Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bluestockings, so explosive!

Bluestockings is where I held my first book launch, way back in 2000, and of course I've done tons of reading there since then and it's always a special place, starting with the lineup of smart, engaged, friendly and excited volunteers. And what's immediately incredible about this reading is to see so many people in the audience who I respect and admire -- writers, activists, old friends, new friends -- all of this history, my own history and a history of queer resistance in New York right here in this room I forget I have this history in New York too, probably nowhere else like this except San Francisco where I expect it to a certain extent but here it's kind of a surprise, an intoxicating surprise it's one of those moments when I can feel so much and I realize oh, this is when it's all worth it, all the struggles to get here and everywhere but especially here yes here it's what I'm looking for.

I like the cadences of my reading, more variations then I sometimes feel and afterwards there are all these great questions about my writing and the politics and the voice and the style, vulnerability, the tragedy of the activism around proposition 8, what I've learned on my tour, whether I fit into the legacy of experimental writing from Burroughs to Robert Gluck, Kathy Acker, Dodie Bellamy, Kevin Killian (yes!). I like the question about the voice in the novel since I say voice is the most important thing and someone notices oh, that voice is different from your voice and what does that mean? Because of the consolidation of a lot of different voices and also I edited out a lot of the more essayish ways that I talk and think I wanted it to be messier. I like this question because often people just assume that since it's autobiographical fiction, that since the things that happen to the narrator in So Many Ways to Sleep Badly probably happened to me, therefore the voice is just me.

Of course, it is me, but it's less of certain things like political explication and the mechanics of direct action or writing, and maybe more emphasis on the desires of the moment and the collapse of the everyday and I think because so many different things happen from paragraph to paragraph it all blends together into one voice which is all these voices and their ruptures, which are maybe still mine but again there's the emphasis and after the reading the same person, James, says something about the explosiveness as a technique instead of the mechanics of the quest for professionalism that defines writing programs and graduate school and all that that I've avoided and I like that analysis too.

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