random things

I set a goal for myself to finish the first draft of a palimpsest before AWP, but I think I’m officially giving that up right now. I didn’t get any writing done yesterday because of a few trying personal matters and now, today, I feel simply exhausted and will fall farther behind where I need to be. To reach this goal before AWP, which I leave for in like ten days, I needed to keep a pretty high words per day level. Like, at least 6,000. I was doing pretty well, hitting 5k Monday, 10k Tuesday, and 7k Wednesday, but none yesterday and sitting at about 3k today puts me well short of where I’ll need to be unless I have a huge day tomorrow. And so I think I’m going to relax, let it come as it comes. Also, this first draft is coming out very rough in certain ways, so it’s no real issue to slow down a bit. I posted something the other day about the writing of this novel and I’ll copy it here:

Do you ever feel like what you’re writing is only a sketch of its final iteration? I’ve been getting that feeling a lot during this novel. In fact, it may be the driving force behind this first draft: to get all the sketches down so I can finally lay down the canvas and start painting. This novel is incredibly complex and gargantuan in size and scope, so it makes sense for the first draft to come out so shabbily, but I’ve never experienced writing like this. Where the first try is so rough. And that’s not to say bad, because I think what I’ve been doing is pretty solid, but it’s just not the way it needs to be. It’s good but it’s not right.

If you’ve read any of my posts in here, you know I’m writing a huge polyphonic novel consisting of 101 perspectives ranging from 1920s Berlin to 1940s Mexico to 1970s Japan to 2000s France with just about everywhere else in between. It’s a novel that takes place over 90 years and across six continents, told by 101 different characters. It’s about art, poetry, rebellion, revolution, sexuality, violence, history, economics, politics, dreams, hallucinations, drugs, war, expatriation, adoption, mental illness, criticism, literary theory, philosophy, religion, multiverse, evolution, terrorism, cultural identity, personal identity, travelling, gender, loneliness, feminism, apocalypse, and on and on. I’ve written 62 of the 101 perspectives and while some of them have come out mostly just right, many more feel like simple character sketches.

It’s almost like this whole first draft is a very detailed outline for the novel it will be. 101 narrators doesn’t mean 101 characters but more like 300 characters, all of them needing to be alive and unique, if only for the few sentences they appear. Also, these narrators, each voice needs to be its own. Distinct, but not necessarily so distinct, because people from the same regions speak similarly and people who are friends speak even more similarly, but still. I’m nearing 130k words and just pushed over 460 pages and so I’m guessing the first draft will be somewhere around 200k words and who knows how many pages, but this also means the final draft may be as much as 400k words, though that’s unlikely [I hope], but it will probably be around 300k words, since each perspective needs to be fleshed out by probably at least 500 words. And 500 words for 101 characters adds up pretty fast and some of the perspectives need to be completely rewritten and maybe doubled or tripled in size. It’s likely to be the first thing I write that expands on a second run through.

Because of the massiveness of this, it’ll probably take me at least the rest of the year to get it all right. But I also think it will be the last novel I write in this way. Polyphonic, I mean. Every novel but one has been narrated by more than one character [1: 26, 3: 3, 4: 13, 5: 3] and so I’ll hopefully be moving back towards more centralised and focused novels. Most of the novel[la]s I have planned [have had planned for a while] will revolve around one narrator or a third person perspective and I think that kind of writing will be kind to me.  Hopefully I can sneak a shorter one or two in this year between editing/rewriting this big stupid mess of a novel.

I don’t know why I’m sharing this. It’s just strange to be writing something so large. Already it’s longer than anything else I’ve written [1: 47k, 2: 40k, 3: 52k, 4: 63k, 5: 95k] and it’s possible it’ll be longer than all of my previous novels combined by the time it’s done, which is absurd.

I’m mostly just hoping my talent matches my ambition for this novel. Writing a brick sized novel is so different from writing a normal sized one. It’s about as different as a short story is from a novel because a gargantuan novel is more, I think, about creating a world and allowing the reader to inhabit it. If your novel is 600+ pages, that’s a book that will take a while to read, possibly even a few months for some people, and so you need to go about it in a different way. I mean, even a 300 page novel can be read in a single day, in a single sitting, but it’s unlikely most people read a 1,000 page novel over the course of a single week. And since I’ve never been big on reading huge novels, it’s that much stranger to be writing one. Funny, too, because this was the year I planned on reading a bunch of these huge novels I have the ones that could be used as a weapon. A part of me wishes I had started this novel a year from now when I had become more familiar with the way these novels are written, but, alas! Here I am amidst titans hoping to not be crushed beneath their heels!

But, yes, I guess what I mean to say is don’t write a very large book and certainly don’t imagine that writing a first draft of it within two months means anything beyond making your edit/rewrite almost hopelessly herculean a task.

But, really, 130k ain’t bad for six and a half weeks of work and 200k over eight weeks will be just silly if I can get there. But, as I said, all the work that comes after that will likely take me at least the following ten months of the year, if not more. Probably more because I actually need to do some serious research to make this novel really thrive. For example: what was life like in Mexico City from 1940-2010 or Kyoto from 1970-2010 or Berlin in the 1920s. I mean, I know, in general, what it was like, but generalising that often about that many places and historical events is just beyond sloppy, even for me, and I make everything up!

But, yes. Current thoughts on a palimpsest, my in progress novel.

Anycase, thought I’d just dump that here. Going to relax, watch a movie, maybe play some more Final Fantasy VI, and just let the novel come as it will.

Also, since I’ve been writing reviews around the internet, I’ve had some people reach out to me over the last couple months. Typically I’m pretty into whatever they’re willing to send me but I received an email yesterday from a man named Michael through some sort of server proxy thing that I can’t reply to. He didn’t leave his last name or any contact information so I’m not sure what to do about it. He mentioned that he’s visited this site, so I thought I’d post this here in hopes that he sees it. I’m down to read your novel, Michael, but you should email me at gmail or The Lit Pub or comment here or send me a message through facebook or goodreads or some such thing. As is, I don’t really know how to contact you.

Also also, I need to do some things about a novel I submitted. Figure out what’s wrong with the server thingymadoodad.

But, yes, weary. Going to just relax.

a year in stories::five

Superbowl Sunday so probably no one will see this today, but the story of the week is now here. The novel’s been in a simmer since I went to DC. I’ve written about 8,000 words since returning but I’m hoping to get the entire first draft finished before AWP, which means I need to step up my game. Looking at about another 100,000 words, at least. If I can get a solid 220,000 words down as a rough draft, that should leave me in good shape for draft two, which will likely be closer to 300,000.

I’ve a few reviews I want to write today so hopefully I’ll get that done soon, then back to the novel tomorrow.

Anyrate, a story about whatever you want it to be. Not really, but I’d rather not put a label on it right now.

Our Future in Your Name

You burnt all the books in hopes of future. You told us, made us believe in your words:

creation through destruction

You said to abolish the past or no future will be made. You threw out our language, our songs, dances, our ceremonies. You called the past a milestone hung round the neck of progress. Your words convinced us, changed us–that pretty mouth, all those words.

You made it a creed, one we bought into. The god is now the future, too long has society clung to the past, to the gods of yore. Too long have outdated moralities governed our lives, held back our future. The present is a monument to the past and the past is a mausoleum for our future.

You told us. You said it all. All those words were yours.

And we did it. With these hands and thousands like them we turned the past to ash in hopes of a future made diamond bright but you never told us how diamonds were made.

We gathered the past, the instruments of control, the shackles of memory, all our collected histories. We tore down the monuments, razed the churches, the parliament, the castles. We took it apart brick by brick and poem by poem till all that we were was gathered before all who we were in thousands of plazas in thousands of cities like this one. And you said it then those words we’ll never forget:

burn burn burn

And we did. With torches and bombs we obliterated all that we were and when the new children came you told us to mention nothing of where they came from, of where we came from.

The new children were not ours but they became ours and with that becoming came a new hope as you promised. You promised and delivered these children without pasts, born only for our glorious future.

And when they used our words they were now different. Words without legends or histories–words without context. They spoke in our language but made it something new, original, uncontrollable. The language that once was ours became infected by them, by theirs, and then it spread from person to person, from city to city, until the language that was once ours became foreign in our mouths and we spoke but no longer knew the meaning.

You told us the words were made pure and could be redefined and the new definitions would be hope and progress, and we believed you. We listened to you.

And the children who were now ours were really yours. All the children were yours and your seed infected every house of this new country evolving in your vision. A country with only a future, a country founded on a dream and a dream looking always forward. And when the children were yours they took us and we became theirs without knowing.

And when they took us they met our open arms, our kisses, our gentle loving words. And when they shackled us and rewrote us we did not cry for mercy but rejoiced in absolution.

It was you. Always you.

And when it was you at our doors, at every door, in every window, in every frame, on every channel, on every screen, we rejoiced and praised you for you were the future and the future was god and you were god.

You were god and we were your disciples. We made you god and you told us it was right even when you shackled us we believed you knew best. Even when you began the purge that followed the pyre we trusted and believed. Your children rounded us up, all of us, and told us how to take ourselves apart, how to become free, truly and finally free, from the past.

We took us apart, one by one, limb by organ by skin.

We did it all in your name. All for you.

And you told us you loved us and now everything would be better. A new dawn was coming.

But when the sun rose we looked around at those of us left, those battered and bruised, limbless and bleeding, languageless but speaking. We looked around and in the new dawn of the new day we discovered a future not worth living in but certainly not worth dying for. And when we asked if we could go back you laughed and laughed.

Your children then ate us, one at a time, before our eyes. And we saw that your children were not like us, were not human, but were great monstrous things wearing our skins and smells to hide amongst us. And when the children, your children, ate us you told us we go now to peace, and we thanked you again, for the honor of service.

And with none of us left and the world beneath your iron heel we shall pray to your flag and your vision, your visage, all done in our name.

We will remember you. Even after death.

forgot some things

Yeah, so I thought I’d link them now.

The Best Books of 2012 went up at Manarchy a while ago. It’s one of the most liked articles on the site! But, yes, it’s a few lists compiling my favorite books I read over last year, and since I read over 100, it’s a list that matters. I guess. Or something.

My review of The Alligators of Abraham by Robert Kloss also went up at Word Riot a few weeks ago, or maybe only last week. I don’t know. Seems like a long time ago.

Also, I bought my website now. Not really sure why but I guess it makes me more official. Need to update my publications page too. All kinds of broken links in there that need to be fixed.

Anycase, Washington DC in three days, so I can be with my lady love.

Also also, novel’s coming along. Hit the 90k mark a few minutes ago. Want to reach 100k before I leave for the long weekend.

Wish me luck.

Picture!

Seriously, obsessed.

Christ on the cross as it’s illustrated.
I’m body soft and disintegrated.
I’m in this self half-illuminated.
I’m on the call but it’s distant and faded.

I myself I’m the robber denied.
I chased all I lost down to spiraling silence.
I’m on your side it’s just so hard to see you.
I’m on the side of the ghost and the needle.

It’s the choice in my hand,
the suicide or the slaughtered lamb.
When it’s so full of tricks,
I’ll be toasting the gold lights of life.

The trail is cold and hard,
the course of the light of the child.
A slow messenger,
I’m in charge of the coal and the fire.

White noise calling on a sudden deluge.
I’m chased out of breath trying to come back to you.
I’m in arrest of the subtle hues.
Oh, I’m in this self-sick solitude.

The sky’s fallen soft to the silence renewed.
I erased all the tops from the tall city view.
I’m in the flesh of the hungering few.
Oh, I’m on the call trying to get back to you.

It’s the choice in my hand,
the suicide or the slaughtered lamb.
When it’s so full of tricks,
I’ll be toasting the gold lights of life.
The trail is cold and hard,
the course of the light of the child.
A slow messenger,
I’m in charge of the coal and the fire.

These are weekends I love, when I can live in a sustained dream without distraction. Since Saturday, I’ve written 30,000 words on this monstrous novel I accidentally found myself in. Feels so good to have the time to be this productive, when I can spend all day inside the words, translating the visions and the dream to miles of text.

Not sure it could’ve happened without discovering this band, EXITMUSIC. I’ve listened to their album and EP already hundreds of times and I just can’t stop.

Still no end in sight for this novel as I approach the 100,000 mark, which is a mark I’ve never reached before. I thought that would be near the midway or 2/3rds mark earlier this week, but it’s looking like it may still only be the beginning.

Also, note to self and everyone: never write a novel with 101 narrators.

a year in stories::three

And so another story, the third for the year. I almost forgot because I’m kneedeep in the novel. Hoping to get between seven and ten thousand words today to go with yesterday’s eleven thousand. It’s coming together beautifully. I love weekends like this. When I have nothing but time and can dream out loud and live in the sustained reality of the novel and just write, translating the visions into words.

Anyrate, a short story about literature and a picture unrelated.

A Haunting

 

There was a little girl, one just like you, as it so happens. She wandered far from home where she found a shore and by the shore she discovered a house. Being a girl like the girl she was, she walked from the watery shore of that great sea to the little house colored only white from outside. The grass was high as her shoulders and it swayed in the gentle autumnal breeze. The girl ran her fingers through the high blades watching her feet shadowed by her head in sunlight. The house appeared like any other house from the outside except for the doorway which lacked a door. Hello, she said and peeked her head in, Is anyone here? Through the windows numbered five and the doorway came sunlight and with the sun’s light she saw the nothingness inside. No carpet or furniture, no lights or paintings, no outlets or chandeliers, no stairway–only walls and on the walls colored white was paint.

She stepped back into the grass and followed the closing trail she made through the high grass. With each step the noises of life became louder. Insects chirping, birds singing, waves lapping, she closed her eyes, the sounds all around and now inside, the caress of wind on skin, the heat of sunlight spotting the inside of her eyelids with red luminosity. Walking back to the shore she looked back at the house and the house looked at her. Her steps quickened and she did not turn around again till her feet were underwater buried in sand. The cool water clinging to her skin, the slow slide of sand on her toes, the soft break of shallow waves. Off in the distance was the line called horizon where the ocean met the sky to copulate and form the world which began always at the furthest point of sight and stretched to the you who watches it.

When the sun began to descend it fell over the house casting it in haloed light with its shadow spread to her lying on the shore. Clouds rolled in from the horizon colored purple in great puffing castles atop mountains of condensed water. She returned to the house and the sounds of life began again to lower as if life muted the longer she stayed in the house’s shade but the sun descended and blackness blotted so she crept into the house and slept beside the door in the deep silence of that house. The air hot and still, she kept her head against the wood and tried to listen to the bones of the earth shift but there was nothing.

A whispering woke her but she did not move. The sun had not yet risen but the sky took on form and shape though the blanket of cloud was thick and grey. The whispering fell away and she fell away into sleep.

Sunlight in eyes peering through clouds woke her and all was silent, still. Rolling over, she blinked to wakefulness and when she saw she saw the white walls were now covered in ink colored black. Frowning she sat up and turned to the nearest wall. On the wall were words in calligraphy and these words formed sentences and paragraphs and as she read the words became a story but not the whole story, only a small section. She pulled away from the words and walked the perimeter of the house trailing her fingers against the words finding their ink dried. She looked for the beginning of the story for a long time but could not so she left the house and returned to the shore.

Feet underwater in sand with the sounds of life returned she did not watch nature around her but only stared down at her rippled reflection in the water swallowing her ankles. She turned back to the house and a whispered hush silenced all around her for a moment and disappeared, giving back the swell of sounds of life to her ears.

In the grass she measured the boundary of the house, where the world began to quiet and marked its perimeter with sticks, then noted where she no longer heard anything beyond the house and this was marked at the doorway.

She entered the house again and walked around staring at the words written in beautiful hand. As her eyes wandered the walls they struck upon its beginning and the words tore her sight along the sentences that wrapped round the house and craning her neck. When the sun fell over the horizon again she had read all the words on the walls that made a story and when the words to be read were all gone the whispers returned.

Who’s there, she said but the whispers stopped. I can hear you, she said, turning this way and that. She looked out the window and saw the world lit by stars and moon but it was not the same sky. What have you done to the world, she said but still the house was silent.

Shouting against the walls and pounding her fists against them, she fell asleep from exhaustion and woke to the walls covered again in ink but the words were not the same but the whispers were. Again she read the words and they once more took her all daylight. When the words were gone and the light was gone the whispers returned but this time she listened.

She listened to a different story to the ones she had read as she stared out the window at the stars in the sky that was not the same sky. As the whispers whispered on the sky continued to change until the whispering ceased and the sun returned but the sky was yet another sky but in the new light the walls were again blank.

As she followed the shoreline that was no longer the same she stared at her feet repeating the words whispered and the words read until the world she once knew and the one she walked through now began to melt together and she lifted her eyes once more and walked against the other wind.

and then what?

And then I bought a ticket to go visit my lady love in DC in ten days. It’s going to be a glorious time of unfiltered awesome.

She makes me the happiest boy in all the land. Happier than I can remember being. Better than I remember being and it feels so beautiful and strange to be planning a future beyond tomorrow with her, beyond a thousand thousand tomorrows.

But the novel I’m writing is sort of a headache. 101 narrators and the final narrator’s tale is told in 1,001 sections and so the lowest estimate I have for it is about 150,000 words, but it’s looking more like 300,000 words at this rate. Every individual section is a bit longer than anticipated and because of the rushed nature of them–because I rarely have time to sit down and get it all down properly [working in between shifts and other responsibilities, cramming 5,000 words in just a handful of hours] I already know I’m going to have to expand just about every section, also because I learn more about the novel as I write it so what came first is sort of incomplete or incorrect–but it’s also one of the most exciting projects I think I’ve ever worked on. It may take me a month or two to get a first draft finished, which is crazy long for me. And then it’ll likely take several months for me to get it finalised.

So, yes, an accidental novel becomes a nightmare I want to live in for hours and days.

And I’m excited for the future in my real life. Waiting till March to find out if I get into Graduate school isn’t really ideal, but I don’t anticipate getting rejected everywhere. At least I hope I don’t. That’d force me to make some abrupt life changes.

Anyrate.

i suppose an update

goes here. Work on the novel goes slow because I seem always exhausted and also short of time so I can only get a few hours to actually work at a time, usually three to four hours a day, and I’ve been averaging around 2,000 words a day, which isn’t terrible, I guess, but it’s so unbearably slow, and it’s making what already began as a very strange novel into an ever stranger one, endlessly fragmented.

Anycase, all kinds of things me have been going online. Or, not really. Just three things, but that seems like a lot, especially since this is just since yesterday.

A review of Michael Moorcock’s The Warlord of the Air:

A revolutionary pirate dreams of equality and gathers the world’s intellectuals into a sprawling anarchic society poised to fight off the empires that live in such grandeur by destroying and subjugating the rest of the world, from China to South America. What began as an interesting voyage becomes a revolutionary war where dirigibles and atom bombs erupt, where Ronald Reagan is a brutish boy scout, where the Vladimir Lenin is a failed and despondent old man.

A review of Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath:

Jagannath will envelope you. It will breathe new and old life into you, transforming whatever was there before. These are stories of great power and beauty and terror, so do not take it lightly. While it can be read on the beach or couch or in bed, this is not a casual read. Tidbeck takes us on thirteen distinct journeys that do not so much bend reality as show you the uncanny worlds that lay hidden behind reality’s sheen.

The best books I read in 2012.

Oh, too, finally found Max Richter’s ballet Infra online.

I love how barebones this is–nothing but the stage, the music, and the bodies.


I’ve listened to this ballet, Infra, hundreds if not thousands of times and it wasn’t till now, seeing it performed, that I really feel I understand it. It’s opened up immensely and transformed in my head from something that was merely beautiful to this glory.


I never realised how much it was about control, how much it had to say about life in the 21st century, how concerned it is with alienation, and I cried three times in the half hour this takes to watch. It’s amazing and perfect, and Marianela Nunez is perfect, as she always is, as she had to be. I feel so much right now it’s hard to even put it in to words.

More essays and criticisms should be on their way as I write them. I have big plans and once I get the time to write them, I should be dumping them all over.

Anycase, I hate my job and so am looking for a new one. If you have a job or know of one that needs a human, let me know.

This has more tags than anything on my whole site.

a year in stories::one

2013 and I have no resolutions but I have begun something like a novel, I believe. I’m about 7,000 words in, taking my time, I suppose, since, if my usual output is to be measured and quantified, I should be twice as far as I am. But I’m enjoying it, this sort of reflective thing about me writing a novel that is also a novel about so many things already. But, too, I’ve decided to do this little exercise Ray Bradbury [I believe] recommended for those of us who wile away with words. Paraphrase from poor memory:

Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to fill a year with bad ones.

Yes, I’m more positive it was Bradbury who said that.

Anycase, the reason I mention it is because I’m going to do it, starting today. Or, I already did it today. So, for the year of 2013, I will, on average, write one story every week and post it here. I say on average because there will probably be weeks when I’m too busy to do such a thing but there will also be weeks when I finish two or three or whathaveyou. I’m posting them here, every Sunday, mostly for fun. I’m terrible at submitting stories anyway and since I’d just like to share them, I might as well share them here, where I hangout, anyway.

The stories that go here will be rather first draftish, and so they’ll suffer accordingly. I plan on posting them almost immediately after completion and so hopefully, as the year progresses, we can see some sort of forward momentum. I mean, hopefully I’m getting better, yes? I’d love to hear feedback, of course, which may also help me improve.

After their initial publication here, I’ll probably go back and make them each better and maybe try to even publish them elsewhere[?], but probably not.

Anycase, here’s the first story of the year:

Renaissance

Dear friends, colleagues, students, we have listened long to the men and women of this stage as they dissect the trouble with postwar Italian literature, how there has been no great Italian writer since Italy’s unification, and though it’s not what I planned, I feel I must say a few words of my dear friend Otto Bertolini.

Something happened to Bertolini after he died. For one thing, his output seriously dropped off and, for another, his writings became more and more enigmatic, his prose, not so much denser, but thicker. He no longer careful constructed people to life through situations and actions but more tangled them in a webs of contradictions and emotions.

For example, his latest novel, Fearful Symmetries, appears, at first read, to be the story of a woman who climbs a tree, with the bulk of the 714 page novel consisting of quite a lot of chatter, most of it bizarrely spiteful or sexualised. Contrast that with, perhaps, his most famous work, Baleful the Clown, about an autistic boy who draws the apocalypse to life, where the prose is shining in its muted quality. This is an apocalypse without the spectacle that draws crowds, but more a negative image of a world falling apart through the scribblings of a child who does not perceive reality as we do. The prose is almost like haiku stretched over 153 pages of elegantly crafted characters trying to hold back the end of humanity.

It should be no surprise that most of his fans were shocked by this change in direction. Most owed it to the traumatic experience of Death, but for those of us who have spent their lives following Bertolini’s career from infancy and through the grave, we can see the common elements, the way his style developed into this baraque tapestry of realities. For Fearful Symmetries, once read closely, perhaps on the second or third attempt, opens up a great deal, and these conflicting perspectives build a life so full and vibrant the reader’s heart breaks and remains broken for the final 600 pages, not because of the tragedy necessarily, but because of how beautiful this is. What we find in Fearful Symmetries is the life of a tree stretched over centuries, not the simple action of a woman climbing it for ten minutes. If his previous work, from the era of his career I’ll now refer to as The Living Years, uses negative space to depict life, then this era, The Postlife Years, is its opposite. While the 47 Living novels were short and terse and elegant, the Postlife novels sprawl on with monstrous tentacles, using all the space of vision allowed and creating a whole image with the million different hues and contours available to the human eye and mind.

Yes, it’s easy to dismiss my reading of Fearful Symmetry as simpering hero worship, for, I admit, the first reading was so disappointing and frustrating that I felt betrayed by his Death. Yes, me, betrayed by the Death of my dear friend, for how could he change so much over so little a time? Did I ever know him as a man? as an artist? Who is this man, now? What has changed him so?

These questions forced me to pick up his next novel, Allaround Pause, vagabond, and plough through those 1,111 pages of a pregnant woman who eventually gives birth to a dragon. A dragon! Of all things!

Ripping my hair out, gnashing my teeth–what has happened to my dear Bertolini?! Told from the perspective of 101 narrators speaking for eleven pages each about a pregnant woman they saw at various times of her pregnancy over the course of 101 years, Allaround Pause, vagabond was 101 knives stabbing into my heart and the memory of my dear friend, now beyond conversation and, therefore, reconciliation. What was I, or anyone else, meant to make of such a literary development?

To be honest, dear readers, it hurt me so deep I can barely express how I spent the following two years wallowing in drink and women and darkness until the release of his third Postlife novel, riverrun, which intrigued me out of my gloom and despair and regret for having devoted my life to a man who turned charlatan after he died because, if ever I knew Bertolini, I knew he despised Joyce and especially Finnegans Wake, yet, here, a clear allusion to the work.

I rushed out and got an early printing from the magazine, a completely white cover, thicker than Fearful Symmetry but not so thick as Allaround Pause, vagabond. What was found inside was nothing like what had come before, whether by him or any other writer. It may not even be especially useful to call it a novel, though it’s certainly not not a novel. There are no page numbers but I happen to know it’s 871 pages long and consists of 97,531 words. It is a massive riddle that defies summary for there are no characters, or at least none explicitly named, and there is no action, at least none that happens on the page, but a sequence of puzzles, some of them wordless, even–long stretches of blank pages riddled with punctuation marks or figures or dots dancing as motes of dust. If a novel can be described as pointillism, it may begin to help the reader understand what this novel–this thing–is.

I cannot describe that initial reading. I felt no emotions as I understand them, but there was this existential tugging at my bowels, forcing me to push on and on. Sometimes the reading would blur as I leapt through page after page only to hit a wall of text, this linguistic barrier that reflected itself over and over, as mirrors facing mirrors. This grand puzzle, this riverrun worked as a cycle but not as a circle. It behaved more like weather than it did like narrative, and that’s the only summary I believe works. Yes, it is weather. It is about condensation and precipitation and evaporation and wind and the sky and the sun.

So profound and confounding was the effect it had on me that I kept it with me, always in my bag, for several months. Whenever I had a break in the day, whether on tram or bus or at restaurant or coffeeshop, I would turn to any random page and begin the cycle once more, mesmerised.

It was then that I returned to Fearful Symmetry and Allaround Pause, vagabond only to find these novels transformed. I wrote letters to the editors of the magazines I had published my review in begging for a redaction, for a reconsideration, but, alas, there was no desire to open the graves, so to speak, for these Postlife novels, even still, are hated by the public, by scholars, by academics, and each new novel released is met more vehemently than the last, and the publisher even takes on abuse and attack. I alone stand with my old friend Bertolini and believe he has now reached the apex of his career with Glass/Water, his latest novel stretching to 3,209 pages. It is, perhaps, his most autobiographical novel, beginning at his own gestation, passing through his life, and covering his own decomposition, though, of course, this isn’t a memoir, but another puzzle, much greater than his previous eight Postlife novels, about a horse who longs to be the boy who longs to be a Marilyn Monroe.

In Glass/Water Bertolini has reached a level beyond all other writers, living or dead, in that he has not only recaptured the entirety of world literature, but he has transformed and distilled it into a drinking glass for all the public to easily swallow, if only they’re willing to take the first sip.

Calling it his magnum opus seems absurd at this point in his career, but it is certainly his farewell, and so is this mine from the world of criticism and academia. I have lived my life inventing the story of his stories but now, eighteen years dead, he has given me my reprieve, and I think I’m now ready to die, having championed him into this new millennium. Though I stand alone, I hope those readers who come next, you newest generation of artists and critics will look once more at the work of my dearest friend and know I’ve not wasted my life.

Thank you.