i typed words about I Will Unfold You With My Hairy Hands

I am going to type words about I Will Unfold You With My Hairy Hands and then hopefully I will type words about The Woman Down The Hall. I will not edit or revise or rewrite this post. I apologize if this is not intelligent and I apologize if this is 'weird,' and I especially apologize to people involved in these things. I feel very earnest right now. It is late, I don't want to think about moving our lives, so I am feeling like focusing on something else.



The chapbook itself is nicely put together. I like how it feels in my hands. The cover cardstock is soft and friendly and a little textured. There is a little angel stamp thing on the cover that sort of wraps around the spine, and at the end of the angel's trumpet is the title and then Shane's name, like the angel is trumpeting the title and Shane's name from its trumpet. On the back of the chapbook, there is a similar look: the angel is trumpeting the words THE GREYING GHOST. Then, inside the book, the next sheet of paper is ornamental, a flower-y kind of paper, also soft to the touch. I was surprised when I looked at it, in a good way, I think. I felt happy when I saw this paper. Then a page of blurbs from Zachary Schomburg, Matthew Rohrer, J'Lyn Chapman, and Tao Lin. Then a title page and a personalized autograph from Shane (in my book, your book might not have an autograph, but you probably can get one no problem). The text. The text looks clean and is kind of neat and pretty. The Greying Ghost people did good work.

Pictures at Shane's blog.

I have read the title story in this chapbook before. I realized this the other day while gchatting with Shane. He helped me realize it actually - he said it was a Notable Story for the Million Writers Award (first published online at Hobart). I read this story at some point a while ago.

Look, there is something exciting about this book, I think. I think it is because it has this quality about its sentences that I find in lots of other work I like: the sentences do this turn, or whatever, away from the previous sentence, which sort of creates an oddity to the story. This is something I have been trying to describe for a while, and finally Christine Schutt described it better than I was ever able to describe it. There is also that Lutz interview in the New York Tyrant that reminded me of this, though what Lutz describes is a little different perhaps - I don't know anything about how Shane composed these pieces. Anyhow, Shane's sentences do something like what Schutt was talking about (and, in a weird way, so do his number sections in the numbered stories). "...Unfold You..." is probably the most narrative of the pieces in the chapbook, so many of the sentences 'turn' a little less than in other pieces.

"Really Important Sentences" is probably the best example of this 'turn' thing (later, I think I want to talk about how this 'turn' creates certain effects in much more interesting ways than traditional rising action/climax stories with their 'and then' sentences). 

Section 26. is just these two sentences:

I'm avoiding the whale's funeral. I'm avoiding the harsh manual labor of having to move that kind of weight through an endless field of snow.

You don't have to know anything about the 'story' to see the turn here, how the second sentence takes a key word from the first ('funeral') and then twists it into some new place (the speaker's participation in the funeral as more than a mourner). The snow is unexpected, yes, and adds a nice cap to the sentence, but the real movement is that 'harsh manual labor.' It is the fresh thing that adds to section 26., makes the speaker a little more ruined by this avoidance.

The turns also work to create humor. I think Shane is good at this, at timing his jokes. I laughed when I read many of these sections and sentence combinations. Schutt talked a little about how turning each sentence a little bit away from the previous one could eventually lead one to return to the original sentence, or the 'idea' of it or whatever. I think there is something nice in that moment of recognition. Here is an example of that working to create a joke in section 10.

Playing an accordion I convince the sparrows to move the whale. They use pastel colored strings to hoist up the whale. Their wings flutter, they look like hummingbirds, and the whale is only a foot in the air. The whale is too heavy.

Okay, I laugh at this, in a good way. It is funny. It is one of the funniest things I've read recently. I dunno. The joke is there from the beginning and what is exciting is seeing how Shane will do it. What makes it 'work,' I think, is that in this world, anything seems possible, in this speaker's dreamland, or whatever it is, anything works, sparrows can pick up a whale, but what is funny is the to be verbs describing the whale: is only a foot in the air, is too heavy. I like the deadpan, factual reporting in both of those statements; it is a turn away from the lyrical/fantastic writing in the previous sentences. It is both punch line and nod at the joke; it is a circular way of returning to the first line. I liked it. I don't mean joke in a bad way. I like that it is funny. I don't know. I am blabbering and suddenly feeling very self-conscious about this post.

(Also, read the last line in "Floating Animals" for another hilarious thing)

Okay, last thing. The turns work also to create sadness, I think. I felt sad while reading the last two stories. The last section of the last story is so good and sad, but I want to think about section 12. of the story "Messengers."

I wave goodbye to you from the roof. I can wave goodbye up here for longer than from the door. I watch you disappear into the long armed curtains of the pine trees.

I think 'for longer than from' is where the second sentence is most interesting. I like the way those words feel in my head when I read it. I like that this speaker has realized that from the roof she can do this better, this goodbye thing, that from the roof the connection is there a little while longer. I think this is sad. It made me want to think about things differently in my life. I think I paused there and thought about times I have said goodbye to people, how a roof would have been handy, I think.

I am suddenly tired. My brain hurts. I will not get to the LC ebook. I should have been more intelligent about Six Off 66, I realize now. I want to buy more chapbooks from The Greying Ghost.

Buy Shane's book. There are 75 copies. I have copy 51.