Whale of a Tale of a Journal of a Story on the Radio: Children's Bookstore & New Faultline & No Nukes, Too!

Categories: OC Bookly

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I am a little weary of bad news, cautionary tales and object lessons by way of instruction and warning. Another mass shooting? Thank the NRA. Mass spying on US citizens? Color me surprised, not. So, a little silver lining by way of the otherwise dark cloudy move by Whale of a Tale, whose terrific owner Alexandra Uhl announced that her singular and iconic children's and family bookstore--until this week across the street from UC Irvine--is opening in early July at a new area location. Good news! Oh, and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station? It won't be relocating. It will be decommissioned, which means closed, permanently. Damn straight!

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May the road rise with you!
So, instead of Mr. Bib going on yet another vigorous if pleasingly well-written rant I'll celebrate the value of creative, constructive anger and not only the perhaps less-valuable (but still fun) despair, which is too easy on this nuclear-free Sunday morning in Orange County. "Anger is an energy," sang John Lydon, and loud, on one the best songs from his post-Sex Pistols career with the band PiL..

Cuz, hey, it's been a heck of a week. I'd heard a most excellent interview with favorite poet Rae Armentrout, whose newest collection is recently out. The Bookworm over at KCRW has featured a bunch of poets lately. Good for him, and for us. Last Thursday it was Alice Fulton. But back to Armantrout, and my dumb-angry and predictable story of trying to purchase an actual copy of Armantrout's Just Saying. You know where I'm going with this. Not long ago I would have found it on the shelf at what is now the sad former bookstore across the street from Uhl's store, pretty much a t-shirt emporium called "The Hill." The old UC Irvine Bookstore managed by Matt Astrella, would, I promise you, have had the book in stock as it was one of the last "indy" bookstores in our region, an ironic

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Just trying to buy a copy!
default circumstance of a university-run retailer of books being the last store in South OC with enough square footage to display and sell popular literary titles, nonfiction, poetry, cultural criticism. Don't get me started. The school library's copy was checked out. Yes, there was a Barnes & Noble--in Tustin--which had a copy. Having no other reason to drive there, I ended up buying online, Until it arrives, I'll make us all happy (or at least me and my pal Jonathan Cohen, who turned me on to Armantrout) this morning with an older poem-as- teaser by the West Coast "language" poet of wit and humor, author of the memoir True, who teaches at UC San Diego.

Apartment

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She's just saying

1.
The woman on the mantel,
who doesn't much resemble me,
is holding a chainsaw
away from her body,
with a shocked smile,
while and undiscovered tumor
squats at her kidney.

2.
The present
is a sentimental favorite,
with its heady mix
of grandiosity
and abjection,
truncated,
framed.

3.
It's as if I'm subletting
a friend's apartment.
Even in the dream,
I'm trying to imagine
which friend.
And I'm trying to get
all my robes together,
robes I really own and
robes I don't.

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Great cover!
Happily, the talented editors of this year's UC Irvine annual literary journal, the estimable Faultline, left me a copy of the newest mag. Thanks, Aaron Peters and Warren Fong, and congrats. You can purchase a copy via the virtual commerce experience about which everybody is talking and with which I am so bored, bored, bored. (And uselessly angry!)

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Go ahead and rinse.
And after you secure a copy of Faultline No 22, Spring 2013, with the strikingly fun and story-inferring comics-style cover illustration by Jeff Heermann, you will likely want to go to the stories portrayed there and, if you are willing to take my advice, read the short story "Dentist" by Michelle Latiolais first. She is, you will remember, a mentor, teacher and hero of mine, author most recently of the collection Widow, co-director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at UCI. Latiolais is a writer of quietly startling intensity, of emotional and intellectual subversion, of prose which in its details and character-driven assumptions and perspective sneaks up on the Big Problem, making it the imperative which cannot speak its name but which is being screamed, yelled, hollered by a stadium-full of literary tropes, necessary endings, syntactical whirlpools and perfect word choices. In this ur-Latiolais story we meet a grumpy old dentist whose inner struggle, stream-of-consciousness last stand, fitful retirement from teeth and people is tested by a sad-comic patient who seems to somehow love and value him despite the office falling apart, disappearing, the waiting room empty except for her, the last pilgrim.


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