Renee Gladman

Building sex

Renee Gladman's 'Prose Architectures'

Images from 'Prose Architectures' courtesy of Renee Gladman and Wave Books.

One easily forgets that writing is an act of drawing. On this, Renee Gladman insists: “Drawing was a process of thought — that was true, and so, and especially, was writing.”[1] This notion can be grasped in two ways: on the one hand, inscription is visual. A letter is always a mark, something scrawled. It is only when the mark is given meaning that we come to know and understand it as writing, so that A is A. The architecture of shapes and lines become letters, words, writing. 

One easily forgets that writing is an act of drawing. On this, Renee Gladman insists: “Drawing was a process of thought — that was true, and so, and especially, was writing.”[1] This notion can be grasped in two ways: on the one hand, inscription is visual. A letter is always a mark, something scrawled. It is only when the mark is given meaning that we come to know and understand it as writing, so that A is A. The architecture of shapes and lines become letters, words, writing.

'The lip of a paragraph'

On Renee Gladman's 'Calamities'

Photo of Renee Gladman (left) courtesy of Wave Books.

On the last page of Renee Gladman’s Calamities is a thick line drawn upon its lower portion. Beginning from the leftmost part of the page, it extends out to the right where it is cut off by the righthand side of the page. The line is one of Gladman’s principal preoccupations; its depiction here epitomizes the unrepresentability of a line.

On the last page of Renee Gladman’s Calamities is a thick line drawn upon its lower portion. Beginning from the leftmost part of the page, it extends out to the right where it is cut off by the righthand side of the page. The line is one of Gladman’s principal preoccupations; its depiction here, as one abruptly stopped by the edge of the page, seems to me to epitomize the unrepresentability of a line.

Renee Gladman's 'Event Factory'

Renee Gladman's 'Event Factory'

If epic is a story of the community for the community, then Event Factory asks the contemporary reader to consider: How does one tell the tale of the community now? In the place of a sure narrative about a place and its people, Renee Gladman’s text presents ambiguities — palpable, permeating, and resonant — that refuse to resolve or settle.

Renee Gladman's Ravicka trilogy

Renee Gladman’s trilogy, Event Factory, The Ravickians, and Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, shifts epic’s emphasis on a shared, foundational past to ask how one understands a community’s present. With a different speaker narrating each book peopled with overlapping, recurring characters, the texts, while written in the past tense, thematize and insist on the question of the present moment. And likewise, they insist on the present moment as a question.

Renee Gladman and the New Narrative

Little discourse exists today, at either pole of high literary theory or pop discourse, that narrativizes the bond between the individual writer and the reader in poetry or fiction, other than metaphors of the “literary market” as a collective purchasing power or critical arbiter of taste.

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