I don’t do proper writing, really, I pretty much just blog and occasionally polish stuff up a bit. I have to do that to be able to put words together, I mean I have to think about it this way.

I also don’t do fiction writing (my wife does, she’s on her third novel, I’m biased of course but let me just say – they’re great). Sometimes I think I’d like to write fiction. (Other times I think I’d rather be a journalist or a pamphleteer or a music critic. Then I figure fuck all that, I’ll stick to what I know, which is … uh… you know, like …stuff.) I did for a while – a few years ago I lost a job and spent a good chunk of my unemployment writing short stories.

One of the funner things from that time was collaborating with a friend on some writing. She’d written a story set on a Chicago El train. I wrote a story, pretty much just a monologue, set on that same train and at one of the stations. I thought of it as like another view of what she was talking about, like my story and hers were passengers on the same car so to speak. At one point I really wanted to do a zine of material like this, co-written with friends. It was partially inspired by a great bit in this beautiful graphic novel by Craig Thompson, called Goodbye Chunky Rice. There’s a scene in the graphic novel of a house, it’s a two page spread of the house with different small actions happening in the different rooms the different characters live in, actions that don’t so much intersect causally as lay next to each other spatially – a fair bit like living in an apartment building, lives lived adjacent to each other as much as or more than causally crossing each other. That two page spread struck me (and still strikes me) as a great example of something specific to the graphic novel/comic book medium. It can represent this type of thing visually, in the context of narrative (it matters that these are characters in the story), all at once with the reader/viewer being in control of the time of viewing – you can take in quick and move to the next page to follow the plot, or you can look over it slow and really take it in.

The zine never happened. That’s fine, I wasn’t a good fiction writer anyway. I’d more be into reading stuff like that than trying to write it.

I just found out that Manituana, the most recently translated novel by Wu Ming, will be out in October. I’m really, really excited. I loved 54 and Q (and you should buy them right now) as well as everything I’ve read of their cultural/political commentary and their short fiction. I wish more of their stuff was translated into English. On the Manituana web site there’s this bit called “side stories.” I’m of two minds here (as usual) – I want to read the stuff that’s posted now, and I want to wait to read the novel first. Decisions, decisions. Here’s the description from the site, I think it sounds super cool:

“During the writing of Manituana we wrote and put on line some ‘approach tales’ or ‘prolegomenas’. These were not simple ‘anticipations’ but ‘lateral’ tales that germinated on the table in the course of our meetings. Incomplete and inconclusive, they were rebel, riotous, mutinous chapters. They do not form part of the book, and they don’t say anything about the styles in which it is written. Narrative material that escaped from our hands.
We have written other micro-stories ad hoc for this site.

The work begun with Manituana continues, for another two novels we will advance along the tracks of the 18th century and plough the Atlantic, heading eastwards now, now towards the west. We will continue to produce stories, micro-stories, fragments, prequels, alternative epilogues.

Over the months and years to come we will joyfully receive, select and publish the stories and fragments that you feel like sending to us, as long as they live and breathe in the world we are building together.”

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