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Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing

Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing

3.5 2
by Theodora Goss

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Nineteen writers dig into the imaginative spaces between conventional genres—realistic and fantastical, scholarly and poetic, personal and political—and bring up gems of new fiction: interstitial fiction.

This is the literary mode of the new century, a reflection of the complex, ambiguous, and challenging world that we live in. These nineteen


Nineteen writers dig into the imaginative spaces between conventional genres—realistic and fantastical, scholarly and poetic, personal and political—and bring up gems of new fiction: interstitial fiction.

This is the literary mode of the new century, a reflection of the complex, ambiguous, and challenging world that we live in. These nineteen stories, by some of the most interesting and innovative writers working today, will change your mind about what stories can and should do as they explore the imaginative space between conventional genres. The editors garnered stories from new and established authors in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, and also fiction translated from Spanish, Hungarian, and French. The collection features stories from Christopher Barzak, Colin Greenland, Holly Phillips, Rachel Pollack, Vandana Singh, Anna Tambour, Catherynne Valente, Leslie What, and others.

"A wildly varied cacophony of a book, by turns beautiful, funny, frightening, frustrating, and baffling, but never boring."
New Haven Review

"Odd, Deep, Delightful"
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"This idea of playing with genre conventions is interstitiality's charm and what makes it a movement for the hypertext age. We want words to do more now and for our time not to have been spent with just one idea."
—Adrienne Martini, Baltimore City Paper

Delia Sherman was born in Tokyo and brought up in New York City. She earned a PhD in Renaissance studies at Brown University and taught at Boston and North-eastern universities. She is the author of the novels Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove (a Mythopoeic Award winner), and Changeling. Sherman co-founded the Interstitial Arts Foundation, dedicated to promoting art that crosses genre borders.

Theodora Goss was born in Hungary and spent a peripatetic childhood in various European countries. She teaches at Boston University, is completing a PhD, and is introducing classes on the fantastic tradition in English literature. She is the author of a short story collection, In the Forest of Forgetting.

Product Details

Small Beer Press
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5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

What We Know About the Lost

Families of--House
Christopher Barzak
But is the house truly haunted?

Of course the house is haunted. If a door is closed on the first floor, another on the second floor will squeal open out of contrariness. If wine is spilled on the living room carpet and scrubbed at furiously and quickly so that a stain does not set, another stain, possibly darker, will appear somewhere else in the house. A favorite room in which malevolence quietly happens is the bathroom. Many speculate as to why this room draws so much attention. One might think that in a bathroom things would be more carefree, in a room where the most private of acts are committed, that any damned inhabitants could let down their hair or allow a tired sigh to pass through their doomed lips.

Perhaps this is exactly what they are doing in the bathroom, and we have misunderstood them. They turn on the shower and write names in the steam gathered on the mirror (never their own names, of course). They tip perfume bottles over, squeeze the last of the toothpaste out of its tube, they leave curls of red hair in the sink. And no one who lives in the house--no one living, that is--has red hair, or even auburn. What's worse is when they leave the toilet seat up. They'll flush the toilet over and over, entranced by the sound of the water being sucked out. This is what these restless inhabitants are endlessly committing: private acts.

The latest victims

Always there has been a family subject to the house's torture. For sixty-five years it was the Addlesons. Before that it was owned by the Oliver family. No one in town canremember who lived in the house before the Olivers, not even our oldest residents. We have stories, of course, recountings of the family who built--House, but their name has been lost to history. If anyone is curious, of course there is the library with town records ready to be opened. No one has opened those records in over fifty years, though. Oral history, gossip, is best for this sort of situation.

Rose Addleson believed the house was trying to communicate something. She told her husband women know houses better than men, and this is one thing Rose said that we agree with. There is, after all, what is called "Women's Intuition." What exactly the house was saying eluded Rose, though, as it eludes the rest of us. Where Rose wanted to figure out its motivations, the rest of us would rather have seen it burn to cinders.

"All these years?" Jonas told her. It was not Rose Addleson who grew up in the house after all, who experienced the years of closeness to these events, these fits that her husband had suffered since childhood. "If it's trying to communicate," he said, "it has a sad idea of conversation."

Rose and Jonas have no children. Well, to be precise, no living children. Once there had been a beautiful little girl, with cheeks that blushed a red to match her mother's, but she did not take to this world. She died when she was only a year old. On a cold winter's night she stopped breathing, when the house was frosted with ice. It wasn't until the next morning that they found her, already off and soaring to the afterlife. "A hole in her heart," the doctor said, pinching his forefinger and thumb together. "A tiny hole." They had never known it was there.

After their first few months of marriage, Rose and Jonas had become a bit reclusive. Out of shame? Out of guilt? Fear? Delusion? No one is able to supply a satisfactory reason for their self-imposed isolation. After all, we don't live in that house. If walls could talk, though, and some believe the walls of--House do talk, perhaps we'd understand that Jonas and Rose Addleson have good reason not to go out or talk to neighbors. Why, even Rose's mother Mary Kay Billings didn't hear from her daughter but when she called on the phone herself, or showed up on the front porch of--House, which was something she rarely did. "That house gives me the creeps," she told us. "All those stories, I believe them. Why Rose ever wanted to marry into that family is beyond me."

Mary Kay has told us this in her own home, in her own kitchen. She sat on a chair by the telephone, and we sat across the table from her. She said, "Just you see," and dialed her daughter's number. A few rings later and they were talking. "Yes, well, I understand, Rose. Yes, you're busy, of course. Well, I wanted to ask how you and Jonas are getting along. Good. Mm-hmm. Good. All right, then. I'll talk to you later. Bye now."

She put the phone down on the cradle and smirked. "As predicted," she told us. "Rose has no time to talk. 'The house, Mother, I'm so busy. Can you call back later?' Of course I'll call back later, but it'll be the same conversation, let me tell you. I know my daughter, and Rose can't be pried away from that house."

We all feel a bit sad for Mary Kay Billings. She did not gain a son through marriage, but lost a daughter. This is not the way it's supposed to happen. Marriage should bring people together. We all believe this to be true.

Meet the Author

Delia Sherman was born in Tokyo, Japan and brought up in New York City. She earned a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies at Brown University and taught at Boston University and Northeastern. She is the author of the novels Through a Brazen Mirror, The Porcelain Dove (Mythopoeic Award winner), Changeling, and The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen.

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Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Interstitial writing was supposed to be a wild genre where new graphics and new ideas could converge to show the reading world that there was more to sci-fi and fantasy than the cinematic flops of Star Wars I-III 'sci-fi' or Eragon 'fantasy' or dead end novel serializations of Buffy, Star Wars, Battlestar Gallactica that exploit beloved ideas for a quick buck. There was also the promise of genre-crossing in the vein of Kelly Link or Italo Calvino. Instead this pretentious book reads like a collection of freshman creative writing class scribbles. There are two problems: First, many of the stories are written in the present tense, which is a hallmark of either the painfully avant garde or the painfully amateur. Along with crossing genres, institial art hailed graphic novels, which contained the promise of an anthology that might do something exciting visually. This was absolutely NOT the case with this book. In terms of visual style, unique storytelling or experimenation, this book was run-of-the-mill. Second, nothing happens. Most stories lack any conflict and people mill about navel-gazing. In cases where there might be a conflict, like in the anthology's first story about a haunted house, characters stand and stare and over the years the conflict resolves itself. The end. Nobody in any of the anthology's stories gets hurt, curses, has a job, feels any deep emotions, suffers permanent physcial or mental anguish or has depth. The characters are uniformly asexual and if there is sex it is only hinted at. No one lives in a city or if s/he does then it is in the nice part of the city near the parks and the coffee shops. The problems of Interfictions are typified by the story 'A Drop of Rasberry.' In this story a passive-aggressive emotional Marshmallow of a man wants to kill himself because his wife left him after TWO WHOLE YEARS of marriage. He makes a half-hearted attept to drown himself in a lake. Instead, a Lake Spirit saves him. WHY he is saved is never explained because in interstitial fiction women are two-dimensional pixies who exist solely to cheer up mopey men. Lake Spirit and Marshmallow exchange clunky dialogue. Marshmallow: 'I thought one shock was enough for a day. Please explain!' A few lines later we have this abortion of a conversation: MARSHMALLOW: I love her very much. LAKE: I can feel it. MARSHMALLOW: I have to go. The Marshmallow and the Lake Spirit go to town and drink tea. The Lake Spirit reveals her wisdom to the Marshmallow by telling him that she likes ducks. I'm not kidding. The Lake Spirit who must be hundreds, if not thousands of years old reveals the depths of her wisdom by telling the Marshmallow that she is fascinated by ducks. Dulled by this idiot savant the Marshmallow ignores the Lake Spirit throughout the winter. Spring comes and the Marshmallow has a new human girlfriend. The Marshmallow apparently has no appreciation for the fact that he was dating an immortal spirit and thinks nothing of bring his new human gf to the very same lake where the Spirit resides. The Lake Spirit takes being dumped in good stride. Really. After all, it would be cliche for an immortal spirit of undetermined power and age to take revenge on a mortal - that's how interstitial this story and the whole book is! All our fairy tales and tropes and fables have been turned upside down, written in inconsistent tense, had all conflict, humanity, nastiness, and interesting story telling removed. If that is interstitial writing I will skip on the next anthology.