Set in the mind of a narrator who is grieving the loss of her father, who conflates her motel room with the morgue, and who encounters characters that may not exist, Claire Donato’s Burial is a little novel about an immeasurable black hole. “dark, multivalent, genre-bending … unrelenting, grotesque beauty” (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY “BEST SUMMER READS”) “Unforgettable” (HEATHER CHRISTLE); “Precise urn-like prose … with the poise of Woolf or Loy or Carson” (BLAKE BUTLER); “shimmers with pain and delight” (BRIAN EVENSON); “Donato’s assured and poetic debut augurs a promising career” (BENJAMIN MOSER).
“[A] feverish and explicit set of images and ideas revolving around power, fetish, porn, media, violence, translation, punishment, performance, and aesthetics….. kind of like a novelization of a movie about the production of a play based on Abu Ghraib, though with way more starlets and cocaine and semen.” (BLAKE BUTLER, VICE); “part epic poem, part science fiction, part pornographic film, and all literature” (JOHN YAU, HYPERALLERGIC); “so filled with invention and wit and ferocity that I was compelled to read it, at times against my will, mesmerized, enthralled. (CAROLE MASO)
A collection of short stories by Joyelle McSweeney, refracting the dread and isolation of contemporary life through a series of formal/generic lenses, producing a distorted, attenuated, spasmatic experience of time, as accompanies motherhood; making impossible any thinking in terms of conventional temporalities or even causalities, let alone their narrative effects. “McSweeney’s breakneck prose harnesses the throbbing pulse of language itself.” (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY); “sexy teleological apocrypha of motherhood literature, a siren song for those mothers ‘with no soul to photograph'” (BROOKLYN RAIL); “These words ring and richochet like tinnitus in your ears” (QUARTERLY WEST); “One would not make love to a Salamandrine during a sandstorm” (ALEISTER CROWLEY)
“An extraordinary work that takes us into the complex guts of the ‘hospital-hotel complex.’ Here the body rebels, redacts, pulls, and sings between patient and patient. wolach performs a radical somatics, procedural anatomic work, queer narrativity.'” (ERICA KAUFMAN); “The strange tearing apart held inside that holds you inside, singing static and shrapnel…. Dear ‘jesus of the pain.’ Welcome to david wolach’s beautiful corrosion.” (FRED MOTEN); “holds the space of the clinic we don’t yet have, the dark we need, the chronic we might dream rather than undergo.” (ELENI STECOPOULOS); “documents the soft rebellion of staying alive, articulating the transition from invisibility to indecipherability.” (FRANK SHERLOCK)
Set in a technicolor timewarp called Hell, Hong Kong, Kim Gek Lin Short’s China Cowboy follows wannabe cowgirl La La, who is hellbent on realizing her dream to be a folk-singing sensation even as she tries to survive her kidnapper, Ren, who is just hellbent. Ren thinks he’ll win, but La La, dead or alive, always wins. “both devastating and uncomfortably enjoyable” (AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW); “a satanically intricate narrative with seemingly infinite vantage points in space, time and sympathy … a zone where elegance and grace can gambol with the just-plain-fucked-up” (HTML GIANT), “leaves one’s nerves exposed and moral fortitude shaken” (FACT-SIMILE). “Excruciatingly compelling, so infernal…in languages variously pornographic and desperately, radically tender…. A bold, imaginative, timely work from a courageous and complex thinker” (HEIDI LYNN STAPLES) “Grossly disturbing and excruciatingly seductive… Tales of fierce femme survival…. (JAI ARUN RAVINE)
In not merely because of the unknown that was stalking toward them, Jenny Boully presents us with a “deliciously creepy” swan song from Wendy Darling to Peter Pan. As in her previous book [one love affair]*, Boully reads between the lines of a text—in this case J. M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy—and emerges with the darker underside, with those sinister or subversive places merely echoed or hinted at. “[T]o delve into Boully’s work is to dive with faith from the plank — to jump, with hope and belief and a wish to see what the author has given us: a fresh, imaginative look at a tale as ageless as Peter himself.” (BOOKSLUT) “Simultaneously metaphysical and visceral, these addresses from Wendy to Peter in lyric prose are scary, sexual, and intellectually disarming.” (HUFFINGTON POST); “Jenny Boully is a deeply weird writer—in the best way.” (ANDER MONSON)
Last week Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room hosted Tarpaulin Sky authors Johannes Göransson & Joyelle McSweeney, who joined Stephen Burt for “In Extremis,” a panel discussion on poetry and violence.
Ruocco discusses all her “literary” works (blah blah blah) — *Man’s Companions* (TS 2010) among them — but to throbbing delight, she also offers a peak into her blossoming pseudonymous career(s) as romance writers Toni Jones (*No Secrets in Spandex*) and Alessandra Shahbaz (*Midnight Flame*), which makes us swoon — and also makes us wonder why we haven’t already launched a genre imprint.
There is no jot of Plinth that is not necessary. If you felt a little something extra in the air this Equinox, that was the birth of Issue #2: Brad Baumgartner, Sarah Fox, Jamalieh Haley, Laura Ellen Joyce, Peter O’Leary, Aimee Parkison, David Peak, Eugene Thacker, and TS’s own dark star, Johannes Göransson.
As our catalog makes obvious, Danielle Dutton and Joanna Ruocco are two of our favorite writers, and publishing their books was all the awesomeness we’d hoped to find in this life. But now the former is publishing a new book by the latter, and it’s like Santa Claus opened up his bag and out popped the Easter Bunny.
I realized that the walls and the floors, the soil and the air were toxic, everything that could be seen or touched was poison, everything mankind did made the world worse, just moving around and breathing. It seemed to me that I had been walking in fire. Why had I not known it? Nutriment and poison, protection and hazard, comfort and harm were not binaries but indivisible, each one turning over to reveal its attractively hairy reverse or iridisceing, spiny obverse.
Selections include “I suffer from vertigo in the sepulchral chambers of the law,” “Safe in my chambers of alabaster,” “Now I have you in the underworld,” and “My Orpheus mask is shitty when I fuck Francesca Woodman.”