“THE OLD NEIGHBORHOOD”

An in-depth review of the novel HERE LIES MEMORY by Doug Rice appears in the current issue of AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW.

Here is an except:

THE OLD NEIGHBORHOOD by tara stillions whitehead

“A photograph never remains innocent. Just like a mirror is never innocent.” —Doug Rice

Those in search of a Faulknerian novel set in Pittsburgh will find themselves easily absorbed by Doug Rice’s lyrical meditation, Here Lies Memory, a book that skillfully braids myriad existential themes to form a multi-tiered narrative suspended between forms. From the relationship between identity and place to the speciousness of sight and words, Rice investigates how simulated realities and gentrification’s continued oppression of already marginalized groups—minorities, the indigent, the addicted, and the psychologically afflicted—distort collective memory and perpetuate dominant culture’s legacy of violent hegemony within the social narrative. Parallel narratives and succulent prose convey this tall order of emotionally charged themes and do so with a sophisticated understanding of narrative balance.

Readers are first introduced to Elgin, an African-American Vietnam War vet and widower whose despair over witnessing the continued gentrification and ultimate disappearing of his neighborhood and its history leads him to will himself into blindness. As with many of the characters in Rice’s book, Elgin seeks self-preservation, and blindness is his only means of doing so. “Going blind,” Rice writes, “saved Elgin from the oblivion being created by a world that was too full of things to see. It stopped him from losing what remained of the world that was worth saving…The old neighborhoods were becoming invisible. Renaissance this, renaissance that. Call it what you want, to Elgin it was stealing stories. Memories were dying. Outside, in the world of the seeing, the past was being erased more and more. All that was true was being forgotten.” Disappearing neighborhoods are not the only things at risk of being lost in a world with little regard for the past; Elgin’s memories of his beloved and deceased Thuy, the Vietnamese woman Elgin brought home from the war and married, are equally at risk. And Elgin and Thuy’s teenage grandson Johnny is, for Elgin, the greatest potential threat to her and the family’s eventual disappearance.

The bulk of Elgin’s story involves persistent attempts at making Johnny conscious of his naïveté and complicit ambivalence, and through these encounters, Rice’s commentary regarding the labor involved in creating dialogue between generations becomes apparent. Through sightless Elgin, we also see the importance of the oral tradition of storytelling in keeping blood memories alive. “Your story,” he tells Johnny, “began before you ever began. Before your mother cried her first tear. Before I kissed your grandmother. Before. That’s when words begin making you. In the before.” The before is Elgin’s father, Clarence, whose vitriol regarding the loss of his first love is, according to Elgin, an important part of who Johnny will become. One has to ask, though, is Rice arguing that aspects of one’s history are beyond escaping? Are we forever prisoner to our blood memory? Johnny’s quest to find his great-grandfather’s ghost and, presumably, confront the despair he would rather ignore, is a journey towards knowing the answer; in the end, Johnny’s passive observation of the spectral image of Clarence’s riverside mourning leaves no concrete resolution. Arguably, the final moments of the book foreshadow Johnny’s likely lapse into the same self-preservation that eventually takes Elgin, and Johnny’s surrender to storytelling as the answer to the things we do not know and therefore fear unsettles an otherwise staunch argument about the importance of increased visibility among the marginalized.

Rice explores place and memory simultaneously, removing them from the abstract via analogy: The city of Pittsburgh is as much a physical place—made of words—as it is an amalgamation of memory, or that of touch. Additionally, Rice explores experience and the human condition as something of a script, or a text that is rewritten and storied by the individual and culture. The problem with revision is the lack of consensus. Tenderness for one is violence for another; the simulated is…

-from American Book Review, Volume 38, Number 2,

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HERE LIES MEMORY is available worldwide on Amazon.

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Sister Carrie Has Arrived!

“When Sara White boarded the afternoon train for Chicago, her total outfit consisted of the clothes she was wearing, a small blue suitcase, a cheap imitation alligator-skin satchel, a lunch in a paper box, and a yellow leather snap purse. Now she stood stark naked in front of twenty other spellbound young women, and two men fully conscious.”

 

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Theodore Dreiser meets the Marquis de Sade (and other pornographic writers) in Tom Bussmann’s innovative  new novel. Here the author seamlessly melds texts to form a compelling narrative of, among other things, Victorian lust.

Bussmann’s wicked little novel has several tricks up its sleeve. Using Dreiser as narrator, his tale steers a candid autobiography into the surreal fast lane—where explicit hyperbole  is common in forbidden Victorian lit. Yet the story also manages to hint at the author’s personal reading habits and reveals an abiding fascination with St. Louis and the American west.

Sister Carrie Came is an incendiary work  of erotic semiotics.

CLICK HERE to order your copy.

 

 

RAVE!

Praise has been pouring in for the novel HERE LIES MEMORY by Doug Rice. Here’s an excerpt from the latest in ANGEL CITY REVIEW by John Venegas:

“Mr. Rice has accomplished something incredibly difficult and has done so with superlative skill.  He has made the surreal feel real, he has blurred the lines between the macrocosm and the microcosm, and he has somehow managed to contribute to the conversation of trauma and abuse in a manner that is not only unprecedented but which feels entirely necessary.  Here Lies Memory is a fantastic work that will require multiple reads to fully process and will never make you regret picking it up.”

CLICK HERE to read the full text of this rave review,

CLICK HERE to order the book on Amazon

MEMORY AND THE SPIRIT OF PLACE

“In HERE LIES MEMORY Doug Rice loves his characters wondrously, keenly, completely, and the result is a novel at once stunningly beautiful, brilliant, fierce, crazily imaginative, and acutely wise about how the ghosts that our memories and words invent are often the last things to leave us, no matter what, how some stay so deep in our skin they become as real as its color — especially those that can damage and mend us most.” —Lance Olsen, author of THEORIES OF FORGETTING

MEMORY-FRONT---WEB

HERE LIES MEMORY explores the place of memory in living, daily, scarred and sacred lives. Two Pittsburgh families struggle to survive trauma and love. A man wills himself to go blind, not to forget, but to remember in new ways. Another man drinks beer after beer until he can no longer drink away what he must face directly. This novel reveals what language and photographs do to memory, desire, and love, and what gentrification is doing to the souls of families and neighborhoods.

MORE ADVANCE PRAISE for Doug Rice’s stunning new novel:

“Covering all of the bases in this novel bent on conveying a deep love for the city and the people of Pittsburgh, Doug Rice ultimately makes our lives feel more dignified, loved, no matter if our local language and essence of being have become displaced. I’ve got no words for what Rice accomplishes. Just that, he beautifully brings to light everything in The ‘Burgh – and in places of the heart – that was done in the dark.” 
—Ricardo Cortez Cruz, author of STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

“How does memory write us? What fictions haunt our bodies and lives, and what truths do we construct to carry the weight of our selves? Doug Rice designs a brutally beautiful helix from dual narratives woven by and through love and loss. Between blindness and insight there live characters who, like all of us, story a way to go on in the face of buildings decaying, cities disappearing, hearts and bodies slipping toward ghost. Mother, sister, wife, grandfather, grandson, girl, boy…all identities move through desire, love, memory, and language in a place called Pittsburgh. Reading this book made my skin sing, my heart wail, a secular hymn of the body. “
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of THE SMALL BACKS OF CHILDREN

***Available now worldwide on Amazon***

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A U T O B I O G R A P H Y OF A CHARACTER FROM FICTION

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Discover what happens when famous fictional characters surface in the life of a writer.

Alain Arias-Misson has produced an indecently literary novel about a thoroughly picaresque Character. Passages have been plagiarized from a score of great Modernists — from Kafka and Stendhal to Joyce, Austen and Proust, from Strindberg, Constant and Mann to Michaux, Sterne and Beckett, and are woven seamlessly, unidentified, into his “autobiography.” For the Character — a budding author — is the product of those authors whose novels he has been nourished on. Characters step out of their fiction to advise and interfere with his life and he appears on stage in theirs. Where le petit Marcel’s nocturnal terrors begin and the Character’s end, or how the Character’s boyhood lusts lead him into the Brussels labyrinth of ladies of the night and how he meets young Daedalus there, already sated in a lady’s embrace, is an open question. The autobiography ends at the age of twenty-one, when like most authors he has read his own most important authors — yet the rest of his life has already been plotted.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CHARACTER FROM FICTION is an extraordinary work of Oulipian imagination.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER

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self-portrait with toastABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alain Arias-Misson is another character from a fiction by Alain Arias-Misson. He was born in Brussels, grew up from age four in New York,  Greek Literature and philosophy at Harvard, led a nomadic life throughout Europe, North Africa and New York. Lives in Paris and Venice. This is his ninth novel. In Europe he is known for his Public Poems in a dozen cities, and also New York and L.A., as well as his 3D poetry which has been shown in hundreds of galleries and museums around the world. On the other hand, little is known of the author.

Other Black Scat Books by Alain Arias-Misson

Comic Book: A Novel

The Man Who Walked On Air & Other Tales of Innocence

Tintin Meets the Dragon Queen in The Return of the Maya to Manhattan

 

Alphonse Allais’s Absurd “Affair”!

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Adapted to film four times, “L’Affaire Blaireau” has remained popular and in print in France since its original appearance in 1899. This is its first publication in English. It is humorist Alphonse Allais’s only novel and, in the words of translator Doug Skinner: “It isn’t quite as wild or cruel as his early stories, but I find it delicious anyway. Summer in the provinces, the shrewd but impressionable Blaireau, futile political squabbles, a ridiculous but charming love story, what more could one want? And innocence is rewarded!”

Here’s a taste from Chapter I:

excerpt

THE BLAIREAU AFFAIR is a rare find to be savored by the author’s growing circle of fans in America.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER A COPY ON AMAZON

About the author:
ALPHONSE ALLAIS (1854 – 1905) began his career in Paris during the Belle Epoque. He was particularly active at the legendary cabaret Le Chat Noir, where he wrote for and edited the weekly paper. He quickly became known for his deadpan wit and inexhaustible imagination. Among other things, he also exhibited some of the first monochromatic pictures (such as his all-white “First Communion of Chlorotic Girls in the Snow” in 1883) and composed the first silent piece of music: “Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man” (1884).

He was a crucial influence on Alfred Jarry, as well as on the Surrealists: Breton included him in his ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK HUMOR, and Duchamp was reading him on the day he died. Allais’s fascination with wordplay, puns, and holorhymes led Oulipo to call him an “anticipatory plagiarist”; the Pataphysical College dubbed him their “Patacessor.” His books have remained in print in France, and the Académie Alphonse Allais has awarded a literary prize in his honor since 1954.