Night-Moves-Cover-e1360604560362Lou Reed said that when he released his noise album Metal Machine Music in 1975 (which, according to Rolling Stone, sounded like “the tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator”), he wanted it to come out on RCA’s classical label, Red Seal. He didn’t want fans of the Velvet Underground to buy it unwittingly, because MMM is essentially an hour of feedbacking amps. As it was, people returned to the record stores in droves, thinking that they had received defective products.

A feature of this post-Postmodern era no one seems to have a name for is that emotions and analysis of how they are evoked can simultaneously exist within the same prose substance, and do not have to be polarized anymore. A dazzling new explorer of this synthesis, Rachel Glaser, is exceptionally convincing in portraying both what her characters want, and how the way they prosecute their desire will keep them from achieving it. Her stories “The Magic Umbrella” and “The Jon Lennin Xperience” investigate this paradox in fascinating ways. In both of them—which appear in her collection Pee on Water, from Publishing Genius—the characters unwittingly enact re-iterating narratives. “The Magic Umbrella” traps its characters in the same repeating paradigm, while the young man in “The Jon Lennin Xperience” is helplessly fixed in the plot of a PS3-style video game. Glaser uses language this way, too; she veers between a phony-proper nineteenth-century prose—the voice of obsolete convention—and a cheeky, bloggy, highly ironic snark, which makes both dialects sound like rituals.