Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rachel Leona Kapitan Reading

Rachel Kapitan had a reading from her upcoming book of short stories titled, Small Town Heretics of the Emerging Sciences. I arrived a little early at Neon Forest Art Gallery, and found Rachel seated in the front row in a room full of folding chairs. She took a sip of her Rockstar energy drink. She was reading her manuscript and next to her there was a pile of graph paper note pads with strips of type written copy taped down in rows with yellow stickies protruding everywhere.

I said hello then let her focus on her work while I walked around to see the art in the room. The gallery show was titled, Grab and Go. Every piece of art was on sale for less than $100. Most pieces were around $50. Tonya Dickie entered the gallery and she spoke to Rachael about how clients she gives massages to would sometimes share their darkest secrets while lying on the massage table. Rachel had similar experiences with costumers at Infusion Tea. It is so true that reality is often so much stranger than anything that an author could make up.

Soon the room filled with people. Rachel was talking to another author about Modernism and Post Modernism. She mentioned her ideas about Poetic Terrorism which would wake people up from their complacency. She is developing a literary style she called Synthetic Fiction. It was all way over my head, but I was intrigued. I was introduced to Caitlin Doyle the current resident author at the Kerouac house.

Her first story was a straightforward reading of one of her short stories called "This is not a Beach." The story contained some sexual exploits that would have made Anais Nin blush. What followed was fascinating and unexpected. She had cut up one of her stories into 64 segments which were taped down with 8 segments per page on 8 pages in several graph notepads. She asked members of the audience to pick a number between 1 and 8 for the page of the draft and then a number between 17 and 31 representing the draft of the story which had been reordered 64 times. Based on these random choices, she read the story, titled "Jubilation Saints", out of order. There were sections of the story that would repeat again and again as if the refrain in a song. Rachel said that randomizing the story like this allowed the author a chance to re-experience the work as a reader. Even though the story was randomly shuffled, it always made sense. This story graphically related the sexual affair between two wildlife researchers of squirrels. The repeated attraction played out over and over in the reading as if this couple kept making the same irreversible choices again and again. I began to anticipate and take comfort in the repetition. As a listener I had to fill in the blanks thus personalizing the story in my mind, recreating it for myself. It was a fun exercise allowing the audience to step into the creative process.

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