Big Break from Spectacle Magazine!

001-Cover-5ec320dfc75aaa4bc468c7d5c0e2fea1-2fd78For some time I have been close to the next level of success in my writing. Finalist in this or that, shortlisted for this and that, a positive review in New Pages, a little money here and there. But I had yet to publish in a journal recognized as one of the “top,” or win (or even be nominated for) a substantial prize, or sell anything to a publisher for a substantial sum. I wasn’t bitter–I am sincerely happy that there are so many talented people out there, and I am enjoying writing so much that I will continue regardless (you have been warned). But I was beginning to wonder.

Turns out all those clichés about persistence and it only takes one person are true. Also the “kill your darlings” thing. The editors of a new speculative fiction magazine, Spectacle, liked my story, “Gutman to the Rescue,” and are paying me the substantial sum of $500 to publish it in an upcoming issue!

As usual, this story had been making the rounds, slowly spiraling down from better paying to less well paying to free, for some time. Fortunately, editors at one low-paying journal told me I needed to axe large portions of the piece in order to streamline the pacing. Although those editors eventually rejected the streamlined version, I am indebted to them because the story went on to find favor at Spectacle. 

Of course, I feel grateful and validated. But this tale is also a reminder of how random the whole process is. So much depends on luck and chance, and the story could just as easily have met a less prestigious fate. I am reminded that I am writing because it is what I have always wanted to do and because I have things to say and an active imagination. Everything else, welcome and unwelcome, is secondary. 

 

  

 

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“Hollow” Up at formercactus

The micro-fiction I wrote about here is now up! You can find it in issue fourhere. I have been reading issue three, and I find formercactus to be a delectable box of chocolates. I never know what to expect, and even while I am reading, new depths of flavor suddenly emerge in the pieces. Suitable for all your literary snacking needs. So check it out!

Micro-Fiction “Hollow” Accepted at formercactus

I do not game. I find gaming at best pointless and antisocial, at worst, violent and misogynistic. I readily admit I am ignorant of gaming and was not good at the few primitive games I tried back in the day, so if anyone wants to school me in all I am missing from the wonderful world of gaming, go ahead. I will read with as open a mind as I can muster.

I mention all this not to insult and challenge gamers everywhere, but just to explain how I came to write “Hollow.” In doing research for a story (as yet unpublished) about a veteran of the Iraq War who games, I watched a lot of Halo on YouTube and was appalled at the focused, impersonal, and constant violence, which seemed to me to subvert puerile masculine fantasies of heroism, turning them into something frightening and casually cruel.

I channeled this reaction into a very brief micro-fiction, “Hollow,” which sketched a real-life gaming experience in a dystopian future. Many editors rejected this, and the one who commented on it explained that it reads more like the beginning of a story than a complete work. I understand that, but I kind of like it the way it is, and I did not prioritize expanding it because I had conceived of it as short and uncomfortably unresolved.

Fortunately, Willem Myra the guest editor of Issue 4 of formercactus, “Microcaxtus,” liked the piece in all its brevity and will be publishing it on January 15. I look forward to familiarizing myself with formercactus in the interim.

Happy Western New Year!

 

 

 

Lolita Essay Out in Palgrave Handbook

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Today I finally got my copy of the handbook with my Lolita essay in it. You can read more about the handbook, which is edited by my husband and his colleague, here. You can also buy the handbook, in physical form or as an e-book, there, and you can buy individual e-chapters there as well.

Basically the handbook tries to examine the role of affect in understanding literature. In doing so, it brings together several different strains of textual criticism, especially affect theory and cognitive science. Although affect theory has its roots mainly in poststructuralism, while cognitive science is rooted in the scientific method, and particularly the advances made in the last two decades in such fields as neuroscience and evolutionary biology, both branches analyze our reactions to texts, and it is useful to explore overlaps between them as well as areas of conflict.

My essay uses Deleuze and Guattari, on whom many contemporary affect theorists draw, to examine fascist and microfascist elements treated in Lolita, but I argue that their theories, as delineated in A Thousand Plateaus, cannot account for the text’s and Nabokov’s insistence on possibilities of transcendence through suffering and love. There is a basis for these possibilities  in the psychological phenomenon of altruism born of suffering (ABS), which is supported by neurological studies of altruism.

I believe my overall argument is strong, but I am especially happy about some details of my support for it. I present a reasonable and, as far as I know, new, explanation of the relationship between Nabokov’s Lolita and the “Lolita” by Heinz von Lichberg, who became an enthusiastic Nazi. I am also, as far as I know, the first to notice a number of religious references toward the end of the novel that support my argument about possibilities of limited transcendence through ABS in Lolita.

Further, having proofread the whole handbook, I can say that the other essays are also strong. I hope scholars will agree that this volume is a wide-ranging and expert treatment of cutting-edge literary and scientific theory on affect and that these essays constitute a valuable contribution to literary criticism.

 

Photo of The Palgrave Handbook of Affect Studies and Textual Criticism by me. 

Seventh Can Poem Up at Poetry WTF?!

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Editor Maartens Lourens has posted my poem, “Can # 7: La Tourangelle Expeller-Pressed Grapeseed Oil,” here. (I wrote about my can poems in various posts, all of which are referenced here.) Maartens, who blogs at The Combed Thunderclap, is a connoisseur and literary philosopher who specializes in cutting-edge experimental poetry, and I am honored to be in the company of the fine and fascinating poets up at Poetry WTF?!.  

Seventh Can Poem Accepted

I have published six can poems. Three were published in Experimementos, which appears to have expired, but not before making me the featured poet of issue 2. Three more were published in issue 7 of shufPoetry. I wrote about them here. These were then favorably reviewed in New Pages. You can read about my excitement here. Finally, through an error I made in the submission process, two of the can poems published in Shuf were reprinted as part of a new, longer poem, “Erosion,” in the first issue of Malevolent Soap. You can read about that here.

For some time I thought I was done. Then I got to thinking how enthusiastic a number of people had been about the can poems and what a cohesive idea this would be for a collection, and I started looking at can text again, just in case something jumped out at me. 

It’s not that easy to write poems based on cans because the text is so similar from one can to another. You always have a lot of advertising superlatives about how great the product is, and a lot of ingredients and regulatory language. But this can shown here did jump out at me. As you can see, it has some useful words–“Body,” “Care,” “Pressed”–that are unusual for cans. I didn’t use all of them, and, as always, I extracted words from larger words (“angel” from “Tourangelle,” e.g.) and put fragments of other words together to enrich the can vocabulary (“grasped” arose from this process). But I believe the final product works as a poem about what can happen to idealism in romance.

When it came time to submit the piece, I was happy to see that either people are more receptive to this very experimental poetry than they were when I first started to write it, or I just know how to search better. I found three likely places to submit to right off the bat, and I am happy to say that Poetry WTF?! has accepted it! Only forty-three more to go and I’ll have a collection. . . . 

Photo from La Tourangelle website.

Flash CNF Accepted by Rum Punch

When I was about a year and a half old, my family crossed the Atlantic on a freighter. Although this is an ocean liner, not the freighter we took, it’s similar, and the music is appropriate, since it is Xavier Cugat’s version of “Begin the Beguine,” and my dad was for some time the arranger for the Xavier Cugat radio show, though I’m not sure this is Dad’s work.

Anyway, I was struck that, although I had no memory of the trip, some memories came back to me in a dream when I was seven, after I had been looking at pictures of us on the boat. This fragmentary tie back to a time that was already lost in many ways moved me to write about it for a contest that called for 200 words on the theme of separation. 

I did not win the contest, but I have now placed the piece in Rum Punch. At the moment, the editors and I are deciding how to change its name, but I’m sure we’ll have one soon. I’ll announce and post a link when it comes out.   

Malevolent Soap Has Arrived!

IMG_2026                          Malevolent Soap on Swedish tablecloth. Taken by me. Today.

Some time ago, I posted that my poem, “Out in the Code,” had been accepted by Malevolent Soap. This turned out to be not exactly true. Owing to not checking what might have been attached to the document in earlier submissions, I had submitted four poems: “Out in the Code,” “My parents’ books will be the death of me,” and two can poems, the Pet Pride cat food and the Starkist Tuna ones. Unexpectedly, mamo, the kind editor of Malevolent Soap, perceived a single brilliant, or at least acceptable, poem in this random combination. And fortunately he was gracious enough to work with me as I combined previously printed material with “Out in the Code” to produce a new poem, “Erosion.” 

So, if you want to read “My parents’ books . . . ,” go here. If you want to read about my can poems being printed in shufPoetry, go here, or if you just want to read the poems themselves, go here and scroll down, looking for the American flag. If you want to read “Out in the Code,” “My parents’ books . . . ,” and the two can poems, all combined as “Erosion,” I am assured that you will be able to purchase copies of Malevolent Soap, issue 1, soon. I’ll post a link when they put it up.

In the meantime, I shall be enjoying my fat advance copy, which contains intriguing work by fellow poets from all over the world.

Poem About Last November Up at Literary Yard

donald_trump_nymaCheetolini, showing his early love of uniforms (but not service) and signature comb-over hairstyle.

My poem about the aftermath of last year’s tainted “election” has been accepted and published in one fell swoop by Literary Yard. You can find it hereLiterary Yard has recently been “ranked among the top 100 best Literary [sic] blogs on the planet” by Feedspot.com.   

This is not my favorite poem I have ever written. I think it is too literal. But my husband really likes it, so maybe I am wrong. Anyway, I couldn’t think of a way of changing it because, as he says, it conveys how I felt and what it was like right afterwards–hence the title, “How things are now.” As usual, I invite you to read it and let me know what you think.

Thanks!

Photo credit: Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library, Donald John Trump, pictured on page 107 of his [ca. April] 1964 New York Military Academy yearbook. Full yearbook: http://www.classmates.com/yearbooks/New-York-Military-Academy/32008. Source: “Photos show Donald Trump in military uniform, with athletic teams before dodging the Vietnam draft with ‘bull—t’ injury,” New York Daily News (July 21, 2015). Wikimedia Commons, PD.

“Audit, 2016,” Up at Wiki Lit

page1-464px-Form_1040,_2011.pdf

My autobiographical essay, Audit, 2016, is up in Wiki Lit, which I wrote about here when the essay was accepted. The piece is a meditation on my life, what it means and what it amounts to, using questions on the income tax form as prompts. I like it because it seems to wander, but in the end concisely articulates who I am. Besides being a good way to get to know me better in a hurry, it is also a fun reinterpretation of tax terms and something of a commentary on their limitations.

I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.  

 

Photo credit: United States Internal Revenue Service. IRS Form 1040. 2011. https://www.irs.gov. PD.