29 October 2006

Notes from an Eastern Front

It seems Elfriede Jelinek had some trouble publishing her latest novel, Greed (in English translation). Once she did publish it, well, it got savaged:

A story of some sort emerges, but the thrust of the novel is really the most vulgar and stupid commentary imaginable about the murderous misogyny of men, the environment, the appalling taste of the kleinburgerlicher and so on. It is a novel to warm the heart of Viz's Millie Tant. Densely unreadable as it is, there is something terribly banal about every one of its intellectual propositions; as hopelessly banal in its attempted chic as its predominant present tense (The Telegraph). Read the entire review here.

I would love a review like that. Still, I don't think she has an American publisher. Her books are only available from Serpent's Tail, and Greed hasn't yet been released in this country. Lance, Ted, Lidia: this is our chance. Give her people a call, maybe Chiasmus, FC2 or Starcherone can pick up a Nobel Prize winner. Actually, I just wrote this as an excuse to post that photo.

27 October 2006

why it is hard to have the conversation we're having

Apropos—at least in an oblique, if dazzling way—of our ongoing conversations about which texts to read and which to teach and which to write, this statistic I stumbled across today in the latest issue of Poets & Writers:

Last year a total of 172,000 books were published in the United States, a number that represents a ten percent decrease from the year before.

cam tatham :
from the trenches : teaching pomo fiction

Hi, all.

Lance here.

Cam Tatham was having some difficulties posting the following response to our discussion about teaching contemporary fiction, so I'm doing the honors.

And, given how much food for thought is housed here, I didn't want it to get lost in the tadpole's tail of comments to Matt's provocative post below.

And so, without further ado . . .


1. Unlike most (all?) of you guys, I’m coming at the issue with the p.o.v. of a teacher, not a writer. Maybe more accurately: while I’ve written critifiction, I’m not a fictionist. And as Lance points out, I’m no longer even a ‘real’ teacher, being retired, only coming back for the occasional course. Context is all.

2. One of the first courses I ever taught (going back to 1969) I titled ‘Anti-Fiction.’ Ihab Hassan hadn’t yet joined our faculty and nor coined the term ‘postmodernism.’ As I recall, I was teaching writers like Barth, Cortázar, Borges, Nabokov et al; quite soon, I began to become obsessed with the Fiction Collective gang: Federman, Sukenick, Katz, Abish, etc. Since then, I’ve tried to ‘keep up,’ regularly teaching a course I simply called ‘Postmodern Fiction.’ And in one version or another, it’s included some of you bloggers here: Lance, Lidia, Matt, Steve, and Jeff.

3. What draws me to you guys was and remains the emphasis placed on the telling of the story – self-reflexive metafiction: looking in a mirror as you compose the story of yourself composing the story while watching yourself in a mirror. etcetera.

4. Another frame I’ve brought to pomo fiction: existential phenomenology (esp. Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, and especially Deleuze/Guattari), which reminds us that reality is always, in part but only in part, a matter of point of view. How large that part is is precisely the issue.

5. Mainly: I’m fascinated by the knife-edge between innovation that is ‘authentically’ (hear Sartre, Camus, Merleau-Ponty) imaginative, and something that’s ‘excessive’ (hear Morrison). Isn’t there a point at which we have to say, to Federman (or Ron or Lance or Steve or whomever): oh, come on, that’s going too far! Morrison again: the terribly difficult gray area between that which is “too thick” and that which is “too thin” (Beloved).

6. This is linked to the struggle you guys constantly enact between the shaping power of the imagination and the pressure of intrusive ‘reality.’ Federman perpetually wonders: can pomo fiction address the holocaust? Okay, but what about his beloved daughter’s life-threatening cancer? Or even his own bout with cancer? On one level, you celebrate the release brought about by ‘innovation’; on another, you dance faster and faster, more and more desperately, over what you fear may be an alltooreal abyss. (Wallace Stevens as early postmodernist.)

7. That said, for me, the issue is less which texts to insert into a grad, or even an undergrad, course in pomo fiction, but rather how to insert the issues of pomo into a more ‘expansive’ syllabus likely to infect larger numbers of students. Like Matt (and, I suspect, a lot of you guys), I’m at this moment tinkering with my syllabus for a course next semester titled ‘American Literature: 1965 – the Present.’ Unlike Matt’s, however, this is an undergrad survey course, one that’s required of our English-Ed majors (future high school teachers), and because anything connected with “the Present” interests young students looking for what they hope is an easy elective, it draws from a variety of disciplines, not just English majors. Which means, to be blunt: I couldn’t include Steve’s VAS (which ‘worked’ wonderfully in a pomo fiction course) but I could use Lance’s 10:01. The socalled real world intrudes once again. For a Business student, VAS is regrettably too thick. In the trenches, compromises are also real.

8. Also influencing the selection process: it’s a survey course, we all have them in our departments, and we’ve all probably taught them at some point or another. And ‘survey’ usually means something linear: you start at 1965 and come up to yesterday, if possible. But I’m using that other sense of ‘survey’: to look over a field to see what’s there (epistemological issue: making v. finding ‘what’s there’). So whether I include this decade or that becomes irrelevant; more important: am I raising the issues of this vague block of time in a way that has an ‘authentic’ impact on the students? As Pynchon said of Robbins: I want to change their brainscapes, but it has to be done with a scalpel, not a broadsword.

9. And of course, another real world intrusion is simply the number of texts you can assign: I find that Matt and I pretty much agree on nine. So someone is always being excluded – as Jeff says, you can’t teach ‘em all.

10. So I start with war stories and end with 9/11 and terrorism, because I think that’s maybe the most important issue of our moment. But throughout is a preoccupation with perspective, p.o.v., in terms of narrative devices as well as mixed media.

11. So here’s the current version of my version of Matt’s course, in the order I plan to teach them:

Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried
George Clark, The Small Bees’ Honey
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
Carole Maso, The Art Lover
Art Spiegelman, Maus I
Toni Morrison, Jazz
Lance Olsen, 10:01
Jonathan Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I mean, it’s all pomo fiction, right?

26 October 2006

Seminar in Contemporary Fiction

I'm thinking through what I'll teach in my spring grad seminar in contemporary fiction. My department's felt--up til now--that the course should introduce students to a variety of texts from 1945 to present, and that this variety should let them taste some realism, some minimalism, some postmodernism, some feminist literature, etc. Pretty standard, from what I've seen.

Certainly I want my students (mostly our creative writing MAs) to sample a range of texts. I feel they need this.

On the other hand, as I wrote in a recent email to Cam Tatham, I also feel that contemporary literature can no longer, in any context, mean post-1945, and I'm leaning toward thinking it doesn't even have to involve the 60s-80s.

And I don't feel like it's terribly contemporary unless it's in some ways innovative.

But I worry that I'm narrowing my students' views too greatly if I have a syllabus made up of Carole Maso and Lance Olsen and Kass Fleisher and Steve Tomasula and Shelley Jackson and Lidia Yuknavitch (my list to this point).

25 October 2006

L. Timmel Duchamp reads at UCSD

Celebrating ParaSpheres,
fabulist and new wave fabulist stories

Wednesday, November 1 (4:30 - 6 PM)

University of California at San Diego

UCSD Campus in the Visual Arts Facility Performance Space, "The VAF"
San Diego, California

Readings by these contributors:

L. Timmel Duchamp
William Luvaas
Carol Schwalberg
Noelle Sickels
Mark Wallace

MCs: Rusty Morrison & Ken Keegan

Free hors d'oeuvres and sparkling water


I'll be reading from "The Tears of Niobe."

22 October 2006

the writer's edge : 2007

fiction collective 2, in partnership with portland state university, presents:

the writer's edge
Second Annual Innovative Writing Conference
All Day: July 27, 28, 29 2007
Portland State University

–Workshops on Innovative Writing
–One-on-One Conferences
–Panels on Multimedia Experiments, the State of Contemporary Fiction & Publishing, & More
–Books & DVDs


deadline for applications
1 March 2007


credit available

the workshops

Karen Brennan

In the 18th century, Henry Fielding famously observed that "the novel is a baggy monster." This class will assert that creative nonfiction is the "baggy monster" of the 21st century. To that end, we will explore hybridity in creative nonfiction; that is to say, we will read nonfictions that intersect with other genres--poetry, criticism, fiction--and generally explore (by reading and writing) the capaciousness of the nongenre of creative nonfiction.

Lucy Corin

Our interest will be in small numbers of exquisitely and surprisingly arranged words. By limiting the number of words we use and consciously treating passages of text as blocks of sculptural material we can begin to relinquish certain forms of authority that tend to strangle prose. We’ll ask questions like: How many different ways can a writer, who supposedly has one “voice,” distill narrative and language within limited space? How “big” can you make a small thing? How is and is not a small thing a microcosm of some bigger thing? Is it interesting or not to deviate from standard paragraph form? Do we care or not what is prose fiction and what is some other genre like poetry or diary? How does patterning a number of pieces in a sequence create or change meaning? Does such a form have anything to do with wholeness or completeness? If not, then what’s the point or the pleasure? We’ll look at very short stories by writers like Lydia Davis, Diane Williams, and Kafka, write and revise several of our own small pieces, and explore a variety of sequential arrangements of the pieces we compose.

Brian Evenson

This workshop explores the variety of ways in which contemporary writers can and do respond to writers who have come before them. We'll discuss the way writers appropriate earlier traditions--for instance, the way Angela Carter or Robert Coover or Rikki Ducornet respond to fairy tales or the way Kathy Acker responds to canonical books such as Don Quixote--and think about how they simultaneously preserve and subvert past literary ideas. How can we both learn from the writers who precede us and still be working in an original space? Is Harold Bloom's notion of Anxiety of Influence something that still holds in today's postmodern literary field? We'll also do some exercises of our own, thinking about how retelling and reinscribing earlier ideas and tales can transform them and make them our own.

Lance Olsen

Usually the metaphor of architecture is applied to writing, if it is applied to it at all, in order to italicize the "craft" employed in its creation. Occasionally one might find mention of the use of architecture in fiction—the metalogical libraries, for instance, described in Jorge Luis Borges's stories. But what I'm interested in exploring in this workshop is the following question: how it is both illuminating and stimulating to conceptualize fiction's structures and discourses as spaces one lives in and moves through as one might, for instance, a Bauhaus building, a tenement, an emergency room, a funhouse, a cathedral? We shall look at how author William Gass and his architect-spouse Mary collaborate to find harmonies between sentences by Hemingway and houses by Frank Lloyd Wright, on the one hand, and those by Henry James and baroque palaces, on the other. We shall think about Milorad Pavic's distinction between nonreversible art (like music and conventional narrative, which can and must only fall forward) and reversible art (like architecture, some innovative prose, and hypertext, which can and must be entered through various portals at various times to various effects). We shall ponder what new-media author and theorist Michael Joyce means by saying that every innovative text is a liquid city. And then we shall try to imagine, via several writing exercises, new architectures for our own fiction.

Lidia Yuknavitch

There is an interstice between the body and writing where meaning is always in flux. When writers and artists attempt to render that space, their work slips quickly from the mainstream into its more dangerous, sensuous and hidden tributaries. But that kind of writing and art articulates perhaps the most exciting new forms available for writers hoping to liberate narrative from market and genre-bound static products. In this workshop we will explore the territory between writing and the body through mixed genre work by others, through now-time writing exercises, and through a bit of multimedia experimentation. participants will leave with new ideas and texts to inhabit and grow.

15 October 2006

interview : l. timmel duchamp : part two

Lance: In nearly every story in your collection, Love's Body, a kind of gendered political possibility space opens up that reminds me, sometimes to a greater extent, sometimes to a lesser, of the one called the city of Bellona in Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren—a place, in other words, where anything can and should be tried and thought. In my favorite fiction of yours, "The Heloise Archive," an alternate-history novella in which Heloise (1101-1162) leaves her lover-teacher Abelard and eventually gives birth to the second Christ, a female one, you critique doctrinal religion's hypocrisy, dangers, and biases ("If the mass madness of the Church is not prevented from developing, not only women, but diverse peoples throughout the world will perish from its excesses."). How did that story come into being?

Timmi: Bellona is a splendid fictional example of how moments of possibility open up in the very situations most people would prefer never to find themselves caught up in. I noticed, when I was studying history, the way such spaces do open up, without notice, creating a momentary possibility for truly radical change. Sometimes radical change would occur, but most often it did not. In any case, all of the internalized social and social-psychological baggage we all carry around with us would be important factors determining the outcome of such situations, even when a massive ideological, intellectual, or spiritual shift was sweeping over just about everyone. Usually, of course, that baggage would win out, since post-adolescent humans tend resist change fiercely. The historical Abelard and Heloise did not, to my knowledge, occupy such a space, though each of them was unquestionably endowed with the Right Stuff to have made much of one, had the potential existed. But I had been long aware that Western values and attitudes shifted regrettably in the late twelfth century, with especially deleterious effects for women and Jews in particular, and for tolerance and more egalitarian values generally. The early thirteenth-century Pope Innocent III, whose mastery of centralized bureaucratic imperialism made the papacy rich, did not invent anti-Semitism or misogyny, but the virulence of his intolerance stamped itself indelibly on the Church for centuries to come and made itself official policy with the infamous Fourth Lateran Council. And yet just a century before, Abelard and other philosophers and theologians—like the great Abbess Hildegard of Bingen—developed new, critical ways of thinking. And women like Heloise and Hildegard held positions of authority. And so, although the first half of the twelfth century was in no way a utopia, it always struck as a temporal space pregnant with possibility.

I became interested in the story of Abelard and Heloise back in the 1970s, when I was in graduate school. First, both Abelard’s “History of my Calamity” (as he titled his open letter/memoir) and Heloise’s letters struck me as remarkable for the degree of psychological insight and analysis they offered: and of course they are amazingly vivid. Second, by all accounts, Heloise was an exceptionally talented scholar and very, very smart. For the kind of graduate student I was, she was irresistible. Third, Heloise has long figured as an emblem of what women philosophers in particular and intellectuals in general are up against, particularly since their mentors and closest colleagues have usually been men with whom they have close (even if not necessarily erotic) ties. (For those interested, check out Michèle Le Dœuff’s Hipparchia’s Choice: An Essay Concerning Women, Philosophy, Etc.) It was in the summer of 1992, though, that I began to think about writing about Abelard and Heloise; I actually came very close to writing a history-based novel. After all, they were the most glamorous celebrities of their day—the most popular teacher in France and the writer of love songs sung all over Europe, Abelard was mobbed by fans wherever he went, and his love affair with Heloise was famous all over Europe. Let’s face it, their story is gold-plated Big Screen material; just to mention a few of the high points: it’s the story of hot, passionate, star-crossed lovers secretly marrying and having a child while openly refusing to sanctify their union; of Heloise’s enraged uncle having Abelard castrated because of their refusal to marry & Abelard then ordering Heloise to a nunnery; of Heloise becoming the leader of a group of nuns kicked out of their nunnery and made homeless when a powerful ecclesiastic decided he had a use for their nunnery; of Abelard being tried for heresy; of Abelard being assigned the position of abbot to a house of “barbaric” rebellious monks in Brittany who actively attempt to kill him when he asserts his authority… But really, I could just go on and on and on!

The documents are rich and suggestive, and yet they leave a lot of room for one’s imagination to have a field day. But by August, 1992, my immersion in the documents—in their style and language, in the suggestive intricacies of the story they tell—drove me to rewrite the story of their relationship in a science-fictional way. I imagine that most writers choosing to imagine an alternate version of their story would prefer to intervene before Abelard’s castration since that event was, after all, what killed his love (if that’s the correct word) for Heloise. Maybe, if I had been younger, undoing the castration would have appealed to me. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more interested in working with rather than imagining freedom from the parts of history (personal as well as collective) that are painful and intractable aspects of who one is (individually or collectively). As a result, I decided to place the story’s sf conceit, an intervention from the future, post-castration. And of course what could be more perfect for open-minded scholars like Abelard and Heloise than to be confronted with the texts of Gnostic gospels? And since I’ve always loved playing with footnotes in my fiction, I especially enjoyed alluding to the resulting alternate history through the explanatory notes of a graduate student in that world’s future, rather than offering a fuller frame-narrative, as I had originally intended to do.

Lance: Does science or speculative fiction allow you a set of tools others genres don't to explore what you want to? What in your mind is the relationship between SF, oppositional fiction, and innovative fiction?

Timmi: To answer the first question, yes, I think that it does. Delany explains this probably better than I could: “Science fictional discourse,” he wrote back in 1975, vis-à-vis the sf novel’s important differences from the modern and postmodern literary novel, “redistributes the fictive attention between character and landscape (i.e., between subject and object) in a manner different from mundane fiction… To work within this reorganized fictive frame gives us, first of all, a basically better matrix in which to deal with the recomplications of modern ‘sign’ language. And I can think of no better place than science fiction in which to avoid ‘certain conventions of fiction’ that make so much fiction such a political disaster.”

Let me expand on this a bit by citing a clear example of this “redistribution of fiction attention”, viz., a story by Alan de Niro titled “Skinny Dipping in the Lake of the Dead” (which appears in de Niro’s short fiction collection of the same name, published a few months ago by Small Beer Press). I remember that as I was reading the opening pages of the story, I became conscious that my keen interest in the story’s world, which the narrative reveals one tantalizing detail at a time, was driving me forward, rather than engagement with the ordinary geeky adolescent who’s the viewpoint character or interest in the plot. That is to say, my curiosity and pleasure in discovering the logic and parameters of the story’s world and mentally constructing it one image at a time was far keener than my interest in the more ordinary aspects of the character’s thoughts and feelings. This is not a complaint about characterization, but a recognition that first, as with many good sf stories, the characters of this story, being of a piece with their world, cannot be fully appreciated outside the context of the landscape of that world—outside its matrix of “signs,” as Delany calls them, meaning its social relations and politics and technology and economics and so on; and that second, the construction of an unfamiliar landscape or “matrix” is a deeply pleasurable aspect of reading good sf. Which is to say, science fiction stories place the objective register of the text on a par with its subjective register (i.e., the interiorized individuality of its characters).

Thus, writing science fiction, I can refuse the distorted image of the human as an almost entirely self-determined, self-sufficient individual for whom the world is a mere backdrop, an image that has resulted from the pernicious myth of individualism pervading US culture and is nearly de rigueur for Realist fiction, and I can insist, through my own fiction, that human beings can’t be meaningfully extracted from the complicated matrix that constitutes the reality in which they live. I do this by creating new matrices, or depicting changes in the matrix (which is always shifting and changing, regardless of whether anyone notices that it is). My matrices typically include economic conditions, ethical and moral values, social relations and mores, as well as concepts, patterns of language, aesthetic principles, and indeed, anything at all that occurs to me to take into account. Science fiction not only allows but even demands it! And that’s something that’s almost impossible to do when writing “Realist” fiction. Science fiction is not only open to any question, issue, or idea that one can think of, but also gives one permission to carry one’s speculations beyond the limits of what is likely or even possible. Plausibility means something entirely different for realist fiction than it does for science fiction.

Your second question is a tough one. I think the relationship between oppositional fiction, SF, and innovative fiction is fluid. A lot of SF is neither oppositional nor innovative; and obviously a work does not need to be SF to be oppositional and innovative. Nor is innovative work necessarily oppositional, or oppositional work necessarily innovative. In producing innovative work, the writer is forced to balance between the Scylla of unintelligibility that results when the reader is unable to make meaning out of unfamiliar concepts or points of reference and the Charybdis of triteness that characterizes utter transparency of meaning. (For an interesting discussion of this, see Rob Halpern’s “Committing the Fault (Notes Towards a Faulty Narrative Practice),” which can be found in Biting the Error: Writers Explore Narrative, ed Burger, Glück, Roy, and Scott, Coach House Books, 2004.) In producing oppositional work, the writer is forced to balance between the Scylla of a clarity that will strike ideological opponents as irksomely didactic and the Charybdis of being subtle to the point of obscurity—while also having to negotiate the difficulties of necessarily speaking one’s opposition in the language and terms of the very things one is opposing. Innovative or oppositional science fiction shares these same problems, but in my view generously provide opportunities for circumventing them. Because science fictional discourse values the objective register as much as it does the subjective, readers are primed from the first sentence to try to figure out what’s going on in the text. That is to say, the lack of determined (dare I say dogmatic?) naiveté of the devotee of Realist fiction. And I suppose that is why, when a work of SF is either innovative, oppositional, or both, it feels right to me that it is, precisely because the emphasis on the objective register invites innovation and provides marvelous opportunities for instigating critical thinking. Since I distrust attempts to make hard and fast definitions of SF (which are usually used to exclude work that one contingent or another finds an affront to own identifications), I would say simply that SF is fiction that places a high value on the objective register and is in conversation with other texts of fiction called SF.

14 October 2006

Petition on behalf of Turkish Writers

Dear Friends,

We received the message and petition below from Seven Stories Press regarding free expression in Turkey. Please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to add your name to this effort. Thank you.


Anna Kushner, Freedom to Write Program Coordinator, Pen International (anna@pen.org)


Dear friend,

The recent government threats to a publisher, editors and a translator in Turkey have prompted the following statement to be circulated in these individuals' defense. It is being circulated widely in Turkey and internationally to concerned publishers and some writers. Please indicate via reply whether you would like your name and affiliation added to this list, which will then be released in the coming weeks.

Best regards,
Dan Simon, Publisher
Seven Stories Press

Publishers have a responsibility to defend the free flow of information, opinion as well as works of the imagination. And while standards for free speech in general and for books in particular may differ from country to country around the world, there are certain standards which must be held above those of any particular nation, including that no individual may be criminally prosecuted for the performance of his or her duties as a publisher.

As reported on Tuesday, July 4, 2006, Turkey's Chief Public Prosecution Office has decided to indict the Turkish publisher of "Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media" by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky. Named in the indictment are the owner of the Aram Publishing House, Fatih Tas, together with the editors Omer Faruk Kurhan and Lutfi Taylan Tosun, and the book's translator , Ender Badoglio. The indictment claims that certain extracts from the book fuel hatred and discrimination. Those charged could face up to 6 years in prison if found guilty. Tas was acquitted on similar charges related to a prior Chomsky text in 2002. The new Turkish Criminal Law (TCL) has become the sword of Democles over many authors and publishers since June 2005, and is the same law by which a journalist from Agos gazette, Hrant Dink, and the writer Orhan Pamuk were recently prosecuted. Charges against Pamuk were dropped in the light of international protest.

We the following publishers and concerned citizens wish to stand on record in solidarity with our colleagues in Turkey. We wish to remind the Turkish government that by criminalizing individuals at a Turkish publisher they are hurting the dignity and reputation of Turkish citizens everywhere. And we wish to demand that the criminal complaint against Fatih Tas, Omer Faruk Kurhan, Lutfi Taylan Tosun and Ender Badoglio be withdrawn.


Names and affiliations

09 October 2006

And what have you been reading lately?

An almost-outdated post in U.S. News and World Report (August 28, 2006, page 38) notes that our Commander-in-Chief, I kid you not, has read 60 books so far in 2006.

Aside from the fact that any President reading that much is clearly not running our country (please, resist the urge to make the obvious joke…), G.W. must be doing some graduate school-like exam cramming.

Oh, but here are some of the titles:


Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar

American Prometheus (Robert Oppenheimer bio)

Several baseball books (Roberto Clemente, Babe Ruth, etc…)

Surprising (?):

Mao: The Unknown Story

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Wisdom (listed by a polich hack?)

And…drum roll:

The Stranger, as in, yes, that mid-century existentialist classic, about, as The Cure sublimely note, “killing an Arab.”

Aside from (again, resist the urge...) the obvious issues with this list (my father suggests that the other texts must be short children's books…), is anyone else in the “book business” strung out on reading?

By the time I make it through student papers, editorial mss., and books I am teaching or reviewing, I have precious little energy for those good old pleasures of the texts.

Please tell me I’m not alone...or at least pass me some Camus.


08 October 2006

indie bookstores strike back?

An interesting article over at Wired argues independent bookstores are surviving--and possibly thriving--by creating the kinds of reader-centered spaces that the internet and chain stores can't offer:

...even as 200 to 300 independent bookstores close a year, the number of independent book stores opening is creeping up.

"For a long time, from 1992 to 2002, you literally could count on two hands the number of openings," said Oren Teicher, chief operating officer of the American Booksellers Association. "In the last three years there are 60, 70, 80 stores opening" each year, he said.

That's welcome news for an association that's watched its membership plummet from 4,000 to about 1,800 since the early 1990s.

"There are a lot of ways to make money in the business," said [Adam] Brent, whose father, Chicago bookseller Stuart Brent, closed the city's most famous bookstore after a half century in 1996.

Gary Kleiman, who owns BookBeat in the northern California community of Fairfax, decided the way to do it was to get rid of the clutter and make his store a gathering place.

"We had 10,000 or 13,000 books in the store," said Kleiman. "Now we have maybe 1,500." Last fall, Kleiman gave all but a handful of his used books to charity. Then he tore down shelves and in their place put tables and chairs and a small stage for live performances. He started offering free wireless internet access. And to help convince people to take advantage of it all he got a beer and wine license.

As for the books, most of the ones left are new and they're confined to the perimeter walls. While he's selling about the same number of books as he used to, new books are selling better. And his store has a lot more customers -- eating, drinking and listening to music -- than he did before. About 60 percent of the store's profits come from the cafe.

Kleiman's drastic move after six years of business is in large part the result two things he came to understand about the internet.

The first was that there were just too many used books online and they were just too cheap -- far cheaper than he could afford to sell them.

The second was that for all the talk about the speed of ordering books online, he could be faster. "I can order today and they will be here tomorrow," he said -- one reason customers choose him instead of the internet.

Some bookstores have survived by giving their customers what they say chain stores often do not: Employees who know what they're talking about.

"You can discuss books with us. We are all readers," said Arlene Lynes, who opened Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock, Illinois, in 2005. "To me, that's what's bringing people back."

Powells City of Books here in Portland is one of the best reader-centered spaces in the world, and also easily one of the best places to find and buy books online. Is this merely an anomaly? What *is* the reality (and thus the future) of indie bookstores anyhoo?

Order as difference/fixed as random

re: literary value and innovation, some idea encounters i’ve enjoyed of late, from odd sources:

----first line in an article in a yoga magazine about a musician who specializes in sacred music (paraphrased): a true artist knows how to blend the conventional form of his work with the innovation.

----an essay from 1995 (yep, that’s me, about 10 years behind the times...you’ve all probably heard of this before) by greg lynn that uses william and gregory bateson’s systems theories to discuss innovation in architecture:

Issue 1, 1995

The Renewed Novelty of Symmetry [1]
Greg Lynn

and the following is me working through this in my head: among other things, lynn conducts a vigorous examination of newness itself (newness by definition involves difference; in gregory bateson’s words, “difference that makes a difference”) and suggests that we think of novelty (innovation) as being similar to evolutionary development (this is where william comes in), in which difference occurs in increments that allow previous conventions (symmetry, for lynn) to reorganize in recognizable ways. (merriam-webster’s *fourth* definition of “symmetry” is “the property of remaining invariant under certain changes.”) that is, a building might contain innovative design traits (novelties), but in the end it’s still a building (generally similar to other buildings). thus monkeys did not mutate suddenly into palm trees. and, innovation spurs reorganization of convention (monkeys adapt to walking upright, which brings its own set of what will next become conventions), rather than the other way around. or, reorganization does not spur innovation (some rogue monkey cannot insist his brothers walk upright). lynn finds the two design possibilities, novelty and symmetry, to be symbiotic, if you will.

i could quote any section of his essay, but here’s one taste useful to me:

In this economy of order and difference, novelty, rather than being some extrinsic effect, can be conceived as the catalyst of new and unforeseeable organizations that proceed from the interaction between freely differentiating systems and their incorporation and exploitation of external constraints. Novelty and order are related in an autocatalytic rather than binary manner as they are simultaneously initiated from a constellation of viscissitudes [3]. This regime of dynamical organizations should not be understood as either Neo-Platonist or Neo-Darwinist as they are neither reducible to merely external nor merely internal constraints. It is the resistance to both fixed types and random mutation that makes flexible, adaptable, emergent and generative systems so provocative at this time.

i guess the yoga magazine writer is saying something similar (KINDA). what concerns me now is “the resistance to both fixed types and random mutation.” i would suppose that literarily-speaking, no innovation will be random (from ME and Greek “run impetuously”), since it will emerge out of a directed (always already) culture. chaotic, perhaps (productive of patterns that emerge from that which appears to be disorder), but not undirected. social forces are at work (huge duh). perhaps what poststructuralists would say to lynn would be that the random is already fixed in some ways.

so, maybe the random and the fixed are actually the same thing?

is this position of any interest to artists who might previously have said that they wish to fall on the random side of things? or does it kill innovation dead?


06 October 2006

interview : l. timmel duchamp : part one

Lance: Would you start off by telling us a little about Aqueduct, your press dedicated to publishing feminist science (or would "speculative" be a better word here?) fiction? When, why, and how did you launch it, and what are some of the most important revelations about the small-press world you've had by doing so?

Timmi: Since April 2004, when the publication of my collection Love’s Body, Dancing in Time launched Aqueduct Press, we’ve published five large trade paperbacks and thirteen—soon to be fourteen—small trade paperbacks. Aqueduct’s focus is feminist sf, which is a term I interpret loosely to include fantastic fiction and also nonfiction. The basic criteria for selection has (so far, at any rate) been that the work must be in “conversation with” other works of feminist sf (in the sense I describe in The Grand Conversation), that I personally am able to engage with it, and that it be in some way “challenging.” When I’m been commended for the range of Aqueduct’s list, it’s usually with surprise—reflecting, I suppose, the unstated assumption that “feminist sf” must by definition be a narrow category. I’m happy, of course, to unsettle that assumption.

The story of how I came to start Aqueduct is one that alters from moment to moment. In fact, I now see so many contributing factors to its genesis that I sometimes wonder how I could not have started it.

On the most personal level, I decided to bring Aqueduct into existence as the resolution to a crisis about my own work. I hit a kind of wall in 2001. By that time I had come to realize it was unlikely I’d ever find a publisher to bring out even one of my standalone novels (much less the million-word Marq’ssan Cycle, which I needed to be assured would be published in its entirety, something I knew no publisher would ever be able to promise). For another, I found that the attitude of some of the editors to whom I’d been selling short fiction was becoming more conservative and less open to my more challenging stories. And so for a couple of years I toyed with the idea of forgetting about writing for publication and just writing for myself. Given the strength of my independence and the peculiarities of my imagination, I knew that such a strategy could result in my producing work so increasingly idiosyncratic that it might become virtually unintelligible to anyone but me. And that made me wary of taking such a decision.

At the same time, I had become aware that the major sf publishers were ditching good writers right and left. I had always wished that existing feminist presses in the US would, like the Women’s Press in the UK, become sufficiently enlightened to realize that feminist sf is a literature at the vanguard of feminist ideas and thinking and commit themselves to publishing and promoting it. But although that never happened, feminist sf nevertheless managed to thrive in the US. So when the major publishers of sf began to back away from strong, serious feminist sf, the lack of a specifically feminist press publishing sf made itself felt, and I found myself thinking seriously about what the knowledge that the publishers had become risk-averse and that anything too challenging or demanding might now get tagged as “risky” would do to feminist sf writers. As a devotee of feminist sf, this disturbed me; as a writer of feminist sf, this alarmed me. I have long understood that the intelligibility of my own work depends on the existence of a web of related work by other writers. This is true, of course, for all writers. But for one embedded in the small discursive sphere that is feminist sf, this is absolutely critical. While it is true that people who’ve never read Samuel R. Delany, Joanna Russ, Octavia Butler, James Tiptree, Jr., Carol Emshwiller, Gwyneth Jones, or Karen Joy Fowler may very well be able to read my work with appreciation, there’s no question in my mind that people who have read all those authors (and others I haven’t named) will have an easier and richer experience reading my work than those who haven’t.

Aqueduct is the first dedicated feminist sf press to exist in the US. If we’d had such a press in the 1970s, feminist sf might have gone even farther than it did. In any case, there’s considerable irony in my founding a feminist sf press in 2004, at a time when many young women want to dissociate themselves from the term “feminist” even when their values and attitudes are unquestionably feminist, and at a time when numerous men in sf keep announcing that the need for feminist consciousness is past. The reality is that an influx of women into the field is underway, and they’re talking among themselves about many of the same issues Joanna Russ and Suzy Charnas were talking about thirty years ago.

Two of the novels I’ve edited and published were rejected by the major sf publishers, probably because the publishers considered them too demanding. I heard about Gwyneth Jones’s novel (Life, which Aqueduct published in October 2004) from Karen Joy Fowler in the fall of 2003 just as I was making my final decision about starting Aqueduct; Karen had read the novel in ms and loved it. I asked Gwyneth for permission to consider it, and I fell in love with it, too, and knew I had to bring it into print. Surprisingly, despite its being a challenging book to read, it won the juried Philip K. Dick Award. Another novel not appreciated by the big publishers, Mindscape, is an immense, mind-expanding experience to read. Its author, Andrea Hairston, is a playwright and performer, and the energy and élan of her prose reflects that. I suppose that if this is a particularly “difficult” book (and I’ve heard that some people think it is), that perception is due to its utter originality. There’s nothing like it that it can be compared to, which means that it demands that its readers venture into terra incognita and learn how to read the book as they go. I myself have always loved that kind of reading experience, but I’m sure it’s what corporate publishers consider “risky.”

Anent revelations about the small-press world, the discovery that the “presence” of a particular small press, at least in its earliest stages, before it has become a institution in itself (which development is, of course, an index of its success), is linked to its identity with the person or persons who are running it has come as my biggest surprise so far. Although I had numerous examples staring me in the face when I started Aqueduct—Small Beer, Tachyon, and Night Shade, to name the first three to come to my mind—it never occurred to me that my own association with Aqueduct would need to be publicized. In fact, though a writer and friend who has a career in the advertising industry behind her advised me at the outset that I should “brand” Aqueduct with my own reputation, I’d intended to downplay that association. But I abandoned the idea of keeping my association quiet when I discovered at a party for sf professionals that saying “Aqueduct, c’est moi” was efficacious in generating interest in an otherwise invisible press. (Which is another way of saying, I suppose, that where any small press is concerned, it’s a small world.) Once I uttered those words and discovered the difference they made, I began the scramble up a steep and slippery curve for learning how to reach the range of audiences that Aqueduct’s books might appeal to. I may change my mind about this later, but for the moment, achieving presence and maintaining and communicating a clear vision of Aqueduct’s mission are, it seems to me, the most critical factors in doing that.

Lance: In your press's mission statement, you talk about feminist SF having thrived for thirty years now. How has it changed over that time, and who are some of the practitioners with whom all of us should be familiar?

Timmi: The second wave of US feminism hit sf in the early 1970s. There are earlier works of feminist sf that have since been returned to print, but at the time these had largely been forgotten; and of course there was a lot of work by women, but most of it wasn’t in any way oppositional or alternative to mainstream values and practices of the day (which, I should perhaps remind younger readers, included separate job listings for men and women and the complacent and completely legal refusal to allow women into certain academic departments or majors, as well as difficulties, often insuperable, in opening a bank account or buying a home in one’s own name, if one were a woman). Feminism came to the sf world not only through feminist texts, but via the discussion both of the role and place of women in sf texts and of the place and role of women in the sf community at large. The earliest and strongest feminist voices leading the discussion were novelists Joanna Russ, Suzy McKee Charnas, Vonda McIntyre, and critic Susan Wood. Over the next decade and a half, they would be joined by writers James Tiptree, Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon), Octavia E. Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Angela Carter, Samuel R. Delany, Pamela Sargent, Eleanor Arnason, Pat Murphy, and Karen Joy Fowler. Other writers like Carol Emswhiller and Josephine Saxton produced arguably feminist texts (while themselves refusing the label “feminist”), and a few writers who did not identify themselves as science fiction writers produced one or two important feminist sf texts (Monique Wittig, Marge Piercy). The late eighties and early nineties saw the appearance of another wave of feminist sf writers—Nicola Griffith, Maureen F. McHugh, Gwyneth Jones, Lucy Sussex, Rebecca Ore, and Kelly Link, among others.

Feminist sf in the 1970s took an oppositional attitude toward the genre: it challenged previously unquestioned assumptions and premises and claimed the genre’s tropes for use in developing a distinctly feminist imagination. For a while, feminist explorations of the utopian imagination flourished, breathing new life into a moribund form of political fiction. By the mid-eighties, though, feminist writers began to engage in conversation with the important feminist texts of the 1970s—raising questions, challenging earlier assumptions as naïve or needing more thought, and in some cases taking issue with other writers’ notions of the desirable; and the earlier intense focus on reproductive issues began to give way to a focus on sexuality. A third stage began to emerge in the 1990s. Building on the work of the 1970s texts, writers dropped the attitude of writing in opposition to the established tropes and engaged in subtle exploration and conversation with what had by that time become the feminist sf canon. I call such writing “alternative.” “Alternative” writing can afford to be expansive and exploratory as politically oppositional writing cannot. The best example of such writing that I can think of is Karen Joy Fowler’s story “What I Didn’t See,” which readers lacking a grounding in the feminist sf canon tend not to read as either science fiction or particularly feminist.

Lance: In your bio at the end of your wonderful collection, Love's Body, Dancing in Time, you mention that at one point your creativity was "derailed" onto "an academic track," but that you eventually "deserted the academy and abandoned" yourself to the pleasures of fiction writing. Would you connect the dots in that story, and talk a little about how the academy has informed your fiction and your sense of it?

Timmi: I spent most of my childhood immersed in music—in playing it, in writing it, in listening to it. Interesting things were going on at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in 1968, when I arrived as a freshman. I planned to major in music composition, but ran into a situation I was too naïve to negotiate successfully. Before I registered, I was asked to “audition,” which involved my being tested in music theory, sight-singing, taking dictation, and on-the-spot keyboard transposition of a score, all of which I performed effortlessly for an octogenarian emeritus professor who must have just happened to be on campus that day (since he was someone I never saw again at any music school function); I also played piano transcriptions of some of my own compositions. Because of this “audition,” I was exempted from taking theory (though I allowed myself to be talked into taking an experimental course in music theory, which turned out to be one of my favorite courses, taught by a wonderful instructor)—but was told that I would need to “prove” myself before I’d be allowed to major in composition. I could do this by persuading a composition professor to let me sign up for lessons with him at the beginning of each semester, and perhaps some day, I was led to understand, in the vague future, I would be considered worthy of being a major. Naturally it never occurred to me that they had made up all this rigmarole of an audition & invented a rule just for me. (And it didn’t occur to me that their administrative exclusion of me might have something to do with why there were no women composition students: for since there never had been a woman majoring in woman composition, I naively assumed I must simply be the first woman student that had ever been interested in composing music on that campus.) But once I began classes, I met the handful of young men who were composition majors (of whom I was at first in awe, because I assumed they must be enormously more advanced and talented than I) and discovered that some of them had no theory background and at least one of them had never finished composing anything and that none of them had been subjected to an “audition.” And of course none of them had ever been required to persuade a professor to teach them each term.

As one does, I did my best to swallow the humiliation and do what I needed to do to keep studying and composing. This was an exciting and challenging time to be writing music, for one tended to invent new theory and new notation with each composition one undertook. (Such a background was extremely helpful when I began writing fiction.) And I found several musicians who were into my work and eager to perform it, with the result that when graduate students and junior faculty organized New Music events, they included my work on their programs. What more could I have wanted? I told myself that the legitimacy of official recognition didn’t matter. & for a while, that attitude held. In late May 1970, a few weeks after our campus had suffered a brief occupation by the Illinois National Guard, a piece of mine that had been previously performed with other New Music in an art gallery in downtown Champaign was performed in the Composition Division’s year-end student recital and got a warm reception from an audience of a couple hundred people. For about twenty-four hours I basked in the praise of my peers. When I went to my next composition lesson, my teacher asked to see the score of the piece again; I happened to have it with me and happily handed it over. Calmly he drew cartoons all over it and explained to me that its success was a “fluke.” (I was too upset, of course, to ask him what exactly he meant.) After which, he hit on me. I left his studio in a daze. And I understood that he had agreed to let me study with him simply because of his sexual interest in me.

And that was the beginning of the end. I lost all confidence in my creativity. I remember sitting, that summer, staring at a score I was working on, contemplating half a dozen different possible places to take it and being unable to settle on which. I’d never experienced such an impasse before: always I’d heard everything in my head without thinking about it and had merely to work it out on paper. I kept recalling what my first composition professor had often told me when he was describing the principles of craft that explained the effectiveness of something that I had done intuitively: the music is right when it sounds inevitable; the ear always knows.

For several years I kept that terrible lesson of the “fluke” a deep, dark secret. (I assumed it was true: and so how could I stand to share my humiliation with anyone else?) For the first time of my life, I ceased to live, eat, and breathe music. My friends, my family, and the musicians who’d been performing my music couldn’t understand how I could just stop writing music. I dropped out of school for a couple of years, and when I went back, I majored in Music History and quickly discovered a passion for History itself. And when I finished my undergraduate degree, I began work on a PhD in History. I became enamored with abstract thinking and theory, and as anyone becoming a historian must do, I grappled with narrative and came to understand how narrative structures determine what it is possible to say. What I learned about narrative dovetailed nicely with my readings of Foucault, particularly his discussion of the politics of truth and knowledge (which resonated with the Nietzsche I’d begun reading a year or two before I started graduate school).

As to my coming to write fiction: that started through a joke. After I passed by written doctoral examines, I whipped off the first chapter of a roman a clef to blow off steam in an entertaining way. Egged on by my friends and colleagues, I continued writing chapter after chapter—in my spare time—until one day I found myself with a novel ms in hand. After that, I couldn’t stop. And then I became serious and arrived at the momentous decision to set aside my dissertation in favor of a fiction-writing apprenticeship. And I’ve never regretted it for an instant.

Without question, my fiction has been informed both by my experience composing music, which made me acutely aware of overarching structures and themes as well as the equally important microstructures and patterns so important to all aesthetic creation, and by my training as a historian, which required me to think critically about plausibility and narrative structure and gave me an awareness of and insight into different/changing social and cultural logics (awareness and insight that have been enormously helpful for creating the interior reality of characters who live in worlds where people not only behave but also think and feel differently than the norm that I am necessarily immersed in). As for my sense of my work, although it is infused with pleasure and playfulness, I am serious about everything I do, likely because of my earlier ambitions as a composer and my years as a graduate student passionately in love with high-flown, abstract conceptualization.

stay tuned:
the second half of this interview
will be posted soon

02 October 2006

The Editorial Function

It seemed to us that it might be useful to pose a few questions re this matter of the editorial function that Joe raised some while back. We each enjoyed a brief stint of late as (executive, managing) editors with American Book Review; like all of you, we've worked with countless editors (and kinds of editors -- acquisitions editors, copy editors, etc.) over the years; and if you throw in our service on editorial boards and the like, this rather rounds out our sense of what the editorial function is all about. Editors can help good work become better (line editing); they can find work that deserves to be published (acquisitions); they can stop presumably inferior work from being published (i.e., the gatekeeping function). In the review world, they can also help to promote work -- or at least contribute to the larger discourse in which a work resides -- by finding worthy reviewers and worthy items to review. This is all very straightforward.

But it leaves us with some nagging questions as to the status of the now in such terms, particularly in light of the proliferation of those many self-publishing models facilitated by our digital technologies. In what follows we make ample use of the line of reasoning that Foucault employed in "What is an Author?"

(1) For Foucault, the concept of authorship emerged at a particular time in history, as a product of history, which suggests that it may not always be with us as such. Does the concept of the editor follow hard on the heels of the author function? What is its history? Can we envision the elimination of the editorial function, and if so, what constraints will take its place? (For Foucault, the demise of authorship as such would not imply the elimination of social/historical constraint.)

(2) Foucault does not feel that one has properly interrogated the author function simply by drawing attention away from the author and to the text. In which regard, he raises the question of the author's name. Indeed, for Foucault, the name is the clearest indication that the author function is not merely a matter of some biological entity called "the author." The author's name functions in myriad material ways -- for instance, in the way books are shelved in stores (along, of course, with genre).

Can the same be said of editors? Certainly, the editorial function does not bring with it the name cachet one finds at work in authorship. In fact the general public knows very little about editors, as a rule, or what editors do (except perhaps for newspaper editors), though within some writer/author tribes -- those who publish on the major trades -- there would seem to be a heightened awareness as to renowned (read: severe) editors. (Max Perkins, say, or "Binky" Urban.) Is this b/c, in avant circles, few can afford to do that level of editing? (We know that even the trades are straining to maintain their editorial staffs at this point.) Or is it that avant writers have a general distrust of the editorial function, b/c all too often editors are hostile to work that doesn't fit precast conceptions? Are we hereby suggesting that avant work brings with it a greater potential for editorial sloppiness? If so, is it worth the latter to maintain a more open response to alternatives?

(3) Foucault discusses how the author function differs for different kinds of texts -- the author seems much less of an issue in scientific writing generally than in literary texts. Can the same be said of the editorial function?

(4) Foucault posits the author function as arising out of a (legal) need to punish transgression. Simply put, names provide a basis for litigious action against juridically-conceived subjects. Can the same be said of the editorial function, not in terms of names, but in terms of the additional capacity for avoiding (e.g.) libel? In which regard and speaking historically, did the editorial function first emerge as an additional such safeguard?

(5) Some authors, for Foucault, author not only individual works, but also entire discourses (Marx, Freud). Can the same be said of some editors? Do editors help to create "the possibilities or the rules for the formation of other texts"? Would we want editors -- or at least, some kinds of editors -- to have such powers? (Perhaps James Laughlin's New Directions, say, or Maurice Girodias's Olympia Press speak to something along these lines.)

(6) We know that, in the small(er) presses, editors and publishers are often one and the same. Should we perhaps be looking more closely, and in the terms already articulated, at the small press publisher?

Following is the etymology of "edition/editor/edit," which we lift wholesale from an online site -- "editor" originally meant [ahem] publisher:

edition L
1551, "act of publishing," from L. editionem (nom. editio) "a bringing forth, producing," from stem of edere "bring forth, produce," from ex- "out" + -dere, comb. form of dare "to give" (see date (1)). Meaning "form of a literary work" is from 1570. "It is awkward to speak of, e.g. 'The second edition of Campbell's edition of Plato's "Theætetus"'; but existing usage affords no satisfactory substitute for this inconvenient mode of expression" [OED]. Edit is 1791, probably as a back-formation of editor (1649), which, from its original meaning "publisher" had evolved by 1712 a sense of "person who prepares written matter for publication;" specific sense in newspapers is from 1803. Editorial "newspaper article by an editor" is Amer.Eng. 1830. Hence, editorialize (1856), "introduce opinions into factual accounts."

Finally (to leave Foucault for a bit), there is an aspect of editing that arises from a feminist perspective on the process, something we like to think of as domestic editing. We work fairly closely together on each other's work, a process that is largely erased from history, because no one beyond the walls of our home has access to that process. In fact, we often forget (argue about?) whose ideas were whose. We're pretty sure we can say with fair accuracy that Joe came up with the title of Kass's Dalkey book, while Kass came up with the title of Joe's Chax book -- but that's about it. We know from history that domestic editing has often been a major factor in artistic production: Leonard edited Virginia, Toklas edited Stein, etc. We also know from the history of women writers that domestic editing can be detrimental, both to the art and to the artist, most often to women artists. Then too there is extended-family domestic editing: James edited Wharton, Stein edited Hemingway -- as with spousal units, close friends or colleagues or acquaintances can perform an editorial function difficult to track. Given the vastly decreasing editorial services offered (even by the trades), will domestic editing play a more and more vital role? And if so, shouldn't it be theorized in terms similar to those above?

Thanks for listening---

Kass & Joe

01 October 2006

Mad Hatters' Review Issue 6 has emerged

Here's the lineup & please note that our reading period for Issue 7 is October 16th through 29th. Enjoy & please submit!!! --- Carol

Mad Hatters' Review Issue 6, October 2006

A Room of My Own & other poems Arlene Ang
Happy Everyday Birthday & other poems David Meltzer
Truth and Untruth & other poems Suchoon Mo
THE ELEMENTALS: Exhibit H, K & M Michael Rothenberg
The Silky Weasel's Dish Float...& other poems Lynn Strongin
She & other poems Edwin Torres

Folktale & other works Eric Darton
Personal Effects Debra Di Blasi
Creation & other works Lily Hoang
Seven Faces of the Assassin Andrew S. Taylor

Cosmopolitan Undress & other works Benjamin Buchholz
Desire for War & other works Ulf Cronquist
A Step Inside Denis Emorine translated from the French by Phillip John Usher
Follow the Directions Erica Plouffe Lazure
I Am Unemployed Tao Lin
Shaking the Superflux & other works Justin Taylor

Animations Dart Page & others Bozarian

Antepodean Antics Selected by Brentley Frazer
The Word Fuck Without Warning & others M.T.C. Cronin
All the World’s a Pilfer Jayne Fenton Keane
Pooh & Selected & others Michael Farrel

Book Reviews
Norman Lock Reviews Chinese Checkers by Mario Bellatin
The intrepid C.B. Smith Reviews books by Olsen, Palecek, & Standaert

Patriotic Polly; Coconuts; Tristan, Miss Julie & Steve & others Carol Novack, Phil Nelson, Marja Hagborg & others

Step to the Rear Rich Andrews Goatbreath Babble Sir Castor Bayley
Strange as it May Seem Tantra Bensko
Advice to the Lorn of Love Crazy Jane
East of East Pete Dolack
Dear New York D. A. Eis
Random Acts of Insanity Shirley Harshenin
From Under the Slush Pile Helen Ruggieri
The Modern Buckaroos' Guide to the Western World Elizabeth Smith

'Fish & Plane' Contest Winning Entries Catherine Edmunds, Emily Brink & Shalla de Guzman
'The Wrong Roof' Current Contest Guidelines (October 15th deadline)

Editor's Rave Carol Novack

Featured Artist Lynn Schirmer

Featured Writer Debra Di Blasi

Featured Artist Lynn Schirmer
Issue 6 Art Multiple Artists Issue 6
Music Multiple Composers

Marc Lowe Interviews Debra Di Blasi
Tantra Bensko Interviews Lynn Schirmer

Mad Hatter Readings
Edwin Torres @ KGB Bar, June 1, 2006

Mental Theatre Episode 2 Don Bergland

New York Comedy Show
MAZELTOV - Yiddish Discovery Channel Lisa Ferber