Fictions by Miranda Mellis
None of This Is Real imagines a not-too-alternate reality of philosophical children, reincarnating chimeras, mutant matriarchies, and kind seers adapting to affliction. These five fictions question what is knowable and what actions can be taken in the face of loss — of family, heritage, ecosystems, agency, and power. A face incapable of masking its sneering rebellions; young sisters in search of their missing mother; a page whose very body extracts meaning from occult readings in response to alienation; a never-ending line for coffee that becomes a surreal site of quotidian wars in miniature; a nightmare future of scientific subjugation and regenerate seekers — this first collection by the author of The Revisionist illuminates the gap between institutional powers and those failed by, or otherwise mortally at odds with, those powers. Drawing inspiration from absurdism, noir, fairy tales, and the occult, None of This is Real brings the playfulness of contemporary fabulism to bear on today’s pressing ethical and political issues, exploring the potential and limits of magical thinking with empathy, subtle humor, and an engrossing mastery of the fictional form.
Cover art by Monica Canilao
“Leonora Carrington, the great surrealist creator of paintings and stories, is quoted as saying, ‘The duty of the right eye is to plunge intot he telescope, whereas the left eye interrogates the microscope.’ Seldom do we find this range of mental experience in writing. But here it is in Miranda Mellis’s None of This Is Real — part story, part philosophical treatise — beautifully told and masterfully achieved. This fine book contains multitudes of colorful permutations, ever-changing panoramas, magical chance encounters, lucid geographies of the mental experience that underpins the archeology of our identity, our dreams, our everyday life.” —Penelope Rosemont, Fifth Estate
“The five dizzying pieces that make up the fictional world of Miranda Mellis’s None of This Is Real put forth the somber theory that, unbeknowst to most of us, an apocalypse is taking place. ... Mellis’s apocalypse is different: insidious, subtle, metaphysical, narcotic, stultifying, and addictive.” —Graham Guest, Rain Taxi
“None of This Is Real, a virtuosic braiding of moral tale, cultural criticism, dream symbology, and the odd headline rip, manages to speak precisely to that helplessness and guilt permeating the simultaneity of the climate-changed, apocalypse-always zeitgeist and the rapturous technowonderful singularity as advertised on your hand-holding device.” —Eugene Lim, Harp & Altar
“Miranda Mellis’s new collection acts like an unruly Greek Chorus—hard to discern individual voices; the work’s strength lies in its homophonic nature. The shared crisis of her characters is worth an intense study, all the more because Mellis is a rare bird who can mold complex existentialism into a respectable 115 pages.” —Molly Gallentine, The Rumpus
“This is the problem that Mellis’s characters confront, over and over: what to do with themselves, stranded somehow in their bodies by their suspicion that the something more that they are that isn’t corporeal is not just immaterial but unmanageable and inhuman.” —Gabriel Blackwell, HTMLGiant
“We might be in a metaphysical fairy tale, or a world just around the bend from our own, and indeed, the precarious climates and barely livable economies in these stories induce both wonder and terror as barometers of our shared, precarious moment. What proffers hope or agency is Mellis’s capacity to imagine ‘the possibility of another kind of relationship with mortality, as yet undreamed of.’” —Amanda Davidson, City Lights
• The Rumpus reviews None of This Is Real
• HTMLGiant reviews None of This Is Real
• Green Apple Books interview with Miranda Mellis as part of Apple-a-Month book club
• City Lights interview with Miranda Mellis
Miranda Mellis is the author of three books of fiction, most recently the collection None of This Is Real (Sidebrow Books) and the short story The Spokes (Solid Objects, forthcoming). Her novella The Revisionist (Calamari Press) has been translated into Italian and Croatian and was a finalist for the 2007 Believer Book Award. Her chapbook of documentary poetics Materialisms (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs) was published in 2009. She lives and works in San Francisco where she teaches at Mills College and California College of the Arts and co-edits The Encyclopedia Project. She is a recipient of the John Hawkes Prize in Fiction and an NEH fellowship.
Miranda Mellis reading on KQED