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Dec 10, 2016

SPOTLIGHT: ‘Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories’ by Barnaby Hazen - Literary Fiction

Spotlight is my small effort to support upcoming authors in their effort to reach their readers. And yes, it is FREE, however to be featured in this section, you need to go through a selection process, please click here for details.
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“Pithy modernity entrenched in romantic agony” - says Barnaby Hazen, about his book ‘SevenEleven Forgotten and Other Stories

My author friend, Barnaby Hazen’s “Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories” takes a theme, namely convenience stores, and pushes the limits of perspective on that same theme. It is also an experimental, modern reference back to classic existential literature in the way of style and mood. And he asks, “Is that enough purpose for a book to be published?’ in answer to my question about the purpose of his book.

“If a book can be published for making people laugh, stimulating them sexually and/or emotionally, keeping them guessing about the nature of a crime, or any of these other more popular themes, then why shouldn’t the contemporary reader also be exposed to nihilism in romantic agony?” - Barnaby Hazen

Yes, it is a fact in this world, that alienation still drives people to insanity, and so why not tell such a story in his own way? And I am glad that he tried doing that as it makes it all interesting read. He also believes the quantum, or parallel universe element found in the title story, Seven Eleven Forgotten, is worth exploring in modern times. Which I did in my own way in my way, through Vedic Philosophy of Karma Yoga, contrasting Science with Vedic spirituality in my own book “Songs of the Mist” so I could relate to this book at a deeper level.

“Biographically speaking, I have found many times that moments of my life did not add up logically, and this makes me feel it’s worth taking a character through such an experience in order to bring just that feeling to the reader—that it doesn’t add up—while the character, Alex in this case, seeks desperately to make sense of it, hopefully right along with the reader. I believe it’s worth giving the reader experiences, or feelings I have had—even if the story behind those feelings is not my own—whatever it takes to bring these feelings to life.” - Barnaby Hazen

He says that his aesthetic enthusiasm is an extra-ordinarily powerful force in his writing, and his life. He believes this is because his tastes are so far from the mainstream, for the most part. Barnaby is also very passionate about writing and music. He takes it as a mission to put forth art reflecting his own tastes. He believes that it has more to do with his faith in the idea that his aesthetic values are strong and unique, and that there is a reason for them to pour out of himself as they do.

Historical impulse behind his purpose to write:
“It seems worthwhile to me to expose people to a genre of literature that goes against the popular tide today, and referring to the frontiers of existentialism, such as Dostoyevsky and Sartre, is very much a part of how this book came to be.” - Barnaby Hazen

He believes that he would not stop writing, if someone he respects or loves told him to do so. Maybe he would write secretly, but most people who have managed to stay close to him recognize that it’s not really on the table for him to stop—that it is a necessity to his happiness. This makes me feel that he has tenacity to continue writing and perseverance to come on top of the millions of writers publishing daily.

Barnaby Hazen is also a professional editor, which shows in the book with his fluent language and faultless editing. I enjoyed reading the book, very much and hope you will too.

BRIEF NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barnaby Hazen is an author, editor and musician, with two music degrees and many recordings under his belt. Along with his friend Coby, he founded the Seven Eleven Stories periodical in 2014. He also writes and edits an education based journal, The Bud Hawthorne Revue, along with Mr. Hawthorne himself. His first full-length book is out on Amazon: Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories. This book was the founding concept of convenience store fiction.

Barnaby lives with his wife, as well as a turtle, and a cat--and sometimes these grown up and surrogate kids who have decided to continue blessing his life with visits and shenanigans.

HIS INSPIRATIONS
Absolutely anything I come across from day to day might suddenly inspire me to write. Or I might just feel a mood pass over me that wants exploration. I once wrote a piece called “Surfer Siren” because I was watching as a bunch of surfers tried to make the most of what seemed a miserable day of surfing—low waves, just nothing happening out there at all—yet there were all these surfers riding whatever they could, like usually no more than ten yards of nothing. It made me feel bad for them, so I turned it into a story about how this wrecked some poor guy’s marriage--all this because I happened to be staring out at the ocean at a certain time of the day.

Anything can inspire me, it’s just a matter of whether I can construct the feeling to my own satisfaction as an author. If not, the idea never makes it beyond the notepad where I first start scribbling.

HIS CHALLENGES
With Forgotten, I would have to say the rewrite process. I went through this so many times; it was almost as if I was editing a very long prose poem. I was looking to make it lyrical, rather than just a story. I’m not sure why that was, maybe because it was a debut. The book I’m working on now, I am taking a more relaxed attitude toward the narrative. I want it to be accessible to a broad audience, my next book—this first one was more about pleasing myself and like minded readers—those with a similar literary background as mine. But yes, the rewrite process—it was almost like there was a drill sergeant living inside my head, and every time something popped up that wasn’t to my complete satisfaction, it was time to start back at the beginning and with a suspicious eye. It was an extremely inefficient and painful experience, but I was ultimately very happy to have gone through with it.

QUOTES FROM THE BOOK

“All the while the smells, the industry, the pastries, the meats; the sewage, the cars, the perfumes and the sweat; the taste in one’s mouth mingles with every molecule the nostrils endure and produces something at the back of the throat—a mixture of manic wonder and desperation as such has been tasted maybe twice in one’s life, yet it is so familiar, so familiar to the tongue it has to indicate something regarding one’s destiny—a great change or even death—it has to be just around the corner. But maybe not this corner; maybe the next.”

“‘Alex’s usual air of self-righteousness was somehow stripped bare by the gaze of a man who spoke with a thick Russian accent: “I am officer Strastakovich. You will never find the need to call me by anything different.”’

“…together we are caught in a lost land between the fairytale Eden of some mushroom trip you never quite came down from in 1972, and a paranoid survivalist nightmare you’re waking up to whenever you have another flashback; a nightmare days away from a world where paper money is no longer valued by those apocalyptic zombies tearing down your door to take your pot and my green-tea kombucha”

THE STORY

Seven Eleven Forgotten is a dark collection of stories, for the most part, taking place in or around convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven. This convenience store theme, or muse for a series of short stories eventually led the author to creating a longer, through story, following a recurring character, Alex Aronovich, from Los Angeles to Moscow. His alcoholic hallucinations are weaved ambiguously in with the real story--or perhaps he has stepped into a place where the laws of logic no longer apply. In any case, he stumbles, again and again, trying to make sense of things any way he can, eventually falling into sometimes funny, sometimes tragic episodes of romantic folly. 

Other stories (such as "A TIA for Gia," and "Princess 7") dance eclectically and playfully around the convenience store theme--as a painter's subject used repeatedly, from never the same point of view.
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When I asked him about the time taken to write the book, he says…

About two years—this because I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I wrote the first few stories during the first year, and started really wondering where it was going. I opened the concept up to other authors, and that’s how the periodical of Seven Eleven Stories began (though this book consists only of stories of mine). When I got about half way through the title story, “Forgotten,” which is really the majority of this book, then I realized the work had grown beyond the theme. It was like a painter had been walking around a 7-Eleven store, drawing sketches, and then suddenly the convenience store was just a tiny spot on the final canvas—but nevertheless, it could not have happened without that theme being central in the first place.

SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT BARNABY HAZEN
I am a professional musician in Taos, New Mexico. This strange little ski resort town is an odd place to try to make a go of it as a musician. I used to teach music in public schools, at the grade school level. I loved the age group and working with those kids but had a hard time with education policy as it stands in the United States right now. My wife Sarah does artwork for my books. We’ve been together I think fourteen years—married eight of those same years. We have a turtle. And a cat.

My next project (Misfortunes of T-Funk) is set for spring of 2017. It is a series about a couple of musicians, set in the near future. It will come with musical recordings built into the eBooks (at least in one format), and I’m very excited about being able to put together my two passions into one project: music and writing. Book 1 is done, but I am putting together a launch plan for April to tie it in with something called “Record store day.” Again, very excited about this next project.

TWO BIG THINGS OF HIS LIFE
I don’t usually talk about it but I am a Sifu in Wing Chun Kung Fu. My martial arts and Qi Gong studies are really about my own personal health and happiness, and teaching is an extension of that to others. But the discipline involved is an undeniable achievement—lifelong.

Also, my musical recordings and compositions. I have mixed feelings about living as a performer now, but if I put together a list of all the songs and compositions I’ve written or co-written, I am indeed very proud of it all.

HIS FAVORITES
GENRE: Existentialist Literature

BOOKS:
The Castle by Franz Kafka: I feel very much at home throughout the journey of this book every step of the way. This is a brilliant depiction of K’s marvelous, tedious battle for a sense of place in the world. It reminds me of my time trying to be a teacher in the current climate—just marveling all the time at the ridiculousness of what is being demanded of me, and all teachers in the system for that matter.

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller: It calls to mind other times in my life, when I was living as a “bottom feeder,” as I referred to it, and writing while otherwise just trying to stay alive. It’s a great book for any artist I think. Goes right to the bone.


TO BUY HIS BOOK, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories, by Barnaby Hazen … CLICK HERE

– Written by Shashi 
CEO & Partner ICUBE Projects
Speaker | Author of “Songs of the Mist” | Haiku Poet
Writes India’s #1 Spiritual Blog “Shadow Dancing With Mind


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ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya


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