Category Archives: literature

Yellow Sky: Brandon Hobson

tornado

Brandon Hobson has a piece on tornadoes in The Paris Review Daily.

A week before the tornado outbreak in May of 1999, I attended my first Native American sweat with my friend A. J., a security guard and blackjack dealer at a Cheyenne-Arapaho casino located in the town of Concho. I’d known A. J. since eighth grade, when we used to smoke cigarettes and catch crawdads in the creek behind his grandfather’s house. His grandfather sat in a recliner and smoked a pipe and spent whole afternoons staring out the window. He talked to us about luck. Good luck, bad luck. He once told us to pay attention to wind and smoke. If wind drifted the smoke east, that meant good luck. But only east. Crows are good luck, he told us, because they fly high and carry prayers to the spirits, whereas owls are considered bad luck. Rain is good luck, but only when the sun is shining. Strong winds are good luck because they are personified as divine spiritual messengers. Even ridiculously high winds that bring down power lines and trees are still considered good luck, regardless of their destruction: the overall speed of wind is unimportant because many tribes look at the path of winds as the soul of a spirit sweeping across the land. I’ve never been much into superstitions, but listening to A. J.’s grandfather talk about all this when I was a kid made me realize this was some serious shit.

An elimae appreciation

Wigleaf editor Scott Garson posted a Facebook appreciation of elimae.

Some of you have heard that the current issue of elimae is the final one. I feel like we should be making more of this! elimae was a pioneer web journal — started up by Deron Bauman way back in ’96 (when most people still didn’t have email accounts, when you had to wait long seconds for each web page to load). Under Bauman and subsequent editors (and super-fine writers) Cooper Renner, Kim Chinquee, and Brandon Hobson, elimae specialized in a kind of fiction that was more or less disappearing in New York. Gordon Lish’s final year at Knopf was ’95, and New York was starting to narrow down to the two types of literary fiction it could hope to do profitably: moral entertainment and authorial spectacle. elimae did neither. Under Renner’s stewardship, the journal solidified its reputation for a distinctive sort of fiction — tight, minimal, sentence-aware, often very short (under three hundred words). As a reader, I didn’t always love everything I found in elimae, but I was always excited to read through the monthly issues. I always felt like an elimae story might find a way into me, changing my brain or the way I saw fiction or life on earth.

The Language of the Birds

{ untitled: under the auspices } is a book of auguring, or divination codex, where birds are the words, in particular the common starling (with a few cameos by seagulls & crows). The sequenced set of flight patterns, or murmurations, were captured over the course of the past few years in the skies over Rome, where the starlings winter in the months of October & November.

Coming September 2012 from Calamari Press.

Slovenly Elephants & Crystalline Waters

«Is ganesh a word, asked the commanding officer, Yes, a word, which, like all the others, can only be explained by more words, but since the words we use to explain things, successfully or not, will, in turn, have to be explained, our conversation will lead nowhere, the mistaken and the true will alternate, like some kind of curse, and we’ll never know what’s right and what’s wrong.»—José Saramago

More from a Balkan State of Mind I.

David Cronenberg: Betray the Book in Order to Be Faithful to the Book

David Cronenberg on adapting Don DeLillo’s “Cosmopolis”:

You have to know that each adaptation will be different. What you’ve done before will not help you on the next one. I’ve said before you have to betray the book in order to be faithful to the book. You have to recognize that literature is not cinema: they both do different things well, and there are certain things they cannot do that the other one can. I’m pretty ruthless about discarding things from a book that will not work cinematically.