Posts Tagged ‘Chris Kraus’
August 5, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- You might, if you’re lucky, retire someday, and it’s never too early to start thinking about what you’ll do with all that free time. You may think you’ve got it all figured out—I’ll just build a wacky Disneyland spin-off in my backyard, you say to yourself. But that’s been done: “After retiring from a thirty-year career in auto manufacturing in the late eighties, [Dmytro] Szylak began work on his folk-art installation, tenuously mounted to the roof of the garage behind his Hamtramck duplex on Klinger Street and that of the adjoining property … Hamtramck Disneyland looms like a Cubist carnival. The superstructure is mostly wood, strung with lights and painted in the bright Ukrainian national colors of yellow and blue, as well as red, purple, and green. This forms the base for an avalanche of found objects—Szylak was seemingly obsessed with propellers and fans, American idols like Elvis, and particularly the type of blow-mold horses employed in bouncy toys for toddlers. An entire herd of them runs wild across the installation, and two of them rear up inside the arch constructed over the front gate—one of the only indicators on the street side of what lies behind the house.”
- Reviewing Colson Whitehead’s new novel, Brit Bennett looks at the difficulties inherent in telling stories about slavery: “The problem with the slave narrative is its predictability: A person is born in bondage to a cruel master; he or she observes a first whipping, struggles to obtain literacy, attempts to flee, fails, and later successfully escapes to the North. If the purpose of autobiography is to uniquely render a unique life, then slave narratives often feel formulaic, the narrators indistinct … Unlike white autobiographers, black authors could not expect that readers would approach their works on good faith—they anticipated a skeptical, if not hostile, audience. To make their stories seem authentic, ex-slave narrators came to rely on certain established patterns. ‘This was perhaps the greatest challenge to the imagination of the Afro-American autobiographer,’ Andrews writes. ‘The reception of his narrative as truth depended on the degree to which his artfulness could hide his art.’ ”
- There’s one slave narrative I’m not sure anyone predicted: Ghostwriter, the PBS children’s show from the nineties, where a bunch of Brooklyn kids solve mysteries by following a colorful, zippy phantasm-blob thing that draws their attention to the letters and words around them. Per Nick Ripatrazone, “After the series ended, the writer Kermit Frazier revealed that Ghostwriter was a runaway slave ‘killed by slave catchers and their dogs as he was teaching other runaway slaves how to read in the woods.’ Though viewers at the time wouldn’t have known this backstory, these tragic origins are also somehow fitting: During both his life and his existence as a spirit, Ghostwriter finds truth and freedom in words … Ghostwriter often focused on the humbling idea that literature—an endeavor sometimes seen as elitist or inaccessible—is for everyone and can bring people closer together.”
- Jill Soloway, of Transparent fame, is adapting Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick for TV—as Jason McBride writes, “she’ll be turning one of the most compelling cult novels of the last twenty years into a television show with the potential to be as groundbreaking in its examination of gender politics as her first … [Soloway] identified intensely with Kraus’s decision to use her own name, biography, and, as Soloway put it, her ‘horribleness.’ It helped her, she says, to reframe the shame she herself once felt about her TV writing: ‘I don’t know how to write about anything other than myself. I can’t write about dragons, I don’t care about crime, I don’t want to write a hospital show. I only want to write about somewhat unlikable Jewish women having really inappropriate ideas about life and sex.’ ”
- In which Edmund White comes to a sound conclusion about Nabokov: “I have recently reread Pale Fire (1962) which is, I realize only now, the great gay comic novel, an equally funny and sometimes tender portrait of a homosexual madman, Charles Kinbote … What is perhaps the funniest scene involves a putative assassin, Gradus, and a lad named Gordon. Since this is a moment completely imagined by Kinbote (and, by any standard, not observed), the king’s imagination runs wild. He ‘dresses’ the comely Gordon in one clichéd gay outfit after another. At first the tanned fifteen-year-old (‘dyed a nectarine hue by the sun’) is in a ‘leopard-spotted loincloth.’ Then he is ‘wreathed about the loins with ivy.’ A second later he is fellating “a pipe of spring water” and wiping his hands ‘on his black bathing trunks.’ ”
September 22, 2015 | by Erik Morse
Joanna Walsh’s writing enacts what Chris Kraus has called “a literal vertigo—the feeling that if I fall I will fall not toward the earth but into space—by probing the spaces between things.” Walsh, a British writer and illustrator, is fascinated by liminal spaces, especially in the many varieties encountered by tourists. She’s sometimes known by her French nom de guerre, Badaude, loosely translated as “gawk,” and suggesting the perambulatory figure of the flaneuse. Her work trades on the literary genres of the miniature—short stories, essays, even postcards—reminiscent of Marcel Schwob, Clarice Lispector, Roland Barthes, and Lydia Davis. Her 2014 Twitter initiative @read_women is an archival who’s who of modern female writers, extolling in its tweets the distaff works of everyone from Leonora Carrington to Elena Ferrante. Aside from her abundant online presence,Walsh’s prolific output includes three new books: Hotel, Vertigo, and Grow a Pair: 9½ Fairytales About Sex, all of which run from the bantam lengths of fifty-five to 170 pages.
Among her seemingly disparate subjects are hotel architecture and etiquette, sexual politics in twentieth-century psychoanalysis, the perils of family vacations, the fantasias of cinema, and fables of transgendered witches. In Walsh’s feminist cosmogony, all are brought to bear as inscrutable souvenirs of the everyday mundane. She elucidates the slippery, gendered in-betweenness of everyday ritual in a manner reminiscent of Derrida’s disquisition on the chora—that most mysterious and mundane of spaces, not unlike the anonymous corridor of a hotel.
I reached Walsh, appropriately enough, at a hotel in Mexico. She and I shared a lively discussion about hotel culture and theory, travel fantasies, and the contemporary potential of fairy tales.
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October 22, 2012 | by Christopher Higgs
Kate Zambreno’s first book, O Fallen Angel, won Chiasmus Press’s “Undoing the Novel” First Book Contest, and her second book, Green Girl, was a finalist for the Starcherone Innovative Fiction Prize. So it should come as no surprise that her provocative new work, Heroines, published by Semiotext(e)’s Active Agents imprint next month, challenges easy categorization, this time by poetically swerving in and out of memoir, diary, fiction, literary history, criticism, and theory. With equal parts unabashed pathos and exceptional intelligence, Heroines foregrounds female subjectivity to produce an impressive and original work that examines the suppression of various female modernists in relation to Zambreno’s own complicated position as a writer and a wife. It concludes by bringing the problems of the modernists into conversation with the contemporary by offering a timely consideration of the role of the Internet and blogs in creating a community for women writers.
What was it about the modernist wives that first interested you?
I think I came to the wives through an initial discovery of more neglected modernist women writers—Olive Moore, Anna Kavan, Jane Bowles, maybe I’d add Jean Rhys to that list. I was living in London working in a bookshop and not doing much in terms of trying to write a novel, so I pitched to Chad Post at Dalkey that I write an essay on Kavan. And because I had nothing else to do, I sat in the British Library and read everything by her. And started reading all these other experimental women writers, like Elizabeth Smart—not the Mormon abductee, but the one obsessed with the poet George Barker, an obsession she documents in the amazing By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept. Not a modernist, I know, but I sat at the British Library and read the communal notebook she kept with Barker and thought about Vivien(ne)’s hand on “The Waste Land” manuscript. I began to be really interested in ideas of literary collaboration.