Happy to be promoting two of Joe Milazzo’s books: Crepuscule w/ Nellie and The Habiliments. More about Milazzo and his books below:
Joe Milazzo is a writer, editor, educator, and designer. He is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Press) and The Habiliments (Apostrophe Books), a volume of poetry. Along with Janice Lee and Eric Lindley, he edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing]. He is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press. Joe lives and works in Dallas, Texas.
About Crepuscule w/ Nellie
Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Productions) is work of speculative historical fiction that depicts the lives of Thelonious Monk and his wife, Nellie, and doesn’t attempt historical accuracy. Neither is it an ekphrastic experiment meant to mimic Monk’s brilliance, with his signature dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists. Instead, much like Monk’s composing, Crepuscule W/ Nellie creates a whole new architecture in which to tell its story.
“The challenge in writing on behalf of Joe Milazzo’s fiction is finding the language to convey how special it is, but let us begin with audacious and fearless, lyrical and brilliant, superbly imaginative and assuredly accomplished — one of tomorrow’s great novelists on the cusp of his moment.” — Steve Erickson (Zeroville, Our Ecstatic Days)
“A polyvocal narrative that’s part Faulkner à la midcentury Manhattan’s jazz epicenters, part early 90’s avant-pop crossed with Black Mountain poetics, and part ghost, Joe Milazzo’s genrebending Crepuscule W/ Nellie boldly re-imagines the relationship between fact and fiction.” — Claire Donato (Burial)
“Milazzo dug this lost recording of the Monk/Monk/Pannonica trio — dug as in figured, as in got into, as in exhumed — out that ‘dustbin’ folks talk about. And since the composition called Crepuscule W/ Nellie is this time a story storying history, the good mess Milazzo so expertly messes with alchemizes the linguistic odds-and-ends that make a vernacular both high-falluting and low-down; the factual scraps that member a fiction into a rich speculation; and the individuals ignored so long they must come back to us in books. Our author has given us a fascinating one. Dig it, dig it, dig it.” — Douglas Kearney (The Black Automaton, PATTER)
“Milazzo’s work inhabits a place much like that between sleep and wakefulness — one is neither conscious nor unconscious, and the mind is free to chart a different terrain, where hallucinations are lucid, rational action is absurd, and the rigid metronome of what we understand as time is unhinged, giving rise to an altogether looser continuum where repetitions, breakdowns, and indeterminate codas are the norm. It seems unnecessary, while perhaps perverse, to make pointed mention of Monk — much less jazz — here. The term ‘jazz’ itself, which fittingly bears no formal etymology, was little used by so-called jazz musicians of Monk’s era. For these musicians, art was tagless. It strikes me that, with this debut novel, Milazzo abides by a similar guiding principle.” — Laton Carter (Leaving)
“A supple weave of textures, voices, influences echoed and then amplified; Joe Milazzo’s Crepuscule W/ Nellie masterfully carries out the serious business of mapping out a collective consciousness in all of its layers, tangles, dense thickets and odd gaps. His subjects are many: creativity and sacrifice, patronage, women caring for men, women caring for each other. The book has its refrains, its passages that suggest impassioned improvisation, its tempo shifts, moments of melodic clarity followed by transitions that seek and struggle and finally—as much like Keith Jarrett as Thelonious Monk—explode into even freer terrain. It’s bold, challenging work that connects Milazzo back to a line of authors, like Faulkner and Joyce, who saw the novel as not just a tale well told but a place to inhabit.” — Mike Heppner (The Egg Code, We Came All This Way)
“Joe Milazzo’s Crepuscule W/ Nellie is a blast. So rarely do we get a novel this momentous, challenging, ambitious — Crepuscule W/ Nellie transcends expectation. I’m moved by the fierce acuity of the maximalist prose, never less than adroit and vital as it parses a famous triangle between the maestro, Thelonious Monk, his wife Nellie, and the Bebop Baroness, Pannonica de Koenigswarter, the most storied music patron of the 20th century. Triangulating the infinite personal declensions between struggling black musicians and the white patrons, between the women and their men, Joe Milazzo’s language brilliantly echolocates that essentially American distance, sounding out an American loneliness that is with us still.” — Sesshu Foster (World Ball Notebook, Atomik Aztex)
“Joe Milazzo’s Crepuscule W/ Nellie takes as its great and original subject a care-giver’s, literally home-maker’s immensely improvising relation to a creative genius, a demanding, needy, powerful, enigmatic, often disappointing man who was her husband. That is what this long, intimate, painfully American, many-voiced rumination of a novel is about — though also, and indirectly, about much that is implied by its title, which was first that of Thelonious Monk’s shortest major composition, one of my favorites, with its outer, measured clarity and inner, off-balance infinities and shadows. Has Milazzo added the lyrics? I think rather that he has written a deep, interior book about lives that included jazz and everything else. A book that will last.” — Joseph McElroy (Cannonball, Women and Men)
About The Habiliments
“Early in his poetry debut, The Habiliments (Apostrophe Books), Joe Milazzo asks, ‘What if you are among the dis- / illusionments? What if yours is / the rescue that everyone is always / saying they’re getting the hell /out of?’ This strange ironic transference turns illusion into a kind of metonymy of self-identity and conflates escape with hell. In Milazzo’s linguistic landscape ‘backyards explode with palaces,’ ‘the bones of rationale begin to knob and peep,’ ‘bone dreams merely of a snowmen’s chorus’ and ‘your westward affections run senile like a river.’ Quotidian reality wears a new syntactical and semantic garb as each poem seems to unravel language and a circadian rotation of ‘dreams’— ambiguously of sleep, of aspiration, of nonsense, of the fantastic, or of the banal. If Milazzo’s poems are a kind of ‘dream song,’ they are constructed in radically different ways than John Berryman’s (though there are certainly formal echoes of that poet’s phantasmagoric layers). In Milazzo’s dream songs, Berryman’s angst and sorrow collide with John Ashbery’s metaphysics of erosion, Rosmarie Waldrop’s semantic drifting, and John Yau’s surreal atmospherics. An odd paradox underlies all of these poems in that the ‘habiliments’ themselves simultaneously refer to dressing and stripping bare. An alternative and archaic meaning of the word ‘habiliments’ suggests a verb that means ‘to reduce a tree by stripping off the branches.’ In these poems, that meaning is revealed in metonymy and synecdoche whereby ‘habiliment’ becomes both reduction by stripping and construction by dressing. Obsessive palimpsests return to scenes to harrowingly dress and strip bare—alter and erase. The accouterments, costumes, objects, and trappings in which we construct identity are woven into a tapestry of memory, dream, forgetting, and, ultimately, grief. Meditating on the hour-to-hour dwelling within this grief, the poet inhabits space, reading the objects and the activities once pursued by the living. From breakfast eggs eaten in a kitchen to a glass of water on a bedroom end table to a mown lawn, Milazzo takes these familiar domestic habits and presents them within ghostly galleries of ‘cartoony partitions’ where shadows wait ‘at each crossing/, for the me/ that might be ahead/, that me chasing the assurance/ of one last fading ray.’ Milazzo uses allusion, antimeria, neologisms, conversions, and logical disruptions, as well as a deep attention to the elusive uncertainties of language to explore how words simultaneously succeed and fail to express emotion, describe reality, or make sense of our relationship with others.”— Richard Greenfield and Mark Tursi, Editors, Apostrophe Books.