Ghost Proposal’s issue on “Hybrid Forms & the Post-Genre Approach” features TS author Joyelle McSweeney and TS publisher Christian Peet, along with Tyler Crumrine, T Clutch Fleischmann, Oliver de la Paz, Hannah Brooks-Motl, and Douglas A. Martin.
Joyelle McSweeney is the author of two titles with Tarpaulin Sky Press, Salamandrine: 8 Gothics (2013) and Nylund, the Sarcographer. She also author of four titles from Fence Books: Percussion Grenade, Flet, The Red Bird, and The Commandrine and Other Poems.
With fellow Tarpaulin Sky Press author Johannes Göransson McSweeney is a co-founder and co-editor of Action Books and Action, Yes, a press and web quarterly for international writing and hybrid forms. She writes regular reviews for Rain Taxi, The Constant Critic, and other venues, contributes to Montevidayo, and teaches in the MFA Program at Notre Dame.
Fiction / Parenting / Occult
5″x7″, 188 pp., trade paperback | May 2013
$14 includes shipping in the U.S.
(v. $16 + $3.99 shipping at Amazon)
Masquerading as a collection of short stories, Salamandrine is a channeled text, moonchild, unholy offspring of poetry and Loser Occult. 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, Salamandrine renders impossible any thinking in terms of conventional temporalities or even causalities, let alone their narrative effects. Salamandrine is the high magick of art so low it crawls. Like a toddler at a poetry reading. With a taste for achilles heels. Hell-bent on bringing literature itself to its knees.
“The stream of consciousness of an unhinged mother…. 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’” (Carmen Giménez Smith, The Brooklyn Rail); “McSweeney writes like a synesthete sculpting sound, her sentences cross-wiring and corrupting our senses. It’s as if McSweeney wrote these sinful and sinewy stories with the knife of mad scientist, slicing and resuturing syntax, as prose unexpectedly breaking into verse” (Tasha Matsumoto, Quarterly West).
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5″x7″, 132 pp, pbk
$12 includes shipping in the U.S.
(vs. $14 + $3.99 elsewhere)
Nylund, the Sarcographer is a baroque noir. Its eponymous protagonist is a loner who tries to comprehend everything from the outside, like a sarcophagus, and with analogously ornate results. The method by which the book was written, and by which Nylund experiences the world, is thus called sarcography. Sarcography is like negative capability on steroids; this ultra-susceptibility entangles Nylund in both a murder plot and a plot regarding his missing sister, Daisy. As the murder plot places Nylund in increasing physical danger, his sensuous memories become more present than the present itself.
“Flights of campy-cum-lyrical post-Ashberyan prose…. Language dissolves into stream-of-consanguinity post-surrealism and then resolves into a plot again…. Recommended” (Stephen Burt, Harriet); “The opposite of boring, an ominous conflagration devouring the bland terrain of conventional realism…. Other than the incomparable Ben Marcus, I’m not sure anyone in contemporary letters can compete with the voracity of ingenuity, complexity, and beauty of McSweeney’s usage” (Christopher Higgs, Bookslut); “McSweeney has not only created a unique concept – that of sarcography – she has illustrated it memorably with a masterful redefinition of what constitutes prose, and created a character who is the very embodiment of writing, reminding us of how flexible the narrative form can be” (Cynthia Reeser, New Pages); “If Vladimir Nabokov wanted to seduce Nancy Drew, he’d read her Nylund one dark afternoon over teacups of whiskey. Welcome to fiction’s new femme fatale, Joyelle McSweeney” (Kate Bernheimer); “If Wallace Stevens had written a novel it might have come close to Joyelle McSweeney’s Nylund, the Sarcographer. But any imagined effort of Mr. Stevens would pale next to Nylund’s journey through the butterflied joinery of syntax, the jerry-rigged joy of this tour de joist. And you thought you knew your own language. This book hands it back to you on a platter and includes the instructional manual for its further use” (Michael Martone).
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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.
Joyelle McSweeney: “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.”
TSky Press authors Johannes Göransson and Joyelle McSweeney, along with faves Aase Berg and Lara Glenum, are reading at the Stockholm International Poetry Festival, where this year’s theme is Gurlesque.
“In Joyelle McSweeney’s story collection Salamandrine: 8 Gothics, language commits incest with itself…. Sounds repeat, replicate, and mutate in her sentences, monstrous sentences of aural inbreeding and consangeous consonants, strung out and spinning like the dirtiest double-helix, dizzy with disease….”
“Biological, morbid, fanatic, surreal, McSweeney’s impulses are to go to the rhetoric of the maternity mythos by evoking the spooky, sinuous syntaxes of the gothic and the cleverly constructed political allegory. Salamandrine can be earnest and apocalyptic, playful and arch, but at its core is the proposition that writing the mother-body is a viscid cage match with language and politics in a declining age…. [T]his collection is the sexy teleological apocrypha of motherhood literature, a siren song for those mothers ‘with no soul to photograph.'”
…from Patrick Trotti at JMWW, regarding our three 2013 prose titles, from Claire Donato, Johannes Göransson, and Joyelle McSweeney: “Avant-garde writers of the past are put through a blender topped with equal parts muscle relaxer, speed, acid, and a new, distinct style forcing the reader to down the contents in one giant gulp. It will leave you feeling as though they just went speeding through a backyard makeshift house of mirrors ride that was rigged with no brakes, bending through the maze of tight corners to the point where you can the feel the sharp shards of glass on your forearm if you don’t keep your hand inside the ride that is their minds.”
Joyelle McSweeney: “For me motherhood was an apocalypse, a rending of the veil, a rendering of the fail. I nearly died; that was a new thing. I developed a labor complication normally associated with heroin-addicted teenage sex-workers. I bled like crazy and my daughter’s placenta looked like hamburger meat, according to the nurse. A fittingly Midwest simile.”
Joyelle McSweeney: “This book of mine is a war against capitalism through the body of the culturally vaunted (but actually exploited) figure of the mother. Here the mothers are totally undone, desperate, weaponized, vacant, bloodthirsty, deranged, or ingenious as hell. None of them is what you’d call wholesome—and neither is the writing.”
McSweeney’s breakneck prose harnesses the throbbing pulse of language itself and thus eludes any sort of straightforward plot development…. The stream of consciousness of an unhinged mother inhabiting a real or imagined apocalyptic landscape…. Vertiginous…. Denying the reader any orienting poles for the projected reality.
Joyelle McSweeney’s Percussion Grenade is reviewed by Erin Lyndal Martin: “[McSweeney’s] diction runs the gamut from virtually ululated neologisms (‘Opeeeeeeeegalala!’) the more technical: ‘It’s wired to a neural hinge inside a mountain / and swings out smoother than gravity.’…. McSweeney has no love for complacency, and she illustrates that in form and content.”
At NewPages, Cynthia Reeser reviews Joyelle McSweeney’s *Nylund, the Sarcographer* (Tarpaulin Sky Press): “Joyelle McSweeney has not only created a unique concept – that of sarcography – she has illustrated it memorably with a masterful redefinition of what constitutes prose, and created a character who is the very embodiment of writing, reminding us of how flexible the narrative form can be.”
At the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet, Stephen Burt reviews Joyelle McSweeney’s *Nylund, the Sarcographer* (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2007): “Flights of campy-cum-lyrical post-Ashberyan prose…. The Daisy parts are actually sexy, the murder-mystery parts and the furniture-store bits are genuinely funny, the language dissolves into stream-of-consanguinity post-surrealism and then resolves into a plot again…. It’s recommended”
At Prick of the Spindle, Cynthia Reeser interviews Joyelle McSweeney (*Nylund, the Sarcographer*, Tarpaulin Sky Press): “Once you put the sarcography in motion as a matter of writing, then anything can happen, because the sentence can always open up trapdoors and catwalks via its clauses and phrases and puns and jokes and fantasies and so forth. In fact, the one rule I had when writing this was not to use good taste or understatement or comely resonance at all, but just to follow all my stray ideas, at the level of the sentence, to keep it opening, twinning, diverging, dividing. I used more conventional aspects of noir—a dead woman, a missing woman, a young hood, an (elderly) femme fatale—as sort of course correction as the book ran along.”
At Bookslut, Christopher Higgs reviews Joyelle McSweeney’s *Nylund, the Sarcographer*: “Nylund, the Sarcographer is like interesting on steroids. Caution: if you are looking for a typical, straight forward, good old fashioned yarn, you’d do best to look elsewhere; but if you want to experience something fresh, daring, creepy, and significant, this is the one for you. It is the opposite of boring, an ominous conflagration devouring the bland terrain of conventional realism, the kind of work that tickles your inner ear, gives you the shivers, and tricks your left brain into thinking that your right brain has staged a coup d’état….Other than the incomparable Ben Marcus, I’m not sure anyone in contemporary letters can compete with the voracity of ingenuity, complexity, and beauty of McSweeney’s usage.”