Authors: Delia Sherman
Small Beer Press
Copyright Â©2009 by Interstitial Arts Foundation
First published in 2009, 2009
NOTICE: This work is copyrighted. It is licensed only for use by the original purchaser. Making copies of this work or distributing it to any unauthorized person by any means, including without limit email, floppy disk, file transfer, paper print out, or any other method constitutes a violation of International copyright law and subjects the violator to severe fines or imprisonment.
an anthology of
Edited by Delia Sherman
and Christopher Barzak
Interfictions 2: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing.
Copyright Â© 2009 by the Interstitial Arts Foundation. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are either fictitious or used fictitiously. All rights reserved. Not reproducible without written permission.
P.O. Box 35862
Boston, MA 02135
Distributed to the trade by Small Beer Press through Consortium.
Printed on recycled paper by Cushing-Malloy. Text set in ITC Esprit.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data available on request.
First edition: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Cover art Â© 2009 by Alex Myers.
"Introduction” Copyright Â© 2009 by Henry Jenkins.
"The War Between Heaven and Hell Wallpaper” Copyright Â© 2009 by Jeffrey Ford.
"Beautiful Feast” Copyright Â© 2009 by M. Rickert.
"Remembrance Is Something Like a House” Copyright Â© 2009 by Will Ludwigsen.
"The Long and Short of Long-Term Memory” Copyright Â© 2009 by Cecil Castellucci. Slides used by permission of Vincent F. Castellucci from the following sources: “The Neuron” adapted from Castellucci, V.F. and Kandel, E.R. An invertebrate system for the cellular study of habituation and sensitization. In:
Habituation: Perspectives from Child Development, Animal Behavior, and Neurophysiology.
T.J. Tighe and R.N. Leaton, eds, Hillsdale, N.J., Erlbaum, pp. 1-47, 1976; “Simple Reflex Experiment” and “The Hippocampus” adapted from
Principles of Neural Science
, 4th edition, Eric R. Kandel, James H. Schwartz, Thomas M. Jessell editors, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2000.
"The Score” Copyright Â© 2009 by Alaya Dawn Johnson.
"The Two of Me” Copyright Â© 2009 by Ray Vukcevich.
"The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria” Copyright Â© 2009 by Carlos Hernandez.
"Shoes” Copyright Â© 2009 by Lavie Tidhar.
"Interviews After the Revolution” Copyright Â© 2009 by Brian Francis Slattery.
"Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken” Copyright Â© 2009 by Elizabeth Ziemska.
"Black Dog: A Biography” Copyright Â© 2009 by Peter M. Ball.
"Berry Moon: Laments of a Muse” Copyright Â© 2009 by Camilla Bruce.
"Morton Goes to the Hospital” Copyright Â© 2009 by Amelia Beamer.
"After Verona” Copyright Â© 2009 by William Alexander.
"Valentines” Copyright Â© 2009 by Shira Lipkin.
"(**?) ~~~~ (â) : The Warp and the Woof” Copyright Â© 2009 by Alan DeNiro.
"The Marriage” Copyright Â© 2009 by Nin Andrews.
"Child-Empress of Mars” Copyright Â© 2009 by Theodora Goss.
"L'Ile Close” Copyright Â© 2009 by Lionel Davoust.
"Afterbirth” Copyright Â© 2009 by Stephanie Shaw.
"The 121” Copyright Â© 2009 by David J. Schwartz.
"Afterword” Copyright Â© 2009 by Colleen Mondor, Delia Sherman, & Christopher Barzak.
Introduction: On the Pleasures of
Jeffrey Ford The War Between Heaven and Hell Wallpaper 1
M. Rickert Beautiful Feast 6
Will Ludwigsen Remembrance Is Something Like a House 15
Cecil Castellucci The Long and Short of Long-Term Memory 28
Alaya Dawn Johnson The Score 46
Ray Vukcevich The Two of Me 74
Carlos Hernandez The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria 81
Lavie Tidhar Shoes 108
Brian Francis Slattery Interviews After the Revolution 120
Elizabeth Ziemska Count Poniatowski and the Beautiful Chicken 140
Peter M. Ball Black Dog: A Biography 158
Camilla Bruce Berry Moon: Laments of a Muse 174
Amelia Beamer Morton Goes to the Hospital 178
William Alexander After Verona 186
Shira Lipkin Valentines 196
Alan DeNiro (**?) ~~~~ (â) : The Warp and the Woof 203
Nin Andrews The Marriage 230
Theodora Goss Child-Empress of Mars 232
Lionel Davoust L'Ile Close 242
Stephanie Shaw Afterbirth 259
David J. Schwartz The 121 281
Colleen Mondor, Christopher
Barzak, and Delia Sherman
Afterwords: An Interstitial Interview
About the Intersitial Arts Foundation
About the Editors
To Terri and Charles and Midori and Kate and Sarah and Warren and Ellen and Gavin and Kelly, who were there at the very beginning.
On the Pleasures of Not Belonging
"Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
Let's start with some basic premises:
I do not belong in this book.
The contributors also do not belong.
You, like Groucho Marx, wouldn't want to belong even if you could. Otherwise, you probably wouldn't have picked up this book in the first place.
Let me explain. The editors of most anthologies seek stories which “fit” within prescribed themes, genres, and topics; the editors of this book have gone the opposite directionâseeking stories that don't fit anywhere else, stories that are as different from each other as possible. And that's really cool if the interstitial is the kind of thing you are into.
At the heart of the interstitial arts movement (too formal), community (too exclusive), idea (too idealistic?), there is the simple search for stories that don't rest comfortably in the cubbyholes we traditionally use to organize our cultural experiences. As Ellen Kushner puts it, “We're living in an age of category, of ghettoizationâthe Balkanization of Art! We should do something.” That “something” is, among the other projects of the Interstitial Arts Foundation, the book you now hold in your hands.
Asked to define interstitial arts, many writers fall back on spatial metaphors, talking about “the wilderness between genres” (Delia Sherman), “art that falls between the cracks” (Susan Simpson), or “a chink in a fence, a gap in the clouds, a DMZ between nations at war” (Heinz Insu Fenkl). Underlying these spatial metaphors is the fantasy of artists and writers crawling out from the boxes which so many (their publishers, agents, readers, marketers, the adolescent with the piercings who works at the local Borders) want to trap them inside. Such efforts to define art also deform the imagination, not simply of authors, but also of their readers.
All genre categories presume ideal readers, people who know the conventions and secret codes, people who read them in the “right way.” Many of usâfemale fans of male action shows, adult fans of children's books, male fans of soap operasâread and enjoy things we aren't supposed to, and we read them for our own reasons, not those proposed by marketers. We don't like people snatching books from our hands and telling us we aren't supposed to be reading them.
One of the reasons I don't belong in this book is that I'm an academic, not a creative artist, and let's face it, historically, academics have been the teachers and enforcers of genre rules. The minute I tell you that I have spent the last twenty years in a literature department, you immediately flash on a chalkboard outline of Aristotle's
or a red pen correcting your muddled essay on the four-act structure. Throughout the twentieth century, many of us academic types were engaged in a prolonged project of categorizing and classifying the creative process, transforming it to satisfy our needs to generate lecture notes, issue paper topics, and grade exam questions. After all, academics are trapped in our own imposed categories ("disciplines” rather than “genres") which often constrain what we can see, what we can say, and who we can say it to. Academics are “disciplined” through our education, our hiring process, our need to “publish or perish,” and our tenure and promotion reviews. Most academics read or think little outside their field of study. As Will Rogers explained, “there's nothing so foolish as an educated man once you take him out of the field he was educated in."
I may gain a little sympathy from you, dear reader, if I note that for those twenty years, I was a cuckoo's eggâa media and popular culture scholar in a literature departmentâand that I am finally flying the coop, taking up an interdisciplinary position at a different institution, because I could never figure out the rules shaping my literature colleagues' behavior.
Many literature professors may hold “genre fiction” in contempt as “rule-driven” or “formula-based” yet they ruthlessly enforce their own genre conventions: look at how science fiction gets taught, keeping only those authors already in the canon (Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Margaret Atwood, Thomas Pynchon), adding a few more who look like what we call “literature” (William Gibson, Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick), and then, running like hell as far as possible from any writer whose work still smells of “pulp fiction.” Here, “literature” is simply another genre or cluster of genres (the academic midlife crisis, the coming-of-age story, the identity politics narrative), one defined every bit as narrowly as the category of films which might get considered for a Best Picture nomination. I never had much patience with the criteria by which my colleagues decided which works belonged in the classroom and which didn't.
What I love about the folks who have embraced interstitial arts is that some of them do comics, some publish romances, some compose music, some write fantasy or science fiction, but all of them are perfectly comfortable thinking about things other than their areas of specialization. In that sense, I do very much belong in this collection as a kindred spirit, a fellow traveler, both phrases that signal someone who does and does not fit into some larger movement. Maybe we can go to each other's un-birthday parties and not belong together.
To be sure, academics are not, as Buffy would put it, “the big bad.” We may have gotten inside your head but with a little mental discipline, you can shove us right back out again. Most interstitial artists ritually burned their old course notebooks years ago. They started to write the stories they wanted to be able to read, only to be told by their publisher that their book would sell much more quickly if it could be positioned into this publishing category for this intended audience, and to achieve that you just need to cut back on
, expand on
, and add a little more of
this other thing
. I often picture James Stewart in
gradually redressing, restyling, and redesigning Kim Novak's entire identity, all the while creepily asserting that it really shouldn't make that much difference to her. That's the process those of us who sympathize with the concept of interstitial arts are trying to battle back into submission or at least push back long enough so that we can demonstrate that there are readers out there, a few of us, who want the stuff that doesn't really fit into fixed genres, though it may bear some faint family resemblance to several of them at once. Viva the mutts and the mongrels! Long live the horses of a different color!