commons is comprised of several Bay Area collectives with a shared political vision—one that privileges a more equitable commoning of resources and meeting of human needs over private interests or corporate profit. We invite you to join us in establishing a safe, productive place to pool resources for the collective use and stewardship of the greater community. A space that fosters an ethic of radical collaboration across disciplines and between individual collectives, creating a living model for future radical spaces.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1558927211044106/

Pop Quiz: The Book of Joshua by Zach Schomburg

17 Mar

The Book of Joshua 02j

Answer the following for Zach Schomburg’s The Book of Joshua.

The experience of reading the poems in the first section of The Book of Joshua, “Earth” feels like:

  • It’s hard to know what’s hell or not
  • Hearing the hum of refrigerators when none are present
  • Listening to your voice on an answering machine
  • Realizing words are tiny blue swans you can only hold awhile before they melt

While reading The Book of Joshua it’s most important to know:

  • The years are not really years
  • “I am not/ you you/ are not me” is the “message” of language
  • This is only further proof of your badness
  • Blood will float a boat as well as water

In “Mars,” the second section of Zach Schomburg’s The Book of Joshua, we see which theme explored?

  • Estrangement
  • Estrangement
  • Estrangement
  • Estrangement

Reading The Book of Joshua feels like:

  • Being called the wrong name for your entire life
  • Listening to a recording of yourself sleep
  • There will soon be a difference between sadness and suffering
  • Scrubbing blood off a horse

The significance of titling the final section of The Book of Joshua “Blood” is:

  • The blood of a poem is words
  • There is no such thing as a “body”
  • The difference between correlation and causation is language
  • A telephone ringing behind a locked door

Review: Rag by Julie Carr

16 Feb

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Julie Carr’s fifth book, Rag, is a book characterized more by the way that it looks than what it looks at. Rag is more about the process of contextualization itself than staging a context for the meditations or anecdotes of a cohesive “I” “behind” or “outside of” the text. Carr wants a poetry that is atmospheric—not the dictation of an imaginary I, but rather a glimpse of the network of exchanges that I participates in. As Carr writes in the opening poem, “One’s body is in response” (11). Rag is a book of self-abandon, but not in the terms we usually think. Carr forfeits a cohesive self to see the larger strictures—such as gender, race, narrative, and memory—inside which a self is structured.

In Rag, this self-abandon as abandoning the self is a desire to diffuse back into the larger law from which the self first demarcated. For a speaker to exist, she must be defined as “other than.” This difference is what makes her subject to the law (which guarantees intersubjectivity) but simultaneously makes her blind to it (since “she” is a product of—not a participant in—these exchanges). In Rag, the speaker becomes negative space, a kind of absence the text can fill. Car writes:

 To my own face with its endless changes endless sameness its eyes

I said no. I wanted to be a hole. In the road, the garden

Dust across my keys, sugar in my teeth, to the jaw of the bus driver as I boarded the bus

I said no. Today I will not remove the isolated hair from my basin. Not figure

Some cleaner end (83)

By relinquishing subjective cohesion, the speaker in Rag becomes extra-narrative. Causality becomes less clear as everything moves from order to contiguity. The poems themselves are mimetic of this entropy as well. Rag moves between pages of fragments, frequently bookended by dashes, to long blocks of prose broken only by the margins.

And so Rag is a book of continual disruptions. A “thing” represents a closure as its “use” becomes solidified in the symbolic order. A new thing only becomes possible at sites of disjunction. Carr is not interested in “product” in the form of narrative, anecdote, ect… Rather, Carr wants the static of thought before it reaches a symbolic channel. Carr writes:

And we with eye averted sat by the crying woman. Resting elbows on our knees in a posture of care/disregard. Just as on a plane a woman three rows back, seated between two suited men, suddenly began to sob—loud and unabashed, not othering to wipe her tears, not covering her face, just sitting staring forward, wailing like a baby. No one said anything. Not the men—one gazed out the window, the other continued to read his screen as if nothing—not the attendants, who did not come. Now in heavy spring snow, a tree loses a limb. And we are glad—an opening where was a thing. Then she stops crying and her face clears to resemble the sidewalk beside the DMV. Without anything to create shade, anything at all, the people come and go— (18)

For Carr, the page is a pane of glass. She writes: “Between the law and the living being—the unnamable being with no nation—/ is a point of imbalance, steadied by no home/ Hanging from clouds, intricate environments I will come to miss/ You cannot stop time. Seeking paradise, invent glass” (46). The poems in Rag are a way into, gestures of looking and not things made.

The paradoxical goal of the self-abandon Carr’s speaker performs is that by removing herself from the symbolic equation and instead providing us with the hidden productive forces of individual conscious, she regains some measure of ownership of herself. Or, as Car more succinctly writes, “Whose theatre is it now?” (34). Car’s speaker exists in a kind of conscious-unconscious, an inverse of unconscious-conscious of an unexamined “I.” Unfortunately, the forfeit in both cases is a humanist version of a self-determined “I.” Car writes:

In the passivity of belonging to an order

she was the first disappearing term

The more others are heard the more she is lost

And drivers consider their destinations

consider their destination to be worthy (115)

The speaker of these poems exists in suspension, moving without destination between the ego and the larger symbolic network that both allows for and forecloses the possibility of its existence.

While all this may make the text seem laborious, Rag isn’t forced. Car keeps her philosophical investments while still creating moments of real lyric beauty. There’s something about Rag that feels as if the whole text is something overhead. Rag manages to be haunted by itself. Reading it feels like listening to it on a tape recorder, locked in room with no key.

Review: Everything Was Fine Until Whatever by Chelsea Martin

15 Jan

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Everything Was Fine Until Whatever is a whacky and bizarre collection of poetry/flash fiction, artwork, and footnotes by Chelsea Martin. Martin writes about: a baby’s first words, which were “Obviously imported from China,” acronyms, a to-do list, and the reasons Martin writes poetry. I am amazed by the amount of content that Martin is able to fit in only 111 pages. On top of that, she starts her collection off with a letter to the reader where she states that she wants the reader’s life to become consumed with the idea of her. She ends it with a bold, and I mean bold, statement:

“I want this love for me to be our only talent, and I want you to eventually realize that it isn’t even adequate, and that I really deserve better.”

That line got me fired up for this collection. Martin isn’t afraid to push the reader around, and that’s absolutely wonderful. If her writing is any indication of the direction where new literature is headed, I am beyond excited. With just that one line Martin gives the reader the lens to the rest of the pieces. It heightened the stakes of everything. There were times where I felt like I shouldn’t be reading this collection because of that letter. I felt guilty for reading and enjoying it. I felt guilty because with that letter Martin creates a very delicate relationship between herself and the reader. I felt bad for loving the poems that I did because I felt like it would never be enough for her. It reminded me of a dysfunctional relationship between a disappointed parent and their child. No matter what the child did, no matter how much love the child professes it would never be enough for the parent. Martin plays with this relationship throughout her collection.

Throughout the collection Martin sprinkles in these microscopic footnotes that are treats for the reader. They can range from extreme emotional vulnerability to something like this: “I accidentally shat on a person once. There I said it.” Not only did the absurd footnotes balance what was happening on the page, but they feel like secrets being whispered to the reader. It creates a stronger connection to the pieces because the reader feels as if they knew something that wasn’t completely out in the open for everyone to see. Sort of like a sneak peek for a movie you’re really excited for. That strange battle over the emotions of the reader sealed my love for this collection.

The titles of her pieces just get stuck in your head and refuse to leave. Not only are they a bit wacky and funny, but they provide an additional lens for the reader. Some of my favorite titles include: “I’m writing about love because no one else ever has and because I’m wearing jeans that made my butt look good,” “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I shouldn’t work in customer service,” and “Manipulation, Energy Drinks, and Time Travel.” Martin uses these titles to spark interest, but she also uses them as a way to mask a deeper takeaway through absurdity. In “Manipulation, Energy Drinks, and Time Travel,” the narrator talks about all of the things she is willing to do for someone:

“I’ll buy chocolate covered cherries and drop them into your mouth from skyscrapers as you unknowingly walk by. I’ll put my name on them somehow, so you know they’re from me. I’ll teach you Braille. Tongue Braille.”

That is a strong commitment to teach some person Tongue Braille. This piece talks about the hoops someone would go through for the person they loved. It was touching. The story goes on to talk about how the narrator would destroy other guys for the entertainment of the guy she’s talking about. She even makes the final leap and says:

“I’ll cancel Netflix, I don’t know why, but I swear to god I’ll do it.”

Martin does a fantastic job of masking these strong emotions of love behind absurd acts like canceling Netflix and dropping cherries from skyscrapers. That is one of the biggest strengths in her writing. She just takes these towering subjects like love, and breaks them down into these bite-sized chunks that she stitches into her own Frankenstein creature. Her voice is strong and sounds like someone in their early twenties going through life. To me her voice is becoming the brand for twenty something’s making their way through life. She is sporadic, heartfelt, sincere, and not afraid to spill herself for any and all to see. Something anyone struggling through their twenties would understand and connect with.

Everything Was Fine Until Whatever is Chelsea Martin’s debut collection. Through this collection she has asserted herself at the forefront of indie literature. She shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Her most recent collection Even Though I Don’t Miss You published through Short Flight/Long Drive can be purchased through Hobart.

Everything Was Fine Until Whatever can be purchased on Chelsea Martin’s website or the publishers’ Future Tense Books.

Strange Things Have Happened Here: Vouched Presents ( + The Rumpus + Fiction Advocate!)

3 Jan

We’re so excited to team up with The Rumpus, 826 Valencia, and Fiction Advocate TOMORROW for a night of fun readings from our favorite writers! It’s all your literary dreams come true, packed into San Francisco’s foremost Independent Pirate Supply Store.

Plus: a Vouched table full of new goodies (including freebies!) and a GUARANTEED ACCEPTANCE table. What does that mean? Come find out! It’s like the exact opposite of going home for the holidays!

Strange Things Flier image

Readings by:

Vladimir Kozlov
http://www.cosmonautsavenue.com/vladimir-kozlov.html

Maisha Z. Johnson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Be_EhfCeV7w

Siamak Vossoughi
http://www.riverandsoundreview.org/Fiction/Issue5/Vossoughi.htm

Joshua Merchant
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDoK2HA40wo

The Rumpus is a place where people come to be themselves through their writing, to tell their stories or speak their minds in the most artful and authentic way they know how, and to invite each of you, as readers, commenters or future contributors, to do the same. What we have in common is a passion for fantastic writing that’s brave, passionate and true (and sometimes very, very funny). http://therumpus.net/

Fiction Advocate is a litblog and micropress founded in 2009. http://fictionadvocate.com/

826 Valencia is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. http://826valencia.org/

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/682658425184925/

Best Thing I’ve Read Today: “Bulls-eye” by Jac Jemc and other good stuff on the Fanzine

4 Dec

The Fanzine, as usual, has been getting after it pretty hard: Jeff Alessandrelli’s essay about creating in Portland, OR — “what you ‘create’ is going to come down to not the city you live in but the extent of your own personal effort and investment in that effort.” And Daniel Beauregard’s intelligent thoughts on Harmony Korine’s 2009 film, Trash Humpers — “Korine’s film occasionally seems more akin to a series of found footage dreamscapes, void of any overarching narrative, but one can be found–a subtle narrative is threaded throughout Trash Humpers, and it comes together beautifully at the end.”

To go with all this goodness is Jac Jemc’s, “Bulls-eye,” the story of a lonely woman who attends a weekly Bingo night — “Phyllis waited for this night every week. She slogged through her schedule of television shows each evening, drifting off more often than not, left to dream about the resolution of each episode. Thursday nights, though, represented the climax of the week.”

What’s so impressive about this piece is how Jemc draws so much real emotion from Bingo, a game most of us would say is boring as shit to read about, but Jemc is bad ass and makes the readers feel the tension and subtle drama that can come with playing Bingo:

22 was her number and she would prove it. If she won, it was possible that she might avoid the vicious boiling down of her choices for an entire week. She might buy the nicer brand of decaf coffee at the store. She might treat herself to the full rack of ribs from the takeout place on the corner so that she’d have leftovers for lunch the next day. She might sift through the bin at the dollar store and pick out a new pearlescent pink nail polish to cover the white, hard ridges that had started showing up on her nails.

We can hear the creaking chairs in the Bingo hall (a church basement), feel the AC from the vents, hear the daubing of Bingo boards. Jemc makes us understand the protocol for behavior in the Bingo hall and gives us the collective emotion that develops as the game proceeds and how all of that can come to an end when somebody actually wins:

She was also equally embarrassed to call BINGO when it was a legitimate winner; a sadness accompanied the motion to ending a particular game, a sense of letting the rest of the group down, taking away the private hope of the others in the room to bask in her own singular success, one game closer to the end of the night.

Jemc provides a rich portrait of Phyllis, her town and her family while having Phyllis do little more than play Bingo and return home.

Check out more of Jac Jemc bad assness at her website. Buy her books, send her your love and baby teeth.

More Wreck More Wreck by Tyler Gobble

21 Nov

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Like Dean Young and Mary Ruefle, Gobble takes words to the playground, earnestly indulging their whims and curiosities, keeping them close with his sincerity and language that changes shape as fluidly as shadow puppets.

More Wreck More Wreck by Tyler Gobble

Coconut Books

Awful Interview: Jon Irwin

14 Nov

This is Jon Irwin. He wrote a book about Super Mario 2 for Boss Fight Books, and has a lot of things to say about video games in general. He also happens to be reading at the Phoenix Festival today in Atlanta! You should come see!

Vouched: So Jon, you’ve written a book about Super Mario 2. Can we talk a little bit about the Princess in that game? Also, why Super Mario 2? Why not the RPG Super Mario and the Legend of the Seven Stars? Princess Peach fought with a frying pan in that one, which I find more than a little misogynistic. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

 

You want female stereotypes? Go play Super Princess Peach, a game for the Nintendo DS where the Princess finally gets her first starring role. Instead of running or jumping, she uses her “power of emotion” to defeat enemies. Specifically: Joy, Gloom, Calm, and Rage. If you activate her Rage power, she catches on fire (the better to burn up baddies). Use the Princess’s Gloom power and she begins to cry; the tears hit the ground and cause plants to grow, giving you platforms on which to jump and reach new areas. On one hand, the use of emotions as actual gameplay mechanic is rather brilliant and like no other game I’ve played. But then there’s the whole “self-immolation” thing and the depiction of women as overly emotional tear buckets. What’s that? Answer the first question, you say? Why yes, let’s re-focus our attentions…

 

Gabe Durham, editor and co-founder of Boss Fight Books, reached out to me after reading some of my game criticism and essays in Kill Screen’s print magazine and daily website. He was starting this new press inspired by the 33 ⅓ series, where an author writes a short-ish book about a single music album. He thought the same model would work for video games. So last summer, he got in touch with prospective authors and laid the groundwork for a Kickstarter campaign to help the press get off the ground. (A campaign for Season Two is taking place now.) I was the last author he contacted; he wanted a book focused on a big franchise, something mainstream and something most people, avid gamers or not, were familiar with. The Super Mario franchise is one of, if not the biggest one out there. But the first sequel for the NES also has a weird history and has always been thought of as an outlier in the series since it looks and plays so differently. I thought the game had an interesting story to tell.

 

Vouched: It certainly does! What are some other video games that you believe deserve a time to shine. You know, maybe ones from less heralded series? I’ve got a lot to say about the entire Kings Quest series, as well as Myst/Riven, Lunar Silver Star Story, and Chrono-Cross.

 

Oh man. There’s so many crazy-interesting games. Gabe’s press could run for a hundred years and still have ample and worthy subjects. I’d love to read a book about the Rhythm Heaven or WarioWare games. Each are made by the same studio, and each are bizarre, frantic, and surprisingly skill-based. Rhythm Heaven is centered on keeping time with music, and WarioWare is more about instinct and quick decisions. Both have this zany humor that is also very sweet, a marked difference between the cynical, sarcastic humor one sees in a lot of “funny” games. The creators clearly care about things outside of gaming culture, which shows in the musicianship and variety of visual influences, and I’d love to hear how something so rich and weird and unique to an interactive medium (WarioWare could never be a film; the audience would go into epileptic fits) gets made.

 

I think video game culture is rife with fascinating stories to tell, and this goes beyond single games. The hardware itself can be a great foundation for narrative, between the building of its technology and the marketing of it as a consumer product to the people behind the scenes who orchestrate it all. I’d devour a book about the TurboGrafx-16, a system nobody talks about that competed with the SNES and the Sega Genesis. It tanked in America but was a huge success in Japan (known there as the PC-Engine). I had one as a kid and still have an odd fondness for it. In fact Ian Bogost, professor at Georgia Tech, co-edits a series that investigates computer hardware in this way, called Platform Studies. The high water mark for such writing, in my eyes,  is still The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder. It’s about bringing a new computer to market in the ‘80s. The summary sounds dry and insider-y, but Kidder’s story is totally accessible, a fantastic, page-turning human drama.

 

Vouched: What’s so evocative about it for you? Would you write a Single Sentence Review of it for us? Right here right now?

 

“”The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder is about bringing a new computer to market in the ‘80s, and while the summary sounds dry and insider-y, Kidder’s story is totally accessible, a fantastic, page-turning human dram.”

 

That’s the Jerk Answer. Here’s another attempt:

 

“In Kidder’s Machine, we learn that what we build, using silicon and plastic, is no different than what we build with chromosomes and DNA: our inventions are our children, and they outlive us all.” Or something.

 

Vouched: Ha! Totally fair. Say, wouldn’t it be creepy to have a robot for a kid?

 

Oh, I don’t know. A “Sleep” button for restful nights. Duracell AA batteries for food. The high school track record in the 100M! Maybe having a robot would be awesome.

 

I really like the movie Artificial Intelligence, or A.I — you know, the one where Haley Joel Osment is a robot-child after a couple loses their real child in a pool accident. Was it a pool accident? I forget. Anyway, point is, lots of people railed on that movie for being over-long and too sentimental. But it’s also kind of messed up and presages a not-so-unrealistic future where people are engineered and manufactured. A hundred years ago farmers probably didn’t think potatoes could be “genetically modified.” Today robot-children seem like some Asimovian bedtime story to freak kids out you’re babysitting, but who knows? Maybe in another hundred years it’ll be common.

 

A question for you! Why “Awful Interviews,” and not Terrible ones? Or Interminable Interviews? I have the phrase “Awful Annie” in my head, and I’m wondering if that’s some doll from when we were kids… but then I Google’d it and apparently there’s a restaurant with that name and they have “the best omelets in town.

 

Vouched: Oh, I don’t know, awful ain’t the worst, but it ain’t great either. I like occupying that strange middle territory. Is this not awful enough? Or is it too terrible?

 

Is that your next question? Is the antecedent of “this” in “Is this not awful enough?”  our actual interview? Or are you referring to a hypothetical interview, the platonic INTERVIEW you had in mind when creating and naming said “Awful Interviews”?

 

In case of the former: Yes. This is awful enough.

 

But yeah, I’m all about the strange middle territory. My wife’s belly-button is like some undiscovered landmark tucked away in a deciduous forest, hiding in the corner of a western state, let’s say Montana. Soft and undulating. But with a kind of mysterious depth. Like: Does it stop there? Or does it go on?

 

Okay. NOW this is awful enough.

 

Vouched: Shit just got awkward. This is wonderfully awful, indeed! Say, are you pumped for Phoenix Fest? Tell us about it!

 

I’m so pumped. Did you know there’ll be live glass-blowing demonstrations? Glass-blowing! I love how the readings are a part of this larger melange of artwork going on throughout the day. Music! Glass! Murals! And good ol’ fashioned spoken words. A little for all the senses. Wait–will there be tastings? I think “taste” has been left out. This is a travesty. Since I’ll be reading from my book Super Mario Bros. 2, and since a notable item in that game is the turnip, I request some ambitious festival-goer to whip up an exotic turnip dish and serve it to happy passers-by. Perhaps turnips could take the place of potatoes in a delicious mashed turnip souffle?  Or roasted turnips, the natural sugars carmelizing under the high heat, lending the earthy veggies a hint of sweetness. Regardless: I can’t wait to see what happens on Saturday. And I hear we’ll be reading in an abandoned motel? Vacant for so long, but soon filled with strangers… sounds like my childhood.

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