Erica Adams - Hybrid Fancy, Fur & Scales: a wonderful journey through a series of sophisticated fairy tales




 

Erica Adams, The Mutation of Fortune, Green Lantern Press, 2011.

THE MUTATION OF FORTUNE documents the parallel fortunes of one protagonist living multiple lives. As she navigates her Märchen landscape, she goes through varied transformations, becoming at times a wolf, a thief, an amputee, a hunter, a rabbit and a runaway. She sleeps with swans and suffers a sister that bites the back of her knees. The world of this book is unstable, delicious and carries with it an inexplicit sense of danger. Printed in an edition of 500 with silk screen covers by Aay Preston-Myint, this book hosts a series of color plate collages made by the author.

1. The Mutation of Fortune by Erica Adams, is available, now from Green Lantern Press and this is a book you definitely want to get your hands on because it is imaginative, original and darkly provocative.
2.  Three fortunes were written for the book which was given to psychics for readings. The second fortune, written by Alchemilla V. Midnight, is below. You can also read the book’s first fortune (written by Thordis Bjornsdottir) and third fortune (written by Rowland Saifi aka Dr. Victor A. Schwert).
Dear Book,
This is not your first life as a book and it is not your last. Many lifetimes ago, you were not material, but existed in the hearts and memories of rough bearded and tough footed folk. You were breathed to life by firelight and whispered by older sisters at midnight, under cool linen. Book, you have made tender chests beat so quickly, fluttering as if there were butterflies, actually more like thick moths, attracted to the glow of your stories that lived in these hearts. Now here you are, a book, and it is no surprise to you, but perhaps surprising that so many will read you and be changed in their own ways, thereby changing you. Don’t be afraid of this change, Book. Allow yourself be devoured, remembering another life as biscuits or bison. You will become something else then and you already are, your being dissolving into the person holding you in her hands. As you rest here in these hands, dissolve into the next thing. Be like vapor.

3. The book, as a physical artifact, is a work of art and includes several full color, glossy images of collages created by Adams. The typography and design lend to an ancient, fortune telling aesthetic and really enhance the reading experience. Each story is accompanied by a series of runes which categorize the stories. The bookmark included with the book serves as a key to the runes. This is a book that remains very true to its concept in both content and design. Each fairy tale in the book features the same protagonist in circumstances that are, at times menacing or complex or surreal. The protagonist is quite interesting in how she observes the world and is unapologetic about her desires. In “The Only Rule,” she talks about her sister who has a creature living inside her. At the end of the tale, the narrator tells us:
I have wished my sister dead, burning up into ashes. When I feel bad about this wish I change it: I wish the living thing inside my sister would die and burn up into a coil of ashes. Burn up, even if it means making my sister cry. That my sister should not cry is the only rule in the house. But when you itch as terribly as I do, you are willing to break the rule.
Some of the fairy tales, as is the nature of fairy tales, are violent, others are magical and surreal,and some read like parables or the dispensation of wisdom. No matter the thematic approach, each story is smart and richly written. The Mutation of Fortune is definitely unlike anything I’ve read before, and brings a really fresh perspective to a well established genre.
4. Caroline Picard, the book’s publisher, had a great conversation with Erica Adams about The Mutation of Fortune, how it came about, and the book’s thematic elements. It is a really insightful interview and I loved learning more about the project in the writer/artist’s own words. Adams talks about her experience with the sense of danger that pervades the book:
With fairy tales, there’s usually a terrible thing that happens, like a father who wants to marry his daughter or someone being put into a barrel full of nails and tossed into the ocean. I think our mind’s ability to fill in the details– the cramped space of the barrel, the O of the screaming mouth– is what makes danger present for us, as readers. I have always wanted to tread lightly in writing stories; let the reader participate by adding those details that come from their own past. What elements of our personal psychic heritage do we bring as readers? That’s an exciting space, the intimacy of fleshing out a story in your mind." - Roxane Gay

Erica Adams’ collection of short stories is a fantastical romp of contemporary fables that are at once completely fresh, and also seem to have sprung from a bygone era. The through-line in “The Mutation of Fortune” is a female character who slides easily between human and animal form. She stumbles through perpetual danger and yet always survives.
Adams’ first story, “The Girl Without,” sets the tone for this young woman’s various perilous adventures. Her father removes her hands and replaces them with metal, “of more value than before!” He removes her feet and replaces them with stone, and so on. Adams cleverly approaches and reappropriates a variety of mythologies and fairy tales, beautifully capturing the mystery and creepiness of beloved Grimm stories. At the same time, she subverts those ancient tales by casting a strong and almost willfully oblivious female protagonist, not just a friend of animals, like Snow White or Cinderella, but an animal herself, mutating into bird or rat or dog.
Family permeates the stories: fathers, mothers and the jealousies and fierceness of sibling devotion. In “The Well,” the young woman collects stamps which she organizes by animal and “degree of ferocity”; her brother obsessively reorganizes them alphabetically—“he will put a lemur next to a lion!” This very short story not only addresses the complexities of siblings, the mania of organizing, and Adams’ ever-present animal theme but blends the absurd with the familiar, the agony and acceptance of our sibling differences.
The reader may pause to ponder the difference between poetry and prose as they read:
To be eaten means: to have intimate knowledge of. I told you, the wolf ate me, and what I meant was: the wolf loved me.
The body that enters the mouth of another is a sacrament. It is divine. I slipped in and heard, in my inner-most ear, Grandmother’s voice:
This is what happens when two become one." - Kelly Roark

"The Mutation of Fortune is not an easy book to get a fix on.  The stories are too fluid to be easily grasped for quick summary.  The ground beneath the reader’s feet shifts too rapidly for simple categorization and analysis.  In short, the only description of the collection that really does justice is the full text itself.  Anything less comes up short.
However, that should not be interpreted to mean that these stories are not coherent.  I found the stories delightful.  I was often puzzled as I read, but that puzzlement was mixed with wonder.  Sometimes it is good to be puzzled.
In the very first story in the collection, “The Girl Without,” “[a]fter [the narrator's] Father removed [the narrator's] hands, he replaced them with metal.  Proud of his ingenuity, he boasted, These hands are of more value than before!”  However, the metal hands “were not endowments,” but rather “became shapeless lumps, flattening and denting at every move.”  When the narrator shows the father what has happened to the narrator’s hands, the father calls him clumsy, “nothing better than a hen, always picking at the dirt” and casts the narrator out.
In another story, “Soliloquy,” the narrator, who is apparently the same narrator as in “The Girl Without,” receives “a rat as a present from [the narrator's] aunt who believes that everyone should care for something besides oneself.”  “The rat has a tendency to get on its hind legs and appear as though it is addressing” the narrator.  When this occurs, the narrator imagines “a soliloquy for the rat, performed in a high-pitched voice.”  Hearing the rat making noises in the night, the narrator turns “on the lights.  The rat is standing in the middle of its cage.  Its paws are on its face.”  The narrator watches “as, like a mask, it removes its own rat-face.  Underneath” the narrator sees the narrator’s “own.”
Though the narrator feels the same in these two stories as I read, it also doesn’t seem possible.  The narrator with the metal hands whose father berates and casts out the narrator when the metal hands turn out to not be as wonderful as once imagined cannot possibly be the same narrator who sees a rat take off its face to reveal the narrator’s face.  Yet, at the same time, these narrators seem the same.  Something has morphed between these two stories, something that seems to change the destiny that surrounds the narrator but leaves the narrator somehow unchanged.
In yet another story, “The Well,” in a “courtyard there is a well where [the narrator drops] things [the narrator] is no longer interested in keeping.”  Also, the narrator has a stamp “collection organized by animals and their degree of ferocity.”  When the narrator is not around, the narrator’s brother keeps rearranging the stamps alphabetically because the brother says that the “most superior arrangement is alphabetically.”  Despite being told “many times that if he does not stop reorganizing [the narrator's] stamp collection [the narrator] will throw him into the well, he continues to alphabetize the stamps.  As promised, the narrator throws the brother into the well.  However, when the narrator wakes “in the morning all the things [the narrator has] thrown in the well are on the ground in the courtyard.”  “These things are in piles, including [the] brother, who has placed himself next to a basket, a balloon, and a book.”
Again, this third narrator somehow mirrors the two mentioned above, and yet is not the same.  Though the stories seem to parallel each other in some ways, there are distortions in the reflections that each cast on and absorb from each other.  As I continued to read, this somehow made me feel that I was continually progressing at the same time that my method of transport as well as my destination changed in subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, ways.
However, even though I could not trust that any footing that I managed to find would not evaporate a few words later, I did not feel lost.  As the world beneath the words altered, the narrator’s voice remained consistent and felt like a guide that I could follow.  While there was something in the tone or perhaps in the continuous mutations themselves that instilled in me undeniable sensations of ever-present danger and urgency, the voice of the narrator soothed me and promised marvels. I found this constant push and pull enchanting.
I greatly enjoyed reading The Mutation of Fortune.  The stories are imaginative, delightful, and definitely unusual.  Adams has found a way, in my humble opinion, to do something different without losing coherency.  There is a simplicity to the confusion that I found particularly endearing.  I sincerely hope that this book is more widely distributed than the initial edition of 500 copies, as I’m certain that a much greater number of people would love to read this book." - David S. Atkinson

"The world that Erica Adams has created in her debut collection The Mutation of Fortune is many things on several levels. That is vague because the protagonist in the collection morphs and changes and adapts throughout the stories. She is a young girl, she is a wolf on the hunt, she is a lost runaway, she is a hunter, she is rabbit. There is not a connecting level of consciousness but there is a common voice and perspective. To create the intense and dramatic feel of the collection Adams researched and even borrowed from some older text. She also created a series of color plates that accent the collection and add a whole new dimension. The final element or layer are the symbols that inhabit the margins of these dark and enchanting stories. You can find a key to the symbols here, but it is not included in the book.
Cutting through the symbols, the color plates, the layers change and characters you find a depth of writing that sets Erica apart in this area of fiction writing. She is an incredibly talent writer and artist. That effect is multiplied by Green Lanterns ability to present literature in a unique and beautiful way. This collection was printed in a limited edition with a quality screen printed cover by Aay Preston-Myint."- Jason at Orange Alert

"I have much enthusiasm for this book, and I think a lot of you will too.
The Mutation of Fortune is a collection of short tales narrated by an inquisitive, resilient young woman who experiences — and herself produces — a series of strange and fantastic encounters over the arc of the book. Many of these are violent, quite horrifying, and  wonderfully grotesque: in “The Only Rule,” the narrator tells us her sister “has something living inside that comes out only for me” — it has “hair and a big mouth that bites me on different parts of my body.” Other tales tell both of encounter and escape — “From the Throat” describes the narrator’s corporeal resistance to her parents’ pressure to marry:
I began to cough, and felt a thread issuing from my throat. I took hold of this thread with my hand and pulled from my throat the body I had. And as I pulled my old body from my throat I became a beast once more, and lived this way for the rest of my days.

Of course she doesn’t continue on as beast — by the next page, her body has been reset to that of a young woman — only to escape itself again. The availability of this beastly corporeality, of all the corporealities made possible in the book, is paramount. The tales swerve, as if becoming conscious of their own desires; as they do, it is through radical and proliferative embodiment that the narrator continually finds — and forges — lines of flight. As the book progresses, the narrator’s body expands and multiplies: devouring and incorporating other bodies, breeding new bodies. She forges pathways through extraction (“From the Throat”), through eating (“In a Pinch”), through being eaten (“Volatile,” “Swelling”), through cross-species encounters and becoming-animal (“How We Came to Be,” “The Speculum Showed a Salamander,” “The Egg,” “The Veil,” “Opening”), through sewing and other creative acts, as here, in “Opening” (in full):
Opening
Close to the universe you begin to see mouths in everything. Wide red lipped things with ivories to chock little boys back into bed. Instead of horror, I have found safety.
It became a game, counting the rows of teeth possible in a tiny trap. Some big molars, others sharp and exact. The mouths are never closed, always open. Always stretching wider.
Sharks do not have teeth anchored to the jaw. They are sunk into the flesh. If they lose one, they replace it in the next row. It is a conveyor belt. It is evolutionary.
To see a mouth in everything is sublime. It is encouraging. I sew mouths onto my gowns, as Queen Elizabeth had her velvets embroidered with eyes and ears. She was the sight and sound of her kingdom. I am the mouth to the world.
I am saving the milk teeth of the neighborhood children. I am their fairy, leaving behind small change. At night, I stitch them into the roof of my mouth. It is a chapel. I multiply.

"Mother of Tears" by Brother Brahmm (author photo)
The stories are marked with runes, and the key to these runes comes in the form of a bookmark. As Adams explains in her interview with Caroline Picard, these runes form an indexing system for the narrator’s inheritances:
CP: What about the runes on the side? Where did those come from and how did you go about categorizing the each story under that system?
EA: I was reading Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: Living Gods of Haiti and Jodorowsky’s Psychomagic, and both books are deeply concerned with spiritual inheritance– what we are passed down from our ancestors. This made a lot of sense to me, but I also wondered if a soul, a specific soul, could have its own inheritance that it carries from life to life. In all the protagonist’s lives she’s confronted with these situations that have a certain energy to them, archetypal principals. It felt like the tarot– tarot cards she was dealt and had to deal with, but could also change. And the title of the book speaks to that– The Mutation of Fortune. So I imagined she was given these 12 inheritances, or runes, to work with pre-birth. Which isn’t saying that she is bound by fortune or fate, just that she has this inheritance upon entering the world. And in each story, each life, she’s contending with these different archetypal principles. It seemed the book was inherently ordered by these archetypes, not by the typical story arc: exposition, climax, denouement. I wanted to explore that pattern of embodiment — because the stories are very much about having a body, being a body — outside of linear time.
I was also influenced by the concept of soul retrieval, where you journey (spiritually) to a trauma that caused your soul to split, fracture. You go back to that place and collect the piece or pieces you lost. I started thinking of the runes as guideposts on the journey back. I was also thinking about the movie Inception, and how Leonardo DiCaprio’s character has this little spinning top that he carries into the dream world with him. He knows he’s dreaming if he spins this top. So I went to each story and tried to find out what rune or runes could be the guideposts, reminders of the journey, and assigned them that way.
The stories collected here swarm with menace and magic; orchestrating this swarming is elegant, considered prose that beats as a heart. Published by Chicago’s Green Lantern Press, the book as object is as beautifully constructed: it includes a number of full-color collages by the author; and the cover is silkscreened by Chicago-based artist Aay Preston-Myint." - Megan Milks



"I have been working with Erica for the last year (at least) on her book. It’s been a really amazing process of reading and discussing and re-reading. Over that time I feel like I’ve gotten to know Erica and her work better and better and each time I come away with more admiration for the work and the author. I feel like this book is like a truffle, maybe, or a plate you want to drop because you’re pretty sure the sound of all that broken glass would be worth the subsequent damage. There are a number of color plates in the interior, collages by the Adams that (for me) reflect the same revisionary approach to the fairy tale that is evident in the text. She draws on old Christian mythologies as well, weaving those threads in and out of multiple short stories so that the whole book resonates with a kind of mysticism. What I love most of all is that Erica’s first person protagonist seems unaware of those references just as she is undeterred by acts of violence. She is subject to her environment: grammatically passive, nevertheless destructive and always surviving. She suffers violence as she inflicts it through a muted, Grimm-like voice. The nuance is not in any vivid explication of consequence but rather in the subsequent (and inferred) psychological drama. As always, The Green Lantern Press, works to integrate visual and textual elements. The covers were silk screened by hand by local artist Aay Preston-Myint who incorporated the diamond as a way to reflect the various stages of the first person narrative. I don’t mean to make the book sound so high and fancy, either. I’m just so thrilled to meet it in person. I was even more thrilled to get the chance to talk to Erica about where the book came from and how she thinks about it.
Caroline Picard: How did you happen upon The Mutation Of Fortune as a project? Did you set out to write this book? Or did it come to you?
Erica Adams: I think the first story I wrote for this collection was back in 1997– I was taking a Creative Writing class in college, and I had been looking at the work of female surrealists, and really got inspired by the hybrids — females and animals. Those bodies seemed like a much more accurate representation of my inner landscape, not what I was seeing out in the world. The bodies that I identify with are the bodies that cross borders. This can be taken in so many different ways, obviously. As someone who spent a large part of their adolescence in a “different” body — I was always going to doctors, missing school, wearing tons of layers, long sleeves, long skirts to hide what was wrong with me — the metaphors I had given my body were always animal in nature. Which is not to devalue animals, but to say that the bodies I knew that were different (as a child) were animal bodies, covered in fur or scales. So I wanted to explore this place, this junction of “unreal,” dangerous bodies.
CP: I feel like some danger always lurks in the ground of your TMOF stories, even though it doesn’t often make itself explicit–or, when it does (when the brother is thrown into the well, for instance), the consequences seem muted. My experience of “danger” never fully comes into focus. It stays peripheral and pervasive. What is your experience of danger in the book?
EA: With fairy tales, there’s usually a terrible thing that happens, like a father who wants to marry his daughter or someone being put into a barrel full of nails and tossed into the ocean. I think our mind’s ability to fill in the details– the cramped space of the barrel, the O of the screaming mouth– is what makes danger present for us, as readers. I have always wanted to tread lightly in writing stories; let the reader participate by adding those details that come from their own past. What elements of our personal psychic heritage do we bring as readers? That’s an exciting space, the intimacy of fleshing out a story in your mind.  The danger in the story becomes the reader’s danger — the coloring in of those crucial details — maybe you give the attacker in the story that soft, sandy hair of your pervert 2nd grade science teacher. So the danger unfolding is coupled with your own, personal, recollection of danger. The consequence of that combination becomes the sensation– ‘Das Unheimliche’– Freud’s uncanny.
There’s all these different kinds of danger lurking in the stories. There’s the danger of bodily harm, which is more obvious in places, and of psychic harm, but also the danger that other’s feel when confronted with difference. The parents in the story Oestrus feel danger because their daughters don’t fit their idea of how daughters should act. The protagonist is confronted with difference in The Animal Rubs and she’s overcome with horror and revulsion. The protagonist is disgusted by a chronic masturbator — but eventually decides to mirror her.
So stories like The Well, where the brother is tossed in… I think the danger is not really what we expect from the basic idea of danger. It’s not really about her brother being hurt, but the fact that her action of tossing him into the well has created this fractal of the situation — the situation inside the situation– and that’s a deeply symbolic thing, it’s not easy to digest. There’s no rational exterior phenomenon. Alejandro Jodorowsky writes in his book, Psychomagic: “There is not a subject-observer and an object-observed; there is the world as a dream swarming with signs and symbols, a field of interaction where multiple forces and influences meet.”
And I think my only concern with the protagonist has been when she lashes out. Maybe it’s from being raised Catholic, you know, turn the other cheek, but I was always surprised by [the protagonist's] acts of revenge. That was more difficult, more dangerous for me than the trauma. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe because so much of her experience is my experience, in different words/worlds, and there’s an understanding there for me, that might not be there for readers. When she lashes out — or even, in the end, when she chooses to alter her body, completely — that’s the dangerous thing to me — her experiences of agency differing from my own. I think, unconsciously, that’s a place I wanted to explore, to move out of myself and into her.
What happens to people who have been broken down? How do they survive? That’s a huge part of the book — surviving. I want to know how people survive. Do they repeat the same actions as their abusers, perpetuating the cycle? Do they kill themselves? Do they retreat into a world of fantasy? Do they give up? Of course, there’s not just one thing anyone does to survive. Survival is an ongoing process. But those big acts, like Lorena Bobbit taking the knife into her own hand, they stick with me. Children in particular — they are given such little agency. So maybe that’s why sometimes the protagonist gets a tool of relief — like the crying cloth — that can help her. Because I don’t know how people survive. It has to be an act of imagination, often times. The will to imagine that things can be different.
CP: What is your experience of magic in your book? Would you say this was a consistent element running throughout?
EA: I think the magic in this book often times comes in the moments of desperation — when the will to imagine becomes so strong that it alters the situation. The brother that turns into a deer isn’t really the magic part of the story, the magic is the imagining– coming up with a plan, wearing the roe skin. And this imagining can really make the difference in the stories. It’s switching modes of thought, dreaming possibility.  I think though, in our world, if you are being held captive, you are not going to turn into a dog. But what do you do in those moments when it seems all your agency has been taken away? I don’t know the answer to that question, because every situation is totally different. But it’s a question I can’t get out of my head. I wonder if that’s why I’m so compelled to write about that threshold — when it seems like there’s no hope left — and that change, any change at all, is magic in it’s own right.
Magic to me is so much about action, moving outside of the familiar. When the protagonist goes to see the woman in the woods, because she doesn’t have anyone to talk to, she gives a gift of rhubarb jam — rhubarb that can only be gathered using the thumb and pinky finger. It’s a ritual gift, and that’s magic. Or when the protagonist buries the egg, has a funeral for it, that’s when things really change. She’s done a mourning ritual. The burial is a means of purification — and it’s reflected in the outcome of the story.

CP: What about the runes on the side? Where did those come from and how did you go about categorizing the each story under that system?
EA: I was reading Maya Deren’s Divine Horsemen: Living Gods of Haiti and Jodorowsky’s Psychomagic, and both books are deeply concerned with spiritual inheritance– what we are passed down from our ancestors. This made a lot of sense to me, but I also wondered if a soul, a specific soul, could have its own inheritance that it carries from life to life. In all the protagonist’s lives she’s confronted with these situations that have a certain energy to them, archetypal principals. It felt like the tarot– tarot cards she was dealt and had to deal with, but could also change. And the title of the book speaks to that– The Mutation of Fortune. So I imagined she was given these 12 inheritances, or runes, to work with pre-birth. Which isn’t saying that she is bound by fortune or fate, just that she has this inheritance upon entering the world. And in each story, each life, she’s contending with these different archetypal principles. It seemed the book was inherently ordered by these archetypes, not by the typical story arc: exposition, climax, denouement. I wanted to explore that pattern of embodiment — because the stories are very much about having a body, being a body — outside of linear time.
I was also influenced by the concept of soul retrieval, where you journey (spiritually) to a trauma that caused your soul to split, fracture. You go back to that place and collect the piece or pieces you lost. I started thinking of the runes as guideposts on the journey back. I was also thinking about the movie Inception, and how Leonardo DiCaprio’s character has this little spinning top that he carries into the dream world with him. He knows he’s dreaming if he spins this top. So I went to each story and tried to find out what rune or runes could be the guideposts, reminders of the journey, and assigned them that way.
CP: Can you talk a little bit about the images in the book? I notice that they are collages, many of them. How do you find your source material?
EA: The images in the book come from this period of time when I was writing the stories, and were just another way of processing the writing and the place I was in psychologically. There’s a sense of journeying in some of the psychedelic collages, which it felt like the protagonist was doing: opening doors into different lives.  Some of the images were just ways for me to “work out” a story, to ground myself to it. Like with The Roosters, I wrote the story but also just felt compelled to make the image. Or with Opening, I wanted to express that seeing of mouths everywhere, and it seemed natural to make an image that went along with it. I had gone to the Newberry Library and looked at this ethnographer’s journal from the 1800′s– he had documented all these pipes of an American Indian tribe, and there were just pages and pages of pipe drawing. So I went home and drew some mouth-type things in a similar style.
I get most of my materials from old thrift store books and magazines, but I also collect old photographs. Once I was in an antique mall, sorting through a shoebox of photos with a sign on it that said “Instant Relatives.” I like that, and I have a lot of pictures of people I don’t know in my apartment, and they feel like family.
With collages there’s an ease of assemblage: you can be really light. It’s like when writing and the words just sort of flow out of your fingers, the pen doesn’t stop moving and you’re not thinking about outcome, you’re just there, letting the words come out. With collage, you get a background and move something into the foreground — a picture of a tooth, a crying child — and there’s a new universe, right before your eyes." - Interview by Caroline Picard

Brother and Sister by Erica Adams

from her book, The Mutation of Fortune
A Hunter tracks the roebuck in the forest, and follows the roebuck to a cottage. He watches the roebuck open the door. I am preparing tea for the roebuck and me. When the door opens and the hunter demands explanation, gun raised, I tell him this:
When our father was away, gathering furs from all the traps he had laid, he met a woman in a nearby town and took her to be his new wife. Before her, my father left my brother and me alone when he would go away, and my brother and I were good at keeping the house clean, and never caused any trouble. When the woman arrived, everything changed. First, my brother and I were not allowed to share a bed.
Immoral! she cried, upon finding us curled neatly together.
Then, she demanded our room, so she could use it as a closet, for all her new clothes. My brother and I slept on the floor downstairs, a yardstick wedged between us.
When she found us taking a bath together (I was soaping brother’s backside), she cried, Your love will send you to hell! and demanded we leave the house together. Our father was gone, then, selling his furs to villages far away.
Brother and I walked for days, eating berries and drinking from streams, lamenting the loss of our true mother, who died in one of father’s great silver traps. We prayed to her for our safety, and soon found an empty cottage in the woods, which became our home.
And then something strange happened, something strange and new: I realized I had lust for my brother, and he for me.
Lust grew in us like the garden we cultivated outside our cottage, our tomatoes fat and heavy on the vine.
I was not afraid to love my brother, but feared the result of our union.
And so my brother came up with a plan.
He would find one of father’s traps, and take the first animal he found there, and treat the skin, as father had taught him. He would wear the skin as a gown, and we would love, and be safe from the uncertainties of nature.
And so my brother came home late one night in the garment of a roebuck. And so we lived this way, and at night the roebuck would come into my room, and love me. And soon there was no brother, but only a roebuck.


written by Rowland Saifi aka Dr. Victor A. Schwert
What follows is the third fortune given to Erica Adams’ forthcoming book, The Mutation of Fortune (GL Press 2011).

Reading: An Open Palm
Creases in the hands form in the third trimester, the same time as the brain.  As the hand-brain connection is being formed creases are also formed in the brain: each crease in the brain, as the creases in the hand, records the fate of where the hand travels; how the brain reads: thoughts are only creases to be traveled, lines, divergences, life.  More than any other port of the body – the eyes, the lips, the tongue, the ears, the hairs – the hands and fingers – used grasping a goose, or opening doors and picking up a small pebble or pulling thread – read each line. The fingertips contain dense warrens and thus the sense of touch is intimately associated with moving through hedgerows or smoothing feathers against a wool blanket at night. You may find thimbles fit the thumb or forefinger or rest in boxes alone or sewing ears, eyes, jaws, and lips. Here it begins, passing by water at dusk following the moon.  Threading in the moonlight, fingers draw a name along a line as a child, newborn in a world of blurs and blindness, grasps for the nipple, petting the breast before nursing, the hands before the lips as a boy who is not a brother, but a roe may find hands searching his furry coat before lips find his tongue, or a fox-faced doll the size of a thumb, underwear furrows in foxholes; or a surgeon’s hands with fingers like twins, one short, one long, fingers that grow warm, that grow cold, grows on the body, fingers like delicate hairs into the stomach wall, the liver, the spleen, the intestines, the womb, through the moist warmth where we, along lines predating other organs, are creased, and unfolded to become whole, divided along lines, our back, our bellies, brain and hands: we are all initially creatures of the sea.  The symmetry a red coastline implies is not always a mirror, and a stream where one may drink is not always in the forest. Woods like hands hitting you in the face: in my hands I hold my grandfather’s cane: a blind man’s feels each line with his cane – fingers astute to the trembles, the stutters in the sweeping space of leaves, leaving a line that skirts this mount: the flesh of youth until the spine becomes un-supple like fingers when they read, or weave patterns in rugs, or reading palms; but for now it is here you learn poise, here you learn charm, and here you learn how each thing touched has a response in the fingers, like love, fate, a girl, a stag, and a bone each falling in graceful hews along the fourth ridge. Many animals have grasping appendages similar to a hand such as paws, claws, and talons, but these are not considered to be hands though they may move across your skin, caressing, grasping, or feeding until a line changes, like a cage whose door open and closes sharply and can cut fingers, and if by chance a hand rotates and comes to perch like an animal on all fours, the sides of the palm inverted moving along a line reflected on the table, then another fate becomes you. It was a time you lived well. A tie may whisper in the dark, fingers may draw lightly across flesh, the palms, the forearms, then harder, scratching a line and if we carefully caress this line, you will follow a path, using Jupiter, to navigate, the water far off on your right. You must take care of things.  As one travels, one sees crows.  Cages: finger bones visible in the light shielding your eyes, watching birds. It is dark. One may see by a taper, but wax does to the skin what fingers do to a bed: blemishes, spots of wax, the rain freezing the light, the palms sweating. You may remember the black rocks, the mirrored lines cut into mountains said to reflect fears along a line and stones buried beneath roots, planted there by hands, moving in the earth, slipping fingers beneath roots and small smooth stones, darkening the hands with lead. The hands can be sturdy as bitter roots in the earth, or softly giving as water, or simply fold for sleep as blooms and hands peeling husks of corn. You must remember the roots. As it grows cold, you will pass a zoo, a gymnasium, bathhouse, post office, library, a wasteland, a wooden box, a shallow pond, sheets of ice; you will stay still, fingers moving plates from one cabinet to another. In this unmoving gift of hours, you pass the time, shadows drawing a line, the earth beneath your nails, making dark lines at the tips of your fingers, and as you close your hand – by bracelets, this your hand, a trident, the smooth lines, indicate that you talk to spirits, see orbs, you react to other worlds.  Closely you encounter letters – the letters J, E, an X. There is a stranger here, where ribbons loop yellow and white.  This loop, a dog and fox, if pulled tight around the tree, becomes knotted, but still there is enough to pass through, the fox and the hole. As dollies dress (loops) the stranger will stand there each night, but only if you notice him, but you will always notice him and you cannot escape, moving through his gaze, but unnoticed, you will find the night. It will be as if a fine net knitted by Hephaestus. You will see them when grasping the pail before going to the creek fetching water for your father, you see them when your hands are pressed against the glass of windows, wavy, dusty, and cracked in the small house on four legs deep in the forest, where you see, along a third path, Venus in the distance, lit by the moon. Although born into one fate, you may change hands, the left for the right.  New hands make new arrangements.  Fingers sort, placing things in a line, parting curtains, opening books, and pressing animals. Hands work hard to pull water from well walls, the coolness under your nails, the rawness of their tips. At night, desires were implanted in my skull like fingers pushing seeds into dirt. Cleft rock that overlooks the valley. Pulled a thread and pulled the body I had from my throat.  Hands used for discipline, delivering a slap, grasping, pulling; discipline for the fingers as small wooden ball, the nap of grass, or the dust of a room damp from a sweaty body. When in thirst, your hands will find the wetness, open to drink, and in this way, you will always be quenched. Weep all you sad fountains with no fingers to drink from.  Hands hold resting heads or unraveling patters in cloth, reading the subtle tenderness of a fish gasping for watery breath, but they are not thirsty, you are hungry, but one is not hungry always.  Feathers smooth out the scene in a fluttering whiteness, blending one thing into the next until your fingers, despite the blood, and before the hands, before the eyes, before the tongue, discern the dead from the living.  Trust the hands, the lips may deceive. Beware the snow, eyes white and watery; beware your mouth in all seasons, know that one is for sleeping, know the contours in blankets of snow. Passing again the zoo, one walks with dirty hands, the dirt itself mars the soft whiteness the loving hands buried in the woods, where huntsmen do not pursue, crescents beneath the veil. Coming to a body of water, hands gripping oars, living in grey waters that hold ducks by their feet, bread and water, your hands turn red. You will be haunted by a pregnancy of dreams, but do not worry, tread in the field and know it is you who decides if the green grass grows, you will find diamonds in the grass, rubies at your feet, and rust on your fingers. In the woods, you will see it, it will watch you and you will try to hide your face; but it comes that you cannot control it – there is freedom when one learns this. If roots happen to stain your hands, shoes, hat, and dress red, rest by the fence – there are always fingers by fences in the woods – and run your hands along the edges of doors – there are always hands in small houses in the woods – in the dark, even red appears grey. You will come to an overgrown orchard where beneath frail trees fruit is scattered on the ground.  As you approach, you are barely able to see the fruit or its feathers. In this orchard there is a window and you will place your hands before your eyes like curtains. You will wonder into a gallery and marvel at the portraits of exotic beasts, only later, as you return quite old, you will realize it was only hall of mirrors. You will spend time trying to draw your impressions – this will be a period of intense study, peering deep into foddered fields, the cambered embraces of trees, delicate and waiting wells, smooth rocks, and jagged sands, you will bring back lines to be copied and recopied.  You will be offered fine things, quail eggs, caviar, bottles of dust, and flowers, but you will only accept pictures. Later you make things with your hands, small cabinets, boats, shoes, small dolls, delicate lace, mirrors, mouths and bodies. You will open chests like cabinets, mouths like cages, and hands like windows, but you will wake with splinters in your hands and torn nails.


written by Alchemilla V. Midnight
What follows is the second fortune given to the forthcoming book, The Mutation of Fortune by Erica Adams.

Dear Book,
This is not your first life as a book and it is not your last. Many lifetimes ago, you were not material, but existed in the hearts and memories of rough bearded and tough footed folk. You were breathed to life by firelight and whispered by older sisters at midnight, under cool linen. Book, you have made tender chests beat so quickly, fluttering as if there were butterflies, actually more like thick moths, attracted to the glow of your stories that lived in these hearts. Now here you are, a book, and it is no surprise to you, but perhaps surprising that so many will read you and be changed in their own ways, thereby changing you. Don’t be afraid of this change, Book. Allow yourself be devoured, remembering another life as biscuits or bison. You will become something else then and you already are, your being dissolving into the person holding you in her hands. As you rest here in these hands, dissolve into the next thing. Be like vapor.


written by Thordis Bjornsdottir
What follows is the first response when we submitted the book, The Mutation of Fortune (to be released/born on April 15 2011) for a psychic reading.


CAROLINE PICARD WAS SITTING BEFORE AN OLD WOMAN WHO SCOWLED UNHAPPILY:
- I am not in the habit of doing readings for people unborn. It’s somehow unnatural,  I think, doesn’t seem right. Do you know what I mean? One shouldn’t be able to plan a time of birth in such a way. But I guess everything is possible nowadays. It is a person though?
- You could say that.
- Or an animal?
- Or an animal.
- I see what you’re getting at. It must be a different kind of creature then. A creature that crawls into the world at a certain time of year. A given time. From an egg, I assume?
- Something like that.
- All right, I’ll make an exception this time. But only this time! I’m absolutely not in the habit of doing this sort of readings, you see.
- I understand you perfectly. Thank you, you’re very kind.
- Oh well, kind enough. Anyway, here comes the reading then … Born under the sign of Aries, the person … excuse me … this creature, will be very energetic and high spirited by nature. Aries is a fire sign and Sun Aries is very active and brave, loves challenging projects and sometimes has a trouble sitting still. However, our creature will have Moon in Virgo which is an earth sign. While Sun is the character’s truest nature, Moon indicates the emotional side, and with Moon in Virgo this creature should be kindhearted, cautious and observant, and very accurate in everything it does. Its challenge will be to create a balance between Aries and Virgo by making use of the Aries’ force and enthusiasm along with the cautious cleverness of Virgo. Both Mercury and Mars are placed in Aries, and since Mercury is the planet of thought, this creature should be an independent thinker who loves to debate, and Mercury Aries is usually excellent at promoting its ideas. Mars in Aries means that the creature should be a very good fighter without being resentful. Venus is placed in the sign of Pisces which indicates a dreamy and somewhat innocent nature, and a highly creative imagination. The creature should be unselfish and giving in relationships, and very sensitive to other creatures’ needs. The last but not the least to mention is the ascendant, Libra, which gives this character a very amiable disposition. The creature should be very attractive, someone who befriends others with ease and has a luring affect. And that’s it for now! Satisfied, are you?
- Quite. Thank you so much.
- You’re welcome. I am rather curious about this creature, though. Do you have any idea of how big it will grow up to be?
- It should fit nicely in between the hands and could easily be kept in a good sized pocket from time to time.
- That sounds peculiar, to say the least. Some kind of rodent then? Or a lizard? Is it long?
- No. More of a rectangular shape.
- Peculiar indeed! Some outflattened creature of the corners, I believe. A new-discovered bug? Or a bewildering monster, is it?
- Yes, definitely. A new-discovered bug or a monster. Or a book.


what follows in an excerpt from erica adam’s book: on the mutation of fortune (due out via green lantern press this spring!!)
a lesson in stealing
Listen: the doll I stole was thumb size, and had the face of a fox. We had been playing in a basement crowded with boxes, and I held the doll in my fist as I went upstairs to the bathroom. I shoved the doll in my cotton underwear and my mother called for us to go home. I stood under an oak tree, felt the rub of the small doll.
I took the doll, the little fox decked in a christening gown and bonnet, and gave it to my godmother. She lived across the street. She put the doll in a wooden cradle large enough to rock a real child. It lay on the cushion, its face a small mark in the sea of white.
But it was not enough. When the moon was a fat lamp in the sky, I went to my mother in a nightgown struck with tears. I sobbed my story. She made me telephone my godmother, and I spooled the cord around my finger, winding it with every unanswered ring. When I hung up, my finger had darkened into the blue of a dead infant.
In the morning, I knocked on the door of my godmother’s house. Again, there was no answer.
My mother said, You must give one of your dolls. Put it there, on her doorstep.
I had only one. It was the size of my palm, a little brown bear in a yellow dress. A surrogate mother to the child I had stolen. I gave that one.
Then I had none.


OPENING by Erica W. Adams
Close to the universe you begin to see mouths in everything. Wide red lipped things with ivories to shock little boys back into bed. Instead of horror, I have found safety.
It became a game, counting the rows of teeth possible in a tiny trap. Some big molars, others sharp and exact. The mouths are never closed, always open. Always stretching wider.
Sharks do not have teeth anchored to the jaw. They are sunk into the flesh. If they lose one, they replace it in the next row. It is a conveyor belt. It is evolutionary.
To see a mouth in everything is sublime. It is encouraging. I sew mouths onto my gowns, as Queen Elizabeth had her velvets embroidered with eyes and ears. She was the sight and sound of her kingdom. I am the mouth to the world.
I am saving the milk teeth of the neighborhood children. I am their fairy, leaving behind small change. At night, I stitch them into the roof of my mouth. It is a chapel. I multiply.

Erica Adams' web page
 

http://lanternprojects.com/daily/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/IMG_2731.jpg

Comments