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 In doing research for a story (as yet unpublished) about a veteran of the Iraq War who games, I watched a lot of Halo on YouTube and was appalled at the focused, impersonal, and constant violence, which seemed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

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.



Seventh Can Poem Up at Poetry WTF?!

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 latest can did jump out at me. 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. . . .