Interfictions goes online

interfictions1

Another new development for 2013 is that Interfictions, the anthology series that Delia Sherman launched first with co-editor Theodora Goss and then with me as co-editor of the second volume, will be moving into an online incarnation, including poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and hybrids forms.

Fiction editors are myself and Meghan McCarron.

Nonfiction and poetry editor is Sofia Samatar.

Submission guidelines and the submission portal can be found by clicking here. 

But here’s the skinny: We’ll be open for submissions in the month of February. Two issues will appear online annually, Spring and Fall. We’re paying 5 cents a word for fiction, 3 cents a word for nonfiction (preferably 9n the 2000-4000 word range) and poetry honorariums of 20 dollars per poem.

Interfictions was originally published in anthology format, and included work from writers like myself, Theodora Goss, Catherynne Valente, Jeffrey Ford, M. Rickert, Alan DeNiro, Vandana Singh, William Alexander, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Brian Slattery, and Lavie Tidhar.

interfictions2The second volume of Interfictions was an Amazon.com Best Book of the Year.

Send us your best work, your strangest work, your most uncategorizable work, to consider.

We’re in the midst of putting together a fantastic first issue that will release in spring of 2013. See you soon!

 

 

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Map for a Forgotten Valley and 631

Dear Locals (and those traveling nearby) who will be around Youngstown on February 15th.  I am giving a reading from my series of creative nonfiction vignettes called “Map for a Forgotten Valley”, along with a showing of Derek Jones’ short film “631”.  Here is a blurb of what the evening will look like.  Please click on the image to make it larger.

 

Please come, listen, watch, speak.

Also, the image of the feral house on this flyer was taken by Tony Romandetti, photographer extraordinaire. 😉

Reality Hunger

I’m reading David Shields’ new book, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto.  It’s a really engaging nonlinear, non narrative, at times lyrical essay, always structured by way of collage or mosaic, appropriating snippets of ideas from other writers, thinkers, poets, and philosophers and critics, arranging in a mash-up style, voices layered over one another without attribution (until the last pages of the book, by compulsion of Shields’ publisher), that approaches the American need–no, hunger–for reality at this point in our history, when it’s evident to most people how constructed our lives are, how posed and self-conscious, positioned, where the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction are fairly thin, and perhaps better for it, when we understand that traditional point A to point B narrative doesn’t suit our understanding or experience of the story of living any longer.  It’s a compelling read, and I wanted to blog about it here a little bit to perhaps start a conversation with anyone else who has read it or is reading it.

An excerpt from the NYT book review:

The flood of memoirs of the last couple of decades represents an uprising against such repression. So why have there been so many phony memoirs? Because of false consciousness, as Marxists would put it. Shields (echoing Alice Marshall) is disappointed in James Frey not because he lied in his book, but because when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show he didn’t say: “Everyone who writes about himself is a liar. I created a person meaner, funnier, more filled with life than I could ever be.” After all, just because the novel is food for worms doesn’t mean that fiction has ceased. Only an artificial dualism would treat every non-novel as if it were reportage or court testimony, and only a fear of the slipperiness of life could perpetuate the cult of the back story. “Anything processed by memory is fiction,” as is any memory shaped into literature.

But we continue to crave reality, because we live in a time dominated by innumerable forms of extraliterary fiction: politics, advertising, the lives of celebrities, the apparatus surrounding professional sports — you could say without exaggeration that everything on TV is fiction whether it is packaged as such or not. So what constitutes reality, then, as it affects culture? It can be as simple as a glitch, an interruption, a dropped beat, a foreign object that suddenly intrudes. Hence the potency of sampling in popular music, which forces open the space between the vocal and instrumental components. It is also a form of collage, which edits, alters and reapportions cultural commodities according to need or desire. Reality is a landscape that includes unreal features; being true to reality involves a certain amount of wavering between real and unreal. Likewise originality, if there can ever be any such thing, will inevitably entail a quantity of borrowing, conscious and otherwise. The paradoxes pile up as thick as the debris of history — unsurprisingly, since that debris is our reality.

You can read the whole review by clicking here.

I can’t wait to finish it, but had to stop in here to cast a bottle into the ether about it.  I’d say this is a book that really approaches the idea of interstitial culture, art, writing, experience.

When we are like Anne

“Despite everything, I believe people are good at heart.”

I’m so glad Anne Frank could believe this.  It’s a testament to her own goodness.  It is not a testament to human nature itself, though.  It tells us more about Anne than it does about ourselves.

I don’t believe it.  I don’t attribute my disbelief to my own goodness, but to what I have seen of humanity, including what was going on around Anne, after the fact, and would like to say, You know what?  People are still very eager to do away with other people who are not like them.

Anne, you are a beautiful star.

But people? In general?  They are not.

When we are exceptional, when we see those unlike us as ourselves, despite our differences, THEN we are as beautiful as Anne.

When we are unable to do that?  We are ugly, inhumane, and disturbing.

I speak about this in relationship to the writing of fiction.  Is it worthwhile to speak of that which is good about us?

It is.

But there is a stronger push against, a resistance, to writers who speak about our ugliness, that which is disgusting in human nature.  And the more we resist it, the more I wish to represent our ugliness.

It should not be forgotten.

It should be the thing about which we are most uncomfortable.

It should be the thing we talk about more than anything.

Until we have done away with it.

Then, let us speak of our goodness, as Anne would.  But when our goodness has been won, an earned virtue.

Okay, we can speak  of our goodness, which we would not want to lose.

But not at the expense of acknowledging that which comprises our darkness.

Otherwise, we are living within an ideal, what we would like to think about ourselves, not about reality.

And even when we write fantasy, we should be speaking to reality.  The reality of the story.

Otherwise, we are making ourselves feel good about ourselves without reason.

Earn it.

That’s all.

Earn it.

A repeal

I hereby repeal my obviously premature congratulations to the state of Maine, which I gave out all too naively this past May.

Now, instead, I’d like to say good luck to those Mainers who want a better, inclusive, love-supporting culture in which to exist for their and their children’s futures.

I feel sorry for everyone, even for those who voted in the spirit of exclusion and inequality.  I really do think they don’t understand what they are missing.  They see their decisions as a protection and defense, but all they are defending are walls that separate people, rather than unify.  When they’re able to coexist in a mature manner with people who are unlike them, perhaps then Maine will be ready to be a better place, and a better people as a whole.

It’s not really Maine specifically, though, and I’m disturbed by all of the Twitterers and Facebookers and other online social groupers who are taking their disappointment and disgust out on Maine alone.  This is really how the majority of the United States still feels on the subject.

There is still a lot of work to be done.  And even if all of the U.S. acknowledged the rights of gay people to marry, there would still be problems with the culture’s general destructive nature towards LGBT people.  After all, look at what’s occurring in Merry Olde England, where gay marriage is legal.

Changing the law is one thing.  Changing a culture is another.  Of course changing the law is the beginning of something.  But it’s the first step on a long road to come.

Running in the shadows

An article from the NYT on the rise of teenaged runaways over the past few years, as the economy has worsened. It’s sad and, for me, recognizable.  One of the things I encountered every now and then when I was going around reading from my first novel, One for Sorrow, after its release a couple of years ago, was the occasional reader who would come up to me afterward to say how much they liked the book but found something about the running away that the narrator, a fifteen year old from rustbelt Ohio, slightly fantastical.  I would laugh because it has ghosts in the book, but it was the very real event of running away that felt at a remove for these rare but present readers.  For me, it was something I’d seen over the years in and around this region of Ohio, as the loss of industry grew to a devastating level, and families no longer able to support themselves sometimes began to implode under economic pressure.  Kids ran away from trouble that brewed at home in those conditions.  Here it is, a bit more evident, apparently trending as more places feel the pinch.  It’s sad stuff, but it’s good to see it being recognized for what it is here.

Outrage

Author Nicola Griffith has blogged a call to action, which you can find here, in regards to a woman dying in the hospital whose same sex partner and children were not allowed by law to see her or receive any updates on her condition.  The hospital was later sued and the state awarded the hospital the win.  Complete insanity, complete and utter discrimination, all made somehow legal.  A woman died alone without the ability to see her loved ones, her children, because she was a lesbian.  That’s it, that’s all.

As another writer, Jeffrey Ford, states in his blog, “I’m sure many of those enforcing this law think themselves “good Christians,” but that’s the problem with too many Christians these days — they know all the dogma but forget about Christ’s most important message — Compassion.  There were also those involved, no doubt, who let the stupid Law grind itself out because they couldn’t think through to the point of how heinous it is.  I didn’t see anything about this case on the news — just endless stories about the publicity stunt with the kid in the UFO.  Sometimes I just get disgusted with America.  The open and government sanctioned persecution of gays in our culture shows us at our absolute worst.  Here we are in the 21st century and this situation, instead of getting better, is a Civil Rights crisis.”

Go read Nicola’s blog first, then blog about this crime yourself.  Yes, that’s what it is:  a criminal act justified as legal by an unfair, discriminatory legal system.

We’re getting ready

If you’ve managed to forget that the second volume of Interfictions is being released later this fall, I certainly haven’t.  We’re getting ready to start posting our Annex stories online, as we lead up to the publication date of the book itself, but today, over at the Interstitial Arts Foundation’s website, you can already take a look at the introduction to the book, written by Henry Jenkins, the Provost’s Professor of Communications, Journalism, and Cinematic Art at the University of Southern California.  Previously, and very recently, he served at the co-founder of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT.  Henry’s written a really great intro to the book, which I will excerpt here:

“Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”

– Groucho Marx

Let’s start with some basic premises:

  1. I do not belong in this book.
  2. The contributors also do not belong.
  3. You, like Groucho Marx, wouldn’t want to belong even if you could. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have picked up this book in the first place.

Let me explain. The editors of most anthologies seek stories which “fit” within prescribed themes, genres, and topics; the editors of this book have gone the opposite direction – seeking stories that don’t fit anywhere else, stories that are as different from each other as possible. And that’s really cool if the interstitial is the kind of thing you are into.

At the heart of the interstitial arts movement (too formal), community (too exclusive), idea (too idealistic?), there is the simple search for stories that don’t rest comfortably in the cubbyholes we traditionally use to organize our cultural experiences.”

Why not go over to the website to read the rest of it, and see if you don’t belong either?

A small taste of America in decline

An interactive segmented video about my home region’s loss of industry over the past thirty years, and how it may now lose its very last major manufacturer in GM.  It’s very well made, though a sad reality, and one that is now in the new century becoming the reality of more and more communities in America.  If you want to know what loss of economic foundations look like, watch this small portrait.  There are other documentaries I’ve watched that give bigger pictures, but this is a small taste of America in decline.

To watch it, click here.