August 17, 2010

Don't Try This at Home, Kids!

an editor at Arcus Publishing prepares to appraise a work of metafiction

Comedy gold from the Submissions page at "Arcus Publishing":

FICTION: We will publish in our literary magazine works of prose up to 9000 words in length, but be sure to go light on the pretentiousness. We like stories that keep us interested, are well-constructed, have sympathetic characters, and avoid needless experimentation. An experimental work will be considered, but very carefully.

Maybe when these editors advance from the larva to the pupa stage, they can become interns at The New Yorker and write the “Briefly Noted” book reviews, like this one:

The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris

by Leïla Marouane, translated from the French by Alison Anderson (Europa; $15)

To disguise his Algerian heritage and land a job at a French bank, the narrator of this tragicomic novel has whitened his skin, straightened his hair, and legally changed his name—in short, declared “an ethnic war against himself.” Once a devout Muslim, he is now bent on losing his virginity at the belated age of forty. To that end, he abandons the home he shares with his mother in a project on the fringes of Paris and acquires a Left Bank bachelor pad. Bathos follows, in a series of hilariously inconclusive sexual encounters. Less compelling are the postmodern high jinks, as the hero starts to fear that a female writer—a stand-in for the author—is turning him into a character in a novel.

I happened to read Marouane’s novel and found it delightful. The metafictional elements are integral to the narrative and not frippery at all; to dismiss them as such is utterly to miss the book’s point. Which means that this particular pupa has a bright future ahead of it, and might one day blossom into an organism such as Jiminy Critic.

August 4, 2010

New Fiction at > kill author

The new issue of > kill author is out, this one dedicated to Vladimir Nabokov, who died of a viral infection in 1978 (and rolled over in his grave when The Original of Laura was published in 2009). It features new work by Andrew Roe, Cameron Pierce, Cezarija Abartis, Cheyenne Nimes, Daniel Carter, Daniel Romo, David Backer, David Laskowski, Elaine Chiew, Frank Hinton, Gregory Sherl, Jack Boettcher, Jennifer Spiegel, Jessica Newman, Lauren Becker, Matt Mullins, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Mitch James, Rae Bryant, Raymond Farr, R.L. Swihart, Ryder Collins, Sheldon Lee Compton, and Thomas Bunstead. Oh and a little piece by me called "A Paper Moon," one of my recent experiments with incorporating appropriated text.

August 1, 2010

Rubber Chickens

Controlled atmosphere killing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Controlled atmosphere killing (CAK) is a method for slaughtering animals such as chickens by placing the animals in a container in which the

atmosphere lacks oxygen and consists of one or more of argon, nitrogen or carbon dioxide, causing the animals to lose consciousness. Argon and

nitrogen are important components of a painless gassing process which seem to cause no pain, and for this reason many consider it more humane

than other methods of killing.

Portable units are available. Controlled atmosphere stunning has been used both within processing plants and on-farm for euthanizing poultry. One

portable unit type that costs US$2,500 can be pushed down the aisles of a barn, with 200–250 hens per load being placed inside a CO2 enriched

chamber. Hens are unconscious within 20 seconds of being in the chamber.