Words and Worlds


Since we couldn’t spend as much time reading, I wanted to share a few stories and pieces that you can keep—many of them use the modes and structures we’ve discussed in this workshop.

Note on sources: Here is a bibliography with links from some of the writers and texts I’ll be referencing. All these books are incredible guides to style and literary technique. 

I mentioned a poem by James Galvin titled “Grief’s Aspect.”

Gary Indiana gives a lecture on his former collaborator, artist Louise Bourgeois, whom he took to be “an existentialist.” Also: Indiana employs various strategies of formal variation—Horse Crazy is a first-person aria of complaint; Do Everything in the Dark is composed of tiny fragments, all organized by a central consciousness named Gary Indiana; and his American crime trilogy series doesn’t share voice or tone, each one wanders off with its subject. I referenced Gary Indiana’s interview published in The Paris Review, and there is something he says there, about how he used a novel to challenge a given interpretation, that bears quoting: 

I saw the American pathology on display every day of the Menendez trial. José Menendez was a Cuban émigré who’d come to America after the revolution, and he’d swallowed the whole deal—I’m going to succeed and become rich, my sons are going to be everything I want them to be, they’re going to be tennis champions, they’re going to be business parasites like me. The trial revealed something fundamental about this country—the insane worship of money and success that American society drills into people. Also, the cavalier abuse of children. I suppose my view of it all, by the late nineties, was informed by how unfair it was that so many young people had been carried off—not just killed by an epidemic but rejected by their families, their bodies refused by funeral homes and cemeteries, because they weren’t somebody else’s image of perfection. The counternarrative to the Menendez defense sickened me because it presumed that boys couldn’t be raped, boys couldn’t be sexually victimized. I think that if you revisited that case now, the take on it would be much different. I never doubted that the sons had been molested. I didn’t credit everything the defense said—but it was clear to me that given the composition of the juries, if you had presented the incest and abuse as anything less than a nightly event, the jurors wouldn’t have given any weight to it at all.  

You can learn more about Donald Evans’ world here.

You can read five more shorts from Thomas Bernhard here.