Showing posts from December, 2017

'Fiction as Method' brings authors into dialogue with artists, technologists, theorists and filmmakers in order to explore the diverse ways in which fiction manifests

Fiction as Method, Sternberg Press, 2017.

A Conference on Counterfactuals and Virtualities in Art and Culture
I am an artist, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.  ~ Ursula LeGuin
It seems to me that I am walking about in my sleep, as though fiction and life were blended. ~ August Strindberg

When Thomas More’s Utopia was first published in 1516 it was taken so seriously by some members of the church that the possibility of sending missionaries to convert the godless population of the imaginary island was discussed. Even if no missionary set sail, the incident reveals how a fiction might have real and unexpected effects on a world it seemed to distance itself from.
Perhaps the effect most readily associated with fiction is a feeling of escape, a flight from this world into another. Yet beyond escapism, fictions are an operative part of everyday life, whether it be in the dark foundations of currencies and nations, or as the founding gesture of movement…

John McGreal - a tragic-comic account of a modern man who has sadly lost it altogether. Unsure of who or what it is that he has lost

John McGreal, Book of It, Matador, 2009.

The narrative of The Book of It is a tragic-comic account of a modern man who has sadly lost it altogether. Unsure of who or what it is that he has lost, in the company of an unforgettable cast of idiosyncratic characters with whom he shares many trials, he nevertheless undertakes a remarkable journey in search of it into the unknown realm of terra incognita.

Gordon Sheppard - A "documentary fiction", a seminal work that reinvents the audio-visual revolution of the last century. Interweaving photographs, documents, and images with testimonies

Gordon Sheppard, HA!: A Self-Murder Mystery, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.

On 15 March 1977, with his wife's consent, celebrated writer and former terrorist Hubert Aquin blew his brains out on the grounds of a Montreal convent school. Shocked by this self-murder, a filmmaker friend feels compelled to understand why Aquin killed himself - and discovers, at the heart of the tragedy, an unforgettable love story. A "documentary fiction" - a category which includes In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song - HA! is a seminal work that reinvents the audio-visual revolution of the last century. Interweaving photographs, documents, and images with testimony from Aquin's friends and contemporaries, Aquin himself, and the writers and artists who influenced him, this intriguing novel takes the reader on a Joycean tour of a metropolis in the midst of political and cultural turmoil.

Why doesn't our prize-infested world offer an award for the quirkiest, thickes…

Lee Henderson - an oddly comic, often grotesque panorama of city life like something out of Bosch – or Pynchon

Lee Henderson, The Man Game, Penguin Canada, 2009.

On a recent Sunday afternoon in Vancouver, a young man stumbles upon a secret sport invented more than a century before, at the birth of his city. Thus begins The Man Game, Lee Henderson's epic tale of love, requited and not, that crosses the contemporary and historical in an extravagant, anarchistic retelling of the early days of a pioneer town on the edge of the known world. In 1886, out of the smouldering ashes of the great fire that destroyed much of the city, Molly Erwagen—former vaudeville performer—arrives from Toronto with her beloved husband, Samuel, to start a new life. Meanwhile, Litz and Pisk, two lumberjacks exiled after the fire and blamed for having started it, are trying to clear their names. Before long, they've teamed up with Molly to invent a new sport that will change the course of that fledgling city's history.

“In its ambition, iconoclasm, and accomplishment The Man Game is reminiscen…

Chris Eaton has created a novel based on his namesakes (and himself) found on the Internet

Chris Eaton, Chris Eaton, a Biography, Book Thug, 2013.

CHRIS EATON, A BIOGRAPHY is a novel that arises from the idea that we have all been driven, at some point, to Google ourselves. And if you did, what did you find? That there are people out there who seem to have something in common with you? Dates, places, interests? How coincidental are these connections? And what are the factors that define a human life? We are the sum of our stories: Anecdotal constructs. We remember moments in our pasts the way we remember television episodes. In pieces. And we realize that our own memories are no more valid in the construction of our identities than stories we've heard from others. CHRIS EATON, A BIOGRAPHY constructs a life by using, as building blocks, the lives of dozens of other people who share nothing more than a name, identities that blur into each other with the idea that, in the end, we all live the same life, deal with the same hopes and fears, experience the same joys and trage…

Donald Hall and Pat Corrington Wykes undertook the work of excerpting the most arresting, enlivening, depressing, odious and/or inexplicable stories from a vast array of texts on the lives and creative practices of modern artists

Donald Hall and Pat Corrington Wykes, Anecdotes of Modern Art: From Rousseau to Warhol, Oxford University Press, 1990.           

From the hilarity of Picasso's legendary banquet for Le Douanier Rousseau to the grotesque atmosphere of Andy Warhol's "Factory," Anecdotes of Modern Art moves through the modern era surveying the triumphs, miseries, and peculiarities of the world of art. Perhaps no epoch has witnessed more variety and experimentation than ours, with movements such as Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism radically reshaping the visual arts--and the artists connected with these revolutions are often as striking and occasionally as startling as the works they created. The anecdotes presented here--touching on almost 200 painters and sculptors--show what these artists were like, how they responded to the world, and how their work is a reflection of themselves.
Here is the fabled romantic life of Belle Epoch Paris, with Picasso and Braque ("Alm…

Héctor Abad Faciolince - Saint or sinner? Moralist or scoundrel? Ascetic or voluptuary? This aging memoirist and protagonist, offers up for scrutiny the events of his checkered life and the substance of his diverse opinions

Héctor Abad Faciolince, Joy of Being Awake, Brookline Books/Lumen Editions, 1996.

Saint or sinner? Moralist or scoundrel? Ascetic or voluptuary? The reader must draw his or her own conclusions as Don Gregorio Benjamin Gaspar de Medina, aging memoirist and protagonist, offers up for scrutiny the events of his checkered life and the substance of his diverse opinions. His narrative begins at the age of 15 at his family's Colombian countryside villa, when he simultaneously discovers that he is wealthy and that kisses are not shared only with the lips. Six decades later in Vienna, the story culminates with his marriage to the delectable Cunegonde Bonaventura, his erstwhile secretary and transcriber of his memoirs. Héctor Abad, Oblivion: A Memoir, Trans. by Anne McLean and Rosalind Harvey. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013.
Colombian author Abad (The Joy of Being Awake) dedicates this loving and sentimental memoir to his father, Héctor Abad Gómez, a professor and doctor devoted to his fami…

Benjamin Zucker takes his form from the Talmud—a central text surrounded by commentaries, with each page accompanied by a photo or artwork on the opposite side. The novel's main character, Abraham Tal, is (like Blue's author) a gem merchant in New York City

Benjamin Zucker, Blue, The Overlook Press, 2000.

Modeled after the Talmud, this uniquely constructed novel introduces Abraham Tal, a New York diamond merchant who spends his days counseling friends and neighbors from his shop. A first novel.

An imaginative, unusual layout inflates Zucker's novel into a true novelty as well as a detailed, heartfelt love story. Modeling his book on the Talmud, Zucker places a brief chapter of the tale in the center of each odd-numbered page, surrounded by commentary on the passage by such figures as Kafka, Vermeer, Monet, Joyce, Bob Dylan, Bobby Fischer, an assortment of ancient Greek and Jewish scholars and the central character's family and loved ones. Photographs and paintings on facing pages reference images from the text. In the core story, a young artist named Dosha seeks counsel from Abraham Tal, a New York diamond merchant whose avocation is dispensing advice: for $1 he counsels how to change your life; for $2 he tells you how to change i…

D. Keith Mano - It is as if Joyce, for his sins, had been forced to grow up in Queens; as if Beckett had been mugged by Godot in a Flushing comfort station; as if Sid Caesar played the part of Moby-Dick in a Roman Polanski movie shot underwater in Long Island City; as if Heidegger had gone into vaudeville and... never mind

D. Keith Mano, Take Five, Dalkey Archive Press, 1998.

Welcome to the world of Simon Lynxx and to one of the great overlooked novels of the 1980s. Con-man, filmmaker (currently working on producing “Jesus 2001″, what he calls the religious equivalent of The Godfather, best known for his movie “The Clap That Took Over the World”), descendent of a wealthy and prestigious New York family whose wealth and prestige are on a sharp decline, racist and anti-Semite (though Simon dislikes all ethnic groups equally), possessor of never-satisfied appetites (food, women, drink, but most of all, money and more money), and the fastest talker since Falstaff, Simon is on a quest that goes backwards.
Through the course of this 600-page novel, Simon loses, one by one, all of his senses (taste is lost when trying to siphon off gasoline for his roving, broken-down production van), ending in a state of complete debilitation in which he is being made ready for eternity and salvation.
As energy packed as a Wi…