Big thanks to all the folks who’ve contributed to the fund drive for THE2NDHAND’s 10th-anniversary anthology, being conducted via Kickstarter.com here. A third of the way through, we’re more than two-thirds funded at this point, well on track to reach the goal — keep getting the word out there as you can. (Past THE2NDHAND.com contributor Ben Tanzer, proprietor of This Blog Will Change Your Life, take note, posted about ‘All Hands On’ a week or so ago, among other notes around the web — thanks, Ben!)
Today, a couple contributors to THE2NDHAND featured in special sections in the book whose work continues to be some of the most at once challenging and comically adept of all T2H’s writers’ to date.
Today we’ve got up as a little Christmas gift to those not worn out by present-getting the first part in Kingston, Jamaica, writer Dominique Holmes‘ “The Girls Talk to Her Like It’s Nothing,” a fantastic story of a world in post-calamity mode, after a flood. Holmes appears in the Pitchfork Battalion special section in the collection in collaboration with myself and T2H coeditor C.T. Ballentine.
David Gianatasio, Boston-based author of a couple collections of shorts, most recently Mind Games (Word Riot 2008), penned “The World Ends Every Day,” a perfect example of the playful intertextuality of much of Gianatasio’s work. We published it in our online mag just last week. It begins:
The onramp swoops overhead like some giant abstract sculpture. We made a film about the last man on earth, and this long-closed stretch of overgrown highway and its immediate environs provided the perfect set. If this were an apocalyptic novel, by J.G. Ballard perhaps, the central traffic island would be cluttered with rusted household appliances, mangled cars, shriveled-up condoms and empty cigarette packs…
The piece proceeds as part film script, part commentary on the script and the film’s making by the method actor telling the story. His ultimate apocalypse (an experienced unveiling, by definition, when the curtain is drawn back to reveal the heart of the truth), in story, is more affecting than the film, to be sure. Read it here.
The second, Chicago scribe Marc Baez, remains perhaps the most wildly experimental of all THE2NDHAND’s regular writers, and thus to my mind one of the most dynamically appealing. Baez’s triptych of stories — well, a poem (“Elegy”), a piece of disjointed poetic prose (“Bloodlines”), and an hilarious exchange between a mother and son (“The Similes”) — featured two weeks back at THE2NDHAND.com is a quick blast emblematic of the author’s range. From “The Similes: Episode 1 — Eat Your Greenbeans”:
Mother: You better eat your green beans unless you wanna look like an old scratch instead of something the lord made.
Son: But they taste like skin.
Mother: Don’t you dare talk to me like I’m some whitefaced doll sewn in an Alpine meadow that you can just hang out with on the moon because nobody on earth likes you.
Son: Lots of people like me. I’m like euphoria for British rockabilly addicts.
Mother: Actually, you’re like an American rapper sucking the milk out of a fainting goat.
Son: You’re like a person who just sits on a chair and paints meat.
Mother: You’re like a local Nebraska television cameraman eating a macaroni salad on break.
Son: You’re like a middle-aged guy from Arizona who just opened the door of his Honda Civic.
Baez I’ve known since the year 2001, when we published the first of his pieces in our then newly minted online mag. Twas a minidrama involving two men and two women seated on a floor after having played a game of Twister, speaking quite baroquely amongst themselves about the personal, artistic and philosophical gulfs that keep them together–and apart.
Highlights from his later work include “Report From Dr. Fugue,” published in our 10th broadsheet, the story of the title Doc’s reanimation of the corpse of Henry Miller and the ensuing havoc wreaked on Chicago bystanders. Read it here: http://the2ndhand.com/print10/story1.html.
Couple new things upcoming in the way of mobile fiction experimentation, namely the first CellStories.net contribution from THE2NDHAND, David Wirthlin’s “Nine Items From Your Disappearance,” to be broadcast via the exclusively mobile literary short site Thursday; Doug Milam, in turn, will be engaging his Twitter feed in our second live itinerary this Friday here. Follow him for the goods, though we’ll be publishing the results, er… would posthumously be the right word here? Assuming most microblog posts officially die after a few minutes, of course.
Likewise, those of you still reading words on paper, I recently finished one book and came upon another, and both make frantic literary hay of experimental typography. The first, Edgar Mollere’s Driven or forced onward by or as if by wind or water, is a tale somewhat in the tradition of Faulkner’s rural-South mythologizing, though its brutal end is more in keeping with the our time’s extremes of temperament/action.
It follows — through the shifting, often combined (on the same page, even) points of view of several children of a rural family — an eldest sibling’s evolution to monster. I haven’t read a more chillingly compelling book since Book IV of Roberto Bolano’s 2666. Released by Austin-based Vagabond Press (also the publisher of our compatriot Spencer Dew‘s excellent Songs of Insurgency), Driven is a comparatively small book, at only 133 pages, many of them scantly peppered with text. But in the white spaces rests ample opportunity for readers to imaginatively engage the brilliant, macabre story. I read the gruesome and foreshadowing (however educational) “Butchering” chapter under a small light on a screen porch late one night and, crickets loud at work in the background, out there in the dark, felt the world opening up in every last bit of its unexplored, terrifying glory. Pick it up soon.
The second book is Nashville-based Eric Durchholz’s Heartless. I met Durchholz one slightly hungover day (Susannah had taken me to the Patterson House on Division — that’s Nashville, Chicago folks — for a birthday outing the previous night) last week at the Portland Brew here in East Nashville by chance; turns out he was a little hungover, too, or at least I’d assume so given the pub crawl release he staged for the novel the night before in Five Points. I can’t say much about the book right now, but look for an excerpt at THE2NDHAND.com fairly soon. What I’ve read so far brings to mind Stephen Elliott’s A Life Without Consequences and, well, Mollere, simply for nature of the typographical experimentation going on. There’s a 100-page pdf via heartless.me you can sample, in the meantime.