Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Exquisite Failure of the Jack Bank

Last night, Glen Retief read from his excellent debut memoir, The Jack Bank. The title derives from the author's experience of physical abuse at a white South African boarding school. G.R.'s performance for the university crowd struck a chord. This beautiful man, somehow real while standing high on a stage--impossible, yet!--he was simultaneously thoughtful, earnest, and artistically deliberate. The audience roared as he read a coming-of-age story set in a metaphoric castle not unlike college castles all across America. He described how he found community as a white man living in a primarily black dormitory hall; how his friend Aubrey accepted him and found him "...interesting, man"; how the author continued to hide his homosexuality in this new context and friendship; and how the two friends set out on a drunken knights' mission that ended in failure.

My colleague's performance leads to this It's Dark in There Tenet #1: Failure is the only path toward creating something worthwhile.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pink Pig

Just reread Selah Saterstrom's book The Pink Institution, thanks to the Susquehanna University Lit Club.

When I was little, I delighted in the short i, in its two different sounds. There's the short i of Pit and Pin and Pill. Then there's the short i in Pink and Pig. The difference is so slight that I would slip into it, saying pig and pink over and over again, wondering at that slight upturn of my lips.

Now S.S. finds a way to play with the beauty and the horror of this slippage. In a cover she designed, she presents a southern life, minus the Peculiar Institution, as the Pink Institution. Hanging upside down. Bleeding out. Catching breath.