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“The Hat” by Sam Wilson

16 Oct

Posted by Theresa J. Beckhusen

Written by Zachary Lee

“The Hat” by Sam Wilson is a quirky travel story with that turns the ordinary to the unordinary. Wilson snags the reader and gently pulls them through. “The Hat” is the tale of an unnamed male protagonist on his flight back home, and ends up following his wife into a Pendleton wool shop, and he ends up finding his perfect hat.

As soon as the story started, I fell for the characters. I felt pity that they got too hungover to enjoy their vacations, I felt a bit of excitement when the flight was delayed, I felt a bit of adventure wandering into the Pendleton shop. Wilson writes characters that seem to be real actual people that he just watched and copied:

“I knew I couldn’t buy the shirts I’d envied because wool makes me itch, but I kept trying them on anyway, soaking up the saleswoman’s compliments and not looking too closely in the mirrors.”

Wilson also subtly threads in the idea of getting old, and how that affects how we see ourselves. He demonstrates this by having his protagonist constantly question how he compares to his counterparts, and struggle with the look of the sweaters. Combined with his attention to the microscopic details, this really adds another layer to the story. They emphasize the human element that the protagonist brings to the story, and explain a driving force behind the protagonist. In this passage we see the protagonist wrestling with age:

“There is nothing good about being prematurely bald. My head gets cold and wet in the winter, and sunburned in the summer. Plus, it makes me look older and more staid than I actually am.”

And with the passage below we see where the microscopic details come into play:

“She was a young flight attendant wearing a navy blue skirt and white blazer. Her hair was pulled into a wet ponytail, and her lipstick was brighter than I imagined could look good on a person.”

With that being said, I felt the protagonist’s wife, Sherri-Anne, was a flat, 2D character. At times I forgot she was in the story. Her character just seemed to be a way to get the protagonist in the shop, and not something to help drive character development, or add anything to the story. It was a bit disappointing to see that, but Wilson’s writing made up for it ten-fold.

Overall, “The Hat” is an interesting read helped by Wilson’s amazing characters, and his ability to play with details. I believe that Wilson’s career as a writer is on the up and up. This story is something that readers will be talking about for some time.

Zachary Lee is a Vouched Books Indy intern and senior Creative Writing student at the University of Indianapolis. He hopes to attend an MFA program after graduation. He can be reached on Twitter @_Zach_Lee.

“Horrible Things Happen” by Adam Lefton

15 Oct

Posted by Theresa J. Beckhusen

Written by Zachary Lee

Adam Lefton’s short story “Horrible Things Happen” is a wonderfully dark but difficult read. There is no issue with plot or character, not even an issue with the word choice. What makes this a difficult read is Lefton’s head-on approach to what it means to suffer, and the effects that come from suffering. The first thing that strikes the reader is the size of the story. The story itself barely fills two paragraphs, but sends shivers down the readers’ spine by breaking down walls. Once those walls are down, Lefton turns what we know about suffering upside down with the precision of a surgeon. Lefton’s writing style is quick and to the point, and refuses to let go of readers until the very end.

The main plot of the story is rather straightforward. There’s a fascination with turning suffering into fame and teaching suffering to teenagers. The theme of the story is dissected to the most basic building blocks, and then built into a beautiful nightmare. Throughout the story Lefton talks about issues with funding with collegiate studies, the religious idea that we are born suffering, and what happens to those who see and understand their suffering. I particularly love the way he plays with the idea that the Midwest is a vacuum of suffering, and then juxtaposes that with the irony that most of the graduates move to the heavily influential coastal areas.

One of the major things I enjoyed about reading “Horrible Things Happen” is Lefton’s ability to bypass any defense the reader has and attacks their emotional core directly at the source. As seen with:

“For these students, the horrible things that happened to them were too obvious to miss, too visceral. They’d cried or wanted to cry or taught themselves not to cry at some point in their lives.”

Near the end of the piece, Lefton challenges the idea that through suffering we grow, by writing: “Only the rare and talented pupil arrives on campus cognizant of his or her suffering.” By the end of the story Lefton has the reader on the edge of their seat and throws in the most powerful sentence in the entire story: “The feeling has been described as close to a nightmare.”

Overall, this story left me numb and left me questioning what it means to suffer. This story was a wonderful rollercoaster ride that every reader should struggle with.

Zachary Lee is a Vouched Books Indy intern and senior Creative Writing student at the University of Indianapolis. He hopes to attend an MFA program after graduation. He can be reached on Twitter @_Zach_Lee.

“In the House of Flying Words” by Juan Carlos Reyes

13 Oct

Posted by Theresa J. Beckhusen

Written by Mirna Palacio Ornelas

When I finish reading something, I usually talk about the piece for days. The thing is, though, Juan Carlos Reyes’ “In the House of Flying Words” in Used Furniture Review has left me at a loss of, well, words. He’s taken them all and carefully sculpted a dizzying image that leeches the air from your lungs. I was only left with “holy shit.”

It starts out with a pretty gruesome description of what words can and will do to your infant daughter, attacking her in her cradle until there’s only a little skeleton with a bib left. That’s the entire first paragraph. Reyes makes words out to be these living things, while still referring to them in a metaphorical sense. These words are very much a real threat to the sleeping baby, something that will physically harm her when given the chance. They lie in the shadows, waiting for their chance to pounce. They plan their attacks, and throw themselves at the house to get to the sleeping child. That being said, the flying words in this piece are still only words. How much can words possibly hurt, right?

Reyes continues to use words in this sense for the rest of the piece, coming back time and again to demonstrate how much they will mutilate your daughter throughout her life.

“They’re coming as the always do, they arrive, and you will do everything to protect her but they will leave a mark.”

Aside from the vast vocabulary Reyes uses, his sentences also have the effect that is often seen in poetry. It’s essentially a poem, but it’s not a poem. He blends his phrases together, stretching the sentences to just below their breaking points in order to make them house raw emotions. The words meld into each other, and you don’t realize how the words weigh against your sternum until you see that period at the end.

“You watch her sleep, the night passing quickly and measuring evening and words still unborn, those moons carrying slurs suggestions and ridicules, all those jabbing words looming huddled down street, primed by the garden, crowding parking spaces like impending tanks on the night of shattered glass.”

All fancy words and form aside, Reyes uses this piece to reach the bone-biting truth. Words do hurt. And they’re not something you can control, not like physical violence. We have no defense against words, no matter how hard we try. We have to stand by as words hurt our loved ones, or worse yet, while they distance themselves.

Reyes’ grammatically incorrect sentences work for the humanity of the piece, but they also make it hard for the reader keep up. It might be a minor issue, but it is also the only one. Even then, it can be easily solved by reading the piece out loud. Reyes’ words anchor themselves in your gut, leaving your head light from panic, and making it more than worth the trouble.

The distanced tone in this piece is often found in his other pieces. Reyes keeps readers on edge with this creepy little trick. The gruesome details that he embeds in them help achieve that ambiance as well. There’s always an off-putting event amidst a seemingly normal setting; this is almost a branch of magical realism. Almost.

 

Mirna Palacio Ornelas is a Vouched Indy intern and is currently a junior at the University of Indianapolis. She’s a poetry writer that dabbles in the publishing world. Mirna spends most of her time in the dark with Captain America looping in the background on the lowest volume and light settings while collecting boxes of steakhouse dinner rolls on her desk.

VouchedATL (& friends) at the Decatur Book Festival!

26 Aug

2013 DBF Logo Hor

It’s Labor Day weekend which in Atlanta means the Decatur Book Festival is taking the city by storm! Once again, the Vouched table will be set up at the festival all weekend, this time we’ll be sharing a booth with the 421 and Publishing Genius in the ART | DBF pavilion, and in really good company there, neighbored by arts organizations such as our pals at BURNAWAYDad’s Garage, Deer Bear Wolf, Mike Germon & John Carroll, Lily & the Tigers, and more! You’ll find us in BOOTH 324 – 325. 

Here’s a map!

2014-map

(it’ll get bigger when you click on it, promise.)

As always though, there will be plenty of other things to do and see at the festival. I’ve compiled a list of events below that may help, but I heartily suggest you take a peak at the full schedule of events here. For updates on events throughout the weekend you can check out VouchedATL’s twitter page, and of course, the Decatur Book Festival’s twitter page!

Here are some highlights from the weekend’s schedule for you!

Saturday, August 30th

10 a.m.: Labor of Love: Running a Small Press – (Marriott Conference Center Ballroom C) moderated by Amy McDaniel with panelists Bruce Covey, Matt DeBenedictis, Amanda Mills, and Adam Robinson

10 a.m.: The Wren’s Nest Scribes (The Decatur Recreation Center Studio) listen to the works of the students of the Wren’s Nest KIPP Strive Academy 1

3 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.: Best American Poetry Book Launch (The Decatur Recreation Center Gym) featuring Jericho Brown and Patricia Lockwood!

5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: Worth A Thousand(At the Decatur High School Stage) a collaboration between Vouched Books and #WeLoveATL. Readings from Thomas Wheatley, Christina Lee, Alex Gallo-Brown, and Amy McDaniel, inspired by the photographs of David Voggenthaler, Wes Quarles, Jennifer Schwartz and Stephanie Calabrese.

5:30 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: The Wren’s Nest High School Publishing Co. (The Decatur Recreation Center Studio)

5:3o p.m. – 6:15 p.m.: Yells & Oats: Write Club Atlanta tackles the classics (the Decatur Recreation Center Gym)

 

Sunday, August 31

12 p.m.: LGBT Poetry (Eddie’s Attic Stage) Megan Volpert, Matthea Harvey, and Mark Wunderlich

2:30 p.m.: The Collected Works of Lucille Clifton (The Decatur Conference Center Ballroom) Jericho Brown, Kevin Young, Sharan Strange, and Dana Greene

4:15 p.m.:  Emory University (Local Poetry Stage) Bruce Covey, Jericho Brown, Gina Myers, Dana Sokolowski

A Very Vouched San Francisco Birthday Party FAQ

22 Aug

After blitzing the internet with Raffle Prize Announcements, Awful Interviews, and other promotional things, I realize you may have some questions about the upcoming Vouched San Francisco festivities. So here’s our third ever Vouched Presents FAQ for our first ever Vouched SF birthday.

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When does this shin-dig start?  

6pm, approximately. I estimate readings to begin between 6:15 and 6:30.

Is there a cost for admission?

Nope, you can attend for free! That being said, there will be things for sale: merchandise from 826 Valencia (the world’s Premiere Independent Pirate Supply Store), books from Vouched and our readers, and of course, drinks and more drinks at the bar. Every $5 you spend at the birthday party (on Vouched or 826 Merchandise) gets you an raffle ticket for one of our sweet prizes! And a portion of drink and book sales (and 100% of 826 merch sales) goes to support community programs at 826 Valencia!

What are the totally sweet raffle prizes?

Oh, you want a list? Fine. Here you go:

  • Ticket vouchers for you and a friend to Literary Death Match, plus five (5) Cyrano-de-Bergerac-style texts from world-renowned love and dating expert Adrian Todd Zuniga for you to send to someone you like (or whoever you want–we aren’t here to boss you around)
  • An 826 Valencia gift pack!
  • Everything our intern found on the streets of the Mission in one day!
  • A gift certificate for a free haircut at Edo Salon
  • A sweet gift pack from Litography
  • Surprise gift pack from famed comedy bad boy and/or family man Scott Simpson!
  • A book gift pack from The Rumpus!
  • [Get stood up on] a date with Dave Eggers!
  • Vouched Books gift pack!
  • A year-long book-of-the-month membership to Vouched Books!

How do I win those totally sweet raffle prizes?

Great question! Participants in our raffle will receive 1 raffle ticket for every $5 donated or spent on 826 Valencia or Vouched merchandise. (So say, for instance, you buy a book from me that costs $10. For that you will receive not only your book, but 2 raffle tickets! Which could win you all sorts of amazing prizes!)

Wait, so who is reading?

The evening will start out with the re-launch of Portuguese Artists Colony, so as you come in, you will vote on writing prompts to give to the four live writers. Then, you watch (and Michael Mullen, songwriter for Pocket Shelley and The Size Queens, will make beautiful music) as they have 10 minutes to turn out a beautiful response to that prompt. They read what they wrote, and you get to vote on the piece you like best!

Our live writers:

Jenny Bitner

Heather Bourbeau

Kwan Booth

Casey Childers

Our featured readers:

Maisha Z. Johnson

Scott Simpson

Maw Shein Win

Sarah Griff

Tim Toaster Henderson

Jelal Huyler

Amy Berkowitz

Where do my donations go?

All donations will go to the 826 Valencia. Vouched Books will not receive any of the money donated.

Where can I learn more about 826 Valencia?  

You can learn more about 826 Valencia here!

I heard there will be a chapbook-making station and a pile of donuts. Is this true?

Our chapbook-making station will be run by the delightful Jason Schenheit! We will also have a poetry station and a photobooth for taking wedding portraits with the sea (we are talking about pirates, after all). Every rumor you have heard about the donuts is true.

What’s the Milk Bar, is there milk?

The Milk Bar is a beautiful bar and event venue in the Haight. This event is BYOM.

The poster has a lot of balloons. Will there be balloons?

Yes, there will be balloons. There will also be a bear, though he is unlikely to harm you.

Are we going to party? Really?

Yes. DUH.

Best Thing I’ve Read This Month: Everyday Genius

13 Aug

Michael Seidlinger is at the helm of Everyday Genius this month and he’s been posting excerpts from works-in-progress by some really fantastic folks. Below are a few of clips from my favorites so far:

An excerpt from What Have You Lost? by Cari Luna

It would be pretty, wouldn’t it, to say I walked along the river, but I-5 cuts the east side of Portland off from the Willamette and so I would find myself walking parallel to the highway. But the highway had its own appeal, and then there was also the hard rusted beauty of the train yards and the cargo trains gone still and cold, waiting, and the occasional train in motion, wending its slow robot-driven way through town, its mournful whistle cutting through the air, the gray heaviness of Portland morning even heavier with the weight of that train song.

An excerpt from Jim’s Daughter by Alexandra Naughton

We send letters back and forth for two years, each letter revealing more than the last, with promises to see each other soon repeated unfulfilled, except for one time when your friend had to be in Philly for a family reunion and you tagged along, but after three months and no response, no letters and no emails, I feel defeated, sending one last letter. Your mother writes back, a short note and newspaper clipping with your wedding announcement.

An excerpt from Wichita Stories by Troy Weaver

I go into my best friend’s bedroom and lay down on his bed. I close my eyes. I wait. I start counting sheep to alleviate the boredom—not really sheep, just aloud to myself in the dark. I open my eyes, I close them, I open them, and I wait. I count. I wonder what could possibly be taking so long. I count some more. I think about Claudia Schiffer’s perfect boobs, stop thinking about them, start again, stop again, decide to lay on my stomach so I don’t start jacking off on instinct in my best friend’s bed.

An excerpt from Seeing Other People by Megan Lent

If I ever get a tattoo, it will be of a rose, in white ink, on my left shoulder. Except if you have a tattoo you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

Which doesn’t really affect me, because I will never die.

Happy Birthday, Vouched Atlanta!

19 Jul

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since Vouched Atlanta made its debut in the city. (Sometimes it’s almost as if I’m still wiping the sweat off of my brow, admiring Heather Christle’s delicate cadence, Amy McDaniel’s boundless charm, or Bruce Covey’s jovial manner as they read to us at the very first Vouched Presents reading.) We’ve come a really far way since then – over fifty readers hosted, nearly a hundred titles in rotation, dozens of presses represented – it’s pretty damn grand. Of course none of the accomplishments above could have happened without the unwavering support of all the Vouched contributors, the authors and presses whom we represent, and the wonderful people within the community itself. And since I don’t have a stage upon which to thank them this year, I’m choosing to do so from this modest corner of the internet. (Thanks everyone.)

Doey Zeschanel, light of my heart and my table.

Doey Zeschanel, light of my heart and my table.

A lot has changed since then – both within the literary landscape nationally and within Atlanta, and then, of course, within my personal life, too. Writers and friends have weaved in and out of our city limits, reading series have launched, new presses have begun printing, and the literary movement in the city has blossomed. I’ve had the humble honor of watching what once was a fledgling literary landscape bloom and burgeon from the sidelines, shielded behind an tiny pop-up bookstore in the faint glow of a deer lamp (love you, Doey Zeschanel). Watching all of it evolve has filled me with endless joy, while also bringing me pause for evaluation.

Since birthdays are a great time for reflection, I’ve devoted a lot of time to reassessing my efforts with Vouched Atlanta as of late. It’s important to me to focus my efforts where I am most needed, given how much the landscape has changed. And pondering that is what has led me to make this announcement: that Vouched Presents, the reading series portion of Vouched Atlanta, will be retired as of Labor Day weekend with the collaborative reading we will be hosting with #WeLoveATL at this year’s Decatur Book Festival. This is by no means the end of Vouched Atlanta. Simply put, organizing and promoting readings takes up a lot of bandwidth and dedication on my part, and Atlanta now has a bevy of active, well-attended readings at her disposal, I would rather focus that energy where it is most needed: bringing more small press books to the city and championing them. It’s my hope to set up shop more consistently at the reading series that we’ve come to partner with over the years, and to act as a consult to different readings that take place – through assisting with their marketing, promotional and reviewing efforts.

I’m really, really thrilled about these advances. (I’ve already brought nearly a dozen new titles to the table since the Atlanta Zine Fest last month, and continue to place orders and plan reviews for the approaching weeks.) As stated earlier, a lot has changed in the past few years in my life, but if one thing has never wavered it’s my love of words. It could be easily argued that has been the cornerstone of my persona since childhood – having grown up so nomadically, uprooting from state to state every few years with my family, I never had the benefit of having life-long friends (aside from my sister). What I did have were books, my constant companions. Whenever we moved to a new town, the second we had things at home in order, my mom would haul my sister and I off to the library and get us our cards. To this day you can find me accompanied with a pile of four or five titles I’m devouring on hand. In short: books are my anchor. So it only makes sense for me to advocate them with boundless fervor – literature has given me everything, I’ll never stop giving back.

Downtown Writers Jam

12 Jun

Vouched Indy will be at the inaugural Downtown Writers Jam on Wednesday, July 23,  at Indy Reads Books. The Writers Jam will be a new kind of reading: no podium and no papers (or iDevice in hand), just a writer telling a story from their work. Organized by The Geeky Press, a loose collective of writers, the Jam promises to a sock-rocking event all about promoting writers and facilitating conversation and awesomeness. Anyone is welcome to submit their work for consideration. Read the guidelines here. And Jared Yates Sexton will be there, so I think it’s safe to say that a good time is guaranteed. See you there!

Event Details

What: Downtown Writers Jam

Where: Indy Reads Books, 911 Mass Ave, Indy

When: Wednesday, July 23, 6:30-8:30

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/708880852487090/?fref=ts

Awful Interview: Benjamin Carr

19 May

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This is Benjamin Carr. After reading at just about every other reading series in Atlanta he’ll finally be reading at the next Vouched Presents on Wednesday, May 28th. In Atlanta’s literary realm this accomplishment equitable to EGOT-ing (winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award, respectively), launching Benjamin to a tier of literary performers prestigious and rare. We had the privilege of interviewing him, awfully, prior to the big night.

Benjamin, what’s it like having a name with a built-in nickname? Is it as awesome as it seems? Do you prefer Ben, Benji or the full Benjamin? Does it fluctuate?

It’s been hell. I grew up as Benjie (yes, with an ‘e’) around the same time those dog movies became popular, so there’s been that my whole life. I hate that damn dog. In college, I wrote a column in the newspaper about how I fantasized about running down that dog with a car. But now, after years of therapy, those things just strike me as funny.

As for the name I prefer, it does fluctuate based upon when you met me, how you met me or where you met me. Everybody from my hometown or from college knows me as “Benji” because nobody remembers to spell it with that ‘e’ my parents were so fond of. If you’ve met me through one of them or just socially know me, you call me “Benji.” My byline when I wrote for newspapers was always Benjamin, even when I was in high school, so those people call me Benjamin.

And at my current job, Jerad Alexander was one of my first supervisors and always called me “Ben.” I think the on-site military told him I was Ben. Everyone in the office calls me Ben. But it’s the first place I’ve ever been Ben anywhere. Before this job, I avoided that name out of fear that it would lead people to call me “Has-Ben” or, worse, “Ben-Gay.” Now, if someone called me that, I would just think they were ridiculously moronic.

So, no one’s ever called you Benny? Is that a name? Did I just make that up? Also – are you kind of nervous sharing the stage at this reading with your supervisor?

No one’s called me Benny. I have no jets. My nephews don’t even call me Uncle Ben, so I never bring them rice.

Benny is a name, though I can’t think of anyone of note who managed to go by it past the age of 10.

It’s sort of hilarious, but I got really, really excited when I found out Jerad was in this show and went over to his cube, like, “We’re doing a show together!!! We’re doing a show together!!!! We haven’t shared a stage before!!!” And he looked at me the way he used to when I was a wayward, goofy employee, the sort of glare that just says without a word, all Marine-like, “Calm your shit down, crazy person …”

Jerad Alexander is the sort of guy you want in charge of something, passionate enough to fight, common-sense enough to not suffer fools and smart enough to know when to stay quiet. He keeps me in check, at work and as a friend, and I think he’s the best.

He’s in a different department now. I miss him. Luckily, he is now part of the community. He’s done Write Club, Carapace, Naked City. But we’ve never been onstage in the same show before. I’m super excited. And intimidated.

His writing is fucking incredible. Did you read his book? Can I take the opportunity to plug his book? It’s a novella called The Life of Ling Ling, available for digital download. I read it in a Walmart storefront Subway restaurant one afternoon, and the narrative took me away from all the other Walmart shoppers and placed my imagination in a war zone. It was great.

“Excited and intimidated” is a good way for me to behave around Jerad, though. So this is going to be a great night.

Laura, this conversation is going more smoothly than any other conversation we’ve ever had before at the Vouched Retail-Display Table of Wonder. Is that the name of the table? Does the table have a name? Perhaps we can call it Benny.

Wowee! That was a plug. I think you just life-blurbed Jerad Alexander. Congratulations, Jerad! And you’re right, this conversation is much more smooth than any we’ve ever conducted over my unnamed Vouched table. If we name it Benny, is it technically your namesake? What are some alternative names? I’ve already got a dear lamp named Doey Zeschanel. Not to mention the ghost of a beloved, lovely assistant, Lauren Traetto.

I miss Traetto. I did a HydeATL show with her right before she left town, but she was just lovely. Perhaps we should name the Vouched booth “The Traeble” to honor her.

God, I’m nervous about this reading.

Don’t be nervous! Just imagine everyone in the audience naked, right? Yeah? Is that still a thing? And yes, let’s call it the Traeble!

I think Lauren would be honored. And, if not, we just don’t have to tell her and could call it the Traeble behind her back. By moving from Atlanta, she lost her say in the matter.

I’m not going to imagine the audience naked. We know some really cute people. That just seems problematic. I’ve never understood that advice. I mean, yeah, everyone naked is without their defenses, vulnerable and less threatening. But, I mean, boobs, six-pack abs and stuff. I’d be afraid to step away from the podium. Fear of my own tumnescence.

Aren’t you reading at this event too, or is it another Laura?

It’s another Laura. You’ll like her a lot, I think.  Do you like most Laura’s for the most part? I can never tell how to feel about women named Simone at first.

OK, again we’re on what names mean to me. The first Laura I ever knew was Half-Pint on “Little House on the Prairie,” and I had a crush on her. So, as a result, every Laura has benefitted from that, considered to be good, fun, decent and a pioneer capable of running down a hill covered in flowers while in a gingham dress. I assume you could rock some pigtails.

My first Simone was the waitress who took a bus to France in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, so, consequently,  I always assume they have mean boyfriends and like to watch the sunrise from inside a giant, hollow brontosaurus.

Culture’s been so unfair to certain names. (I still hate that dog.)

 So, nervousness aside – what are you  most excited about for the reading? Also, how should I introduce you? Ben? Benjie? Benny-Boy?

The thing that most excites me is that I’ll finally have gotten to officially do an event with you, which has been long planned. I’m trying to get some sort of Atlanta Lit Scene triple crown by doing all the major events or, at least, contributing work to all the major players. (Is it weird that I think we have major players?)

Introduce me as Benjamin Carr. If people think that I’m all serious and professional, what I bring to the stage might surprise them more. This should be fun.

Best Thing I’ve Read This Week: Dear Corporation

7 May

 

Adam Fell’s second collection, Dear Corporation (H_NGM_N Books, 2013), is written to the gods of the twenty first  century, those entities capable of bending the course of history that are simultaneously indifferent to the lives of people who will live through it. Fell’s epistles are survey responses given as manifestos, comment cards in the form of maltov cocktails.

Fell’s Dear Corporation is a call to riot. It screams in the face of welling indifference and easy neo-liberalism that characterizes the opening of our new millennium. He writes:

Politicians never counted on us. Wall Street never counted on us. The cadaverous yuppies and their screaming vegan babies never counted on us. Investment bankers swear they keep finding our faces burned into their zeroes and ones like belligerent, binary Marys. They feel our fingers down the throats of their housing bubbles, our teeth foreclosing on the napes of their uninsured necks. To put it more delicately: I want you to fuck the fiscal responsibility out of me. I want you to fuck me until universal health care. We are the only thing that is too big to fail, so put down the briefcase and come skin the rabbit with me.  (22)

Fell wants to stain the immaculate corporate surfaces over which we crawl like ants looking for spilled Coke. He strips out the eggshell-painted drywall, pulls up the laminate flooring made to look like real wood grain to show us the chaos a corporation is trying to cover with its flattening of human experience. Fell states:

[S]o let me get my wolf cub teeth right into the deer heart of our matter: there is a brimming and braveness and feral intelligence to you that I’m taken with. Where I suspect a wilderness may be, a wilderness usually is, and I can’t help but explore. My dear Corporation, you are the PJ Harvey of the investment banking world, the Margaret Atwood of subprime mortgage lenders. You say you are unfamiliar with the taste of man, but I know a dive bar in Red Hook that proves you a liar.  (54)

Fell uses the corporation to represent everything that isn’t corporeal. Just as the word no longer contains the human body, the corporation Fell addresses is one that has moved past the human experience, and the letters Fell writes could be as easily addressed to Target as the US government.

In Dear Corporation Fell wants to anchor humanity in people instead of the illusory capital, both economic and cultural, held in corporations. Fell writes:

Adam and Eve with the apple unbit never had to un-coin their eyes to imbalance, inequity, the ingenuity and ignorance and incessant allure of the world. To wake in the dark of the woods and realize we have been created at all is to realize we have not always been, that we will not always be. We are not born to stake a claim, but to claim a stake in each other, to burn alive if needed in the pure resurrection of our simultaneous decay. (27)

Fell locates himself with people. Fell is like a human submarine sending out waves of noise in the hopes of having someone give him a signal as to where he is. Ultimately, Dear Corporation is a letter asking us to write back.

And that’s what I found so successful about this book, it’s willingness to be human, to say anything to get us to connect with it as a human document. Dear Corporation is prosaic. It digresses. It writes vaguely inappropriate postcards. It sings with the radio when it’s drunk. It may, at times, lack artifice, but never art.

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