A little less than two years ago, I went to the Center for Fiction to see Anne Carson read. The piece she read there was called The Albertine Workout, and it found Carson applying her considerable skill in literary scholarship to the works of Marcel Proust–specifically, the character Albertine in À la recherche du temps perdu. The piece consisted of a series of paragraphs, some very short, some not so much, along with a series of appendices. Besides its inquiry into the fictional context in which we encounter Albertine, The Albertine Workout also explores questions of sexuality (both inside and outside of the novel), the person who may have inspired the character of Albertine, what the speed limit was in France in the early years of the 20th century, and more. And now, it’s available in a printed form. It’s neatly designed. I read it while drinking a glass of wine and eating some arancini. The wine and arancini were delicious, and the pamphlet/chapbook/whatever you’d like to call it made for excellent reading. It’s a brisk and intriguing read.
Jim Ruland’s novel Forest of Fortune is set in and around an Indian casino; it’s a world he knows well, having worked in one prior to writing the book in question. His zine This is Not a Camera collects a series of short pieces about his time in that line of work. Some of the pieces are observational, with notes about the work environment itself or explorations of minutiae that one might encounter in that realm. Others use the setting to examine larger issues: questions of national identity and immigration policy among them. And there are a few others where Ruland recounts bits of relevant history; he’s an excellent storyteller, and there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Tiffany Scandal’s The End presents brief, stinging scenes from the aftermath of a relationship–both the flaws in it and the feelings that arise once it’s over. It’s tautly written, with brutal honesty to spare, and some interesting usages of text and space. And there’s a line about “burritos, whiskey, and cats” that memorably ventures into aphorism territory.