Stories & Articles


ONLINE WORK

 

Read “Let’s Talk About How You’re Doing?” at Destination:Asphyxiation.

Read Write Place, Write Time‘s look at Where Christian A. Dumais Writes.

♣                           ♣                           ♣

PUBLISHED WORK

 

WIELOGRYWALNOŚĆ LIBERATURY. CZY CHCIAŁBYŚ ZAPISAĆ STAN GRY? (published in Ha!Art, Issue 30) Translated into Polish by Joanna Pyra.

This is a previously published article translated into Polish:

The success of the book in the 21st century will be not only dependent on exploring new possibilities in storytelling, but in the physicality of the book itself. Books are “going to have to play to their strengths and figure out what makes them really special and what makes them work . . . the physicality and the tactile quality is one of the thing”. And to counter the specific appetites of burst culture, writers need to be encouraged to have a more active role in the design of their books. This attitude is reflected in Zenon Fajfer’s liberature, a literary movement that takes the monopolizing focus away from the text and instead asks writers to consider the text along with the book’s physical shape and structure. This article will focus on Fajfer’s liberature, how it potentially borrows burst cultural concepts – such as the replayability and interface of video games – in order to validate print, and establish a criterion for a book to qualify as liberary work.

The article will conclude with a recent mainstream example of a liberature and briefly examine how it potentially appeals to the burst culture.

 

LEAVE ME THE WAY I WAS FOUND (published in Shock Totem, Issue 2)

Originally a story meant for the Cover Stories anthology, this euphictional piece is a perfect fit for the “curious tales of the macabre and twisted”. “Leave Me the Way I was Found” is a story, written as an academic article, about a viral video that is so shocking its viewers are never the same again.

The date displayed at the lower right hand corner reads August 9, 2003, with a starting time of 20:03:17 and ending with 20:05:33: 2 minutes and 16 seconds in length. There is an enormous amount of speculation regarding the video’s origins. A Google search for the [TITLE RETRACTED] video brings a staggering 4,274,256,985 entries and is the most Googled search string ever, surpassing “sex” in less than three days.

Punk Talk calls this “one very creepy little vignette” and the Journal of Always writes “there’s a melancholy sense of doom that hangs over [the story] like a cloud of acid.”

COUNTING NUNS (published in GUD, Issue 3, Autumn 2008)

The Fix says “[Counting Nuns] is quite engaging . . . you’re bound to appreciate the humor and true-to-life inner dialogue Dumais presents,” and The Future Fire wrote that “”Counting Nuns’ . . . contains a richness of language and imagery that many fictional stories lack. A perfect example of the editors taking a risk publishing an unusual piece that pays off.”

There are as many bees as there are gypsies in Wrocław, just as there are as many spiders as there are nuns. It’s not anything I’d generally notice, but if you’d seen these things as often as I have in the last two months, you’d make a note of it too. In fact, I go out of my way to count how many nuns I see every day. It started out as a private joke; now it’s become part of my routine.

I’m in the shadow of a cathedral. The shadow feels cool. It’s about three hours past dawn. I’m sitting on a bench with a cup of my urine sitting beside me like some kind of twisted imaginary friend that everyone can see. There’s a man playing the flute across the way, his hat sitting on the ground in front of him like a hungry dog with its mouth wide open. A nun walks past him in a hurry. Four.

MAD DOGS (published in GUD, Issue 1, Autumn 2007)

Whispers says “‘Mad Dogs’by Christian A. Dumais . . . chronicles his night out drinking with some visiting Secret Service and Air Force Two staff, a night which ends with him sitting in the apartment of two Polish lesbians. You’ll have to read the essay to find out how he gets there; but what’s great about this piece is that it makes real life seem just as strange as the fictional realities depicted in the rest of the magazine.”

Blaming myself for my current situation sounds easy enough I guess, but I’m not known for taking the easy way. And besides, in this case, the journey towards personal responsibility seems more important than the destination. Instead, I think of the cold bastards who took me out tonight, who bought most of the drinks that’ve replaced my precious blood with sweet, sweet alcohol, who disappeared one by one as the evening progressed in this dark city, and I decide to blame them.

But that’s not fair, is it? . . . No, I must absolve these fine gentlemen and instead focus my frustration on the organization they work for: the Secret Service.

Why did they take time out from protecting the second most powerful man in the world to completely screw up my life?

Were they under orders to doom me?

WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAVE YOUR GAME NOW? (published in SYSTEMS, Volume 13, Number 1-2)

The success of the book in the 21st century will be not only dependent on exploring new possibilities in storytelling, but in the physicality of the book itself. Books are “going to have to play to their strengths and figure out what makes them really special and what makes them work . . . the physicality and the tactile quality is one of the thing”. And to counter the specific appetites of burst culture, writers need to be encouraged to have a more active role in the design of their books. This attitude is reflected in Zenon Fajfer’s liberature, a literary movement that takes the monopolizing focus away from the text and instead asks writers to consider the text along with the book’s physical shape and structure. This article will focus on Fajfer’s liberature, how it potentially borrows burst cultural concepts – such as the replayability and interface of video games – in order to validate print, and establish a criterion for a book to qualify as liberary work.

The article will conclude with a recent mainstream example of a liberature and briefly examine how it potentially appeals to the burst culture.

BURST OR DIE: THE RISE OF BURST CULTURE AND THE DECLINE OF PRINT (published in SYSTEMS, Volume 12, Number 2)

Johnson continues by adding, “…yes, we’re spending less time reading literary fiction, but that’s because we’re spending less time doing everything we used to do before,” and thus, bringing us right back to that pesky issue with time.

One can choose a week or more to read through J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books or spend roughly 10 hours watching the movies. This is an example of narrative compression – providing a satisfying narrative experience within the shortest period of time possible without sacrificing any of its complexity. Considering the daunting nature of Tolkien’s books, as well as the amount of time needed to read them, it is no wonder many people find more satisfaction in watching the movies.

The same can be said for those who download the individual songs they enjoy rather than the complete albums they do not, or those who TiVo their “live” television programs to fast-forward through the commercials, or who read spoilers of their favorite movies to determine whether they will watch the movie or not.

EXAMINATION OF THE SHAPE OF THE STORY IN METAFICTIONAL POSTMODERNIST LITERATURE (published in SYSTEMS, Volume 11, Number 2)

Postmodernism is a general term used to describe the changes, developments and tendencies taking place in literature, art, music, architecture and philosophy. Created in response to modernism, postmodernism is generally agreed to have started with the ending of the Second World War. One of the more prevalent characteristics of postmodernist literature is metafiction, a literary device used to explore the relationship between fiction and reality by making the reader aware that they are, in fact, reading fiction. The term metafiction is a relatively new one even though examples of metafiction can be traced as far back as the 17th century.

Fiction is based on a conflict, crisis and resolution formula. Using this formula, we are able to map out the shape of a story and incorporate the following seven points: beginning, precipitating incident, complications, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement. However, the emergence of metafiction in postmodernist literature changes the foundation of the story and thus jeopardizes its shape, especially when considering that metafiction isn’t about the story, but the author. By examining the metaplot – the metafictional perspective of a story – we are not only able to create different shapes, we are better able to understand the story.