"I didn't like the sound of my own voice," Carnahan says, "and my first story collection had just been published. Most of my friends were musicians, composers, and performers. One day I got the idea to have them put the words to music. They did. And in ways I couldn't have imagined."
Melody Sumner Carnahan's cryptic, enigmatic fiction has found form for many years in collaborations with composers and musicians. When The Time Is Now was first published by Burning Books, Carnahan gave the book to friends asking them to put the words to music using any story they liked. The works on the audio CD accompanying this third edition of the book were created from 1983 to 1996.
Artists featured on tracks:
1. Joan La Barbara
2. Susan Stone
3. Laetitia Sonami
4. Robert Ashley
5. Maggi Payne
6. Brian Reinbolt
7. Barbara Golden
8. Marghreta Cordero
9. Joan La Barbara
10. Laetitia Sonami
11. Elodie Lauten
12. Larry Polansky / John Bischoff
13. Nessie Lessons
14. Steven Clark / Jim Hrabetin / Marc Weinstein
15. Nick Didkovsky / Larry Polansky
74-minute CD with 80-page Book in a 5.5 x 5" slipcase
"Nineteenth-century composers had Goethe and Heinrich Heine and Maurice Maeterlinck to set to music. Today we have Santa Fe writer Melody Sumner Carnahan, whose enigmatic texts have formed the basis for more pieces of music I know than any other recent writer can claim. It's easy to hear what makes her writing so attractive to composers. Her short, commanding sentences leap off from each other at arresting right angles. This is manna for musicians. . . .Sumner Carnahan writes the most musical prose since Gertrude Stein."
- Kyle Gann, The Village Voice, February 16, 1999
Excerpt from WHAT HAPPENED:
When I had a baby, I lost my sex drive. My husband came home from the war and found me sleeping with a woman. He took her away, they ran off together. My baby died.
I got my sex drive back and had another baby. I married a man who brought with him two children of his own. He loved them dearly. He stayed home to care for them. I went out each day to make money but found I hated my job. I quit. The man who gave me the job threatened to kill me if I left. He didn't kill me, I got another job. I fell in love. The person I loved did not love me. He told me to get lost. I threatened to kill him if he went out with other women. He did. I shot him. He recovered and came back to me, begging my forgiveness. I couldn't love him anymore.
I quit my job, we moved into a larger house, the children entered school. I spent the days cleaning the house and redecorating. In the evenings we had small dinner parties. My husband decided to get a job. Another war broke out, we had to open our house to strangers who stole our things. My husband fell in love with one of them and left me with the children. When he returned a few months later, he had lost the ability to speak, an automobile accident. He listened to the radio. He played with the children. I began working in a hospital where I ran into my first husband who was having a brain tumor removed. They didn't expect him to live. His memory was shot, he couldn't recognize me. He recovered but soon after died of a stroke. He had become obese.
I contracted a mysterious ailment that afflicted mainly my left side. It was entirely covered with hard little bumps like BBs implanted in the skin. I exuded a peculiar odor and frequently urinated uncontrollably. The doctors were embarrassed tosee me, they could do nothing. My husband and children cooled toward me. I took a room in a house not far from them and phoned each day. They were encouraging but of course involved in their own lives. One day the bumps fell off. I found them scattered about in my bed like sand on the sheets. I threw out the sheets, most of my clothing and linens, dry-cleaned the rest. Tiny pink scars remained on my skin but within a few months they had faded. I returned to my family who were pleased to have me back and healthy.
My husband had hired a housekeeper and cook. She was nearly blind but did a wonderful job in spite of her handicap. She treated my husband like a son. My children seemed to have grown quite fond of her so we kept her on. She was a terrific cook. I devoted myself to frequent and lavish . . .