Between Appear and Disappear by Doug Rice


ISBN: 978-1-948700-99-3
110 pages
Release Date: October 7, 2019

#RECURRENT / Civil Coping Mechanisms

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Imagine every day for the rest of your life at least one person looks into your eyes and asks: “Is there something wrong?” And all you can remember is this child waking you in the middle of the night. And this shallow grave that you dug into the earth.

Some memories are transformed into myths at the very moment that they are remembered. Stories are told for those who have vanished, for the loves that have been lost. Language is borne out of this absence.

In spare yet luminous prose, Between Appear and Disappear is a lyrical love story of Mai and Doug, and of the way that memoir is turned into myth.

“An unforgettable and perfect book.”
–Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan

In Japan, the concept of ma (間) – literally “the gap”, “the space”, or the interval that glues one space to another, people, people to objects, and even what we are as human being s – predominates how we live, who we are, and how we interact with things around us. In Doug Rice’s Between Appear and Disappear, this concept appears again and again: the muted space between Mai and “Doug”, the tension between photographs and texts, fiction and nonfiction, meditation and action. What is this book – is this a philosophical book on loss and time? A book about aesthetics of photography? A love story? A memoir? A book of photographs with texts, or a narrative with photographs? But this is what is apparent: the world in this hybrid book is the in-between ma, where what is visible and invisible, knowable and unknowable, what is uttered and what isn’t uttered, gentleness and terribleness, mythic and mundane, all come together to show us, through Rice’s exacting words, a new way of looking at this world that is both cruel and beautiful. This is a terrifying book to read – illuminating, wise, philosophical, and, at the end, devastating.

Mariko Nagai, author of Irradiated Cities

I consider that the action of taking photographs by Doug Rice in the case of this book—Between Appear and Disappear—had in part the function of replacing the activity of writing when the latter became overfilled with jouissance. I imagine that when taking photographs was not enough to replace the activity of writing words and syntax overfilled with jouissance, he placed whatever he wrote that had an affinity with and close association to his earlier jouissance-overfilled book Blood of Mugwump not below the lower borders of the photographs he had taken, as captions to them, but on their backs, as one does with postcards, and then printed the photographs facing the “reader,” thus burying the words written on the photographs’ backs. The book is, thus, between appearing and disappearing, between the words one can read and the words buried under the printed photographs, a hidden treasure.
Jalal Toufic, author of Forthcoming

Like accessing someone’s private diaries, Doug Rice’s translucent Between Appear and Disappear is a collaboration of syncopated narratives, a lyrical photography that “invites and denies touch.” Rice notes, “When words fail, photographs capture the appearance that slips away.” And, his lover and primary speaker, Mai, moves unlike a mirror, trapped in the abducted, discordant syllables of her Vietnamese past: a nightmare in which dust could not even clothe his memory of her. Rice, through his ecstatic visual and poetic splendors, invites her to move like rain, language, silence, skin, and inadvertently through the invitation, she opens like a lotus flower to the love letters of his photographs. Through both Rice’s acute photographic tenderness and linguistic sensitivity, he has opened into the postwar body of his former lover a hyphenated water filled with the hem of her dress, ancient dreams, garlic and lemongrass, burnt dictionaries, dead infants, bombed villages, pluvial shadows, repetitive patterns from memories, “languages rooted in mud”, and wings of weeping trees. Developed and captured through his gentle and seductive hands, Rice’s incandescent meditation is a matriarchal waterfall made of silence and eyelids as he marries exilic sorrow and beauty with his beloved quiet innocence. As he photographs them onto our “tongue made of [womb] and ash”, we become moonlit flowers and twigs floating down one riverbed of his/her loss to the next.
Vi Khi Nao, author of Fish in Exile

The blood of Mai’s ancestors run through her syllables. She takes photographs of sentences she abandoned in childhood—that loss of memory, that theme of what photography exposes. Written in the breath of a man in love, a novel, a poem, a photo album, this delirium of river language is finally a treatise on writing. ‘Her breath remains in my mouth.’ She told him the Vietnamese legend of a story that never begins, darker than any darkness when her family pushes their unsteady boat into the water. They fear arriving as much as they fear drowning. ‘Every word is a goodbye.’ She escapes sentences. Her body lay against him like moonlight. Doug Rice has written a beautiful- beyond-words American River.
Sharon Doubiago, author of My Father’s Love, Love in the Streets, and Hard Country

Between Appear and Disappear is a secular prayer, a body prayer, between seeing and saying, between experience and representation. It
is the only book that I have ever read in my life that is truly corporeal, which is to say truly embodied by and through desire in language.  I will hold it close to my heart for the rest of my life. Kind of I wanted to eat it. Definitely I slept with it under my pillow. It is an unforgettable and perfect book at a time when we need books to be exactly what they are, gloriously, unapologetically, mercifully, real.

Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan and The Chronology of Water

DOUG RICE is the author of Here Lies Memory, An Erotics of Seeing, Dream Memoirs of a Fabulist, Skin Prayer, Blood of Mugwump, and other works of fiction, photography, and theory. His work has been published in numerous journals and anthologies, including Avant Pop: Fiction for a Daydream Nation, Kiss the Sky, The Dirty Fabulous Anthology, Alice Redux, Phanthoms of Desire, Zyzzyvya, Fiction International, Gargoyle, Discourse, and 580 Split. His work has been translated into five languages, and he was a recipient of a literary residency at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany.