from Studies
Renee Gladman


Working Notes:

I had been holding a vase in my hands that now lay shattered on the floor. The vase was "the novel." I'm not sure of the force that knocked the whole away from me but I imagine that it was a slow accumulation. As I looked down at the pieces, I could not see how they ever fit together. In one place lay prose, in another narrative, and off to the side, in several, lay the components of fiction. I never felt that I was writing "fiction," so I was surprised to see it there. What I found more difficult, however, was seeing "prose" extricated from "narrative."

This confused me. Before this moment, I had thought of narrative as the trajectory of language, as the direction in which it unfolds, and of prose as narrative's rawest tone. But as I observed them lying there, I saw each independent of the other. I knew that no matter what I did, I would be writing narrative, but I could not fathom how I wrote prose separate from that. The process is as natural as breathing, however this crisis I experienced was emblematic of that occasion where we catch ourselves in the mechanics of respiration and get caught up in the mystery of that.



for Tisa Bryant

A friend has pointed out a paralysis this evening, which she has been ignoring for some time. The friend has had to ask why certain parts of her body don't move, why there is failure in her language, why she carries this failure in her body, making her body unable to move. It is evening when the friend can no longer contain her observation and is forced to point to this stillness that makes her a stranger in the room.

The friend points to the paralysis.

Our immobile one is sitting quietly in the corner of a room staring at a glass of milk, seemingly enmeshed in daydream. There is condensation on the glass, an indication that the milk has sat unattended for too long.

Earlier, the friend brought the immobile one this milk.

Then paralysis took its form.

-Now she has been made to see her paralysis. It impresses her and makes her mad. She and the friend sit in the room mad at the paralysis. As the milk grows warm.

The friend looks at the milk and asks to sip it. Our one says, please.

Now that the paralysis has been exposed both women stare ravenously at the milk.

Both reach for the milk.

"Now that I've pointed this out to you, can you explain how it got there?"

She answers.

"Does the measurement, though compelling you into silence, serve the companion in anyway? Is a co-habitation possible?"

Again, she answers, this time with more emphasis on each word.

"I have known you for ten years," the friend says placing her chin in her hand, amazed at what she's seeing.

Issue Two
Table of Contents