Posts tagged lit
A State of Fiction
by Zan McQuade
Barbara Browning came to life before me on a chilly gray Sunday, as I lay under the bedsheets, dressed in wool for warmth. I’d just finished Sheila Heti’s How Should A Be?, a book that left me feeling a little bit empty and angry. I was in the mood to read more, it was a day made for reading, and so I followed it with Tove Jansson’s Fair Play, a book about artists and writers performing their art on the pages, through video and film.
And then I remembered a book sitting idle on the shelves of my iPad waiting to be read: Browning’s book, I’m Trying To Reach You, about an ex-dancer who, following the breadcrumb trail of related videos on YouTube following the deaths of Michael Jackson, Pina Bausch, and Merce Cunningham, finds himself engulfed in a mystery of internet connections, leading him to become an unwitting spy into a secret and seemingly dangerous world of code and semaphore, messages tapped like Morse code with the rubber soles of a dancer’s sneakers. Browning is a dancer in life, and a character in her own book: the mysterious dancing woman discovered by narrator Gray Adams. Browning herself appears in images throughout the book, stills from videos that live on YouTube as well.
Wait, I thought. So she’s real?
I’d sent her three little webcam photos of me masturbating while reading an e-mail she’d sent. They didn’t show my head. Whenever I send dirty pictures to my long-distance lover, I always leave them headless. It just seems like a good idea, considering how digital information travels. So these pictures were low-resolution, at an awkward angle, entirely home-made – and for this reason very sexy, if I say so myself. Tzipi didn’t say anything about them. She just sent some kind of political tirade, which is sometimes what she does when she’s aroused. I knew that’s what was going on. So I wrote her, “I’m not even going to ask you what you thought of my pictures. I’m going to take that politically incorrect subject heading of yours as an indication of your arousal, because that’s the way you are.” She wrote back saying that my pictures made her very aroused. And that she wanted to talk with me about masturbation.
All of this was just a week and a half before we’d be seeing each other again. I asked her if she wanted to have this conversation when we saw each other, or if she wanted to have it on the internet, which was, as far as I could tell, created precisely for this kind of thing. An excerpt of The Correspondence Artist from FANZINE