order here: www.rescuepress.co
Tess keeps vigil at the bedside of her friend Laura through a long night of labor as Laura’s first child arrives. The two have known each other for what seems like forever. Their humanitarian aid work has taken them from the Balkans, to Egypt, to Istanbul amid the ongoing refugee crisis—an era that includes the US’s war in Iraq, the Arab Spring, and many forms of global consequence and aftermath. Brad Fox’s first novel is a luminous inquiry into the incarnations and limits of hope. This writer helps us endure our questions about what forms care may take, what we may offer to anyone, near and far.
PRAISE FOR TO REMAIN NAMELESS:
Brad Fox’s virtuoso novelistic voice, alternately terse and florid, in the mode of José Saramago, Roberto Bolaño, or Alberto Moravia, is sonorous, lapidary, and melancholy—a seamless dreamy fabulist omniscience, bearing world-weary witness to perilous events, both inner and outer. Fox gives the impression of having lived underground or in other centuries and of only now emerging from his hiding place to narrate these limpid yet dense fantasias. A phenomenally gifted novelist and a probing intellectual, he transforms critical thinking into dramatic scenario. “Thought” isn’t appended to the story, but emerges in the complicated telling of the tale. In a bravura feat of formal construction, To Remain Nameless flashes between a birth scene and international adventures: from the cramped, germinating vantage of a hospital room, the novelist unfurls a teeming network of international exaltations and disappointments. The room compresses; the world expands. Djuna Barnes and Virginia Woolf pioneered this trick of simultaneous engorgement and diminution, of funhouse-mirror space-time reversal; and now Brad Fox, wonder-worker, takes up the dizzying mantle.
Daring, vivid and utterly original, Brad Fox’s debut is a tour de force.
To Remain Nameless is a gorgeous meditation on a shifting self in a shifting world, a querying-onward in which there’s both melancholy and delight.
Very intense like a bright light.
“First, Swallow the World: Muslim Dreams of Completion — the Maqamat, Ibn Arabi, and Faris al-Shidyaq”
My first peer-reviewed paper. On trickster tales, dream interpretation, Sufi visions, and mad satire. It’s out via World Art:
To read symbols within their varied contexts, a dream interpreter needed not only to master the traditions, but to interact with all manner of ideas and people and undergo varied experiences. And the interpreter could not be prudish or squeamish. The dream manuals, like dreams themselves, were riddled with illicit sex and violence. No lesser dream interpreter than the prophet Muhammad listened to the erotic dreams of his community, even addressing the meaning of particular nocturnal emissions. Only after one has become intimate with the switchbacks of fate, the vast multiplicity of life with its subtle intimations, exaltations, and trifling idiocies, was one suited to decode the symbols and stories carried back from the land of sleep.
Find it here:
If you’re interested, and need to get past the paywall, message me.
December 11, 2019
Now on this first morning where the city is dusted with snow, I opened my newsletter file and found something I wrote in the heat of the summer and for some reason never sent out. So in view of the cold months to come, and happy to remember the romantic scene at the end, I’m sending it now:
JULY, THE RIVER
It’s like I’ve completely forgotten how to write. I spent all last winter reading a hundred books for my oral exams. I read Plato and Pessoa and Natalie Legere and Ismail Hakki Bursevi and eventually I sat in a little room with my three professors and tried to make sense of it all. And then I edited a book for months on end. A seemingly endless process. All the minute decisions one can make about an article or a comma or the transliteration of an Arabic word or maybe just change everything.
Then I sat in the basement of the Bronx Zoo going through heaps of documents and photos and illustrations related to the bathysphere dives. And then the heatwave came. It was so hot we could hardly move. The air was still. The silver waterproofing on the roof of the building next door wavered in the heat. The tar on the road was soft and sticky and even the river was hot.
A week ago I worked as a kayaker on a long distance swim around Manhattan. I accompanied Alessandra Cima, a Brazilian woman living in Singapore, who had already crossed the English Channel and the Bosphorus. I biked through Harlem at 5am to arrive at Ward’s Island, jumped in a kayak and paddled over to a place called Mill Rock, near where the East River and the Harlem connect. Hell’s Gate, near where a bunch of researchers looked for sunken treasure in the 1920s. Finding nothing.
the whole letter is here:
Somewhere up there rocks jut and grasses hang. They look close but feel remote, the water’s surface an indifferent sky. Feet dangle from it, kicking. Hands thrash. A kid with a mask and snorkel dives down a couple of meters, his willowy body beats the water with explosive energy. Time is short—a single breath. While we hover far below, in an eternity limited by the air in our tanks. We are covered in moss and sink into the stone.
The full story:
An incident from the bathysphere project:
A Siphonophore Manifesto
Katherine McLeod asked me to imagine siphonore physiology as a model for a commune. I wrote this little text in response, which Ala Tannir included in Broken Nature, along with fabulous illustrations by Else Bostelmann and Helen Damrosch Tee-Van.
There’s a big show of Yugoslav modernist architecture up in MOMA through January. It moves me to see those drawings of Skopje and the old city of Sarajevo, the big photos of Kongresni Trg in Ljubljana, all the places I used to live being celebrated in the middle of Manhattan.
When I first got to the Balkans in the mid-1990s Yugoslavia was already burned and buried and Slovenes were accused of being Yugonostalgic, as if mourning a lost identity, without being bombed and besieged along the way, was a gross failure of intelligence.
To me, a foreigner who had never been anywhere but suffered some inarticulate homelessness, that lost homeland was medicine for my imaginary illness.
The full letter:
I translated five short suras for Yousef Rakha’s The Sultan’s Seal
And by the fig and the olive tree
and by Mount Sinai
and this safe city
where we created people finely assessed
then echoed that they’re lower than the lowest
except the faithful and prayerful – for them an end with no obligation
so why your doubt after devotion?
isn’t God more just than the justices?
The full article