Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May Miscellany

As usual, once I write enough organized, one-topic posts I wind up with a bunch of smaller thoughts that need a place to go.

1. In finishing out the last semester of my graduate degree, I did two public readings and two semipublic readings. They were terrific. I love giving readings and I will miss the opportunity to do it. I guess I either need to join somebody's reading series or start a series of my own.

For the final GRS (Graduate Reading Series, which I've been co-running at CSUN all year), I read what I most wanted to, which meant I read a piece of the secret project, a poem (!) about hawks, and my manifesto. It meant a lot to me to get to read these things in front of an audience, particularly an audience that's known me for a long time but might not have heard/read this stuff of mine. I got positive responses.

Beyond my own experience, it was wonderful it was to hear my dearest Jesse read his poetry for the first time in well over a year. His work is so good, SO good, and I needed it.

For the first semipublic reading, I meant to read a piece of the revised final project I did for that class, and instead I ended up speaking sort of extemporaneously and reading a piece of this blog post, which had nothing to do with the class, and I don't really know how I ended up there but it made sense at the time. For the second semipublic reading, I read the start of the second chapter of the Casablanca novel I've started writing (did I mention that here? I'm writing a novel about Casablanca), and I think it went over fine.

The final reading was for 698D, my capstone/"thesis" class, and I was nervous for the first time in about six months. I'd been at a microphone easily a dozen times in the meantime, but this one, wow. My hands trembled. The reason was the material. I decided to read some of my hardest stories: the codex for why I will never live in New England again, the time I cried over a Banquet frozen dinner. I was afraid of being so vulnerable. Which is weird, because vulnerability doesn't usually scare me, but...I don't know. I was such a different person when I went through all that. Which explains itself, kind of; I wouldn't be who I am without crying over that Banquet dinner. Yet if this material wasn't interesting, or worth hearing, maybe that meant I was not an interesting or worthwhile person? [gestures with flappy hands] Whatever. I read the hard thing and I don't think it went as well as GRS but it's over and fine.

2. There's been some literary-world kerfuffle about this article, which says you HAVE TO HAVE TO write every day if you want to be a writer. No, you don't. I didn't even click on it when I started seeing it around last week, because no, you don't, and people who say that are locked into thinking there's One Right Way to do writing. Few things exist with One Right Way attached to them. I sat and stared at the wall and thought about this just now for several minutes, and drilled on down to things that are the same for everyone, like bodily functions, and even then I can't settle on the idea that yes, there's one right way to urinate and all the other ways are wrong. Human beings always have a choice.

But that is very far off the point, which is no, you don't have to write every day. I don't. I do, however, take writing seriously, which is the practice I think is truly important if you want to be a writer, and which practice I believe looks different for everybody. Consequently, in about two weeks I'll have another publication to tell you about. Take that, dude on Salon whose books I've never read.

3. I had to cut this out of my post about Girl and Incest:

In the suburb where I lived during high school, there was briefly a bookstore in the same plaza as our local music store/safe haven, Record & Tape Traders. I don't know what the deal was with this bookstore, whether it was an indie or an overstock seller like Crown, but I found there one of the most unusual books I've ever read: Exegesis, by Astro Teller (who, the internet tells me, now runs Google[x], which surprises me not at all). I bought it because the cover was nearly black, with an imprinted :) on it, and that looked interesting. I imagine the book would seem very quaint now, because it's about AI and takes the form of emails and instant messaging, all circa 1997, but at the time its form and subjects were totally new to me. It was one of those books that drops out of nowhere and back into nowhere. It's never come up anywhere else in my life, and in the middle of a high school curriculum it was exotic indeed.

4. Augh, I forgot to tell you about this interview with Gayle Brandeis! It was the most fun one yet. Two more interviews are on their way.

5. Somehow I have become a person who asks for, and receives, ARCs (advanced reader copies). I don't know how. It's a delicious mystery and it makes me feel very fancy indeed.

6. Related to this, I've become convinced that the best way to be a writer in the world is to lift other writers up. I've had a lot of good luck in the past two years, but I've also tried hard to spread the work of others out in the world: giving small-press books away to people I think would like them, sharing poetry and essays around, telling people about writers/friends I know that I think they should know. Every victory for every writer I know is a victory for me, too. I don't know which way the karma is flowing for me, but I don't really think that's the point of karma. 

I guess this is networking, in its truest sense. But it seems to be going well. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Feminist Argument in Favor of Reading Infinite Jest

Some weeks ago, I read this article, and I got into a conversation with my friend Marissa about it. Marissa is one of my favorite people for too many reasons to list here, but here are two relevant to this post: she is an exuberant feminist and a beautiful reader. These things combine to make her spurn books by men in a way I admire. She can correct this memory if I've screwed it up, but I think it happened that she spent a year reading books only by women, and then when she finished the year and started a book by a man, it reminded her of all the crappy qualities of male writers and the reasons why she did the project in the first place. She metaphorically (or literally?) tossed it at the wall and went back to solely women writers.

(A number of other writers have done this year-long project. The article I remembered best about it was this one on (cringe) XOJane, but you can also find work about it on Flavorwire, Medium, and elsewhere. Some of the articles, like this one on the Post, even include helpful lists of women's books, because Lord knows no one can independently find women writers, hidden as they are behind vacuum cleaners and under changing tables.)

Marissa and I had a Facebook conversation about this article* on DFW, joined by other women who've experienced the same phenomenon of Men Recommending DFW. It got sort of philosophical, running to the question of why people recommend things to other people in the first place. How to distinguish between recommending as condescension and recommending as genuine interest and exchange?

The main question I wanted to ask was why not having read something must be linked to insecurity. I'm not trying to accuse the writer, but what I mean is -
I wanted to become the right kind of person: savvy, culturally literate, respected by the metropolitan elite that might assume by default the cultural illiteracy of someone from Virginia. For a long time, I’d respond to men’s Wallace recommendations with “he’s on my list,” or “I’ve been meaning to — totally.” And for a long time, I meant it. 
Why not just say "No, I haven't" without assuring the asker that you intend to? It might be because you want to keep the conversation moving smoothly, which is completely reasonable. But it reads to me as "Oh, yes, I recognize that he's Important and I fully intend to comply with society's expectation that I read him."
This is how you become the right kind of person: if you’re not in a position of power, identify your oppressors — well-intentioned, oblivious, or otherwise — and love their art. This is why it’s hard to distinguish my reaction to Wallace from my reaction to patriarchy. This insistence that I read his work feels like yet another insistence that The Thing That’s Good Is The Thing Men Like. 
Of course, I know female DFW fans. But when women have talked to me about Wallace, their commentary is usually “he’s funny,” or “I liked A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.” It has never been “Go read Infinite Jest,” or “You haven’t read any of his work?” It should also be noted that, upon hearing about this essay, male Wallace fans have specifically listed women they know who like Wallace — as if this invalidates my disinterest somehow. 
So, okay. This is all fair and true and real. Coyle is right on the money when she talks about The Thing That's Good and the kind of person who generally tends to like/recommend DFW (white, male, pretentious, self-centered).** But I still don't understand why the answer isn't merely "No, I haven't read him." I mean, who cares? Why try to be the right kind of person? Why fall into resisting male insistence? No one wins that way. The resister looks passive-aggressive and the insister looks like a dick.

Moreover, why not reply with asking if the recommender has read Elena Ferrante? Or Zadie Smith? Or Clarice Lispector? Why is the response "Of course I'll correct this oversight" instead of "Hey, so there's literature in the world not written by men"? The latter might lead to an interesting conversation, or at least one where you get the measure of who's talking to you and why they're recommending DFW. Anyone who would say "You haven't read any of his work?" isn't particularly someone I want to talk to about books.

One of the main points of Coyle's article (as should be obvious from the quotes above) is the sense that gender divides contribute significantly to who recommends DFW.
The men in my life who love Wallace also love legions of stylistically similar male writers I’m not interested in (Pynchon, DeLillo, Barth). I began checking out of literary conversations with them altogether. Now, when getting into book discussions with a certain kind of man, I often say “I can’t read” as soon as possible. 
I genuinely love that answer. From now on, if someone says "You've never read any of his work?" about Philip Roth, I'll definitely say I can't read. But part of what I resist about Coyle's point of view is electing to shut down irritating DFW recommenders by...not reading his work. What I usually do with an annoyingly omnipresent writer is read his work, and then explain why I don't like him to people who ask. Knowledge is power, y'know, whether in the classroom or at a cocktail party. Being able to stand next to the most obnoxiously erudite person in the room and talk about DFW is, in my opinion, better than saying I can't read. If only slightly. 

As I wrote in that Facebook conversation: read Wallace and make up your own mind. Don't let DFW fanboys tell you what they think forever; tell them what you think.

Doing that requires you to read an awful lot,*** because the target for pretentious people is constantly shifting. But I think it's possible not to be forever saying "He's on my list," between a combination of reading a lot and not giving a damn about whether you've read this or that book. If you care about whether you've read it or not, read it. If you don't, don't. (I mean, why is this so hard that we write feminist essays about it?!) I won't let people talk down to me about books, because I've read a lot of them, and not having read a particular book probably means I've read a different one instead.

Plus, it turns out that a lot of people are faking their knowledge.**** The women in this Facebook conversation noted that most copies of Infinite Jest go unread by their purchasers; pretentious dudes don't often have the discipline to actually get through 1,000 pages of dense intellectual trickery. I, however, have read it. Which means I can keep up a conversation about DFW if you start one and I will know if you're pretending you've read it. Knowledge = power.

And look, I'm not saying Coyle should give in and read DFW like the patriarchy wants her to, but instead to choose reading him as the most powerful option. Don't let them teach you how to use a table saw, or (more accurately) talk to you about how useful the saw could be if only you could get your tiny woman-brain around the challenge of its operation. Read the manual and use it yourself.

Don't let them devalue your opinion, love. Read and speak some more.
Their ignorance shouldn't infect you.

Marissa pointed out that the way Men Recommending DFW see the person/woman they're recommending it to is as "an empty vessel waiting to be filled with male intellect". Ugh. Probably. So turn that around. Read more books than anyone in the room. Have an opinion. Don't let anyone make you feel small because you never got around to Jude the Obscure. Read Middlemarch instead and talk about Victorian realism vs. the waning influence of minimalism, and how since postmodernism we've strayed from the genuine novel form into a kind of extended short story, and how you can see this if you read Sophie's Choice against something like 11/22/63. Those ideas are free from me to you. Enjoy them.

The rest of this post is just extended footnotes, because of course it is.


*I'm annoyed that Coyle (or her editor) picked Brief Interviews with Hideous Men to read for the article, because I think it's the least intellectually interesting of his work I've read. He's so mean in it, so heartless, an empty center where the humanism of many of his other works goes. The title says it all: the book is a series of experiments in depravity, rather than in transcendence, which is how I see some of his other work. He's unkind in other stuff, too - the state fair essay, and the essay on porn - but I barely enjoyed Brief Interviews. I'd've picked "Mister Squishy" or just Oblivion to give you a real idea of him. But then I guess Brief Interviews is the most hostile and pretentious Wallace gets, which might be the Wallace fanboys like best. Yuck. 

**It bothers me so much that these are Wallace's strongest recommenders. It's like Richard Wagner: he'll never get the taint of Hitler off of him, even though his art has no meaningful connection with Nazism. 

It has become clear to me over time that everyone who loves Wallace loves him for completely different reasons. The people who are most vocal about loving him seem to love him for the worst reasons: because they think they're as smart as him (or they want to be); because they find his superiority towering instead of hollow, as he eventually did; and because he writes about the minefield of self-awareness, by which sensitive people both male and female, both wonderful and dreadful, are consumed. (The dreadful ones just talk about it a lot more.) I love him because of his excavation of that minefield, and because he likes words more than any writer I've ever read, and because he can write in approximately 6,874 modes, which is 6,873 more than most writers. Among other reasons. But the smart is much less interesting to me than the heart in his work. Fanboys seem to have it turned the other way. 

***I've written elsewhere about the benefits of omnivoracious reading: here, re: YA, and here, re: motivation for reading fancy books. I suspect I'll be writing about this topic in one way or another for the rest of my life. 

****I was COMPLETELY HORRIFIED by this Buzzfeed list and others like it. Why would you pretend to have read anything? It's just going to get you into trouble when people ask what you think! But it cuts both ways. People apparently lie about the books they've read all the time, so you've got the edge if you really do read them. (I've read 15 of those 22.) 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Medusa Laughs Again, Through Me, at Ms.

I guess May is my month. "A Body Manifesto in Five Acts", which I wrote, appears today at the Ms. Magazine blog.

This essay has been cooking in me for years. Influences include Hole

, Sadie Plant

, Stephen King, Simone de Beauvoir, Laura Mulvey, and most especially Hélène Cixous.

If you haven't read "The Laugh of the Medusa", do yourself a favor. My essay is the first ten minutes of the film of Fellowship of the Ring to Cixous's boxed set of LOtR plus The Silmarillion.

I've discussed the genesis of this essay before, but there are a few things I want to note about it now that it's out in the world.

First, it was being angry at someone that kicked me in the ass to write it after years of thinking about it. Generally, I don't think being angry is much of a reason to do anything, but this particular anger was good for me. And that itself was a useful lesson: the motivation to make art may not always be lofty or noble, but whatever makes you make art is a good reason to make art.

It happened like this. I tentatively introduced in class the idea of women living in their bodies differently than men, and an older woman, in her fifties or early sixties, disagreed with me. She said she didn't think women had any particular consciousness of living in their bodies that functioned differently from that of men. I looked at her and thought - perhaps unfairly - you are interpellated. You have been fooled by the patriarchy. There is something different about women, and you can't see what it is because you've lived too long in the shadow of men, through the maddening eye of the male gaze. How would I explain to this woman, I wondered, that a woman is more aware of her body than a man is aware of his?

When I sat down, I thought initially about all the different names and adjectives under which women operate, and that's where the first paragraph came from. The first paragraph was the last time I remember thinking consciously about what I'd put on the page. It poured out of me from there.

That's about as in-depth as I can get on the process of creating it, because that's the second thing I want to note. This essay did not come from painstaking word-by-word work; it came from white heat. I wrote it in a long gasp, except for two paragraphs which I was too distracted to add at the time and added later. The foundations of feminist theory it builds on are all in my head, though, and that theory took years to acquire. I read Dworkin and de Beauvoir and Mulvey in college, fifteen years ago; I read Freud and Kristeva and "Medusa" in the last two years. All that was a primordial soup from which the words came flaming out. But that is the way I write: the painstaking work takes place over a long period of time in which nothing is produced. The production period is extremely brief, but it calls on all the thinking-work. I've tried to explain this multiple times, because my work schedule looks breezy and weird to other writers, but this essay is possibly the most extreme example of it. Fifteen years of work condensed to 2,100 words I wrote in a few hours.

Third, my vision for this manifesto is to publish it with photographs in a standalone book. I have mental sketches for what I want the photographs to be (they involve my body, red paint, my husband's clothes, other things), and I have a photographer in mind, but she is in Oregon and I'm in L.A. and I have no idea how to arrange studio space, lighting equipment, and so on to make it happen. If you have fallen in love with this piece and are in a position to help me with any part of this project, by all means let me know.

Fourth, very importantly, I am not an essentialist. I don't believe that only biological women are women. I don't believe that organs or mascara or vocal pitch make or break the status of "woman". If you are a transgender/genderqueer/gender-fluid person and you think that, with this essay, I am somehow saying there's no room for you at the woman table, please, please, please get in touch with me (kcoldiron at gmail) and let's dialogue about it. My endeavor is to demonstrate how women, in my experience, live in their bodies, and to diagnose cultural conundrums relating to life in that body. I do not desire to offend or exclude.

(A non-binary friend of mine loved this piece, so I'm proceeding on the idea that I did okay...but I'd genuinely like to hear about it if not.)

Final thought: I never wanted "A Body Manifesto in Five Acts" to find a home anywhere but Ms. I am proud and honored beyond measure that Ms. agreed it belonged with them. But this publication, this honor, was kindled by my belief in my own power to speak and think and write. I would not hold such a belief without what Ms. has been doing since long before I was born. What goes around comes around, and around, and around.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ten Books that Mattered: Part Three (Young Womanhood)

1. C.S. Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia
2. Sue Townsend - The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 1/3
3. Stephen King - Carrie
4. Blake Nelson - Girl
5. Anaïs Nin - Incest
6. Dorothy Herrmann - Helen Keller: A Life
7. David Foster Wallace - Oblivion
8. Edna O'Brien - The Light of Evening
9. John D'Agata & Jim Fingal - The Lifespan of a Fact
10. Lidia Yuknavitch - The Chronology of Water
I haven't returned to Blake Nelson's Girl since I read it, and I don't remember how I found it, unless it was a random bookstore purchase.* So, this overview comes almost completely from memory, which may be faulty.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Weekend in Frazier Park, CA

No longer protected by distance or time, we live in the whole world at once, like postmodern gods, experiencing our own flesh and surroundings only disruptively.
- R.M. Berry
On the way to the cabin, I kept seeing ghosts of myself. An eighteen-wheeler that read "Aslan Logistics". A large homemade sign that read "Kat's Bakery". The general store had one small bottle of Crown Royal Black, my favorite, next to several larger bottles of regular Crown Royal. One small bottle just for me. In the waning afternoon as I sat on the porch, the biggest crow I've ever seen flew across the yard. It was the size of a small goose. I wondered if it was a raven, if that's just the expected size of ravens, and then I heard caw caw caw and went nope, that's a crow.

(I used to think crows were bad luck, but one day I decided to think of them as good luck. My life has been lucky ever since.)

The first night, I watched Manos: The Hands of Fate while I drank whiskey and thought about the work I had to do. My hands kept reaching for my phone. But my phone didn't work. No reception, no wifi. I'd been severed from my life. So I could only pay attention to Manos, instead of Manos + four other things.

I woke to birds doing what they do in the morning. I noticed that they sang with the gray part of dawn and then quit once the light started to rise. Sunrise and sunset were different on the middle of the mountains; the light fell at imperfect angles, and the actual circle of the sun didn't appear consistently with its beams. I ate breakfast and started work. I worked all morning, listening to my iPod (a Classic, now a dead breed and an antique by technology standards. But it's the only model that holds as much music as I need) and not bothering to change out of my pajamas.

At lunchtime I touched my phone, and then looked out the window. Rabbits blended with the chaparral but for their bright white tails. Steller's jays hopped everywhere. Small mammals I couldn't identify (size and appearance of squirrels, with short, sparse tails; way too big for chipmunks, too skinny for groundhogs) dug and quivered in the yard.

I worked for most of the afternoon. I finished 2,700 words: the second chapter of the Casablanca project/the final paper for my narrative writing class. I delved my fingers into my Singin' in the Rain essay and cat's-cradled it, burrowing deeper, finding the elements I'd dashed by on the first pass and hanging them out on the line. I added something over 1,000 words.

Dinner and some wine. The heater had been running on and off all day. The cabin had no central heating and didn't warm up much during the day, and it was genuinely cold, not just cold by California standards, at night. That is a fear I've faced and defeated, and here I was facing it again, during a few days' span when my creativity was the only thing at stake.

The following morning, Saturday, I took my time getting started. I'd accomplished the two main things I needed to. Writing on my thesis could certainly have kept me for another week, but it wasn't really what I wanted to do. I need to turn in 40-75 pages of material in mid-May, and all semester, though I've been fairly dutiful about work on the manuscript, I've had the sensation that what I turn in will be nothing like a finished product. In part because 40-75 pages is not a full-length memoir manuscript by anyone's standards, and in part because I knew it would take unencumbered, untethered, untimed work, for months or years, before I had a finished product I could stand for other people to read.

And, in all honesty, I have never felt good about this project. I didn't want to do it when Chris told me he saw the book in it, and I didn't want to do it when my adviser told me she thought it was a more worthwhile project than anything else I was working on. I didn't want to do it when I'd written a project proposal, when Jesse sketched the line of music I needed to preface it, when I found epigraphs, when I got feedback on the stuff I brought in to my small group, when my adviser told me I was doing great but needed to dig even deeper, when I nailed down present-day experiences to integrate with the old ones, when I uncovered memories I'd forgotten, when I constructed a skeleton to work from, when I found a theme to anchor, when I read Heroines and understood what was missing. No amount of progress made me want to do it.

Departing from this chronological narrative of my trip to Frazier Park, I didn't want to do it when I finished the draft on Saturday (May 6), when I revised it on Sunday, when I printed it out on Sunday afternoon, when I considered how to bind it and hand it in today. I still won't want to do it when I read from it on Friday, May 12. I don't feel ready to write it, even though I've written it. I don't feel old enough. I don't know when it will see daylight as a finished project. I need to reread Bachelard and come to terms with what I've already put on the page, what remains to go on it. I need to decide whether I find myself boring, whether I want to see this book in print, what this is all for. Never have I known such uncertainty. It's good work, I know, good writing, but it feels wrong, in instinctual ways I can't defend or explain.

I drove fifteen minutes down the road, to where I had cell service, and called Matt. "I think I'm going to come home today instead of tomorrow," I said.

"Is everything all right?" he said.

"Of course," I said. "I'm very happy. I'm just finished, or almost finished, and I miss you. I see no need to stay."

"All right, then," he said. "Yay."

I refreshed my inbox. I had 17 new emails. I opened Facebook. I had 26 notifications. I put down the phone and looked up at the mountains, at the falling dust spun up by my tires, at the pines around me.

On the way back, I drove by the Jim Whitener Tree, one of the biggest ponderosa pines in California. It has been growing since before the printing press. The road was too narrow for me to stop and take a picture with my phone. I fixed the look of it in my mind: branches themselves as large as trees, a trunk extending far below the elevated route I drove on, roots so deep, I imagined, they could dig straight through the earth's mantle to its warm core.

Back in the cabin I spent, no kidding, 15 minutes on my feminist manifesto. I wrote two paragraphs, and it was finished. That's work I've been waiting to do since November. It's true that I needed to be in the right frame of mind, but I was still disgusted with myself that it took so long. The DVD player, paused on a Rifftrax short, didn't even have time to go to its screen saver between when I started the two paragraphs and when I finished them.

I went downstairs to sit on the porch and brought my notebook. Suddenly, words arrived. I wrote about the Steller's jays, and about the men working on the house next door, and about the cold I lived through in the winter of 2005. I don't know if I'm finished writing about it - this is the nth time I've done so, I've lost track - but what I wrote felt definitive. As if it was the codex entry. I wrote about the day I took my shirt off in the winter at Mount Holyoke, an incident I still don't understand. I wrote about what happened when I went to the opera in November, just after the election.

Birds. Small mammals. Sunlight.

I went inside, ate lunch, typed what I'd written. I started packing my things, which I'd strewn in disarray all over the bedroom. I gathered up the trash and washed the dishes.

I went back outside to the porch, and while I sat there, thinking, listening to the wind in the green leaves, I heard what sounded like either a small child's shout or some kind of bird's cry. As the sound got closer, I determined it was definitely a bird, although I couldn't imagine what kind. Then a man walked past the cabin with not one but two enormous white cockatoos on his shoulders. He talked in a conversational way - to the birds, I learned shortly.

The man saw me and said hello, and I walked up to the street. I wore pajama pants and flip-flops and a Star Wars t-shirt and you could have fried clams in my hair. He didn't care. He greeted me and introduced me to the more friendly of his two cockatoos, who stepped onto my arm, walked up and over my shoulders and down my other arm, and then walked back again. His feet gripped but did not pinch. His beak and tongue were both black, worn, used; only a tinge of yellow colored his white feathers.

He, the bird, was thirty years old.

After a very pleasant conversation, after the man (Greg) and his birds had headed back toward home, I returned to the porch and sat down. I looked around the yard, my head completely empty of reactive thoughts. "That sure did happen," was the closest I could come. Nothing like it had ever happened to me before.

I decided to leave. Any other possible occurrence would have been a disappointment after meeting Greg.

On the way home, I looked at the mountains. I took the same way home as I took out, but I never once checked my phone, so it all looked completely different. The wild poppies like spilled paint on a hilltop; the clover tinging the yellow grass purple. The sky, and the whipped clouds across it. A hitchhiker and a handmade cast-iron ranch gate. Two trees, one bleached and one blackened, fallen and entwined in a clearing. The leaping engine of a Camaro. An overloaded Dodge Caravan with peeling paint.

I saw the world, is what I'm trying to convey. I saw the world. I didn't see it through a screen, like a concertgoer more interested in recording the show than being present at it. I saw it at its normal pace, not scrolling by with the speed of my finger. I saw it with its own colors, not an Instagram filter. I saw the goddamn world, and nothing about it looked old or small to me. I fell back in love with it. My heart rose with the San Gabriels and fell with the sun.

And I fell out of love with screens, temporarily at least. I realized I'd been allowing the world to shrink to the size of my phone screen, and I'd been seeing everything through that little rectangle. I had missed the real thing for the sake of the simulacrum. Yes, there can be more human connection through the little rectangles than out there in the real thing, I'd be the first to agree with that. But I'd lost track of what I love about the world - its indifference to us, its thereness - in favor of something that would react to me, conform to my needs, be forever novel and new.

I got done almost everything I needed to get done to finish my M.A. that weekend, but I also picked up perspective I desperately needed. My attention had become a baby feeding on pixels, and I needed to grow up again. I owe that to a few days in a cabin, to Greg, to my own words, and to the wind in the pines.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

News & -Letter

Holy moly there's so much to share with you. I went for a writing weekend and picked up a great little shift in perspective. I finished my feminist manifesto after five months of not finishing it. I am three weeks away from completing my master's degree (AND NO I'M NOT PANICKING OR ANYTHING).

But, far more importantly, I reviewed Lidia Yuknavitch's new novel, The Book of Joan, for the Rumpus.

"Joan does not participate in the binary. She does not play the patriarch's game."

I truly do not know how this happened, except that it did. I am honored and astonished.

Also! My interview series at Entropy continues. The most recent interviewee was Teow Lim Goh, and the interview ranged into deep stuff. I've got a few more terrific thinkers lined up to interview, so stay tuned.

And finally, I've started an email newsletter, Fictator's Digest. The idea of it is that I'll email you every so often (every couple of weeks? maybe?) to let you know about publications, what's going on in my world as a writer/reader, if I'm doing events or reading anything interesting. You can subscribe to it here. (It's a free MailChimp account, so if you see ads or PRESENTED BY MAILCHIMP!!!!! all over the emails, my apologies.) I'll send out the first issue tomorrow, so roll up, roll up, roll up!