Liquid Ink

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

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Talking on WGN tonight with Rick Kogan and Kate Wisel

Followers of Liquid Ink, no matter where they find themselves on the planet, can tune in to WGN today, November 10th, at 22:00 CST (GMT -6) to hear me on After Hours with (Chicago radio legend) Rick Kogan. WGN Radio is 720 AM local to Chicago, or you can live stream the station at this link.

I’ll be joined by Kate Wisel, author of Driving in Cars with Homeless Men, described on the book jacket as a love letter to women moving through violence. 

Driving in Cars with Homeless Men is available anywhere books are sold. If you happen to be in Chicago, City Lit Books in Logan Square currently has it on the shelf.

Given the topics of Relief by Execution (domestic violence, fascism, genocide and identity collapse) and Kate’s theme of violence against women, this should make for a provocative hour of radio.

Live stream here.


Photo of Rick Kogan from the Chicago Help Initiative.




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My special guest: Constance Volk

Chicagoans and weekend travelers, be aware: my book launch party is this Saturday, Oct 12th, at 7:00 PM at Volumes Bookcafe in Chicago. The evening will feature Eastern European snacks, a cash bar, and a brief discussion about the process that led to the composition of Relief by Execution. In addition, it will feature the art and music of the absolutely brilliant Constance Volk.


Connie is a painter, illustrator, singer and multi-instrumentalist. She bends boundaries some of us don’t even perceive, and remains among the most open-minded and versatile artists I’ve ever met. Check out her website here.

Her paintings straddle the boundaries of form and chaos, often blending the two into spaces where the line between these apparent poles becomes irrelevant to the experience of the art. I love these paintings:




She’s also a stunningly precise and powerful musician.

Here she is playing flute with Ensemble Del Niente.

Georg Friedrich Haas: In Vain (Ensemble Dal Niente, 02/28/13) from Ensemble Dal Niente on Vimeo.

Here she is singing lead vocals for Vicarious Tool, a Tool tribute band (that uses an electric violin instead of a guitar):

Connie will have recordings and paintings for sale, and she’ll be providing live music for the duration of the evening. I’m sure we’ll hear some fusion between Bach and Slayer, probably played on flute.

Come join us!

Sneak preview of my next book

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I’m currently working on a memoir about my upbringing in Cicero.

I have shared virtually nothing of the manuscript, neither with family nor friends, and I hardly talk about it with other writers. Earlier this month, on November 7th, I read an excerpt before an audience at Tuesday Funk.

Enormous thanks to Eden Robins and Andrew Huff, the brains and savvy behind the reading series, for having me again. Reading at Tuesday Funk is always a treat.



Writing Workshop with Gint Aras

Gint Aras is leading a writing workshop this spring, 2017, in Oak Park’s famous Arts District. The workshop is open to writers of any level, aged 16 or older, and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, maxing out at 8 students.

Classes begin on April 7th and meet weekly each Friday night thereafter, from 6:30-8:30 PM, at the Upstairs Apartment and Lounge (see photos below) above The Buzz Cafe in Oak Park, IL. The Buzz is only steps from the Austin Blue Line Station, easily accessible via the Eisenhower Expressway.

The course focuses on craft. However, Gint will lead students though strategies for pitching writing, identifying markets, maintaining an internet presence, and he’ll share knowledge of Chicago’s growing, exciting independent publishing and book-selling community. The final meeting on May 26th will feature a reading at a public venue in Chicago. Expect surprise guests!

To register for the course, click here and send him a message, including your name. You must have a PayPal account to register.


Prose Writing Workshop, with Gint Aras

Friday nights, 6:30-8:30, from April 7-May 26

Upstairs Apartment and Lounge, Buzz Cafe

905 S. Lombard, Oak Park, IL

Open to writers of any level, aged 16 or older

Registration ends after 8 students have registered 

Cost: $420

Gint Aras is the critically acclaimed author of The Fugue (Tortoise, 2016), finalist for the 2016 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award. The novel was called “magisterial” by the Chicago Tribune and a “masterpiece of literary fiction” by Centered on Books. His other prose and translations have appeared in the St. Petersburg  Review, Quarterly West, Antique Children, Criminal Class Review, Curbside Splendor, ReImagine, STIR Journal, Heavy Feather Review, and he is a former contributing and section editor at The Good Men Project. Aras earned an MFA from Columbia University in the City of New York, and a BA in English and American Literature from the University of Illinois.


Photo by Tauras Bublys Photography


Discussions will take place in this wonderful room.

Buzz room 1

And also at this wonderful table

Buzz room 2

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A feminist grad student and Othello

My recent Good Men Project, Becoming a Man Who is Ready For Love, has been shared over 400 times on Facebook and continues to be read today. I hope you’ll take a look at it. It’s about a pathetic relationship I had a with a girl when I was in college, and what I learned in the introspective aftermath.

The piece is short and tells only part of the story, as these things do. There’s actually quite a bit more to tell: I’d have to cast characters like psilocybin and mescaline into the narrative, and retell a long conversation I had with a former roommate. I’m saving all these things for the memoir I’m writing.

I do want to fill in one gap and tell you about a lecture I heard at the University of Illinois when I was taking a course on Shakespeare, one of the more important classes I have ever taken. We certainly learned all the things one learns—all the important questions about psychology—when you read a load of Shakespeare’s plays. There were also unexpected, empowering lessons.

We were studying Othello. Here’s a layman’s summary of the play’s plot that I found on a therapist’s website:

Well there was this guy, a military guy. Othello. He was a black general and he was very successful. And the world at that time was dominated by whites. Anyway, he had a beautiful wife called Desdemona and there was this evil guy called Iago who tried to make Othello believe that Desdemona was having an affair. He stole her handkerchief and then Othello got really jealous and he was so convinced [of Desdemona’s affair] that he killed her.

Of course, in our study, many questions about race and political power came up. Most of the students were used to them and anticipated what the professor was going to do. Towards the end of our time with Othello, however, the professor invited a graduate student, a feminist only a few years older than me, to give a lecture on her study of Othello. What she said planted an important seed that left me rethinking what I believed I knew about human emotions and romantic relationships between women and men.

She analyzed Othello’s motivations, and she claimed that Othello killed Desdamona not because he was jealous or even because he was sexually possessive. Othello had been projecting himself onto Desdamona, and determining his own personal value through his marriage to her, a beautiful woman who should have been (indeed, she was) “true” to him. This is an important distinction. The student didn’t believe Othello was simply seething with rage because he’d been betrayed. He was seething because his peers would judge him for being unable to satisfy and control his wife. But he was also seeing his identity crumble. What was he? In large part he was the husband to the fair Desdemona. And if Desdemona were not fair, than that husband no longer existed. He didn’t love her as a person. He loved what she made him out to appear. It’s vain and dehumanizing.

Psychologically, I had been doing something very similar in the relationship to “Lucy”, the figure I draw in the article. I had not been dating her because I had any interest in her. I was interested in what status I gained by showing up places with a beautiful girl. That’s not love. It’s (a very flawed kind of) self-inflation. Tragically, I was only partially aware of it, and I never got the status I desired except from total strangers in places like cafes, people seated at neighboring tables.

As a side note, part of the reason I believe great literature should be taught in schools, and people who understand literature should be asked to present their findings to young people, is exactly because of this kind of moment. I had hundreds of them as a literature student, and I continue to have them as I read great books.

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Advice for Republicans

I wish I had beaten Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal to the ideas he expresses in this article. To those too lazy to read it, I’ll summarize: He’s asking conservatives to stop fretting over other people’s sex lives and their (bourgeois, ha!) demands for marriage rights. He suggests that the fuss over abortion has become extreme. He presents a good question: “What’s so awful about learning Spanish?” and points out that immigrants—specifically Spanish-speaking ones—show values most of us identify as American. That ringing you hear right now is the echo from my applause: he’d like future conservative presidential and congressional candidates to pass an exam of basic knowledge and take an IQ test. He defends himself, claiming it’s not flippant. I agree with him.

Here’s the question: Why can’t the intelligent, rational, pragmatic wing of the Republican Party become the party’s undisputed central voice? Why don’t those pragmatics take serious issue with the hysterics, the ones barely able to accept the president’s humanity? We are far away from the political environment necessary for a presidential candidate of either party to dismiss American Exceptionalism (although that day is inevitable, and should be welcome). But a Democrat does not need to pitch himself to quite the same group of fringe thinkers, to people who need reality distorted in order to feel “right”. If you’re among those claiming, “But the president is an extremist, a communist, an alien, a Muhammad, a Trotsky, a Stalin, a Hitler! He believes in holes in the sky!” realize that you’re part of the wing that’s causing the problem. Your voice has been exhausting from the start.

At the end of his piece, Stephens suggests Republicans had spent four years listening to echoes of themselves. He suggests they “change the channel for a while.” I have a more advanced suggestion. Isn’t it time to change the talking heads? Is it really a threat to the party to find some secular professor, a student of Smith, and put him on TV to host a show? Would Republicans refuse to coalese around a host who claimed, unabashedly, to be an intellectual or presented himself, at minimum, as a pragmatic thinker. Aren’t we past the point where we find loud-mouthed bullies either entertaining or quintessentially American?

If Republicans took Stephens’ advice and changed the channel (for a long time), they’d go away. But we must demand they be replaced by someone who isn’t going to distort reality, demonize anyone or blather on about rape. I hope this election has shown that each side of the political aisle and every layer in each coalition is sick of that stuff.