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Lauryn’s got pizzazz that many would covet. She’s a talented young writer and editor with pixie-good looks and an incomparable sexy voice. She is a literary princess with the brains and intellect of a Columbia College Chicago graduate in Fiction Writing. Her writing has appeared in Dogzplot Magazine, Bartleby Snopes, Knee-Jerk Magazine, and Curbside Splendor. Not only is she an assistant editor and regular contributor at Barrelhouse Magazine and Literary Chicago, but she regularly hosts all-night dance parties in her kitchen. Recently, she debuted a chapbook called The Beauties, an artistic venture of hers that crosses fiction with imaginative design. Today, I sit down with Lauryn to chat about writing, The Beauties, and other things like beer bongs.

Lauryn, your writing has been described as “dark” or “sinister” by some. I am also referencing your opening lines, “Mrs. Waite’s face appeared in the wash bucket and told me to hide from my father. The ripples of his monstrous butcher’s apron swirling around my chapped fingers in the cold, greasy water arranged themselves into the almond shape of her eyes, her gaping mouth and its message: Your father is coming to kill you, Opal. Hide! Hide!” which to me, seems quite the opposite of what we’d expect from something titled The Beauties. Where does your literary inspiration come from?

Beauties is a direct reference to the family in the story; Jerry, Opal, Fern, and Enid Beauty. It’s also meant to be a counterpoint to the story, an ironic twist in a way. Each of the Beauty women grapples with what some might consider a physical mutation, or anomaly. But it’s the way they pull through it, strive to overcome these challenges, which makes them true beauties.

One of the characters, Fern Beauty, is very lost to herself and others, she has a beauty which she refuses to recognize, but which the audience can see.

I’ve also heard that the cover art really throws people for a loop. The art on each book cover is unique, no two the same. They’re very vibrant, glittery, sequined even. I can’t say that my choice to make the covers this way was meant to intentionally throw readers off course, but I do like the thought of making the book truly something one can’t judge by its cover.

What is the writing process like for you? Do you start with bits of a concept and let it grow, or do you hash out an ending and write toward the beginning? Lay it out for us.

I’m often struck by a tiny fragment of story or a flash of a scene, something I just can’t shake, which is eventually how I realize I’m supposed to write it down and expand upon it. I get a ton of ideas from my dreams. If I could make a living out of dreaming, I’d be a wealthy woman. It’s strange because I actually have a hard time surrendering to sleep, it feels like such a waste of valuable time. If it weren’t for dreaming, I’d never sleep.

I’ve read of and talked with writers who plot out their story endings and work backwards; Amy Hempel (one of my favorites) does this, I hear. For me, so much of what’s fun about writing is being lead down the strange, winding path toward discovery. If I knew the ending before I’d arrived, I don’t think I’d bother making the trip.

You’ve studied fiction writing at Columbia College Chicago, and have immersed yourself in the literary works of many contemporary writers. What is your favorite style of writing out there today?

Oh, gosh, this is a toughie. The style I favor–tight, vibrant, quirky–is not exclusive to contemporary writers, though I do think writers of our time often do a better job of it, perhaps because we’ve gotten very good at being economical in our writing as well as our processes.

This has a lot to do with how much there is to do in a day and how inundated we are with the technology that’s supposedly helping us to simplify our lives. There’s just not time enough for most of us to dedicate twelve hours a day to our craft, to crank out these epic, massive tomes. Okay, maybe superstars like King and Franzen, but those are freaky exceptions.

I love writing in which emotion and gesture and human nuance are distilled and brought to the forefront, which can often be accomplished in beautifully stunning and subtle ways. I’m thinking of Ann Michaels’, Fugitive Pieces, but also the short stories of Colette, Andre Dubus, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, Miranda July and Aimee Bender. I love writing that’s not afraid to get awkward and messy. Life is awkward and messy. I love stories that look to the tiny things to explain the huge things and vice versa.

Quick, without putting too much thought into it: what are a few of your guilty pleasures? Are you a closet Intervention fan?

Haha! No, though for a while I was watching Deadliest Catch with a religious fervor that was starting to worry my family. I love to cook and bake, which I’m only considering a “guilty” pleasure because I sometimes use it as an excuse to avoid writing. Bacon is guilty pleasure number one. I put bacon in everything. I love bacon so, so much. Also, I check Missed Connections on Craigslist a dozen times a day. It’s so interesting to me, the things people will confess under the protection of anonymity.

Pull out your iTunes/iPod, or other non-commercialized medium for playing music. What are the top five bands or music artists wearing out your stereo speakers?

I listen to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks album an inordinate amount. I don’t know why, exactly. Something about it connects me with my childhood, and the violins just break my heart, they’re so beautiful. I can also easily visualize the stories he’s telling, and see the way he’ s moving his listeners through each season. It’s old fashioned, but I really love it. On the exact opposite end of the spectrum, I really love Jay-Z. He’s just so cocky, so, “how you like me now?” Another standby is Otis Redding, whose music just melts something inside of me. Obi Best, whose songs remind me of myself and the way I write. And Joe Tex. Find “The Love You Save” and make it a part of you. That song has transformational properties.

Who would you most like to sit and have a cup of coffee with, and why?

My great grandmother on my dad’s side. She was fiercely independent at a time when women’s independence was extremely unfashionable. She earned a law degree and concurrently, was also the first woman in Illinois to divorce her husband. My mom tells this story a lot: when I was just a few months old she used to go over and spend time with my great grandmother who lived alone in a rambling house near the river. My parents had absolutely no money at the time, still both really young and in over their heads. When my mother hinted at how dire things were getting, my great grandmother patted her on the hand and said something along the lines of, “don’ t worry dear, I’ll see that you pull through okay.” My mom went home and later that afternoon, a man came to the door with a gigantic black wool rug. It was from my great grandmother. Apparently, a gigantic black wool rug was her solution to my parent’s money troubles. I’d just really like to meet any woman who thinks in such a way. I’d have a few questions to ask her, for sure.

Who would you most like to sit and have a beer and/or beer bong with, and why?

Living? Sugar, who writes the Ask Sugar advice column for The Rumpus. Mainly, because I need a lot of advice and she’s got a way of delivering it that just flays open the soul to let the truth pour in faster.

Dead? Anais Nin. My favorite quote of hers: “Good things happen to those who hustle.” I can relate to that so much right now. Also, I suspect she’d drink me under the table and then chide me for not being more tough. I could use a little more of that, every once in awhile.

If you had to pitch The Beauties in one sentence, what would it be?

Ultimately, The Beauties is a study of secrecy and the magnificent power one can achieve by breaking rank and rejecting shame for truth and sincerity.

The life of an indie writer is challenging. What advice and strategies do you have for writers entering the market today, especially in an economy like this?

First: stop strategizing so much. If you’re calling yourself a writer, then your first responsibility is to your writing. If you came to writing nurturing the belief that it might make you wealthy, I’m so sorry; you’ve been horribly misled. Either toss that out and keep going, or choose another profession. This has to be a love-before-money life choice, because if the love’s not there, the money’s never coming. Marketing is the cart and writing is the horse. Just write. Write at the absolute top of your ability. Write what you’re afraid to write and what others are afraid you might write. Become so incredibly incredible at what you’re writing that when the time does come to think about marketing, you are ready to step into it and be successful. Success can be scary, especially for writers whose day-to-day professional lives are so often defined by rejection. Practice crafting for so long and so hard that success can’t help but find you, and so that you can feel deserving of it when it does.

Get creative! Text is everywhere, stories can be everywhere too! There’s no law stipulating that stories must be read in books, or in Nooks, or on stages. If you want people to read your stories, if that’s really the most important part, leave them lying around.

Get up, get out, get away from your desk and meet other writers. Find a solid group to keep you grounded and sane.

What’s next? Where will we see Lauryn Lewis in 3 years?

Hopefully on a beach somewhere. French Polynesia, maybe? But probably I’ll be right here, keeping busy. There’s a little publication buzz around the novel-length version of The Beauties. I’m not going to say more than that because I’m incredibly superstitious, but I hope to have it out for the world to read and bashing out my next big idea by then. Even though it can be stressful at times, I love doing this so much. So if I’m right here on a different day with a different project on my plate, I’ll be a very grateful girl, indeed.

I thank Lauryn for taking the time to chat with me. Without a doubt, she has a cutting edge niche advantage on the market with her darkly unique anthology. Below is an excerpt of The Beauties available for purchase at LaurynAllisonLewis.com

    And then.
    And then.
     Fern is falling away. Out into blinding blue light and beyond the reaches of her farthest vision. And something massive cups her body, so that she does not fear the falling. She sees stars. Fern is a star, shooting. She is a hot bullet, shot from a cold gun. And she is power. And she is free. She has time enough to think that this is what the button does, causes her to feel this way; whole and perfect and safe. And she thinks that now that she knows this, there is nothing to fear, and she will go home and hug Enid. And she will show Enid the button. And that will make everything right. And that will explain so much. It is not death like she’d expected. There is time enough for her to wonder how one minute she was standing in front of a train, and now she is floating out toward the home where she grew up, out toward Country Road K, and the mock blackberries growing alongside it, and how they are just darkening and perfect for jam. There is a pop of white light, like from an old fashioned flashbulb, and it rocks Fern’s teeth loose, and she feels them sliding around in her mouth, and the feeling is joy, and loose limbs, and wings for arms. She is winging her way out over the elms and then she is gone. Just like that. 

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Graffiti by Nomad X circa 2004

Directly inspired by Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, Nomad X is the story of an American expat’s investigation into a postmodern terrorist, with scenes in Paris, Berlin, London and Barcelona. With a fair share of pulp fiction inspiration mixed with Wikileaks, documents, blog posts, newspaper clippings, pictures, and more, Nomad X is a mixed media tour de force. You can read the book, being published serially on the web by its creator, Drew Minh. The first chapter is available at http://nomad-x.com/2011/04/chapter-one/ with updates to be posted weekly.

SEEKING: anyone who has seen art by Nomad X, the Banksy-like guerrilla artist whose work has been seen in Paris, New York, Berlin and other capital cities. Submit photographs and creative renderings (or pseudo-sightings, i.e., your Photoshopped or real graffiti created by Nomad X-suspects) to the Nomad X website.

Check out the first chapter to see a sampling of what Nomad X has done, and keep checking in weekly to see the rest.

Why you should read Nomad X:

Nomad X is a literary novel with suspense and dark comedy elements. It centers around an American expat’s investigation into a postmodern terrorist, with scenes taking place in Paris, Berlin, Barcelona and London.

The year is 2003 and world opinion is at a boiling point over the imminent invasion of Iraq. An American diplomat has just died in Paris under suspicious circumstances, and conspiracy theorists, skeptics and pro-war neocons alike have their own narrative spin on it. Step in Deuce Delgado, former liberal “who has seen the light.”  An American expat living in Paris, best-selling novelist and columnist, he is also a controversial blogger whose posts enrage liberals and excite pro-war neocons.

An old acquaintance who used to be an informant for the CIA stops by his apartment one night with news that he is now working for The Lindon Group, a perception management company under contract to the CIA. Their job is to change the public’s perception on the US government’s policies. Together he and Deuce find the perfect bogeyman for the American diplomat’s death as well as the anti-American sentiment spreading across Europe: Nomad X, a mysterious and anonymous artist whose politically-charged graffiti, culture-jamming pranks and art interventions have popped up all over Paris.

Deuce and his associate link multiculturalism and moral relativism to what they perceive as the decline of western civilization. In true neocon fashion they feel that the western world needs a concrete evil to fight against. Nomad X, though elusive and anonymous, becomes the ideal target; that is, until their hype begins to take on a life of its own and Nomad X becomes a cause célèbre, a sort of postmodern Bin Laden.

Nomad X is told through a mix of narrative, blog posts, newspaper articles, documents posted to WikiLeaks, talk show interviews and press releases. It is a collage of linear and non-linear styles, taking full advantage of the multi-narrative universe we are now confronted with in the 21st century. Visceral and constantly moving, Nomad X is a story with elements of ultra dark humor, detective fiction, postmodern fiction and thrillers.

Check it out: http://nomad-x.com/2011/04/chapter-one/

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If you’ve spent any amount of time reading on the web, you’ve no doubt stumbled across Heather Fowler’s writing somewhere. She has been published in such magazines as Keyhole, PANK, JMWW, Night Train, Storyglossia, decomP, Prick of the Spindle, and many, many others. She has taught composition, literature, and writing-related courses at UCSD, California State University at Stanislaus, and Modesto Junior College. Her fabulist fiction has been published online and in print in the US, England, Australia, and India, as well as recently nominated for both the storySouth Million Writers Award and Sundress Publications Best of the Net.  She was Guest Editor for Zoetrope All-Story Extra in March and April of 2000. Fowler’s story, “Slut,” won third prize at the 2000 California Writer’s Conference in Monterey. Her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, was recently featured at The Nervous Breakdown,  poeticdiversity, and The Medulla Review, and has been selected for a joint first place in the 2007 Faringdon Online Poetry Competition.  Recently, Heather has made waves with the debut of her short story collection, Suspended Heart. I sit down (virtually) with Heather to find out how she does it all.

CR:  You are a very prolific writer. You are also a mom, and you teach. Could you talk about your work-life balance in terms of your approach to writing?

HF: Work-life balance? What’s that?

In all seriousness, I think of my life as a fairly grueling tumbling run of repetition in which the working and daily details are the training cycles done for necessity and the writing is when I can truly fly above ground. It’s my three-quarter twist double-flip outlet for momentum into the earthless sky– my primal cry against the monotony of everyday living.

Of course, the time with the children is precious and special to me. But I think my position about working and child-rearing and writing is most clearly iterated in the final story published in Suspended Heart entitled “The Time Broker”–writing and working and care-taking: It’s difficult. There’s a selfish part of the self that feels it’s sometimes heartbreaking to be unable to do solely what your art wants you to do, especially when you are both an artist and a breadwinner. At the same time, I feel each part of a person’s life, regarding their use of time and construct of time, is a choice that involves sacrifice and a continuous re-evaluation of the question of wanted versus needed, in my case resulting in the same practical question for me day to day and week to week, which is: What writing can I get done–while at the same time not sacrificing being a good parent who both provides for her children and helps them to feel loved, attended to, and thrive? The best answer I have to that question, therefore, is that when I know someone else writes and is also a mother and also works–I feel a solidarity. You too accomplish monthly miracles with the stretching of minutes? You too work terribly hard and deserve some kind of soft-landing? I salute you and wish for you all the strength and endurance you can receive. I am not trying to be sexist here, but I feel more sympathy for the women in this type of situation, frankly. I think being a woman and a writer–on top of these other aspects–is like being a warrior in the land of What Can I Do With Three Pebbles and A Charm–and quite often leads to a sense of more extreme self-deprivation than I see illustrated in the time-structured allotments of male counterparts.

CR: You have written stories on so many different subjects, and with so many differing approaches–magical realism, literary fiction, and horror, to name a few. Where do your ideas and inspiration come from?

HF: This is a fascinating question to me. Just imagine my head spinning with twelve faces rotating as I answer. Many times, I am inspired by a poetic turn of phrase I’ve read in another author’s work and feel energized to speak to that theme before I lose the pulse of my reaction, as if there were a sudden need to weigh in or to weigh in as eloquently–but with my own difference. Other times, I have a friend or a person dear to me who struggles with an issue and I’ll write them a poem or a story, like a love letter to them, for them, to say: I have heard you. Sometimes, I write to re-write a continuously evolving understanding of self-history or self-projected future, many times as a reclamation effort against a sadness or anticipated loss. Lately, for the last six years or so, I feel like I’ll do something to grease the wheel–read a little, view images, listen to music–and then I’ll write whatever my mind wants me to say. Often, the story I think I’m writing as I begin is not the story I finish, but a hybrid monster of the difference between known desire and subconscious intent. The stories and poems have become my window into my subconscious, like dreams might be for some. I write them and then I say: “Oh, well. We have work to do. We are afraid.” Or, “Wow, we are mad about A, B, and C–but D also has affected our desire for G.”

It’s exciting that I work in many genres because it gives a lot of places for the symbols and clues to live–characters, settings, style of language, dialogue–and sometimes makes deciphering my deepest impulses into a game. I enjoy that, though I don’t always enjoy what my stories are telling me. They can be harsh task-mistresses of demanding that I evolve somehow–usually in a hurry.

CR: What fuels your drive to write–why do you do it?

HF: I write because it is something I cannot stop doing. I do it because when I don’t do it, I die inside. I feel my world turning gray. My words have no out. I lose my sense of purpose and meaning. I wish this answer were more beautiful, but in a sense, my free creative speech is connected to my will for survival. And the truth has its own hideous beauty, does it not?

CR: Could you talk about any new projects you have going right now, or anything under development?

HF: Oh, I’m neck-deep in editing about four more manuscripts of stories. My current favorites are LOVESHOCK, which is a collection of edgy literary stories about unusual love and sex in modern times–I’d rate this R+ if it were a movie for review–and PEOPLE WITH HOLES, which is my next collection of magical realism stories that I have a certain measure of new baby love for. Also, this summer, I plan to finish the novel I’ve been tinkering with for some time, which is entitled BEAUTIFUL APE GIRL BABY, and hope to make a finished draft to shop to publishers by late August. As well as those things, I have about four hundred poems to organize and I’m deliberating on how best to do that in my spare-time.

Can you see the girl at the corner of the platform take off, hear her feet thudding on the mat, watch her arms swinging in a syncopated rhythm and her toes connecting just before she jumps into the sky, twists, flips, and catapults again into the air below her in a serious effort to keep touching the high-above or maybe just to rest there for a while? She’s smiling in that moment of lift-off, in each moment of lift-off. I can tell you that for sure. Thanks for having me here.

Find more information about Heather Fowler’s debut short story collection, Suspended Heart, on the Aqueous Books website at http://www.aqueousbooks.com/author_pages/04_fowler.htm. Please visit her website at www.heatherfowlerwrites.com.

Check out this clip of Heather reading from her story, “The Time Broker”:

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I asked Aaron Polson, author of the forthcoming short story collection, The Saints Are Dead, a few questions about the book and his writing. Polson is the author of many titles, including Loathsome, Dark & Deep; The Bottom Feeders & Other Stories; The House Eaters; and We Are the Monsters. The formal bio: Aaron Polson is a member of the Horror Writers Association and currently lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife, two sons, and a tattooed rabbit.  To pay the bills, Aaron attempts to teach high school students the difference between irony and coincidence.  His stories have featured magic goldfish, monstrous beetles, and a book of lullabies for baby vampires along with other oddities.  Visit his website at aaronpolson.blogspot.com.

CR: Could you talk a little bit about how your collection, The Saints Are Dead, came to be?

AP: The Saints are Dead came to be after I’d published a number of short stories and realized I was coloring with the same crayons.  Each story in the collection is different, but a similar vibe lurks in all of them. I once called the vibe “dark magical realism”; I’m not sure it’s the most accurate term, but it works.  These are my personal favorites, the stories I enjoyed reading over and over―even after several editing passes on my own and again when preparing and editing for the collection.

CR: How is The Saints Are Dead different from your other published works?

AP: I usually write fairly straightforward horror or my own brand of “emotional horror”―stories in which a character’s realization about a horrible truth is the big payoff at the climax.  While a few pieces in The Saints are Dead share these motifs, this isn’t strictly a horror collection. The Saints are Dead is the real world tilted by fifteen degrees and painted a different shade.  Sometimes, the tilt creates extra shadows.  Sometimes it brings wind-up rabbits to life. The Saints are Dead gives a reader the whole amusement park: bumper cars, tilt-a-whirl, and the haunted house.

CR: What motivates you as a writer?

AP: Readers motivate me.  I love to tell stories and surprise readers.  The great British horror writer Ramsey Campbell has said (and I’m sure he’s not the first) he is motivated by the belief his best story is yet to come.  Every time a new idea germinates, I tell myself, “this could be the one.”  As long as readers will listen, I’ll keep working on my next story.

CR: Are you currently working on any projects and if so, what?

AP: I’m currently revising a young adult novel involving ghosts who borrow the bodies of the living. No sparkling vampires―or vampires at all, I’m afraid.  I’m also participating in a rather insane project to follow in the footsteps of Ray Bradbury when he was young and submitting to pulp magazines, writing and submitting one story a week all year.  So far, so good, but I had to “write ahead” in order to give my stories proper wait time before revising.  I firmly believe a story needs a little time on the shelf, just like wine.

And there you have it. Check out the details on The Saints Are Dead at http://www.aqueousbooks.com/authors_events.htm

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Ghostwriting a memoir has left me thinking a lot about the intersection between ghostwriter and narrator, narrative and reader, reader and perception, perception and that originally perceived (the original experience of the person whose story the ghostwriter is writing/has written). The experience of ghostwriting has been like a version of communication itself sprung to life, in that there are so many routes to getting the meaning across–originating in the mind of the communicator, merging to the translation from thought into speech, from speech into the hearer’s interpretation… It’s like this with ghostwriting as in communication, only there are a few more paths the translation has to take before it makes it to the paper, and ultimately to the mind and interpretation of the reader.

Not only is there the experience of the person who is the subject of the book–there is the way it happened, and then the way they remember it; then there is the way it is narrated, which is heard and then processed by the writer, who then morphs it into its form on the page. Take into consideration on top of this a narrator whose first language is other than the language the book is written in, and you see my point.

This is how a memoir becomes a memoir, and why it is not considered instead, nonfiction or documentary. There are too many routes and interpretations and translations to the truth. And because I am someone other than the person who experienced the events, I am in essence required to reshape my identity from an objective listener to mold to that of the person who originally experienced the events. There is a good deal of creativity in staying true to the narrated perception of the events: my he becomes I, and I imagine myself in someone else’s shoes as nearly as possible.

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I had an idea a few years back to put together a book of photographs with accompanying flash pieces. I wanted to call the book, Cold, Hard Pieces. I sat down and made a list of fifty possible photographs I’d like to take or have someone take and then use for the book.

The first six of those fifty were eventually written and have appeared here and there after I eventually lost sight of the long-term goal.

So I have (starting with number seven on the list) forty-four ideas for photographs I thought would be interesting to share here. I thought of adding notes along with some to explain exactly what I meant when I listed “Larry selling newspapers in Hazard” for instance, but place names and such are just fill in the blanks. We all know a “Larry” or a bar like my “Mark II”.

I may eventually put these forty-four photo ideas to work in some way, but feel free to dip from them if something catches your eye. Only thing is, I’d like to see whatever comes of that. Add it as a comment here or send along a link to where the result might be found. Finish a painting, write a story, take a photograph if anything on this list hits with you. Just let us have a look. On that note, here’s the list as I typed it out three years ago:

7 Larry selling papers in Hazard

8 Genus again if possible

9 bar like the Broke Spoke

10 middle age women at Mark II

11 hunter, barrel foregrounded shot

12 something coal mining related but must be highly original

13 musician pic 2 (church gospel)

14 musician pic 3 (Kenneth and Clay)

15 grandmother as baby sitter

16 courthouse yardbirds

17 Virgie Cliffs someone standing at the top staring out

18 pot hanging in a barn

19 cockfighting pens at Hi Hat

20 camping picture (bonfire style)

21 poker game (hard folks)

22 Bull Creek Trade Center

23 a mugshot pic setup shot from Floyd jail if possible

24 Tom Whitaker at his studio

25 Terry the woodcarving guy

26 a pic of dressing a deer

27 working on car where Bryan works (from outside framing the makeshift garage)

28 coonskin cap guy eating at the restaurant in Pikeville

29 war veteran pic with medals

30 group of teens hanging out in some parking lot

31 kid shooting basketball on a makeshift ball goal

32 old man showing off his knife collection

33 unemployment office pic

34 Church congregation clapping and singing

35 woman at the grill in a mom and pop restaurant

36 kid playing in the dirt

37 somebody walking out of the Virgie train tunnel

38 playing quarters

39 kids smoking behind the school

40 people playing horseshoes

41 something about horses, but it must be original (maybe set up at Bub’s)

42 Upside down Mountain pic from Town Branch

43 Jesus painted on the truck trailer pic

44 old broke down house

45 old broke down tipple at Price

46 wal-mart related pic

47 extreme close up of railroad tie of Nat’s (artsy backdrop)

48 help wanted sign (the sham kind if possible)

49 second hand store like at old Convenient Mart

50 coal truck blasting past my house

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  1. Literature represents the endurance of an interpretation, ideas that are fixed
    &
  2. Literature is important for the same reasons art is important–it’s a reflection of the world as seen through the eyes of the artist (or writer, as interpreter)
    &
  3. Like art, provides a solidification, a product, a symbol made tangible, and as a product (intellectual), informs us, and sometimes the directions our lives take. In this solidification, literature, art, are like architecture, which
  4. Having become tangible, become usable, functional (but not in a merely utilitarian sense).
  5. And in this solidification into permanence, there is recapitulation, i.e., the possibility of the intellectual product to inform future generations over time.

To quote from the introduction to Spencer Dew’s Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), “Architecture, [as] Henry Adams argues, recapitulates and finds itself recapitulated in song–songs sung and songs unsung…” It is the intellectual product made tangible, and all the future potentiality it holds to inspire further creation, to provoke thought or even inspiration itself, or songs unsung. I cite architecture as an example because it is the essence of the creative made functional, made real, made present, made permanent. It is a recapitulation of the very idea of the purpose of creativity, of art, and in this way, comes full circle.

Visual art is both functional (to adorn, to decorate) and exists for its own sake (it is pleasing in some way), otherwise, why the attention to detail, the attention to design? If art is not necessary (and by art, read creative pursuits, the arts), then why embellish a building or, lacking embellishment, why give such attention to space, why render it so intentionally? Take by way of example, any minimalist, reductivist architectural space, space so purposefully spare and angular–and why the sparseness, if not for the very human need for purposeful design, something that is pleasing to the eye or thought-provoking or atmospheric? That is art. Art is expression, and as such, holds perpetual relevance to humanity.

We read because we want to be inspired, or learn, or escape, or think, or be challenged. We write for the same reasons. Art is necessary to the health and well-being of a society. Even societies without what we would consider resources invariably find some way to decorate, to paint, to create, to tell stories, to build with design in mind. It is in our nature. Dew writes, further on in his book, that “The relationship between reader and writer has, for too long, been linked … with death, its inevitability and incomprehensibility.” Writing, art, creativity, the spaces we live in, are as certain and inevitable as death, and just as necessary.

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