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Other Electricities: Stories by Ander Monson
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Other Electricities: Stories

by Ander Monson

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I loved this strange, inventive, beautiful collection of stories, halfway between poetry and insanity.

I love the lonely, fucked-up, snowy, magical setting of the UP. I love the radio schematics and diagrams. I especially love everything having to do with Liz, Carrie, and Yr Protagonist. There were a few stories I didn't love, but that doesn't dull my appreciation for the work as a whole. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
SO MUCH SNOW COMING DOWN


If the pieces of the whole were mostly "luminous", were somehow made actual as in "galvanized", then the "scrambled"-ness of this editorial "experiment" may have proven to be more successful. Problem for me was I only believed one half of it and the "charge" was not as "sparkling" as it might (could) be.

I think the promise made by the Kentucky publisher, Sarabande Books, was a little beyond the pale when they claimed this work "...uncompromising and relentless, hypnotic and dreamlike, darkly humorous and surprisingly tender". Again, I would say maybe with a luckier draw they may have gotten something else half right. That is not to say there weren't some bright spots and near brilliance in this collection of stories for me. There were. But don't believe the hype.

Instead of a novel or a group of short stories I would much rather have from Monson mere doses of truth, or even false heads that feel like the truth, than whole stories made-up and sounding like they want to be seriously listened to. In other words, I prefer any day over these examples a Monson essay, or memoir, that isn't really or exactly true to these, for the most part, so-called fictions. ( )
1 vote MSarki | Mar 31, 2013 |
For those wishing to visit the Keweenaw Peninsula, I would suggest reading Ander Monson's short but dense Other Electricities. It is a complex yet fascinating collection of stories or vignettes composing the gestalt of Michigan's UP. Sometimes direct, sometimes poetic, though always ethereal, Other Electricities deals with the hardness of living in a place as cold, bleak, and beautiful as upper Michigan. Monson expertly expresses the weirdness and hardship through a formidable cast of characters which, while representing the whole of a small community, actually resembles that of a family.

It is a place where the only guarantee is that every winter at least one snowmobile rider will succumb to the ice, where a father, perched in his attic will become obsessed with speaking code into his radio throughout the night. A place where an abandoned schoolbus forms a hideout for a disaffected teenager, taking his confusion out on stray cats. Where a weary snowplow worker reminisces over uncles dying in saunas and cousins holding up banks in the heart of winter, looking forward to nothing more than her stretch of the road. Where a schoolteacher is helpless to watch both the demolition of her school and her students.

Other Electricities is about a community of people and what they do to survive in an unacommodating environment. It's about the often unfortunate interconnectedness of their lives told from a stream-of-consciousness point of view. Beautifully written and imagined, it's an incredibly deep work, ominous like the lake surrounding the region it so coldly affects. ( )
  gonzobrarian | Jul 11, 2009 |
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"Like Franklin's discovery of the electricity we do know, Monson's luminous, galvanized book represents a paradigm shift. The frequencies of the novel have been scrambled and redefined by this elegant experiment.Other Electricities is a new physics of prose, a lyric string theory of charged and sparkling sentences. What a kite! What a key!"--Michael Martone "Monson is tuned in to our crackling, chaotic, juiced-up times like no other young writer I know.Other Electricities is necessary reading."--Robert Olen Butler Meet "Yr Protagonist": radio amateur, sometime vandal and "at times, perhaps the author" of Monson's category-defying collection: I know about phones. While our dad was upstairs broadcasting something to the world, and we were listening in, or trying to find his frequency and listen to his voice . . . we would give up and go out in the snow with a phone rigged with alligator clips so we could listen in on others' conversations. There's something nearly sexual about this, hearing what other people are saying to their lovers, children, cousins, psychics, pastors. . . . The cumulative effect of this stunningly original collection seems to work on the reader in the same way--we follow glimpses of dispossessed lives in the snow-buried reaches of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula, where nearly everyone seems to be slipping away under the ice to disappear forever. Through an unsettling, almost crazed gestalt of sketches, short stories, lists, indices and radio schematics, Monson presents a world where weather, landscape, radio waves and electricity are characters in themselves, affecting a community held together by the memories of those they have lost. Ander Monson is the editor ofDIAGRAM and the New Michigan Press. He teaches at Grand Valley State University and lives in Michigan. Tupelo Press recently published his poetry collection,Elegies for Descent and Dreams of Weather.… (more)

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