Monday, August 22, 2011

i am a house

After much crybabying-around I changed my password for the BPL and went a-holds-placing. This weekend I was rewarded with two books instantly on the hold shelves for me, proving yet again that I am either a resourceful lady sleuth or simply so out of step that I get what I want when I want it. (A good strategy for the urban brunette with many needs).

I walked and walked this weekend with Lynne Tillman's new collection Someday This Will Be Funny. The first story that I opened to, “The Way We Are,” is exactly the thing, my coping and not coping and living. It is also a story about going to the movies in another country. I am dipping in and out of the book, rationing it while I cook foods and clean corners and plan. To distract myself, I ran to the aforementioned shelves and got Haunted Houses by Tillman (1987) and seemingly the only freely had, non-library-use-only, non-The Hearing Trumpet copy of Leonora Carrington's fiction in English in NYC—The House of Fear. I took one of the houses, the haunted one, with me on the train and almost missed my stop because, really, who wants to get off in Midtown when you've got a good book and a seat and possibilities?

I am trying to write fiction, I am writing fiction, really for the first time these days. Since I've returned from Vermont I feel excited about trying new stuff, about failing and failing and finishing thoughts. It is distracting and fun and awful. When I feel like talking I talk too much and when I don't will stare at you all spooky. Don't worry, don't worry, don't worry, my mind is elsewhere.

Friday, August 19, 2011

good things with friends

& Amy Household Shearn finds a reason to continue the Internet. Including a beautiful song, a baby and the fickleness of the music industry.

& Darryl Ayo is nominated for an Ignatz! For Promising New Talent, ten years in! Comics!

& Amanda Well-Tailored Miller boils up some summer and finds the nasty bits.

Image from the NYPL Digital gallery, Image ID: 1221632

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Recent accomplishments

1) Successful pie tasting night. Ate many pie pieces in low light, didn't become ill, and had a wonderful hour with SEC.

2) "Today only" comics bin at Housing Works netted a copy of Bitchy Bitch 13 and Duplex Planet Illustrated 9 for 54 cents. Then I read them on the couch, under the fan.

3) Initiated an interview for try harder. I think it is going to be grand.

4) Did not read Someday This Will Be Funny and The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse in one sitting.

5) Gave a young Rolling Stone intern a pep talk about writing that was not bullshit. I think I inspired myself as well.

What have you done recently?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Q & A

Here I am, being interviewed by the great Jen Vaughn about librarianism, reading and writing about comics. I'd like to make clear that the several zine projects that I mentioned were definitely started, but never actually saw the light of day. This is probably a good thing. Drop your comments over there.

Unsurprisingly, doing this interview made me think about interviewing. I really enjoy a good print interview and would like to do more of them for try harder. Anyone you want to see here. Drop your suggestions here.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

This is the plan

Today I survived the eighth anniversary of my brother's death by taking the subway, going to a precode Hollywood double feature with B & C and eating Italian food with friends. I survived the day before the eighth anniversary of my brother's death by eating red sauce with M & B, watching a Robert Blake cop movie, buying herbs and going to bed late. I will survive the day after the eighth anniversary of my brother's death by watering my plants, reading The Beetle Leg, thinking about the future and writing letters.

August is hard. There is always another August around the corner.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

looking like septuagenarian hip priests

At the 49th St. Q station I saw one of my old neighbors. The station has finally been cleansed of its terrible smell. Three-quarters of the platform reeked of the fecal matter of big cats—an aging lion maybe, depressed from too many years in a cage—or perhaps a rotting corpse. I once saw a man in that station with such bad necrosis of the legs, his open sores glistening, that asleep, he looked long dead. I wondered if he had somehow deposited his legs in the airshaft between the exits in a final bit of New York magic.

(Since I started writing this the smell and returned and been conquered at least twice. The possibility of its return weighs heavily on me when it has disappeared for a bit.)

My old neighbor used to be one of a matched set. He and his partner reliably wore matching glasses and Mao hats. They both had short grey hair and button noses. They would walk east on 48th St. holding hands. They were probably just going to the grocery store, but they looked like they embarking calmly on an adventure for two. My boyfriend and I liked to spot them on our street looking like septuagenarian hip priests, not saying how they embodied our wish and our fear.

Now, my old neighbor is just an old man—the twosome spell broken. He’s shuffling on a hot platform and looking like he could blow down onto the tracks at any moment. Concern and revulsion and pity are fighting in me, but that’s just because I made this story of him and her and them. I wonder what is downtown. Another adventure, I hope.

Image from the NYPL Digital Gallery, Image ID G91F381_501ZF

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Daddy’s Girl by Debbie Drechsler

Finishing Daddy’s Girl by Debbie Drechsler pushed my breath right out of me. I had been holding it without noticing. A long time ago I also read this book and wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but now, now, I really got it.

The book is a series of short comics about sexual abuse and its repercussions told from the perspective girls from about eight to 16. I reread the 1995 version in about an hour, curled into an awkward position on an awkward sofa in Vermont. I pored over Drechsler’s details, her patterned everything, her wide-eyed characters. (Tessa Brunton’s work actually reminds me a lot of Drechsler’s in this book, a connection that jumped up and slapped me during this reread). The art feels unrestrained and almost joyous in the face of the subject matter, and that is one of the things that gives this book so much power.

Think of all the women and men you know that have been trespassed against, who’ve had sex used as a weapon against them, who have had part of themselves stolen by friends, relatives and strangers. Daddy’s Girl captures, in very few pages, the banal brutality of abuse and the bald-faced ugliness of a world that creates a safe place for abusers. While it is difficult to get the graphic actions of the father character out of your mind, it is the subtle attacks on the personality of the main characters by mother/friend characters that have really stuck with me. With simple, natural dialogue, Drechsler really gets at the ability to sense and exploit weakness that emotional abusers have and allows the reader to draw conclusions about why.

If you are lucky, this book simply makes you think of every time you kept your mouth shut when you knew something terrible was going on and pushes those moments in front of your face as a warning and a call to do better. It is a difficult read. It is a survival story and we need it.

*Photo from random goodreads user