Spotlight on: CAFE IRREAL

With nods to Kafka. Kafka. Kafka.

Café Irreal is an online zine, edited by G. S. Evans and Alice Whittenburg, that has been in continuous publication since 1998 (Oh, kudos. Major kudos). Its focus is on writing about The Irreal.

They published self’s Appetites and The Secret Room.

The opening of Appetites:

  • When she was a girl, she ate crab, bitter melon, rice soup. She loved milkfish, which at that time was still abundant. The cook, who was as dear to her as her own mother, served her glutinous rice cakes, salmon cured with tamarind salt, grilled squid stuffed with chorizo, the meat of young coconuts.

Food is life. Yes.

Stay tuned.

 

Murakami Sentence of the Day

Even when self isn’t particularly taken by a Murakami story, there is always a take-away.

This story was written in the Jurassic period. Records in jackets? And none of Murakami’s characters use e-mail or text-messaging. Nevertheless:

  • The dwarf would take half-played records off the turntable, throw them onto the pile without returning them to their jackets, lose track of which went with which, and afterward put records in jackets at random.

— from “The Dancing Dwarf,” Story # 14 in The Elephant Vanishes

Murakami Throws Shade on Ugly Dentist

Story # 5 of The Elephant Vanishes: Sleep

(Murakami writes from a woman’s point of view in this one. Self found the effect a bit startling at first)

“I know why you’ve got so many patients,” I always say to him. “It’s because you’re such a good-looking guy.”

This is our little joke. He’s not good-looking at all. Actually, he’s kind of strange-looking. Even now I wonder why I married such a strange-looking man.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Self’s Apocalypse

Got a rejection from Oxford American today. Nevertheless.

Self has decided to submit a short story collection to a contest.

Story # 1: The Departure

The Situation:  A mom says good-bye to her son, who’s on his way to a college on the coast. Not five minutes after she waves good-bye and re-enters her house, the world ends. The woman wakes up to find that the roof of her house has cracked wide open, and nothing’s working. She decides to check in with a neighbor across the street, who invites her to share some cake (Did self say yet that she writes dark fiction?)

They each took a chair and faced each other across the kitchen table, the cake between them. The cat was still on Julietta’s lap but seemed to show no interest in food. She simply lay there, as if comatose. Through Mrs. Bautista’s kitchen window, Julietta thought she saw wisps of clouds moving backwards. Far off, somewhere, she imagined a whole bevy of airplanes were getting ready to scramble.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Murakami, Greatness

  • This is my seventeenth straight day without sleep.

Sleep, Story # 5 in The Elephant Vanishes, by Haruki Murakami, translation by Jay Rubin

How many years ago did self first read this collection?

It left hardly any impression.

She loves it madly now.

Stay tuned.

#amreadingpoetry: Michael Graves in J Journal

Cain’s Father

by Michael Graves

Cain, I ate of it
Long before your mother did,
And not because some tempter spoke.

I feasted underneath the limbs
Of God’s forbidden tree,
And then I slept
Between two thick and twisting roots.

(posted by kind permission of the author)

All my reading, throughout this current residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, has been about ancient Rome. I started with Mary Beard’s SPQR and now I’m reading Tom Holland’s Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic. I’m very struck by the theme of “double-ness” which recurs again and again, from the founding of ancient Rome (Mythic: Romulus and Remus, twins raised by a she-wolf, but all kinds of doubles appear in other world literature too).

And of course, just in the middle of my residency, comes this new issue of J Journal (New Writing About Social Justice, from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City).

J Journal has always had a special place in my heart. You know it. Because it blends the fields of law, social justice, and creative writing.

I kept sending them stuff, because social justice is a theme that reverberates with all Filipinos. They published Magellan’s Mirror, a story that’s a magical/realist re-telling of Magellan’s first encounter with Filipinos (They’re giants). You can read part of the story on their site, here.

A few days ago, the editors (Adam Berlin and Jeffrey Heiman) sent an announcement/preview of their forthcoming latest issue (April 2017). It included the Cain poems of Michael Graves, which were the “very first pages in the very first issue” of J Journal. I wrote to the editors to ask if I could feature one of the poems on my blog, they contacted Graves, and he gave his permission.

So here it is, one of Michael Graves’. It is powerful as all get-out.

Thank you, Michael Graves and J Journal, for letting me share this!

Stay tuned.

“Magellan’s Mirror”: Self’s Pushcart-Nominated Story, 2012

Magellan’s Mirror

  • Note: In this story, The Philippines is the home of giants. In the history books, Ferdinand Magellan is credited with their discovery.

During the next week, no natives appeared on the shore. The beach was empty as it had been on the first day, before the crew had sighted Enrique. The men looked up at the sky, cloudless and blue. Under their breaths, they cursed their leader.

dscn0513

The Beach at Capitola-by-the-Sea, late December 2016

In the middle of the third week, four of the giants were seen gesticulating on the shore. The sailors shook their heads. The natives importuned them with tragic gestures. Finally, the tribesmen boarded a massive canoe and began paddling towards the Trinidad. Magellan ordered his men to welcome them warmly. The crew offered the visitors their fill of wine. Just as the giants were sleepily dozing off, Magellan had his men shackle them.


Thanks to J Journal for nominating self’s story for the Pushcart. Self took the historical journey of Ferdinand Magellan and included magical elements. She has a Part II, called “Vanquisher.” And a third story, called “Residents of the Deep,” which she began at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, 2014, which takes place centuries later (1840s)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIP “Oceans” Part 2

The world up there was dying, and had been dying a long time. The air was dark and had a gritty taste; the soil reeked of chemicals. The winds blew unhampered over land that had been bare of forests for a long time.

The sphere creaked slowly into the ocean.

***************

A family that’s one of the last hold-outs on the surface finally makes the decision to undertake the descent into the ocean. They don’t know what they’ll find, and the father is sort of inept (Not everyone in the dystopian future is smart!). He builds a sphere. The family does test runs, immersing the sphere for incrementally longer periods in the ocean. The mother gets attacks of claustrophobia and hysteria. Will the family survive?

Worse is their fear of the unknown. The Bottom Dwelling Humans have evolved and have very little in common with the Surface Dwellers. The Bottom Dwellers have evolved fish-like gills. Their rarely used vocal chords are withering.

(To be continued)

WIP: “Oceans”

They’d been preparing for this day for centuries. The day when all remaining humankind must live permanently beneath the ocean waves.

Finally, when it became too painful to breathe the air any longer, the last remaining human colonies began to send pioneers into the deep.

* ****

Why oh why. Are all of self’s writings. So apocalyptic.

She’s always had a deep fascination with oceans, however. Always.

Stay tuned.

 

Self’s Very Own Wolf Story

One cold February night, Gabe’s wife began to howl.

He thought of a movie he’d seen a long time ago, a movie about a boy who turned into a wolf. The boy-animal became furtive, but fierce. In his wife’s eyes, now, were an animal intensity.

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