Books

The Weather in Normal

Carrie Etter

The fourth poetry collection by Carrie Etter focuses on her hometown of Normal, Illinois, in the American Midwest.  The Weather in Normal is not a set of straightforward memories but a slowly shifting entity, like a moving storm ….

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Carrie Etter

Carrie Etter’s fourth poetry collection focuses on her hometown of Normal, Illinois, in the American Midwest. The Weather in Normal is not a set of straightforward memories but a slowly shifting entity, like a moving storm. The book opens with ‘Night Ode’, a poem set on a single street at night, the protagonist walking and feeling the oppressive summer heat, the humming of cicadas and the various ages she has walked the same road: “sixteen, nineteen, twenty-four, thirty-seven…”. This introduces us to the main themes of memory and recollection, of mature reflections on youthful experiences, of multiple, shifting perspectives.

The first of the book’s three arcs explores the family’s relationship to the weather and place, from the father’s obsession with the weather, to the brutal effects of the winters on the family, resulting in broken bones, the recognition of poverty, and the father’s paralysis. Yet the relationship to place also includes its appreciation. Etter offers us a vivid impression of the American prairie with its cornfields extending to the horizon. She muses on the various meanings of ‘Prairie’ and understands a landscape can haunt the imagination the way the past haunts the present.

The second arc explores the effect of the loss of the family home in the long poem ‘Afterlife.’ The house is a place of memory and of dream, an upbringing in a house crowded with sisters and then with her sisters’ children: “once three sat atop/ the upright piano/ playing the keys/ with their feet”. What is it to return, in imagination, to the house in which her father died? Can one ultimately relinquish one’s childhood home to its new owners?

The book’s final arc concerns the effects of climate change in Illinois, in part through the long poem, ‘Scar’, chronicling these effects—the greater occurrence of extreme weather, the loss of species, etc.–as well as human responsibility for them. Just as The Weather in Normal begin with music in ‘Night Ode’, so it ends with ‘And Now for a Kind of Song,’ a eulogistic poem relishing the poet’s relationship to Illinois.

ADVANCE PRAISE

“Taking the temperature of memory, Etter’s deeply moving fourth collection maps family and personal history against the iconography of the seasons and the planetary slide into climate disaster. Etter’s richly inventive phrasing keeps this compelling range of concerns vividly opening up with immediacy, urgency, and sensitivity. Her connection of the global with the familial reminds us to “take it personally,” while implicitly arguing for the intimacy of our relations with the world at every level.”

Cole Swensen

Philip Gross: “One of the particular gifts of poetry is here in force: the power of a few words to create great spaces. The spaces of a prairie landscape round a small town or between present and past, between people in a family or between words on the page, these are not emptiness but tingling with resonance, with the poems’ fine attention. Touched and unsettled, we slip seamlessly between the intimate detail of loss and the vast perspective in which even the prairies are dwarfed by the scale of climate change.”

Philip Gross


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Themes & Variations

America’s foremost experimental composer, John Cage, performs a radical representation of the one hundred and ten key ideas that occur in his writing of the past four decades, building “mesostics” on the name of 15 of those who influenced him…

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John Cage

America’s foremost experimental composer, John Cage, performs a radical representation of the one hundred and ten key ideas that occur in his writing of the past four decades, building “mesostics” on the name of 15 of those who influenced him. The result is a startling recreation of his own intellectual and spiritual journey in a wholly new work with all the freshness and power of true poetic discovery. Themes & Variations stands beside Silence,A Year from Monday and M, and “belongs in all libraries which own his earlier writings …” – Library Journal


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Thomas the Obscure

Before Sartre, before Beckett, before Robbe-Grillet, Maurice Blanchot created the “new novel, ” the ultimate post-modern fiction…
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Maurice Blanchot and Robert Lamberton (Translator)

Before Sartre, before Beckett, before Robbe-Grillet, Maurice Blanchot created the “new novel, ” the ultimate post-modern fiction. Written between 1932 and 1940, Blanchot’s first novel, here brilliantly translated by Robert Lamberton, contains all the remarkable aspects of his famous and perplexing invention, “the ontological narrative”—a tale whose subject is the nature of being itself. This paradoxical work discovers being in the absence of being, mystery in the absence of mystery, both to be searched for limitlessly. As Blanchot launches this endless search in his own masterful way, he transforms the possibilities of the novel. First issued in English in 1973 in a limited edition, this re-issue includes an illuminating essay on translation by Lamberton.


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Three New York Poets: Charles North Tony Towle Paul Violi

Edited with essays on the writers by Andrew McCarron

What is the shape of a life dedicated to poetry—and how, and from where, does such a dedication take hold? Moreover is that foundation a matter of decision, necessity and/or “grace”—or all three to degrees—and what are its costs? Combined with a selection of poems from these three distinguished poets, who together form a core of the Second Generation of New York School poets, Andrew McCarron pursues these questions, and more, through a series of biographical essays addressing each poet’s life story and psychological complexion…

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Edited with essays on the writers by Andrew McCarron

What is the shape of a life dedicated to poetry—and how, and from where, does such a dedication take hold? Moreover is that foundation a matter of decision, necessity and/or “grace”—or all three to degrees—and what are its costs? Combined with a selection of poems from these three distinguished poets, who together form a core of the Second Generation of New York School poets, Andrew McCarron pursues these questions, and more, through a series of biographical essays addressing each poet’s life story and psychological complexion—and what critical insights such gleanings might lead. The poetry alone of North, Towle and Violi—exact in its execution and wide in its—is of enduring value and utility; juxtaposed with and in part seen through McCarron’s exegeses, these qualities assume a poignancy that seems to lead us further into an examination of our human fate and of what it’s all about: or as Towle writes, “in between the great saga of America, / lying like a lost nickel in New York’s platonic gutter.” As long as interest in the New York School holds—and in fact continues to grow—Three New York Poets will remain an essential guide.


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Thunder’s Grace

Abandoned by her mother when she was three years old, Mary Elizabeth Thunder survived abuse, a broken marriage, and a heart attack to become one of the most highly esteemed leaders in the Native American movement -healer, visionary, teacher, and chosen successor in a native tradition…
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Mary Elizabeth Thunder

Abandoned by her mother when she was three years old, Mary Elizabeth Thunder survived abuse, a broken marriage, and a heart attack to become one of the most highly esteemed leaders in the Native American movement -healer, visionary, teacher, and chosen successor in a native tradition. Her story is also the true tale of a remarkable elder, Grandma Grace Spotted Eagle, who adopted her and guided her to spiritual awakening as a messenger. At once harrowing and uplifting, this memoir takes us from her early life and experiences with the legendary elders Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Wallace Black Elk, and Rolling Thunder, through a near-death experience that utterly transformed her, to nine remarkable years spent traveling America by van, culminating in her inclusion in the Sun Dance, one of the world’s oldest and most venerable initiation ceremonies. Intimate, painfully honest, essentially and overwhelmingly spiritual, this is a book about a woman’s quest for meaning amid two cultures and a compelling account of the visionary underpinnings of Native American life.


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Tokyoatoto

Sam Truitt

Tokyoatoto is made of and from a hand-written book composed by the poet Sam Truitt in the course of a 2019 Tokyo sojourn. The writing includes, among other elements, descriptions, impressions, insights into Japanese life and culture and the concrete exigencies of negotiating a foreign land….

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Sam Truitt

Tokyoatoto is made of and from a hand-written book composed by the poet Sam Truitt in the course of a 2019 Tokyo sojourn. The writing includes, among other elements, descriptions, impressions, insights into Japanese life and culture and the concrete exigencies of negotiating a foreign land. This last aspect is somewhat complicated by the fact Truitt lived in Tokyo for four years from the age of three and that Japanese was very close to his first language. Moreover the culture of Japan was also close to his first, so that this influence acts as a palimpsest backfield to the writing as the author both seeks and betimes touches traces of its influence. Tokyoatoto‘s structure is unique in that Truitt seeks to foreground that movement toward originality by reproducing in facsimile the pages of the hand-written book, with their transcriptions appearing on opposite pages. An engaging, thoughtful and sometimes profound glimpse into contemporary life in Tokyo from a perspective of complicated naivety, Tokyoatoto is a fast, entertaining poetic flight full of pratfalls, missed connections, slips and surrenders in which, as the author writes on a Tokyo subway passage, “one senses a web each of us hold together & against & around us like a net knit of civility not docility as there are some faraway landscapes in our mind & in our heart & our bodies are dreaming all of them uniting to listen to the underground hum its magic.”


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Totems

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Stanley Diamond

“Writing a poem is like trying to describe a totemic column which passes right through and beyond the world. We see it, but its existence is elsewhere,” writes Stanley Diamond.


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Touched by the Goddess

Deane Juhan

The author of the indispensable bodywork classic Job’s Body offers a fresh look at the physically, emotionally and socially transformative powers of touch…

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Deane Juhan

The author of the indispensable bodywork classic Job’s Body offers a fresh look at the physically, emotionally and socially transformative powers of touch. Backed up by extensive research as well as long hands-on bodywork experience, this collection of fourteen essays (many originally written for Massage Magazine) takes on not only difficult and critical issues facing therapeutic touch, but also its potential to create positive change in all our lives.


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Tristia

Osip Mandelstam

Tristia is the book that firmly established Mandelstam as a major Russian poet…

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Osip Mandelstam

Tristia is the book that firmly established Mandelstam as a major Russian poet. This first complete and bilingual edition reproduces the original Petrograd text of 1922. Tristia, his second book, marks the beginning of the poet’s maturity and the culmination of his involvement with the innovative group, the Acmeists. As translator Bruce McClelland writes in the Preface: “The poems of Tristia comprise the acme of Acmeism, which in turn became a literary philosophy whose concerns resonate with many issues in contemporary poetic discourse.” For while Mandelstam lived comfortably with “the strictness of self-imposed forms,” at the same time he certainly did not simply “adjust” to reality. Rather he invested poetry with such a high degree of substantiality that for him (and for us) it was capable of penetrating reality—breaking the glass of illusion in a way that all the theosophical incantations of the Symbolists never could. Because the Acmeists (like the American Imagists) broke with exhausted conventions and vague mysticism, Mandelstam is sometimes mistaken for a chilly realist. On the contrary, like several generations of American poets he sought to rescue the visionary in the actual, through a poetics of immediacy and the renewal of language itself. McClelland’s translations aim to show us a way into this less appreciated dimension of Mandelstam and the urge for a new poetics.



Twelve Drawings

Charles Stein

In 2015, Charles Stein started drawing in a particular way, the result of which, a few years on, is a continuum of hand-drawn works on paper. Though worked out with considerable deliberation regarding overall structure, the final images are emerging forms…

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Charles Stein

In 2015, Charles Stein started drawing in a particular way, the result of which, a few years on, is a continuum of hand-drawn works on paper. Though worked out with considerable deliberation regarding overall structure, the final images are emerging forms—arise in the concrete process of drawing itself—rather than the programmed achievements of that deliberation. The way they’re to be experienced, according to Stein, is similarly emergent, or as he says: “They are offered for extended perusal, for they will not yield their secrets on a single glance but, perhaps, solicit … retinal sensation, cortical processing, conceptual reflection, ineffable integration.”

Twelve Drawings is a fine, 10.75 x 15-inch, limited edition of 350 copies, of which 150 are unsigned ($75) and 200 are signed and numbered ($150). To buy this book, contact publishers@stationhill.org


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Unavowable Community, The

The Unavowable Community is an inquiry into the nature and possibility of community, asking whether there can be a community of individuals that is truly “communal”…

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Maurice Blanchot

The Unavowable Community is an inquiry into the nature and possibility of community, asking whether there can be a community of individuals that is truly “communal.” The problem, for Blanchot, is that the very terms of an ideal community make an “avowal” of membership in it a violation of the terms themselves. This meditation ranges from the problematic effects of a defect in language to actual historical experiments in community. The latter involves the life and work of George Bataille whose concerns (e.g. “the negative community”) occupy the foreground of Blanchot’s discussion. Taking as his point of departure an essay by French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, Blanchot appears once again as one of the most attentive readers of what is truly challenging in French thought. His deep interest in the fiction of Marguerite Duras extends this inquiry to include “The Community of Lovers,” emerging from certain themes in Duras’ recit, The Malady of Death. As Blanchot’s first direct treatment of a subject that has long figured in or behind his work, this small but highly concentrated book stands as an important addition to his own contribution to literary, philosophical, social, and political thought, figuring as it does at the center of the emerging concern for a redefinition of politics and community. Readers of Blanchot know not to expect answers to the great questions that move his thought – rather, to live with the questions at the new level to which they have been raised in his discourse.


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Uncertainties

Robert Kelly

Fall 2011

Call and response.  The breathing body of poetry from the beginning. The psalms of David, the wave of them, rise and fall of plainchant, verse and response…

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Robert Kelly

Call and response. The breathing body of poetry from the beginning. The psalms of David, the wave of them, rise and fall of plainchant, verse and response. The constantly shifting pause between the half-lines of Old English poetry and the poems of the Edda, the half-lines of the Kalevala swayed out four-handed on the saga bench. So I thought towards the two-line stanza as experiments in duration, in complex syntactic and melodic demands. The melody of the first line necessitates the melody of the next. Shape shaping shape. Formally, the poem engages with one constraint: each line wants to be semantically intact—ideally, any line could stand alone, be my Last Words, my epitaph. Yet it also must link syntactically or narratively with the line that follows. And each stanza must stand in like relation with the stanzas before and after. This requirement extends to line structure something that I’ve worked with for years (usually furtively): hypersyntax, where phrases link with what comes before or after, or plausibly stand alone. Uncertainties tries to use these strategies in “mental strife,” to solicit the dissolving of certainties—in between the inbreath and the outbreath, where nothing is fixed, and freedom begins.


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Uncommon Grammar (Cloth)

This series of experimental poems—written in continuous prose-like paragraphs but with the rhythmic attentiveness of the finest verse – allows the ever-shifting present to emerge like various threads of a fabric in the making…

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Cheryl Pallant

This series of experimental poems—written in continuous prose-like paragraphs but with the rhythmic attentiveness of the finest verse – allows the ever-shifting present to emerge like various threads of a fabric in the making. Economic, political, and poetic subjects weave through the text, delivering meanings on one page that are unraveled on the next. Familiar word patterns transmute suddenly with an associative leap or syntactic twist or a play on sound, enacting the sense of the body in motion, the self seeking the other, or catching glimpses of the divine.

Uncommon Grammar Cloth stretches the imaginings & musings of the unsuspecting reader. Refreshing in its unpredictability, its fascinating “moves,” Cheryl Pallant’s book is a strong debut on the post-post-modern stage.” – Anne Waldman

“Cheryl Pallant’s first book is written in continuous, prose-like “paragraphs” but with the rhythmic attentiveness of the finest verse. “Reality is unfinished business,” wrote poet Charles Olson, and these poems seem to say it is the Poet’s business to make sure – in spite of all temptations to bring meaning to closure – that it stays that way!” – Charles Stein

“Weaving words with rare energy and skill, Cheryl Pallant’s Uncommon Grammar Cloth joins the increasing number of contemporary cross-genre works that return writing to “writing” in ways both old and new, reviving the tradition harking back to Sterne and Stein, refusing to be boxed in as either “poetry” or “prose”: “extreme of stratospheric glee,” “thanks and welcome and arrivederci and Pontiac and rutabaga” – yes, right, and Onward! – Anselm Hollo


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Untam’d Wing

Jeffrey C. Robinson

The jazz term “riff” is short for “riffle”—“make rough.” In Untam’d Wing: Riffs on Romantic Poetry, scholar/poet Jeffrey Robinson sets out much like a jazz musician to renew a great body of work (say, Miles Davis on George Gershwin)—“to recast,” as he says in the Prefatory Note, “what have become monuments, with all the inertness of passive appreciation that monumentality encourages, into living forms”…

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Jeffrey C. Robinson

The jazz term “riff” is short for “riffle”—“make rough.” In Untam’d Wing: Riffs on Romantic Poetry, scholar/poet Jeffrey Robinson sets out much like a jazz musician to renew a great body of work (say, Miles Davis on George Gershwin)—“to recast,” as he says in the Prefatory Note, “what have become monuments, with all the inertness of passive appreciation that monumentality encourages, into living forms.” If he “roughs up” some of our long-time favorites, it’s not to revise, and certainly not to improve, but on the contrary to reveal a timeless dimension that is of the very nature of the Romantic: “I would define a ‘romantic’ poem, of whatever vintage, as one that invites its own renewal in every present.” With all the boldness and subtle care of the poets he celebrates, Robinson stakes his “life-long involvement as reader, teacher, and scholar/critic of Romantic poetry” on an equally committed “absorption and belief in the discoveries of modern and contemporary experimental poetry.” Like a true marriage it lays bare both parties.

“Untam’d Wing is a heady conglomeration of poetic intensities and re-visionings, of the Romantic mother lode. Only a poet deeply embedded in and enthralled by this realm could take wild liberties and shape them into a contemporary volume of such curious and inventive range. Jeffrey Robinson is a scholar and has lived inside the Romantic body for decades, and precisely because of this his imagination is highly attuned to further Romantic nuance…. He sheds bright light on meaning and message. He is the scientist/artist finally breaking free of shackles.”
—Anne Waldman, from the foreword


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Useful Knowledge

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Gertrude Stein

Useful Knowledge is pleasant and therefore it is very much to be enjoyed,” writes Gertrude Stein in her “Advertisement for this Book”—an apt characterization of the experience of reading it sixty years after its disappearance from print. Despite her long expatriation, she “always remained” in her words, “firmly born in Allegheny Pennsylvania.” Indeed, physical detachment from her homeland seems only to have deepened her love for the country, a passion very nearly erotic, that blossomed in this private remembrance that is both tender and humorous. War, Woodrow Wilson, Chicago, Sherwood Anderson – such is the range of her intimate concerns. As for the significant questions to which her writings respond: “Wherein Iowa differs from Kansas and Indiana” and “Wherein the South differs from the North,” useful knowledge indeed, when the thought is opened along with the word in these extraordinary prose inventions. Keith Waldrop’s introduction furnishes new insight into the process and development of Stein’s infamous style as always more intricately evolving than is recognized. And Edward Burns provides “useful knowledge about Useful Knowledge,” the kind of information about Stein’s text that we rarely find when we most want it.


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Vampires

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VAS

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Vicious Circles

“These early parables of Maurice Blanchot provide a rewarding introduction to a modern master…”

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“These early parables of Maurice Blanchot provide a rewarding introduction to a modern master; they also illuminate with hallucinatory intensity certain consequences of the hopeless and irresistible human longing to communicate through language. The world is still haunted by the ghosts of unspoken and unspeakable words emanating from the deaths here recounted almost fifty years ago.” -Harry Mathews


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Vienna Group, The

Following World War II, writers and poets in Austria sought to distance themselves from the German influence and to rescue their language from the continuing abuses by the Austrian establishment…

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Following World War II, writers and poets in Austria sought to distance themselves from the German influence and to rescue their language from the continuing abuses by the Austrian establishment. The established order, which had embraced collaboration with the Nazis, remained provincial and hostile to any experimentation. The Vienna Group (Friederike Mayr6cker, Friedrich Achleitner, Konrad Bayer, Ernst Jandl, H.C. Artmann and Gerhard Rahm), a group of friends, mining other earlier outside movements -Expressionism, Dadaism, and Surrealism -sought to make art which threatened the established order. In this, they succeeded. The stance adopted from the beginning is best summarized by the introduction to the group’s initial manifesto by H.C. Artmann – “There is only one inalienable principle, namely that anyone can be a poet without ever having written or uttered a single word.” It was a poetic logic which allowed for the use of dialect poems in much the same way as sound poems; visual poems; alternatives to sentences; lists and everyday information; continuing experimentation In not only form but in the nature of content. What better way to recover one’s language than to charge it, to make it resonate, to enhance it and finally cause It to evolve. This first English anthology, The Vienna Group, edited and translated by Rosmarie Waldrop and Harriet Watts, contains a generous selection from each of the above poets, showing not only the variety but the intrinsic humor and sense of play which has made this movement’s contributions all the more accessible. Their work anticipated not only the present concerns with the nature of language and syntax, it also provided the roots for the more widely revered work of fellow Austrians, Thomas Bernhard and Peter Handke. It is an essential and highly recommended addition to all collections.


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Viewer

Haunting and strangely provocative new installations by artist Gary Hill, celebrated worldwide in major museums and galleries, are introduced through a highly readable essay by two of the artist’s long-time poet/artist collaborators…

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George Quasha and Charles Stein

Haunting and strangely provocative new installations by artist Gary Hill, celebrated worldwide in major museums and galleries, are introduced through a highly readable essay by two of the artist’s long-time poet/artist collaborators. In a sort of “lineup,” seventeen day-workers, full-size, stare at you from the wall, eerily present by the magic of video-projection (Viewer). A solitary Native American stares you in the eyes, while he stares at himself from an adjacent wall—then the projections switch position: the watcher becomes the watched and the watched becomes the watcher (Standing Apart). This third in an ongoing series of the Quasha & Stein dialogue on Gary Hill is beautifully illustrated in full color to give a living sense of the actual installations.


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Violence & Defiance

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Herbert Lust

An unusual novel form is created by the use of an actual crisis inside and around the author’s life as subplot to the fiction. The time span in the fiction is meshed to a contiguous time span of autobiographical time by a voice situated in the curious ethics of “gut time.” A powerful conceptual framework grounded in dark, personal despair, the startling first novel forgoes a new language. Lust bends syntax to follow the emotions that range from the simple to the impenetrable. In this process, pronouns, prepositions, and adverbs are altered – as illustrated by the absence of the suffixial adverb and the preposition “of” in the narrative prose. Despite its innovations Violence and Defiance, through its electrifying story, can be read like a conventional novel.


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What the President Will Say and Do!!

Madeline Gins

What the President Will Say and Do!! is a book about Power and Being, and the languages integral to both. The ostensible subject of Gins’ formidable wit is “The Presidency” and “The Man” who gives it voice…

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Madeline Gins

WHAT THE PRESIDENT WILL SAY AND DO!! is a book about Power and Being, and the languages integral to both. The ostensible subject of Gins’ formidable wit is “The Presidency” and “The Man” who gives it voice. But her virtuosic deconstruction of the devices of political rhetoric suggests a deeper purpose: one related to identity, language, and the value of meaning. Through such pieces as “THE History of THE” and “How to Breathe” Gins sculpts a multidimensional discourse and proposes a model strategy for free, effective speech. Utopia, the author implies, depends on a practical, uncoerced poetics. “Thank god for thinking…. I love the rationally incisive instructions, I always feel like I’m getting somewhere…. It’s excellent. Great cases homiletically packaged for the pro and con alike. Syntax and so-called expectations (Great!)….”–Robert Creeley.


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When the Time Comes

WHEN THE TIME COMES ostensibly chronicles the troubled relations between the narrator – a very ill man – and the two women whose lives he invades…

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Maurice Blanchot

WHEN THE TIME COMES ostensibly chronicles the troubled relations between the narrator – a very ill man – and the two women whose lives he invades. As in all of Blanchot’s intensely subjective fiction, the true subject of the work is the narrator’s consciousness and the process by which his tale emerges through its telling. Powerfully affected by the slightest of events, the narrator responds with a violence that, most disturbingly, appears inevitable.


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