Wednesday, May 20, 2015

John Parras Reviews Bombyonder at Rain Taxi

Today has been a pretty good day!

Mentioned in the same paragraph as as Teju Cole, Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, Knausgaard and Heti and Bombyonder compared to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl.

Woo-hoo! Here's an excerpt:

In contrast, many contemporary responses to the so-called death of the novel take the form of what is sometimes called the non-novel—works by writers such as Teju Cole, Ben Lerner, Rachel Cusk, and the aforementioned Knausgaard and Heti. In most cases these autobiographical novels attempt to solve our dissatisfaction with the stilted fabrications of plot and character by steering fiction toward the realm of memoir. But Reb Livingston's extraordinary novel, Bombyonder, shows us how timid such a solution is. One doesn't heal the ailing novel form by disguising fiction as memoir, Bombyonder forcefully suggests; one heals the novel by fearlessly transfiguring long fiction. Rather than assuaging supposed readerly anxieties, Livingston reinvents fictional character and narrative pattern while embracing the perplexities of prevarication, the imaginative value of absurdity, and the delights of wild artifice. 

Despite its avant-gardism, Bombyonder bears an uncanny resemblance to Gillian Flynn’s runaway bestseller, Gone Girl. Both books feature a female protagonist trying to find herself, suppressing some aspect of her personality, and navigating complicated amorous relations with men. Both books incorporate diary entries as a central device, reflect on the questionable influence of parents on their children, and involve complex mysteries of disappearance and reappearance. And both books contemplate murder, though in radically different manners. While Gone Girl adheres to the conventions of the realistic thriller, Bombyonder teeters on the opposite end of the fictional spectrum: it is innovative in the extreme.


READ THE ENTIRE INTERVIEW AT RAIN TAXI

Learn more about Bombyonder

Indie Terrorists



I co-authored this essay with Rauan Klassnik at Queen Mobs:

Today’s terrorist may well be tomorrow’s revolutionary hero. But—

“I stopped writing this fall, for the first time in my life, out of this silencing fear of being attacked by them.”

“I was attacked for making a vague statement.” 
“I worked for a rape crisis center for years, was involved with founding a network for survivors, was sexually abused for years as a kid — and people call me a rape apologist.” 
“I friend requested most of them so that I can keep an eye on things. It’s scary.”

Submission Call for Misfit Documents at Queen Mob's Teahouse


I'm the new (and first) Misfit Documents Editor at Queen Mob's Teahouse.

WHAT IS A MISFIT DOCUMENT?

MisfitThat is a very good question. My definition of a misfit document is a text that doesn’t easily fit into any genre or category. It’s not quite a poem or short story or novel excerpt or essay. Or if it is one of those things, it doesn’t quite qualify as “literary” or sci-fi or mystery or memoir or whatever. Or maybe it’s all of those things and more. It’s something you wrote that you believe is amazing, but you have no idea what it is or where it belongs in the world. It’s something that when people read it they say, “What the hell is this?”
It’s something that doesn’t really have a label, or at least not one that is widely used.

WHAT KIND OF MISFIT DOCUMENTS AM I LOOKING FOR?

Lots. I want to be surprised and delighted. I want to read things that are nothing like I’ve ever read before. I want to scratch my head. I want to struggle trying to describe it.
I don’t want to narrow what would fall under a category called “Misfit Documents” because I’m not ready to rule anything out. At least not yet.
I lean towards work that is quirky, strange, fucked-up, etc., but my tastes do run fairly eclectic. Some of my favorite authors: Leonora Carrington, Alice Notley, Joyce Mansour, Bhanu Khapil, Philip K. Dick, Octavia Butler, Joy Williams, Rikki Ducornet, Fanny Howe (especially her essays), Kim Hyesoon, Frank O’Hara, Harryette Mullen, Marie-Louise von Franz, Lindsay Hill, Helen Oyemi, Flannery O’Connor, Marosa Di Georgio, Hannah Weiner and Amy Gerstler.
all_misfit_toys_welcome_here-1
TO SUBMIT!
I’m not saying I want work in the vein of any of the above authors, just giving you an a sense for some of the styles that I’m drawn to. Not doubt I’m drawn to others as well.
Obviously, I’m looking for texts that are well-written, interesting, compelling and work as stand-alone pieces. Misfit doesn’t mean throw away or unfinished. I’m not looking for leftovers.
Not sure if what you have is right? Just send it. The worst that will happen is that I’ll say no thank you and you’ll say (TO YOURSELF!): That moron wouldn’t know a true misfit document if one fell out of the sky and danced on her face!
I think that’s a risk worth taking, don’t you?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lemons et al.


Up on Queen Mob's Teahouse I have an essay, "Souring on Community", where I discuss my evolving feelings about writing communities:

After being a community cheerleader for years, I began feel differently around 2011. I was feeling exhausted, overtaxed and unappreciated. Maybe I had let myself become a doormat for the community or maybe the distinction between community and individuals blurred for me. Maybe individual assholes do not equal community. But they are part of the community and to be in the community is to be in the midst of assholes. Assholes who take advantage. Assholes who insinuate and spread rumors. Assholes who want to shit in your kitchen and burn your house down. Petty assholes. Vindictive assholes. Obsessed assholes. Unstable assholes. Mean assholes.


It's not all puckered lips and assholes, I promise.

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Shoes reflect where we’ve been and what we bring with us. 
The Wicked Witch of the West was willing to kill Dorothy for her Ruby Red Slippers. Cinderella’s stepsisters maimed their own feet to try to fit into her glass slipper. Snow White’s stepmother was forced to dance to death in hot iron shoes. The Twelve Dancing Princesses wore out their shoes from dancing all night in fairyland. While the Shoemaker slept, the elves made his shoes for him helping him out of poverty. 
Shoes are power and authority. 
Shoes are serious business.

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I share some of my poetry favorites with Straight Poetry.

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And lastly, NaPoWriMo is over! I did it! Again!

NaPoWriMo #30 
I should be careful lining my eyebrows
I’ve done too dark before
the poet inside is fragile and can easily be hurt
her powerful mind creates a great deal
that she often can’t control
she’s gonna stick a shiv
right through Long Dong Patriarch’s forehead
as Lady Snakebitch chokes
on a slut’s sonnet




Tuesday, April 28, 2015

final note (I hope) on speaking up

According to Statcounter (and as of this posting), 2384 unique visitors have read Saturday's post. 2020 were first time visitors to this blog. Suffice it to say, a lot of people are interested (and I hope concerned) about what's happening.

I've made my thoughts known. Others have too. I don't think I have much else to add on that front. I'm not interested in having fruitless discussions with individuals who abuse and intimidate in the guise of protecting abuse victims. It's a tactic that I regularly endured starting from childhood through my mid-30's and there's just no productive way to deal with that. I might point it out from time to time, but I won't engage it. I also have no intention of sanitizing comment fields either here or on FB. I think it's important for there to be a record of what a few are saying and doing.

I haven't (at least not directly) written about my own past abuse experiences and if I ever do choose to write about those events, it won't be to teflon myself against accusations of being an apologist or defender. It'll be on my own terms.

I truly appreciate all the messages of support I've received and am very grateful to see all the support and love for Bruce. I wish healing and recovery for EVERYONE tangled in this awful mess and to those who have been affected just by it being ever-present in their social media.

For now, I too would like to talk and write about other things.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bombyonder Review & Page 69 Test

Marie Curran reviews Bombyonder in The Collagist:

Beyond logic and linear thinking, manners and order, humor and horror, there is Bombyonder. Not exactly a physical location, but more than a passing thought, Bombyonder echoes poetry of mythic proportions. It smells of decaying flesh, drips with bodily fluids, and brims with the anger of a Medusa. It is a subconscious space of both apocalyptic absurdity and astonishing lucidity, where zombie sex jokes can morph into profound commentaries on social media, and vague memories hilariously allude to Ancient Greek literary characters. Poet Reb Livingston's debut novel, appropriately titled Bombyonder, explores this confusing realm in lyrical prose that, while often overwhelming and disgusting, is searing and unforgettable.

Bombyonder is a disjointed tale made up of fragments: diary entries, memories, text messages, letters, forums from the future, and other indirect narrative forms. The book, however, opens as legend—like so many myths, a passionate patricide leads to an impossible quest—and it is important to remember this classic grounding because as the story continues, it dives into sensuous, often outrageous obscurity.
READ ENTIRE REVIEW
I couldn't be any happier with this review. As a writer (and sometimes as a human being too) I often feel like people don't "get" what it is that I'm trying to do. This is a common lament among writers and artists, but it feels true. So it's gratifying and very appreciated when someone both takes the time to seriously consider the work and engages it in its own realm instead of trying to force-fit it into a tidy category.

If you're curious as to what's on Page 69 of Bombyonder, you can see how it fares at TNBBC's The Next Best Book Blog.