Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Consciousness is Destiny

by Francis Levy
Freud said “anatomy is destiny”, but one wonders if consciousness hasn’t become the rogue player making personality into a more labile affair. How can one talk about sexual identity without cracking a smile? Flaubert said “Madame Bovary, c’est moi.” Aren’t we increasingly becoming our own creators. Is self invention our most viral secular heresy? Can for example a middle aged married supposedly “heterosexual male” have the sensibility of a woman who loves other women? Or more bluntly have you ever looked at the person you are making love to and wondered what they are? Some marriage counselors have pointed out that we all marry our same sex parent. Therefore a woman making love with her husband is really making love to another woman. Our woman in question has simply married a man who reminds her of her mother. Objection! you will cry. The man has an appendage called a penis which the mother, unless she had reconstructive surgery following her pregnancy, did not. But isn’t too much being made of the penis in an age when sex change operations have become so sophisticated and readily available. Granted the Supreme Court is unlikely to include vaginoplasties with the issues it undertakes to rule on when it considers the constitutionality of Obama’s health plan. For good or bad sexuality has become an intellectual and even ideological affair. Yes biology is involved, but it’s the brain rather than the genitals that is calling the shots.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]


by Francis Levy
Lars von Trier is a party pooper. Dunderheads don’t you get it? The whole performance at Cannes was a set up. It’s Melancholia played right before our eyes. Here he is in the limelight at Cannes, creator of Dogma, lionized with Kirsten Dunst, his star at his side, and he reprises the role she's just played in the film. He makes anti-Semitic remarks and finds himself banned from Cannes. Similarly Justine, the character Dunst plays, throws her whole life away, rejecting her marriage and the employer who has just given her a promotion to art director, at the agency at which she works— remaining loyal to the spirit of her depressive mother (Charlotte Rampling) who has instilled in her a deep and abiding hatred of life. All of this mind you while Wagner’s famed Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde plays again and again and again, underscoring the death in life which constitutes what amounts to a passion or calling for her. The lighting is spare and real and so is the message that that there is nothing, no transcendence, no life beyond the aberration known as existence—nothing except, art. The initial montage sequence is a homage to Bergman’s Persona. In Persona you are dealing with an actress who’s had a psychotic break. Freud defined melancholia as a response to loss which includes a lack of interest in the outside world. The close-ups of Dunst’s face in the early montage of Melancholia evince the shrinking from the will to live characteristic of the condition Freud describes. The planet on a collision course with earth that constitutes the second movement of the film is called Melancholia, but it’s as if the catastrophe had already occurred to Justine before the collision ever takes place. She is suffering about something which has yet to be, a brilliant little touch on von Trier’s part (there is another particularly brilliant directorial touch in the little piece of wedding cake on Justine’s face that precedes the breakup the marriage on the very night it’s begun). The parallels with Persona continue in part two of the film which, along with the collision, is devoted to Justine’s sister Claire. If Justine is afraid to live, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is afraid to die, but like with Bergman’s nurse and actress the roles switch and then with the big ball of destruction called Melancholia hovering overhead, Justine is exultant. She is finally in her element. As the world comes to an end, Justine becomes a latter day Grand Inquisitor, The Grand Facilitator, helping her frightened sister and nephew to die.

[This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Baby Geisha is coming soon!

We're out with Trinie Dalton's new story collection, Baby Geisha, in January.

Bookforum just gave the book a glowing review, saying "Half ingenuous and half wily, winningly hard to pin down. The result is a kind of everyday fantastic. Dalton nails the Walserian trick of evincing a sincerity nearly indistinguishable from irony. The effect is a poised instability, more uncanny than the magic the stories sometimes describe."

Publishers Weekly also had this to say: "Though Dalton writes in the minimalist vein, alongside the likes of Lydia Davis, Ben Marcus, and Gary Lutz, her peculiar fascinations give her a singular voice. A pleasurable trip."

We just got proofs for the finished copies of the book. If you're affiliated with a bookstore or media and are interested in checking out a copy, write to eric[at]twodollarradio.com.

Scenes from the Miami Book Fair

Last week we were in southern Florida for the Miami Book Fair International (and Thanksgiving).

We came prepared to bring the ruckus.

But it rained more than it should have.

So we hung out in our orange tent, and got to talk to some really cool Florida folk.

And were able to introduce our nephew to some books over Thanksgiving.

Now we're back in Ohio, surrounded by the persistent chirp of Christmas music (more Christmas music than I would wish on my worst enemy), already looking forward to next fall's Miami Book Fair.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

TC Boyle's blurb Anne-Marie Kinney's Radio Iris

TC Boyle just provided us with this enthusiastic endorsement for Anne-Marie Kinney's debut novel, Radio Iris (May 2012):

"Radio Iris is a revelation, a whimsical, charming and beautifully observed novel about quotidian life. Anne-Marie Kinney's Iris is a contemporary version of Calvino's Marcovaldo, caught between the rich expression of her own humanity and the random demands of the workaday world."

Here are some of the other sweet sweet blurbs we've received for the book already:

"In Radio Iris, Anne-Marie Kinney, introduces us to Iris Finch, a young woman of a new lost and lonely generation. With prose as pitch perfect as the Buddy Holly songs Iris loves, Kinney draws us into a world both familiar and quotidian and unfathomable and harrowing." -Bruce Bauman

"Working for a company that might be called Kafka Ballard & Dickinson, bearing a kind of sonic witness to a world of static, Iris likes to listen the way some like to watch. Searching for home, she’s the passenger of her own voice. Anne-Marie Kinney’s Radio Iris is a novel of unsettling humor and elusive terror, a piercing loneliness and the strangeness of the banal, and a hushed power that grows in volume before your ears." -Steve Erickson

"Radio Iris brings new shimmer and depth to the word 'sensory'- Iris's perceptions are both keen and open, so mysterious and grounded, and the book builds a narrative of mystery and longing with visceral, ringing precision."
-Aimee Bender

Booksellers or those looking to review the book can write to eric[at]twodollarradio.com to request an advance reading copy.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The People's Library

Barbara Browning's The Correspondence Artist at Occupy Wall Street's library.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Francis Levy at the East Hampton Library

Author Francis Levy reads from his new novel, Seven Days in Rio, at the East Hampton Library.