If you’re happening across this website and live in either the Minneapolis or Racine area, I hope you’ll come out to hear me read. I’ll be reading from The Fugue and talking about the artist’s role in a fascist state.
Chicago area Liquid Inkers, know that I’ll be appearing with Geralyn Hesslau Magrady at the Oak Park Public Library on December 4th at 2:00.
Geralyn and I will do short readings, then interact and take questions on the writing process, the publishing industry, and our muses. Both of our recent novels—Geralyn’s latest is titled Lines—see fires as central events and metaphors. In my case, it’s a bungalow fire; in Geralyn’s, it’s the Great Chicago Fire. There’s plenty of overlap between the books, including keen senses of place and history.
I love discussing books at library events where the crowds tend to be sober, unlike in the bar events I most often attend. Hope to see you.
I met the start of the work week with the news that another review for The Fugue has appeared, this time in Alternating Current/The Coil. This review is generous and humbling, with the reviewer, Al Kratz, paying some of the most careful attention any reviewer has paid to the narrative.
[The] qualities that made the read challenging are also why it was ambitious, realistic, and ultimately, a success. There are no easy answers. There is no easy way to tell the story.
This question came a while ago from someone who has read almost every available work of fiction I’ve ever written. While my novel, Finding the Moon in Sugar, saw very few reviews, several reviewers commented that the book had no ending. Reviewers of The Fugue have not made similar comments…not that I remember. But the reader asking the question felt the final paragraph of The Fugue is even less an ending than the final bit in Finding the Moon.
I find this really fascinating. It goes completely contrary to my process and point of view. I don’t feel I can really start writing something until I see how it ends. I’ve said in many interviews that The Fugue started out as a vignette of a man repairing a window. I didn’t know I had a novel until I imagined the very final scene. The horror and displacement convinced me I had a novel.
All this aside, my endings don’t offer resolution. I find resolution to be among the greatest contrivances in literature. I don’t think of narratives or time in linear terms, but if we do think this way, a cliché applies: all roads lead to the same destination, and that destination is a mystery. There’s a difference between writing the last word of a text—always an energizing moment—and resolving the narrative’s problem. A good ending is one that leaves the reader feeling obliterated or provoked. It is not one that leaves the reader with the delusion that now s/he “understands something” or, worse, “understands everything.”
There’s no way to answer this question in detail without discussing the actual endings. As a person fascinated with love and death, I write about not knowing. One of my most important themes, I think, is ignorance, especially the kind of ignorance we can’t perceive. So I don’t try to answer any questions in my fiction. My fiction is a way for me to express my ignorance, and my endings work to that end.
Next Thursday, Feb. 18, I’ll be reading at The Looking Glass Bookstore in lovely Oak Park, IL. The Looking Glass is a gorgeous bookstore, only two years old, located less than a block from the Oak Park Avenue Blue Line station.
The Looking Glass, 823 S Oak Park Avenue, Oak Park, IL. 7:00.
There are two quality pubs down the street, and I hope to join some friends and strangers for a beer afterwards. Hope to see you!
I hope Liquid Inkers will check out my review of a newly published tome of Arkadii Dragomoshchenko’s poetry. It’s titled “Endarkment” and, as you may imagine, I loved it.
I’ve written about Dragomoshchenko before. I stumbled upon his books in a bookstore one time and fell in love with a little book called Dust. Later on, in the summer, I met all these people who knew Arkadii and had been his dear friends. That blog post is available here.
My last article points out the obvious: Why Storytelling Has Always Been Better Than Lecturing, Period. It’s a response to another Good Men Project article that argues for parents to use stories to instruct their children.
Hope you check it out and spread the word.