Tag Archive for 'Nicki Yowell'

Q&A with Tonight’s Reader David Moscovich

David Moscovich

David Moscovich, author of You Are Making Very Important Bathtime, is no stranger to cross-country jaunts. The New York resident will be journeying here to Quimby’s for a reading with fellow writer Eckard Gerdes tonight. Nicki Yowell, Quimby’s Outreach and Communications Coordinator, caught up with David to chat about clumsy Japanese translations, the perils of teaching and the many iterations of his performances.

Quimby’s: You’ve resided in quite a few places during your life: Portland, New York, Boston, Japan. Would you say your personal well-rounded sense of place factors strongly into your work?

David Moscovich: My sense of place is probably more lopsided because of my personal geography — but being a Nebraska boy at root keeps me humble enough. Growing up in my own personal iron curtain as a Romanian-American in Nebraska gave me a sense of aloneness that didn’t disappear until I visited the old country as an adult. How does that translate into my work? I think it keeps experiences relative, and my attempt with Bathtime is to fuel misunderstandings between characters with even greater misunderstandings, to pose the assumptions of American and Japanese cultures in comical juxtaposition with each other. I try to expose the narrator’s biases and preconceptions in Bathtime by allowing him to gaff and to faux pas his way through most situations. In a sense, I tried to create a character who has committed a spiritual crime, a kind of culture-cide, but does not have the conscience to realize it. It torments him but not in the way a Raskolnikov is tormented.

Q: Flash fiction is a literary medium that seems to fit well with our times. Short, punchy, quick to get your attention. What draws you to shorter narratives? Are they more approachable in our temporally fractured culture?

DM: The way the story tells the story has to be more immediate in short fiction. I want to say more with less, and I also revise obsessively. It’s not that I am always drawn to the short form, but often I’ve cut back more than fifty percent of the words. You Are Make Very Important Bathtime is a complete rewrite of a much longer novel that I threw out to rework the voice. I wanted it to be about the voice. I also think of short fiction like punk rock. Put together fifty fast-paced songs and there is a concentrated performance that tells a longer story.

Q: The title of your latest book, You Are Make Very Important Bathtime, reminds me of a dubiously named website, Engrish.com. Translating Japanese to English can be a tenuous, problematic proposition, indeed. How does the central problem of language factor into the story?

DM: You Are Make Very Important Bathtime plays with the notion of weird, broken, unconventional and/or unaccepted grammar as a cause for celebration. Usually without thinking we accept grammar as a set of patterns that are “correct” in any given language without acknowledging that “correct” grammar might be viewed as merely another aesthetic.

Throughout the work is the comma splice, which came from a desire to intentionally circumvent the rules of punctuation and give the sense of reading each story in one long breath. The Japanese language also allows for females to refer to themselves by name. A character, Kimiko, says to the narrator: Kimiko loves okonomiyaki. These types of peculiarities fascinate me, like the fact that it’s possible to hold an entire conversation in Japanese without the use of a subject.

Language teachers might berate a student for collocational fumbles or syntactical mishaps but language itself loves errors and to me it sounds like poetry. Japanese is a very flexible tongue. Switch around verbs and nouns and leave out subjects, still we are understood. Languages are transforming, living beings, the long tentacles of cultures they are attached to. My attempt is to embrace all of it, to fully love the flexible grammar out there.

In one of the stories, a certain beer menu reads, “Please Choose the Drunk.” It’s incredible how much impact a single letter can have. And that is part of the book, this enormous potential that lies within the playing and shifting of letters.

Q: How has teaching shaped your point of view of writing? Do you ever picture your students as your audience or are you their audience?

DM: The goal for me is to marry writing and teaching by channelling them in a state of urgent transmission. Writing happens from a necessity of expression, as Rilke would have it. The delineation between teaching and the performance behind the writing disappears. That is the ideal — to share completely and selflessly what has worked for me as a writer, and equally so, what has not worked.

Q: Much of your work has a performance or performed component. You’ve done radio broadcasts and musical collaborations in addition to your live readings. Do you consider these performances to be separate and complete or a necessary companion to the written work you make?

DM: I like to think they compliment each other but ideally each stand alone. They are also different mediums. If a person prefers reading without the social aspect necessary for performance they can read instead. What I’m trying to do with the live performance is to offer something from my work that a reader cannot get just holding the book. But even within reading a written story to oneself there are so many possibilities. Any book could be read in a non-linear fashion as well as the traditional way from the first story to the last. You Are Make Very Important Bathtime was designed as a book to be read in any and every order whatsoever. The sequence offered in the book as published could be thought of as a “serving suggestion.” The reader sets the table.

International Zine Month Roundup!

internationalzines

In honor of the end of International Zine Month, we wanted to share some of our favorite zines and such from around the globe. Take a gander at some of the imports you can score on the shelves at Quimby’s.

Otso, Mari Ahokoivu, Finland, Bilingual (Finnish/English)

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Finnish comic artist Mari Ahokoivu, details the existential journey of the titular bear (otso) in outer space. Things get pretty hairy, even for a bear, until the story comes to a rather beautiful celestial resolution. Ahokoivu’s drawings are infused with bright colorful swirls and a sense of fun, even with the subject matter gets dark. Most of the action takes place in the illustration. The sparsely applied written words are translated into her native Finnish from English.

 

Gang Bang Bong, Multiple artists, Canada/Mexico, Bilingual (Spanish/English)

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Edited by Ines Estrada in Mexico and Ginette Lapalme in Toronto, this bilingual comic anthology is in its third installment. Gang Bang Bong started out more lo-fi but has become glossy, towing the line between zine and magazine. Inside you’ll find avant garde comics that tend to eschew the traditional panel storytelling form for more fluid narratives. GBB is a publication that straddles the lines of language and breaches the disconnect of North America’s two primary linguistic modes. And, on a lighter note, it’s full of fun, sometimes silly illustrations.

 

The Life and Times of Butch Dykes, Eloisa Aquino, Montreal Quebec, (English)

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This series of mini-zines spotlights notable masculine lesbians around the world, including Chavela Vargas, JD Samson, Gladys Bentley, Gertrude Stein and Claude Cahun. Despite its Montreal-ness, Life and Times is written in English. Inside you’ll find a classy Spark Notes version of these women’s accomplishments, highlighting experiences of personal triumph, trauma and updates on their present day lives, (if they’re still living). Life and Times also features handsomely screen- printed covers.

School, Women and Japanese Culture, Multiple artists, Japan, (English)

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Japanese journal School contains interviews, essays, photography and artwork reporting on the lives of women specifically, Japanese women generally. School examines the tension between ancient and modern cultures in Japan. Its sparse design and academic prose make for intellectually stimulating reading. Topics include relationship with sense of place, the existential implications of architecture, personal accounts of depression and an interview with singer Minako Yoshida.

Frontier, Uno Moralez, San Francisco by way of Russia

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Frontier is the first analog release for Uno Moralez who works mainly in digital mediums. His haunting figure-based visions are set in the style of a pixilated video game screen. Moralez deals in visual archetypes of the Virgin Mary, sailors and femme fatales, among others. This comic is less narrative and more a dream-like stream of consciousness parade of catastrophic and sensual image associations. So far, two issues have been released.

You Won’t Find These International Zines In Our Webstore, But Rather, Our Brick and Mortar Store…Come on in to Quimby’s to check these out!

Word About Seeing Words Anything, Sergej Vutuc, San Jose, California by way of Germany

Photographer and visual artist Vutuc, who lives in Germany, made this zine as part of his show with Shawn Whisenant “Coincidence” at Seeing Things Gallery in San Jose California. Vutuc’s zine is a black-heavy collage that forms a  photographic abstraction of his travels . He deals in shadow and light, splices of celluloid and hand scrawled musings. Word About Seeing Words Anything is a mixture between an exhibition catalog, small art book and portfolio of Vutuc’s work.

Chomp, Mitsu Sucks, Japan,  Bilingual (English/Japanese)

When your cover features a dude wearing a Spurs hat and Black Flag t-shirt, you have has at least some affinity for the West, or just good taste. Chomp showcases queer street-culture from Japan with a heavy dosage of skater influence, mostly in the form of photography and illustration. Its tagline remarks “everyone is uncool!” but you’ll find plenty cool cats in this rag, not to mention penis drawings. Mitsu Sucks is the creative mastermind behind Chomp but its content features a rotating cast of artists, pals and photographers.

What Are You Collecting at the Moment Mark?, Mark Pawson, UK, (English)

Mark Pawson, British artist, writer and zine reviewer waxes whimsical on his stockpile of stuff.  Akin to Eric Bartholomew’s Junk Drawer zine here in the states, Pawson catalogs objects and trinkets. And it’s pretty straightforward. The mini-zine lets readers flip through a pantheon of figurines, novelty mugs and household objects. It would also do you well to check out Mark’s website. It is incoherent and crazy in the best possible way.

You Can’t Find These International Zines at Quimby’s But They’re Still Awesome!

Koukijin-teki-Shaku: Japan, http://koukijinteki-shaku.blogspot.com/

Spill the Zine, UK Zine Review  http://spillthezines.blogspot.com/

The Treasure Fleet, Minicomic, Germany http://www.treasure-fleet.com/

Tetanos, Abraham Diaz, Mexico http://gatosaurio.com/tetanos2.html

Did we forget anything? Share some of your picks with us.

 

-Article by our intrepid Quimby’s reporter and SPOC founder Nicki Yowell.

Self-Publishers of Chicago (SPOC) is a community organization for zinesters, artists, writers and any who publish.