Stories of the Street

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Stories of the Street

Reimagining Found Texts

David Lazar

176 pages
62 color photographs

Paperback

November 2024

978-1-4962-3849-8

$24.95 Pre-order

About the Book

When walking down the street, it is not uncommon to see lost items that have escaped their proper receptacles, but how often does one stop to read the messages left behind? David Lazar has stopped often, capturing the pieces of a “lost world on the streets” and thinking about the life of the discarder from the fragments left behind.

Stories of the Street is a series of imaginative meditations—through prose poems, short-short essays, microfictions, and prose pieces without precise genre distinction—of what it means to encounter lost or discarded texts. Rather than simply deconstructing the lists, notes, receipts, or book pages he finds strewn in various cities, Lazar uses them as suggestive, capable of inspiring possible narratives that are at most latent in the text itself. The encounter, then, is an encounter with oneself and the mysteries of cities, where detritus frequently doubles as a sign saying, “Consider this.” Lazar’s narrative voice ranges in tone from the comically antic to the melancholy. By photographing what he describes as “messages that had escaped their bottles” on-location as found, Lazar has become a flaneur of paper debris, puzzling over the evidence of urban human life.

Author Bio

David Lazar is the author or editor of numerous books, including Celeste Holm Syndrome (Nebraska, 2020); I’ll Be Your Mirror: Essays and Aphorisms (Nebraska, 2017); Truth in Nonfiction; Occasional Desire: Essays (Nebraska, 2013); and The Body of Brooklyn.

Praise

“‘One must awaken the stories that sleep in the streets,’ wrote the philosopher of everyday life Michel de Certeau. David Lazar has assembled an anthology of them, found underfoot and awakened with deft artistry and genuine wonder. Balanced between prose poetry and flash fiction, these pieces, with their instigating photographs, reveal that stories waiting to be told may be found wherever you look.”—D. J. Waldie, author of Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir and Becoming Los Angeles: Myth, Memory, and a Sense of Place

“David Lazar’s enchanting Stories of the Street opens on a mysterious world where scraps of notes, torn lists, and the odd name and number on a flyaway slip of paper morph into reverie. Lazar’s prose reflections, each paired with a photograph, are beautifully unpredictable and witty. About a postcard written fifty years ago in Greek, posted from Amsterdam, discovered a decade ago in Athens, Lazar writes in Chicago, ‘Being lost doesn’t mean you don’t get around.’ A slip of paper from an old Chicago hotel for lost souls becomes a scene in the life of a private eye, who quips, ‘Some memories need a decent burial.’ Stories of the Street sparkles with brilliance, wise in the world’s way. Things can be rescued, but as Lazar muses, ‘what is saved is never saved forever.’”—Cynthia Hogue, author of instead, it is dark

“David Lazar finds poems everywhere! A flaneur with his gaze toward the ground and his poetics soaring skyward, he’s collected Lotto receipts, a tarot card, a torn movie review, a crumpled page from a screenplay-in-progress, geometry homework, children’s drawings, a rosary, shoes separated from their wearers, grocery lists, postcards from Croatia and Amsterdam, an advertisement for psychic readings, photographs, and so much more. These serve as the basis for his splendid deep image prose poems in Stories from the Street. His whimsical musings about our ‘emotional’ trash, our hopes and despair, our living inside-out, and his exquisite observations about our contemporary day-to-day elevate this ephemera to art.”—Denise Duhamel, author of The Unrhymables

Stories of the Street is a hidden city of distributed psyches unveiling prose traces in reply to images’ trace. Responding to gutter-found items—lists, abandoned photos, stationery squibs—the story segments feel lifted out of longer stories, a lift that proves the rule of this collection: what’s missing is where the meanings are. Midway, abandoned shoe photos embody their absent walkers and the prose intermits—and then returns to enamoring its character ghosts, because ‘anything that isn’t me is such a relief.’ Squint at arcades made of paper; hitch your luck-star to a Fireball; read this book for its rueful, tender, crazed devotion to our human scaffolding in ‘the lexicon of air.’”—Lisa Samuels, author of The Long White Cloud of Unknowing

“Literally taken from scraps found tossed to the ground, David Lazar’s Stories of the Street magics this ephemera into ‘some sense of leaked soul.’ Each discarded or lost image . . . tantalizes with mystery. To Lazar the flaneur, each fluttering, crushed, or soiled piece of paper becomes ‘a memory sandwich and a chocolate milkshake’—in short, quite a treat. You’ll want seconds.”—Terese Svoboda, author of Dog on Fire

Stories of the Street is a wonderfully witty collection of words and pictures. It juxtaposes photographs Lazar made of lost pieces of paper and abandoned things, encountered on his walks, with the thoughts and feelings they provoked in him. Sometimes Lazar’s thoughts rush along like riffs from a scat song; sometimes they patter like monologues spoken by a motor-mouthed hipster; and sometimes they settle to earth like the most sober-minded meditations of love and loss.”—Michael Lesy, author of Snapshots 1971–77

“The formally capacious, frequently hilarious poems in Stories of the Street were written as responses to the author’s photographs of ‘found texts’. . . . The lives of his responses, like the photographs, exist beyond the author’s eye/I. Lazar’s reverence for his subjects manifests as a civilized kaleidoscopic whirl of form and tone. ‘Some might call these responses hybrids . . . I’d probably prefer circus acts.’ In an age of one-track tweets and vids, it’s a pleasure to wade into this worldly current.”—Jennifer L. Knox, author of Crushing It

Table of Contents

To the Reader
 
The Worry Anchor
Ghost List
(Boy) (Girl)
A Knife on a Fault Line
Air Quote
Apocryphal
Basement
Big Dog
But Seriously
Carly, Sorry
Chicago, Hotel
Closing Time
Distaff
Face Down
A Supposed Examination of Entanglements
Two Times Six
Action Petition
Fireball
Forty-Eight Bucks
Have a Light, Janin
Hermeneutics
Interval
It’s Late
Forgotten in Death
Troy’s Prophecy
Down By the Lake
Jane Burton
Why Do Some Objects Favor Us with Their Loss
Je Suis Vigneau, Napolean
Jewish Museum
Wize Guise
Light Man
Love and Loss
Thrall
Love’s Lost Lake
Thus the Photograph
Malo Grabje
I Am Writing This in Chicago
On Wednesday, March 8, at six o’clock pm.
Mirror, Mirror
New World Order
Reading by Nina
Read, Goddess           
Robin?
Scripting
Sequence
Sinatra Matters
What’s My Color IQ?
Succession
Temperature Could Be Rain
The Tigers, Baby
Telling a Story           
 
Locations of Found Texts
Acknowledgements

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