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two years

It’s been two years that I’ve gotten to know you, to love you, to be with you.

Though it hasn’t been easy, and sometimes it’s been almost too hard, I can say today that it’s been worth it.

It took me just a few days to fall in love with you, to promise to fly back to you, but it’s taken me two years to know you, to understand you, to love you better. I hope we have two more years, and then two more, and always two more from where we are.

For so long I believed I’d spend my life alone and then there was you. Twenty four years of solitude and now two with you. I wouldn’t trade either, but I can tell you which ones were better.

I love you.


sentimental

I love this song, though I actually don’t care for a lot of his songs. Damien Jurado, that is. It reminds me of much more sorrowful days.

I thought I had more to say but it’s already late and you’re already asleep.


on writing books no one wants

I’ve written several novels now. Six in their final form, and I have a few others in various states of disrepair and incompletion. Two of my novels have been published, with another one coming out in a few months. It’s hard to say if anyone actually wants any of these books, though.

Mostly I want to talk about Twilight of the Wolves, which I knew would be a hard sell at first, which is why I’m offering a free novella to those who buy a paperback edition, and why the kindle version is currently $2.99. Even with all that, it looks like no one’s biting, which is, admittedly, quite disappointing. I think there are a few very big reasons for this.

I think part of it has to do with my built in audience, which is made up of the indie lit crowd. I deeply love these people and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me, and I’ve made some great friends within that community. The issue is, I suppose, that it’s a pretty small market, and that few of them have the money or desire to buy everything that comes out. But, I mean, who can do that? But the real point is that no indie authors are making a living off their words, which is why so many are also professors or currently in programs that will lead to them gaining teaching positions. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but it means that your audience is ridiculously small, and largely in conversation with itself. This means very little of what’s published by and within the community reaches past it to casual readers, or even the larger arena of readers, which is a small market to begin with. So what we have, in a sense, is the smallest market within a very small market. It means that very few, if any of us, are selling that many copies of our books. There are exceptions, I’m sure, and there are those who get a lot of great critical attention, especially lately. But I’m not sure how that translates to sales, but I’m sure Two Dollar Radio sells better than most publishing houses of that size because of how much attention their books get, which is a testament to the authors there and to the Obenaufs.

Part of the indie community’s mentality is the importance of high artistic appeal, which typically means that most of the books fall into the experimental or literary genres. Often times both. We love strong prose that plays with form and structure. I think many of the readers within the community don’t have much interest in genres like science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror. There are exceptions, of course, but many of those writers who write genre but are critically beloved are considered transcenders–those who reach past the shabby limits of genre fiction and tap into the literary genre. Thinking of people like Brian Evenson and Matt Bell, though there are certainly others. By and large, the indie community is interested in literary fiction, which is exemplified by the presses associated with the community. I can’t think of any publishing houses that actively seek SF/F, though a few want horror. And it’s not that they necessarily discourage SF/F, but that’s not their audience, and they don’t really want to be a part of that conversation.

Also, before I get too far, I’ll just say this is all how I perceive the community [which should be obvious] and is in no way meant as a definitive description. If there are indie presses doing SF/F, I’d love to see them! Mixer Publishing is one, but I’m not sure how many others there really are. And that’s not to say that there aren’t indie genre publishers. It means that they’re not really a part of the indie lit community, as I understand it. Also, I’m not going to talk about journals or magazines, because that’s absurd to even discuss. For every ten writers, there’s a journal that exists.

Anyrate, moving past the community–which is the audience I can tap into most readily because I’m a member of the community–let’s take a look at the genre readers.

One peculiar thing I discovered when trying to mail ARCs to different magazines and websites for review or interview opportunities, I largely met a wall of disinterest. Most genre publications won’t even look at a book if it’s not published by a SFWA publisher, which puts a huge limit on your ability as an indie author to tap into that market. Beyond that issue, many genre readers are looking for more commercial fiction, something fun and exciting that’s also full of big ideas and complex morality. What they’re typically less interested in is difficult prose. What genre readers want is an open door that leads to a headlong race, a house of mirrors, or a labyrinth. I disagree with everyone who says that genre readers don’t want to be challenged by their books, because that’s just completely untrue and absurd. It is true, however, that they’re less interested in how you can play with the structure of a sentence. They want clear and clean prose that allows them into the complexity of the world you’ve created, where they can wrestle with the philosophical, social, and moral implications of your narrative. A Song of Ice & Fire isn’t difficult to read, but it’s an incredibly complex series of novels. The same is true of MalazanThe Book of the New Sun, The Dispossessed, and Neveryon. And even despite the disinterest in complex or experimental sentences, I think you’ll find few writers more talented than Gene Wolfe, Ursula K Le Guin, and Samuel R Delany, even on a sentence by sentence reading.

Anyrate, so these are the two worlds that Twilight of the Wolves is dealing with. In one, there’s a small built in audience, but the word fantasy cast a dark cloud over the novel. Then there’s the genre audience, which is huge, but is largely disinterested in books published by independent literary presses.

And Twilight of the Wolves very much falls between these two worlds. It’s an experimental novel with sometimes very caustic and aggressive and lyrical prose. It’s rooted in the postcolonial and surreal, and is a subversion of the fantasy genre while being firmly and definitely in dialogue with the fantasy tradition. It’s postmodern and it has a tricky structure with lots of surrealism and difficulty to overcome. It’s a book that demands you learn how to read it and rise to the challenge it presents.

Both of the reviews published about Twilight of the Wolves very much misunderstand even what happens in the novel. Both reviews didn’t even realise that a third of the novel is narrated by a character because of that character’s inability to use personal pronouns or speak aloud. I was grateful for both reviews and it made me proud that both of them loved the book so much. It didn’t even bother me that they missed what I think is a very important part of the book. The novel, though I often think of it as being very straightforward [lying to myself, surely], presents many challenges to the reader, and because of the thickness of the prose, it makes discovering the actual narrative a challenge I wasn’t expecting. And I’ve received only very positive feedback from the novel. People who read it and give themselves to it seem to truly love what’s happening.

But on the otherside of this literary/experimental/postmodern leaning, there’s the fantasy. This is very much a fantasy novel. I stand firmly by that. This is a world I’ve been dreaming my whole life, and it’s purely genre, despite the literary tricks and the playing with form. It’s a reaction to the tradition, but also a continuation of the tradition. I believe people who love George RR Martin, Gene Wolfe, Samuel R Delany, Joanna Russ, Ursula K Le Guin, and China Mieville will really love this novel. And while it’s silly for me to compare myself to any of them, I think I learnt a lot from each of them. Kyle Muntz once told me that the novel reminded him of Thomas Pynchon, but I always think the novel is much closer to Earthsea and Neveryon, and sort of the flipside of Game of Thrones, in that we’re only looking at the people at the bottom. The focus isn’t on kings and knights and ladies and prophecies. We’re looking at orphans: a eunuch, the only survivor of a plague, and a man cursed by a god. They’re powerless, and they don’t rise through the social or military ranks of the world. Instead they try to escape it entirely.

But this isn’t escapism. I didn’t think of it while I wrote it, but this book is very much influenced by Edward Said, Eduardo Galeano, Noam Chomsky, Taoism, Shintoism, and transcendentalism. Though this novel takes place on a different planet, in a very different solar system, it’s rooted in humanity, and its only real question remains: what does it mean to be human?

This, more than any of my other novels, is about what it means to live, which was the original title, and it’s the title I still think of it having. To Live.

And so I’ve written a difficult book that very few people want to read, but it’s the most perfect artistic expression I’ve yet created. It’s the novel that is perhaps most deeply me, most deeply autobiographical, most deeply everything I’ve ever loved and hated.

It will challenge you and perhaps it’s not worth it to you, but this is the book I had to write, and there are many more books set in this world, and they’ll likely all hit this same nebulous inbetween. Being both literary and fantasy, but belonging to neither.

I always knew this was going to be a difficult sell, but I really am disappointed with how it’s selling, and maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe I should be focusing on how those who read it love it. But I guess I expected more for it. It’s difficult putting your whole heart and life into a book and then watching it struggle to stay afloat in the ocean.

I stepped into this year hoping to become a full time writer. I’ve given up on that, I think. It’s very unlikely that this will sell much better. There’s a huge market for it, especially since Game of Thrones entered our television screens, but tapping into that giant market is no easy task, and it’ll likely be a few more books till I’m there, but this is where my heart is, which is sometimes strange to think about. I walked so deeply into the indie lit community only to realise the books I wanted to write didn’t belong there. I mean, I have a few books that still fit quite nicely there, and I think Noir: A Love Story is perfect for that crowd, so look for that in a couple months. July.

But I am disappointed, and I think that I may be shrugging off a lot of this extra stuff I’m doing and just get back to writing. My time has become split by a thousand obligations, and I want to cutoff most of those, and probably will soon. I need to focus back on the words and fight for these books.

So, for now, if you’re still reading this, there’s the promotion I’m doing for the month of April where you can get a novella with Twilight of the Wolves for free. After April, I think I’ll be going underground for a while and just focusing on what really matters with this whole writing business: the words.


something special for april

Twilight of the Wolves was released on Friday but now it’s April, and because it’s April, I decided to do a little special offer. So, for the entire month of April, when you buy the paperback version of Twilight of the Wolves I’ll also send you a digital copy of Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp.

It’s that simple. Just buy the book, show me the receipt, and I’ll get you my novella as well.

I thought this would be fun thing to do, and since they take place in the same world, I think they complement each other quite well as they both play with surrealism and fantasy. But, yeah, spread the word and buy a copy!

If you want more information about these two books, you can find them at their related pages:

Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp

Girl With Ears & Demon With Limp is a fast-paced, surreal rendition of a Medieval tapestry. Set within an infinite castle, from which a young wolven girl and an insane man wish to escape, it’s Kafka turned inside out. And like Kafka, these characters are seeking to make meaning for themselves in a world where meaning has vacated for other lands.

Christopher Barzak, author of Before & Afterlives

edward j rathke has given us a fable bright with language, an adventure story, a coming-through-pain endurance test – but most of all, a lovely and touching tale about the place two forgotten outcasts make for themselves in the world.

Amber Sparks, author of May We Shed These Human Bodies

Twilight of the Wolves

Like a Terrence Malick film set in a universe as rich as Game of Thrones, Twilight of the Wolves is a different kind of fantasy novel: endlessly inventive, thoughtful, and almost painfully beautiful.

–Kyle Muntz, author of VII and Green Lights

Twilight of the Wolves is an unusual and poetic epic fantasy, with a world, civilizations, and mythologies all of its own, yet unmistakably reminiscent of our past and current world. Best of all, Twilight of the Wolves puts on center stage the people and socioeconomic classes who are often marginalized, suppressed, or overlooked in other types of epic fantasy and secondary worlds, in a passionate and compassionate study of love, languages, and humanness.

Berit Ellingsen, author of Beneath the Liquid Skin

coverdraft3 Twilight of the Wolves - Edward J. Rathke


twilight of the wolves released today

Twilight of the Wolves - Edward J. Rathke

It’s finally available! Buy Twilight of the Wolves and earn my forever love! If you want to read more about the novel, click over to the page devoted to it where you can find reviews and so on. It’s being released by Perfect Edge Books, the brainchild of Phil Jourdan.

Blurbs:

–Kyle Muntz, author of VII and Green Lights

Twilight of the Wolves is an unusual and poetic epic fantasy, with a world, civilizations, and mythologies all of its own, yet unmistakably reminiscent of our past and current world. Best of all, Twilight of the Wolves puts on center stage the people and socioeconomic classes who are often marginalized, suppressed, or overlooked in other types of epic fantasy and secondary worlds, in a passionate and compassionate study of love, languages, and humanness.

Berit Ellingsen, author of Beneath the Liquid Skin

I think these two blurbs capture exactly how it feels to me, and exactly what it means to me. I’ve always said that I’m more influenced, stylistically, by film than I am by literature, and I’ve always strived to capture that beautiful cinematic poetry of Terrence Malick, and I think, with this novel, I finally reached it. It’s an aesthetic I’ve worked for years to reach, and Twilight of the Wolves is the most perfect representation of that. And then there’s all the postcolonialism surging up through the cracks in the novel. My whole life is in this novel. My entire heart. I’m so immensely proud of it that I want to share it with the entire world, but a part of me fears no one will love or understand it.

So, yeah, I hope you love it. I’d recommend it to fans of experimental and postmodern literature as well as people who just love fantasy. It’s everything I ever wanted one of my novels to be and I’m so very proud of it.

Kyle Muntz also had this to say today over on the book of faces:

I’d add that this book stretches fantasy to the limit–with beautiful writing, formal experimentation, lots of feeling, and a profound look at themes of post-colonialism and sexuality–while always remaining true to the genre, which I think is really important and difficult to do.

Basically: I hope everyone takes a look at this book. I think anyone who does will definitely enjoy it.

So don’t just take my word for it! Mostly, I hope people just give it a chance. I’ve found that publishing a fantasy novel on a literary press is sort of a marketing tool fighting against itself. Literary minded folk aren’t interested and fantasy folk think it’s too high-minded, or something. I think it’s a blending of the two, and I hope it’s enjoyable to fans of both high literary genre and gritty fantasy.

It’s not a book for everyone, but I think it should work well for fans of Ursula K Le Guin, Samuel R Delany, Gene Wolfe, China Mieville, Steven Erikson, and George RR Martin.

Also, join me tomorrow night for my first and maybe last reading ever at The Beat Coffeehouse in Uptown, Minneapolis.

And now promotion for the next novel already begins. I have some amazing secret news about that too.


when i think of love

it sounds like


things to talk about

Many things, as it turns out, but I’ll probably be brief, because that’s just how I am.

First and most importantly: Entropy Magazine has launched! There’s seriously so much great content on there, and though I’m an editor, I can’t really take credit for any of it, though I did write about Fathoms by Joe Russ in my weekly column about short films.

I chose to write about short films because it seems like no one ever does, and because I wanted to engage with people about such a vibrant and awesome artform. It’s largely ignored, I think, but I’m hoping writing about it every week will grab some attention. So talk to me in the comments there. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Seriously though, there’s so much great content on Entropy. I’d link it all, but that would take too much time, so I’m just going to keep telling you to go to the website and enjoy the brilliance there.

Kyle Muntz, friend and possible genius, was interviewed by Literary Orphans today too. He talks about his own writing and video games, which I’ll probably make a post about soonishly.

My brother was on the front page of the Pioneer Press website today:

My first and possibly only reading ever will be this Saturday at The Beat Coffeehouse in Uptown. J Alexander Genz will be performing and Anthony Jacques arranged the whole thing.

And, finally, Twilight of the Wolves is officially released on Friday, but you can get some copies early on amazon. I’m hoping to have them sell out before the release, because that’d humor me.

But, yeah, not much else. Check out Entropy and buy my book!


film lists

This is going around the social media, and while I shared one list, I think I’m going to dump a few more here. I’m going to make some rules, though. Each list will focus on a different continent, with the exclusion of Africa, Australia, and Antarctica because I’ve not seen enough films from those continents to have any real opinion. The other thing is that I’ll only name each director once, though I’ll probably cheat and include too many films by each director under the same post. Also, I think I’ll count Russia as Europe because whatever. The Asian list is identical to the original one I made, but without the Russian films. It’s mostly stuff made in my lifetime, which means it’s missing a lot of great older Japanese films, but that’s the way it goes. Also, still missing a lot of awesome Taiwanese film.

But, yeah, let’s begin?

Asian

  1. In the Mood for Love & 2046 – Wong Kar Wai
  2. 3-Iron – Kim Ki-duk
  3. Last Life in the Universe – Pen Ek-Ratanaruang
  4. The Good, The Bad, The Weird – Kim Ji-woon
  5. Ran – Akira Kurosawa
  6. Dolls/Sonatine/Zatoichi – Takeshi Kitano
  7. To Live/Hero – Zhang Yimou
  8. Farewell, My Concubine – Chen Kaige
  9. Fist of Legend – no idea who actually directs it, but it’s all about Jet Li
  10. Legend of Drunken Master – again, no idea about the director, so Jackie Chan
  11. I’m a Cyborg but That’s OK – Park Chan-wook
  12. The Chaser – Kim Yoon-seok
  13. Infernal Affairs – Andrew Lau and Alan Mak
  14. Pulse/Cure – Kiyoshi Kurosawa
  15. Memories of Murder – Bong Joon-ho

Europe

  1. Hiroshima, Mon Amour – Alain Resnais
  2. The Passion of Joan of Arc – Carl Dreyer
  3. The Return – Andrey Zvyagintsev
  4. The Russian Ark – Alexander Sokurov
  5. Solaris/Stalker – Andrei Tarkovsky
  6. Persona – Ingmar Bergman
  7. Une Femme est une Femme/Pierrot le Fou – Jean-Luc Godard
  8. Le Belle et la Bete – Jean Cocteau
  9. Pan’s Labyrinth – Guillermo Del Toro
  10. Talk to Her/Volver – Pedro Almodovar
  11. Reprise/Oslo, August 31st – Joachim Trier
  12. Hunger/Shame – Steve McQueen
  13. La  Double Vie de Veronique/Trois Couleurs – Krzyzstof Kieslowski
  14. In Bruges – Martin McDonagh
  15. Nights of Cabiria/La Dolce Vita/8 1/2 – Federico Fellini

Okay, so Europe is too hard to do properly, and I really only touched the very surface. Didn’t even get to Germany or most of eastern europe, or even much of anywhere. Should’ve done this by country. Should’ve done all of the lists by country, but so it goes.

North America

  1. Tree of Life/The New World/Badlands – Terrence Malick
  2. Upstream Color – Shane Carruth
  3. The Fountain/Requiem for a Dream – Darren Aronofsky
  4. Post Tenebras Lux – Carlos Reygadas
  5. Videodrome/Eastern Promises – David Cronenberg
  6. The Thing – John Carpenter
  7. Memento – Christopher Nolan
  8. Synechdoche, New York – Charlie Kaufman
  9. The Fall – Tarsem Singh
  10. The Third Man – Carol Reed
  11. Magnolia/There Will Be Blood – Paul Thomas Anderson
  12. O Brother Where Art Thou? – The Coen Brothers
  13. Y tu Mama Tambien – Alfonso Cuaron
  14. Apocalypse Now – Francis Ford Coppola
  15. The Game/Seven/Fight Club – David Fincher

So, doing North America isn’t as difficult as Europe, but it presents its own problems, since I really like Mexican and american cinema. Canadian film is mostly unknown to me, oddly enough.

I decided not to include South America, because in the writing I realised my knowledge of South American cinema is pretty poor, but I like what’s been happening there in recent years, so send suggestions along. I’ve seen a lot recently, but they’ve all been one off films that I can’t remember the name of.

Also, because almost none of the films mentioned are comedies or horror, I decided to include special lists. Also, these will be more anglo-centric because I almost always forget foreign language comedies. Also, I can’t remember any old comedies, so this will mostly be newer stuff.

Comedies

  1. Withnail & I – Bruce Robinson
  2. Dumb and Dumber – The Farrelly Brothers
  3. Tommy Boy – Peter Segal
  4. Amelie/Delicatessen – Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  5. Woody Allen
  6. Adaptation – Spike Jonze
  7. Dr Strangelove – Stanley Kubrick
  8. Life of Brian/Quest for the Holy Grail – Monty Python
  9. Groundhog Day/Ghostbusters – Harold Ramis
  10. Be Kind Rewind/The Science of Sleep – Michel Gondry
  11. Rushmore/Royal Tenenbaums/Life Aquatic/Darjeeling Limited – Wes Anderson
  12. Submarine – Richard Ayoade
  13. Zoolander – Ben Stiller
  14. Mel Brooks
  15. The Marx Brothers

Horror

  1. Alien – Ridley Scott
  2. Diabolique – Henri-Georges Clouzot
  3. Audition – Takashi Miike
  4. [Rec] – Jaume Balaguero
  5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Tobe Hooper
  6. Them - David Moreau & Xavier Palud
  7. The Hills Have Eyes – Alexandre Aja
  8. Night of the Living Dead – George Romero
  9. The Shining – Stanley Kubrick
  10. Jaws – Steven Spielberg
  11. Silence of the Lambs – Jonathan Demme
  12. The Exorcist – William Friedkin
  13. Gojira – Ishiro Honda
  14. Let the Right One In – Tomas Alfredson
  15. 28 Days Later/Sunshine – Danny Boyle

And then this list is going to be all kinds of cheating.

Animated

  1. Hayao Miyazaki
  2. Perfect Blue/Tokyo Godfathers – Satoshi Kon
  3. Children Who Chase Lost Voices – Makoto Shinkai
  4. The Sky Crawlers – Mamoru Oshii
  5. Grave of the Fireflies – Isao Takahata
  6. Disney 1937-1940/1967-1981/1992-2000
  7. Pixar, with a few exceptions
  8. Dreamworks, with several exceptions
  9. The Iron Giant – Brad Bird
  10. Fantastic Mr Fox – Wes Anderson
  11. South Park – Trey Parker & Matt Stone
  12. Waking Life/A Scanner Darkly – Richard Linklater
  13. Ice Age – Chris Wedge & Carlos Saldanha
  14. Persopolis – Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Parannoud
  15. The Brave Little Toaster – Jerry Rees

I know it’s not fair to group studios together that way, but it’s the only way to even try to make this list.


we used to be smarter

By we I mean me.

And I’m not just saying that. I think it’s true. I think I worked very hard to become intelligent when I was younger, and since then it’s all been a slow slide into whatever my brain is now.

The thing is, I don’t really think anymore. I mean, I do, of course, but I never just sit down and think thoughts. I used to spend all day holed up in my room thinking, and then all night staring at my ceiling or out the window, thinking. I used to think so much I don’t know what else I did with my time.

I think it made me smarter too. I loved playing with difficult ideas and challenging myself, challenging my beliefs about life, morality, and all kinds of other things. Now, though.

I feel that my brain is in a state of rest until challenged. It’s like I keep my brain in a cupboard and it only gets use when someone knocks and lets me out.

I think it makes my thinking reactionary. I can form thoughts pretty quickly and wholly, but that’s all because other people are throwing things at me. It’s more like I’m catching light and redirecting it, or refracting it. I no longer generate light.

I’m a cave.

I actually don’t see this as a negative thing, or even a backwards step. I think it’s progress.

Thinking thoughts never made me happy and never got me anywhere. It’s when I started doing things that my life became worth living. Foolish people feigning at insight will tell you that the unexamined life isn’t worth living, but I find that examining your every move, thought, and opinion is rather destructive. Deconstructing reality at every turn doesn’t grant you any deeper sight or meaning. It just means you’re a wrecking ball.

I chose to stop being a wrecking ball several years ago. Maybe even seven years ago, give or take. I’ve had my share of unahppiness since then, but I’ve found myself to be much happier.

There’s a lot of ideas, ideologies, systems, structures, and opinions that I’m constantly fighting against, battling with both hands and feet, gnashing my teeth, but I don’t scorch my self.

But probably I’m being absurd. I don’t think that thinking is bad or a disservice, but I think it can lead to some real damage, not just personally, but interpersonally, and socially. Western culture has become so obsessed with tearing things apart, delineating and separating every possible facet until we’re all these neatly cut and differentiated categories that can be shuffled. People will tell you that this makes the world easier to handle, or better, but I think it’s extremely destructive, especially since there’s no push from the other direction, to show how similar we are, how the same we are, how whole and beautiful we are, even in our squalor.

But I wanted to talk about writing, because I think the same thing happened, though in a different way.

I used to be in love with the sentence. I wanted to be Virginia Woolf, because who wouldn’t want to write sentences like that? And so I worked very hard to push my sentences in that direction. While I’m glad I did it, I found it to be ultimately useless.

I mean, not useless, but that’s not how I want to write. That was fine for her because she’s Virginia Woolf, but I’ll never be Virginia Woolf, so there was no point in trying to be.

So I re-taught myself how to write. I talked about this a bit a while ago. I’d find the link, but it’s probably on the page like five posts down. Anyrate, I keep reteaching myself how to write, and I think it’s a very positive thing, but I think this has been a progress towards simplification of prose. I took the complexity of those old sentences and pushed that into complex novel structures.

Twilight of the Wolves was actually meant to be my simplest prose piece, but I think I failed there. And this goes back to me not being smart anymore: I honestly don’t know how to judge my writing anymore.

I don’t think I know how to judge any writing.

Spending so much time reading difficult literature and trying to write it has skewed my perceptions, I think, and so now it’s more of a gut reaction to literature, and I think that’s translated into me aiming more for your gut and heart, rather than your brain. Though, hopefully, the ideas are still interesting and coming through, but they come in a different register.

I bury the ideas and try to demonstrate them with drama. There are intellectual writers who are very good, and I even know some. Phil Jourdan and Kyle Muntz are great intellectual writers, where the idea is on the surface but also deep as an ocean, so you can peer into the idea and see it ever expanding.

I throw a lot of ideas into every novel. Probably too many, which is why I cheat and use multiple narrators, because then I can make every novel a kitchen sink novel, which is what I do. But hopefully those ideas are only beneath the surface, and you can enjoy the novel without ever considering them. But, if you’re willing to dig a bit deeper, there’s [ideally] an ocean of ideas swarming there.

Twilight of the Wolves is very much meant to be that way. There are a lot of ideas on the surface, but hopefully people dig into the ones underneath.

It’s hard to know if you’re good at these things.

I just can’t tell anymore.

But I do like what I write, and I think I’m getting better, though I’m growing very differently than what I originally envisioned. Ghostwriting has helped that, too, as I’ve had to learn to write simpler. I’m writing a screenplay for a romance right now, and I keep wanting to twist the logic and structure, turn things inside out, and cheat some magic in there, but it’s a very strong exercise, learning to strip yourself naked and rely on action, on motion, emotion.

But, yeah, just some rambling.


fathoms by joe russ

This is one of the most beautiful animated films I’ve seen in a while. It makes me want to write about short animated films for an awesome new site.

We’ll see how that goes. But watch, love, and share.


twilight of the wolves reviews and readings

People are saying very kind things about Twilight of the Wolves.

The first review of Twilight of the Wolves.

As soon as Twilight of the Wolves begins, you know it’s music. Music made by the hands digging deep into the underground, into determined earth-dirtying of the senses. The symmetry of notes makes this crystalline, each clause engineered into mantra-like potential. “And then he fell away, his life drifted away, the vision inside him, growing, rebuilding, creating newness, wholeness out of neverness. The song, nothing but the song, and Her eyes, ephemeral and purple, galactic dust swallowing him, and he swam in that twilit world of nothings and nowheres until it thickened, viscous, and filled him again.”

The second review.

An absorbing read that offers readers a grim, bleak and dark tale. It paints a word in flames, dying from within. Imagine a dark night sky, with a sole star. You know something’s there but you can barely make it out. Well that star will grow and become a brighter star and perhaps light up the night sky until it is day. Well, that star is Sao.

First paragraph:

Sao meets a dying god:

Because Connor reminded me of high school:


awp: when the internet sits in the same room

AWP is always one of the most fun things to happen every year. All these beautiful and insane people I know through the internet all arrive in the same place, drink too much, talk way too much, and don’t sleep enough. This year was no different, but it was also completely different.

I think this year was my favorite AWP yet, so hopefully this trend continues.

My first AWP was pretty intimidating. I didn’t really know very many people, didn’t really know what to do, and tried to do way too much, which resulted in me missing a lot of cool things and sort of wandering back and forth. I worked at the Lit Pub/MLP table where I got to hangout with JA Tyler, Molly Gaudry, Josh Denslow and a rotating cast of others. It was probably the best introduction to AWP for someone in my position. If you don’t know what to do, where to go, or who to talk to, just latch onto a table because people will think you’re important. It also gives you a break from the insanity that is the bookfair. I also got to finally meet a lot of the Velvet/Manarchy crew. I had known them for years and it was super awesome and fun to finally get to highfive and hug them in person, instead of just through the internet.

Last year was my second AWP and it was better than the first because I learnt to accept that you can’t see everything. You’re always going to miss out on most things, so just surround yourself with great people and let them guide you. Got to finally meet the CCM people, hangout with Phil Jourdan again, and hangout at the MLP/Dzanc table with JA Tyler and Matt Bell, which was awesome, of course. Though this year was better than the first, I still felt like I was running around, trying to see/meet/talk to as many people as possible.

That’s what made the difference this year. I felt much less of a need to explore and meet all the new faces and places and books and publishers. I feel like I met the group of people that I wanted to meet in 2013, and this year I got to spend more time with them, and get to know each of them better. In addition, the cast of characters grew. I got to meet Janice Lee and Peter Tieryas who are so so awesome. I wish I got to spend more time with both of them, but I’m really glad we had a few great talks. J David Osborne, too, was the bee’s knees and sort of completely different from who I expected him to be. JS Breukelaar was the big surprise for me, since I knew nothing about her, but then I spent hours just talking to her. She made me miss all my Aussie friends and reminded me how much I need to finally get there. Then there’s Rose O’Keefe and Patrick Wensink who are just so awesome and talked with me about ballet, because I guess we all really just needed to do that for a while. D Foy and Jeff Jackson are two of the coolest guys around and I’m excited to see D in Minneapolis in a few months. Oh, and then there’s Stephen Graham Jones. Coolest and nicest guy around. I’ve been reading his novels for almost a decade now and it made him seem intimidating at first, but he’s just a great person who also happens to write my favorite books.

And then there was the core crew from the previous year: Michael Seidlinger, Kyle Muntz, Cameron Pierce, Kirsten Pierce, and Alexander Allison. Michael, unfortunately, fell ill, which was a huge bummer, but I had an awesome time with Kyle [as always] and it was great to talk more with Kirsten and Cameron, who might be two of my favorite people in the world. They remind me of two of my best friends and they’ve convinced me that I need to be in Bizarrocon this year. And Alex was very english and very awesome and just always interesting.

And it seems like I’m falling into that bizarro crowd and I honestly think they might be the best people to know. To be honest, before I met Kirsten and Cameron last year, I thought bizarro was just a silly genre full of stupidity and weirdness. But you can’t talk to Cameron and Kirsten and ignore how intelligent they are, and if you pick up any of their books, you know there’s a lot more happening there than just strangeness. But most of the people I met this year are tied to bizarro in some way, and they’re all so awesome, so down to earth, and just so intelligent. They’re all normal people, and I think they’re actually quite a bit normaler than a lot of the literary genre folks. I really dig the people, their sense of community, and I’ve come to find that I really love their odd little books.

But, yeah, probably I’m forgetting people. Molly Gaudry and Jason Cook were great too! Seeing Molly always just sort of warms my heart, and Jason wears the dopest suits. Ah–Bud Smith and Sam Snoek-Brown too! Michael Kazepis and Nick Mamatas and and and-

Okay, I’ll just leave it there. If I forgot to mention you, just know I love you privately.


early twilight of the wolves

It appears that Twilight of the Wolves is available on amazon over a month early for some reason!

There are only thirteen copies so buy them all up as fast as you can so no one else can have it early!

If you need more information about the novel, you can always find it here.

 

AWP tomorrow, so I need to finish a week’s worth of work tonight so I can go there and not have to worry about the world beyond.

Should be a good time. I was going to write about some other stuff today, but I’ll leave the unpleasantness alone. I think I said it enough yesterday.

For now, just love and be loved.

And buy my book! It’s the greatest book about wolves you’ll ever read.


america the hateful, the unthinking

Thought I’d just share some thoughts about what I’m seeing over and over again lately. The first part was shared on facebook a few days ago, but I thought I’d just drop it here, since nothing’s changed. But let’s look at what’s happening internationally, and let’s look at it from our perspective, or the perspective shoved at us.

I think we’re seeing some interesting and uncritical looks at current events recently, which remind me of the KONY campaign from a few years ago. The situation in Ukraine and Venezuela are quite different than that, but the reaction is similar, in that people aren’t really looking at what’s happening, or what has happened, or the context surrounding the events.

Since the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street, we’ve started looking at any civil unrest as a sign that change is necessary, but it’s interesting to look at the Arab Spring and Occupy Movements in comparison to these.

Ukraine’s teetering on civil war and the opposition forces have taken Kiev. These opposition forces appear to now be controlled by an extremely right wing group. An extreme fascist group whose influence has grown immensely. If you think the Tea Party is bad, Svoboda will shock you.

In Venezuela, the far right wing and hyper-rich are calling for a coup. Western media portrays Leopoldo Lopez as a peace loving activist, which ignores that he is one of the wealthiest men in the country, trained and educated in the US, or how he was a part of the US backed 2002 coup of democratically elected president Hugo Chavez. A lot of the issues Venezuela’s currently facing are caused by these hyper-wealthy families, who are manipulating the currency and stockpiling things like food. Make no mistake, these are not the faces of democracy pounding at the gates of a tyrant. The claim that the government owns all media there is also completely absurd, since the opposite is largely true. If you think Fox News is unfair to our President, take a look at what the news casters in Venezuela said about Chavez.

People should have the right to protest everywhere, and violence, in my opinion, is always incorrect action, but I’m also a young white american man living in the midwest. I didn’t live in a country like Venezuela, which had an 80% poverty level before the Bolivarian government was elected. I never lived in a former Soviet state and have to live through all those issues. My pacifism can, in a sense, be seen as a state of privilege because I’ve never had to literally fight for my life against a government that wanted me poor or dead, and I’ve never had to fight for my life to keep a democratically elected government in power.

I’m positive people in Venezuela and Ukraine have plenty of reasons to protest. I’m not an expert on either place, but I do know that there’s more going on than what gets memed around the internet. Not all revolutions are positive, and not all students are seeking a leftist utopia.

And now let’s turn that inward, and look at who we are.

Everyone’s angry at Alec Baldwin, which is justifiable but also a big who cares. An aging actor whose relevance slides away more every year goes crazy and is given a platform. Blah blah blah.

But then there’s this:

Broadway has changed, by my lights. The TV networks, too. New York has changed. Even the U.S., which is so preposterously judgmental now. The heart, the arteries of the country are now clogged with hate. The fuel of American political life is hatred. [. . .] And this is all about hate. It’s Hate Incorporated. But the liberals have taken the bait and run in the same direction—and it’s just as corrosive. MSNBC, in its own way, is as full of shit, as redundant and as superfluous, as Fox.

[. . .] People are angry that in the game of musical chairs that is the U.S. economy, there are less seats at the table when the music stops. And at every recession, the music is stopping.

It’s something I think about a lot. Everything is hate, everything is focused on our separation and differences. There’s no thought given to unity or celebrating how much we are the same. Everything is about containing people, cutting up their identity and lumping them into one group or another, and it doesn’t matter what the group is. What matters is that the group is not ME. We see lists of things blah blah blah can’t understand. We see essay after essay that mostly amounts to the writer and his/her group being correct and fair and everyone else being incorrect and horrifying.

This isn’t a liberal or conservative thing. I think liberals congratulate themselves and pat themselves on the back often for trying [often halfheartedly] to support and give voice to the marginalised, but then, in the same breath, spew vitriol at their generalisations about the religious or old or conservative or whatever group you want to call them. Everything is hate and everyone is constantly spitting on everyone else, because they dare disagree, because they’re audacious enough to not agree.

This version of feminism is wrong because of such and such a reason, or this version of multiculturalism is incorrect because of blah blah blah or white/black/chinese/hispanic/old/young/conservative/liberal/mustlim/christian/jewish/atheist/communist/anarchist/capitalist/gay/transgender people are destroying everything we know and understand because they’re not ME.

Everything is hate hate hate and separation, delineation, cutting up, and sectioning off. Just look at all the articles and essays coming out every day from Salon, The Atlantic, the New Yorker or New York Times or Huffington Post or any other media outlet of that stature or nature, and look at how many are about separating people and delineating one other. Critique is one thing, and I think it’s extremely valuable, maybe the most valuable thing [and I'm often probably too persistent and harsh with my own critiques of the world] we have, but it often seems that we have nothing else. We have no ideology of unification, or even kindness and support.

Everyone is not ME and everyone who is YOU is always wrong.

That sounds like the new mantra of the world, and it’s not just an american or western thing, though perhaps we’re inundated more here because we’re all constantly connected to this neverending festering pile of hate and loathing.

And so we’re putting ourselves in a hole that we’ll never escape from. We spiral in this hate and we drink in its intoxicating and festering feeling, because it brings us into these tighter, though splintered groups. Social media has made this worse, I think. Everything spirals so quickly because no one takes the time to examine what’s actually happening. With the KONY video from a few years ago we had the perfect meme. It was well done, articulate, had a definite purpose and goal, and it worked. People bought into it, because almost no americans understand anything about africa, let alone a specific country in that continent. I’m guilty of the same ignorance, but I also wasn’t convinced by this youtube video calling for the US military to invade a sovereign nation to catch a single man who may have died years ago.

We don’t stop to think, we just react. We react and we react and we react. There’s an injustice here! Post about it, pretend you know and understand the history of that country or region or the context of the situation because as long as you’re saying what everyone else is saying, no one can blame you. In fact, you might get blamed for not being compassionate enough! for not decrying this hate quickly enough!

We link to blogs that go viral but never look at who’s writing that blog. The best recent example is this blog post about the Venezuelan protests or this video.

It’s a well written article and a well made video. They’re clear and concise and direct. They speak to the youth of america about injustice in a country that most of us know nothing about, though american media has called it a dictatorship for the last fifteen years [despite being consistently re-elected democratically with massive support]. So we buy into this. We love it. We see these and we think that america should go in and fix the problems of this backwards third world dictatorship, this tyrannical power holding a nation hostage.

The problem with the video is that it’s absurd and full of propaganda and complete lies. The issue that needs to be addressed with the website is that it was started and is run and funded by supporters of the 2002 coup, and has a very antagonistic representation of the Bolivarian government.

A little history lesson about Venezuela:

Venezuela is a very wealthy nation in resources. It has the largest oil supply in the world. For centuries, South America has been exploited by western powers through the collaboration of the wealthy class. The super wealthy of Venezuela used to own the country. Venezuela had an 80% poverty level and most people couldn’t read or write and had no health care. Hugo Chavez mobilised these disenfranchised millions and won the election in 1998. Over the many years he was president [in my opinion, too long, though there are reasons for that], he worked to change that situation, which infuriated the hyper-wealthy, because he was taking the economy out of their hands. The poverty level has dropped dramatically. Everyone has access to education and healthcare, and children growing up under the Bolivarian government are the first people in the history of their family to even know how to read and write. In 2002 the hyper-wealthy, backed by US money, led a coup, ousting Chavez. The new ‘president’ repealed the democratically voted on constitution and instilled a dictatorship. Within one day, the poor and the young mobilised to bring Chavez back and kick out the usurpers. The US has spent millions of dollars every year to gain control of Venezuela and its oil by funding these hyper-wealthy and training them to destabilise the nation. Chavez died, and his successor won the following election. It was closer than any election since the Bolivarian government was first elected, but it was perfectly legal, fair, and democratic.

The commodity shortages are for a variety of reasons, but a big one is the hoarding of the hyper-wealthy, who are also manipulating the currency, causing massive inflation.

Now, these students in these protests are in fact students and they’re Venezuelan, but they’re predominantly the children of the wealthy class. They were educated abroad and they speak english, which makes them perfect for packaging the message to the western world. We hear the voice of a young woman speaking english and we immediately identify.

But who tells the story of the many impoverished people who support the Bolivarian government? Who tells the story of those who don’t speak english?

Well, no one here.

But I’m getting sidelined.

The point is that no one bothers to examine Venezuela’s history or even the context of the protests. We react. We react. We react.

But no one thinks.

And when we do think, it’s only to separate. It’s only to split up the world and society, to section people into different groups.

No one is allowed to simply be a human anymore. You need to carry flags marking what your social, religious, and economic beliefs are. It’s easier for us to dismiss you or agree with you if we know that your flag is the same as ours.

But I guess I wrote a lot of words to same something very simple:

Be kind.

That’s really all there is to say. Be kind. Love one another. Try to understand each other. Find the places where we come together, and tie us tighter. When you see cracks, work to fill them in, rather than actively chip away at them constantly.

This will not go viral. This will go largely unread. But I also didn’t write this for marketing. I didn’t write this for an audience in mind, and that’s why it won’t succeed in a meme market. If this were a real essay, I’d structure it better and cite all the sources I should’ve cited. Several months ago I decided to stop sharing everything political with the internet, because it seemed like no one cared or no one read. But if you care about any of these things I’ve said here, look them up. Do research on Hugo Chavez, and not just what mainstream western media has to say. Look at what’s happening in Ukraine, and actually look at the result we’re seeing there: Fascism–neoNazis. Take a minute to look at all the articles filling the social media world day after day. You don’t even have to read them. Usually the headline tells you everything: 10 Reasons Why this Group or Person is Wrong about Everything, 5 Ways Men will Never Understand Women, 20 Straight Things Gays Don’t Care About, 11 Ways White Feminists Don’t Represent Me, and on and on.

That’s not to devalue critique, and many of these kinds of articles are very useful for a lot of reasons, but if we never look at society or the world as a place of synthesis, we’ll never get there.

Be kind. Live well. Be kind.

Goodnight.


on writing like yourself

I’ve been writing for a long time. I started trying to get published at the very end of 2008 and was pretty consistently published through 2009 and 2010 in various journals. Back then I thought what mattered was being out there, no matter where it was. This is obviously untrue, especially since many of the places I was once published are no longer even websites.

But I don’t think I really took writing seriously until I finished my first novel about three and a half years ago. A lot’s changed since then, especially my style and goals, but I wanted to talk a little bit about the road between 2008 and now.

For a while there were a bunch of sites that told you who you wrote like. Probably there still are, but the point was to drop a bit of your writing or a whole giant chunk of it into this site and it’d tell you who you write like. I’ve done it a few times and always received surprising answers. I’ve also received a lot of surprising comparisons from people that have read my work.

Here’s a list of those I remember:

  • HP Lovecraft
  • James Joyce
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • Nick Cave
  • Thomas Pynchon
  • Samuel Beckett
  • Craig Clevenger
  • Joseph McElroy
  • Ursula K Le Guin
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Steve Erickson
  • Steven Erikson
  • Ian Irvine
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Franz Kafka
  • Norman Mailer

And I can’t remember who else. I agree with some and disagree pretty strongly with others, and then there are those I’ve never read, so there’s no way for me to really compare. I think it’s good to be told you sound like those you’ve never encountered and not so great to be told you sound like your favorite authors.

As much as I love a lot of people on that list, I have no intention of being them, or writing like them. It’s something I had to discover. Back in 2008 and 2009, I realised I was just aping my heroes, and that’s the worst possible feeling to have. To think that all your hard work was just bad copying or rehashing. And so I pushed myself away from who I was.

Almost every year I try to relearn how to write. I think this is essential. Of course reading is the best way to learn new ways to do things, but so is just trying to break yourself away from who you were. I look back at my first novels and I don’t know if I could write them again for a lot of different reasons. But I keep pushing to be a different version of me.

That’s the most important thing. People tell you to find your voice and sort of cling to it, but I think that’s actually pretty bad advice. You should always be looking for new voices, for new mouths to speak through, for new hands to feel with and new eyes to see with. Certainly there’re a lot of similarities between myself and myself, but I want every book to at least feel different, if not be completely different.

Which is a struggle for me, as I rely on multiplicity and polyphonic structures. I find it almost impossible to stick with a single narrator for longer than 10,000 words. I’ve done it several times, but it’s just not normal for me to do. I need to switch directions, juxtapose people and ideas. That’s why I set out to write a novel with 101 narrators, because I wanted to do polyphony as big as I could so I could just be done with it. And since I’ve still not finished that novel, I’m still writing multi-narrator novels, but I’m working past it. I moved to third person, which gives me some breathing room, as I narrate in a sort of closed floating way, like the camera in Gasper Noe’s Irreversible. And that gives me some freedom of form and style, but my third person style, because I put so many rules on it, sort of has the same feel across novels and stories, which is not ideal, but I think part of that is because other people don’t follow my rules and so they can talk about the internality of a character while still playing at third person narration. But this’ll get me into a whole thing about the rules I make and I don’t want to talk about that.

But maybe I should, in a general way.

Make rules for yourself. If you rely on something, such as multiple narrators or jumps in time, force yourself to write a single narrator in real time. That’s actually what my second novel is. It’s a failure, but it was 40,000 words of unbroken first person present tense narration. I achieved my goal. I didn’t write a very good novel, but I did what I set out to do, and I learnt a lot in doing so.

Constantly force yourself away from your habits and your comforts. If you only write realism, throw yourself into fantasy or science fiction. If you only write genre, shoot for something literary. I’m constantly trying to write in different genres, and though I often fail, I learn something on the way. Part of it, for me, at least, is that I don’t research a genre before I write it. I’ve been trying to write hardboiled noir for a while and I just can’t get there. I could learn a lot if I just read some books, but I want to find the genre in my own backwards way. I don’t want to walk through the front door everyone else walks through. I want to climb the tree and jump onto the roof, break open the window and climb into its bedroom.

So make yourself rules, and then break them.

Find your voice, and then disassemble it.

Know who you are as a writer, and then rewrite it.

I rarely give advice about writing because I think most advice is pointless, but I guess you can consider this my bit of writing advice.


you can’t turn back time

but you can start over.

We’ve had several very difficult months and it felt broken, and maybe it was–I believed it was–but we’re starting over and trying to relearn how to love one another.

In other news, I threw away about 15,000 words of my giant monster novel and have been working on it, but I’m throwing away what I have now too.

Nothing’s working the way it’s meant to so I’m going to move on to another project for now. I’ll come back to this because it’s the greatest idea I ever had and also the greatest title I’ve ever thought of.


a lot of change

Everything is in a state of flux, but I think we’re finding out balance, slowly. I move slow. I heal slow. Happiness isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.

It’s Valentine’s:

You shall be my roots and
I will be your shade,
though the sun burns my leaves.

You shall quench my thirst and
I will feed you fruit,
though time takes my seed.

And when I’m lost and can tell nothing of this earth
you will give me hope.

And my voice you will always hear.
And my hand you will always have.

For I will shelter you.
And I will comfort you.
And even when we are nothing left,
not even in death,
I will remember you.

I’ve been continuing my movie a day journey, but I can’t remember everything I’ve watched. I’ve done some rewatching too.

I’ll just list most of them:

The Great Mouse Detective

Skyfall

Reservoir Dogs

Adrift in Tokyo, which was really quite great.

The Hunter

Once Upon a Time in the West

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, I think I already talked about this, but it really is amazing.

I can’t remember what else. We’ll see what I end up watching today.


life goes on

In flux, in confusion, but I like this.

Finished the first draft of my graphic novel, which is maybe too insular, emotional, and non-narrative. I’m going to let it sit for a few months and maybe rewrite it when I can see those images clearly again.


colonise your colonisers

One of my favorite quotes from United States of Banana by Giannina Braschi.

Take a stand against the privatisation of the internet and the spying that goes on here.

It’s worth fighting for.


giant monsters can’t take me home

Call it a soundtrack.


loneliness: affliction, addiction, disease

Life was meant to get easier but I don’t think it ever does. It doesn’t necessarily get harder, but ease and life seem to never go hand in hand the way they should.

I’ve not made a post like this in a long time. Not since I discovered that people actually come here and read what I say. This private corner of the internet’s been opened up, and though all those old posts exist, very little of my life now goes in here. It’s a strange turn, for this to become sort of a marketing thing, or whatever a blog is meant to be. But it stopped being about me and started being about the world around me, which isn’t bad, and I probably prefer it, but this post is a reaching back, in a sense, and it’ll probably be unpleasant to read and write.

I’ve spent most of my life alone. About twenty four of the twenty six years I’ve been alive. For a long time this bothered me, depressed me horribly. I believed in love, and I believed there was some for me, somewhere. I fell in love before. I fell in love often, was reckless with my heart, with affection, with all the bits that made me up. I gave myself away, recklessly, expecting nothing, maybe even wanting nothing. But I hoped somewhere in the maelstrom of love and heartache and pain and depression and horrifying loneliness, I’d find that love, that cure for the hole inside me.

I made mistakes. Countless ones. I was hurt along the way, sometimes too deeply, and I’m sure I caused my fair share of carnage in the lives of others. It’s the kind of that makes me sometimes wonder if I’m a bad person, if maybe I’ve always been, and that the reason for all the isolation and loneliness is because I’m a trainwreck neverending, loving poorly or maybe selfishly or maybe just not really loving at all. Just taking.

And that would be the worst, to discover that I’ve only been taking from so many people for so many years.

But I believed in love, even after every heartbreak. And they hit me hard. Through high school I drank too much alcohol and slept almost never. There were weeks when I only slept a handful of hours, and there was a particular week, after I broke my heart all to pieces, that I sort of slipped into surreality and delusions, because–as I discovered–you need to dream in sleep, or you start dreaming while awake. It was a frightening time in my life, high school. I remember it oddly fondly, but I was less than happy. I was stupendously unhappy. I drank nearly every day, spent all night awake thinking so many things that only hurt me more. I was at odds with myself. I couldn’t see clearly. I couldn’t see life and light. I was in love with Death and thought I’d find peace if only I could discover what it meant to be loved, what it felt like, what it looked like.

And I thought I did, for a while. But, as is normally the case for ridiculously unwell people, things didn’t end well, and I crashed. But as time went by and the isolation remained, the loneliness festered, I found ways to channel that energy and deal with the absence. I still looked for love everywhere, gave where I could, but I really was just a nonsense ball of wreckage wandering through college. But I also began to learn. I cultivated my isolation. I stopped looking at the absence as an enemy, but as a confrontational friend, and I poured myself into myself, over and over. It wasn’t until I was nineteen that I realised that I liked myself, and that realisation was one of the happiest of my life. Not only did I like who I was, but I genuinely enjoyed myself.

I made me happy, and a lot of life became easier after that.

I mean, I had always been sort of a loner, but I’ve always enjoyed people [though I often can't stand the sight of humans] and enjoyed their company. But my natural inclination was always isolation. I enjoyed sitting in my room and reading or listening to CDs or drawing or writing or just staring at the walls for hours as my imagination created new worlds for me to live in. I was sort of impossibly in my head, and it wasn’t until I was probably seventeen that I really started to live outside it. And, I mean, how could you love someone who’s not actually with you when you’re together? How could you even enjoy their company?

I’m sort of jumping around a lot, I guess, so don’t look at this as chronological, but picture it as swirling effluvia of my brain and heart.

In Ireland I sought escape. Escape from the demons and ghosts who haunted me. Love that haunted me. The face of so many women who were so kind to me, who I wish I had been better for. But I found my isolation in Ireland and it began to comfort me. I wandered Dublin for days by myself. Often the most interesting times of my weekends were after my friends and I parted ways. All the strange people I would meet in the streets at 3am and all the strange adventures we’d go on. One off friends who carried me through the night, and I enjoyed my time with them immensely, but the best part was that it was barely ever real. Just a few hours with people whose names I didn’t know wandering Dublin in the rain and the dark, causing havoc and laughing loud, eating too many kebabs. My loneliness also struck me there as an affliction, and I realised how dangerous it could be, how missing people, loving people, and looking for personal value in them would tear the world apart, and leave you a weeping mess, afraid or unable to get out of bed and wander the streets you love.

But, once out there, the wind would hit me in such a way, or the sun would peer behind a cloud, and I’d find myself smiling, remembering that life is all right. It’s good to be alive, even if it’s massively absurd and sort of inane.

For all the ravages of loneliness and depression, which, for me, are sort of strongly linked. My depressive episodes are linked to a lot of different things, and most of them have to do with a looming apocalyptic weight that crushes me, but isolation is sort of an everpresent ghost haunting me. I collapse into it, in both good and bad ways.

I crave my isolation at times. I’ve cultivated it so long, and become so comfortable in it, that I miss it sometimes. But then I also crash into it, with existential calamity all around.

I feel addicted to my isolation, which really isn’t the same thing as loneliness, though I’m using them sometimes synonymously. I need it and I crave it, but it’s a disease. It’s no good to be alone, and I know that.

When I moved to South Korea, I sort of gave up on finding love. I had just turned twenty three, and I guess I thought it wasn’t for me. A family, a wife, children–I couldn’t even picture it, wasn’t even sure I wanted it. I still fell in love often, gave my heart away, was reckless with the person who is me, but I never thought any of it would last, didn’t even care if it didn’t. I met beautiful people there and I know I was kinder than the me in high school or college. I was a better person, more able to understand and relate to humans. And so, though I remained alone, I found shelter in the love of others, the perfect moments of love we shared in that country that felt, for a while, like home.

And then I fell in love again, recklessly, and I love her still.

But the disease is still here, and it eats at me. At us. I don’t really know how to make it better or what to do about it. But I know that this goes on forever, this isolation, this disease, that spreads and grows. The more time you spend alone, the more you cultivate that isolation, the more it grows and the deeper it becomes, until, sometimes, you’re feeling too much or not enough, like the world is exploding within you or like it’s happening in another room, behind paned glass.

My life has become strange, and I’ve grown strange inside of it. I no longer know what I want, or what I lack.

I know that the absence cannot be filled by another. Loneliness cannot be cured by love, though it seems like it should be. So this is something I need to do better. Something I need to discover.

I love you.


oh, today is full of things

There’s so much going around facebook right now that I can’t keep up, so I’ll try to dump it all here.

Congratulations to Mary Miller and Kyle Minor for all the awesome press they’re getting for their books, The Last Days of California and Praying Drunk, respectively.

Kyle Minor press:

Interview at Other People with Brad Listi

Tinhouse interview

Believer interview

Boston Globe review

Kirkus review

And then this Buzzfeed list is a good transition, since Mary and Kyle are both on it

Mary Miller:

Interview at Brooklyn Rail

Electric Literature interview

Hobart interview

Review at Heavy Feather Review

New York Times review

All right, I think that catches us up.

Oh, and some things about me:

Cover art for my forthcoming novel Noir: A Love Story done by Ryan W Bradley.


an always public life

There are days and weeks and years I want to disappear, but there’s no such thing as privacy anymore. Privacy is a modern invention and it died with the internet. I want to disappear though.

I often wonder what it means now that privacy is an illusion, a remnant only fixed to memory. Who are we without the interior world to hide in? If all must be known–I want to disappear.

I feel unwell. Unkind. Sorrowful.

It’s so cold. I fear I’ll freeze in this nowhere.

I’m writing it out. I’m writing to remember and to understand. I’m writing a novel to make you fit inside my head and understand.

I feel very confused and trapped and lost lately. It’s not the kind of thing to share with the world. It’s the kind of thing I keep mostly inside. I don’t share much with anyone.

I wonder.

I remember.

The world isn’t what we believe it is but I started writing 13 Angels Screaming at the Mountain again, and I completed Part One, finally, only to discover the entire structure of the novel will now be quite different. Or, I’m going to write it linearly, but then I’ll cut it all up and make it actually interesting. I wanted it to be a nonfragmented novel, but I only write properly in fragments.

It’s been only a few days. I’m hungry and cold all the time. Everything is cold.

It’s an unpleasant season.

In twenty days I’ll be in Seattle and I don’t know where I’m staying.

I miss rain and Prague and Busan and Munich. I miss Dublin in 2009. I miss Lily Belle.

I miss so many people, places, and moments. I miss it all.


so much selfpromotion

Makes you feel weird about yourself. Or it makes me feel weird about myself. It’s bad for the heart.

I think, for now, I’ve posted enough about Girl with Ears & Demon with Limp and Twilight of the Wolves, though I got some cool feedback and words about both yesterday.

I have some work I need to catch up on. This week has been difficult, to say the least. Hearts are fragile things. It started on a pretty unhappy note, and I don’t know if it’s getting better, but I feel like I’m able to be more productive today. Hoping to finish Part One of 13 Angels Screaming at the Mountain, which has been forcibly pushed aside for a couple weeks, despite my best efforts. After that, I want to start on the graphic novel.

Let’s talk about movies, since it’s been awhile since I posted about what I’ve been watching. I’ve been keeping up with my movie a day schedule, sometimes watching a few each day, and since I’ve watched so many since last posting about them, I’ll just do brief recaps, because none of them have been very exceptional.

Rewatched the entire Lord of the Rings in a marathon with the roommates. What’s funny about watching them all back to back is that you really get to see all the problems with them. The first one is clearly the best, and only because it’s structured just like a horror film, and uses a lot of horror techniques. The problems with the following two are related to their success and the time between releases. I think Jackson probably went back in with all the new money and tried to make them more epic high fantasy in tone, which also made them sort of hokey and awkward. Some of the funniest moments happen whenever the main characters encounter any other character. No one ever has a normal conversation, or even interaction. Everything’s piled with awkward and bizarre. Legolas is constantly saying the strangest things you’ll ever hear anyone say, and it all seems so out of nowhere. And then he’s always looking around, shiftyeyed. I can’t remember what else was funny/weird about it, but there are a lot of things. Everything in those films is super weird.

The Man of Tai Chi has some super awesome action sequences intercut with Keanu Reeves proving that he’s an alien. He clearly was raised by wolves and only learnt to speak human language as an adult, and he learnt from zeroing in on William Shatner’s Captain Kirk. Stick around for the fight scenes, but pay attention to Reeves. It’s the closest we’ll get to a truly alien performance.

Project A is awesome because Jackie Chan is awesome.

Rewatched The Dark Knight and it’s still awesome, and it’s really awesome in comparison to Equilibrium, which I watched for the first time a few days after. That movie is just hilariousbad.

Thor: The Dark World is as silly as the original, but it lacks the purposeful humor. Everyone’s still always wearing armor, and really weird armor, at that, but this time everything’s so serious. It really cripples the film. It always seemed weird to me that Kenneth Brannagh directed the first Thor, but now I see what he really added to it. He knew how to handle inherently silly material, but he gave us stakes that we sort of cared about by making us enjoy the characters. This new one’s too serious and, well, silly.

Airplane is just silly in a lot of the right ways, but, I mean, it has sort of 70s casual racism and sexism, so there’s that. But it’s hard to take anything in that movie seriously, as it’s just a series of gags and oneliners.

Cutie and the Boxer is a great documentary about art, and the sacrifices it leads to. It tore their family apart, but they’re still together, sort of wallowing in misery. It’s tough to watch at times because you realise what’s happened to them and why, but it’s also full of beautiful moments. It shows love in all it’s horror and perfection, which are often happening at the same time.

I can’t remember what else I’ve watched. Mostly silly things and action movies. Sometimes you need that.

Now to get back to the real work.

I’m lagging behind.


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