I remember an attack at dawn, the sun above the waves, and on the shore an entire army that keeled over into dunes of shamming dead. A few soldiers dressed as ghosts, in residues, roamed bewildered in the surf or pushed sand above the tidal line into scarps and trenches sized for a general’s model or child’s game. I am suggesting something similar. For example, all the bullets have grown a moss. The fish and sherry never quarrel. Here comes a cantaloupe escorted by a ripe Sauterne.
Joanna Ruocco and Joanna Howard’s collaborative novella Field Glass sets forth a near-future war in which the terrain of the occupied shifts every day. This war—where relationships between humans and machines are rendered real through event logs and dispatches—hinges on an imagined evolution where the natural sciences merge with an amplified technology. Brought to life with antique flourish, high mannerisms, and pastoral motifs in familiar yet unrecognizable locales, Field Glass asks how we might build an imaginary world on the ruins of an occupied one. With each transmission, Ruocco and Howard artfully underscore the suspicion that “surely our mysteries define us.”
“Howard and Ruocco present us with a collaborative fiction that only could have been written under ground, among hovel-dwelling radicals, post-apocalyptic profiteers, beneath the murmuring of machinery, in the inversion of the field; orchestrating a literature of failure, where the supposedly long-dead I bursts from the We in the most concerted moments of togetherness, bringing forth an intense perpetual dislocation and vivid hilarity.” —Renee Gladman
Cover art by Brian Mashburn
Joanna Howard is the author of Foreign Correspondent (Counterpath, 2013), On the Winding Stair (Boa editions, 2009) and In the Colorless Round, (Noemi, 2006). Her work has appeared in Conjunctions, Verse, Bomb, Chicago Review, Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. She lives in Providence and teaches at Brown University.
Joanna Ruocco has published several books, including Another Governess / The Least Blacksmith: A Diptych, which won the FC2 Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize, and Dan (Dorothy, a publishing project). Ruocco also works pseudonymously. Most recently, she published a gothic Victorian romance, Dark Season, as Joanna Lowell. Her stories have appeared in journals including NOON, Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Caketrain, Bidoun, Quarterly West, Western Humanities Review, The Fanzine, Marginalia, 3 AM Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, and Harp & Altar. She is an assistant professor of Creative Writing in the English Department at Wake Forest University.