Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


New interview: Collapsing and Constructed Identity, Lithuania Tribune

As followers of my Facebook Author Page know, I’m spending the entire summer in Lithuania this year, something I’ve not done since 1996. I found it fitting to be out here when I got a request for an interview from Alexsandra Kudickis, a journalist who has previewed my forthcoming book, Relief by Execution.

The interview was published on June 25 by the Lithuania Tribune. It’s in English. It covers cultural and ethnic identity, Zen meditation, The Fugue, the Holocaust in Lithuania, and pressing questions about controversial memorials in Lithuanian cities.

You can read the interview here.

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Photo by Žana Gončiar


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FAQs for Lithuanians

Before you send me your requests, please take a look here. You might save yourself some time.

  • Hi, I’m Lithuanian, just like you. Can I have some stuff for free?

Yes. You can get all the free toilet paper you want in any gas station toilet.

 

  • I got drunk with one of your relatives in 1974. To what private property of yours does this entitle me?

All of it. I’ll quitclaim my condo to you. It’s in a really good location, and I don’t owe more than it’s worth. Trust me. Here’s the dotted line. _______________________

 

  • I dated your mother back when we were in high school. Can I have your pants?

I hate to break it to you, pal, but you’re already wearing my pants.

 

  • I think you’re a brilliant writer and love what you had to say about amber necklaces. Do you have any amber that you would like to give me so that I could be proud of my Lithuanian heritage?

Thank you for the compliment, but I haven’t written about amber necklaces. The last time I used the word “amber” in a sentence, it was to describe the color of Stasys Girėnas’ teeth.

 

  • I knew your (grandmother/aunt/uncle/roommate) back in 1976, and we (ate/drank/fucked/smoked/danced) in Marquette Park all the time. Can I have your social security number?

Sure, it’s 312-588-2300. What, too long? Just take out any number. I’ll work.

 

  • I’m going to (Šokių Šventė/Dainų Šventė/LT Days/Cepelinų Vakarėlis/) this summer. Can my friends and I stay in your apartment?

Dude, you have to talk to the person who used to get drunk with my relatives in 1974. They have all my stuff now. It’s nowhere close to the festival you have in mind, but I don’t see why that should stop you.

 

  • Why aren’t you going to (Šokių Šventė/Dainų Šventė/LT Days/Cepelinų Vakarėlis/)?

Because I can’t find a place to stay.

 

  • Hi. My great grandfather owned a horse that took a dump near your great grandmother’s horse back when all of us were pagan druids on shrooms. I want your children to sign up for this summer program that will teach them how to be Lithuanian for only $4,000.

We’ll talk about all these things when you give me some shrooms.

 

  • I’m Catholic, believe in God, love the Jesuits, have my former nun’s yardstick, and I’ve already bought a plot to be buried in St. Casimir Cemetery. Could you send me a copy of your book, all the essays you’ve ever written, ten percent of your salary and a photocopy of your passport?

Everything you desire is available at this link.

 

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Forthcoming essay

I’m excited to announce that my essay, Marquette Park: Members Only, has been included in an anthology: Chicago Neighborhood Guidebook, available in September of 2019. Fans of urban prose and Chicago history, and those readers interested in questions of race, ethnicity, nation and cultural identity will find this anthology provocative and entertaining.

My essay deals with the racial tensions in Marquette Park in the 80’s and 90’s, and the curious question of why so many residents worried about encroachment from African-Americans but didn’t seem to have any trouble with the Nazi headquarters on 71st Street.

You can pre-order here.

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Here is the complete table of contents:

Introduction

Martha Bayne

WEST SIDE

Austin: Austin and Division
Shaina Warfield

Austin: Cakewalk (poem)
Rasaan Khalil

West Humboldt Park: Queen of the Tunnels
Lily Be

Garfield Park: Perspectives (photo essay)
Gabriel X. Michael

North Lawndale: Interview with Alexie Young, MLK Exhibit Center
Amanda Tugade

Little Village
Emmanuel Ramirez, Gloria “Nine” Valle, and Zipporah Auta with Yollocalli Arts Reach

SOUTHWEST SIDE

Garfield Ridge: Comeback Kid
Sheila Elliot

Back of the Yards: Books and Breakfast at the Breathing Room
Miranda Goosby

Englewood:  Interview with Tamar Manasseh, Mothers Against Senseless Killings
Kirsten Ginzky

Marquette Park: Members Only
Gint Aras

FAR SOUTHWEST SIDE

Ashburn: That’s Amore
Tim Mazurek

Mount Greenwood: Growing Up In, and Reporting On, Chicago’s Poster Child for Racial Tension
Joe Ward

Beverly: How to Integrate a Chicago Neighborhood in Three (Not-So) Easy Steps
Scott Smith

FAR SOUTHEAST SIDE

Roseland: They Killed Him and His Little Girlfriend
Raymond Berry

Pullman: Pullman and Ideal Communities in Chicago, the Rust Belt, and Beyond
Claire Tighe

Hegewisch: Pudgy’s Pizza
Josh Burbidge

East Side: Something About the South Side
Mare Swallow

SOUTH SIDE

South Shore: Between the Lake and Emmett Till Road
Audrey Petty

Woodlawn: Memories of Obama
Jonathan Foiles

Hyde Park: Quarks and Quiche on the Midway
John Lloyd Clayton

Bronzeville: Black Metropolis
Alex Miller

NEAR WEST SIDE

Bridgeport: The Community of the Future
Ed Marzsewski

Heart of Chicago: Sketches
Dmitry Samarov

Pilsen: The Quietest Form of Displacement in a Changing Barrio (photo essay)

WEST SIDE

Austin: Austin and Division
Shaina Warfield

Austin: Cakewalk (poem)
Rasaan Khalil

West Humboldt Park: Queen of the Tunnels
Lily Be

Garfield Park: Perspectives (photo essay)
Gabriel X. Michael

North Lawndale: Interview with Alexie Young, MLK Exhibit Center
Amanda Tugade

Little Village
Emmanuel Ramirez, Gloria “Nine” Valle, and Zipporah Auta with Yollocalli Arts Reach

SOUTHWEST SIDE

Garfield Ridge: Comeback Kid
Sheila Elliot

Back of the Yards: Books and Breakfast at the Breathing Room
Miranda Goosby

Englewood:  Interview with Tamar Manasseh, Mothers Against Senseless Killings
Kirsten Ginzky

Marquette Park: Members Only
Gint Aras

FAR SOUTHWEST SIDE

Ashburn: That’s Amore
Tim Mazurek

Mount Greenwood: Growing Up In, and Reporting On, Chicago’s Poster Child for Racial Tension
Joe Ward

Beverly: How to Integrate a Chicago Neighborhood in Three (Not-So) Easy Steps
Scott Smith

FAR SOUTHEAST SIDE

Roseland: They Killed Him and His Little Girlfriend
Raymond Berry

Pullman: Pullman and Ideal Communities in Chicago, the Rust Belt, and Beyond
Claire Tighe

Hegewisch: Pudgy’s Pizza
Josh Burbidge

East Side: Something About the South Side
Mare Swallow

SOUTH SIDE

South Shore: Between the Lake and Emmett Till Road
Audrey Petty

Woodlawn: Memories of Obama
Jonathan Foiles

Hyde Park: Quarks and Quiche on the Midway
John Lloyd Clayton

Bronzeville: Black Metropolis
Alex Miller

NEAR WEST SIDE

Bridgeport: The Community of the Future
Ed Marzsewski

Heart of Chicago: Sketches
Dmitry Samarov

Pilsen: The Quietest Form of Displacement in a Changing Barrio (photo essay)
Sebastián Hidalgo

Greektown/Maxwell Street/Little Italy: UIC: Chicago’s Past and Future
Ann Logue

River West: Cranes of River West
Jean Iversen

CENTRAL

South Loop: Michigan and Harrison
Megan Stielstra

The Loop: Life in Chicago’s Front Yard
Rachel Cromidas

Gold Coast: The Alleys of the Gold Coast
Leopold Froehlich

NORTH

Lakeview: On Belmont and Clark
Emily Anna Mack

Lakeview: The Blue House
Eleanor Glockner

North Center: Signs in Bloom
Kirsten Lambert

Ravenswood Gardens: Chicago River Life
Rob Miller

FAR NORTH SIDE

Uptown: A Trip to the Argyle Museum of Memories
Vitally Vladimirov

Andersonville: The Precarious Equilibrium
Sarah Steimer

Edgewater Glen: Trick or Treat
Kim Z. Dale

West Ridge: Rebel Girl
Sara Nasser

West Ridge: Paan Stains and Discount Vegetables (photo essay)
Stuti Sharma

Albany Park: Edge Zone Chicago
Benjamin Van Loon

NORTHWEST SIDE

Portage Park: Six Corners, Many Changes
Jackie Mantey

Hermosa: Holy Hermosa (poem)
Sara Salgado

Logan Square: The Best Burger on the Square
Nicholas Ward

Wicker Park: milwaukee avenue (poem)
Kevin Coval

Humboldt Park: Along Pulaski Road, From Irving Park to Humboldt
Alex V. Hernandez

Epilogue: The Last Days of Rezkoville
Ryan Smith

Greektown/Maxwell Street/Little Italy: UIC: Chicago’s Past and Future
Ann Logue

River West: Cranes of River West
Jean Iversen

CENTRAL

South Loop: Michigan and Harrison
Megan Stielstra

The Loop: Life in Chicago’s Front Yard
Rachel Cromidas

Gold Coast: The Alleys of the Gold Coast
Leopold Froehlich

NORTH

Lakeview: On Belmont and Clark
Emily Anna Mack

Lakeview: The Blue House
Eleanor Glockner

North Center: Signs in Bloom
Kirsten Lambert

Ravenswood Gardens: Chicago River Life
Rob Miller

FAR NORTH SIDE

Uptown: A Trip to the Argyle Museum of Memories
Vitally Vladimirov

Andersonville: The Precarious Equilibrium
Sarah Steimer

Edgewater Glen: Trick or Treat
Kim Z. Dale

West Ridge: Rebel Girl
Sara Nasser

West Ridge: Paan Stains and Discount Vegetables (photo essay)
Stuti Sharma

Albany Park: Edge Zone Chicago
Benjamin Van Loon

NORTHWEST SIDE

Portage Park: Six Corners, Many Changes
Jackie Mantey

Hermosa: Holy Hermosa (poem)
Sara Salgado

Logan Square: The Best Burger on the Square
Nicholas Ward

Wicker Park: milwaukee avenue (poem)
Kevin Coval

Humboldt Park: Along Pulaski Road, From Irving Park to Humboldt
Alex V. Hernandez

Epilogue: The Last Days of Rezkoville
Ryan Smith


Take my Prose Writing Workshop, 2019

I’m excited to announce that I’m leading another prose writing workshop starting in late March. I’m also THRILLED to be doing it at Compound Yellow in Oak Park, one of the most exciting arts communities in the Midwest.

The Gint Aras Prose Writing Workshop
Wednesdays, March 27-May 1
7:00-9:00 PM
Compound Yellow 

244 Lake St., Oak Park, IL
Cost: $420

Interested parties should register quickly. I’ll accept the first six (6) participants, and then close registration. Register by sending the tuition via PayPal. Because there are limited slots, and because I need to get organized, all registration purchases are final.

Because there are only six participants, each one will have their prose workshopped twice over a six week period for about 50 minutes.

If you’re stumbling on this blog for the first time,  you can learn more about me here. You should also consider this “teaching philosophy:”

My workshop is not based on any expectation I have of what writing “should be” or any aesthetic I favor. Instead, I use a method that asks writers to consider their goals and what methods or techniques best help achieve them. While I write literary fiction and essays myself, I’m a hungry reader and have plenty of experience with genre fiction, memoir, philosophy, etc. The only limitation is that participants be at least 18 years of age and submit prose. I will not offer commentary on poetry.

A word about Compound Yellow (from their website):

COMPOUND YELLOW IS AN INDEPENDENT, EXPERIMENTAL ARTS SPACE IN OAK PARK, IL.

We are a creative learning and research space comprised of a group of artists, educators, parents and engaged citizens. Compound Yellow provides spaces for studio practices, workshops, lectures, talks, collective imagining and exhibitions. We are interested in experimental cultural production, sharing economies, participatory art, and interdisciplinary explorations. 

We want to celebrate a culture of sharing, connecting and collective action! We’d love to hear from you.

Compound Yellow is conveniently located steps from the Green Line (Ridgeland Station) in beautiful Oak Park. It’s also accessible by PACE and CTA bus, and there is either free or affordable parking in the neighborhood.

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Compound room

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If you have any questions, please email me.

Photos provided by Compound Yellow.

 


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Art is resistance

It’s always an exciting step when your publisher tells you the cover of your book is finished. Here it is.

Relief Execution Cover final

The release date is October 8th. Pre-order begins on Amazon and Barnes and Noble some time late next week, February 21st. Follow Liquid Ink to keep up with the details, including news about the launch party, scheduled for October.

Here’s what Mikhail Iossel, the founder of the Summer Literary Seminars, and a samizdat writer born in the USSR, had to say after reading it:

This short text packs a powerful punch. A searingly raw exploration of one’s roots, one’s original milieu, one’s upbringing and one’s own conscience. At times difficult to read, it is nonetheless entirely engrossing. Hard to look at yet impossible to look away. A remarkable piece of writing.

From the back cover:

Between the years of 1996-1999, Gint Aras lived a hapless bohemian’s life in Linz, Austria. Decades later, a random conversation with a Polish immigrant in a Chicago coffeehouse provokes a question: why didn’t Aras ever visit Mauthausen, or any of the other holocaust sites close to his former home? The answer compels him to visit the concentration camp in the winter of 2017, bringing with him the baggage of a childhood shaped by his family of Lithuanian WWII refugees. The result is this meditative inquiry, at once lyrical and piercing, on the nature of ethnic identity, the constructs of race and nation, and the lasting consequences of collective trauma. 

Fussweg


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My new book, available Autumn 2019

Some people have been wondering why Liquid Ink has been so silent. Instead of writing here, I’ve spent the last year working on a variety of projects, including a manuscript currently under contract with Homebound Publications.

It’s titled Relief by Execution: A Visit to Mauthausen.  As you might imagine, the book is about a trip I took to Mauthausen and what sort of consciousness I discovered there. It’s also an intimate look at fixed ideas I inherited while growing up in a xenophobic and bigoted environment. Those ideas influenced my perceptions, but they finally shattered completely during my visit to a concentration camp.

Expect more news as the publication date approaches, and follow me here on Liquid Ink for updates.  You can also follow my author page on Facebook and hear my banter on Twitter.

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Are you going to hell?

Americans are confused about this question, so I’ve come up with a way to simplify it for us.

Here’s a brief quiz. Today, you can learn if you’re going to hell in only two easy steps.

Step number one: take the brief quiz.

1.) Do you know the Earth is older than 4,000 years?

2.)  Can you name a single book

3.) Are you making America great?

Correct answers:

1.) Yes

2.) Yes 

3.) Yes  

Step number two, let’s debrief.

If you answered “no” to any combination of the questions, here’s news: hell’s not on its way. It might already be here.

Let’s take a close look at the questions:

Question 1

You’re aware that it takes a tree 50 or 100 years to grow, right? You know a fetus gestates for 9 months, no matter the pregnant woman’s religion? Your body requires 6 to 8 hours to go from chewed-up Italian Beef to Chicago-style bowel movement. It takes an ice cube 20 minutes to melt on a summer day. Rome rose and collapsed over the course of centuries. It takes you fifteen minutes to fill a bathtub with water, yet you think the oceans are 4,000 years old? It takes a child 30 minutes to build a sand castle, but the Himalayan Mountains popped up instantly 4,000 years ago?

Question 2

Where did you get that story about how old the Earth is? How do you win friends and influence people, and where did you first consider the possibility that dealmaking is an art form? Unlike those who think things are black and white, book readers consider the possibility that gray might have 50 shades. That possibility extends itself, quite naturally, to believing that values might also be fluid, that evil might put on a disguise.

Question 3

So…you’re not making America great? Well, what exactly are you doing? How are you going about it? If you need the qualifier…if you need to make America great again—back, for example, to the days when the masses could neither read the Bible nor compute beyond the most basic equations—you need to reconsider. To believe we were ever great is to think we never had anything to improve. It’s to suffer from a sin of pride, which at least one famous book identifies as a grave transgression.

And what, according to the book, is that transgression’s punishment?

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Image of the Medieval illustration of Hell in the Hortus deliciarum manuscript of Herrad of Landsberg (about 1180), from Wikipedia