In this installment of Page 69,
We put Joshua Chaplinsky's Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape to the test.....
Set up page 69 for us. What are we about to read?
Haha, oh boy. This is a section from my story, "Supreme Mathematics: A Cipher", which originally appeared in the Wu-Tang tribute anthology, This Book Ain't Nuttin to Fuck With, edited by Christoph Paul and Grant Wamack. It combines the story of a young woman returning home to introduce her child to its father with the numerological belief system of the Nation of Islam. I guess it's what the kids would call "experimental." There's lots of math involved, but it still has a strong narrative element.
The story was inspired by an image from the Jason Banker/Amy Everson film, Felt. That’s all I had for a while, and I didn’t know what to do with it until I joined forces with the Wu. Their devotion to Kung Fu movies and the Five-Percent Nation informed the rest of the piece. Think of it as a hip-hop take on Kill Bill.
Each section of the story consists of an element of narrative, as well as the protagonist's musings on the mystical meaning of a number. Let's just say she doesn't always agree with the interpretations she's been given. What you are about to read is from Part 9, the number 9 representing birth.
What is your book about?
Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape is a collection of weird genre stories, many of which are a weird mix of genres. It's dark, but I've also been told there's heart underneath all the cynicism. It features singularities, ciphers, and reappearing limbs. Alien messiahs and murderous medieval hydrocephalics. So, something for everyone, really. It's a pretty good representation of where I am as a writer, and of the type of stories I like to tell. Did I mention it was dark? I've already advised my mother that she probably shouldn't read it.
Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?
Um... yes and no. Out of context, this is probably one of the more esoteric bits in the book. I can see it being a bit of a difficult sell. But I assure you, readers, this is a book of actual stories! Yes, I have a penchant for playing with form, so in that regard this page is representative, but each and every story in this collection adheres to a traditional narrative arc.
Most of them, at least.
I like to say my weirder stories are "accessibly experimental." Tonally, though, this is definitely representative of the collection as a whole.
WHISPERS IN THE EAR OF A DREAMING APE
body from its paralysis with another series of blows. He scurries off into the darkness after his companion.
Part 9: Birth
To be Born is to be brought into existence. It takes nine months to produce a Child. No other number gives Birth to itself. 9+9=18(1+8=9). 9x9=81(8+1=9).
But if nine gives Birth to itself, does that render Man and Woman superfluous? You can’t have a Child without Birth. Can you have Birth without a Child? Does that make the act of conception itself immaculate?
And what of Rebirth? Surely the gestation periods must vary. Because Rebirth requires a change of heart, a heart which must then also be explored. And no two hearts are the same. Due to the uncertainty factor, these final four chambers are the most difficult to traverse, the hardest lessons for a student to absorb.
Rebirth times Freedom. 9 hearts x 4 chambers = 36
The girl resists the urge to rest by the fire. Instead she approaches the gravestone at the back of the property. She slings the mei tai around to her front, the child only just stirring. She holds it
Joshua Chaplinsky is the Managing Editor of LitReactor.com. He is the author of ‘Kanye West—Reanimator’ and the story collection 'Whispers in the Ear of A Dreaming Ape.' His short fiction has been published by Motherboard, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Thuglit, Severed Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Clash Books, Pantheon Magazine and Broken River Books. Follow him on Twitter at @jaceycockrobin. More info at joshuachaplinsky.com.