December 10, 2011
December 9, 2011
SCHOLES: Jack, I know that in addition to being a writer you are a teacher of young writers, if there is such a thing, and I know that this question of politics and its relation to creative writing or the writing of fiction is a thing that worries a lot of young writers. They find it difficult to justify the indulgence in the personal satisfaction of writing at a time when the calls to the barricades seem to come more frequently and more urgently every month. What do you do to reassure young people, to keep them writing and off the barricades, or do you encourage them to go?
HAWKES: I think the acts of courage and the acts of creativity evident in the writing of fiction are similar to the qualities evident in revolutionary acts. I think clear vision, detachment, personal strength, selflessness – these are needed to change the world literally and, no doubt, are also essential to the imaginative act. The paradox is that the literary act can’t take place in the context of revolution or “real life” or world activity. I would be willing to give up writing (which I began to discover only as a young person and not at the barricade but in the midst of the primordial, fluid, slippery, messy stuff of the Second World War) – I would be willing to give up art if the actual barricade were before us. If it were literally a moment of attempting to participate in those human efforts of planning and action that had to do with political ultimacy and finality, I would want to be there.
SCHOLES: In your fiction are you working out of a consciously held theoretical position?
HAWKES: Recently I did formulate a kind of theory of fiction which can be expressed in a few words. It seems to me that fiction should achieve revenge for all the indignities of our childhood; it should be an act of rebellion against all the constraints of the conventional pedestrian mentality around us. Surely it should destroy conventional morality. I suppose all this is to say that to me the act of writing is criminal. If the act of the revolutionary is one of supreme idealism, it’s also criminal. Obviously I think that the so-called criminal act is essential to our survival.
SCHOLES: Recently I saw W.H. Auden quoted as saying that the world would be exactly the way it is if Shakespeare and Dante and somebody else had never lived, which suggests a sort of beautiful irrelevance to art or, at any rate, an existence apart from political, geographical, geopolitical realities. Do you accept Auden’s view?
HAWKES: Was he joking?
SCHOLES: I think he was serious. I assume this is a later version of his “poetry makes nothing happen.”
HAWKES: Then he’s filled with despair. I’m sympathetic with despair. I don’t agree with the idea. It seems obvious that the great acts of the imagination are intimately related to the great acts of life – that history and the inner psychic history must dance their creepy minuet together if we are to save ourselves from total oblivion. I think it’s senseless to attempt to talk as Auden talked. The great acts of the imagination create inner climates in which psychic events occur, which in themselves are important, and also affect the outer literal events in time and space through what has occurred in the act of reading.
December 6, 2011
November 29, 2011
What’s missing from this picture? Can you spot it? Right-o, no built-in toilet-paper dispenser in the master bathroom!
The actual toilet is from Levengers─their high-end Notabile model with the Lakota seat cover. I could go on and on about its familiar marbled composition and the ruggedly textured bison leather sure-grip seat (sorry you can’t really see it). Perched thereon, cheek to cheek with the gamey hide, I hit authorial pay dirt, and the below excerpt issued forth. It’s from my new forthcoming blockbuster, an experimental novel (temporally: it actually reads like it’s being written before you in real time just as you turn the page, possibly like the feeling of having one’s life flash before one's very eyes—imagine!) composed in episodes. I won’t bother to contextualize the scene, only to say this one’s about a third of the way in, and by then, you’re likely already half smitten with the fearless unconventional protagonist, with her brazen stools and loose-by-any-standard morals.
I turned the hot water on maximum force in Hank’s plexiglass-enclosed shower stall and sat on the American Disabilities Act toilet that was surprisingly tall, feeling queenly on the elevated white porcelain throne. My piss didn't burn as it hissed out, and fears of an infection in my urethra from friction’s rub on the latex molecules that had emanated from Danny's condom-covered boner were happily unfounded. I voided my bowels in mere seconds, which frankly astonished me that I could be so at home in a near stranger's bathroom. I felt completely cleaned out, so that if “touching me anywhere” involved my anus, I could meet the moment with confidence.
November 25, 2011
November 9, 2011
October 19, 2011
September 26, 2011
I would remind you that many of our greatest writers, from James Joyce to Thomas Pynchon, have been accused of publishing "unreadable" prose fiction. "The Cruiser" is, of course, neither unreadable nor unpublishable. I've read the story & have agreed to publish it and the novel to which it belongs -- Human Wishes / Enemy Combatant -- under the imprint SAY IT WITH STONES. It's odd you would say it's "unpublishable" since Caldwell's author's bio clearly states that the novel is forthcoming from SAY IT WITH STONES. Human Wishes / Enemy Combatant will be released later this year; for more information, visit sayitwithstones.com.I respect Edmond Caldwell's action against the sociopolitical homogeneity being celebrated by One City, One Story. & I'm pleased to hear his work has the power to upset readers' expectations. I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way! What American literature needs is more resistant work, not affirmative bourgeois drivel like "The Whore's Child," which is -- exempting its title -- a total bore.Finally, the tone of your announcement is commensurate with the reactionary cultural politics of One City, One Story. A recent study conducted by the United Nations found that over a billion people squat worldwide -- a sixth of the global population, the vast majority of whom are Asian, African, and Latin American -- and the numbers are increasing exponentially. To disparage Caldwell as a "literary squatter" reveals the mistaken aura of cultural superiority that undergirds One City, One Story. Only an institution fundamentally committed to and enchanted by western values, particularly private property in its many manifestations, could draw such a problematic comparison.My only concern is that there aren't more Boston writers engaging in acts of cultural insurgency. Wouldn't it be a delight if every copy of Once City, One Story contained the work of a different author, none of whom were "approved" by the institutional power of BBF!Long live cultural insurgency!
September 22, 2011
July 16, 2011
June 29, 2011
»SOUS LES PAVÉS« no. 4 is now live and includes my essay, "A Tale of Two Cultural Centers (Istanbul, November 2010)." I'm proud to be in there alongside the outstanding contributions of:
The Rejection Group
»SOUS LES PAVÉS« is a quarterly zine distributed by mailing list only & supported by the generous donations of its readers. If you receive/read this publication and find it of some value or interest, please consider donating some small funds to its continued effort to produce and distribute an unvarnished, politically efficacious magazine of poetry & ideation.
May 9, 2011
— Juan José Saer, from Nobody Nothing Never (Serpent’s Tail, 1993), translated by Helen Lane.
May 6, 2011
April 5, 2011
March 11, 2011
February 24, 2011
February 13, 2011
In frozen piles around his feet is the old snow, the kind that layers of exhaust have dirtied to the color of an ashtray. Every day now the edges are a little more melted – like the slow withdrawal of diseased grey gums – revealing a moraine of pebbles, cigarette butts, malt-liquor bottle caps, cellophane wrappers, and unidentifiable scunge. The scunge is patterned in a whorl, like animal feces, rotting bandages, or the puckered orifice of a corpse. A bone sticks up from the scunge-whorl, from someone’s chicken dinner or else a squirrel run down by a car back before the snow . . .
That's just an appetizer from my story, "The Earworm," in the new West Wind Review. For the main course, you'll have to buy the whole 240-page issue, which includes work by:
Chris Alexander, Shane Allison, Brian Ang, Joe Atkins, derek beaulieu, Steve Benson, Gregory Betts, Mark Boccard, Sommer Browning, Dereck Clemons, Bryan Coffelt, Shanna Compton, Alan Davies, Luke Degnan, Tiffany Denman, Buck Downs, Patrick Durgin, kevin mcpherson eckhoff, Micah Freeman, Kristen Gallagher, Drew Gardner, Angela Genusa, Nada Gordon, Plynn Gutman, Nadxieli Nieto Hall, Mike Hauser, Emily Hockaday, Janis Butler Holm, Paul Hoover, Uyen Hua, Jake Kennedy, Rodney Koeneke, David Lau, Emily Liebowitz, Jonathan Lohr, Travis Macdonald, Alana Madison, Adam J Maynard, Rebecca Mertz, Sharon Mesmer, Monica Mody, Adam Moorad, Rosiere Moseley, Christian Nagler, Chris Nealon, Jessea Perry, Adam Roberts, Steve Roggenbuck, Andrew Sage, Estee Schwartz, James Sherry, Josh Stanley, Erin Steinke, Christina Strong, Cole Tucker-Walton, Joshua Ware, Jeanine Webb, Elisabeth Workman, Timothy Yu, and Carolyn Zaikowski.