“We were then young girls and our want was written on our skins. Between our legs and along our necks and wrists, our skin craved friction and more friction. We kissed calluses into the backs of our hands, murmuring comfort at the enflamed flesh, but still, our skin would not be satisfied. In the dark, we rubbed pillows against stinging nipples and curled knee to chin, hoping to keep the skin from flying from our bodies. Stay with me, we said. In the mornings, we woke to puddles of wet sugar in our beds and wrung moisture from our underwear.”
“They slowed down Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so it stretched over 24 hours. The effect was of a continual climbing, with no resolution – just an ever-building terror, the slowest imaginable scream. In a state of heightened time, everything reduces to fear, a sublime fear. If life has any meaning, it comes at the end.”
“I think I came to and still come to writing as a sounding board—and I mean that in both senses. As a way not just to record experience, but to be or to have one, to investigate one’s habitus. What’s that Oppen line: “There are things we live among and to see them is to know ourselves.” I think of it as a way of seeing more deeply.”
“They slowed down Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so it stretched over 24 hours,” Gabbert writes: “The effect was of a continual climbing, with no resolution – just an ever-building terror, the slowest imaginable scream. In a state of heightened time, everything reduces to fear, a sublime fear. If life has any meaning, it comes at the end.”
— Brian Pera reviews The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert
“The ideal reader for Amy Rowland’s The Transcriptionist is stranded in public, waiting. I don’t mean to suggest that this novel is light, or lacks rigor, but simply that distraction—people milling about, talking, laughing, shouting—accents this book like music.”
— Benjamin Rybeck reviews The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
“If Richard Haddon, the British artist whose marital struggles occupy Courtney Maum’s provocative debut novel, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, played the board game LIFE, and somehow got to hopscotch over the plastic hills to the best-colored squares without ever spinning the wheel of chance, his real life still would be better. An experimental artist with great aesthetic freedom, married to a beautiful and wealthy French woman with whom he’s conceived a charming little girl, he should want for nothing. He should be endlessly grateful for his life. But perhaps keeping too close to the male cliché of perpetual dissatisfaction, Maum lets her hero stray. His seven-month-long affair with an American woman is at first a titillating secret, an eye-opening jaunt with a brazenly sexual Yankee named Lisa. The disaster that unfolds when Anne-Laure, Richard’s wife, uncovers a pile of Lisa’s scented letters sets up a fairly predictable narrative arc of domestic exile, desperate attempts at redemption (involving travel and a great loss of dignity), and, ultimately, reconciliation. Maum has not reinvented the centuries-old marriage plot that’s the cornerstone of both real and fictional societies. Her novel, though, does explore something new, and perhaps unique to our modern condition: our inability to withstand the quotidian, the mundane, the average.”
“The most famous celebrity in Ketchum is a dead man. His grizzled mug gazes out at you from signposts and store windows all over town. The elementary school is named for him, as are a half-dozen other small businesses and parks. He is buried in the local cemetery. Still, it was ten years before I realized Ernest Hemingway and I were neighbors.”