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What's Queer About Autofiction? (Part 3)

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October 1990, New York City, photo by Tracey Litt This is the concluding installment of my conversation with Richard Scott Larson about fiction, nonfiction, autofiction, queerness, memory, community... Part 1 is available here , Part 2 here . Though this is the last installment, we deliberately kept away from any sort of concluding summary or anything like that — indeed, I'm not sure Richard meant his PS to be the final words here, it might have just been meant for me, but I thought it was absolutely the perfect spot to bring all this to a close.    David Wojnarowicz 15 Dec Dear R— Reading through your most recent letter helped me identify what’s been lurking in my subconscious without my awareness, a question I hadn’t thought to ask — why do I (and you?) hunger for explicitly, determinedly queer writing now ? I thought about this while reading a short piece by Sam Moore at Frieze about Daniel Levy’s Met Gala appropriation of David Wojnarowicz. I like Levy’s public persona, but h

What's Queer About Autofiction? (Part 2)

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This is part two of a three-part epistolary conversation in which Richard Scott Larson and I toss around a bunch of ideas and speculations about queerness, fiction, nonfiction, and autofiction. (Part 1 is here . Part 3 is here .) 24 Oct Dear R— It’s been a busy, hectic time at work, and in my occasional moments of freedom and lucidity over the last week I have jotted down notes toward a new letter to you. These fragments and shards for now are what will need to stand in here for something resembling thought. I will try to make my next letter coherent, but I can make no promises, as I’m not sure my coherence or incoherence is entirely under my control... * Andrew Chan writes of Louise Glück’s new collection of poetry: “Reading Louise Glück through the years has often felt like being friends with someone incapable of small talk.” This is indeed true of Glück (whose work I love) and also the opposite of what I cherish in, especially, the New Narrative writers, who sometimes (at their be

What's Queer About Autofiction? (Part 1)

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Claude Cahun   For some time now, my friend Richard Scott Larson and I have been chatting about fiction, nonfiction, and queerness. At some point this fall, I proposed that we should maybe try exploring in a slightly more formal and public way. Thus, in October we began sending letters back and forth. Our letters are an exploration, so they are full of digressions, speculations, citations — rough drafts of essays, in some ways. Life was busy for both of us during this time, and we had a tendency to go long in what we wrote, so the whole conversation took a few months. That's a virtue of this experiment, I think, because we approached the material in different moods, under different sorts of duress, and the us of October is not quite the us of January. We are publishing the whole conversation here in three parts over the course of this week. This is the first part. (Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here .)   6 Oct Dear R— You and I have been talking informally for some time, here and the

Trauma Plots

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In The New Yorker , Parul Sehgal writes that the "invocation of trauma promises access to some well-guarded bloody chamber; increasingly, though, we feel as if we have entered a rather generic motel room, with all the signs of heavy turnover."  I am generally sympathetic to Sehgal's complaints here about the ways "trauma" has saturated so many narratives — I've been grumpy about this imprecise, all-encompassing, self-justifying, shallow use of the term "trauma" for at least a decade now, ever since I was introduced to the world of "trauma studies" in literary theory, a field I was particularly suspicious of because, among other things, it didn't seem to understand how fiction works. One way trauma has been deployed has been to indicate Seriousness in novels, a move I've perhaps been especially repulsed by because I find a lot of Very Serious Novels very very uninteresting . However, for me, Sehgal's outcry is simultaneou