Literary Theory

Flesh Made World – Full Cover Reveal

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Click here to read an excerpt

 

“Daulton Dickey’s ‘Flesh Made World’ is a glorious mindfuck. The eloquence of Dickey’s writing style consumed me like a drug, whisking me through time and space until I didn’t know whether to go mad or fall in love. I did both and more, thanks to his evocative voice and characterization. Entertainment aside, this book has also been a huge inspiration to me as an artist.” —Jessica McHugh

About the book:

Death surrounds Sarah and Daulton. While grieving for their loved ones, they eachimg_4484 must navigate a universe where time isn’t linear, where memories and fantasies collide, merging with reality. The dead haunt them, the world shifts and changes, and time disintegrates. Slipping in and out of the present, they relive moments from their past—and they never know when they’re in the present. As the shifts increasingly dominate their lives, as their grips on reality loosen, Sarah and Daulton struggle to find a way to orient themselves in the present, to escape the infinite loop of pain, suffering, and confusion. If they can’t find a way out, then will they be trapped in a kaleidoscope of torment and grief? An experimental novel about death, the nature of memories, and reality, Flesh Made World thrusts readers into a hallucinogenic universe where space and time constantly unravel.

daultondickeyA self-professed surrealist, Daulton Dickey is a novelist, poet, and content creator currently living in Indiana with his wife and kids. He’s the author of A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms: StoriesStill Life with Chattering Teeth and People-Shaped Things, and other storiesElegiac Machinations: an experimental novella, and Bastard Virtues, a novelRooster Republic Press will publish his latest novel, Flesh Made World, later this year. Contact him at lostitfunhouse [at] gmail [dot] com

 

Ten of Our Favorite Articles of the Year

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Andy Kaufman and the Physics of Human Response

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#2

Andy Kaufman: Architect of Reality

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#3

Tyler Returned, a Story By Jessica McHugh

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Our Ten Most Popular Articles of the Year

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In a Psych Ward on Suicide Watch: A True Story

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#2

How Misogynists Think: Confessions of a Former Misogynist

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Gustave Courbet and the Origin of the World

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On Writing and Bestsellers—and Lobster and Lizard People

by
Daulton Dickey.

writer-605764_960_720Encountering lobster- or lizard-human hybrids occurs frequently when you’re an imagination masquerading as meat. I bumped into one or the other at least once a day; and whenever I do, they say, “Daulton, why do you insist on writing easy-to-read bestsellers?” To which I reply, “I am a professional. I go where the people lead me. If they want action, I give them action. If they want spiders hatching in their ears, I cultivate brown recluses on their behalf. If they want corpses to replace rain and blanket the city in a violent storm, then so be it.”

I wrote my latest soon-to-be blockbuster, Flesh Made World, in the midst of a psychic and nervous breakdown. I admitted myself into the psych ward on suicide watch the day after I completed the novel. While I was writing it—experiencing suicidal depression, coming to terms with the sudden death of my father, and in the grip of a months’ long anxiety attack—people and creatures kept saying, “Yo, D, why don’t you write a non-linear, hard-to-read novel crammed with surreal and disturbing imagery, and ambiguous as hell?” I said, “All right, all right. If that’s what you want. I’m already on it.” (more…)

Sacred Gardens: A meditation on possession in Don DeLillo’s novella The Body Artist

by
Justin Burnett.

bodyartist_first_edPossession is a strange concept. Like many of the categorizations we use to piece together what roughly might be called our social existence, possession is marked more by its ambiguities than its certainties. What do we possess? We possess our possessions. But what are those? Merely material things that cost money, that stand at one end of a transaction like the period at the end of a sentence? A mere placeholder for exchange, a trophy for participation in capitalist society, a pause after a civic duty duly discharged?

Perhaps it entails something closer to an aura, a relation within a context of other objects, accumulated for aesthetic or practical use. “It was his coffee and his cup. They shared the newspaper but it was actually, unspokenly, hers” (4). The coffee is his only in contrast to the newspaper (which is hers). Is this possession, then, this magical game of comparison, animating the space between the mute objects of our houses with a thin web of relations? An imperceptible fabric strung between the piano in the corner, the hand-painted cerulean lamp table, the sofa patched with soft, gently outlined squares, the white, porcelain coffee cup on the glass surface of the card table, near the edge furthest away from the stack of unopened bills? (more…)

The Revolution Will Not Be Published

The Long, Slow Death of Avant-Garde Fiction
by
Daulton Dickey.

imagesThe state of popular fiction, especially mainstream “literary fiction,” in the second decade of the twentieth century is one of complacency and uniformity. It’s as though someone filtered the concept of fiction and literary fiction through a sieve, and homogeneity is all that largely remains.

Literature has struggled since the advent of movies and television, with the introduction of interactive entertainment—what some people still call videos games—and the internet. In a culture marginalizing fiction and literature, the industry is rapidly transforming into a game of monkey-see-monkey-do. In this world, the avant-garde, historically on the margins, is being further marginalized—to the detriment of our culture.

Fiction and literary fiction in this hyper-real, digital age, an age in which the line between “reality” and “simulacrum” is vanishing, suffers the same existential crisis that visual art—paintings and sculptures—suffered with the advent of the camera.

Over the past two decades, films and television, interactive entertainment and the internet have collided with the nuances of everyday life. As a culture, we’ve moved from the digital age into a sort of hyper-digital age, a period in which we’re experiencing the merger of the digital realm and the physical realm. This new period is revolutionizing the way we communicate, and consume entertainment, even more so than it did a decade or two ago. (more…)

Horrific Loves: Encountering the Other in Philip Fracassi’s Altar

by
Justin Burnett.

cover+-+AltarDiscussing horror as a literary genre proves to be an exceedingly difficult undertaking. A reader familiar with contemporary horror writers will undoubtedly protest against this statement, citing the fact that horror writers are generally more than happy to discuss their stock tricks, ways of thinking, and sources of inspiration. True enough. Contemporary horror writers are a gregarious crew. Yet when it comes to horror itself, our paradoxically macabre attraction to the dark and inhuman realms of terror, everything remains infuriatingly inexplicable. This paradox—our attraction to the repulsive as embodied in horror fiction—is dubbed famously in critical aesthetics ‘the paradox of horror’. I will utilize as a demonstration the appeal of Philip Fracassi’s recently published ‘Lovecraftian’ horror novella, Altar. The book itself is quite typical of its generic milieu, given how Lovecraftian horror is racing to the fore of contemporary horror fiction with the encouragement of affluent writers like Ramsey Campbell and Thomas Ligotti (or more recently, Cody Goodfellow and Jeremy Robert Johnson). One advantage of Altar’s utilization as a demonstrative model for horror fiction is that its simplicity and quintessentially Lovecraftian plot vastly complicates many of the theories offered up in supplication to the paradox of horror. It is my intention to challenge several theoretical ‘suggestions’ regarding the paradox by emphasizing the hitherto overlooked experiential “gap” in horror and the corresponding encounter with the Other. (more…)

On Non-Traditional Narrative

A Dialectic in Defense of Experimental Narratives through the Study of Slaughterhouse-Five and Paris Peasant

by
Daulton Dickey.

Some writers adore narrative convention. They stick to the algorithm without deviation. Others deviate only slightly. Other writers still incorporate radical deviation into conventional narrative algorithms. Then there are writers who eschew convention altogether in order to deconstruct or to dismantle narrative entirely. Each of these groups attempt to add their stamp to fiction or literature in one way or the other. And all have strong opinions on narrative. But which group, which tactic, is right?

The answer shouldn’t startle you: none. Declaring narrative can or should or must only4815205632_632ee48a71_b follow one path is like demanding that all athletes stand during the national anthem. It’s a form of authoritarianism predicated on inculcating and reinforcing conformity. Narratives are fluid, organic, the products of human perception of time. Think of it as water: it can assume the shape of liquid, steam, or ice while still containing water at its core. (more…)

The Role of Fantasy in Franz Kafka’s Amerika

by
Daulton Dickey.

amerikaIn Amerika by Franz Kafka, the character Karl Rossman is shipped away to America by his parents following a scandal with a servant girl. From hotel employee to bum to servant, young Karl experiences a panoply of adventures and emotions as he tries to find his way through life. Superficially, it’s a straightforward tale, a Huckleberry Finn-esque Bildungsroman. Since Kafka rarely wrote superficial tales, however, it is possible that Karl’s adventures mean something else–for Karl and for Kafka.

Interestingly, the title “Amerika” comes to us from Max Brod, who changed Kafka’s original title. Kafka’s title Der Verschollene, however, translates to “The Missing Person” or “The Man Who Disappeared.” Why would he give the novel a title that expresses the point of view of Karl’s family while the narration itself follows Karl, giving only passing mention to his family? (more…)

Life is a Stage, So Why Not Screw with People?

Notes on an Essay Concerning Writing, Performing, and the Nature of Reality
by
Daulton Dickey.

[Author’s Note: This is an unfinished essay I vaguely remember writing, the result, I suspect, of having taken too many meds, which I do by accident from time to time.]

I.

My mind reels. Sometimes I lock myself in my head, in my world, and everything around me—my wife, my kids, my friends and job—vanish. Not literally. Figuratively. Everything slips into the background, sometimes into the deep background. Sometimes the universe transforms into background noise, a sort of visuospatial white noise. Other times, it disappears altogether.

I get so locked into my world, the world mutating and transmutating and exploding in my head, that the world and everything in it almost vanishes.

zoar2A strange sensation: living in my head inside, then going outdoors and feeling as if the world itself is indoors, as if the world is a set constructed inside a planet-sized soundstage. Sometimes, when these sensations inundate me, I glance around—at the ground and the sky, cars and buildings and passersby—and marvel at the corporeality of it all. Of everything.

On occasions, when I’m experiencing these sensations, I ask myself two questions, sometimes in conjunction, sometimes in disjunction:

What is imagination?

What is “reality”?

II.

So I’m sitting in a wheelchair on the corner of an intersection, wearing a plaid shirt, overalls, and sunglasses. I’m hunched over in the chair, not moving. Concentrating on steadying my breath, minimizing the expansion and contraction of my rib cage, trying to render it imperceptible.

Try it. It’s a fascinating study, something akin to sociology. People ignore you when you play dead. They amble or scurry past you. Some glance while others act as though they don’t see you. Some joke while others furrow their eyebrows.

I’d probably sell the death routine if “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees wasn’t blasting from a speaker attached to my phone in my right pocket. (more…)