In a quick break from our “Satellite Reception” posts, we have Futurepoem author Rachel Levitsky with her entry in the growing, viral self-interview for authors with forthcoming publications, The Next Big Thing. In her case, she’s talking about her new book, The Story of My Accident is Ours, coming soon from Futurepoem. Check it out below.
The Next Big Thing: Rachel Levitsky (tagged by Susan Landers)
What is the working title of the book?
The Story of My Accident is Ours
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My lover said to write a novella. At that moment, I had just walked out from an accident. Then I saw a large photo of the WTO protesters, in a gallery, and I intuitively anticipated what I needed to write, but knowing it beyond a vague feeling required doing the writing.
What genre does your book fall under?
This question has been particularly difficult, especially for book packaging and marketing which might seem to be neither here nor there when publishing at a small avant-garde poetry press. And yet, readers are called to by categories of formal constraint. The surface is inseparable from the sinew of the body.
What I like to do in lieu of a simple answer is to list what it has been called by myself and others. I call it a novel. Renee Gladman alternately calls it ‘literature’ and ‘conceptual novel’. Carla Harryman called it a ‘hybrid essay.’ Gail Scott calls ‘an experimental novel’ and Laura Mullen has a category I think she would use that is ‘a book length narrative thing.’ Danielle Dutton intimates towards science fiction in her blurb. John Ashbery refers to the work as prose poems, which is particularly alright by me because it is largely thanks to his prose works Flow Chart and Three Poems that I am able to be a poet who works largely with prose, in the measure of the sentence. But the book is also straightforwardly historical, theoretical and not a little bit polemical. It is after all about Activism, the Activist, and the attempt to remake the world while living in it.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I do not know the answer to this but I can imagine Andrei Tarkovsky writing and directing the movie version. Or Michelangelo Antonioni—in which case I might like his ‘all American 1970’s’ actors from Zabriskie Point: Anna Halprin and Mark Frechette.
In any case it would have needed to be made as a movie in the 1970’s – because of the ‘we’ character of the book. After that, after Reagan comes to power, you will note that films are no longer representing the collective, or the attempt to form into the collective. Social activism films are about a single hero. Action films chase a single man who cannot get help from anyone.
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
The Story of My Accident is Ours is a study of the activist – though she has, according to the accident of her birth, been many, simultaneous–across the times that she has entered spaces of appearance, but also in a particular and shifting world, the appearance of which is itself under erasure.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Seven years. I could not do a first draft without having all the parts work.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Radical Activists. It is an attempt to open up the space they maintain, in which the world is allowed to be remade and therefore possible. Although it was written before Occupy Wall Street, readers may or may not read the novel anticipating the affective tone of Occupy activism.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Perhaps by all reasonable marketing standards, I will fail at this question.
Read this book! Because its sentences are easy on the ears and difficult at least complex in their thinking. Maybe they are short poems strung together to make the novel. Here is an example, one of these sentences that I like a lot, and which is much shorter than most in the book:
“Although its nature is motion, it lingers in the room saturated with it.”
And read this book because it is about us. Because I have been thinking about us in this way for all these years.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Lauren Shufran has pointed out the trouble with ‘representation’ and all that it excludes. Futurepoem is publishing this book, no agent. I like to think that being published by Futurepoem is self-publishing, as well.
My tagged writers for next Wednesday are: