Three Writers (De)construct Form at ALOUD

May 16, 2014

On next Tuesday, May 20th, three innovative and genre-crossing writers will take the ALOUD stage for “Sentence After Sentence After Sentence,” to discuss their own unique relationships to form—or lack their of. Moderated by the novelist Jim Krusoe, Anne Germanacos, Dinah Lenney, and Matias Viegener will consider the power of “structure” to challenge, propel, de-rail, shape, cloud, elevate, illuminate, or simply extend the impulses of their writing. To get a sense of the myriad ways this conversation may itself take shape, we caught up with the three writers to share a sample of their writing.

Anne Germanacos:

 “The following page gives a sense of the way the text moves—something like a mind —requiring the reader to relinquish certain expectations of narration and surrender to the flow, which has its own logic and rewards.” –The excerpt below is from Tribute, her new experimentation with narrative.

rejoicing, in my own quiet but occasionally sole-slapping way

*

maintaining tension, modulating it

*

full moon—mooning around

*

Holding onto a secret has its price: you pay until you can’t.

*

Like a good analyst, like a good mother, a story holds.

*

(a sliver of perfection)

*

Some organizing part of me goes dumb.

*

no ledge, no circle of earth, no leg

*

Shaping, you kill.

*

some half-assed Michelangelo, chipping away

*

bliss?

*

one line for me, and another line for me

*

(within her sight)

Dinah Lenney:

“This new collection of interconnected essays marches to a provocative premise: what if one way to understand your life were to examine the objects within it? Which Objects would you choose? What memories do they hold? And lined up in a row, what stories do they have to tell?” –The following excerpt is from “Ferris Wheel,” an essay in The Object Parade from Counterpoint Press.

[…]

When the kids were small, when I would have done about anything to break up a Sunday afternoon, I once took them down to some sort of festival in Echo Park, where there wasn’t a Ferris wheel the day before, and there wouldn’t be one the next; but presto, there it was, and they wanted a ride. I bought three yellow tickets, then seated myself between them holding tight to their hands. Back we swung back with a jolt, and then forward and up: no belts, no latches, no straps of any kind—just a metal bar in front of us—lucky for me, they were (they are) good children, sensible and fundamentally kind; not about to let go, not about to lean too far over the side, even then as concerned for me as I was for them—and even so, I rued the decision. Anyway, I thought. This will be over soon and we will be fine.

Up, up we went, till we saw the tops of the oaks, the palms, the old magnolias—below us, the lotuses blooming velvety against the black of the lake—though, I admit, I only saw all that from the corner of my eye, afraid as I was to be distracted from my task, which was to focus straight ahead as if we weren’t climbing higher and higher (too high), swinging precariously this way and that; as if my stomach hadn’t dropped, as if I weren’t breathing hard, a sour taste on the back of my tongue. My job, howbeit, to will us around and down again, onto our feet, on which we’d walk, like sensible bi-peds, to the boathouse to rent something small with paddles or oars, which I’d navigate all by myself, thanks, between and among the swans.

But then—then in the middle of this act of will something went wrong—the Ferris wheel stopped at the highest point, and we dangled there, for minutes—for many minutes—and I considered this contraption, which would be in pieces and packed into the back of a truck by nightfall; wondered how sturdy it might not be—looked up at the carriage swaying, creaking in its joint as if it might snap, and, I thought, Well, if we must die, we will die together. “Ssshhhhh,” I said to the children, who hadn’t uttered a word, both of them beaming, thrilled to be above the trees.

[…]

Matias Viegener:

“My book 2500 Random Things About Me Too was generated almost by accident, starting with a single list of 25 random things about myself that I felt less than enthusiastic about. The list was a meme going around on Facebook, what I saw as a kind of forced intimacy in a medium that was already about the highly staged presentation of self for the hopeless goal of getting attention.  So in my contrary way, I composed another list, and then another, a hundred in total.  As often happens, repetition is instructive, even meditative. The form opened up, gave me a way to think through lists, randomness, the construct of “things,” the concept of “aboutness” and finally, belatedness.  We’re never the first at any scene, whether it be a love story, a sonnet or an experimental form.  As I tried to capture what was “about me,” the concept of the unified self was ever more elusive, but something else took its place: a cloud of words, stories and details.    

I never had the impulse to write a memoir, but if I did it would have to be an assemblage in many parts, and would need to capture my confusion about where I let off and the world begins.  It couldn’t have any particular order, and it would have to emerge in a spontaneous, unpremeditated way.  The only way I can talk about me is to occupy myself with a task, make it a game, and let it lead me along until I find a stopping point.  That’s the main thing perhaps, it would have to have neither a beginning nor an end.  It would have to start, find something to say, and then stop.”

Read an excerpt of Matias’ book at the Les Figues website. And here’s an article for The Huffington Post about how he wrote a book on Facebook.

To learn more about these authors and make a free reservation to the upcoming ALOUD program, click here.

 


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