July 2018 Update

Arborvitae and Japanese maple stretching to touch across the backyard.

After waking up to a mixed bag of animal behavior, I read the following as part of my first email of the day, from one of the organizing forces behind the anthology A Short Affair, which includes my story “Heart’s Last Pass”:

[We] held our first public ticketed event in support of the anthology last  week at leading contemporary gallery Hauser and Wirth in their Somerset site with a live reading of Heart’s Last Pass by acclaimed British actor, Russell Tovey. The event was held against the backdrop of a landmark exhibition of works by Alexander Calder and the response was really fantastic. We will be publishing a podcast of the reading shortly, which I will be sure to share with you!

Maybe not so surprisingly, the part of this that got me most excited was the idea of my story being shared amidst a bower of Calder’s mobiles slowly turning in the breath of the room. But also: British people hearing and enjoying my work! My grim view of life in America might not be universally pleasing in this particular hemisphere, but at least I can count more and more on an international audience’s appreciation of our particular national brand of prevailing violence and systemic marginalization.

Because our world right now is so blatantly a cartoon hell, I could easily go on ad nauseum off that last riff, but I want to put off the belly-sick of the world for least a few more hours this morning. So here instead is an instant photo of the dim home-space wherein I am working this morning:

The perpetual shadowscape of the interior.

Between preparing for the ever-encroaching move to our new house and having to evacuate the premises every time our current (final!) landlord wants to show our current (final!) rental home to a prospective buyer, I have been pretty delinquent in sharing most of my recent professional goings on. With that as your warning, prepare for a list of way-too-much, all of which happens to be contained variously in one family.

With so much of my life right now centering around houses and homes, it seems only appropriate that a story about a scattered family and rogue-cows-as-home-invaders should be published now. The kind and too-generous folks at The Forge recently published my story “Mascara,” along with a brief conversation between myself and the magazine’s founding editor, John Haggerty, about how such an unlikely and fragmented story came into existence. This story is also a part of In the Mines, a collaborative project with the musician and documentarian Scott Sell (more about this below).

In an ongoing exploration of the bold absurdity of American innovation, Alexis Iammarino—a long-time friend who I had the pleasure of interviewing for The Chart several years ago and who is, incidentally, Scott’s wife—has recently released an anthology of work originally collected and presented in 2016 for the multi-venue exhibition Hole History: Origins of the American-style Donut. The book of the self-same title includes some staggering work from around the globe, including original (gross) drawings by an illustrator of The Simpsons, an infinite-regression-as-sculptural-donut by my legal fake-wife Genevieve Johnson (pictured below, sans donut), and “The Binding Stitch,” a short story I wrote about the audacity of claiming ownership and, consequently, power. The book is gorgeous and wonderfully strange, and was physically manifest by the giant floating brain at Pilot Editions (who is also responsible for most of my book projects existing in the world.

The salad harvest of the fake-wife.

And as further evidence of my permanent symbiosis with Pilot Editions: this coming August will see the release of the multi-disciplinary musical/literary project In the Mines, assembled and produced in collaboration with Scott Sell and Patrick Kiley at Pilot Editions. The complete unit will include eleven original songs (written by Scott and recorded/produced in my living room this past January) and eleven short stories, all of which will be woven together by Richard Iammarino’s uncanny silver-pen drawings. With so many individual styles and tastes involved, In the Mine somehow defies expectations and is, in my view,  the most cohesive book project I’ve been yet involved with. I am exceedingly eager to share this with you.

Japanese maple, extending into nothing.

As I leave you with these too many things to mull over, I would once again like to thank you for reading, for sharing, and for your constant reminder as to why I spend so much of each day struggling to translate my heart and my head into language that resonates and makes sense. If you are a current Patreon subscriber, thank you for keeping me accountable to this life I (and now we) have chosen for myself. If you are not a current Patreon subscriber, please feel free and, in fact, encouraged, to join in the fun of passively whipping this mule into motion by becoming a member today. And if your view of the future looks as dire as reason dictates, thus rendering any kind of subscription unfit to warrant consideration, perhaps contemplate making a one-time donation and getting the equivalent rewards (handmade things, small-run booklets, etc.) for one month.

You are the mentholated Lidocaine to my unfortunate rash.

Portrait of the author as a Russian of antiquity.