Screen Capture of "Russian Roller-Coaster" at VICE.com

My translation of this wonderfully crazy short story by Andrei Krasnyashykh was just published at VICE magazine, as part of their ongoing VICE Reader series that features literary fiction and other literary snippets.

An excerpt of my translation:

It’s so simple, after all. God is everywhere. A shirt button fell off because God. They were showing a movie on TV because God. I got hungry because God. Women put on makeup because God. My neighbor’s dog got lost because God, because I poisoned it, because God wanted it this way, so I, so it wouldn’t bark at me.

God knows everything I don’t know. Like, I don’t know who lives in Brazil, but God knows. I don’t know why salt is white, like sugar, but not tasty, but God knows.

Sometimes I act like a mouse, because suddenly God thinks I’m a mouse. Then I think, and then suddenly God thinks I’m not a mouse, and I start to fly, because God suddenly thinks I’m a bird. And they say: you’re flying because you know how to fly, and maybe God doesn’t even know you know how to fly. I say: if God didn’t know that I know how to fly, then I’d be swimming, and God would have known I swim.

And they say: but we swim when God doesn’t know we swim. I say: And your tail and fins, where are they? Who swims without fins? Without fins shit swims. And when God knows I can swim, I swim with fins and a tail. Like you’re supposed to.

Read the whole story here. Read other entries in the VICE Reader series here.

“A stone thrown into a silent lake
is—the sound of your name.
The light click of hooves at night
—your name.
Your name at my temple
—shrill click of a cocked gun.”

— Marina Tsvetaeva, from “Poems for Blok, 1,” translated by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine (via Russian Literature via proustitute)
For translators out there, consider entering the 2012 Marina Tsvetaeva Compass Translation Competition (winner gets $300 and publication).

I’ve been thinking a lot about experimental genres these days, and have stumbled upon flash nonfiction. Did I invent this? I guess it’s the same as flash fiction, but I’m self-consciously telling you about myself.

Below is one of my first attempts at flash nonfiction. It’s inspired by a translation of a Juan Villoro story published at Words Without Borders.

I hate flying because I can never be present, in the meditative sense. By the time I’ve taken stock of where we are, the plane has leapt forward another 65 mph mile.

Here’s a snippet from a recent “Brevity” blog post by Anna Vodicka that really resonated with me:

The poetry class did not make me a poet. I wrote a lot of bad poems. But it did turn my attention to the short form—the art of economy and responsibility. With Kinnell’s poem and Wrigley’s words in mind, I thought, “Yes. Prose, it is.”

I plucked a few lines from their stanzas, let them settle responsibly into the new space of a paragraph, and cautiously let prose in. That’s when I heard the sound. It went, “click.”

I am currently working on an experimental essay all about how poetry and literary translation has affected my nonfiction prose writing and pushed me in a, well, experimental direction.

Can’t wait to finish it and (hopefully) find a published home for it. Then I’ll share it here!