Tuesday, August 14, 2012

novel excerpt & research on freeways and urban renewal

i've been spending my free time poring over books about freeway construction, urban blight, and fate as place (and the fate of places). in this new work, that is so far a novel and numbers 150 pages, the city and city planning shape every character and every action. so much so, that the map i make for each book i write [fault tree's map is overlayed upon the cover image and RIGHT NEW BIOLOGY's map is in the I'll Drown My Book anthology out from Les Figues], is... well... a map... the beginning of which is here:

the making of this is serving two purposes:
1. i've been getting lost inside my "city"
2. it is helping me to add more detail to the work
(3. it is hella fun to do this)

also. this book has more than one map. mapping the social/political dynamics of the characters as well (and likely the maps will be mixed to make a new map... because that's what a city is, right?).

also reading jane jacobs, robert moses & bettina drew, arakawa & gins, eran ben-joseph and many others.

here is an excerpt from the novel-in-progress (typos and all):

The peace of the coffin container, which was lined with soft fabric and fluffy, pillowlike material, was destroyed by a light so strong as to cause the raving lunatic of the man inside to collapse out of it and the coffin. It was a violent waking, not at all like the beautiful and silent peace one expects upon death.

They were standing in a vacant lot that had been overtaken by weeds and debris. The asphalt was cracked and much of it had been ripped away from the earth, exposing dirt and allowing the weeds to grow unhindered. Large granite rocks were strewn about the lot, having appeared from nowhere. The SIC [Surface Image Control] representatives watched as the man fell; they were curious about whether or not physics functioned the same way on a raving lunatic of a man as it did on a perfectly sane, law-abiding man. It did. The man fell as any man would. He lay bleeding a little from the head at their feet. But they did not move to help him. They stood over him looking unnoticing, looking at the vast urban landscape – the hybrid landscape of urbanity and overgrown nature. The scene was so disorderly it confused them – yet appeared beautiful – which confused them even more. They had always known disorder to be incompatible with beauty. It was what made them so good at their jobs.

The lot, vacant – part lot part field – extended out and beyond its former(al) parameters. It was unseemly. The sun hit everything in it sharply. The glare off of a partially crushed aluminum can was blinding. Shards of glass glinted mixed with dirt, asphalt pebbles, various seeds, and ants. The fence, chain linked and concave or convex along certain edges, framed most of the lot in calcified metal in the most uncertain way, as if it was not sure whether it was to contain the lot or the places around the lot. Atop one full side of the fence was spiraling, frighteningly rusty barbed wire, protecting the lot from the unsavory elements. To one corner, long metal strips lay piled against a rusty bed frame against a bowing porting of fence - the most orderly objects in the lot. But this order, this small corner that the SIC representatives would have expected themselves to approve of, did not appeal to either of them. Instead, the pile of metal looked absurd to them – a pointless attempt at structure. They turned, as if one, to look at the corner opposite that of the ordered metal slats. Weeds had grown up high and heavy. Their thick tubing looked like the beginning of something human – it looked to contain organs and cells and functions beyond that of a weed. The SIC representatives felt compelled to move toward the weeds and reach out to them. The raving lunatic of a man began to groan. His blue shirt looked too neat, too well-pressed against the hard and rocky pavement beneath him. The dark red of his blood had begun to move down his face in tears. The two SIC representatives looked at him with much less wonder than they did the hybrid weeds and aluminum cans. They were supposed to leave him there. They were supposed to have left him bleeding or not bleeding on the asphalt already. They backed away, surveying the lot. Then they turned and ran. They ran from the beauty of it and the bleeding man, but their minds remained steady on the weeds in the corner opposing the order of the other corner.


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