REVIEW BY ANNA ZALOKOSTAS
Green Apple Books (San Francisco)
Hovering between performance, document and novel, Tex is compiled from about a year’s worth of electronic correspondence between LA artist Beau R and former-fling Matt G, a social worker in Austin. An emotionally and intellectually daring work, it forces itself against the limits of our understanding: of production and labor, seduction and language, desire and abjection. “We are just at the beginning of understanding emotion politically,” Beau quotes Lauren Berlant in the epigraph. This a book of beginnings, a work in fragments — an attempt to find “forms of incoherence that are listenable to.” Which is to say that Tex is as much an index or bibliography as it is a paper trail.
There are YouTube links, iPhone photos, butt plug poems, Google docs, email subject lines, descriptions of emoji; potential Craigslist sex partners, someone trying to collect insurance money, a drug dealer who sells Beau Acetaminophen instead of Adderall, a few conversations about normcore, a news update — “Philip Seymour Hoffman died, are you over me yet?” — text messages about Knausgaard, text messages about Ryan Trecartin (or his house), text messages about Anne Carson. “I’m around today if you want to connect and share,” Beau R writes. “I’m trying to reach you.”
My own texting happens much like Beau’s: “i'm being a horrible employee by texting you right now. i'm like crouched behind the register counter, hiding. i did just oversee the gift wrapping of a lorrie moore book though.” Mostly while standing around, just waiting. Still: I want to see something in these moments, in their repetition, and in the relationships that emerge from them — in the new or different forms of intimacy we are just beginning to talk about. Pushing up against the difficulty of actually communicating under a system that demands constant communication, Beau registers both the vulnerability and playfulness of being able to say anything.
Reading Tex, I kept forgetting that I don’t have a separate group chat going with Beau, in which we provide a running commentary on the events of the book. And if I felt like I couldn’t stop reading, it’s partly because Tex is like peaking at Gmail when someone was borrowing your computer and forgot to log out.
$13.95 PB 252 pages, illustrated bw throughout ISBN:978-0-9785564-19 Pub date: November 2014