Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

Kissed By

Kissed By

Kissed By
by Alexandra Chasin

Quality Paper
2007. 176 pp.
ISBN 978-1-57366-138-6
Price: $17.95 t

E Book
2009. 176 pp.
ISBN 978-1-57366-808-8
Price: $9.99


In this remarkable collection of linguistically acrobatic fictions, Alexandra Chasin employs forms as diverse as cryptograms and sentence diagrams to display a prodigious talent that is visual as well as verbal.

In one story, the words are arrayed on the page like troops, embodying the xenophobic image of invading armies that animates the narrative. Another story incorporates personal ads, and another is organized alphabetically, while yet another leaves sentences unfinished. A number of Chasin's stories take metafictional turns, calling attention to the process of writing itself. The last piece in the collection plays with genre distinctions, including an index of first lines and a general index. From the highly political and well-wrought montage about September 11th to a sexual romp that proceeds by punning on philosophers' names, Chasin's work playfully explores the curious and often contradictory qualities of language. Treating love and loss, sex, desire, and war -- among other things -- and set in New York, New England, California, Paris, and Morocco, these tales are narrated by men and women, old and young, gay, straight, and bisexual; one narrator is not a person at all, but a work of art. Each of these deft, playful, and sometimes anarchic fictions is different from the others, yet all are the unmistakable offspring of the same wildly inventive imagination. Chasin's diction is precise and purposeful, yet it retains a colloquialism that enables a dialogue with the reader. Humorous and heart-wrenching, often all at once, Kissed By offers the sort of acute insight evoked through the interplay of empathy and intellect.

"Alexandra Chasin is a hugely brave writer. She dares to push the extremes of style, while daring to push the extremes of emotion." —Jonathan Safran Foer

"Formal adventurousness, anarchy, wordplay, and intellectual sophistication ... there is a great deal of authority in this writing ... superb." —R.M. Berry

"Until I read Kissed By, Alexandra Chasin's marvelous collection, I never understood what the term ‘experimental fiction’ really meant. Now I get it. Chasin enters each story as if it's her laboratory. She has the great gift of being able to bring us along on her investigation; she seems to hold up each sentence for our inspection. It's thrilling to watch Chasin as she pours her chemicals to find out what will fizz and what will explode." —Pagan Kennedy

"A tour de force of pieces about love and longing and language, but mostly longing, deferred desire at both a thematic and structural stratum ... beautiful narrative mutations ... bright, whimsical linguistic wrenchings ... luminosities ...." —Lance Olsen

"With an alchemy entirely her own, Alexandra Chasin turns indexes into poetry, flips love inside out, and fixes her dissecting, tender gaze on both the minutiae and vastness of the world. Strange birds, these stories, to show up in your neighborhood—and how they sing." —Elizabeth Graver


all kinds of people on the Q train

rattling horizontal in the subway car, one gazes one dozes another drifts off, but the junkie always nods. nods on the subway nods in the waiting room nods at the wheel of the car, and nods at home with the television up too loud to think while a child pulls at her sleeve, mommy wake up, i'm hungry. but it's always a waiting room wherever she is, and she's always nodding. off.

we rattling along we know the nods. it's not a nap.

the camel coat on my right elbows the high heels to his right silently to say, look at the child. the child breathes on the window blacked by the racing headlong flashlight tunnel walls and draws an O in the greasy condensation of her breath.

some like it nap some like it nod. the child turns to her mother slumping like some cilium in a lung, turns away, and says to the graffiti above her head, let's pretend we're in a spaceship.

we know, honey, we've nodded too or seen it done a hundred thousand million times ourselves. several bags across the aisle leans over asking, is your mother sick. no she's not sick, she's tired, says the child, says it first to several bags, and then says to the X crossed on the pentimentoed O, and she's not my mother. train ch-ch ch-ch.

cilia protect inside from germs by waving them away, by waving wave-like, and also usher eggs down fallopian tubes, beating, beating rhythmic-like. cilia sleep when the poison hits, and later on they die.

we woke us up, we'd wake you up, we red-haired, ham-handed, head-setted, barging on barging off, brief-cased, and even we begging passengers, but before that, at least one of we was nodding just like you were dropping through unmemory of heavy-headed years.

the child looks at AVISO, what to do for help, says to the ad for quitting, let's pretend the train's on fire.

the train IS on fire - honey, we're here to say so. the car explodes into daylight east off canal street, tube without a tube the sun scream whistles, the chorus gets up, beats our drums and waves our arms, our flagella flailing:

shake off the junk. shock-shock your cilia into consciousness. cilia: jump back up junk off. see with your ear to the ground the subway underneath it see the cars crash out of the tunnel. under our asses the rattling rails rise over chinatown four five six seven stories high. get off your ass. rise above bazaar below. cilia: unbend. cilia: see the beautiful raggedy-ass subway cars holding iron hands and hurtling single file over the neighboring rails back at us westward over the bridge from brooklyn. cilia: see the characters down there prattling in the morning air singing to the people: food, food, food, and jewels, and reasons to come buy and reasons to come off the junk, and cilia: smell the iron smell the dumplings and kumquats rampling down below, and cilia: see the tugboats on the river and the red lights at the tops of cranes to warn the planes and at the piers to warn the boats. come unhigh. naps and braids and snapping gum and golden chains and shiny heads are drifting, gazing, dozing, while all we open eyes are pulling for the tugboat, singing: shake your junky cilia. junky: you: get up and dance. throw off the clotted i can't get off it.

only junkies nod. it's not a nap, we shriek and sway. snap out of it.

well we might wave, but you're the arm she pulls on when she's hungry, and if you'd only lift your head you'd have fed her even in the tunnels out of which we came and into which we now go hurtling bridge gone by light change to green to yellow red to warn the trains to station stop and go and hurry mommy isn't this our stop. shouldn't we get off here mommy isn't this our--