Anthropica: The Remembered Object

First, an apology. I am failing my non-readers by my staunch refusal to create content for Poets & Suicides Magazine. It must be very difficult for these non-entities to continually fail to (not) interact with this breathtakingly honest (non) magazine. Thus, I am here to report to anyone listening (i.e., no one) on the few small steps I have taken toward completing a final draft of my novel, Anthropica, which will be published by Dead Rabbits in the spring or summer of 2020. Supposedly. As discussed here, among other places.

This is a book that I finished several years ago, and until Dead Rabbits contacted me, expressing interest in the book based on some small bits and pieces that had appeared in various paper and virtual publications, I assumed it was yet another dead-in-the-water project that, despite having sustained me for a time, would now drift slowly to the bottom of my brain-vat where the sharks could feed slowly and delicately until nothing of the project remained. Instead, I find myself returning to a book whose details I do not remember, and that I am reading — as a first step toward editing and supplementing the text as required by my publishing contract — as if it were someone else’s manuscript. This, I suppose, is the benefit of having a book accepted for publication so long after its completion; I am not wedded to anything, and have no preexisting convictions re: the project’s strengths and flaws.

But you know what? The book is really, really, really good. I don’t really know how I wrote it and I don’t think I could write it now. Something about the way my mind was working during the project’s gestation is already foreign to me. The book is funny, strange, non-derivative, and at times a little bit demanding. There are a lot of moving parts, more than I remember even, and I think its best reader is someone with a lot of bandwidth. But here I am, 150 pages into this 450 page manuscript, and it reminds me of something John Hawkes once said, about how he wanted his novels to feel like they were “plucked from the void.” That’s how Anthropica feels to me. Honestly, non-existent reader, I’m very happy with it.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am rarely very happy with anything. Here’s a sentence I came across yesterday while reading through a few chapters:

In the same sense that all humans are candidates for sexual encounters with celebrities and supermodels, Grace was a candidate for tenure at the New School for Global Visions in Manhattan, where she taught fiction writing to writers who sought to teach fiction writing to writers, the absurdity of this infinite regress not lost on Grace Kitchen, who was painfully aware that — Squid Ink Press not withstanding — the market for actual writing (and actual reading) had long ago faded into the cultural microwave background radiation.

I like that one a lot.

The real trick in revision, for me, is to tilt the book a bit more toward compassion and empathy, which are certainly here in the text, but are at the moment often eclipsed by the nihilism that has (not) made Poets & Suicides Magazine so (not) famous. I want a radical, whiplash-inducing movement between these two diametrically opposed modes of existence. I want the book to manifest the sentiment Lord Krishna shares with Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita: “Everything you do is completely meaningless, but it is very important that you do it.”

The other part of my agenda is weirder. I would like to win the unexpected press war with Fexo the Robot, who has taken to increasingly vicious attacks against me and Dead Rabbits, and has apparently hired very real lawyers to represent him (it?) in a plagiarism suit. Obviously it’s a hoax of some kind, but the lawyers seem not to know it. Anyway, I’ve actually developed a theory about Fexo in the past couple of weeks (i.e., I think I know who Fexo “really is,” and to repeat for like the hundredth time, I AM NOT FEXO), one I hope to share with my non-readers soon.

Until then, Alis grave nil. May language release you from its lies.

David HollanderComment