December 22, 2009

New Fiction at Dark Sky Magazine

Just in time for the holidays, I've got a new story, "Apple Seized," up at Dark Sky Magazine. It's a chapter from a novel-in-stories, Human Wishes / Enemy Combatant, which explores the ambience and anti-narrative possibilities of contemporary "non-places" such as airport baggage-claim terminals, highway rest-stops, shopping malls, and Gitmo cells. Another chapter is coming out in Harp & Altar in February.

December 16, 2009

On the Left Bank Group

"Clouzet considers the Left Bank group, 'not as a faction of the New Wave, but, rather, as a distinct group in opposition to it'. Clouzot’s is a literary emphasis; she takes 'authorship' literally in her discussions to mean the 'essentially novelistic preoccupations with time, memory, narration, and form that characterise the group.' It is, for Clouzot, that the Left Bank directors are to be seen as authors more than auteurs, as they were more concerned with responding to the traditions of literature and the nouveau roman (new novel), than with responding to the history of cinema: whereas the Right Bank-Cahiers directors are well known for being primarily critics and cinéphiles, and for their work being a response to the prevailing tradition of French cinema, labelled by the Cahiers group as, 'le cinéma de papa' or 'old fogeys’ cinema'. As shall be seen when discussing the films of the Left Bank group, Clouzot is quite right to foreground the literary preoccupations of the group, and to see it as one of the most important defining features: Marker, a writer and novelist as well as a filmmaker, famous for his exquisitely constructed and highly literary voice-over commentaries; Varda, for whom the Jean Astruc’s idea of the caméra-stylo (camera pen) is highly important, as is her own notion of cinécriture (cinematic writing); and Resnais, whose first two, and most important, feature films were collaborations with two of France’s most important new novelists, Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet."

Verso Defends its Radical Anti-Capitalist Copyrights

(Perry Anderson at Left Forum 2009)

From: Rowan Wilson
To: ""
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 2009 12:10:25 +0000



Dear Sirs

It has come to our attention that you are hosting a website from which people can download illegally many of our copyrighted works:

We refer you to the url:

The books listed on this url include many of our titles by Slavoj Zizek, Jacques Ranciere, Alain Badiou, etc.

Rights to these works have been reserved by the publishers, Verso. The publishers have registered copyright in many of the books found on your website, which represent also the result of considerable labour on the part of the authors.

The purpose of this letter is to advise you of our clients' rights and to insist that you immediately disable or remove ALL LINKS from all websites associated with AAAARG.ORG or related sites on which the Works have been made available for download.

We request immediate receipt of your organization's intention to comply with these demands, and your confirmation in writing that appropriate action as detailed above has been effected no later then SEVEN (7) days from the date of this letter. Please be advised that if you do not immediately cease and desist, we will seek all appropriate legal remedies, without prior notification.

We look forward to your immediate response and cooperation.



Rowan Wilson
Sales and Marketing Director
6 Meard Street
London W1F 0EG
Phone: +44 (0)20 7437 3546
Fax: +44 (0)20 7734 0059

See Wu Ming's website for their new novel:

December 13, 2009

Found Fiction

Book Club Discussion Questions - a story

by A. Publisher

1. Describe the structure of the story. Why does the author open with Hans moving to New York City and then quickly jump into the future with Chuck's death and then jump back? Do you think these flashbacks and forward leaps relate to the narrative arc of the story? Is this simply how we tell stories? When you tell a story do you tell it chronologically? Why?

2. Childhood often slips into the story - that of both Hans and Chuck. Early on in the story, Hans mentions that he doesn't connect to himself as a child ("I, however, seem given to self-estrangement"), then proceeds to produce numerous memories of his childhood and of his mother. How is this reconnecting with his heritage and his past important to the story? How is Chuck often the catalyst for these memories?

3. Chuck is more connected to his heritage than Hans. He socializes with others from the West Indies; he's married to a woman from his birth country, etc. How do flashbacks to his childhood differ from Hans's and how do they affect the story as a whole?

4. How does nostalgia play into the story? Who is nostalgic and for what? Why does the storyteller open the novel with someone being nostalgic for New York City?

5. Discuss the title. What does it mean and what do you think it refers to?

6. Chuck's motto is "Think fantastic." How does this both help and hinder him? Can you create an appropriate motto for Hans? How about for yourself?

7. What does the United States represent for Hans and Chuck? How are their relationships with their new country similar, and also polar opposites?

8. How are both Han's and Chuck's experiences typical of American dream of immigrant stories? Compare the story to other stories of the immigrant experience or to what you imagine immigrating to a new country to be like.

9. Is the American Dream the same after 9/11? How are Americans both united and divided after 9/11? How is the world of the story particular to the United States after 9/11?

10. Describe the narrator's voice. Do you trust and like Hans as a narrator? Do you sympatize with him and understand his motives? Do you identify with him?

11. Describe the Chelsea Hotel when Hans lives. How is it a character in the novel? How are the various inhabitants and the oddness of the place appealing and comforting to Hans?

12. Discuss the scene in which the author and his protagonist engage in "fisting." What is metafiction? Does it feel good?

13. What is Han's relationship with his mother? How does the relationship continue to affect him after his mother's death? How does it affect his being a father?

14. Discuss the theme of male friendship in the novel and its connection to sports.

15. This story is also the story of a marriage. Why is Hans and Rachel's marriage falling apart? What brings them together again in the end?

16. Discuss the theme of betrayal and forgiveness in the story. How do both Rachel and Hans betray each other and why? What about Chuck? Do the characters ever lead themselves astray and betray themselves? Does America betray both Chuck and Hans in the end?

December 2, 2009

"A Huge Untapped Market for Experimental Literary Fiction"

"There is no way you can send a fierce, exotic and brutally truthful hothead novel out into the British rain in a recession and expect a deal to be on the table with the scones, tea and Daily Mail. Editors are struggling with a toxic, cynical market of celebrity best sellers and even the braver ones are nervous. Contemporary readers are much more sophisticated than the whole mainstream publishing scene right now. There is a big counter-culture in the UK but it's in the visual arts, music and performance, not in literature. There is a huge untapped market for experimental literary fiction. I know this because I am invited to give readings of my own writing more or less every night of the week, some of which I take up, others I don't. My website is crammed with writers asking me to read their work - also students studying my own work and asking me how the hell to get hold of it. There is a big old-fashioned question to be asked here - to do with what books are for, and why we bother publishing, writing and reading them in the first place. It's likely that corporate publishing will eventually go the same ways as the banking system: it has lost it with new generations of would-be readers. Not so much a financial crisis as a demise of experiment - publishers do have to take risks that might make them vulnerable - that's the currency I'm talking about here."

In an interview at the NY Times 'Paper Cuts' blog, Alexander Hemon says the following about editing Dalkey Archive Press' Best European Fiction 2010:

Q. What was the biggest surprise for you, editing the collection?

A. It was less of a surprise than a reminder: how unabashedly comfortable many of the writers are to engage with literary forms that would be perceived as experimental or avant-garde here. In turn, I was reminded how deeply conservative contemporary American literature is in terms of form. And that conservative bent is a recent development, I believe. The European form flexibility is not a consequence of some snotty, elitist aesthetic but rather of the fact that there are many stories to be told and many traditions to draw from.