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Hannah, Barry

Water Liars

In the Wells Tower profile of Barry Hannah I reference in the spoken introduction to today’s story (which you should treat yourself to), written before Hannah’s 2010 death, the following is offered:

Hannah is not a writer to be read idly, with half a head or heart. His work thrives in his sentences, the best of which require a couple of readings to fully wring their satisfactions. The syntactic rigor and strange music of his fiction occasionally get him classified as a difficult or, less appropriately, a postmodern writer, and are probably why Oprah Winfrey hasn’t called him yet.

It’s too bad Oprah didn’t jump at a chance to call him, I thought, then: it’s too bad I didn’t jump at the chance to write him a letter. Maybe it’s the sentiments of annus novus, or maybe it’s just the blade of edge needing sharpened. But, having recently driven through the parts of the country Hannah writes about, I can assert that “a lot of porches and banjos” wouldn’t be such a bad thing at all.

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Joyce, James

Clay, James Joyce

In some parts of the world, it’s Bloomsday already, and in yours, it may be at the end of a summery Friday work-day, so perhaps The Big Day will greet you just as you’re weeding through your feedreader with an icy drink by your side while you dip your legs in a pool full of barely-clad beauties, or something.

But even if your drink of choice is presently milk, and the only thing you can actively do with the human form in its natural state at the moment is admire from an envious distance, happy listening and Happy Bloomsday. If you’re still catching up, here’s the Bloomsday collection to-date.

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Rhys, Jean

Illusion by Jean Rhys (Redux)

Sometimes it just kills me how many stories I’ve read here. A lot, that’s how many. And as much as I’m endeared to those earlier lo-fi bootleggy recordings, there are some stories which just aren’t served by the lack of quality, and some stories that, after this many years, should be read again anyway.

So, here’s a bonus for you, thanks to Mel U of The Reading Life, and one of the internet’s most enthusiastic readers of Jean Rhys.

In related news, this article about Global Warming affecting the intelligence of reptiles has been floating around the internettish circles. A scary thought, to some, but I take great pleasure in the thought that someday salamanders may fit themselves with earbuds and join our clan of the literarily satisfied.

Now, about Jean Rhys…

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Joyce, James

Two Gallants by James Joyce

Bloomsday is here again, as you surely know, and as is my ritual, here’s another story from the Dubliners. This is the 7th such reading, and sometimes, the thought of keeping this up for eight more years to finish the collection is one I tend to avoid.

But to keep things spicy in the meantime and extend the celebration, I have recorded a hidden bonus track. Now, before you go randomly link-clicking, if you’re offended at all by utter filth, if you think the things that two consenting grownups do with the bodies of each should should only be done with a chorus of angels humming hymns in the background while doves fly overhead, then go elsewhere, please. If none of this is true, go listen to my joyous retelling of a naughty letter from Joyce to Nora. I mean it. FILTHY. I’m warning you.

Whatever your kinky streak, happy day. Here’s the Bloomsday collection to-date.

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Daitch, Susan

Killer Whales, Susan Daitch

There’s a quite decent independent bookstore in the town in which I’m staying this week, a bookstore that will be closing soon for all the usual reasons. I plan to spend a fair amount of time later this morning vulturing my way through this store, and walk out picking my teeth with unsold reading lights and hauling overstuffed bags full of firesale booty that can no way be described as “carrion” no matter how many ways I stretch the metaphor.

Which means, of course, it’ll be impossible to celebrate my winnings by dumping the books on the bed and saucily getting to know them in satin sheets and slow motion. These are books to be treated reverently, I think. I hate bookstores closing as much as my wallet loves a sale, and I’ve been a part of too many such liquidations to share.

So, a few years ago, while trawling the shelves in a similar situation in a midtown shop, I found Susan Daitch’s Storytown, which sat unread until a few months ago. This was a shame, because the stories here are sui generis, told brilliantly, and inspired. I’m reading the first one for you as tonight’s bedtime story. And with that, a Archimedes moment of redemption: maybe you’ll like it, and buy it, and we can keep our vultures circling elsewhere.

In other news, this new journal looks wonderful, and I’ve been impressed with Broadcastr (in closed beta, but they’re giving out invites every day, so get over there), and plan to post a small story on that site next week.

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Chester, Alfred

Here Be Dragons, Alfred Chester

The very first words of Gore Vidal’s foreword to Alfred Chester’s collected stories (Head of a Sad Angel):

Although it has been my misfortune to have at practically all the noted American writers of the last half century, I did have the great good luck never to have so much as glimpsed Alfred Chester. He was, by every account, a genuine monster whose life comprises one of those Cautionary Tales that tend to over-excite journalists and school-teachers. Drink and drugs, paranoia and sinister pieces of trade did him in early, and the chronicle of his descent is as fascinating to read about in these pages as it must have been pretty grim to live.

I gave away two copies of this book to summer birthday friends this year, figuring that those are BruceLee fighting words if I’ve ever heard them applied to an author. Haven’t heard the report back, and I shook the piggybank or I’d ply you all with copies as well, but in the meantime, there’s this for an appetite whetter.

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Wood, Monica

Disappearing

It’s that time of year, my dears, where I’m about to head off to foreign parts for what’s known in various circles as “vacation,” “holidays,” or “days spent without LCD bathing.” I can’t believe it, either, actually, and am not sure I’ll be able to pull off things like “relaxing” and “not having much of anything to do,” which have only existed as very high level concepts in my foggy head. And there are so many things lined up when I return that I’ll probably never ever take time off again, which could be good for you, if your ears are burning. I’ll do the big reveal of a few of those things as soon as I return.

In the meantime, if you really need some sort of morbid fix, here are a few other scattered places where I’ve littered the internet with my sonant scraps. There’s a reading of Stella of the Angels at The Urban Sherpa. A recording of an Amy Meckler original poem at Revolving Floor. I can’t stress enough how pleased I am with the serial reading of The Man Who Can’t Die, which you’ll be able to catch up on while I’m away… And if long form’s your game, I still drop in and have a drink with Librivox from time to time. Have a listen to The Decameron or Moll Flanders, and honestly, if that doesn’t keep you busy for the next couple of weeks, you really should be reading to ME.

See you next month. Run through a sprinkler or open fire hydrant vicariously for me in the meantime.

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Joyce, James

After the Race

Looking at the Bloomsday readings I’ve done to date, it’s evident that my written prefaces have become an absurd equivalent of squealing fangirlish bra-tossing. I may (OR MAY NOT!) be an excellent bra-tosser with perfect aim and pitch, and we all know that Joyce wouldn’t be one to have a problem with women’s undergarments tossed his way. But my first exposure to Joyce was in a sleepy little black shoebox theatre, where a troupe of mild-mannered turtlenecked barnstormers read from Dubliners from a stage decorated with high stools, and where I, underexposed and underage and over my head, had too much to drink and fell asleep in mid-performance.

It’s a confession I was embarrassed to make for years and years, but now I think it wasn’t so bad (my young indiscretion, that is; to this day, I still think the performance could’ve benefited from a little bra-tossing). If you’ve used the Joyce readings to-date successfully as soporific, here’s where we are, in reverse chronological order:

An Encounter, Eveline, Araby, The Sisters, and The Boarding House.

As you can see, only another few hundred years until I’m reading annual chapters of the Wake to you. Whether you snooze or send your undergarments airbound, Happy Bloomsday.

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Millet, Lydia

Sir Henry

I have a good excuse to spare you my blathery scrawl about the show-stopping beauty in this story — the hot cats at Electric Literature have done so in a flashier way, and before you even tap the PLAY button on your baubly mp3 players, you ought to watch this:

Nice, right? Apparently an artist named Luca Dipierro is to blame.

But it’s time to forcibly extract the candy from your eyes and cram it in your ears. Here’s a story.

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Queneau, Raymond

The Trojan Horse

Sometimes I think you haven’t lived until you’ve been given the shoulder by a drunken horse in a bar. Other times I think the very stuff of life happens from being the drunken horse in a bar. But usually, it has to do with neither of these things, and I’m fairly certain that none of it would be worth the slightest damn if there was no Queneau to neigh by.

For those interested, I dug up a little history about the story and posted it over here.

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