Gerard Breitenbeck’s Introduction from Taylor Brady’s BathHouse Reading

Enjoy another taste of the recent Taylor Brady BathHouse Reading via the following introduction from the reading by EMU Creative Writing graduate student Gerard Breitenbeck:

The BathHouse Reading Series is not only about shifting our perspectives, but redefining them. Tonight we welcome a writer whose work is all about redefining perspectives, not only with respect to the micro-politics of daily life, but also within the scope of narrative and literature itself.  

Taylor Brady lives in the San Francisco Bay area and is the author of many acclaimed works including Microclimates, Yesterday’s News, and Occupational Treatment, as well Snow Sensitive Skin, a collaboration with our own Professor Rob Halpern. 

Brady’s writing resists our efforts to know it; this is no accident, but a deliberate, ethical decision. Brady refers to narrative as “…the elaboration of an ongoing experience of missing the point.” Encountering his work is like encountering another human being when we stumble into those lucky, horrifying moments of social amnesia and forget categories and conventions, like staring into a prism of infinite complexity. And we are at a loss for description, as to grant privileged attention to one colored refraction is to do violence to the rest.

Or maybe it’s more like some hyper-paced plate-tectonics, confounding every would-be Magellan by shifting territory faster than the hand that presumes to draw the map. We feel lost in Brady’s prose and verse; it is a bucking bronco that wants to throw you, a determined resolve that shapes and intensifies its kicks and whips and thrashing in direct response to your efforts to hang on.

We might be inclined to resent him for this. What I mean is, at first I  was inclined to resent him for this. I felt as though I had to leave a trail of bread crumbs behind me just to find a way out of his sentences.

But then I realized his work was drawing attention to the very content of my efforts to keep up, my desperate and frustrated need to extract and isolate meaning from these words and images. I found myself wondering just from where I was getting all these meaning-seeking bread crumbs, just how it is I had pockets full of them. I began to find that these crumbs weren’t arbitrary or shapeless at all. They had character and inclinations and attitudes, and a sort of  spooky unspeakable context the way dreams have. But they weren’t dreams at all; rather, they were like wrinkles in the fabric between myself and my waking reality, a fabric which usually hangs as a veil, too sheer and familiar to notice.

I began to see his sentences, and my memories, and thoughts, and sense-making efforts as though set up in some third place like a rec center basement or high ceiling garage, with each of these elements embodied and sitting in a circle on gray metal folding chairs sharing some telepathic conversation in words made out of dream-context anti-words. And because no one is really talking, everyone speaks at once, if without conclusion, than certainly not without consequence.

I imagined the work as a kind of four dimensional map of our social relations, which, as tangled and dynamic as they may be, here are teased and felt and thoroughly investigated in something of a web of associations or a melting collaborative landscape. And that it was this landscape that is our social reality; that we carry this rec center basement collective around with us, every moment of every day.

Sharing in this landscape, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Taylor Brady.