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kfan

the terror of whatever

My life in Goodreads exile

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Ex Machina, Vol. 1: The First Hundred Days
Brian K. Vaughan, Tony Harris
The World Without Us
Alan Weisman
Oh Baby: Flash Fictions and Prose Poetry - Kim Chinquee One of the blurbs on the back of this book really stuck in my head while I read this. It likens Kim's work to a sculpture by Giacometti-- pared down until only the essentials remain. My experience with this book was entirely the opposite. It seems like an easy comparison to make, given that her stories are so short. But to me her work isn't about peeling things away, it's more impressionistic, pointillistic even. Yes the stories are short, but she focuses on a variety of details and emotions in each, the result of which is that you (I) come away from each story not with a sense of specific moment or feeling (if we did I think we'd be more firmly in the realm of poetry), but more of a glimpse into a whole, complicated life. One of the other blurbs on the back expresses wonder that Kim can pack so much into such short pieces, and that I would agree with 100%. In some cases it was almost too much for me, the elements too wide-ranging and disparate for me to know what to take from them without seeing more of the larger picture.

In one sense a book like this is so far off the reservation it's no wonder I've spent so much time over last few weeks turning it over in my head. Where Kim is working, there is no map. Which is great, I like and admire that. But on the other hand, I began to wonder towards the end of the book if what I was wrestling with wasn't its very essence as a book.

Back in the old days of the internet, and I'm thinking specifically of diaryland now, the pre-greymatter era, my favorite websites were all anonymous journals, written by women and girls who gave very vague and shrouded accounts of their lives. In other words they read very much like the stories in this book. What they were writing really held meaning only for each author herself, but they offered strange, quirky and nuanced little peeks into unknown lives. I loved it. There isn't enough of that on the internet these days, where everyone has an about page and an agenda.

So I guess what I'm saying is that as a book, reading one story after another in quick succession, I found the work fairly successful, moderately enjoyable. But if this was a website, and I didn't have the author's picture and bio handy, and one of these stories was sent to my feed reader every day, and I was bereft of the knowledge of the authorial voice at work, than we would basically be talking about an instant favorite website of all time.

But it's not an anonymous website, it's a book, and Kim is an author. And so I'd be very interested in hearing Kim talk about her writing process, maybe seeing some earlier drafts of stories, with details about what she decided to take out or add. She's doing very singular work, and (clearly) I'm trying to wrestle with it, so that would be fascinating to me. For what it's worth, I can't think of any authors about whom I'm curious in that way.