Author(s): Renee Gladman
"Renee Gladman has always struck me as being a dreamer--she writes that way and the dreaming seems to construct the architecture of the world unfolding before our reading eyes." --Eileen Myles A collection of linked essays concerned with the life and mind of the writer by one of the most original voices in contemporary literature. Each essay takes a day as its point of inquiry, observing the body as it moves through time, architecture, and space, gradually demanding a new logic and level of consciousness from the narrator and reader. I was reading a line in a book, then reading a line in another book, and performing small acts in between: I sat at intervals on the toilet, I slept sporadically, I ate kale and "fish food," and called myself "Renee" for a time. Nobody knew who I was at the grocery store, but going there was my big event. I knew the books of these people; I knew these people and I didn't change their names, but when they appeared in my books it wasn't really their stories I was telling, so they didn't need my protection and I could go "Danielle, Danielle" all day. Born in Atlanta, GA, in 1971, Renee Gladman studied Philosophy at Vassar College and Poetics at New College of California. In addition to Calamities (Wave Books, 2016), she is the author of eight works of prose, including the Ravicka novels Event Factory (2010), The Ravickians (2011), and Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (2013), as well as a book of poetry, A Picture-Feeling. Her most recent work of fiction Morelia is forthcoming in 2016. A longtime publisher and bookmaker, her projects include Clamour (1996-1999), Leroy Chapbook series (1999-2003), and Leon Works (since 2005). She is the recipient of a 2014-2015 fellowship from The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and a 2016 grant to artists from Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She lives in New England with poet-ceramicist, Danielle Vogel.
I began the day remembering, or what for me passes for remembering, or at least attempting to perform what passes for me for remembering, the book I had just read, a torrent of short essays written by Renee Gladman, each of which begins with, I began the day. The essays, or what pass for Gladman as essays, start out being about not very much, small ordinary particulars of Gladman’s life, or small observations such as a poet might make about the ordinary particulars of life, but really they are not so much about these things as they are about the writing about these things, that is to say about the relationship of a writer to her experience and to her work and about her trying to decide what sort of relationship there might be, both actually and ideally, between this experience of hers and this work. The essays that start out being about not very much end up being about even less or rather more, depending on your point of view, depending on whether you think the universals that open from particulars lie within them or beyond them. Gladman is concerned not so much with the signified, or even with the signifier, as she is with the act of signification, the act of conduction which causes, or allows, a spark to sometimes leap across. Gladman’s touch is light, and she constructs some beautiful sentences, and the sparks leap often, and she usually avoids being precious. In the final, numbered, section of the book, Gladman ties the compositional knot as tight as it can be tied, removing content almost entirely from her writing other than the act itself of writing. “I was a body and it was a page, and we both had our proverbial blankness.” What is her relationship to the text she produces, irrespective of the content of that text? “ I didn’t know whether at some point in my past, perhaps at the very moment that I set out to write, the page had fallen out of me or I had risen out of it.” She relates her prolonged rigours in attempting to find the essence, so to call it, of writing, to reduce writing to the irreducible, the making of a mark, the drawing of writing. “Language was beautiful exposed; it was like a live wire set loose, a hot wire, burning, leaving a trace. The wire was a line, but because it was electrified it wouldn’t lie still: it thrashed, it burned, it curled and uncurled around itself. … I was amazed that I was talking about wires when really I was talking about prose.” I’m not sure that the making of a mark is the irreducible essence of writing, but it is the irreducible essence of something, something which may perhaps be taken for some aspect of writing, at least in the physical sense. But maybe this is what Gladman is trying to isolate and understand, or to split, the duality between content and form, literature’s version of the mind-body problem (or, rather, the mind-body calamity). Although writing is all her art, Gladman wants to reach the limits of this art, of narrative, of words, of the act of writing, “writing so as not to write, so to find the limit (that last line) beyond which the body is free to roam outside once more.”
"Renee Gladman has always struck me as being a dreamer--she writes that way and the dreaming seems to construct the architecture of the world unfolding before our reading eyes." --Eileen Myles "Gladman's talent for linguistic architecture makes for a supple, tight promenade through heady ideas whose appeal rests on the implicit connection it draws between a people, their language, and the shape of communication." --Publishers Weekly "She offers entry into a deliciously unsettling "narrative," really, a sort of adventure. She reassembles art she likes and makes new art--all in service of creating a new art "experience," suggesting a chain-letter of creation." --Olivia Cronk, Bookslut "Her wrestling with the basic ideas of fiction--and its osmotic border with poetry--can lead to spectacular instances of art, passages at home in strangeness, maneuvering with uncanny grace in fields of indeterminacy and unknowing." --Eugene Lim
Born in Atlanta, GA, in 1971, Renee Gladman studied Philosophy at Vassar College and Poetics at New College of California. She is the author of eight works of prose, including the Ravicka novels Event Factory (2010), The Ravickians (2011), and Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (2013), as well as a book of poetry, A Picture-Feeling. Her most recent work of fiction is Morelia, a short novel forthcoming in 2016. A longtime publisher and bookmaker, her projects include Clamour (1996-1999), Leroy Chapbook series (1999-2003), and Leon Works (since 2005). A professor of creative writing at Brown University from 2006-2014 and a 2014-2015 fellow at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, she lives in Providence, RI, with poet-ceramicist, Danielle Vogel.