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Essays on Fantastic Literature
In this wide-ranging series of essays, an award-winning science fiction critic explores how the related genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror evolve, merge, and finally "evaporate" into new and more dynamic forms. Beginning with a discussion of how literary readers "unlearned" how to read the fantastic during the heyday of realistic fiction, Gary K. Wolfe goes on to show how the fantastic reasserted itself in popular genre literature, and how these genres themselves grew increasingly unstable in terms of both narrative form and the worlds they portray. More detailed discussions of how specific contemporary writers have promoted this evolution are followed by a final essay examining how the competing discourses have led toward an emerging synthesis of critical approaches and vocabularies. The essays cover a vast range of authors and texts, and include substantial discussions of very current fiction published within the last few years.
Imagine a walking tour of stanzas and prose poems that give lyric voice to sight, public speech, and spectacle. In Exhibition Park, Roberto Tejada delivers a command performance in mixed genres that compel an array of literary styles. His poetry undertakes a wide range of subjects motivated by artworks from Latin America and the United States covering the colonial period to the present day.
In serial poems, short sketches, guidebook parodies, painterly triptychs, translations, and other word-based dioramas, Tejada coins wonder with historical styles--baroque, classic, and experimental. As likened to a world's fair, the resulting voices intone global stories, the dream life of art, and first-person atmospheres both premodern and postindustrial.
"Tejada's work is with dismantling borders and upsetting classifications... The result is a layered poetry that finds its form in dense stanzas composed of lines that frequently veer toward a kind of fractured prose..."--Alan Gilbert in Another Future: Poetry and Modern Art in a Postmodern Twilight
"You walk through his world as a voyeur, a traveler of mirrors, witnessing your own reflection in the masses of flesh, simultaneously aroused and disturbed at the same time. Tejada's work is an invitation, a window into another world, unabashedly erotic, and succinct."--Christine Lark Fox, Poetry Project Newsletter, about Mirrors for Gold
New and Collected Haiku
Favor of Crows is a collection of new and previously published original haiku poems over the past forty years. Gerald Vizenor has earned a wide and devoted audience for his poetry. In the introductory essay the author compares the imagistic poise of haiku with the early dream songs of the Anishinaabe, or Chippewa. Vizenor concentrates on these two artistic traditions, and by intuition he creates a union of vision, perception, and natural motion in concise poems; he creates a sense of presence and at the same time a naturalistic trace of impermanence.
The haiku scenes in Favor of Crows are presented in chapters of the four seasons, the natural metaphors of human experience in the tradition of haiku in Japan. Vizenor honors the traditional practice and clever tease of haiku, and conveys his appreciation of Matsuo Basho and Yosa Buson in these two haiku scenes, "calm in the storm / master basho soaks his feet /water striders," and "cold rain / field mice rattle the dishes / buson's koto."
Vizenor is inspired by the sway of concise poetic images, natural motion, and by the transient nature of the seasons in native dream songs and haiku. "The heart of haiku is a tease of nature, a concise, intuitive, and an original moment of perception," he declares in the introduction to Favor of Crows. "Haiku is visionary, a timely meditation and an ironic manner of creation. That sense of natural motion in a haiku scene is a wonder, the catch of impermanence in the seasons." Check for the online reader's companion at favorofcrows.site.wesleyan.edu.
Rediscovering the Brother I Lost in Vietnam
Two days after Jill Hunting turned fifteen, she lost her only brother, a volunteer with International Voluntary Services and one of the first civilian casualties of the Vietnam War. News broadcasts and headlines announced to the world that Pete had been led into an ambush by friends. When Jill's mother told her that Pete's letters home had all been destroyed in a basement flood, the connection between Jill and her brother was lost forever--or so she thought. Decades later, 175 letters surfaced. Through them, and the sweethearts and many friends who had never forgotten Pete, Jill came to know him again.
Finding Pete is one of the great, untold true stories of an escalating war and a young man caught in its sights. This personalized account of a critical moment in U.S. history is the moving story of an altruistic youth who personifies what America lost in Vietnam. It is also a portrait of a family's struggle with loss, a mother's damaging grief, and, most of all, a sister's quest to solve a mystery and recover the connection with her brother. Includes a reader's guide.
Prehistoric Fiction from Charles Darwin to Jean M. Auel
The genre of prehistoric fiction contains a surprisingly large and diverse group of fictional works by American, British, and French writers from the late nineteenth century to the present that describe prehistoric humans. Nicholas Ruddick explains why prehistoric fiction could not come into being until after the acceptance of Charles Darwin's theories, and argues that many early prehistoric fiction works are still worth reading even though the science upon which they are based is now outdated. Exploring the history and evolution of the genre, Ruddick shows how prehistoric fiction can offer fascinating insights into the possible origins of human nature, sexuality, racial distinctions, language, religion, and art. The book includes discussions of well-known prehistoric fiction by H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, J.-H. Rosny Aine, Jack London, William Golding, Arthur C. Clarke, and Jean M. Auel and reminds us of some unjustly forgotten landmarks of prehistoric fiction. It also briefly covers such topics as the recent boom in prehistoric romance, notable prehistoric fiction for children and young adults, and the most entertaining movies featuring prehistoric humans. The book includes illustrations that trace the changing popular images of cave men and women over the past 150 years.
Michael Collier’s poems are like a living film of the image of one’s past. In rich detail, they bring to life the geography of childhood—commonplace events that have a unique texture of one’s own—a dream of flying, a secret obsession, a school pageant, a jam session in the garage. The memories are folded into the heart, but with an inevitable sense of loss, a sense of capturing “the moment held in the air, the illusion of something whole, something true.” Water and light are constant images in this book, apt conduits to the past. Memories are refracted “in the faces of old regrets.” But they are not wholly lost for they inform the present; they continue “beating loud.” The Folded Heart is a lyrical compression of language, precise, intensely felt.
On the Trail of New England's Vampires
For nineteenth-century New Englanders, "vampires" lurked behind tuberculosis. To try to rid their houses and communities from the scourge of the wasting disease, families sometimes relied on folk practices, including exhuming and consuming the bodies of the deceased. Author and folklorist Michael E. Bell spent twenty years pursuing stories of the vampire in New England. While writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Henry David Thoreau, and Amy Lowell drew on portions of these stories in their writings, Bell brings the actual practices to light for the first time. He shows that the belief in vampires was widespread, and, for some families, lasted well into the twentieth century. With humor, insight, and sympathy, he uncovers story upon story of dying men, women, and children who believed they were food for the dead. This Wesleyan paperback edition includes an extensive preface by the author unveiling some of the new cases he's learned about since Food for the Dead was first published in 2001.
In the title poem "Fortress", the medieval walled castle is the stronghold in which the family dwells. There are stories here of people in the "fortresses" of the self, the city, or the natural world.
All these poems have in common a lyrical approach to solitude ("the only protection / against death/ was to love solitude") and an ironical vision for which love of beauty and the longing for the world are the cure. Hillman combines the imagistic with narrative; in her poems lyricism wars with irony; the solitary noticing consciousness is in control - because the observed world seems beautiful to the observer, great joy is possible despite the sense of difficulty or sorrow.
The language here is rich and elegant. Truth is relentlessly addressed.
Leslie Scalapino is widely regarded as one of the best avant-garde writers in America today. This extraordinary new book is essay-fiction-poetry, an experiment in form, "a serial novel for publication in the newspaper" that collapses the distinction between documentary and fiction. Loosely set in Los Angeles, the book scrutinizes our image-making, producing extreme and vivid images-hyena, Muscle Beach in Venice, the Supreme Court, subway rides-in order for them to be real. Countering contemporary trends toward interiority, Scalapino's work constitutes a unique effort to "be" objectively in the world. The writing is an action, a dynamic push to make intimacy in the public realm. She does not distinguish between poetry and "real events": her writing is analogous to Buddhist notions of dreaming one is a butterfly, and becoming aware that actually being the butterfly is as real as dreaming it.