You’re walking outside and it’s sunny and quite lovely. But your head is too distracted to notice the sunshine with all the mind tracks you’re on: a big fight with your partner, your strangely high cell phone bill, the milk you need to buy, the face of the beautiful woman you’re trying to recall. Then peeking out at the corner of your right eye is a gift addressed to you, Dear Stranger.
Sitting on a steel bench with a satin golden bow tied around are the Distraction issue of Slice Literary magazine with an Asian girl examining the grass, a dental x-ray gracing the cover of Hiromi Goto’s Hopeful Monsters, a green envelope with a letter, and two mini galaxy notebooks. One blank and another who has every other page full of handwritten distractions. You notice across the street are a group of people waiting to take a picture with the Kelsey Montague #WhatLiftsYou wings. You wonder how many passed this present by without knowing it was theirs. You pick it up and bring it home and you find yourself on this blog I’m writing just for you.
This is the first guerrilla art I committed for Bored to Death Book Club. Guerrilla art is basically leaving art or messages in public places, in this case, some books and a written work. I’ve started writing for them again because I do miss this site, and I realized they can give me the freedom and a platform for my strange ideas. I want to start leaving behind underrated books and literary magazines for people to discover, as well as my own writing to match. The first book I knew had to be by a female Asian author as I’m Filipina, and I’ve been meaning to read Hiromi Goto’s Hopeful Monsters. It’s a short story collection with a Stinky girl that everyone avoids, a baby born with a tail, a mother who is always in pain when she breastfeeds, and more. They have a feminist slant and they’re all quite eerie with some gorgeous writing.
An excerpt from “From Across a River”:
“Emiko flicked her eyes away from the mesmerizing grain of wood. Faux patterns, she told herself. Not even real wood. Her eyes, unwittingly, slid back. The markings swirled clockwise, counter-clockwise, a twisting twining of cells and time. And as she gazed, the wood undulated, liquid lines morphing into shape, eyes, mouths. Howling. Wailing oni writhed from the swirl of wood, spiral demonic horns twirling upward, malformed cats crawling out of the grain.
She started. A sound almost breaching her lips.
The chair was just a chair.”
I love how she melds the ordinary with horror, how smooth the uneasiness flows. My favorites are “Osmosis” and “All Possible Moments.” The latter of whom I didn’t know would go so well with Slice’s Distraction. I only picked it because the cover’s striking green by JeeYoung Lee goes so well with Hopeful Monsters. Such serendipity! And wow, Distraction is an amazing issue from start to finish. It made me want to buy a subscription and you can preview it here. Really strong writing and all interesting. I loved the interview with Lauren Groff, especially when she talked about her novel “Fates and Furies” and her two protagonists:
“I wrote their characters together, and they developed together, on two separate sheets of butcher paper, on opposite walls in my study, and because I wrote them at the same time, I think they started to do that compensation thing that happens in partnerships, where his obtuseness was modified by her sharpness, her secrecy was modified by his charisma, her fury was modified by his sadness, etc.”
I want to become that consumed by my writing, where it needs to live on the walls of my household. What a fantastic way to write. Other favorites are a fictional piece “Super-Kamiokande” by Perry Lopez, a nonfiction work “How to Bury an Elephant” by Kristin Ginger, and the poem “Indian Country” by Kenzie Allen. I adore how the mini galaxy notebook cover actually reflects the image I imagined from reading one of the works, I won’t spoil which one.
But I will say that I spent some days trying to think of (non-)fictional distractions to write within that notebook. I started in New Jersey, then wrote during a layover in Chicago, then finished it off in Nashville. I wanted to make the first #abandonedB2DBC act special so why not leave it somewhere I never set foot in? And Nashville is a lovely place full of friendly folks and fantastic food. I miss it.
This is my favorite distraction I wrote: “Fourth: That bit of spinach in between your blind date’s teeth while you subconsciously put your finger near your mouth.” It never occurred to me but I bet I would do that. Here it is in its entirety in three parts. I fully enjoyed writing them all down. Each one could be in its own story, and I love how the process stimulated my mind and creativity. I wonder what my next written work for this project will be?
No one reached out to me about finding this, when l abandoned it in Nashville on March 19, 2017. But that’s okay. It’s theirs to do what they wish. I hope it went to a good home. I hope they at least tried to read it. I’ll just abandon more books and hopefully a kind stranger will let me know they found it one day. It’s already fun and thrilling to make a package while documenting on Instagram. In fact, the next one will be left in New York City. Actually, you’ll see A LOT of #abandonedB2DBC gifts there, but hopefully I’ll spread out to the other boroughs besides Manhattan. I’m not sure what the next set of books will be but I’m greatly looking forward to it.
I hope you are too.