Musical Structures in Creative Nonfiction

The following is a guest post by Will Cordeiro, whose poetry appeared in issue 17 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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Recently, I’ve noticed a development in creative nonfiction to use structural modes appropriated from music. Or maybe a musical analogy can capture these under-recognized structural modes by way of shorthand. Here’s a smattering of such musical structures with an example or two to help define them:

Covers – In the anthology After Montaigne writers compose “covers” that re-voice and update Montaigne’s classic essays in their individualized voices and in a more contemporary key.

Sampling – Wayne Koestenbaum irrepressibly drops literary quotes, film references, and pop cultural memes in his work like a sound engineer samples recognizable titbits of songs or beats.  

Lip-synching – David Shields’s Reality Hunger uses quotes which are not identified as quotes; he “lip syncs” the quotes as if he were saying them himself.

Remixes – Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me could be considered a remix of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time. Coates references Baldwin in his work yet also differs more widely from his original—thus, a subtle if not exact distinction between a remix and a cover. Similarly, Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage remixes the literary criticism of D. H. Lawrence.  

Litany – Joe Brainard’s “I Remember” follows a pattern of minimalist repetition like a Philip Glass song: each sentence begins “I remember…”

Lament – Aisha Sabatini Sloan describes her operatic essay “D is for the Dance of the Hours” as a “lament.” But, like opera, Sloan’s essays make use of the whole emotional range deployed by arias, mad songs, motifs, recitative, and overtures, too, even as they often reference pop music and divas.    

Riffs and noodling – Luc Sante has described his entire writing process as “noodling.” Likewise, we might hear many of Elena Passarello’s pieces in Let Me Clear My Throat as noodling around or riffing on a subject more than obeying any other structural paradigm.

Shredding – Indulgent, face-melting virtuoso feats of showmanship with squealing whammy bars, pyrotechnics, distortion effects, acrobatics that inflict self-harm and, just maybe, eating a live bat’s head: among essayists, Sir Thomas Browne and D. H. Lawrence are “shredders” as are Ander Monson and Giannina Braschi. 

Improvisation – In Ideal Suggestions: Essays in Divinatory Poetics, Selah Saterstrom uses rituals and trances to improvise writing, not unlike the methods of free jazz.

Études – The locus classicus is Yoshida Kenkō’s Essays in Idleness, but short essays as études (or small practice exercises) are very much alive today in a work such as Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly.

B-sides – We might think of the double essays in Albert Goldbarth’s The Adventures of Form and Content or Michel Tournier’s The Mirror of Ideas as B-sides: alternate versions of the same groove, often flipped around.

Ambient/Noise – Conceptual writers such as Tan Lin and Sophia Le Fraga have experimented with ambient literature and what might be described as “noise,” that is, books or installations that collect scraps of cultural detritus, internet drivel, and bureaucratic textual ephemera. Much like noise music, the appreciation of such writing depends on a taste for interference patterns, weird juxtapositions, the breakdown of technology, and a healthy stomach. 

The emerging rhetorical logics of these musical and performative techniques—as they both pull against and play among traditional structures such as personal storytelling and, lyric forms, have engendered a new energy and direction for today’s creative nonfiction.     

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Will Cordeiro’s work appears in AgniBest New PoetsThe Cincinnati Review, Palette Poetry, Threepenny ReviewTypehouse, and elsewhere. Will’s collection Trap Street won the 2019 Able Muse Book Award. Will co-edits Eggtooth Edition and is grateful for a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Currently, Will teaches in the Honors College for Northern Arizona University.  

I Know a Place: the Importance of Setting in Creative Nonfiction

The following is a guest post by Storey Clayton, whose creative nonfiction work “To See a Rabbit” appeared in issue 17 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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Non-writer friends often ask me what creative nonfiction means. If it’s all true, where is there room for creativity?

As writers tend to understand, the choices we make as storytellers breathe creative life into our truth. In choosing particular details or focal points, we command the reader’s attention and help shape how they will comprehend our experience. We choose where to dwell and what to skip, and this allocation of observation provides a subjective lens for the objective facts of an event. In creative nonfiction, this process often revolves around internal perceptions: feelings, memories, and reflections on our previous lived experience. As a result, place and setting are frequently overlooked as opportunities to creatively build a world for the reader.

However, place and setting are essential. Just as the precise details of an interaction or line of dialogue can help make a scene relatable, the specifics of a location illustrate the reality for a reader who may only visit in their mind. I find this is easier to remember when I write about travel: the place is unusual for me and thus I notice what makes it unique. It is harder, but probably more vital, to make these observations when writing about locales I find familiar. As humans, we tend to acclimate to our environment, relegating the landscape to the background, memorizing the region and therefore deflating its features. When bringing such a place to life in words, however, we must fight this instinct and make the familiar new again. 

In my experience, the easiest way to do this is to continually remind myself that the reader may never have been where I’m writing about. They don’t know that this giant restaurant looms on the corner, across from the university, frequented by students, houseless folks, and businesspeople alike. They don’t know how far the river is, or what trees stand beside it, or how the branches fall in an afternoon thunderstorm. For writers who tend to write about one place repeatedly – a childhood hometown or one’s longtime city – I recommend taking frequent walks or drives while pretending you’ve just arrived for the first time. What do you notice? What defines the landscape? Is there a structure or natural element that stands as a metaphor for this spot and its denizens? 

This last question homes in on a key asset of taking time to describe place. Your location provides ample opportunity to layer thematic elements in your story, a crucial part of making nonfiction creative. An old car rusting on blocks in the unkempt front yard or a lonely windswept beach awash in clouds and seagulls set the mood in a way that merely telling us you were depressed cannot. The specific texture of our surroundings, keenly observed in detail, is more than just backdrop or context. It is the atmosphere in which our stories swirl, the oxygen that gives them life.

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Storey Clayton is a current MFA candidate in Creative Nonfiction at West Virginia University. He’s worked as a youth counselor, debate coach, strategic analyst, development director, rideshare driver, and poker player. In the past two years, his nonfiction has appeared in twenty literary journals, including Pleiades, Lunch Ticket, Mud Season Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine, and North Dakota Quarterly. You can learn more about Storey at his personal website, The Blue Pyramid (bluepyramid.org).

Point of Telling and the Implied Reader: Perspectives on Fiction You Can’t Unsee: The Most Abridged Version Yet

The following is a guest post by Soramimi Hanarejima, whose short story “Maturity” appeared in in issue 19 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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Or at least I can’t. Ever since Alexander Chee shared his thoughts on Point of Telling during a GrubStreet conference session, I keep thinking about it. Essentially, Point of Telling refers to the narrator’s temporal relationship to the events in the story—the answer to the question “From where and when is the story being told?” Helpful, sure, but when Alexander Chee elaborated upon the idea with the intriguing question, “Why is this story being told now?” there was no escaping the rabbit hole of related questions: What do the events of the story mean now, as the narrator is relating them? (Is the narrator reflecting on their significance decades later or relating the events as they furiously unfurl because they demand immediate expression?) Who is this narrator? Who is this person “speaking” to? And here, this line of inquiry brings us into the territory of the Implied Reader, the supposed audience of this story—the Ear of the Story as Rebecca Makkai calls it

Though some stories make the Point of Telling and Implied Reader explicit (as To Be Taught, If Fortunate does—to stunning effect by the novella’s end), fiction tends to most resonate with me when these two elements are somehow palpable in the narration, likely because they infuse the story with clarity and purpose (as is the case in Every Exquisite Thing). 

Here’s an example of how these ideas have infiltrated my encounters with storytelling. A recent episode of the podcast Everything is Alive nails Point of Telling and Implied Reader—or in this case, Implied Audience. The conceit of the show is that objects have consciousness, and in each episode, podcast host Ian interviews an object. So the Implied Audience is simply the (expected) audience of the podcast—or Ian and the object are audience to each other, both partaking in and of the discourse. In “Lillian, Song,” the Point of Telling is Lillian’s present predicament of being a song stuck in Ian’s head, which allows Lillian to relate in fictitious realtime her discomfort of being trapped in Ian’s mind—all through melodious vocals. This gives the episode a cohesiveness and a raison d’être. 

“Lillian, Song” is also spot on when it comes to another point Alexander Chee brought up in that conference session: a—or the—driving question of all literary fiction is, “Will the protagonist ever find out something important about themselves?” In this case, Lillian and Ian confront what a song in the mind is, with Lillian explaining, “You know that phrase, ‘Make a path by walking,’ you and I are making me as we’re talking.” And that ends up being (semi-spoiler alert) the key to getting her out of Ian’s head. 

How appropriate that I’m seeing a story about a song stuck in someone’s mind with the perspectives of Point of Telling and Implied Reader. These ideas have been stuck in my mind, but I’m nowhere near sick of them posing questions like, “From what temporal and psychological distance is the story being told? By whom and to whom?” And I’ll keep listening for answers as I read and write fiction. 

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Soramimi Hanarejima writes fiction that explores the nature of thought and is the author of Visits to the Confabulatorium, a fanciful story collection that Jack Cheng said, “captures moonlight in Ziploc bags and gives us the pleasure of opening them, one by one.” Soramimi’s latest work is forthcoming in Atlas and Alice, Vestal Review, GASHER and The Meadow.

An elaboration on writing the poem “On Darkness”

The following is a guest post by Jordan Charlton, whose poetry appeared in in issue 19 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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Although I primarily write poems, my natural inclination is to understand the world through narratives. What narrative offers is a consistent structure that “makes sense” to me and that I return to often while generating material prior to writing. Stories possess a familiar structure: a beginning, a middle, and an end, regardless of how we enter or exit, this seems to be true.

Because writing poems relies so heavily on memory, and memory can be understood in similar structures as narratives, this is also how I understand writing poems. Though most of my poems follow that same tripartite narrative arrangement, I’m never worried about the movement of a poem that traditionally happens in most narratives. This is also to say, I understand poems more like pictures than films, as static creations instead of fluid or dynamic renderings. My greatest desire while writing a poem is to recall a memory and invite the reader to focus on the one moment that seems to be most pressing. Sometimes this is the first memory, other times, my mind wanders to some other bright, shining substance illuminated by contemplation. I think this is because poetry relies so heavily on emotional truth, which foils the narrative structure of how we tell stories.

In the poem “On Darkness,” I recreate a moment of surprise during a conversation with a friend. The poem begins at the end of one moment, at the end of the snapshot. My understanding of the poem is that, by writing from the end of one moment, what happens is that whatever is said is frozen in time and rendered less important than the impact, by my embodied response. What invokes this response is listening to a friend say though she is mixed raced, she identifies more with her whiteness than anything else. What comes next in the poem, or, “the middle” is less important. There is no hero’s journey; this is a picture and not a film. The ending is more interesting, this new beginning.

The ending of the poem involves looking back at the moment, like looking back at an image in a context that exists outside of the one rendered. I’d call the revelation at the end of the poem understanding the beauty of being present and being vulnerable with one another,amid the beauty of a setting so far removed from outside thought and noise, mainly technology. I believe the context in seeing the poem’s moment can change, especially considering our own moment now as we are faced with the challenges of rethinking our institutions, our privileges – what being together means amid televised violence and harmful rhetoric. When I write poems like this, I want to create a picture, but I also understand that how we see these things can change. I’m interested in holding on to moments, but that also includes seeing the connections that exist beyond a still frame.

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Jordan Charlton is a PhD student at the University of Nebraska. He also works with the Nebraska Writers Collective, working with both high school youth poets and incarcerated writers through the programs Louder Than a Bomb: Great Plains and Writers’ Block

My Year of Movie Poems

Addison RizerThe following is a guest post by Addison Rizer, whose short story We Float Alone appeared in in issue 19 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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My primary emotion as a writer is guilt. I am guilty when I don’t write and when I have written, but not enough. When I have written, but written badly. When I meant to write but got caught up doing something else. I am guilty when I have no ideas and when I have so many ideas I can’t write them all and also when I have one idea, but can’t figure out how to write it.

Mostly, I am guilty when I do anything that isn’t writing. When I watch movies, read books, play games, go bowling. Because I am not writing and could be, the guilt consumes my enjoyment in one large swallow.

At the beginning of 2019, the guilt was so bad I’d deny myself anything fun before I had written, and then, because of the guilt, I’d be unable to write at all. It had built it up in my mind, the act of writing and how many words I needed to write and how perfect they had to be, I couldn’t bring myself to try.

So, as an experiment, I decided to write a poem after every movie I watched for the entirety of the year. Yes, every single one. Yes, even ones I hated. Yes, even the ones I loved.

Now, I am not a poet. As such, many of the poems were terrible. Some were only two lines long. Others went on for many horrible pages. I experimented. A lot. The quality didn’t matter. These poems were simply an excuse to let myself do something other than writing. It was okay, to take a break, because I was using these movies to create more, not less. I wasn’t procrastinating, I was experimenting. The guilt ebbed. I began having much more fun. Writing got easier, when I wasn’t so guilty about every facet of it.

And, though many, many of them were bad, some of them were good. Good-enough-to-be-published good. Good-enough-I-was-proud good.

I realized, then, how necessary consumption is to my creative process. I can’t be all output and no input. The water flows both ways, for me. It must flow both ways or else there will be nothing left but a dry riverbed from which I am expecting myself to produce the miracle of water.

If I had not watched those movies, I would not have written about aardvarks, about birthdays, about cowboys on the run, about Franca Carrozzini. I wouldn’t have considered these topics at all. It wasn’t only guilt-relieving, it was inspiring.

In the end, I wrote 10,000 words in little bits and pieces of poems. I watched 86 films. I felt less guilty. I realized, for me, production and consumption will always have interlocked fingers.

This year, I’m writing blank-verse sonnets. They are harder, these poems. They are just as terrible. But, I am having a lot of fun and feeling less guilty and I’m writing, I’m writing,and isn’t that the point?

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Addison Rizer is an administrator in Arizona with a B.A. in English from Arizona State University. She has had pieces published in Taco Bell Quarterly, Typehouse Magazine, Hoosier Review, Little Somethings Press, Hashtag Queer Vol. 3, Canyon Voices, Libraerie Magazine, Anatolios Magazine, Strange Creatures, and Kingdoms in the Wild. She loves writing, reading, and movies critics hate. Find more of her work on her website at www.addisonrizer.com.

Chasing the Absurd Muse

The following is a guest post by Gene Twaronite, whose poetry appeared in in issue 18 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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My prose poem “Food Chain,” published in Typehouse Issue 15, begins with a line guaranteed to put a reader to sleep: “I was out walking my dog.” What was I thinking? Blame it on James Tate. I had just finished reading his last book The Government Lake, consisting entirely of prose poems, published four years after his death in 2015. Many of his first lines are equally prosaic. Example: “The dog played in the snow all afternoon.” But here’s the thing about James Tate. You just know he’s going to take that line somewhere you didn’t expect—a strange world where anything can happen and you end up either guffawing or scratching your head in befuddlement.

Tate was a master of the absurd. Watching him chase after his muse like a hound zigzagging through the woods, with surreal situations and wordplay, is a mind-bending treat. I was intrigued by his poem “My New Pet” and was inspired to take the subject matter in a new direction and try writing a prose poem of my own. I’ve never been big on dogs. I’m more a python and tarantula kind of guy. I got to thinking about what would make a really weird pet, and a bright yellow banana slug popped into my head. But because it’s a dog lover’s world, I decided to have my main character out walking his slug as if it were a dog. I didn’t have a clue where this was going, but the chase was on. If there’s any message to my poem, perhaps it’s simply to enjoy the ride.

Edward Lear was another poet who inspired me to follow the absurd muse. Here’s the first line from one of his poems: “They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,” (The Jumblies). With its perfect meter and silly setup, it has stayed with me from the first time I read it. Just where are they supposed to go in a sieve? Why, to visit “the lands where the Jumblies live,” of course.

Poets who write for children are especially attuned to the absurd muse. Shel Silverstein’s poems range from pure silliness, as in “Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich,” to profound, as in the sad lesson of “Lester” (from Where the Sidewalk Ends). But even in his most silly poems there is a depth of profundity that’s hard to define. Maybe silliness itself is the message.

Any reader of Billy Collins knows that his poems are often laced with absurdity. My favorite example is his poem “Cosmology,” in which he replaces “that image of the earth/resting on the backs of four elephants/who are standing on a giant sea turtle” with one of his own: “resting on the head of Keith Richards.” And maybe I’ll just leave you with that image.

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Gene Twaronite is a Tucson poet, essayist, and children’s fiction writer. He is the author of ten books, including two juvenile fantasy novels as well as collections of essays, short stories, and poems, and a forthcoming picture book. His poetry book Trash Picker on Mars (Kelsay Books) was the winner of the 2017 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for Arizona poetry. His latest book is My Life as a Sperm. Essays from the Absurd Side. Follow more of Gene’s writing at his website: thetwaronitezone.com.

Creating Micro Worlds: Speculative Flash Fiction

The following is a guest post by AnnElise Hatjakes, whose short work “A Diminished Chord” appeared in in issue 19 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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The first time I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, I was too young to really understand its commentary on war, trauma, and violence. Rather than analyzing the work’s thematic ambitions, as my English assignment required, I could not stop thinking about what the book did in terms of craft. I had read other works of speculative fiction, but those books seemed to follow a clear set of rules, rules that dictated how the worlds of the novels operated. What Vonnegut created did not seem to abide by any rules at all. Once Billy Pilgrim becomes “unstuck in time,” all bets are off.

Creating a fully developed world can require pages and pages of subtle exposition. When I was workshopping my speculative novel in graduate school, I was frequently asked for more details about the parallel universe I’d created. While I was revising, I kept worldbuilding because I thought that would make it feel more “real” and would answer questions that could be distracting to readers. What I realized, though, was that the more details I added, the more questions readers had. As soon as I got into the nuances of the economic structure, which runs on a new form of cultural capital, readers asked about how taxation would work, whether this new form of wealth could be transferred, and how exactly people could earn more capital.

For my story in Typehouse, which is a retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, women have literally been silenced and marked by a tattooed “A.” I spent a long time reading medical journal articles about vocal cord paralysis, and in my first draft, that research materialized in about two hundred words explaining the procedure of severing one’s vocal cords. After doing so much research, I felt like I needed to include that research to lend a greater sense of authority to the story. In the second draft, I did the opposite. I tried to take out as many of the details as I could while still giving the reader enough information. The narrator explains, “This morning, you make a cup of green tea from the stash that you secreted away last week. The flavor is sharp, and you have to take your time because since they severed the nerve to your vocal cords, swallowing has posed problems.” Rather than explaining the actual procedure, I chose to focus on the character’s experience of that procedure’s aftermath.

While I originally believed that only a novel could capture the intricacies of a different world, whether that’s a space opera or a dark fantasy, I now believe that flash fiction can do the same on a different scale. It provides enough space to pose a “what if?” question and allow the reader to contemplate the possible answers. For me, the key is not to get caught up in the minutiae of the fictional realm that’s been created.

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A native Nevadan, AnnElise Hatjakes holds an MFA degree in fiction and a master’s degree in writing from the University of Nevada, Reno. She lives in Reno, where she teaches English at a public high school. One of her stories was shortlisted for the Neil Shepard Prize in Fiction. Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in journals including Juked, Tahoma Literary Review, and Typehouse, among others. She is currently completing revisions on her novel and will be attending the University of Missouri in the fall to earn her PhD in creative writing.

Humanity is the Heart of Horror

Eli HeadshotThe following is a guest post by Eli Ryder, whose short story “What Should Have Been” appeared in in issue 18 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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There’s an iconic moment in every apocalypse film you’ve ever seen wherein a character tiptoes through a grocery or pharmacy, navigating the mostly empty shelves and sweating through the quiet. Sometimes the character is Our Hero, bravely risking their own life in service of others. Sometimes, it’s a hapless redshirt whose brief time on screen serves only to let us know how horrific getting killed will be. We live their tension with them, knowing the stakes are life and death. We love to feel vulnerable, even need to, and that’s how good horror can be so good—it reminds us we’re human.

There’s a lot of blood-spraying, flesh-tearing horror slashing its way into our hearts on life and death alone. Any of the canonical slashers and their reboots, the glorious B-horror catalog, and even some comedy gems like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil draw revolted grimaces across our faces, and we love them all for it. They’re magnificent escapes, and we feel more alive when we return from those fantasies because we survived, dammit. We need those characters to suffer so that we can achieve that moment of arrival.

But sometimes the stakes are higher. Sometimes it’s a kid shaking and gasping through the store, freezing when a stray can falls off a shelf and clangs on the floor. It’s still life and death, but we’re doubly and triply afraid for the kid. Goes for dogs, too, and well-crafted relationships. There’s more than life to lose with those cases—there’s life worth living. And that adds heartbreak to horror. The kid has innocence, potential, things we still see in ourselves and lose right along with him when his toy shuttle’s lights and sound go off and the monster blurs furiously across the screen, leaving only a memory where the kid once stood.

I’m obviously thinking of A Quiet Place, but there are plenty of other examples. The first three seasons of The Walking Dead come to mind. 28 Days Later—if you didn’t mist up when Selena sees Jim’s eyes and doesn’t kill him, you’re probably a zombie.

Literary examples include Jack Ketchum’s Girl Next Door, which forces us to live through not only the physical torture portrayed in the book but also the emotional torture of being compliant in those gruesome acts and thus partially responsible for them. Another must-read is Stephen Graham Jones’s Mongrels, whose werewolf mythos is a doorway into the most beautiful and painful parts of growing up, of finding yourself. Of family. And, of course, there’s The Stand, Stephen King’s now seemingly prophetic chronicle of love that makes life worth living through the virulent plague ending the world.

These, and many others, use horror and its foundational elements to scare us into seeing ourselves and each other anew, into accepting and feeling things we’ve avoided, into processing and healing. Great horror scares us into loving harder and deeper than we thought we could and being better people for it.

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Eli Ryder is a college English professor in Texas, and his short stories and criticism appear in various online and print publications. He stole his MFA from UC Riverside’s low-residency program in Palm Desert, CA and can be found on Twitter @theeliryder.

The More You Discover, The More You Search

Fabio LastruccithThe following is a guest post by Fabio Lastrucci, whose artwork appeared in in issue 18 of Typehouse Literary Magazine.

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If a straight line is the shortest way to join two points, an arabesque is certainly the most imaginative. This example could perhaps explain the blurred logic of my artistic experience, a journey studded with changes of direction that took me far from the typical path and led me to discover fascinating destinations and new creative skills.

You don’t have to be (or believe you are) a new Leonardo Da Vinci to operate on several different dimensions. Everyone can do it if they do not stick to preconceived notions of success, or too rigid of plans. In my case, this choice to remain open to change was due to necessity, creative hunger, and not being someone who likes to say “no”.

Growing up between the canvases and brushes of my father, a professional painter, I had an early interest in drawing and painting. I nurtured other strong passions such as comics, science fiction, film and television, but without thinking these passions could become future professional experiences.

In 1987, at the end of my degree course in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, I joined the “Lanterna magica” theater company. The group commissioned me to design a graphic novel based on their successful play, La Guerra di Martin Senzasperanza Scemo Legale, thus starting a collaboration as a graphic designer.

The teaching of the great playwright Francesco Silvestri, who introduced me to the theatrical scene and its language, led me to open my horizons from painting and comics to set design and sculpting, where I learned to produce masks and muppets. For a young man looking for work, like me, it was exactly what I wanted. The training in painting proved very useful in this new field, and in a short time sculpture and SPFX became a full-time occupation. I joined forces with other associates in professional studios such as Golem Studio, Metaluna, and Forme. My team, based in the outskirts of Naples, specialized in the processing of foam rubber, latex and fiberglass, working for the main Italian theater and broadcasting companies.

The work was very engaging and full of challenges. At the same time I couldn’t resist cultivating an interest in creative writing, which culminated a few years later in the play “Racconti salati,” (a double-meaning phrase that means both “stories with salt” and “intelligent stories”) a children’s comedy about the new legends of the sea interpreted with actors and puppets and performed in the Dohrn Station, the Liberty Aquarium of Naples.

The variety of works in the theater asks us to develop eclectic expertise and to look for new creative impulses. With friends Fioravante Rea and Delfina Autiero, we opened a long chapter dedicated to the study and production of video clips ranging from directing to screenwriting and special effects production

This winding path has returned me to my roots, to a renewed interest in comics and illustration, working with Italian and American magazines.

I remind myself that in these times, facing our current crisis, art represents confidence and hope in a future. Change feeds the soul. New projects, new targets are both a price to pay and a prize for every artist. What will be the face of the next, unforeseen goal to be achieved?

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Fabio Lastrucci, after graduating at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples, has worked for more than twenty years as a sculptor/scenographer for major television networks, opera and prose theatre, and from 2012 to the present he returns to the figurative arts with his brother Paolo (group Nuages–morbidi approdi) exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions. As a cartoonist and illustrator since ’87 he has been drawing comic books (“La guerra di Martin”. “Esodare incerto”), collaborating with advertising agencies in Campania and since 2016 he has been producing comics, illustrations and covers for Italian quarterly (Ronin, Sherazade) and American magazines (Perihelion Sf, Shenandoah, Metaphorosis, Bards and Sages, etc.).
As a writer from 2000 to today he publishes numerous short stories and from 2014 novels, essays and anthologies mainly in the field of the fantastic. He collaborates with Italian literary magazines (Rivista Milena, Delos SF) and foreigners – science fiction magazine Teoria Omicron (Ecuador).
https://www.behance.net/fabiolastra2ab
https://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?275986
https://morbidiapprodi.wordpress.com

A Cat’s Inner World: The Process of Painting Cats

Jing KongThe following is a guest post by Jing Kong, whose artwork was on the cover of Issue 18 of Typehouse.

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The first time I saw Louis Wain’s painting was in a newspaper. The tabby cat in the picture has big eyes and looks left. The picture is so unusual and the cat seems to have a human expression. It looks cunning, curious, a little shy. The paintings I have seen about cats can be roughly divided into two types: realistic and cartoon. Both record the joy of life. I like cats very much, and I also like this kind of pure and childlike painting, so I searched for more of his paintings online. I was greatly affected. His cats have feelings, souls and many interesting behaviors.

For example, Wain painted a light yellow cat’s profile with a light blue background. There is a smile on the cat’s mouth. Its eyes look back. The cat looks very cunning and clever.

Another of Wain’s paintings has two cats sitting at a table and playing poker. Each cat is biting a cigar, looks leisurely and confident. They are not only looking at the cards in their hands, but also speculating opponent’s cards.

My favorite painting is the tabby cat picking grapes, the cat has a dumpy figure and a thick tail, the background is red. The tabby cat has picked bunches of grapes in its hands, but its eyes are looking at the scattered grapes around its feet. Its greedy expression looks like a person, wanting more. In order to further understand his works I tried to copy them.

For my submission to Typehouse, which became the cover of Issue 18, I drew a cat who plots to sneak-attack a parachuting mouse. A tabby cat appears in the blue sky, inhaling through its big mouth. On the left, the mouse under the parachute is very scared and holds fast the parachute rope. The cat watches the movement of the mouse closely. The cat looks cunning, but pretends to be innocent. The cat wants to eat the mouse and is determined to win.

When I draw a cat, I first determine the posture of the cat’s body, the direction of their head and the line of the cat’s sight. Then I focus on the cat’s eyes. The size and shape of the eyes convey the cat’s mood. Then I determine the position and highlight of the pupils. A cat with round eyes and large pupils expresses curiosity, happiness, concentration and even uneasiness. A cat’s eyes narrowed and squinted, feel disdainful and dissatisfied. The corner of a cat’s eyes tilt upward to indicate anger. A cat’s round eyes look up and have the feeling of fantasy and supplication. Similarly, a cat’s ears lean forward when it is curious. When a cat is angry, its ears are back, its chin is down or forward, its nose is wrinkled, and sometimes it bares its teeth. I think these details are very helpful to explore the cat’s inner world.

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Jenny loves life, nature and animals. She thinks painting is a way to explore human and animal souls. She likes traditional painting, using gouache and ballpoint pen. She gets inspiration from interesting pet stories, literary works and movies. She tries to discover the inner world of animals and human from painting