Lisa Capps and Elinor Ochs, Constructing Panic

In this pioneering books, researches Lisa Capps and Elinor Ochs look at the narrative on a woman suffering from agoraphobia and study the way she authors her narrative and the way her narrative comes to form her reality.

The linguistic shaping of sufferers’ narratives has been generally glossed over, with the result that the therapeutic effect of telling one’s life stories with another person remains largely a mystery. Psychoanalysts tend to look through narrative rather than at narrative to identify underlying emotional dynamics and formative experiences. How a teller sculpts her tale–the grammatical form and the sequencing and intertwining of pieces of setting, enigmatic experiences, and outcomes–is not a focal point but rather a medium for exposing a deeper story.

We share the view that stories can offer a powerful medium for gaining insights not fully accessible to the narrator. Indeed we endorse the perspective, held by a number of philosophers and literary critics, that narrative creates stepping stones to self-understanding. To borrow the words of Vaclav Havel, narrative allows us to confront ourselves, “to return in full seriousness to the ‘core of things,’ to pose the primordial questions again and again, and from the beginning, constantly, to examine the direction [we are] going.”

Karolina Ramqvist’s The White City

I heard this author read during Litquake and bought the book. Part heist novel, part a novel about becoming a mother, it blends the genres so effortlessly that, having finished the book, I’m convinced that motherhood is a kind of a heist. Translated from Swedish by Saskia Vogel. A beautiful edition by the Black Cat imprint of Grove Atlantic.

The baby’s named Dream. (What a cool name!)

 She put one arm over the baby, who had gone back to nursing, and rested her head on the other, trying to unwind and sink into the sofa. She focused on her body, one part at a time; she noticed her teeth clenching and opened her mouth all the way. Opening and shutting it and working her jaw from side to side to relieve the tension.  …

Dream downed the milk, swallowing while nuzzled into her white breast. Round as the baby’s cheeks and head, round as the areola that peeked out because Dream hadn’t gotten a proper grip on her nipple again. Round and round, rounds and rounds. The milk dribbled out of the baby’s mouth and ran down her breast, leaving a sticky trail on her skin and a wet stain on her robe.

Does the body keep producing breast milk after death? If something were to happen to her, if she choked or a blood vessel burst in her brain or if someone were to break in and take her out for good, it would probably be a while before anyone would miss her. But if she had enough milk in her breasts, then Dream might have a chance of surviving until someone showed up.

She tried to concentrate on the softness.

 

Upcoming readings

I will read my story “Companionship” that won the Litquake fiction prize at a Lit Crawl event, “Writers on the Verge” will take place on October 14th, at 5 pm, at Samovar Tea Lounge on Valencia Street. Full details are here.

On Tuesday, October 10th, at 7 pm, my friend and colleague Alia Volz organizes a reading called “Straight, No Chaser: Writers at the Bar” at the iconic Vesuvio Cafe in San Francisco’s North Beach (its fame goes back to the Beat Generation). This reading features contributors to Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California (Outpost19), an anthology where one of my stories has appeared. I will read an excerpt from my story. The special guest is Charlie Jane Anders!

Litquake prize!

My short-short story “Companionship” won San Francisco’s Litquake’s short story prize! As a part of the prize, I will read it during an event on Saturday October 14 — more details about this reading to come. This is a very recent story that hasn’t yet been published anywhere. Here’s a teaser opening,

At three years old Michael did decide to return to his mother’s stomach. His mother shifted things around and made room under her heart. She lived a mostly stationary lifestyle, and so accommodating Michael was no problem. In fact, she appreciated the companionship…

Clark Coolidge’s Collected Poems

Excited to learn that Clark Coolidge’s new Collected Poems is being published in April. I’m well-connected! Got an email from City Lights, announcing his reading on April 13, and also an email from the publisher, Station Hill Press. Apparently, Publishers Weekly declined to review this book — which is a sure sign of a certain kind of quality. Coolidge’s experiments from 1962 to 1986 still feel experimental!  This book comes with the coolidge-cover-largeintroduction by the late poet Bill Berkson.

I learned of Coolidge’s work several years ago, when asked to review his long poem that came out of trips to Leningrad-Petersburg. That review appeared in HTMLGiant. I’ve been following his work ever since. What appeals to me the most is the sense of play that comes from reading his lines, the attitude toward poetry and language as something to take apart and mold in new ways, as though just to see what will happen. A reading act calls for some kind of an interaction, for a partner to whom I could speak some lines, and who would laugh and nod in response. That’s cool. This falls flat. Read that again.

Peninsula Literary on March 17

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About Featured Readers

Olga Zilberbourg is a bilingual author; born in St. Petersburg, Russia, she
lives in San Francisco. Her third book of stories was published in Russia in
2016. Her English-language fiction has appeared in World Literature Today,
Tin House’s Open Bar, Narrative Magazine, and other print and online
publications. Her story “Love & Hair” recently won The Willesden Herald
International Short Story Award that she received in London, UK. Olga serves
as a co-moderator of the weekly San Francisco Writers Workshop.

David Denny’s most recent book is a collection of short fiction, The Gill Man in
Purgatory. He is also the author of two poetry collections: Man Overboard and
Fool in the Attic. Recent stories and poems have appeared in The Sun, Rattle,
California Quarterly, Catamaran, Spillway, and Chiron Review. David teaches
in the English Department at De Anza College in Cupertino, where he also
served as inaugural Poet Laureate from 2011-2013. When not teaching or
writing, he paints, hikes, reads, and enjoys classic studio-era movies. Check
out his web site at www.daviddenny.net.

Find out more about Gallery House artist Rozanne Hermelyn Di Silvestro at
http://wordpress.hermelyn.com/wordpress/