When reading Michelle Murphy’s chapter called “Against Population, Towards Alterlife” in Making Kin, Not Population, I (Gabbler) found Murphy’s particular use of hashtags inserted into the text to be fitting little asides — invitations to explore “notes” later online; annotations even the reader could contribute to. Footnotes and endnotes do not allow for such dialog or collaborative annotating. Hashtags are brilliant:
Aspiring towards decolonizing and queer alter-worlds, reproduction might be better rethought as politics of redistributing relations, possibilities and futures. #RedistributionsNotReproductions. Making redistributed relations is an extensive, ongoing endeavor, looped with imperfections, messiness, returns and futurities. I am against population and for a politics of differently distributed futures. #DifferentFutures
Don’t forget to check out our tweets of the week under the Social Medea tab (because why would you follow us on Twitter if you don’t have to?). Oh, and THE AUTOMATION Vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero Series is free on Goodreads. Start reading now!
Jesse Eisenberg has a dilemma. He’s in the studio recording the audiobook for his short-story collection, Bream Gives Me Hiccups, and a particularly footnote-laden story isn’t quite working. “My Roommate Stole My Ramen,” which makes up a significant chunk of the book, follows college freshman Harper Jablonski as she writes effusive—and unwanted—letters to her high school guidance counselor. “Do you think it would work better if we didn’t say ‘footnote’ every time?” Eisenberg asks from the glass-walled booth.
Darren Vermaas, the audiobook’s director, weighs in: “To me, the repetitiveness of that is funny. But that’s one man’s opinion.”
His strength is in dialogue and monologue, and in writing miserable characters who alternately compel (like a 9-year-old from a broken home who writes restaurant reviews) and repel (like Harper, the footnote-obsessed freshman Eisenberg lovingly describes as “maladjusted”). “My only B in college was in short fiction, where I tried to describe a tablecloth for five pages,” he explains. “I don’t do that well. I’d rather describe somebody who tripped over a tablecloth and relate it back to some kind of Freudian experience.”
Harper’s story was inspired by tales of his sister’s college-roommate troubles. He suggested she write a blog called “My Roommate Stole My Ramen,” but she never did, so he took the idea back for himself. Harper’s particular writing style came to Eisenberg while he was filming the acclaimed recent biopic The End of The Tour: “I suddenly had this epiphany that she should use footnotes, because David Foster Wallace used footnotes,” he says. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s what she is. She’s somebody who overexplains everything, and she’s full of rage and vitriol.’ Then everything poured out.” Eisenberg is uncannily good at capturing a specific breed of insincere teen girl. “The Slutnick [Harper’s roommate] is technically a nice person. Like she always says the ‘right’ things, but it feels totally fake.”
My only qualms with the show? That there’s no brilliant way to incorporate the novel’s splendid footnotes and all the stylistic atmosphere therein. Waiting on episode 4!
[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]
The capital-A Automatons of Greco-Roman myth aren’t clockwork. Their design is much more divine. They’re more intricate than robots or androids or anything else mortal humans could invent. Their windup keys are their human Masters. They aren’t mindless; they have infinite storage space. And, because they have more than one form, they’re more versatile and portable than, say, your cell phone—and much more useful too. The only thing these god-forged beings share in common with those lowercase-A automatons is their pre-programmed existence. They have a function—a function their creator put into place—a function that was questionable from the start…
Odys (no, not short for Odysseus, thank you) finds his hermetic lifestyle falling apart after a stranger commits suicide to free his soul-attached Automaton slave. The humanoid Automaton uses Odys’s soul to “reactivate” herself. Odys must learn to accept that the female Automaton is an extension of his body—that they are the same person—and that her creator-god is forging a new purpose for all with Automatons…
The novel calls itself a “Prose Epic,” but is otherwise a purposeful implosion of literary clichés and gimmicks: A Narrator and an Editor (named Gabbler) frame the novel. Gabbler’s pompous commentary (as footnotes) on the nameless Narrator’s story grounds the novel in reality. Gabbler is a stereotypical academic who likes the story only for its so-called “literary” qualities, but otherwise contradicts the Narrator’s claim that the story is true.
THE AUTOMATION is a this-world fantasy that reboots mythical characters and alchemical concepts. Its ideal place would be on the same bookshelf as Wilson’s ALIF THE UNSEEN and Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS—though it wouldn’t mind bookending Homer, Virgil, and Milton, to be specific.
And, yes, “B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler” are really just a pen name.