Noise: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth by Peter Wild, Lee Ranaldo

By Peter Wild, Lee Ranaldo

For greater than twenty-five years, the antimelodic “noise” of Sonic early life has assaulted us, exhilarated us, encouraged us. Why?

Katherine Dunn says it is because they function within the foggy international among the true and the surreal. Mary Gaitskill says that Sonic formative years stuck her, years in the past, while she used to be falling. J. Robert Lennon says this is because Sonic formative years rip it aside. Emily Maguire used to be hooked simply because as soon as she used to be in love with chaos.

Their sound is caustic, elemental, nihilistic—and particularly in contrast to the other cult band ever to accomplish rock godhood. In Noise, twenty-one nice literary voices supply brief fiction in keeping with or encouraged through songs from Sonic Youth—a raucous coupling of track and literature that includes marrow-colored goo, severed fingers and deserted infants, Patty Hearst staring at the apocalypse on television, and different unruly photos of the Zeitgeist.

Contributors
Hiag Akmakjian • Christopher Coake • Katherine Dunn • Mary Gaitskill • Rebecca Godfrey • Laird Hunt • Shelley Jackson • J. Robert Lennon • Samuel Ligon • Emily Maguire • Tom McCarthy • Scott Mebus • Eileen Myles • Catherine O'Flynn • Emily Carter Roiphe • Kevin Sampsell • Steven Sherrill • Matt Thorne • Rachel Trezise • Jess Walter • Peter Wild

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Sample text

It wasn’t her imaginary students calling her name. It was Tommy, standing, untucked, directly in front of her, clicking a ballpoint pen against a clipboard. ’ Ulla said. With the pen, Tommy pointed towards the counter, but he looked in the direction of the new customer. ’ Ulla looked at Tommy, then at the girl standing in the middle of the room, then at her own weary feet. She had no idea what ‘speedbalancing’ meant. ‘Why, yes,’ she said to Tommy. ’ Tommy scribbled something on the clipboard then stepped behind the counter, where he, and Ulla from her seat, stared at the girl.

They kept asking me about ‘the incident’. I got a little mouthy with them, which they didn’t appreciate. ’ I hope you don’t use the word incident in your book but I guess that’s pretty much your choice. Do you know Teri’s mother? I saw her yesterday coming out of the Safeway. She was just pushing her cart in this frail way. She always seems faint, almost as if she’s been faded out or rubbed away. She told me Teri’s just a scapegoat and we’re all the bad girls who messed up her good and kind daughter.

Maybe the dumpster has been emptied already into one of the huge trucks that shatter our sleep before dawn. ’ The tables were emptying before she finished. No one offered a comment but brisk head-shaking accompanied their caffeinated strides. She didn’t seem surprised, just lifted her cup and looked into it. As far as I know hers were the last words spoken on the subject of the hand. The intrigue died overnight. By the next morning the grocery clerks were rolling their eyes over a parking bribery scheme.

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