Cross-genre novel by Kim-Anh Schreiber
“I should know—I was paying attention to motherless girls throughout my childhood. Jotting notes: How big is the shape she left behind? How deep was the empty pool? It took a long time to answer these questions because I was absolutely intimate with the estrangement. But by putting these notes together, cutting, editing, collaging, organizing, and reorganizing, I began to understand the story of what happened. My mother, receiving a new life on a boat, mirrored this estrangement in the portrait of her relationship with herself, becoming very much like: a boat. And though I immediately understood that she had left, it was a long time before I understood that she was only coming back as a ghost.”
Part exegesis on Nobuhiko Obayashi’s film House and part meditation on the ineffable specters that inhabit homes and ancestral histories, Fantasy is a daughter’s story of her Vietnamese mother and their twin journeys towards belonging with one another and in the world. Where exilic, inherited memory encounters its limits, Fantasy reaches towards cult cinematic atmospheres, irreverent flowers, pop culture, and photographs with no images, making for a reading experience like no other.
Excerpts from Fantasy can be found at Brooklyn Rail in previous forms.
“The semi-autobiographical fantastic Fantasy of Kim-Anh Schreiber is rooted 1/4 in Vietnamese/Germanic realism and ancestral context, 1/2 in Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 House, 1/4 in matriarchal estrangement, and 0% bikini-clad pool party. Schreiber uses the fabric of cinema and horror to quasi-measure the length and width of her pre-adolescent and adolescent consciousness. It’s a GORGEOUS dress that the ghost in her psyche demands that it wears before falling into ash. Here, in these immolatable, scriptive dialogues with all of her consanguineous, anecdotal, exegetical selves (‘who become shoes without feet that walk back and forth’ in a house that eats like hungry ghosts), her psyche is cut, recut, uncut, though not forgotten, un-linearly and nonchalantly and numerously, by her relationship to film and her relationship with her Vietnamese mother, surrogated mother in grandmother(s) and auntie(s). Through the art of disfigurement/defacement, her intimate rapport to pain and her sacral joint, and her friendship with abandonment, she is able to elevate her daughterly North Star duties to subliminal heights. As Kim-Anh Schreiber seeks closure with the uncloseable, we see an acutely talented scholar and inventive memoirist on her way to becoming more than Sandra Bullock’s neighbor.” —Vi Khi Nao
“‘Every seam I encountered in the fabric of my reality was like a disfigurement that someone had smoothed over and left silent,’ writes Kim-Anh Schreiber in this remarkable investigation of female anger and resilience, intergenerational trauma, and what might be called the development of literacy in the subject of pain. Schreiber, the daughter of a Vietnamese refugee and a German immigrant, combines recognizable modes — memoir, criticism, dramatic play script — into something as uncategorizable as the film she deploys throughout the book as muse and foil: Nobuhiko Obayashi's 1977 post-Hiroshima ‘horror-comedy’ House, in which generations of women are trapped together in a haunted house. Beginning with extended considerations of the instability of memory (‘an evocative curator’), of the ‘impossible problem of drawing a picture,’ and of the pull to use projection and doubling as bridges across gaps in experience and understanding, Fantasy finally resolves into a flickering, unstable but vivid portrait of a mother and daughter both separated and bonded by history, violence, human fallibility, and love.” —Anna Moschovakis
Cover art by Sojourner Truth Parsons
Kim-Anh Schreiber is author of the plays Kult of Konsciousness and Meatloaf. Her multidisciplinary work has been published and exhibited in outlets such as The Brooklyn Rail, littletell, Emergency Index, BWSMX, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and elsewhere, and has been supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) and the New York Center for Book Arts. She has appeared in the film Two Plains & A Fancy, and the forthcoming projects Lone Pair, Dream Team, and Candy Ego, a sci-fi noir comedy written in collaboration with Ash Eliza Smith. She received her MFA in Writing from UC San Diego and is a PhD student in the Screen Cultures program at Northwestern University. Fantasy is her first book.