11:11 Press Climate Change Fiction Series
NOTHING EXISTS ALONE
Cover art by Lisa Bloomfield
What Happened Was inaugurates a new climate change fiction series from 11:11 Press, Nothing Exists Alone. In what art writer Annette Leddy describes as "a weird cross between Beckett and Calvino," emissaries from the postworld report back on a place that seems a lot like ours, but not really—exactly the same, just a little bit different. Taken together at once, their posts amount to a whimsical meditation on inconsolable loss. In the mundane dailiness of this world, men and women of forbearance and good nature embrace world-altering anomalies of difference—a missing part, a troubling cough, a lack of body altogether—with carefree insouciance. While somewhere just the next report over, amorphous aliens gorge on seconds, vast schools of glittering fish appear out of nowhere for secret visitations in the night, and a tiny private tear rends an opening in the fabric of the universe itself. Meantime, all they ever wanted—all any of them ever wanted—is something they might call grace before everything disappears altogether in the postworld, when herds of unrecognizable animals inherit the earth.
Katharine Haake's The Touch of Another Hand, was selected by Kelcey Ervick as the winner of the 2022 Wolfson Prose Prize. It will be published in the American Storytellers Series.
The Touch of Another Hand is a memoir-in-essays that reflects on themes of grief, estrangement, and grace, along with a certain perplexity at what counts as a life that is, in all ways, ordinary, but being her own, does not feel that way. At its crux lies the premature and unrelated deaths of two of the most important people in people in her life—a woman who was for many years her closest friend and writing partner, and a man who is described in the essays as “the man whom I might call the true love of my life if we could still use words like that without self-consciousness or irony.” While these people never met and lived in different states, they remained touchstones for Haake throughout the long difficult years of her failing marriage. Both died in the full, round years of middle age, very near their half century mark, the one just before and the other just after Haake's children grew up and she left her troubled union. Free at last, she found herself strangely alone in a world she no longer fully recognized, and the essays of this memoir provide an occasion to look back and piece together a puzzle that is still, in some ways, mystifying, not at all unlike the puzzle presented by every other completely ordinary life.
Along the way, Haake reflects on such disparate subjects as photography, parenting, memory, animals, aliens (extraterrestrials), war, nature, and writing. But underlying all of them, a certain sense of marvel at the strangeness and beauty of human life at what sometimes feels like the end of the knowable world.