"I fight for fiction and for the Queen and I don't care who knows it! HAW HAW HAW...I say!"
The trenches are rough! Bryant did what she had to do, up there in the vanguard.
There was a trend with the McSweeney's crowd a few years back when everybody was writing flash fiction.
McSweeneys! It seems like a bad memory from an antique time. Those were the Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall years.
All this shit they were publishing back then was just as cute as could be. We were powerless to stop them, dear readers. We were selling xerox copies of short stories for a dollar on the drag in Austin, Texas. Don't blame us for all those wasted years when you stopped reading.
I couldn't stand any of the writers they were publishing, either. Luckily, I think they all went on to careers in film, advertising, and "non-profits," so I won't ever have to encounter any of them professionally. East Coast chokes on its own vomit and so do our movements die. West Coast finds crystal healing and stops "needing to write."
It seems like the genesis of most of this fiction was "people don't like to read anymore, so we have to give them something short to hold their attention spans and something inoffensive that will keep them from having anxiety attacks."
Unfortunately, McSweeney's was so incredibly loud (and so incredibly close) for so long that everybody started to think that all fiction was supposed to be politics, that literature was supposed to have some sort of moral agenda. Good people = good writing.
Music is for dancing, and fiction is a hallucinogen produced in the pineal glands of good writers. what is the politics of a good drug? A good drug is for everyone!
For far too long, people stopped trusting the power of fiction itself to coerce and enlighten (or destroy! yes!). Fiction was supposed to be nice and diluted: smooth, like Barbie's white brow and not very deep, like Ken's white asshole.
Here's the deal: very short stories can actually be excellent. Very short stories make absolute sense when they are punk songs.
Rae Bryant's short story collection "The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals" is a punk album.
A clarion call! What the fuck is up with all those morals we don't have, or only experience afterward, like contrails from the jet of our souls? I wish I knew, I really did, I wish I knew. I know a little more now that I have read this collection.
It even has kick-ass album art with liner notes.
You can buy this book from Patasola Press...and you should, immediately...to begin your fine collection of all Patasola products...lovingly cared for and dusted...on the floor of your squat...next to your stolen box of chewing gum...and your big bodega bong...and your sparrow's nest of NYC condoms and unwashed dishes...
This is pop punk, with symphonic breaks to clear your palate. It is a thousand different voices screaming together. I've got my favorite track, the one called "Intolerable Impositions." But I am pretty basic and I like up-tempo syncopation with a good beat and a simple message.
We are extraordinarily lucky to bring you one of Bryant's new, unpublished tales. Bryant experiments. This is an experiment. If you experiment, she also has a literary journal out of D.C. called "The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review," an allusion you will remember from skool.
The title for "I am Silver and Exact" comes from one of Sylvia Plath's poems called "Mirror." Sylvia Plath was, as we all know, punk as fuck. Rageahol got her, which always gets my favorites.
Bryant has also turned her short story into a short film, with jazz, dance, and kaleidoscopic sexuality. This is spoken-word burlesque, the natural evolution of burlesque: sex not through clenched teeth, a vaseline smile, or a ball-gag, but with the floodgates of language wide open.
This is burlesque for the blind.
Over the past month, we have brought you two pieces of fiction that are very different from one another. We brought you "The Bitter Priest" by Andrew Gabriel Rose, and also this fine tale. Though different in intent, they are both punk songs.
Both stories are available as videos on YouTube. The performance adds a new level to the story and helps us reach a different audience. We are trying to sell this idea to other fiction writers and poets; the idea that a good performance does not cheapen the work itself.
Not everyone is a performer. Not everyone writes punk songs, or jazz songs, or rock songs and that's a good thing. But I love a good punk song, yes I do.
Posted by miracle on Tue, 24 Jan 2012 01:11:01 -0500 -- permanent link