Avant memoir by Kim-Anh Schreiber
“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 cult classic film House and part meditation on the secondary traumatization of having descended from prison camp survivors and Vietnam War era immigrants, Fantasy is a testament to the power and vitality of art-making and meaning-making in the shadow of survival, making for a reading experience like few others:
“The phenomenon of children of traumatized parents being affected directly or indirectly by their parent’s post-traumatic symptoms has been described by some as secondary traumatization, and can occur through dissociation in the contexts of attachment, transmission of trauma through efforts to maintain control, and epigenetics. Very often the unexplainable or inexpressible or unconceivable is recognized by the next generation as an affective sensitivity or a chaotic urgency, ambient anxiety that children can sense but not understand, through affective messages, gestures, values, thought systems, and stories, like a code that is being communicated without translation. As such, children of “survivors” are often implicitly tasked with representing without ‘re-experiencing,’ in a forced labor akin to art, parenting, and therapy. This is often difficult when that which is being represented is unfathomable, the experience illegible.”
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
For press inquiries, contact Jack Jones Literary Arts
Kim-Anh Schreiber is author of the plays Kult of Konsciousness and Meatloaf. Her multidisciplinary work has appeared in outlets such as The Brooklyn Rail, littletell, Emergency Index, and theMuseum of Contemporary Art San Diego, and supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council 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.