La Maison des Épreuves, a French translation of The Plight House, is now available from Éditions de l’Ogre. L’Ogre publishes both original works and works in translation, its mission being to present writing that “undermines our sense of reality”.
Claro, the translator, is a founding member of the inculte collective and has published more than twenty books of his own fiction. His extensive list of translations includes works by Dennis Cooper, Brian Evenson, William T. Vollmann, Chuck Palahniuk, and, forthcoming, Alan Moore’s Jerusalem.
Monkey Business International is the in-translation offspring of the Tokyo-based quarterly Monkey Business. It features work by both emerging and established Japanese authors, as well contemporary English-language writing. Volume 6 includes new translations of Hideo Furukawa, Mieko Kawakami, and Yoko Ogawa, plus contributions from Steve Erickson and Kelly Link.
The novel Dysphoria is about a young man’s experience of auditory hallucination, voices informing him that his descent into mental illness is part of a sinister training program. The excerpt in Monkey Business 6 is titled “The Novice.”
“Gone Lawn seeks innovative, nontraditional and/or daring works, both narrative and poetic, that walk the difficult landscapes and break up the safe ones, works which incite surprising and unexpected feelings and thoughts.”
Issue 12 (Autumn, 2013) of this online journal features art and writing from the USA, Canada, Australia, Hungary, and South Africa.
“The way Hrivnak constructed his book forces you to interact with the text in a manner that forbids passivity and can defy understanding unless you are willing to work hard. The content is also so very specific and tied to an extremity of experience that could, for some readers, be alienating.
That having been said, I think you should read this book. This isn’t House of Leaves level ergodic. This is a book that can be completed in one sitting, if you don’t mind the feeling of being flayed now and then.”
I see a man in grey standing on the wing of a decommissioned airplane. A serpent hovers in the air above him. The man tilts back his head, like a drinker of rain, and the serpent strikes him once upon each eye. The man cries out and claws at his face. When next he opens his eyes, his gaze has become luminous like that of an avenging angel. What does this vision mean?
a.) I shall accumulate great wealth but lack the means to enjoy it.
b.) My childhood home has burned to the ground.
c.) I must euthanize my family, for they are infected with plague.
d.) An adversary is worth a thousand muses.
What’s so great about it? Well, it left me in tears, and kept me entranced for several hours while I greedily plowed through it. It’s the most unique thing I’ve ever read, and calling it a novel somehow seems wrong. It’s not structured like a novel, it doesn’t start or end like a novel. It starts rather slowly, actually, and when I went to pass on my tattered and tearstained copy to my partner, I almost wanted to tell him not to read the Prologue. Not because it’s poorly written or anything like that, but because it’s ‘normal’, and unlike the rest of the book. It’s written with a voice that’s simple and gentle, just a man talking about a girl he used to know.
Once you’re through the Prologue and start your journey through The Plight House, there’s no turning back. Don’t read this if you have to be somewhere, if you don’t have time to just give it the undivided attention it deserves. It’s like a guided meditation, it’s like a lucid dream primer, and it’s like a nightmare.
And it’s wonderful. Hrivnak has such a beautiful command of the language, and is undeterred in his creation of The Plight House. Some passages cause you to sink, like entering the ocean with your clothes on. Others are hopeful and uplifting, carrying the reader to heights of imagination and love. This book requires your cerebral and spiritual participation. Once you’ve read it, you will want to give it to anyone you love. Simply flawless.”
You are a character in a dream of mine. Together we wander the halls of a crumbling, labyrinthine mansion. In the course of our journey, we discover that we have a common desire to inflict great violence upon the fabric of our times, to distill our lives into a single act of harrowing, eloquent savagery. As we begin to plan out the operational details of a shared offense, we become separated and you find yourself alone in the attic, surrounded by old brushes and half-used cans of paint. Like all dreamers, I have a terrible memory. What can you write or draw upon the walls to recall to me our conversation and the promises made therein?
Walking home from a gathering of friends, I am confronted by a stray dog. The dog is highly agitated and barks madly in all directions, like a thing beset. I speak to it in soothing tones and approach with great caution, but as I reach out to examine its collar, the dog coughs up onto the sidewalk a severed human hand. What is the dog’s name?
Blogger Carrie Carm has included The Plight House in her Monday column, Inspiration for the rest of us.
“This week’s inspiration is grief and strange beauty: Jason Hrivnak’s The Plight House, a stunning, deadly book. It’s just so sad and odd and gorgeous.
It is even pleasing as a physical object, all by itself. Published by Pedlar Press out of Toronto and with cover art by Tom Poirier — the book’s official website banner shows it off — it has high-quality, laid paper (with visible chain lines), and the layout of the book leaves plenty of negative space: a book design success.