Tag Archives: Aubrey Hirsch

SSR #3 of 15: Why We Never Talk About Sugar

5 Jul

why-we-never

 

Why We Never Talk About Sugar
Aubrey Hirsch
Braddock Ave. Books
$16

Sixteen stories, deep and rich, take you through the mire of life gently, these are authentic accounts of humanity — full of stranded wives, broken husbands, and stranded circus performers–  each page brims with beauty and damnation.

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The Roles We Play vs. Who We Really Are

3 May

In our culture there are certain life-events that have a tendency to rob us of our depth. For women, two of those moments include the rolls of “Bride” & “Mother-to-be.” After enduring it once already in her engagement, Aubrey Hirsch takes this convention head-on by addressing the effect it has on her own pregnancy and, in consequence, the relationships with those she holds dear.

I can feel it happening again, the disappearing. Already excited friends and family have written over “Aubrey” with “Mother-to-Be.” I’ve got a book coming out this year and no one’s asked about it since I told them I was pregnant. Of course it’s silly for me to think I can dictate the topic of every conversation. And again, these people are nothing but generous and kind. Their priorities are different than mine, and I can respect that. But sometimes it hurts.

But it doesn’t just effect her immediate loved ones, it effects the way she interacts with society as a whole: her government, her doctors, and her career:

In our society, pregnant woman are public property. Non-pregnant women are fast becoming public property, too. I’m not interested in being part of that. It’s making me want to wall myself off completely until I’m not pregnant anymore. Maybe even longer if politics keep moving the direction they are.

I could go on and on about the value of this essay: how it pushed so many of my own questions, fears, and resentments to the surface, or the invaluable conversations it has led to with my sister and my husband. The truth of the matter is, you need to read it for yourself at The Rumpus. Even if you’ve already had children or if your views don’t completely align with Hirsch’s, we can all agree this is a conversation that does not take place as often it should, and we will be better for having done so.

Aubrey Opens Her Throat

8 Mar

I have an AWP recap forthcoming, but for now, I’m going to give this.

Aubrey Hirsch was one of the people I was most looking forward to meeting at AWP last week, so when I heard she’d come down with a flu of some sort and decided to forego the conference, I was what one might call “crestfallen,” though that term may seem melodramatic. It isn’t.

I just spent about 10 minutes of my morning reading Aubrey’s essay, “Speaking From the Throat,” at The Summerset Review, an essay about terrifying medical treatments, and even more terrifying medical questions, about understanding and trusting your body, yourself. Make 10 minutes for this.

I’ve just ingested 15.1 microcuries of I-131, a radioactive isotope of iodine. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough. And it has a half-life of eight days. So for the next five days I have to stay locked in my apartment, away from other people while it weakens to a harmless level. The radiation in my body could kill a person’s thyroid gland if they come within ten feet of me, or come in contact with my saliva or sweat. Of course, it will ruin my thyroid gland as well. But this is exactly what it’s meant to do.

Read the full essay at Summerset Review.

NB: This essay is in no way related to why Aubrey missed AWP last week. She was sick with flu or something — not radioactively developing super powers. This is an older essay I recently stumbled on thanks to a tweet by Fiction Writers Review. Sorry for any confusion.

Exits Are at Artifice

27 Feb

It took no time at all to fall completely in love with this Exits Are project from Mike Meginnis, a series of collaborative stories written in the manner of old school text adventure/roleplaying/Choose Your Own Adventure stories, hosted online by Artifice Magazine. Basically, a match made in heaven.

Here’s the run down:

A text adventure is a game that takes place in prose. The computer describes a world to you one room at a time, writing in the second person. “You stand in the center of a cool, dark cave,” says the computer. “Exits are north, south, east, and west.” The computer waits for you to tell it what you want to do. “Go east,” you might say. Or if there is a key, you might say “take key.” The computer parses your commands as best it can and tells you what happens next. […]

I love text adventures, but they usually disappoint me. I wanted a way to make them more open-ended, less about puzzle-solving and more about language: its weirdness, its beauty. So I started playing a game with some of the writers I knew. Using gchat, I pretend to be a text adventure. The other writer is the player. We use the form of the text adventure to collaborate on some kind of strange, fun narrative. The only rule is that we take turns typing. We never discuss what we’re going to do in advance, so the results are improvisational and surprising/exciting/stressful/upsetting for both participants. Every time, the player does things I never could have seen coming.

So far stories by Matt Bell, Blake Butler, and Tim Dicks have been posted with an equally amazing troupe of writers on deck: Aubrey Hirsch, Brian Oliu, Nicolle Elizabeth, AD Jameson, Robert Kloss, &c.

This is something you want to follow.

SSM: “Hydrogen Event in a Bubble Chamber” by Aubrey Hirsch

10 May

I know I vouched this semi-recently, but I don’t care. I’m rehashing it for Short Story Month because I have a deep deep love for theoretical physics and subsequently this story. The sheer possibility of quantum mechanics and particle physics both excites me and terrifies me in ways I can’t explain. And perhaps what I’m even more terrified about is how the future of physics could possibly explain everything, could negate the entire concept of “possibility.”

Here, just read this.

“What is it?” I ask.

“It’s a picture of subatomic particles, through an electron microscope. The technical term is ‘hydrogen event in a bubble chamber.’ It’s what happens when two particles are smashed together at very high speeds. This one’s from the accelerator at FermiLab. The lines and spots are tracks made by the explosion.” He runs a bulky fingertip along one of the swirls. “See?”

I nod. “I really like it,” I say. And I do. It reminds me of an old map, or an astrological chart. The circles are so perfect they look compass-drawn. “I can’t believe this symmetry just happens. Doesn’t it amaze you?”

Marvin shrugs. “You know, they can pretty much predict all this stuff now. If you know the size of the particles, their spin and how fast they’re moving, you can calculate the force with which they’ll hit and plot out how the pieces will move, and where they’ll all end up.”

“It sounds complicated.” I say.

“It is. Theoretically, they could do it for anything, like an egg rolling off a table, or a car accident, but they don’t have computers that can run the equations efficiently enough’”not without over-heating. Some people think that if we did, we could even plot out people’s lives.”

I want to ask if he means free will doesn’t factor in at all, but I’m afraid of what he’ll say.

Now, read the full story at PANK.

Showing PANK more love today.

9 Feb

Every now and then, I freak the hell out about how many unread items I have left in my Google Reader, and go through clicking “Mark as Read” with flagrant disregard for public safety. It’s cathartic, but sometimes amazing stuff slips through, like this story by Aubrey Hirsch in PANK last May:

“What is it?” I ask.

“It’s a picture of subatomic particles, through an electron microscope. The technical term is ‘hydrogen event in a bubble chamber.’ It’s what happens when two particles are smashed together at very high speeds. This one’s from the accelerator at FermiLab. The lines and spots are tracks made by the explosion.” He runs a bulky fingertip along one of the swirls. “See?”

I nod. “I really like it,” I say. And I do. It reminds me of an old map, or an astrological chart. The circles are so perfect they look compass-drawn. “I can’t believe this symmetry just happens. Doesn’t it amaze you?”

Marvin shrugs. “You know, they can pretty much predict all this stuff now. If you know the size of the particles, their spin and how fast they’re moving, you can calculate the force with which they’ll hit and plot out how the pieces will move, and where they’ll all end up.”

“It sounds complicated.” I say.

“It is. Theoretically, they could do it for anything, like an egg rolling off a table, or a car accident, but they don’t have computers that can run the equations efficiently enough’”not without over-heating. Some people think that if we did, we could even plot out people’s lives.”

Aubrey and I seem to share a sick obsession with theoretical physics, which play a huge part in this story, and also a sizeable part in the novel I’m working on right now. Reading this makes me wish I could’ve caught her at AWP and nerded out awhile.

Amelia by Aubrey Hirsch

14 Dec

We’ve all got those nicknames (see mine: Gob, “T,” Tyster) that stem from our names, but as we grow beards or get jobs, we still can’t seem to shed.

In this story, published in Smokelong Weekly, I dig how Hirsch takes this simple everyday gripe and twists it to talk about a bigger issue. Add in the famous history that unravels about this story’s protagonist, and I think we’ve got ourselves something cool to think about.

I’m thinking about how the progression in talking about each unsatisfying nickname, along with the anecdote attached, allows for a rise in action to the conflict and inner turmoil of the character, which ends with the Amelia captured in American history. Yes, I’m thinking this story pops when all that adds up to the character’s true, simple desire: “Amelia is what she really wants to be called.” I’m thinking this story rules because it’s deep in emotions getting to what we all want to say: call me by my freaking name.

The opening is something beautiful for sure, starting with so much personal characterization, even in the third person:

Amelia hates it when people call her Amy. Amy is her mother’s name, she tells them, and her grandmother’s name. And she is nothing like them. She is educated. She is a career woman. She wears pants and a leather jacket and has short hair because she is a flyer. And Amy and Amy? They are helpless wives of alcoholics, dragging their children behind them like designer luggage through the clatter of empty whiskey bottles.