"What ‘used to be’ is painful to remember. Forcing the spike of an unlit firework into the cold, dry ground. Admiring the frost on the holly berries, en route to school. Taking a long, restorative walk on Boxing Day in the winter glare. Whole football pitches crunching underfoot. A bit of sun on Pancake Day; a little more for the Grand National. Chilly April showers, Wimbledon warmth. July weddings that could trust in fine weather…
The weather has changed, is changing, and with it so many seemingly small things—quite apart from train tracks and houses, livelihoods and actual lives—are being lost. It was easy to assume, for example, that we would always be able to easily find a hedgehog in some corner of a London garden, pick it up in cupped hands, and unfurl it for our children—or go on a picnic and watch fat bumblebees crawling over the mouth of an open jam jar. Every country has its own version of this local sadness.
Sing an elegy for the washed away! For the cycles of life, for the saltwater marshes, the houses, the humans—whole islands of humans. Going, going, gone! But not quite yet. The apocalypse is always usefully cast into the future—unless you happen to live in Mauritius, or Jamaica, or the many other perilous spots. According to recent reports, “if emissions of global greenhouse gases remain unchanged,” things could begin to get truly serious around 2050, just in time for the seventh birthday party of my granddaughter.
What she will want to know is why this movement took so long to materialize. So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we’d just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes—and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat.
The climate…. We did not think it could change. That is, we always knew we could do a great deal of damage to this planet, but even the most hubristic among us had not imagined we would ever be able to fundamentally change its rhythms and character, just as a child who has screamed all day at her father still does not expect to see him lie down on the kitchen floor and weep.
Oh, what have we done! It’s a biblical question, and we do not seem able to pull ourselves out of its familiar—essentially religious—cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. This is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help—the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved. Like when the seasons changed in our beloved little island, or when the lights went out on the fifteenth floor, or the day I went into an Italian garden in early July, with its owner, a woman in her eighties, and upon seeing the scorched yellow earth and withered roses, and hearing what only the really old people will confess—in all my years I’ve never seen anything like it—I found my mind finally beginning to turn…”
read the whole thing at The New York Review of Books
In addition to the Foxing/Fantagraphics show at AWP, Write Bloody will be having an ASTOUNDING reading at Re-Bar on February 27th.
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz!
Lauren B. Zuniga!
& music from Adam Falkner!
With readings from Patricia Smith, Paul Hoover, Geoff Bouvier, Ravi Shankar, John Hoppenthaler, Sarah Green, Beth Gylys, Sharon Dolin, Nate Marshall, and many more. ALSO on February 27th. That night is going to be un-freaking-believable.
I won’t be at AWP this year but I have some doodles in the foxingquarterly Post-It show at Fantagraphics! AT FANTAGRAPHICS!!!
This year, we are kicking off AWP with a very special collaborative event.
Featuring original work (on sticky notes) by:
Alex Schubert, Alexis Ziritt, Anis Mojgani, Daniel Fishel, Daryl Seitchik, Eric Reynolds, Jaime Willems, Jen Vaughn, Jensine Eckwall, Jesse Lucas, Jim Rugg, Katie Skelly, Kevin Jay Stanton, Laura Knetzger, Leslie Hung, Liz Prince, Pat Aulisio, Paul Hornschemeier, Raul Gonzalez, Roman Muradov, Ryan Cecil Smith, Sabrina Elliott, Sean Ford, Sophia Foster Dimino, Will Dinski, Yevgeniya Mikhailik, Yumi Sakugawa, AND MORE!
Proceeds will benefit a very exciting project we’ll be announcing that night.
Plus, COMPLIMENTARY DRINKS provided by Elysian Brewing!
The event is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
We hope to see you there!
A Strange Object
The Austin Review
American Short Fiction
Last night my wife shared with me the current winner of the internet, The Ragtime Gals.
Second place, the before half of this then and now photo: