Open Prose Selection: Erik Anderson's Estranger

After a winter of thrilling reading we’re excited to announce the third selection in the Open Prose Series, Erik Anderson’s Estranger, which will be published by Rescue Press in 2016.

Estranger begins with a memoirist’s problem—the suppressed story of a grandfather’s death on the south side of Chicago in 1984—but Estranger is no memoir. Estranger reexamines and reinvents genre, as one family’s story enters an intricate constellation of subjects: animal intelligence, museum architecture, films by Werner Herzog and Michael Haneke and Hou Hsiao Hsien, Camus’ The Stranger, Thoreau’s journals, the work of artists Kara Walker and Cy Twombley. In the tradition of writers such as W.G. Sebald, Michael Ondaatje, and Rebecca Solnit, Erik Anderson’s second book blends essay and invention into an exploration of vulnerability and detachment, a book that pushes against the limits of both everyday thought and literary form. The result is a work of restless, precise intelligence and disquieting originality.

Erik Anderson is the author of a book of lyric essays, The Poetics of Trespass (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2010). He teaches creative writing at Franklin & Marshall College where he directs the annual Emerging Writers Festival. You can read some of Erik’s work at Witness, Something on Paper3:AM Magazine, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Thank you to all those who shared their manuscripts with us this year—it continues to be an honor to read your prose.

Hilary Plum & Zach Savich
Editors, Open Prose Series

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: OPEN PROSE SERIES

This winter Rescue Press will consider book-length prose submissions for our Open Prose Series, which publishes one work a year of nonfiction, fiction, or sui generis prose. The series aims to support singular prose works and the wider discussion of contemporary literary prose; the first book in the series, Anne Germanacos's Tribute, will be released in spring 2014 (see below). We invite you to submit a manuscript to our open reading period between January 1 and January 31, 2014. All submissions will be reviewed by series editors Hilary Plum and Zach Savich, who will work with the editors of Rescue Press to select a manuscript for publication. We expect to make a decision by April 2014. Please send submissions to rescueopenprose [at] gmail [dot] com along with a biographical note and a brief statement about your work. Manuscripts should be sent as .pdf, .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachments. Participants have the option to submit a reading fee via this Paypal link; donations of any amount are appreciated and go toward publishing the selected manuscript. There are no restrictions on who may submit.

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2671 Anne Germanacos LO RES copyTribute by Anne Germanacos forthcoming, spring 2014

In her masterful second book, Anne Germanacos gets right down to the elemental: the single line. Tribute is a work of prose—novel, essay, experiment in narrative?—created from distinct lines, a work of continual shape-shift and exhilarating motion. Tribute chronicles the daily life of a woman whose mother is dying and who begins to see a psychoanalyst, a woman who lives among lovers, sisters, and children, across continents and their conflicts (New York, San Francisco, Crete, Cyprus, Israel/Palestine). The book that results offers us both her story—forcefully sensual, vibrantly lived—and, through its bold form, her complex relationship to story.

Germanacos's restless relationship to form is born of that most essential restlessness: desire. In Tribute she documents desire's manifold incarnations, the body's and the mind's; she pays beautiful tribute to the force of desire and to those who have been bold enough to try to comprehend it—gentle echoes remind us of H.D. and her Freud. In the tradition of Clarice Lispector, David Markson, and Marguerite Duras, Tribute takes us deep into the borderlands where fiction and nonfiction meet. The first book in Rescue Press's new series of innovative prose, this is a work of profound ambition and rare urgency.

Anne Germanacos is the author of the short-story collection In the Time of the Girls (BOA Editions, 2010). Together with her husband, Nick Germanacos, she ran the Ithaka Cultural Studies Program on the islands of Kalymnos and Crete. She now runs the Germanacos Foundation in San Francisco.

To request a review copy, please email rescuepress [at] gmail [dot] com.

Read an excerpt in the Kenyon Review Online!

Advance praise for Tribute:

"What can language do to resolve grief, to forge or release intimacy? In Tribute, Anne Germanacos responds to these mysteries by scouring and saving lit moments, phrases, and scraps. Far from being an act of withholding or willful sketchiness, Tribute is a passionate erasure back to bone. Reading, one experiences the need to stop and look up-as if encountering in a poem a particularly deft use of space which isolates and frames a moment for lavishing. It could take years to read this book, or an afternoon—either would be right—depending on your capacity for the flash-wisdom of aphorism and the pace at which you take your shots of insight." —Lia Purpura

"Anne Germanacos writes with wit and passion: she is a modern metaphysical poet. Her one-line fragments, discrete and connected, probe the desires and terrors of her embodied existence. Her words move us inward to our own most vital and painful zones. A rigorous, resonant voice." —Avivah Zornberg

"Anne Germanacos's Tribute is like nothing I have ever read before. A novel in poetic form, prose poetry, or her own invented style, this is an amazing, original and captivating read. Taking off from HD's (the poet Hilda Doolittle) Tribute to Freud Germanacos deals with the narrator's experience of psychoanalysis, her dying mother, love, sexuality, dreams and much more. Like the mystical-spiritual HD, presenting analysis and the other topics in this poetic form seems just right. Each evocative, impressionistic line can be unpacked by the reader in a variety of ways, making for a uniquely rich experience." —Louis Breger

"A kaleidoscope that can well hold a reader securely while containing a soul." —Robert Wallerstein

"A master of silence and the subtle pass, Germanacos builds her absorbing and seductive narratives from a thousand fragments. Her paradoxes—intimate, edgy, and luminous—tease us through a maze of reflections on mothers and daughters, Freud, sex and desire, and politics. 'What is it that writing does to a life?' Tribute is her answer: it gives it meaning." —Askold Melnyczuk

Open Prose Series: Anne Germanacos

Rescue Press is thrilled to announce that the editors of our Open Prose Series, Hilary Plum and Zach Savich, have selected Anne Germanacos' book-length prose manuscript TRIBUTE for publication in Spring 2014.    Anne Germanacos’ work has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies. Her collection of short stories, In the Time of the Girls, was published by BOA Editions. She and her husband live in San Francisco and on Crete.

Congratulations to Anne and thank you to all who sent in manuscripts of fiction, nonfiction, and electric prose!

Open Prose Series

This winter Rescue Press will consider book-length prose submissions for our new Open Prose Series, which will publish one work a year of nonfiction, fiction, or sui generis prose. open prose dancers

This series will support singular prose works and the wider discussion of contemporary literary prose. We invite you to submit a manuscript to our open reading period between January 1 and January 31, 2013. There is no fee for submission nor are there restrictions on who may submit. All submissions will be reviewed by series editors Hilary Plum and Zach Savich, who will work with the editors of Rescue Press to select a manuscript for publication. We expect to make a decision by April 2013.

Please send submissions to rescueopenprose@gmail.com along with a biographical note and a brief statement about your work. Manuscripts should be sent as .pdf, .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachments.

Safety Book #23 (Hilary Plum)

1. Could you tell us the name of a book that you love, and why? Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge / The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell. This is Rilke’s only novel, first published in 1910; this translation is from 1982. (There have been a number of translations, most recently, I believe, Burton Pike’s in 2008. I am curious to read the others but I suspect I never will, since it’s Mitchell’s that I fell in love with early on and irrevocably and I can’t imagine letting myself be rewritten like that.) The Notebooks are often called “one of the first great modernist novels,” phrases like this, and are in a journal-like form that is based to a degree on Rilke’s letters from Paris to Lou Andreas-Salome. Brigge, the novel’s narrator, is a young Danish nobleman, living in Paris, a poet, wandering the city, subject to its poverty and decay.

2. Where were you when you first read, or saw, or heard of this book?

I was in college, in fall 2002, in what at the time I thought was my senior year, in a class called “Nietzsche and Freud.” We were to read tons of Nietzsche and tons of Freud and then some literary works (Tristan Mann, Hermann Hesse, Rilke, some others). One could read everything in German or in English translation; the lectures were in English. I began the class determined to read everything in German (I had learned very good German in high school, which was at that time already slipping from me, is now almost gone), but in the end I read only English and very little of that. I was in a situation: I was sick, with some mysterious neurological illness that had begun the year before and seemed to be worsening, but since no one could explain what was happening, I was trying to continue to do everything normally, including running varsity cross-country, which considering the regular collapses I had was, as people kept telling me, “a bad idea.” The illness was returning increasingly often, in bizarre episodes, and so I was having a profoundly disorienting experience of time and my body. (I continue to have this experience, but through familiarity I am now better oriented.) The semester got messier and messier, until I reached the end (sort of—having had a bad reaction to a medication and needing to leave school suddenly, grabbing a bunch of extensions as I headed out the door), and realized I had final papers to write but had read almost nothing for any of my classes. I wish I could say this was due entirely to illness, but it wasn’t: I had a lot of discipline for certain things but often couldn’t quite make myself read for class, I’d end up wandering around instead. I suppose that’s a stereotypical description of “a writer,” but it’s also how I was. To this day I’ve read maybe 20 pages of Nietzsche, though obviously we were assigned several books by him (we were also meant to watch a taped performance of Wagner’s full Ring Cycle, all eight hours, can you believe it?). I had a strategy for my college classes at the time: write a somewhat shaky first couple papers, miss a bunch of class, but then write one killer final paper, which surprise and sign of improvement usually resulted in an A for the course, even if you had missed a lot in between (as I did, because of illness but also sometimes simple disinterest) or otherwise not been impressive or even adequate as a student. In the case of “Nietzsche and Freud” I had for the final to compare two books from a divided list of works we’d read in class, but when I looked at the list I had only read one of them.

One good thing, or maybe just one thing, about illness is that it grants your moments of health a real ferocity. As I recovered a little I set to work reading Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, and could not have been angrier that someone was asking me to spend my time with this trash. In that entire disastrous autumn one of the only things I really remember, remember with the truer, deeper weight of memory, is this novel: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. It was beautiful, it was something that could answer to my desperation, it was something anyone would be lucky just to get to spend time in. I wrote then about Rilke and Hesse with a fierce passion—a young passion, maybe the essay would be laughable now, but a real one, I remember how it felt to read The Notebooks, the struggle and disquiet of that time.

3. Did this book influence your own writing, thinking, sense of the world, or work?

A few years later I reread The Notebooks and this time wrote a novella in response. The novella was about, or “about,” a young woman studying in and wandering through Berlin, as well as an actor who is becoming passionate about climate change and imagining the end of days it might lead to. The novella is structured around a series of excerpts from texts that perhaps one or both of the narrators (the student, the actor) are reading. As perhaps you have already guessed, the novella was a failure. I undertook almost every experiment I could imagine within it, and it was all too much for one work to bear—I have not returned to it but I can’t think that it’s readable. It was an essential developmental text for me, though, the struggle that, having endured, having reached the end of, I was then able to write my first novel. And that novel, too, is largely about reading, although in this case, reading the news, reading about the war in Iraq.

We (dreamers, idiots, children, geniuses, whalers, Elvises) who want to spend so much of our lives writing, we for whom literature is so vital, must struggle daily with whatever variations we can stand of this question: what can a book stand for? what can a book be? what is it a cause of? When we write a novel we are writing in response to all we’ve read, we are writing back at it all and we are trying to write forward. The Notebooks have been in my life a work so powerful that I think it’s right to spend years trying to respond. When I wrote that essay and that novella in response to The Notebooks, I was trying to answer the larger question that still haunts/orients me and never only me: How do we speak about the texts that make us up?

4. Give us a line or excerpt from the text that intrigues, engages, mystifies, inspires, disgusts, or transforms you. Discuss…

The Notebooks begin with the heading “September 11, rue Toullier”; the first sentence is “So this is where people come to live; I would have thought it is a city to die in.” I read the novel, as I said, in fall 2002, when that date was particularly weighty, a coincidence one couldn’t quite shake off. Nor can I ever shake off those first lines. In German it’s “So, also hierher kommen die Leute, um zu leben, ich würde eher meinen, es stürbe sich hier.” In Pike’s translation, “So, this is where people come in order to live, I would have rather thought: to die.”

When I first read The Notebooks what I was particularly obsessed with—at the time being immersed in Buddhist philosophy, and thus attentive to the aspects of Eastern philosophy in Rilke and to his meditations on desire, selfhood, and god—were the symbolic “women in love” in the novel. Women whose love is essentially unrequited—in the words of my undergraduate self (why not? Safety! I’ll call it like a base, so that you can’t judge me—): “The unattainable quality of the object of her love and the nature of her sacrifice liken her love to the ideal love of God.” Who could summarize the novel’s thoughts on love, on god, on art, on self-surrender and freedom—instead I’ll just offer these lines, which indeed mystified and (in struggling to come to terms with them) transformed me: “To be loved means to be consumed in flames. To love is to give light with inexhaustible oil. To be loved is to pass away; to love is to endure.”

5. Who did you send this book to, why?

Most recently I typed a handful of passages on painting from The Notebooks into an email for a friend who is writing a beautiful novel on Egon Schiele.

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Hilary Plum’s first novel, They Dragged Them Through the Streets, is forthcoming from FC2. She is co-director of Clockroot Books, a consulting editor with the Kenyon Review, and a contributing editor to Rescue Press. Some recent fiction can be found in DIAGRAM.