Archive for February, 2012

Ten Everywhere: Frank Hinton and I Don’t Respect Female Expression

  

In 10 words (no more, no less), describe I Don’t Respect Female Expression.
FH: like a concept album, everything is spiritually connected. about lust.

I dig Brian Manley’s work – how did the cover come about?
FH: It’s a relationship Matt Debenedictis has. I was pretty thrilled to have Brian working on it. They asked me what I wanted to go with and I said that I was interested in legs. I wanted there to be legs. I think I said there are things legs reveal that other parts of the body don’t. Brian came back with the cover, which seemed perfect.

(A Starting Place) – If it starts with two slugs of clementine, what does it end with?
FH: Well, whenever I eat clementine I get acid reflux. So I suppose it ends in heartburn.

(Make a Man) – “Make a man and name him Frank” – could one call this the Genesis of, well, you?
FH: The chapbook was influenced by Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer. I think the make a man segment is my Georgie Fruit transformation. Frank is made and then in the next segment, he’s there lusting after the female lead.

(A Medium Sized Mammal Native To North America) – What if I argued that there were no objects or entities?
FH: You’d be right. It’s a matter of physics. Nothing is real in and of itself, everything is part of a greater motion, changing matter. Why attach yourself emotionally to anything when it is bound to transmogrify? You can live a wise life without those attachments. Maybe. Idk.

(All Of The People In These Pictures Are Dead Now) – Since authenticity is everything, can you tell me one authentic piece of you.
FH: I am obsessed with cribbage.

Describe your last real moment.
FH: Holding my dog, crying because of a bad guy. Getting my face licked, held by paws. Reading a bit and feeling fine.

(You Rarely See Your Dirt In The Shower) – Where does your dirt water go?
FH: Into the harbour.

(DSC00001.jpg) – I can no longer edit life experience in red anymore (horrible journalism flashbacks). Are there any other colors you would recommend?
FH: Yes. Lazuli.

(Comorbidity) – Which Frank is your favorite?
FH: I like baby Frank because he’s 2 and should be out of his crib.

(Something Pure and Good) – Tell me a couple things that are good and pure, but not yet rejected.
FH: xtx, roxane gay, richard chiem, frances dinger, alexander j allison, christopher allen. they are pure and good.

In 10 words (no more, no less), describe your next project.
FH: Right now I’m in the last stage before my novel Action, Figure is released. It’s about uh… this. 


 

Frank Hinton, I Don’t Respect Female Expression, Safety Third Enterprises
bl pawelek, Ten Everywhere

interview /// ARK CODEX ±0

On the heels of several phenomenal releases, including Chiara Barzini’s Sister Stop Breathing and Gary Lutz’s Divorcer, Calamari Press has capped their recent release stint with ARK CODEX ±0, a stunning book of art and text that drives toward the beginning and the end, the biblical and the minute, a ship of textual / artistic coding afloat in these thick communal waters. The following is an interview Monkeybicycle conducted with Derek White, publisher of Calamari Press.  

MB: Let’s start here:

Dont believe a word edgewise to anyone claiming authorshipthe ark writes itself.

Can you talk to us about how ARK CODEX ±0 has no author?

DW: It’s not hard to figure out who the “author” is, it’s more that i just wanted to de-emphasize the role of author & give the reader more credit. It seems strange & vain to “claim” authorship of a book, if you stop to think about it. The author is the book, the book wrote itself. If there was human intervention, the author became detached from the book upon completion. From the reader’s point of view, the author shouldn’t matter, it’s just a distraction that leads to prejudice. In fact the reader becomes the author—the book becomes subject to your own interpretation. Any beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

MB: Interesting. And as such, Calamari Press has released ARK CODEX ±0 under a unique structure, one that allows readers to download the dbook (digital book) from the press’s website and donate if they wish. Can you talk to us about the decision to release this particular title in this specific manner?

DW: The primary book object is the physical paper book, but since it’s in color it’s expensive to print, so i wanted to give people that couldn’t afford it a chance to experience it. With the book, you can put a “price” on it, that is at least based on the production costs, but it’s harder to put a price on a digital file. The “pay what you want” model is not really unique, Radiohead used it for In Rainbows & lots of people have done it since. As you might expect, lots of people download it & no one wants to voluntarily pay (in fact, since i posted the link, over 6500 people have downloaded it so far & 0 people have paid—a hard business model to sustain). From the book’s perspective this is  a success, as this is probably a lot more readers than would get the real book. As the publisher, I can only hope that some of those that read the dbook will buy the actual book.

MB: Wow. The news that 6500 people have downloaded ARK CODEX ±0 so far and 0 have donated for that download is both tremendous and horrible: beautiful to have so many readers, terrible to hear that they aren’t supporting it with even just a few bucks. With this in mind, will Calamari Press release more books under the “pay what you want” structure, or does the lack of return on your investment prohibit further use of this model?

DW: Obviously I didn’t start a small press to make money, i don’t think anybody in their right mind would, so I’m just happy to have more readers, that’s what’s important in the end. But yes, it is disheartening, it is disheartening that in the past 10 years people have expected to get art—music, movies & books—for free, & they don’t consider the implications of what the lack of support will do to the quality of art. I think the quality of music has suffered as a consequence—only big commercial acts are able to “make a living” at it. But there is no sense lamenting, it’s just what has become of the world in this digital age, it’s nothing anyone can change. Whether i put out more “pay what you want” dbooks, i can’t say—it depends on the author. As a publisher, it is my responsibility to sell as many books as I can (and also try to at least recoup my costs) & by giving away the dbook, you are essentially shooting yourself in the foot as those people are not so likely to turn around & buy the “real” book. But a dbook can certainly be a lot more affordable. And p.s., thanks for being the first to pony up for the Ark Codex dbook!

MB: Our pleasure! What is that rate? Let’s see, 1 in 6500…so now ARK CODEX ±0 has received dbook payment from .0153% of those who downloaded. Ouch. You are right though, this is really just a symptom of our digital world, the ‘something for nothing’ mentality, but we don’t want the art to suffer, so we tackle this new digital environment as best we can. So instead, let’s talk a bit about the artistic approach of ARK CODEX ±0. At one point, I held my finger on the ‘page down’ key and let the images of ARK CODEX ±0 scroll by, and it added up to a kind of strange movie that in fact does tell the ‘story’ of the text, only in a different way. How do text and art meet / function in ARK CODEX ±0 as you see it from a publisher’s point of view?

DW: I’m not really sure how to answer this question. There are images, scanned pages, and sometimes the images have text mixed in, and there’s text too, below the scanned pages. Sorry, I’m just not sure what else there is to say.

MB: In other words, are we meant to see the images as illustrations of the texts at the foot of each page, or are we meant to read them as a conversation between one another? And, as you say, there is also text mixed into the images, and I’m curious if we are to read those texts in tandem with the rest, or…? It may all be unanswerable semantics I suppose, but I basically want to know if you see the  ARK CODEX ±0 as a readable narrative, in the linear sense?

DW: It’s ink on paper, that’s all i can really say. I’m not sure there’s really a difference between text & image in Ark Codex ±0 or how they relate to each other. Any interpretation or meaning is up to the reader, however you want to read it or read into it. In my mind there is a narrative, maybe not linear, but structured—though i can’t speak for how another reader might interpret it.

MB: Well put: bottom-line, it is all ink on paper. Thanks for the time sir – and we hope that the .0153% rate is much higher the next time we chat. ARK CODEX ±0 is well-deserving of the 6500+ downloads, but certainly merits more return. In any case, the people are reading, and as always, we thank you for publishing such intense and brightly burning books.

Download the dbook version or purchase a physical copy of ARK CODEX ±0 here. Read more about Calamari Press here.

Ten Everywhere: Roxane Gay and Ayiti

  

In ten words (no more, no less), describe Ayiti.
RG: Love letter to the beautiful ugly land of my parents.

(About My Father’s Accent) – What words do you concentrate on?
RG: Anything involving vowels, especially when the vowels appear at the beginning of the word.

(Voodoo Child) – When was the last time you backed away slowly?
RG: There was this student, you see, and he had a problem with his grade.

(There is No “E” in Zombi …) – How do you save a zombi?
RG: You don’t.

(Things I Know About Fairy Tales) – What are some lessons I could learn in my no-so-fancy clothes?
RG: Any lessons would be better learned in no clothes at all.

(Cheap, Fast, Filling) – Pop quiz: What is the first ingredient listed in a typical Hot Pocket?
RG: That’s a very good question. I have actually never had a Hot Pocket. I am merely obsessed with the idea of them–food injected into a pastry, frozen, and sold for reheating and eating. The future, man.

How long have these stories been in your life?
RG: For the past ten years, at least.

(All Things Being Relative) – What other things bow their heads when passing?
RG: People with long spines, minor prophets, heavy books.

(Gracias Nicaragua, Y Lo Sentimos) – List some things you are because you do not have them.
RG: I’m every woman, it’s all in me.

I always hear about the hardest things about writing. What is the easiest thing?
RG: Writing is the only thing that comes easy to me.

(A Cool Dry Place) – Men fearing their beauty – do you see this often?
RG: Absolutely, and what a shame. There’s so much beauty in men.

In ten words (no more, no less), describe your next project.
RG: A woman wants her daughter; things stand in the way.

 

Roxane Gay, Ayiti, Artistically Declined Press
bl pawelek, Ten Everywhere

interview /// Lepers and Mannequins by Eric Beeny

Eric Beeny has released several new books over the past year, and the latest, Lepers and Mannequins, is now available via the New Bizarro Author Series, an imprint of Eraserhead Press. But thankfully, Beeny is a cool cat, so we had the chance to ask him some questions about this new release.

MB: Your earlier books – How Much the Jaw Weighs (Anonymosity Press, 2011) and Pseudo-Masachism (Anonymosity Press, 2011) – are not considered ‘bizarro’ books, so how did Lepers and Mannequins come to be a part of the New Bizarro Author Series at Eraserhead Press? And do you now consider yourself, at least in part, a bizarro author, capable of writing future bizarro books?

EB: When I wrote Lepers and Mannequins in early 2008 (while recovering from an appendectomy—fitting, since I, too, was now missing a body part), I actually hadn’t heard of ‘Bizarro’ fiction as a termed genre, though I’ve read lots of fiction that could’ve been considered Bizarro. I sent the book to presses like Melville House (one of their editors wrote a really nice page-long letter about why they liked but couldn’t publish it), Publishing Genius (Adam Robinson ultimately turned it down, but he wrote a really nice, long letter to me about it, and he included some of our correspondence in his recent review of the novel at the PubGen blog), and some other places. Cameron Pierce read the manuscript and suggested I send it to Kevin Donihe because he thought it would really fit in with a series Kevin edits each year for Eraserhead Press called “The New Bizarro Author Series”. Cameron recommended it to Kevin, and told me Kevin was interested in the novel, so I sent it to him and he was gracious enough to accept it. I maybe wouldn’t consider myself a ‘Bizarro’ author, per se—though I’m really excited to be a part of this series. I just like to write, and Lepers and Mannequins is just a book I wrote. It’s just one thing I can do, I think, and I want to keep doing new things with writing (new things for me, at least), if I can.

MB: Lepers and Mannequins opens with much the same structure as Romeo and Juliet – two star-crossed lovers, one on each side of warring factions, brought together by instant love. I assume this an intentional frame of reference, or was it more like an image pulled from the collective unconscious?

EB: Yes, that was intentional. There are archetypal elements to the novel, too, but it’s definitely a nod to/play on Romeo and Juliet, and there are a couple references to it, like when Quall wonders who the author of the play all the lepers are going to see is, and his friend, Farmer, says, “Does a name matter all that much to you, Quall?” and Quall says, “No […] I guess not,” recalling “[a] rose by any other name…” (This scene also hints at the ongoing controversy of Shakespeare’s authorship.) I like the macro- vs. microcosmic elements of Romeo and Juliet, too, how there’s this secret world of love that exists between two people, beneath all the hatred and death. In Lepers and Mannequins, I wanted to focus more on the paranoia between Jaundice and Quall, and how that affects their love, because, despite their attraction, it’s a reflection of how contaminated both of their cultures have become in relation to one another. I wanted to see that private world grow more paranoid of itself out of public loyalty to external forces (this seems to have global implications). It’s very Freudian, the war between the ego and superego. There’s some Althusserian theory in there, too—his ideological state apparatuses (how society [family, media, religion, school, etc.] molds our beliefs) and his idea of interpolation (mimicking cultural behaviors, being hailed by society to participate in society’s expression of its beliefs—which helps construct/define an individual’s identity).

MB: But as alike Lepers and Mannequins is in terms of an opening structure to Romeo and Juliet, I was struck by the way in which you close the book (spoiler alert!), allowing the couple to remain alive when nearly everyone else is killed off – why did you make this choice to pursue love instead of tragedy?

EB: In the middle of the book, as mentioned above, there’s a play within a play, and its actors portray characters named Laertes and Mercutio. Mercutio adheres to the novel’s Romeo and Juliet reference, as he is Romeo’s friend (who, before dying, curses the Capulets and the Montagues), but Laertes is taken from Hamlet, hinting at the novel’s conclusion that pretty much everyone will die by the end. Keeping Quall and Jaundice alive reverses only one of Shakespeare’s tragedies by injecting another into it, in the process killing off only those who cause suffering rather than those who are left to suffer (creating, in effect, a utopia—the stateless society Marx envisioned). Also, Laertes’ and Mercutio’s initials are the same as Lepers and Mannequins, so that was neat.

MB: Also, I was intrigued by your decision, as a male writer, to write from the perspective of Jaundice, the female mannequin, instead of from the point of view of Quall, the male leper. How did you come to this perspective choice and was it difficult to write from a gender point of view that you haven’t experienced firsthand?

EB: There’s always a difficulty in trying to inhabit a world you don’t belong to, one you didn’t come from. But I think I come from a lot of places I don’t write about, and I often feel estranged even from characters I do inhabit/relate to, somehow. This probes the heart of the neocolonial education: How is it possible for a white person to teach African American history or literature? This idea really used to mess with me. I grew up in the projects, went to schools where I was one of maybe three or four white kids, and the majority of my teachers were white. What could they possibly know about their students’ experience (unless they grew up like I did)? The same could of course be said of gender. Being male, how could I possibly know what a woman thinks? I’m not Mel Gibson. I don’t know. I’m not qualified to answer this, maybe, except to say I don’t like typical male things like sports or war (sports, of course, being a microcosmic battlefield, a surrogate bombing range for males to ejaculate their violent tendencies, their unconscious frustrations with the emptiness of their lives). Being male, I see how men treat women. Jaundice is, in the novel, literally made of plastic—a metaphor for how men in ‘real life’ perceive women, how men condition women to behave, how to look (the Barbie doll, while invented by the female Ruth Handler, was designed by the male Jack Ryan). Males bombard women with magazine and television ads, conditioning them to wear certain kinds of clothes to attract a mate, to smell a certain way to attract a mate, weigh a certain amount to attract a mate, etc. Men are secretly telling women all the time that there is a certain mold they need to fit into (a manufactured mold, plastic, concerned only with façade) in order to be accepted by men and even worse: Other women. Men believe themselves superior to women and so allow them as few social, political and economic advancement opportunities as patriarchically possible by conditioning them via all media outlets that they are emotionally hollow, culturally barren, socially inanimate, politically plastic—that they exist only to satiate male sexual desire, to serve men. These were some of the things I thought about while writing Jaundice, and I wanted her to break out of that mold, to discover that she has depth, a history, thoughts and feelings, no matter how she may have been taught to repress them. I think Jaundice represents any oppressed people who are conditioned to think and act against their own self-interests, to adopt a kind of Stockholm syndrome (as seen in so many examples of European colonization of African and other indigenous populations who, after being provided [‘provided’ is too euphemistic—acculturated, forced] a European—i.e., Christian [civilized]—education, adopt virtually all of the colonizer’s cultural mores, eventually learning to hate themselves for not being of the dominant group, believing they deserve what is happening to them). Jaundice wants to “get [her] tits done,” though she’s a mannequin—she already has fake breasts. A breast augmentation to her would be ‘real’ breasts. She wants to be human: The species of those waging war on her people. On the other hand, Quall wishes to be a mannequin. This recalls the tenets of Primitivism, in which the colonizer becomes enamored with the ‘uncivilized’ culture he’s come to dominate, and seeks to appropriate those features into his own art, literature, fashion, etc. Jaundice and Quall are their own dichotomies, and so are able to penetrate and critique the façade of their own cultures’ ideological pre-/misconceptions. These misconceptions are why Jaundice refers to herself in third-person throughout the novel, only breaking into first- during moments either of emotional turmoil or ideological enlightenment.

MB: And when I think of books where the author creates a landscape all his or her own (Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas, David Ohle’s Motorman, Shane Jones’s Light Boxes), I’m always interested to know if the desire to perfect the landscape, to make sure you’ve covered all the loopholes and potential questions the reader might have, slows down or in any way hinders your writing or, maybe instead, makes for a much more focused need on final editing before the submission process begins?

EB: I guess setting is something I focus more on during revisions. For Lepers and Mannequins I didn’t really have to do too much in the way of setting description, being that the setting, as a character, is static. Once it’s been established where the characters are, the rest is just showing their reaction to it. It’s always raining. Occasionally some clouds part, a moment of soft sun, but it’s still raining, and the ground is always muddy and the mud acts against the lepers (which, given their religious views, reflects the puritan view that nature is evil, immoral, and must be conquered and tamed—much like the colonizer’s view of the indigenous savage, or the lepers’ view that mannequins exist only for them to harvest). Hemingway used landscape as a substitute for his characters’ emotions. I like that. I just went with monotony as reflection of plasticity—but also as a substitute for good writing…

MB: So, what else can we expect from Eric Beeny down the line? What new books or projects can we look forward to?

EB: I published two books in 2010 (Snowing Fireflies and Of Creatures), and four books in 2011 (Milk Like a Melted Ghost, Pseudo-Masochism, How Much the Jaw Weighs and Lepers and Mannequins). I don’t yet have anything coming out this year, but I’m hoping. I have three and a half unpublished novels: The Quarantine Ceremony (autobiographical), Mermaid Sackrace (a play on mermaid myths that re-envisions the moon landing), The Immortals Act Their Age (a non-linear novel of surreal tragicomic stories that also deals with issues of gender and socio-politics), and I’m working on another right now called Trawling Oblivion, a non-linear existential novel.

MB: And what else out there in our lit community are you excited for this year, are you anticipating with eagerness, are you already salivating for?

EB: I’m looking forward to the re-release of Ken Sparling’s Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall. It’s one of my favorite books (anything by Sparling is, really), and I’m happy more people will get to read it since it’s been out of print for so long. There’s still books from last year I haven’t been able to read because I’m broke. Mark Leidner’s Beauty Was the Case that They Gave Me, Brandi Wells’ Please Don’t Be Upset, Ethel Rohan’s Hard to Say, Noah Cicero’s Best Behavior, Sam Pink’s new books, Heather Christle’s books. So many, there are so many…

Purchase a copy of Lepers & Mannequins here and read more by / about Eric Beeny here.