What to do on a foggy Monday night in San Francisco? Funny you should ask, because coming up on August 5th at BIRD & BECKETT books in Diamond Heights, around the corner from the Diamond BART station, I'll be reading some really cool new work along with Mahnaz Badihian from Iran and MUSICAL INTERLUDES from Raman Osman from Damascus, Syria.
YOU WILL LOVE THIS!
No, don't stay out late! We'll go from about 6:30 to 8:30. It will be a very smooth evening. Yes I know it's a Monday night and that's difficult to coordinate with work sometimes, but really, even if you can stop by for a bit I think you'll really appreciate the evening we have planned for you. :)
The Opiate Magazine of Paris and NYC published my tale "When the Phone Rang," about a prisoner of war during the times between wars. The story takes on issues of rendition, torture, erroneous incarceration, hate, prejudice, and pain... just a few things that've been on my mind.
"When the Phone Rang" originally appeared in my short story collection Fiercer Monsters published by Nomadic Press of Oakland, CA a few years ago. It is my belief that not enough people have seen the story.
I read it to an amazing audience live for the book launch with music provided by John and Jon from No Lovely Thing. We had a great time. We were outdoors in a huge backyard with a bonfire and fairy lights everywhere. I'd love to do that again! Let's see if we can make that work.
IN THE MEANTIME
Read the story, read the whole issue here because it is superb.
OR BETTER YET
Buy yourself a paper copy to support their amazing work!!
I had some personal surgery on April 25 and the doctor said it would take TWO WEEKS to recover. That would have been tolerable. At the two week mark I was still in excruciating pain and called in for more opioids, which I received. In all, it took me the rest of April, ALL of MAY, and a few weeks in June to actually get vertical again. MORE LIKE EIGHT WEEKS.
I am slowly rejoining the human race, one step at a time. I'm going to the gym now to help regain my strength. I've been spending a lot of time awake and exhausted. I used to be good at napping, at the beginning of this experience, but now, not so much. No sleep during the day, not much sleep at night.
A fierce cold settled in on me during the worst of recovery and as it tore through my head, it left my Eustachian tubes blocked like I have never felt before. Ears ringing, dizzy, partially deaf, I went to an acupuncturist who grabbed me by the side of the neck and pulled, but my ears wouldn't give. Then he zapped me with a few needles in my head and my feet. Made me jump and curse like a sailor. It was difficult to remain still as he slid needles into my delicate nerve points. Ears wouldn't budge.
Went to an otorhinolaryngologist who did not offer a myringotomy although I really wanted one. I fantasized about a loud vacuum sucking out the gunk through a tiny perforation in my eardrum, but it was not to be. Good news was that I was not risking infection. I'm still recovering my hearing but my ears have been clearing on their own for the past month.
No rest for the wicked.
I am feeling better than I have in a long time and I'm no longer taking opioids, nor am I taking the painkillers... after they cut me off Norco I switched to alternating hits of Tylenol and Motrin every four hours, 24 hours a day. My alarm went off all the time. Still no sleep. Also weird feelings of heat and restlessness all night. In order to reclaim my sleep I cut the night meds, then I cut the morning meds, now I'm taking meds mid-day, when I seem to hurt the most. Standing up and walking around is the worst. Oddly enough, the weight machines at the gym allow me to sit down, so it's as if I'm resting as I work small muscle groups. Fair enough. ONWARD TO RECOVERY!
Johnny Hernandez of Small Press Distribution wrote a beautiful and insightful review of FIERCER MONSTERS. Buy your copy now while they're 20% off!!
To pronounce reality into being, or to extend or seed a part of oneself into the fabric of the world—this is the material of Youssef Alaoui's latest collection of short fiction, FIERCER MONSTERS, published by Nomadic Press. A collection, broken into four sections and bookended with explorations of the alphabet and the materiality of language and creation, that explores language as both a means of expressing and exploring the imagination and serves as a vessel of the narrator, mooring itself on the shores of reality—hoping to found a new colony. Alaoui's collection is filled with mythical and spiritual parables and fables, each centered on the idea of a creator pronouncing into existence a world that is a negotiation between the voice and the material of experience. In one of his early stories in the collection, "Night Window," he writes, "It was at that point that the top of your head let out a bubbling river of fog. No, it was more like an entire grey ocean of alphabets scribbled on wave caps pouring from nowhere and reeking of barnacles voicing unpronounceable ancient languages and staking claim over the sleep diaries of every misshapen midnight orphan like you [...] your window is black. There's little reason to stay awake, and no reason to write unless the dream was mine all along." Nuggets of gold are dispersed throughout this entire collection, and if you pay attention each minor proclamation adds and adds until a tidal wave of reality washes over the reader. Not only does the pronunciation of a world begin to manifest but the reader also begins to form an outline of the narrator, as if every word encapsulates a piece of Alaoui himself. This collection is a statement and a love letter (to language and the potential of language) to create and transmit worlds both internal and external. Seek this collection out for every moment you imagine a world in every word.