This piece, drawn from my novel-in-progress, originally came to life as a dedicated novel excerpt when I was invited to give a reading at the 2018 event Squirt: A Queer Lit Erotica Cabaret (and Other Secreted Genres). Of all the readings I’ve given in Canada, this remains one of my favourites. Curated by Shannon Maguire, the line-up featured David Bateman, bill bissett, myself, Shannon, and Charlie Petch.
The excerpt is from a story-within-a-story that itself is part of a much longer chapter within my novel. The chapter explores the question “Does God exist?”—not that you would know this from the excerpt. Rather, the excerpt is an interlude of sorts within the narrative and it doesn’t contain any of the theorisation about divine existence that is in other parts of the chapter, which allowed it to more sufficiently stand alone as an excerpt for journal publication. (That said, the fact that the reading event was focussed on erotica also prompted me to question standards of what is typically considered “standalone”, not to mention the sufficiency of the very requirement for novel excerpts to stand alone. Might a segment from a sex scene be sufficient in itself?)
Around two years later, a modified version of the excerpt was published on October 6, 2020, under the title “Robotic Feelings”. It appeared in a digital chapbook on the theme of “taste”, published by Liminal magazine, an outlet that I’ve admired for years. The chapbook was edited by Cher Tan, Adalya Nash Hussein, and Leah Jing McIntosh, with design by Anny Luo.
The chapbook also had a digital launch. I contributed to the launch by giving an 8-minute reading of part of the excerpt. The launch was published on YouTube on October 28, 2020:Read “Robotic Feelings”