ASCHER / STRAUS
In addition to the volumes of fiction published with McPherson (Letter to an Unknown Woman, The Other Planet, The Menaced Assassin and Red Moon/Red Lake), the award-winning fiction of Ascher/Straus has been appearing widely in magazines, including Chicago Review, The Paris Review, Chelsea, Sun and Moon, Epoch and Exile. Most recently, both Exile and the online journal Your Impossible Voice have published early installments of their much-anticipated novel-in-progress, Headless World. Ascher/Straus’s long history of creating narratives outside traditional boundaries (beginning with the unbound books, interactive fiction events/installations called SPACE NOVELS in the late 70’s and 80’s) has, since 2008, continued in Monica’s Chronicle, an endless sketchbook drawn directly from life, meant as a model for another idea of fiction, and published in installments on their website (www.ascher-straus.com). Monica’s Chronicle is the source for and background universe of two groundbreaking volumes, ABC Street and Hank Forest’s Party, outward-looking autobiography/novel/philosophical journals suggesting a dedicated, life-long way of documenting life as fiction. Ascher/Straus intend the resonance between the two novel/journal volumes and the related fiction-like works on their website to be of narrative interest in itself.
Significant Ascher/Straus fiction has been anthologized in the Pushcart Prize series, Top Top Stories (City Lights), Exile’s Exiles, Chelsea: A Retrospective (Twenty Five Years), Hugh Fox’s The Living Underground: A Prose Anthology, Likely Stories, Language and Structure in North America, Chicago Review's Two Volume Survey of Innovative Fiction, and others.
Hank Forest’s Party, Green Integer, 2013
ABC Street, Green Integer
The Other Planet, McPherson & Co.
The Menaced Assassin, McPherson & Co., 1989 (revised edition; original edition, 1982)
Red Moon/Red Lake, McPherson & Co.
Red Moon/Red Lake, Top Stories
Letter to an Unknown Woman, McPherson & Co.
Discovery of the World, Ghost Dance #22
Green Inventory, Ghost Dance #26
The Living Underground: A Prose Anthology, Hugh Fox (Editor), Whitson Publishing Co.
15 Years in Exile, Exile Editions, Toronto, Canada
Top Top Stories, City Lights
Chouteau Review: Ten Year Retrospective
Chelsea: A Retrospective (Twenty-Five Years), Chelsea Associates
Likely Stories, McPherson & Co.
Pushcart Prize Anthology, III, Pushcart Press
Language and Structure in North America, Kensington Arts Assoc., Toronto
Chicago Review Two Volume International Survey of Innovative Fiction
Action/Image; Annex; Aphra; Aspen Anthology; Assembling; Asylum Annual; Benzene; Beyond Baroque; Calyx; Central Park; Chelsea; Chicago Review; Chouteau Review; Coda; Confrontation; Cumberland Journal; Epoch; Exile; Gallimaufry; Interstate; Modernsense; New American Writing; Panache; Paris Review; Queen Street Magazine; Source; Sun & Moon; Tamarisk; Telephone; White Walls; Your Impossible Voice; Zone;Zone/Benzene
SPACE NOVEL (Installation and Events)
AS IT RETURNS: installation of two flat volumes (40 square feet and 33 square feet) of corresponding "pages," a book derived from the planes of the gallery space: Contemporary Arts Gallery, NYU
THE BLUE HANGAR: a narrative (text and activity) whose form and materials are derived from a large public environment with interior and exterior spaces; method of distribution adapted to mobile readership; Gateway National Recreation Area New York; sponsored by U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, American Crafts Council, Participation Project Foundation, Poets & Writers, Inc.
THE BLUE HANGAR: 12th Annual NY Avant Garde Festival, Gateway National Recreation Area
12 SIMULTANEOUS SUNDAYS: a novel written publicly over 12 Sundays, with installation and performance elements: Gegenschein Vaudeville Placenter
AS IT RETURNS: "Beyond the Page" exhibition, Y Poetry Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
AS IT RETURNS: models, photographs and related prose: University of Nevada
AS IT RETURNS: "TELIC" exhibition, Art Research Center, Kansas City, Missouri
SPACE NOVEL (Publications)
THE BLUE HANGAR: Partial text and photo-documentation, Queen Street Magazine (#10-11-12-13) Toronto
THE BLUE HANGAR: Photo-documentation and brief text, Coda (volume 3 #4)
THE BLUE HANGAR: Complete text and photo-documentation, Interstate(#12)
AS IT RETURNS: diagrams and partial text, Seventh Assembling
AS IT RETURNS: complete text, New American Writing
12 SIMULTANEOUS SUNDAYS, partial text, Zone (#7)
12 SIMULTANEOUS SUNDAYS, partial text, Benzene (volume 1 #4)
THE BLUE HANGAR: A SPACE NOVEL: Sun & Moon Archives
ASCHER/STRAUS=Sheila Ascher & Dennis Straus. We don’t write together in the literal sense, but do in every other sense. We edit each other’s writing (allow no other editing) and we publish jointly without saying who initiated what. To distinguish "who wrote what" is to bow to someone else’s idea of authorship, no more acceptable than bowing to a narrow idea of what fiction can be.
We’ve pursued an unusual degree of personal invisibility and there would be no web site if we thought that would end here (we hope to hide here in plain sight). One way or another what matters in our biographies is in our work: by chronicling what’s not in the mirror but is the life we live or by finding narrative codes for the self.
A long, invisible history of creating narrative outside traditional boundaries (of form, of publication, even of binding) is present in the four novels (Hank Forest's Party, ABC Street, The Menaced Assassin, The Other Planet) and the volume of related stories (Red Moon/Red Lake) that are traditionally published. (There is an entire history of publication, documented event/performance and so on attached to our earlier work).
In the late 70’s/early 80’s, largely in an art context, we created a series of novels we called SPACE NOVELS that used a variety of public spaces (from galleries to air fields) as bindings or structuring principles. (Funding came from Poets & Writers, the National Parks Service, the American Crafts Council and so on.) Our idea was to create a new kind of un-bound novel, transparent and porous between writer and reader.
Our early thinking about fiction, and art in general, particularly about its position between writer and reader and the ways in which the life of writer and reader (down to the ambient, intrusive event while reading or writing) can or cannot be included or suggested, has mutated over the years but never left us entirely. (ABC Street and Hank Forest's Party are its direct descendants.) That thinking and our love of the kind of philosophical narrative not thought to be "American" has probably driven us out of the mainstream. (We have a talent for making decisions that place us on the outside of any given inside, even ones that would seem to be in tune with us.)
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