weekend reading


Gabrielle Moss’s short story, Lost Dog, is a little bit spooky. It’s the story of a young boy, Hunter, his younger sister, Brianna, and the werewolf in their backyard. It’s good and it’s also funny. Here’s a line: “Brianna gives him this look where she looks exactly like their mother when she’s disappointed in him. Being on the receiving end of his mother’s disappointment is probably the only thing Hunter and actual men have in common, really.” From MidnightBreakfast.

In Scenes from the End of the World, Jonathan Lee interviews Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams) and photographer Ryan Spencer about their recent essay/photography collaboration, Such Mean Estate. The project, initiated by Spencer, focuses on the destructive impact humans have on our planet. He photographed stills from apocalyptic films, but apocalyptic films specifically concerned with nature and the environment. He says, “I had seen a lot of disaster movies previous to starting this project, but the movies I focused on for Such Mean Estate were specifically those which had some environmental or ecological plot or message. I was somewhat loose about this, so it could be a cataclysmic storm, or bee swarm, or rampaging virus—just something where humans were being terrorized by nature on some level. I think that is kind of the ultimate fear, because it is an enemy that is irrational, unpredictable, and larger than life. I find it interesting to see that what scares us the most are often things that are beyond human control, or things that we have created that have gotten out of our control.” Then Jamison accompanied each photograph with a corresponding essay. Of her process, she states, “On the level of narrative possibility, I was really drawn to the sense of aloneness that rose from so many of these images—the terrifying possibility of being the last person left on earth, or even the last person left in a neighborhood, a swamp, a freeway. That stark haunting irony of living in a world of excess that has eventually collapsed on itself, emptied out. I also like the way that apocalypse scenarios in film sometimes allow an outsider—a wacko scientist, ignored Cassandra prophet, loner—to play some crucial or necessary role, to become part of his community again..”  From Guernica

In Dickens + MP3 ÷ Balzac + JPEG, Amanda Katz reviews The Story of My Teeth, the newest novel by Valeria Luiselli (author of Faces in the Crowd and Sidewalks.) The novel is a bizarre one; it tells the story of Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez, better known simply as Highway, and his teeth. He is a legendary auctioneer, a collector of unusual objects and of good stories, and the owner of a set of highly unfortunate teeth. In his travels, he collects and barters and sells in order to obtain better teeth, which he claims are those of Marilyn Monroe. Later, his precious teeth are lost to his estranged son, Siddhartha, and Highway is toothless. Originally commissioned as part of an art exhibition sponsored by Jumex Juice Corporation in Mexico City,  The Story of My Teeth is a highly artistic collaborative novel of philosophy, locale, storytelling, and lies. Central to the novel’s theme is the concept that objects gain or lose value based on the stories associated with them. Katz claims, “Contemporary art can indeed work something like that: Objects gain value through the stories attached, and, as Luiselli suggests, they can lose value by leaving the museum to become just one more mysterious possession in a fanatical auctioneer’s collection. In The Story of My Teeth, the stories that Luiselli has attached to the people, buildings, and companies of Ecatepec alter their value, touching them with the glow of literary inspiration. At the same time, she pulls revered artists and writers out of the museum and the library, recycling them as characters, even metaphorically adopting them as relatives.” From Salon.

Read an excerpt of The Story of My Teeth from Dissent Magazine. Seriously: “I started leafing through a newspaper, trying to keep at bay the implacable gusts of melancholy that assail you when you don’t eat your meals at normal times. I had taken to reading the newspaper right through, particularly when I was sunk in the self-pity engendered by my repeated rejections in the world of dance and theater. Other people’s misery and other people’s fortune always puts my own into perspective. I read a story that day in the newspaper about a certain local writer who had had all his teeth replaced. This writer, apparently, was able to afford the new dentures and the expensive operation because he’d written a novel. A novel! I saw my future, crystal clear. If that writer had had his teeth fixed with a book, I could do it too. Or, even better, I could get someone to write one for me. I cut out the article and put it in my wallet. I still keep it with me at all times, as a talisman.”

 Here’s a poem by Colleen O’Brian, The Interpretation of Dreamsfrom Kenyon Review. 

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