Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Eugene Lim's FOG & CAR + boinking in a baby year


Last night I sat down to start reading Eugene Lim's FOG & CAR, the other of the two debut books from Ellipsis Press along with Eugene Marten's WASTE, which I loved and talked about a while back, I hadn't meant to read for very long but found myself unable to stop reading the book. FOG & CAR is a strange amalgam of several ideas, it begins with a dissolved marriage from which both ends begin to branch and splinter and spread back into each other in weird ways. I was surprised to be so captivated by a book about a ruined marriage, which it is only on the surface, what it really is is a puzzle and a book of worming forms, sometimes the tense shifts or lines are layered and/or repeated, there is a lot of subtle innovation, refreshing.

The first section uses these calm and almost Lutz-like renditions of the two divorcees, Fog and Car, trying to smooth their lives out into something, Eugene Lim writes about the cleaning of houses, the method of a swimming routine, and all in this meditative, language-conscious but not overtly languaged and extremely absorbing way, the book also continues to evolve by stretching the forms of the way the words are delivered, but again, in calm and nuanced methods.



In grad school Amy Hempel had us read a Mark Richard story, I can't remember the name of it, I think it is the first one in THE ICE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD, Amy, in perhaps her only 'lecture-like moment' of the workshops talked some about how Richard was able to show the passage of time by using fields and dogs rather than talking about time, and how it opened the language and the feel of the words in this surprising way, I think Eugene Lim's descriptions here worked on me in that way, though rather than over the function of time it was over the function of distancing and grief, so much so that I couldn't stop wanting to propel through it, and I was so pleased to find myself reading a book supposedly about relationships about still feeling completely engrossed, as I hate relationships in books usually, for their wheel-spinning, I think people who get excited about Richard Yates would really enjoy the meditative stancing of the early sections especially.

Then there are two more sections in which Lim continues to open the way the story is built into an almost Paul Auster kind of maze, path-inducing manner, there is following and weird rooms and strange phenomenon that continue to be braided together but left open in other strands.

Here is a sentence from the book that maybe exhibits the balance of strange and familiar sense of both situation and language in FOG & CAR: "He forgot his name and became her bellybutton."

Then, in the last third of the book, which begins to develop into a really strange configuration of earlier elements and a linking of space, I hit a page, a strange development involving a man in an empty room and an elevator, and a little later, further linking, which made me stop and touch the book against my chest. I remember not knowing what to do having read it, it was very late by then and I'd stayed up longer than I meant to, and yet I wanted to keep reading, and yet couldn't the page had stopped me in a way that I felt I needed to think about rather than go on with the rest of the book right there, I went to bed. I could not stop thinking about the book in such a way that I stayed awake for several further hours, and when I finally did sleep I had a dream about writing about the book as I am now, and other dreams branching off from the book. When I woke I walked around for a while and then finished reading.

FOG & CAR is new in familiar ways and familiar in new ways, and altogether a thing that turned my mind on in such a mode that I could not turn it off.

Along with WASTE, if you haven't gotten on board already, both are available from Ellipsis as a package deal. I can't imagine an innovative fiction press with a better introductory one-two punch.










Right before I woke up for the last time this morning, I had a dream where Marilyn Manson was talking to me, he was speaking a quote, the quote, I knew somehow, was from someone named 'Vivino', talking about chess strategy, which Manson was applying to something about writing he and I had been talking about, I have no idea why I was talking to Marilyn Manson about writing, the quote was, "Begin with a false position & allow the position to become." This may become the epigram for RICKY'S ANUS, which I am deep in. Deep in Ricky's Anus.











I got a galley of Jesse Ball's new forthcoming novel THE WAY THROUGH DOORS in the mail today. Fuck yeah.











There is a new issue of BUST DOWN THE DOOR AND EAT ALL THE CHICKENS, I have a story in it, as does Sam Pink, Ofelia Hunt, Mike Young, Matthew Simmons, D. Harlan Wilson, Darby Larson and several others, I can't wait to read it, the cover is amazing. Thanks to Bradley Sands for his hard work and wild mind.

The issue is only $5 plus a little shipping, 'the squarest price in town.'

7 comments:

BlogSloth said...

visceral review. Liked.

Anonymous said...

Did you change your font? I got up to do some stuff and I saw lines all over the place on everything and almost barfed. Maybe it's just the script is smaller? Maybe it's my computer- I don't know.

Interesting review. I read Mark Richard when I was in my 20s and loved him.

m t fallon said...

Fog and Car is amazing. I think I know that moment that stopped you, when Exit describes waking up in the woods, it was Auster-like but better than Auster. I also like how the narrative clarity of language sharpens or obscures based on character progression. Fog becomes more clear, and Car deteriorates, and then the whole thing drifts (or "exits") into something else altogether. Great comments, Blake, your description of Lim's style is perfect, a subtle innovation that is rare to find.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

thanks ean

anon, yeah i did, it is small now, and times instead. richard is interesting

thank you mt, that is indeed the part. totally unexpected realization there... i like the idea of clear and deterioration too, there are a lot of little things like that about the structure, ie: the paragraph of car's that repeats. a lot is in there.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

ean = sean

The Man Who Couldn't Blog said...

That story is called is called Strays.

It is my favorite short story. Ever. I read it every few months.

BLAKE BUTLER said...

strays, yes. it is one of amy's favorites also