The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.<
I really ought to dislike duncan b. barlow’s writing. He writes in tiny punchy sentences, and to make them, he sometimes divides complete sentences into ungrammatical clauses. I am a Proustian all the way, insisting as I do on long winding sentences with many joined clauses, using commas to get my way, breathing only when necessary. (See?) But goddamn if I don’t love barlow’s writing anyway. Goddamn if he hasn’t done it again, whatever incredible thing he does as a writer, with his new novel, A Dog Between Us. It’s an intense piece of work, revolving as it does around two people in the narrator’s life who are dying in different ways. Its shape and symmetry remain elusive, and its plotlines taper instead of ending. But the reading experience is akin to—if you’ve never done this, I pity you—sitting on a plastic sled attached to the back of a moving vehicle. Joy and danger mixed together, roped to an unfailing engine dragging you along.
About two years ago I left grad school and got a big boy job. And it was as if someone flipped a switch behind the scenes of my life: all of a sudden, I felt free. And for the first time in a long while, I was able to read books. I could read for fun. I could read without having to worry about wasting time, without having to feel guilty about reading for no other reason than to enjoy it. So I bought books, I bought them from all kinds of stores, from websites, from yard sales. It was great, and I was constantly looking for new stuff to read but didn’t know what to look for. Then I realized that back when I did read books – back before grad school – I had briefly touched upon this world of independent literature that felt so wild and free. So I went back to see what was up, to see what I should be reading, and by convoluted paths over recommendations and tracing out who’s friends with who and mapping out which presses put out which books and etc. and so on, I remember at some point just staring at the evocative and bold cover of Double Bird on the Maudlin House website and thinking “I bet this is good.” Then I looked up some of Bud’s writing and decided “ok, yeah, this is good,” and ordered the dang thing.
Two years ago, the Midwestern book tour I was on with duncan b. barlow concluded on a rainy Chicago night with a reading at Volumes Bookcafe headlined by Maryse Meijer. Hearing Meijer read from her debut collection, Heartbreaker, left me floored; since then, I’ve eagerly read her subsequent books, the novella Northwood and the new collection Rag. Meijer’s fiction is haunting in a host of ways, some of them literal: she brings the reader to the border of the uncanny and primal, while also tapping into something deeply modern and urgent. I spoke with her following the release of her latest book about her short fiction, the role of horror in her work, and titles, among other topics.
Michael Carroll’s writing spine is as sturdy as mountains. It has to be to stride the tidal wave of ultra-conservatism currently holding this country underwater, seeking to erase fifty years of progress, conspiring to send us back to our caves. Stella Maris: and Other Key West Stories flips the bird at what has become a sterile, bloodless America. Sex (dirty raunchy, unapologetic sex) jumps off every page of these tales. You smell its deliciousness the way you smell it the second your nose hits Key West. Stella Maris is sexual medicine for the infuriating return to Puritanism we are seeing these days.
The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
Moments of Resonance, the debut album from Munich-based saxophonist and composer Ralph Heidel and his band Homo Ludens, is the sort of work that eludes easy categorization. At times, Heidel’s work finds a fine middle ground between minimalist composition and post-rock; at others, there’s a more lush and sweeping element to the music. I talked with Heidel about the album’s genesis, the role of improvisation in his music, and more.
“Just as Frankenstein’s creature turned against its creator,” writes Jon Savage in Teenage: The Invention of Youth Culture, “so could the young of the West turn against their parents and institutions.” To give a tiny bit of context, Savage was writing about the children of the Industrial Revolution, people who lived over 200 or more years ago, and the realization by thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and writers from Goethe to Dickens that young people were just that: young people.