The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Renee Gladman Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (2014)


‘Over the course of Renee Gladman’s trilogy — Event Factory, The Ravickians, and Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge — the narrative focus draws increasingly inwards. The narrator of Event Factory is a foreigner, and the book describes her stay in the city, and her struggles with the language and culture around her. At times, she seems thoroughly fluent in it; at others, her interactions with Ravickans are more fraught, with gaps in understanding, moments of political tension, and brief scenes of existential dread. The Ravickians takes as its central character Luswage Amini, a Ravickan novelist alluded to in Event Factory. Here, too, a familiar literary device — following her progress across the city — is juxtaposed with thoughts on translation’s inaccuracy, the problems that plague Ravicka, and Amini’s long and complex relationship with another writer, Ana Patova.

‘Patova is at the center of the trilogy’s final novel, Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge — a title that seems quotidian until one reads Event Factory and discovers that “crossing a bridge” is a phrase abounding with resonances in Ravic. Here’s the narrator of Event Factory as she views and translates a warning sign beside a bridge.

‘Digla implied that to successfully cross the bridge (or not cross the bridge, depending on the meaning of the remaining words) we had to grasp the content of the message and integrate that content into an act or gesture made toward the bridge.

‘Here, more of the city’s history is revealed, and its place in the wider world is made more clear; still, it too exists at a distance, as much of what we’re reading is, ostensibly, a book by Ana Patova called Enclosures. The book’s cover design, in which white space frames artwork similar to the much larger art gracing the covers of the previous volumes, effectively mirrors this structure.

‘Gladman’s trilogy avoids hitting certain conventional narrative beats, even as the novels’ structures fit within larger guidelines — once again, an echo of Ravicka’s geographic and physical elusiveness. The narrator of Event Factory leaves certain details out of her story which would otherwise represent significant beats in the narrative; towards novel’s end, she notes:

‘Obviously, I cannot say what happened once I reached the street. That is, I cannot say whether or not I remembered something that I was to look for, as if it were an event that is now complete.

‘The second and third volumes in the trilogy, ostensibly translated from Ravic to English, achieve a greater stability in their narratives, but other things remain unsaid. Every once in a while, a Ravickian will make a statement that reminds us that their culture is not simply a known one with a few changes in dress or cuisine tacked on. “Everyone is leaking structure,” one character notes in The Ravickians, and throughout the trilogy, a comparison is made between the physical spaces in Ravicka and the characters who live there. In a larger sense, the way that the narrative of these three novels eludes expectations, sometimes frustratingly, mirrors how the use of space in Ravicka can defy logic.

‘As in Morris and Miéville, some aspects of Ravickian society feel fundamentally knowable. Many of the characters’ names have an Eastern European feel to them, and a reference to “buildings wandering and knocking into each other” in Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge recalls Prague’s Frank Gehry-designed Tančící dům (or “Dancing House.”) Later in the trilogy, Patova’s talk of being offered refuge in Finland during a past period of civil unrest further situates Ravicka in the real world, suggesting that, for all its eccentricities, it can still be pointed to on a map.

‘It’s also worth noting that Gladman cites Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren in the acknowledgements of Event Factory. That novel, and the city at its center, provide another lens through which to view Ravicka — one in which, unlike the novels of Miéville and Morris, a greater degree of surrealism in the landscape is expected. (One might also cite fellow Delany acolyte Jonathan Lethem’s Amnesia Moon.) For all that the anxieties and anguish of the Ravickians becomes increasingly more tangible over the course of the trilogy, Gladman also poses certain questions about their culture that delve into a glorious illogic.

‘The Ravic language involves gestures — but to say that undercuts the extent to which performance is ingrained in not just the language but in the very concept of Ravickian identity. At one point early in Event Factory, the narrator notes that a friend of hers, Simon, has vanished. She takes over his role at a hotel in the city; later, she notes that “I stood there and performed Simon brilliantly.” And late in Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, the narrator shares postcards she has received, ostensibly from expatriate friends, with a gathering of people that includes those same figures. “No one believed Tómas was in Delaware, but no one believed that he was in Ravicka either, as long as I was carrying around that postcard.”

‘You don’t go to the trouble of constructing a metaphorically rich fictional city without having some larger point to impart on your readers. In Gladman’s case, that seems to be about fear and anxiety and the way each of us splinter ourselves. As her narrative defies expectations, her use of space occasionally defies logic — which is every bit as disorienting as you might expect. There are no maps that can take you to the places Gladman and her colleagues describe, but that might be the point: their geography is already etched into our minds, and we travel there whenever we are reminded of our ever-present anxieties.’ — Tobias Carroll



Renee Gladman and the New Narrative
The Company That Never Comes
‘Five Things’, by Renee Gladman
‘Proportion Surviving’, by Renee Gladman
‘Calamity’, by Renee Gladman
‘I Began the Day’, by Renee Gladman
An interview with Renee Gladman by Joshua Marie Wilkinson
A Voice of Leaving: Renee Gladman’s The Ravickians
Beginning the Day with Renee Gladman’s Calamities
Renee Gladman @ PennSound
Renee Gladman @ goodreads
Buy ‘Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge’



‘When I first attempted to describe Gladman’s drawings, I thought of the paleographic terms for describing ancient and medieval writing: letterform, overline, cross-stroke, descender, curl, et cetera. I thought of the names of the Western letterforms no longer in use: ash, eth, thorn, yogh. But this seemed futilely retrospective. A dead end. I thought of a line from Event Factory: “There were no residents here. Old Ravicka, the ancient city, was a museum.”

‘In Gladman’s drawings, her lines gather into tangled structures that resemble cityscapes, individual buildings, skylines, structures covered in scaffolding; they are architectural plans composed of written lines. In the introduction to Prose Architectures she asks, “How could I inhabit thought as architecture, as a space that could be seen or experienced bodily?”’ — John Vincler



Renee Gladman at Georgetown University

Renee Gladman reads at Small Press Traffic

Renee Gladman reads at Eastern Michigan University


from BOMB


Renee Gladman I want to begin by asking you about slowness. Very general, I know. But it’s something I think about when I read your narratives: the duration of a moment of perception. Or perhaps, the sense has more to do with a certain silence around perception, which I’m reading as speed, but which might have more to do with space. Where do words like “slowness” or “silence” land when you think about the nature of experience or subjectivity?

Amina Cain I do often see “duration” within perception as a kind of spaciousness (something I am always trying to find, both in my stories and in my life), but, interestingly, I just finished an essay on my relationship to writing and it’s called Slowness. In it, I talk about how drawn I am to films (like Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman) and books (like Clarice Lispector’s The Apple in the Dark) that seem to move slowly, or that when they do build up to something with some kind of energy, do so without the promise of “real” drama, not unlike what it is to prepare to meditate. In the Soto Zen tradition, which is the only one I really know, you go through a fairly momentous ceremony to simply stare at a blank wall, to arrive at something like spaciousness or slowness. On that blank wall is projected everything (after all, you can see your mind there) and also nothing. I like that relationship between drama and quiet, between moving towards something and then just sitting down upon arrival to experience what it’s like to be there. I like it in life and in writing.

I wrote another essay that thinks about the similarities between fiction and landscape painting (as well as character and landscape) because I’ve been realizing more and more how important image and setting are to me as a writer—in a way, even more so than language, and certainly more than plot or story. The question I am now asking myself, that I think I have always asked myself, perhaps without knowing it at first, is: can a story be like a painting, or a video or film, or can it allow for lapses into the space of one of these things for a little while? What happens when a narrative allows us to spend time with an image longer than we are “supposed” to, when it is just as arresting as the story being told?

But, in that second essay, I also talk a bit about Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, about how the narrator “softens” (and what I mean by this word is that some kind of boundary breaks down) with not only the “architectured” landscape, but also with sentences, and with the physical act of writing. It feels to me as though everything in the book is passing through the narrator’s body or that the narrator’s body passes through everything. I wonder if these impressions mean anything in terms of the way you yourself see the book, if you thought at all about porousness or exchange.

RG Sometimes it’s difficult to separate a narrator from language or the idea of the body and text. I often think they are inextricable, but lately I think it’s more that the narrator (of most of my fictions) and the body (which people ask me about a lot) are sublimated figures. They belong to language; they are problems of language. The only reason there is a body is because there is a text, in this case a “bridge,” to make its form possible. I like when people talk about membranes in regard to writing, because it allows you to visualize a layer that potentially sits on top of language. Because, you see, I think the language of the book is passing through something as well, and it’s not the narrator’s body, rather some abstraction of itself. Language has a dream of itself and the book passes through the dream. The first part of the sentence forms the membrane and the second part of the sentence moves through it. In my mind, it looks like ribboning, but is colorless. Someone writes about language as a skin, which perhaps corresponds with your thoughts on porosity. I am interested in the idea that the skin is an organ, because skin is flat like landscape, like language. If we allow language to be skin in our imaginings then we can move immediately to all the processes happening below that level—so many systems at work with the skin (language) acting as protection, as boundary and container. I think about things entering that membrane and moving through the body beneath and try to imagine what that looks like, sounds like at the reading level. I want the language you see, particularly in Ana Patova, to be alive and in process.

Earlier, in talking about meditation, you mentioned going through “a fairly momentous ceremony to simply stare at a blank wall,” as a way to describe your relationship to narrative. This is really exciting to me, a series of elaborate acts to prepare for one prolonged gesture. (Though I have a problem with the word “one” there. I’m not sure it’s countable.) How does this translate in writing? You talked about the wall, but I’m interested in the ceremony. Where does it take place? Is it outside of the frame of the narrative?

AC I like so much of what you say here, especially about language—what belongs to it (not possessively); what’s just underneath, moving; its dream of itself; the second part of a sentence moving through the first. I often want to ignore language, but of course I owe it everything because I don’t ignore it when I write and, thought about in the ways you describe, how could I? Here (and in Ana Patova) it’s as alive as a character (is character alive?), but it’s not character. It doesn’t want or need to be alive like that. It makes me think of language as a stage, the thing we all show up to see. A character may walk across it, but that is not the important part. Not that I think the two are pitted against each other, or ranked. It’s more about possibility (and I think there’s possibility everywhere in fiction). And the language in Ana Patova is always in process, yes. If a house has burned down in the first part of a sentence it is not necessarily so in the second part, and yet it’s not as if the first part doesn’t still exist. Nothing is reversed. This is something I love about the book. Sometimes an event that seems final happens again. The ribboning, colorless, makes sense to me. I also think of the sentence here as a kind of animal, drawn lightly. Maybe it’s my image-driven mind, but I sometimes felt in reading Ana Patova as if I were seeing drawings that flickered in and out of visibility.

The ceremony takes place in the narrative. Maybe the narrative is the ceremony, there to usher in a setting or moment that can then be stayed with for a while. Sometimes I feel as if I am a selfish writer (though I also think it might be okay), and that I write stories to get to something else, not the actual story. I don’t think that I “use” narrative or story in a negative sense, just that it’s a medium that allows me to get to these places, these moments. I don’t think I could get to them through poetry, for instance (or even through another kind of story with its other concerns). I’ll probably fumble a bit in expressing this, because maybe I won’t quite get to it, but it’s interesting to me looking here at how we both talk about our books, our writing. I have already brought into the conversation words like “character,” “setting,” and “story,” these classic elements of fiction. You and I both do and don’t seem to come to narrative in very different ways, and these differences in how writers arrive at and to their texts is endlessly fascinating to me.

RG I’m drawn to this idea of language as a stage that we all show up to see. First of all, it’s exciting to think there are objects in the field of language, that there are actually things to see, because often I find we leave the object world behind when we speak or write. Language is so abstract and goes on about its business of deducing, connecting, naming, expressing, etc. with nothing tangibly in play. You know what I mean? Language uses our memory of objects and our desire for meaning to world-build. So, if I’m inside your metaphor, and I’ve arrived at this stage upon which I will see language, I’m giddy, because I think I’m looking at nothing. Nothing is happening in my eyes. Though, somewhere else (perhaps through some other kind of seeing) shapes emerge. Signals go off and meaning parades through our brains. How fantastic is that? When I teach poetry, I like to ask my students where does the poem exist? Is it that thing on the page? Is it the words lingering in our brain, some feeling in the body? Where is it? The nothing that happens when one writes “Danielle is sitting in that chair” is incredibly compelling to me. And I think this is something you’ve mastered beautifully in your work—a surface that acts as if it’s devoid of objects, so that it’s less what the words say than how they behave. In “Attached to a Self” you write, “Sometimes there is a great emptiness, like shaking a box nothing is inside of; sometimes the box becomes warm.” I get caught up in the mystery; it’s a sort of displacement of consequence. Things take on surprising qualities in your work. And even though it’s the language that relays these effects, I find it’s more what is absent, what is pulled into an invisible but no-less-felt tautness that I’m waiting to see.

I wonder if you can talk about recent evolutions in your thinking about narrative—what you want it to do, what it actually does—and how the narratives you create correspond to those you experience in the world.

AC That’s really nice—waiting to see what won’t show up alongside of what does, and then, through that absence, being able to see a shape. A seeing without eyes. This might be true for many writers, but the way I’m able to tell if a text is finished is when I’ve cleared out enough space. If it’s too cluttered, certain relationships won’t be able to exist or make themselves known. It’s like a table with too many things on it. In a situation like that even the table is unable to be seen. Something about abstraction is hard for me, at least within a text, partly because it seems there is very little space in it. My feeling is that it gathers too many things around itself without clearing any of it out. Maybe that’s why I am always trying to use this thing that can be so abstract—language—to get to something else.

I don’t know if my thinking about narrative has changed necessarily, but definitely my understanding of what I do through narrative has evolved and become more visible. Mostly I feel I operate in the dark (while actually in the act of writing) and that my subconscious mind knows much more than the conscious one. But I do know that I want narrative to reveal, to let certain things sit next to each other; to catch abjectness and transcendence; and closeness and distance. In many ways, the narratives I write reflect what my experience has been in the world, or what I have been drawn toward, or repelled from, or what I find funny or sad. And, self-indulgently perhaps, as a writer I tend to plunk myself down in a narrative or setting or situation I want to spend time in, either because there’s something in it I want to imagine my way through or recreate. In my life, place has always been really important. This might sound bratty, but there are certain towns or cities that can crush me even if I’m just passing through for a couple of days, and these are not necessarily unliked towns/cities I’m talking about. Los Angeles is a place many people dislike (of course there are people who love it too), and yet for me it is almost therapeutic to be here. In the same way, place (and I might extend this to atmosphere, which brings in psychic as well as physical qualities) often drives my narratives. I take a long time to set things next to each other in a way that will hopefully make them alive and reveal something about their relationships to each other and create the space of the narrative.

What about you? Earlier you talked about language (and sentences) in a way that turned my head around and I really appreciated that. How does narrative fit in? What is the relationship between language and narrative?

And before I forget, I want to set this passage from Ana Patova here, because I want it to be in the space of our conversation and because it struck me so much when I read it:

“I wrote sentences about space so that I could stand up and walk down that hill. I wrote them, because the hill was too steep to descend gracefully with your body upright and steady. Spaces moaned when you crossed them; they didn’t know how to hold you.”

It makes me think more about what language can do, in a text and otherwise.

RG In Ana Patova the city becomes a three-dimensional embodiment of writing, a world propelled by sentences. Sentences, thus, become both propellants and consequences of the events of Ravicka. Ana Patova writes so that she can act in the world. The writing is the site of that action. What happens in between, where she’s actually walking down the hill, is unmappable. I don’t believe that there is any language without narrative, but there seems to be (in Ravicka and in Providence, RI) plenty of language without events. In Ana Patova, I’m trying to follow the line of thinking, letting it pass through these sentence-corridors that are bridges, and I’m doing this because something is being produced through this particular shape. A crossing reverberates, something being crossed. One consciousness crossing another. One’s books crossing others’ books. One’s walking with another’s walking. One attempt to see the crisis with every other attempt, and not only by the one person but also every other person in the city. I think of narrative as the story of our thinking and of language as that material.

So, I’m in the process of writing a long statement on my poetics called The Eleven Calamities. This will be a series of eleven mini-essays on my eleven favorite words or compounds that organize my thinking about writing. The first six on that list are world-building, novel space, sentence, architecture, line, and time.



ana-patova-cover-front-nostroke-234x299 Renee Gladman Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge
Dorothy, a Publishing Project

Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge is the third volume of Renee Gladman’s magnificent, melancholy series about the city-state of Ravicka, or about the architectures of its absence. It is tempting to read the Ravickian books as an extended allegory—of architecture itself, perhaps, except that architecture is already half-allegorical, its every element raised to prefigure whatever meanings can make their way to them. If any can. In Ravicka, meanings—indeed most contact of any kind—remain in abeyance, building, in absentia, the constitutive negative spaces of the narrative. There is a plot; it lays out zones of sheer ambience. Experiences, of which there are many, unfold as a redolent lingering in the structures of immateriality, the radical realities of the insubstantial. Gladman is a philosopher of architecture, though not that of buildings. Rather, she thinks (and writes) the drifts, partitions, and immobilities of identity, affect, communication, the very possibility of being human. Profound, compelling—haunting, even—the story of Ravicka is astonishingly ours.’ — Lyn Hejinian

from The Brooklyn Rail & FCA

The object world bowed and slept and
grew enormous as something completely
without space, as a container without
volume, lightless, soundless, and did
this inside a world even larger and more
obscure than itself, a world we were
walking through, which no one knew
what to call (other than “old”) and no
one understood the dimensions of but which
was ours, this grid that had been touched
by a circle, these noisy, impenetrable
doors. We had been walking for hours,
looking for a happening, a boundary
event that would put an end to the crisis,
not an extraordinary occurrence—some
magical intervention—but a small act out
of a cabinet of everyday acts that we’d
witnessed numerous times and never
noticed and never saw the way through.
We thought it would be a speech act, so
began to look for instances where we
might chance upon bodies in unconscious
speech: we looked through people’s
windows. But windows looked into houses
whose structures were no longer reliable.
It had become impossible to say that you
were contained, to say “hello, the house,”
as you once had. The object world, we
noted, was drawn on by shadows.

* *

People kept saying other people were
fleeing the city and pointed to themselves.
We became third persons, but not arrogantly
so. I referred to myself as “Ana Patova,”
and said, “Ana Patova must have left.” For
a moment I thought I would sell my home
and wrote in our newspaper, “Ana Patova
wishes to sell her home; she is leaving.” I
read what I wrote and couldn’t believe
my words and couldn’t respond to inquiries.
“I am not leaving,” I said to friends who’d
read my ad. At the same time that they
were convincing me to stay they themselves
began to pronounce strange lines. “Hi, from
Delaware,” Duder Bello said on occasion. “I
am still in France” (Luswage Amini). We
were making chaos with our goodbye notes,
and it wasn’t as though leaving wasn’t
happening but that it just wasn’t ourselves
who were doing it. No one could name names.
We all knew that Hausen wanted to go, and
when he finally vanished, many of us felt
relief. We missed him, though we didn’t
know him (we knew his confinement), but
we celebrated his departure as a threshold
crossing. “Hausen finally made it,” we’d say
and clink our glasses. So, we knew that leaving
was possible and that in many corners of
our neighborhoods people were preparing
to depart, and did depart. But, we couldn’t
call out to them, even when the time came
and the deserter was someone we loved or
someone with whom we worked and drank.
Our mouths would empty, for a long time,
would be dry, and when saliva came back
to us, it was only to ourselves that we could
point. “I’m leaving,” I would misspeak
without knowing. “I’ve left too,” would say

* *

I sat in one of the galleries of the Museum
of Science and Anatomy, recovering from
a story someone had told me, a story I
would never write, but which would
dictate my behavior for the next several
years, everything from how I dressed and
what I read to whom I saluted in the
street and what scared me. The story
wasn’t given to me as most are, as some
kind of choreography beaten against
the body rather it was laid on top of my
voice. I told the story, over the course
of many days, to hundreds of people, or
perhaps to only one person, again and
again. It didn’t seem to matter who heard
it, only that I went on telling it. It was a
story of moments, the moments of
bewilderment that had begun to visit
all of us, of which my time in this museum
now was. You were bewildered by a
certain sharp awareness that made you
stop and sit down, usually to write a book,
but the book that was this story could not
be written. It had become an intruder in
my mouth, when I wanted to be silent, and
sent me running out my door and, for
many days, sitting in that gallery, staring
at walls that had not yet been dressed but
observing lines that were beautiful and
could not be authenticated and were
drawn by no one.

* *

Winds shook the walls of the city, they
did not. Waters from unknown valves
flooded the streets, our streets were dry.
My neighbors leaped from buildings,
slammed their loneliness into the ground,
no one leaped. I set my house on fire: I
burned my first house down; I burned my
second house. Luswage Amini burned her
house. Zàoter Limici burned his house.
Duder Bello destroyed his neighborhood
with fire. Bresia burned the maps in her
house, then burned her house down. My
mother burned her house, even Vlati
burned his—the Governor’s palace. For
weeks, dark smoke bruised the sky, yet
the sky was clear; the sky was always
clear. Someone flew over Ravicka and
drew it and failed. Houses burned. They
did not burn. The phone rang as I wrote
that. I answered five years ago. “The city
is on fire,” the caller shouted. “We are
destroyed.” Luswage went to her summer
home and put fire to it. She called someone,
me, someone else. We all had to let others
know what we were doing. “I burned it,
Luswage,” I told her. “Why is it still
here?” She arched her back climbing out
of the tub, then burned her building down:
“I stood in the ashes. I swear to you.”
“Goddamn,” she said, looking up at the
plane. We knew he was dropping matches
to the earth, though they didn’t land near
us. The plane was supposed to crash.
“Our houses were supposed to burn,” I
said about the crisis destroying our city.

* *

Hausen wrote a book that everyone
was reading. It went that way with men,
and yet this was a book that meant a lot
to me and led to a book of my own.
Hausen wrote a book in the time before
the crisis and people carried it around
in their back pockets; it was mass
produced. In the book, a man walked
over a bridge and entered a building,
where he jumped into a pool with a
mineral-green bottom. He swam back
and forth. He did a breast stroke, he
worked from his back, he banged his
body against the water, he sang, he
shouted. He climbed out and exited
the building, leaving a trail of water. The
book described the water as text; the
drops were signs. They doubled the story
of Hausen’s character. He was a man
who swam at night in empty buildings.
The man went home to someone who
did not seem quite like a woman, but who
also was not identified as a “man.” The
man coming home lay on top of this
person and swam and told a story, which
was a confession, and the body gasped,
but we did not know if the man’s story
was causing this gasping or whether the
cause was his writhing. The reader couldn’t
hear the story, but Hausen had the language
around the story crack and drop heat on us.
And the body writhed on top of the other
body and whispered to it about something
done and undone in the city, something
sitting under water, something terrible.

* *

The city that existed ran like a film
playing in a small movie house on a
forgotten street in the blown out part
of the city we swore never to enter,
never to grace, because of some tragedy
no one remembered but which haunted
our movements in the “safe” parts of
the city, which counted for most of
Ravicka. It was too imbalanced: that
there was this block of streets, off limits
to our living, and within this block
breathed the real body of our city, the
one that existed rather than painted itself
to exist, the living one, at least as I came
to think of it, though I had never seen
that film. I tried to arrive at the movie
house, but got turned away each time.
It was the film of the decade and would
tell me how to live and would open into
new streets, where bodies were possible,
where architecture exceeded itself and
took care of the environment, brought
the park into itself, danced around the
canal, where water ran next to and
summer bodies floated by. It wasn’t a
utopia playing there but the real built
environment, the one that went with the
language you spoke, that could handle
the verbs of your language. It was the city,
but was unreachable, was violent, without
victims and without perpetrators, and
violent, though there were no crimes.

* *

Every time I wrote a sentence something
disappeared, and after many thousands
of sentences, some of which I didn’t keep
or didn’t like, I began to look for those
vanished things. I also wondered whether
it was more that they were invisible than
vanished. I thought writing had something
to do with invisibility and the world tried
to show you this as often as it could, but
disappearances seemed to have more to
do with not writing, from the way things
looked in the city, among my friends and
acquaintances. You were losing hope if
you weren’t writing, which isn’t the same
as things going invisible. You were losing
hope, too, if you were writing, but it was
a different kind of loss, because there was
always something you had more of when
you were done writing, even if it was
sentences that you hated. I wrote
sentences about how men sleep and my
wooden spoons vanished, or perhaps
were no longer visible to the eye. Most
of the sentences I wrote I did so without
thinking of the consequences of objects
going missing. I was often trying to write
about the crisis, which was hard and
took everything you had, which was
almost all your language for that day.
One day I stopped writing and asked
after the vanished things; I wanted to
know where they were. It was strange to
have had them go away so silently. I
asked into the room where they were
and wondered about the thing and all
the things that replaced it. Would they
all come back at once?




p.s. Hey. ** Nick Hudson, Well, well, Nick! Howdy, man! I’m alright, just, you know, film finishing pretty much full time. Happy birthday a little late. Probably too taxing a question, but how did you end up in Tbilisi? I’m following your travails and triumphs on Facebook. Ace about the new album. Oh, sure, my email is Thanks! Keep being you, not that you need my encouragement. xoxo. ** ellie, Hi, ellie! I’m good, pretty good. How’s everything with you? Thanks a lot for reading ‘Zac’s Drug Binge’. You know, I’ve never looked at my gif fictions with music on. It might a weird new way to think about them. Huh. No, not whole books to music. Bits and pieces. There was an album years ago of songs inspired by my work, and there were songs/tracks on there that used things of mine as lyrics or voiceover kinds of things. Oh, wow, a Eliane Radigue Cooper opera. I would literally ascend straight from my desk chair into heaven in that case. We’ve finished the edit of the film, and now we’re desperately trying to raise the funds to do the technical stuff it needs (VFX, sound design, better color grading). And we’re waiting to find out if any upcoming film festivals will take it. Definitely jacket-requiring here. Drizzly and cold. I like cold, but the drizzle is getting very old. Do you like winter? We please and inspire each other, what could possibly be better. You take care, stay toasty, and I hope I’ll get to see you again soon. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Yeah, the bank card worries are getting very boring. ‘Prayers’ for a full mailbox today. If your landlord is really nice, he’ll have a heating technician over there today. Did … he? Strange how a hustler with smoker’s lungs is an attractive option. I learn so much about myself making those posts, ha ha. For instance that I think I’m ‘in love’ with kennywantsnachos. There’s no Love without losing [but] don’t worry, I play soccer ⚽️, G. ** Charalampos, I can’t believe I’m saying enjoy the sun, but I am. ‘The Has-Been’ is the name of the audio novel Zac and I are going to make/record soon. I think a piece of the text was published somewhere, I forget. ‘Effi Briest’ is a goodie. Yes, we progress on the film. There’s still a lot of technical stuff to be done before it’s actually finished/seeable. I’m not involved in the new Gisele work. Or, well, actually, I wrote it but then she threw out my text, so I’m not involved anymore. After8 can bankrupt one if one isn’t careful. Clear Paris sky vibes from beneath its very unclear sky. ** Misanthrope, Oh, jeez, about Young Elio. What the fuck is wrong with people? Time for him to realise that when you’re queer your friends are your real family, I guess. I don’t need to ask you to give him all the support he needs. He’ll be fine, but Jesus. ** _Black_Acrylic, Resnais made a lot of topnotch films. Dude, your birthday finally arrived! Teeniest bit late and happiest wishes! The 40s were pretty good. I liked my 40s. Welcome to their near middle! ** Darby 👨‍🎤🎥🌛, Howdy! Yay, about the DMV. What do you need to do to get ready? I remember studying for the written part a little and making sure my eyes were clear for the eye test part. The first place I moved to away from home/Los Angeles was NYC. The finding an apartment part was pretty stressful, but I found one. Otherwise, nah, it was just happy-making newness galore. I think when you’re in a situation that you don’t want to be in, the feelings that you’re feeling are not only normal but key to making yourself get out of the situation. Artist residencies: basically they’re these kind of retreats where you apply with examples of your art and the plans you have re: what you want to make or work on while there, and the residencies go through the entries and pick people to come. So you get to go somewhere where you basically have nothing else to do but work on your art for however long, a week or two or a month or longer. If you search around, you’ll find some. They usually focus on afferent kinds of art, so there are ones for writers, for visual artists, for researchers, etc. So close!!!! Excellent! Us too with the film. Race you. ** Jack Skelley, Scholasticky! Right, Arthur Bremmer, there’s a book of his diaries, or there was. I think I did a cut up thing with them for some fiction piece or something. Yes, I thought my Greenwell answer was potently discrete. But maybe not. Jacques, I loved your submarine. ** Steve Erickson, Great, so there’s more on Vecchiali in English now. Everyone, Steve has reviewed Paul Vecchiali’s little known until recently and apparently very good film ‘The Strangler’. Check it. I’m hoping the selection and mixing of the tracks has the same great pleasure as mixing/selecting a film’s final layout. Make that SoundCloud rap song! You could get rich, viral, something. ** Cap’m, Cap’m, my old, dear pal! How in the world are you? So very lovely to see you! Trust your instincts on clicking. Well, you know that. Wow, late Happy Halloween and early Merry Xmas to you! How are you? xoxoxo. ** Audrey, Hi, Audrey. Ha ha, see, I romanticise your way of talking. Oh, thank you for filling me in and correcting me. I didn’t know that about his earlier fiction films. I must seek them out. Him doing fiction is very intriguing. Since he’s here, they show his films fairly often because he can be there to talk about them. I’ll scour to see if the fiction ones get shown. I know the name Bern Porter, but I can’t remember how. I’m going to investigate Radu Jude, and, as is my wont, try to do a post him about while I search, hoping there’s enough of him available to make one. Sadly there are so many amazing filmmakers whose work has very little direct presence online. I’ll try. Exciting. Obviously I hope that roller coaster flattens out and that the exit station is in your sights. (Sorry for pressing the roller coaster metaphor, my theme park fetish arises). My plan for the waning week is to go look at some art and make sure the French subtitles we need on our film for a grant are okay and watch ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ of all ungodly things because some writer friends and I perversely decided to discuss the Taylor Swift phenomenon on our bi-weekly Zoom gathering on Saturday. I hope your remaining week is at least as oddball as mine. Love, Dennis. ** Okay. Renee Gladman is one of my favorite American fiction writers, and the novel spotlit up above, which is from her Ravicka novel series, is maybe her most beautiful. Highly recommended, in other words. See you tomorrow.


  1. Nick Hudson

    Thanks for birthday wishes and psyched to see new film.! Hmmm Tbilisi – I played a show out here in 2016 with Toby from Kayo Dot and kinda fell in love with it. Then, after Brexit, pandemic and 13 years of the conservatives (and their magnificent fucking up of the other two) I was ready for a change – I can stay in Georgia 12 months visa-free then do a border run and it gets reset (same day if I just go to Armenia for a few hours). Obviously it’s been crazy here since the Ukraine war started but actually a lot of the young, Putin-hating Russians fleeing mobilization are culturally enriching an already vibrant place: it’s never boring haha. It’s also stunningly beautiful – Caucasus mountains only two hours away (where they still conduct pagan rites on certain days despite ostensibly being an orthodox country). Haha sorry, long answer! Will have sent you the novel – and the new album – by the time you read this – hope you’ll dig’em! When will the new film premiere?xoo

  2. Dominik


    Exceptional excerpts again! Thank you for sharing!!

    I’m shocked to say, but yes! Our landlord was super quick to help us, and now we’re sitting in a pleasantly warm apartment!

    I thought you might be at least a little bit in love with kennywantsnachos because I feel the same way, haha.

    Yes, gosh, that was such a great one – about playing soccer! I’m glad your love went for it! Love very happy that you have a shapely head – that’s something that matters to him because he’s sapiosexual, Od.

  3. _Black_Acrylic

    Really great to see Renee Gladman’s drawings, they’re a delight.

  4. James Bennett

    Dennis, Hello from London. It’s cold and Closer is hitting the shelves. I’m sticking with my old American copy, which is currently on the pile of Important Books that I am re-reading as I write my first novel. Your books and blog have been important to me this past year, as I try to understand this weird internal conflict I have between being intelligible/conventional and, you know, the other thing (the truer thing? the better thing?). I asked a question along those lines a few months ago and you gave a kind and helpful reply.

    I wanted to ask – when you’re in the throes of a novel, how much would you hope to get done in a day? Do you write a certain amount of words, or for a certain amount of hours?

    Thank you for today’s post. I will definitely be checking out Renee Gladman. I’m also a translator (from French and Spanish) and it seems she has plenty to say about that, among other things.

    Warm wishes,

    Ps: I just published my first piece of short fiction after a 7-year hiatus. I will leave a link in case you or other commenters would like to take a look. It was actually written two years ago so not totally representative of what I’m doing now.

  5. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Yeah, I think he’ll be fine, particularly knowing him. My friend’s going to give me an update about what’s going on on Friday when I see her. She didn’t seem like there was any urgency after talking to his mom the other day. Things may have calmed/quieted down. People can turn around. It does happen, even in the most hard-headed cases. We’ll see. And yeah, he (and his mom) needs anything from me and his other adult friends, including my niece, he’s got it. A really great kid, as I’ve said. You’d love him.

    Got my regular 3-month doc appointment today for refills and shit. That’ll go okay, I’m sure. Kayla’s picking up my mom in a bit to do Thanksgiving food shopping. And I’m making sure David gets up for work in about half an hour. Yep, Lil D (you’re Big D, ya know :D) is still grinding. He’s missed one day in the past 3 and a half months and even then felt dumb for missing it. He still needs to get off the drugs, but he’s taking care of his shit otherwise.

  6. Steve Erickson

    I’ll have a text-to-speech program perform those lyrics.

    TAYLOR SWIFT: THE ERAS TOUR is enjoyable, but I would’ve come up with a different set list, since some of her biggest hits are also among her worst songs. Her struggle to be relatable to ordinary young women while being one of the world’s biggest celebrities is an interesting tension. (Take her performance of “You’re Own Your Own Kid,” with a stadium singing along to lyrics about loneliness.) I have higher hopes for the Beyonce concert film.

    Did Radu Jude’s latest film, DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM THE END OF THE WORLD, open in Paris yet? My favorite is the short SEMIOTIC PLASTIC, which goes from the age of the dinosaurs to the apocalypse with a cast made entirely of dolls. It was obviously a “stuck at home during the pandemic” project, but it’s one of the best.

  7. Nick.

    Hi! I’m back I did comment last night but I was so tired it was probably just nonsense that didn’t need to be responded to so maybe that’s why it didn’t post. I saw Priscilla was was super good and I highly recommend it if you wanna watch a movie anytime soon. Hum if we had the time I’d love to develop some sort of code to talk in I’m an only child and so I hate sharing and what not and I’m pretty covetous with knowledge lol that way I’d be able to elaborate on my more grandiose schemes but just keep apocalypse pop star in your mind
    For me that’s the entire brand right there so any Big brains thinking about it and me helps and I don’t mind sharing that cause no one earth could do it better than me that I’m sure of that one. I have a bunch of work to do for once so I’ll be back you be well and oh if you get the chance ask your cool AR friends for tips and advice for me okay later.

  8. tomk

    Need to read this. I read ‘Event Factory’ factory a few years ago and it was such an absolutely new readerly experience to me, a different encounter, that I couldn’t really process it properly. I need to reread EF and then go through the trilogy cause this one really does sound beautiful. Maybe that’s my plan.

    hope you’re well man, thanks for this post. Really inspiring.

  9. Charalampos

    Oh yes, I thought was a trilogy but yes they are four. I am thankful for your past posts because I discovered these books exist and became familiar, now I will get them. Maybe I can buy on the famed trip towards After8? My notebooks are near me and contain tons of stuff

    I am putting my book together and have so much fun. Who needs to do chapbook when you can extend to full book? I need some heavy days of work on it and it’s done and ready to go. My drawings are vanishing, not fully but they are. The work inside the book was made in the years 2019 to this year with my soon to be known technique but I assemble now, so dreamy

    Effi Briest is indeed a good trip, wow. I love reading the book Thousands of mirrors in slow pace with the actual films on the side

    Maybe more good writing on Vecchiali will be helpful towards building a whole entire post? I can dream. I will be waiting for your thoughts on his films also

    Good vibe from sunny at day chilly at night Crete

  10. Charalampos

    The review of The strangler made me want to revisit the film!

  11. Bill

    I loved Event Factory, and Gladman’s distinctive drawings. Will try to get to Ana Patova soon.

    I walked by a bookstore earlier, trying not to buy any books before my trip, and there’s a new Robert Gluck! So much for that idea.

    Hope the film deadline stuff is going ok…


  12. 🏃‍♂️DArby

    So I heard they are making a new crow movie and I think i’d rather stab a needle in my eye. WHY EHY WHY
    Oh hey I hope ur weakened will be ok but I have or ask something real quick regarding that drawing I promised you.
    As much as I really do appreciate that you took the time to send me that really cool photo from your movie, do you mind if I draw you something else instead?
    Whenever I come here, I always have elephants in my head. Idk, your spirit is an elefant or something, and I get a super comfortable feeling like this little stuffed elephant I wear on my neck and I think of that story about the runaway circus Elephant “Tyke” who was murdered in Honolulu.
    I say all that to say:
    Can I draw you a picture of Tyke the elephant, tossing their abusive trainer around like a ragdoll till their brains come spilling out? I think it would be cooler.
    C ya monday.

    • 🏃‍♂️DArby

      or, ya know, I could just tone down the brain fluids if you don’t want that in the drawing.

  13. Audrey

    Hi Dennis,

    I appreciate the comment on my way of talking haha. I kind of subconsciously change how I write depending who I’m talking to, so you’re getting a unique experience. That’s super cool they screen Wiseman’s films there often. His most recent two are the only ones I’ve seen in theaters. I saw his latest at a festival and apparently they reached out to him to see if he could fly over but sadly he was dealing with some health issues and couldn’t come. He did make it to NY a month later, so it seems as if he’s doing better. I would love to see him in person, his work is so invigorating to me. Luckily Radu Jude’s work is pretty easy to find, especially compared to some other people. His 2021 film Bad Luck Banging or Looney Porn was a pretty big festival hit. His latest probably has even less wide appeal but it’s about 10 times as brilliant. I went through a phase where I read a bunch of his interviews, and there’s some great stuff. It’s insane to see how much he’s evolved from the interviews he was giving in 2006 to now. I’ll be looking out for the post 🙂 It really makes me sad how many films are nearly impossible to find online. It’s frustrating but also fascinating how forms of gatekeeping take shape, especially around experimental filmmakers. The coaster hasn’t quite flattened out, but there are less loop-de-loops now. Good luck on the grant. I’m excited to hear your thoughts on Taylor Swift! I know Paul Schrader is a huge fan haha. I don’t have strong opinions on her, but I can’t really judge the fans because I show a similar level of fanaticism when it comes to Bob Dylan (though there’s a steep quality of difference in my opinion). I’ve been doing a deep dive on SOPHIE, the musician. I had listened to her album previously but I’m checking out all her singles and the stuff she has producer credits on. It’s gotten me really emotional, both because I connect with a lot of her music and that we lost such an immense talent so young. At least we are able to enjoy what she left behind. Have you listened to much hyperpop? I hope you enjoy your wild week!


  14. Corey Heiferman

    Wow, a contemporary epic poem. And I had no idea a ballpoint pen scribbling in a way similar to Latin alphabet cursive could make something akin to Chinese calligraphy.

    I was sick last week with a weird infection that struck the left side of my head — left eye, left ear, left nostril. I’m generally better now but have lingering congestion and fatigue. I was fatigued to begin with given the situation here.

    I feel a huge reshuffling of priorities the likes of which I haven’t felt in a while. A lot of stuff I was half-heartedly interested in is just dropping away. Have you had major identifiable changes in taste/outlook? From your books and the blog you seem broad but also somehow consistent.

  15. ellie

    Hi Dennis! I’m glad you’re doing okay – pretty good sounds pretty good! I’m doing well, the biggest headache this week was removing a hold so I could register for classes. It’s been a while since I’ve had to speak with administrators and write formal emails and stuff so it felt like chewing rocks at times but it ended okay for the most part. Hopefully I’ll graduate this spring finally too, phew and bleh. Otherwise I’m mostly doing translation editing for work, and there’s a novel (??) I’m piecing together from old drafts and blog posts that’s been relaxing to work on. I also found a short, fun playlist of Joseph Cornell’s movies! I’m not sure if you’ve posted about them before, there’s one that’s literally a puppet show intercut with aquarium and really antique shipwreck footage that’s been a bug in my brain for the past few days. I would also ascend over a Radigue/Cooper opera, it seems so perfect it almost shouldn’t be allowed *not* to happen. What was the album inspired by your work? I’d totally love to hear it!

    Super glad/excited to hear about your film progress!! Best luck on the last stretch(es). Have you considered crowdfunding for the film? I hope this doesn’t sound too glib as a suggestion, I’m just pretty certain it would get picked up really quickly. I know so many people in person and online who really love your and Zac’s work who I’m sure would be thrilled to support the film. Winter’s not my favorite, I prefer fall for the same reasons as you mention basically. I used to have a ton of fond memories of snow in the tiny town I grew up in but in Manhattan it’s just a slushy, slimy nightmare. I think I like it better as a concept? It is pretty toasty where I am right now, I hope a piece of it reaches you through the screen haha. Wishing you the loveliest day!

  16. Nuno

    Hey Dennis, I’m not sure how else to contact you, so trying here? I’m a student at the Werkplaats Typografie and reading Closer during my train rides. Was wondering if you have any lost texts you’d like to publish? I can print stuff here. But we can talk more by e-mail if you like:

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