Venus in all Four Corners
They poured the foundation in ’62. Well thought through, not a single tree was sacrificed — not for the house proper, the road, the well or the coops, fresh eggs bein’ a secret pleasure of my daddy’s, an extra couple bucks for mama at the Saturday market.
While still damp, they stick-drew a half-shell at each corner, an inside joke. When things were still proper, mama worried that her thighs might be too big for daddy’s liking. He sent her a letter, with a photo of Venus Rising, said he thought her thighs would please him mighty fine. Momma blushed the color of Pink Lady apples, put the letter in her secret place with the rest of them.
After daddy was hurt, construction was stopped for a while. Springtime’s and fall we’d go out there, throw some quilts where the kitchen was framed, have picnics, watch the trees blossom or the leaves change color. We did that for a year or two. They also decided it was best not to two-story it, but there was plenty of room to re-work that first floor; the “formal” living room became their bedroom . . . mama liked to say “en suite”. A smaller library became the new living room — plenty comfy and still room for the family’s beloved books. Less pressure on daddy, and less money to finish. Still bedrooms for us kids.
They had the housewarming the end of ’65, a tang in the air, clouds low like they was wishing to be invited in. Aunt Delia made all the food, and she cooked up a Church social’s worth of goodness — cream cheese rollups, oysters wrapped in bacon, a punch that didn’t need any more spikin’. There was a cake with separate plates and forks just for the celebration, and celebrate we did.
We talk about it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes daddy raises his head, eyes sharp with recognition. I think it’s the oysters wrapped in bacon, who would forget those. And we laugh and eat, then go outside to the south-east corner, right by the porch, where the foundation shifted just a little in some ancient earthquake or flood. We fight to see who’s gonna pull back the vines, and there it is, that stick-drawn half-shell for all of us to see. Until next time.
Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Current chapbooks are “The Coincidence of Castles” from Glass Lyre Press, "Romance and Rust” from Blue Horse Press, and “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) from FutureCycle Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).
For those who can't make it to the mecca that is Kelly Writers House, we gather once per month, in a traveling show sort of migration around South Florida to enjoy the companionship, the intellectual stimulation and the pure exhaustion of the mental challenge of a live close read!
Afterwards by 冯唐 Feng Tang,
- Why I need to write 《不二》
translated by S. Ye from author's official publication site.
Once a lady friend asked me: " I don't find it surprising that you can
write erotic tall tales, but why you need to ? To rid yourself sexual drive, perhaps ? Why? Tell me ?
Another female writer remarked, point blank ,' Your target readers are between 35 to 55 years of middle-aged women. They are raising children, taking care of their husband, struggling with their lost youth and falling into despair. They need compassionate love. They need everyday romance and sexual fantasy, not erotic novel from long dead place and time. You got it all wrong. You are digging your own grave.
What actually happened, from the very beginning of my messing with words some twenty year ago, I write, not to expect writing will make me powerful and famous and rich ; I write, not to bring others peace and justice. I write, not to educate and illuminate masses. I write, for a simple enough reason, that I need to find an outlet for myself , like being pressed by a destiny: I am haunted by ghosty creatures. My pen charmed by dragon and serpent's cunning ways. It is like to patch up some tiny cracks, increasingly expanding, momentarily appearing and disappearing boundless causes. For some split of seconds, I may have envied some other writers accumulate mountainous silver coins, so famous that they must wear sunglasses whenever hitting the sidewalks. At events of signing their books, thousands and ten thousands hands dancing before their eyes and occasionally showered with stinky eggs, soda bottles and flowers. But that is only for split of seconds. Most of time, I remind myself to never forget that writing brings me pure, granulate sugary joy to knock-off the earth just half an inch.
For the bottom line, my brain is a burning refinery, full of alchemist's catch, not a toast oven with one control button to press it down.
To Sum up what motivates me to write my erotic saga:
First, after《肉蒲团》, for two hundred years, there isn't any good erotic novel written in Chinese. Even in this famed rendition, there is too much meandering, totaling 20 chapters, the first three chapter is all about proving that the book isn't an erotic tale but a beginner's guide to Buddhism.
Secondly, it is not easy to write erotic relationship with words. To narrate the base of human passion without overplay of pornography, with simple delight and ordinary pleasure of eating, drinking, bathing in the sun, taking a nap, is even more difficult. What I have in my hand, the novel 《不二》, is an experiment with such criterion.
Thirdly, when I was young, I watched a lot of cultural films as a way to ease the burden and pain of growing up. I was struck by degree of deviations on people's mind. I've seen plenty of N-rated films, couldn't shake off their notion that touching oneself is deemed un-natural. I've alway wondered why the storm can't be more intense? Why culturally pure and simple can't be mixed up with pornographic eroticism ? Thus, we'd give ourselves a better wholesome view of life to live? When it comes down to execute concrete arrangements, I discovered, this is quite a challenge, the path from spiritual to sensual as diverse, perverse and reverse is no less than crossing life unto death.
For the forth reason, I am almost 40 years of age, if I don't write it now, in a few more years, even if my heart dares, my body shall be frail. This world may not get to see my hundred thousands monumental work. Modern medicine examines clearly that man also has menopause. "Old stallion knows it hasn't much time left, it kicks and gallops, needing no crop'.
For the fifth point, our next generation youths are beautiful. If they read only non-Chinese Japanese AV and non-oriental literature work from Christianity, e.g. 'Lady Charlotte's lover' and 'Rooftop of Paris', before experiencing life on their own, being a Chinese writer, I am guilty.
Last but not least, writing is a therapeutic process deployed to cure my middle-aged self from damages done by the early onset of anxiety attacks and depression.
As far as the structural design of my writing 《不二》，I've undergone a lot of trial and error.
Foremost, after finishing 《Beijing，Beijing》， I decided I will not write any more fictions based on personal experience. The essential points have been sketched out. On the subject of the growing up near the Great Wall, this trilogy of Beijing is out there, enough for people like myself to crawl out of, for the next two hundred years. I shall write things that fascinated me most, outside of all existing biographical narratives. Incomprehensible force and demons conjuring up historical farce and reality, deflecting time and space, let me put them into this new trilogy. First Volume, 《不二》，focus on chaos and super natural, sex and religion. Background set in the middle and late Tang dynasty. Second volume, 《天下卵》, focus on 'Force', assassination and sex, background set in 辽金. Volume Three, 《安阳》, focus on "Strangeness", concocted via medical science, metaphysical alchemist and ancient relics, background set in 夏商.
In the beginning was this arrangement, 《不二》divided into Part A and Part B. Part A is 禅宗 during the heydays till the late Tang dynasty, in the capital city Xi'an. Part B is the other 禅宗 during the same period, residing in 敦煌. Part A, pure sensual, Part B pure spiritual. Sensuality in Part A would be as wild as late Tang era that I can't imagine it would be permitted to air out on the internet. Spirituality in Part B could be so dry and monotoned that only those crazy nuts locked inside the Sixth branch of Beijing Hospital ( aka the crazy Sixth ) might possess certain steel attention to follow its beat from the beginning to the end. During the course of writing, increasingly, this former arrangement makes me feel too imitable, too "sharp-cutting". So I decided to have droplets mixed into one steam, as it is now written, downpour of sensual and spirit fervor whenever it springs, and ends whenever it was meant to be.
In the course of editing and rethinking, I find plots are much easier to come up, the hard part is the actual filling of a glass with spiritual, restorative and soothing substance, that leaves one rich, fuzzy, mystical and roomy after taste, or not.
This is the Afterwards. - by Feng Tang