Review of The Consequences by Niña Weijers, trans. by Hester Velmans

I’m delighted to have this review up on The Common. It took longer to write than I had anticipated, in part, because every time I returned to this book, there was more to say about it. So many fascinating layers!

Outstanding books often have a way of catching the reader by surprise, one insight, one unexpected narrative shift at a time. Niña Weijers, a debut novelist from the Netherlands, begins her book as a character study of her protagonist, Minnie Panis. Minnie is a conceptual artist of growing international reputation, whose career has been built on acts of public self-abnegation.  With each turn of the page, Weijers extends her subject and thematic reach, keeping her protagonist in focus while exploring contemporary art, mysticism, Mayan beliefs, and early childhood development (among other themes) to enrich our understanding of Minnie’s character and the forces that govern her life.

Minnie’s story is told by an omniscient narrator who documents Minnie’s history of “disappearances”: moments of near death and of extreme out of body experiences, all of which Hester Velmans, an NEA fellowship recipient for translation, has rendered to strong effect in plain and unpretentious language. The prologue introduces us to Minnie in February, 2012 when she falls through a frozen lake in Amsterdam. This is described as a deliberate gesture—not a suicide attempt, but rather a Houdini-like disappearing act, Minnie’s third. But why such a radical performance? The ensuing narrative leads us on an investigation. . . .

Read the rest of this review here.

 

Helen More’s Suicide in Feminist Studies

44-1_cover_homepageMy story “Helen More’s Suicide” has been published in the current issue of Feminist Studies and is available on JSTOR. The piece was originally inspired by the biography of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, a scholar and a feminist who wrote mystery novels under pseudonym Amanda Cross, though in drafts the association became very loose.

Here’s the beginning of the story:

My retired colleague Marguerite called to tell me of Helen More’s suicide. “Of all the sad, ludicrous things people do to themselves!”

She invited me over. “Thursday night, as usual. I could use the company of younger people.”

It had been about a year since I’d first been invited to these Thursdays—monthly literary and musical soirees Marguerite hosted in her living room. Helen had been a regular at Marguerite’s for several decades; the two women were close contemporaries and each a celebrity in her own field. Helen was scholar of the English Romantics at the same university where Marguerite had taught Flaubert, Zola, and Balzac, and where I was now a junior faculty member in the English department. I’d heard of Professor More long before I met her: she lectured at the university from the 1960s until being forced into retirement in 2006 ostensibly
due to age. She had a reputation as a militant feminist who eagerly engaged in battles about appointments and promotions, and her politics could have had something to do with it.

To read the rest, log in via your library (through JSTOR) or buy a copy here.

Новая рецензия на Хлоп-страну

Московский автор и критик Данила Давыдов написал рецензию на мою книжку Хлоп-страна!

Говоря об этих рассказах как о психологической прозе мы не удаляемся от истины, но делаем ее более скудной, поскольку само вышеприведенное определение можно применить решительно к чему угодно. Важнее описать контуры того мира, который создает Гренец. Перед нами множество персонажей, женщин и мужчин, эмигрантов той или иной степени адаптированности к новым условиям, причем отнюдь не только (э)мигрантов из постсоветского пространства, – но и вполне местных, чаще молодых людей, но и зрелых, даже пожилых, и малых детей. Этот мультикультуральный и очень насыщенный гулом присутствующих «я» со всем разнообразием их опыта не производит впечатления ни утопии, ни антиутопии. Часто это пластмассовый мир, отчужденный от человека или, напротив, удобно-консьюмеристский, но бывает что и романтический, и насыщенный возвышенными смыслами, порой даже безбашенно-контркультурный.

Читать рецензию целиком тут.

А тут можно купить книжку.

Doctor Sveta in Alaska Quarterly Review

I’m deaqr_vol34-web-439x662lighted to have a short story of mine, “Doctor Sveta,” in the current issue of Alaska Quarterly Review. Here’s the opening,

Doctor Sveta was twenty six years old when the Navy commissariat summoned her to Leningrad and put her on a cargo ship among a motley crew of agronomists, agricultural engineers, livestock breeders, and tractor drivers, none of whom knew where the ship was headed or how long the journey might take. Her fellow passengers looked as confused at finding themselves confined to a seafaring vehicle as Doctor Sveta felt. No tractors accompanied them; not a cow, not even a single chicken. The agronomists and tractor drivers were healthy young men and a few women, two of them visibly pregnant. Doctor Sveta had been trained as a surgeon in Leningrad; she assumed it was in this capacity she’d been recalled from her post at a hospital in Minsk, Belarus. Besides the ship’s medic, there were no doctors aboard and not even a basic medical facility. Doctor Sveta worried she’d have to embrace a crash course in obstetrics.

Half a century later, as she tells me this story, Doctor Sveta . . .

This is a print magazine. To read the story, please buy the issue.

Martian Federation’s General Consulate in San Francisco: FAQ for Citizens

nrm-first-issueHere’s an experimental short, recently published in a brand new magazine. Welcome, New Reader Review! Download the copy of the magazine with my story here. (My story begins on page 204).

Martian Federation’s General Consulate in San Francisco: FAQ for Citizens

I. General Questions.
1.1. What is a consular district? I currently reside in Utah. May I seek assistance from the consulate in San Francisco?
1.2. Why am I unable to reach the consulate by phone?

II. Passport of the Martian Federation.
2.1. Must I apply for my passport in person? May I apply for my Martian passport by
mail?
2.2. How long does it take to receive my Martian passport?
2.3. What are the advantages of carrying a biometric passport?
2.4. I have bad handwriting. May I apply for my Martian passport electronically?
2.8. My name has been poorly translated to Martian. What do I do?
2.6. I don’t have a Martian passport. May I enter Mars with my American passport?
2.7. I was born on Mars but have lived in Utah my entire life. I don’t know the Martianlanguage. May I fill out the application for my Martian passport in English?

IV. Registration of Legal Documents.
4.1. Will the consulate register a marriage between an American and a Martian?
4.4. My groom has a very demanding job and is very busy. We are unable to come in
person to the consulate in San Francisco to register our marriage. What do we do?

To continue reading, download the issue.

The Sublime Gestures of Unrequited Love

the museum of americana also published this story that’s near to my heart. I wrote it several years ago and kept tinkering with the ending — I didn’t want the connection between the two parts be too obvious, but I did want there to be several clear lines of connection, plus something else. After all this tinkering, it sure feels good to see this story out there.

“In sixth grade, I declared my love to a boy by slipping a homemade paper doll of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust between the pages of the natural science homework I was giving him to copy. With the bright-eyed earnestness of first love, I believed I staked my entire future on the piece of cardboard decked out with a paper jumpsuit, a detachable red wig, and tall red boots—the details of the tricky costume carefully copied off a picture in TIME magazine.

“Thanks,” said Pete, grabbing the science notebook from my hands. “You’re a pal. I’ll give it back tomorrow.”

At home, when I’d been planning this handoff, I must’ve imagined it in slow motion and with deep significance to each word and gesture. . . .

To continue reading, go here.