Thursday, January 29, 2009


Wow. In a couple of weeks, my FIRST NOVEL (grin) has sold out its first printing! Uh, okay, I mean "given" out its first peeps in nine countries so far! But not to worry, publisher Amanda Laughtland of the veeeery charming TeenyTiny Press is fast-and-furiously wielding colored pencils to do a "second printing"! So, still: details for FREE NOVEL HERE!

My novel is textually encompassed by a single (8 X 11") page. But oooooh peeeps seem to love its BIG HEART!

Even though I continue to shy away from it, the NOVEL CHATELAINE has no such compunction and has showed up on FACEBOOK! I can't access its lovely face but there's apparently an oenophiliac statement that goes..."weighs significantly less than five ounces of wine. The prose, however, is robust and well-decanted (i.e., no deadwood)." Yeeee-hah! I ain't deadwood!

Then, Jesse Glass reviews my novel and, in the process, reveals my secret relationship with Jack and the Beanstalk. It begins:
Let it go down in the record books of eternity that Amanda Laughtland, of Teeny Tiny Press, has cracked the sound barrier with the aplomb of Sam Shepard in the Right Stuff, by bringing out Eileen "Bean" Tabios' first novel in a teeny Tiny edition with a hand-colored bunch of grapes on the cover! CLICK HERE FOR ENTIRE CHEERFUL REVIEW.


Then, comes this response-letter -- longer than moi novel! -- extrapolating from said novel to outline a path for my future (heh). From John Bloomberg-Rissman:
Hi Eileen—

I was away at a conference in Denver so didn’t get the mail til last night. First thing, of course, I devoured your novel, which is 1) great and 2) will require many rereadings and is 3) great. I do have a question and a thought (or, rather a fantasy …)

The question first, which I ask as a person who spend 1.5 decades immersed in the 17th century: without asking you to reveal any anything not in the novel, I just wonder what that century signifies for you? I mean, why c17 instead of c18 or c19??

And the thought, which is less a thought than an imagined trajectory your work, at least one aspect of it, seems to be taking. OK. First (maybe not first, but …) there was your Tiny Books project. Now this Teeny Tiny Book. Kind of like the Incredible Shrinking Woman’s Incredible Shrinking Works …

Here’s how I imagine your next project:

24 small bottles. 24 because that’s the number of the “books” in the Iliad, the archetypal epic. And because 24 is a hay(na)ku number (4 “stanzas”). Bottles somewhat a la Kiki Smith’s Untitled 1987-90. But in this case the bottles are clear. Inside each is a clear gelcap. Inside each gelcap is a grain of rice, engraved with a single word (I know there are plenty of people in SF with the requisite skills …).

All in all, an epic.

I mean, now that you’ve conquered the lyric, the serial poem, the essay, ekphrasis, the novel, etc what’s left but to go after the biggest game in all western literature, something that’s supposed to have become impossible: the epic?

Unless you’d prefer to tackle a gesamtkunstwerke … out-Wagnering Wagner … but why not do both at the same time, since you seem to have no problem producing “bricks” and “infinitesimals” at the same time?

Of course, if you do create a rice sized piece, then next thing you know you’ll need to get one of those things that can engrave atomic particles … but I suppose there’s plenty of room for a nuclear lab up on top of your mountain …

In any case, you can see what your novel has done to me, at least formally speaking. I’m not yet ready to address the bildungsroman embedded within, the love story, the time travel “fantasy” (which may not be a fantasy), etc.

I would be envious of your talents and charms and chutzpah if I didn’t like you so much. Instead, I’m just happy for you!


PS, please congratulate the artist/publisher for me next time you get a chance. The presentation is perfect. [INSERT, CONGRATULATIONS AMANDA!]

PPS. It occurs to me that you live with Achilles. So writing in the epic tradition should be easy. “”Sing, O goddess, the wagging tail of Achilles” or somesuch. Isn’t that how these things begin?

PPPS. Of course the usual English translation where I put the wagging tail is wrath. I was thinking after I wrote that "I sing the woof of Achilles" is much better ... right sound, right metrics, etc. And then he goes ahead and say woof!

PPPPS. Do you have Lee Harwood's Collected Poems? There's a piece in there he wrote with Ric Caddel called Wine Tales: un roman devin, and, no shit, it takes place in part in a chateau. It's about 15 pp of prose, so your novel is shorter, but ... uncanny, eh?

PPPPPS. idea of the bottle with the gelcap in it is stolen from my son’s girlfriend Rebekah May, who’s an artist currently getting her MFA at CCA. A few months ago she made something for me, which I keep by the side of the bed. My dazzling brilliance was to turn her piece into a series, a la Kiki Smith), to turn the gelcap clear, to include the grain of rice, and to see it as epic. But you should know about Becky. // Much of her work since he problems began revolves around embodiment, pain, etc., kinda like Frida Kahlo’s. // ...and I know Becky’s a fan of Damien Hirst, and Hirst’s been working with (depicting, that is, not to taking, at least not that I know of) pharmaceuticals for a while now. I’ve been to a show of that stuff with her.

John, in case you can't tell, is what I want to be: a librarian! Thanks for the gratuitous advice, John! It's an honor of course when my work elicits such names as Kiki Smith's.

As for that 17th century reference, well, it's because the Chatelaine's wine cellar door is a BIG IRON DOOR from a 17th century Loire Valley chateaux, complete with matching 17th century key. Well, yes, this of course relates to authenticity, to wit:
I may write fiction, but I never lie.

Would you expect anything less from Moi....?



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