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Fear of Bees Published as Comic

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This is the first page of a three-page comic version of “The Fear of Bees.” It was compiled from the under-painting (oil in black and white) of an ongoing 36″ x 48″ painting.

Interestingly, not every image in the original appears in this pulp comic based on it, which was published recently in Bewildering Stories. Also, this version suggests a slightly different narrative than the far more ambiguous painting. Of course, that’s only my opinion and the painting has the final say.

Until it is completed, track the swarms at the end of the world over at Bewildering Stories.

Art Overtakes Fireplace

Or, the perils of a makeshift home studio. It is difficult for me to be in the same room with a piece of art in progress without hatching ideas for hundreds of touch-ups, elaborations, additions, and omissions.

One way to trick myself into finding the time to complete those long grisaille-method oil paintings is to blend the process in with my nightly TV-watching wind down, which typically consists of no more than every possible waking hour for me.

Strangely, the painting always seems to take on an antagonistic relationship to the fireplace, somehow occluding it and usurping it all at the same time.

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Painting Progress–Expressionistic Landscape

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“Radiant View” 18″ x 34.5″ oil on canvas


Publicity for Reading Lessons in Seeing


Dartmouth Professor Examines How Comics Are Read

Valley News Staff Writer

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Even if he’d landed in another college town, Michael Chaney figures he eventually would have written some version of Reading Lessons in Seeing, his freshly-minted, 200-page exploration of autobiographical graphic novels. …
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Read the rest here.
Check out the book, Reading Lessons in Seeing, here.


Top Ten Literary Magazines to Send your Best Stories

Many languages have phrases for understanding that have to do with standing on firm ground. Correspondingly, misunderstandings, epiphanies, and surprises are just as often metaphorized as losing one’s footing, slipping, being knocked down or over with heels above heads.

The following journals on this list regularly include short stories that will blow you down, over, and otherwise upend your corpora as well as your emotional, psychic, and ideological equipage, which must have surely been shifted around in flight and thus must be carefully re-opened… so much turbulence of this kind will have shifted up the tenses but good.

So read on brave writers, and in the unlikely event of a water landing remember that your words are also equipped with wings–inverted, they are lungs; turn again, gills!

And speaking of things neither fish nor fowl, the title for this post chooses the word “story” deliberately and so do the scrupulous editors at these magazines. Sure, they may advertise stuff about liking experimental work, but if you don’t have something to submit that easily resembles a story, I wouldn’t bet my horse on an acceptance.  Then again, who knows? Stranger things have happened. It’s fiction, after all.

Georgia Review


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Southern Review


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One Story

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Tin House


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A Public Space


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Kenyon Review


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Paris Review


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Threepenny Review

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Table of Contents of my new book, Reading Lessons in Seeing

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And anyone who has ever had a book published by a university press may know the special anxieties I faced, but this press and my editor were phenomenal. Thanks especially to Vijay Shah and his team at University Press of Mississippi for this amazing cover image.


And without further ado, the table of contents…

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Read my analyses of graphic novels and comics in my latest book Reading Lessons in Seeing: Mirrors, Masks, and Mazes in the Autobiographical Graphic Novel.

If the coda, interests you, check out a video of it here:  “Where? Reflections on Richard McGuire’s Here and the Spatial Ontology of Comics.” Keynote address for the International Comic Arts Forum, Univ. of South Carolina, Columbia SC. April 14, 2016.

Frederick Douglass’s Digressions


In the tenth chapter of his Narrative of the Life (1845) Frederick Douglass rages against the hypocrisy of Christians slaveholders in a rant he identifies as a digression:

My blood boils as I think of the bloody manner in which Messrs. Wright Fairbanks and Garrison West, both class-leaders, in connection with many others, rushed in upon us with sticks and stones, and broke up our virtuous little Sabbath school, at St. Michael’s–all calling themselves Christians! humble followers of the Lord Jesus Christ! But I am again digressing.

The meta-commentary of the last sentence punctuates the tone of the preceding and implicitly begs forgiveness for “again digressing” from the reader as though digression were a repeat offense. But neither the term “digress” nor its variants appear “again” in Narrative. The earlier offense has gone without comment—although Douglass mentions a more venial adjustment of rhetorical course earlier in the chapter when he pauses to include the phrase—“But to return to Mr. Freeland, and to my experience” (79).

The phrase implies another subtle rhetorical apology—this time for relaying potentially superfluous testimonials about pious Mr. Hopkins, who always found a way “to justify the use of the lash” (79). Like the paradoxical singularity of Douglass’s admission of “again digressing,” this instance is one of the only in Douglass’s Narrative to evince retrophobic dilation (“But to return”)


In closing, I want to return to the curious wording Douglass uses in his Chapter Ten, where he mentions “again digressing” for it is in relation to this predicament that we ask one of the most important questions for anyone studying digression. What exactly is Douglass digressing from in this moment? A digression can only be defined as such in the face of an established unity. What is that unity in Douglass’s case?

Douglass provides us with a miniature narrative of conflict encountered and straightforwardly resolved at the beginning of Chapter Ten when he tells of a time he got his oxen caught in a thicket:

There I was, entirely alone, in a thick wood, in a place new to me. My cart was upset and shattered, my oxen were entangled among the young trees, and there was none to help me. After a long spell of effort, I succeeded in getting my cart righted, my oxen disentangled, and again yoked to the cart.

The anecdote does more than create immediacy or heighten tension: it nutshells the narrative ideal—the kernel of conflict—from which the rest of the chapter digresses.


Douglass will eventually get his “cart righted,” but not without trying every possible means to extricate himself from the thicket he find himself in with Covey (the influence of white relations, Sandy’s superstitious root, etc.).


We should not forget that this is also the chapter in which Douglass famously stirs readers to expect an “epochal” change in his protagonist, thus fomenting the readerly anticipation required for digression to be regarded as such:

“The circumstances leading to the change in Mr. Covey’s course toward me form an epoch in my humble history. You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man” (65-6).

If we expect an image, something to see, we are soon disappointed. Nothing so immediately apprehensible or so straightforward follows. Rather, a circuitous story of rising tension follows, punctuated, one assumes for purposes of rhetorical effect, by faux admissions to excesses, which are themselves intensifiers of anticipation.

Nothing about Douglass’s self-identified moments of “digressing” in the tenth chapter, in other words, digress at all. They build towards a larger narrative that still bears metaphorical resemblance with the ideal story of the oxen cart caught and released from the woods. Douglass’s digressions are not subtractive but additive. They build story rather than delay or disrupt it.

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For more, see my essay: “Digression, Slavery, and Failing to Return in the Narrative of the Sufferings of Lewis Clarke.” From: Biography Volume 39, Number 4, Fall 2016  pp. 511-534

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