Part exegesis on Nobuhiko Obayashi’s film House and part meditation on the ineffable specters that inhabit homes and ancestral histories, Fantasy is a daughter’s story of her Vietnamese mother and their twin journeys towards belonging with one another and in the world. Where exilic, inherited memory encounters its limits, Fantasy reaches towards cult cinematic atmospheres, irreverent flowers, pop culture, and photographs with no images, making for a reading experience like no other.
Cover art by Sojourner Truth Parsons.
Fantasy was a finalist for the 2017 Nightboat Poetry Prize.
Advanced Praise for Fantasy
“The semi-autobiographical fantastic Fantasy of Kim-Anh Schreiber is rooted 1/4 in Vietnamese/Germanic realism and ancestral context, 1/2 in Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 House, 1/4 in matriarchal estrangement, and 0% bikini-clad pool party. Schreiber uses the fabric of cinema and horror to quasi-measure the length and width of her pre-adolescent and adolescent consciousness. It’s a GORGEOUS dress that the ghost in her psyche demands that it wears before falling into ash. Here, in these immolatable, scriptive dialogues with all of her consanguineous, anecdotal, exegetical selves (‘who become shoes without feet that walk back and forth’ in a house that eats like hungry ghosts), her psyche is cut, recut, uncut, though not forgotten, un-linearly and nonchalantly and numerously, by her relationship to film and her relationship with her Vietnamese mother, surrogated mother in grandmother(s) and auntie(s). Through the art of disfigurement/defacement, her intimate rapport to pain and her sacral joint, and her friendship with abandonment, she is able to elevate her daughterly North Star duties to subliminal heights. As Kim-Anh Schreiber seeks closure with the uncloseable, we see an acutely talented scholar and inventive memoirist on her way to becoming more than Sandra Bullock’s neighbor.” —Vi Khi Nao, author of Fish in Exile
“‘Every seam I encountered in the fabric of my reality was like a disfigurement that someone had smoothed over and left silent,’ writes Kim-Anh Schreiber in this remarkable investigation of female anger and resilience, intergenerational trauma, and what might be called the development of literacy in the subject of pain. Schreiber, the daughter of a Vietnamese refugee and a German immigrant, combines recognizable modes — memoir, criticism, dramatic play script — into something as uncategorizable as the film she deploys throughout the book as muse and foil: Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 post-Hiroshima ‘horror-comedy’ House, in which generations of women are trapped together in a haunted house. Beginning with extended considerations of the instability of memory (‘an evocative curator’), of the ‘impossible problem of drawing a picture,’ and of the pull to use projection and doubling as bridges across gaps in experience and understanding, Fantasy finally resolves into a flickering, unstable but vivid portrait of a mother and daughter both separated and bonded by history, violence, human fallibility, and love.” —Anna Moschovakis, author of Eleanor, Or, The Rejection of the Progress of Love
SHOUT OUTS TO FANTASY
“Schreiber takes an incisive look at the corporal quality of our deepest psychic understandings and the umbilical cord that carries our identity from one body to the next. She is indefatiguably distinguishing one X from the other in her chromosomal set, knowing that there isn’t a corpus callosum dividing her dual identities, but rather an extensive sequence of yins and yangs swirling; an infinite loop of chain-smoking daisies propelling the turbine of life and death. Like the avatars of an ancient goddess, they circulate the dust that gathers in the corners of the epigenetic house, floating ubiquitously through the air, carrying traces of every dead and living thing that ever graced it with their presence.” — Summer Bowie, Autre Magazine
“Fantasy reminds the reader that as we look at the often broken and crooked stories of ourselves, we can’t forget that history keeps circumscribing us, even as its content eludes us. In Fantasy, history’s effects are known through the book’s forms, its strategies for structuring itself — which doesn’t make history less hurtful.” — Alex Lanz, Full Stop
“Fantasy is about what we might have or could have inherited and the specific grief of disinheritance as well as a fear of losing cultural memory and identity. It’s a type of existential horror that Schreiber writes about and, like any horror story, there’s a feeling of dread that what haunts us will continue despite the story’s ending. This is a powerful debut from an author pushing the boundaries of storytelling and mapping new terrain in its art.” — Eric Nguyen, diaCRITICS
“Kim-Anh Schreiber is fearlessly funny and intuitive in her first book that explores the projections of beauty standards placed on women.” — Ruth Minah Buchwald, Electric Lit
“Ah, here it is, a book I didn’t even know I’ve been waiting for! As Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai is to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, as Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee is to Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, so Kim-Anh Schreiber’s Fantasy is to Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 masterpiece of weird horror House.” — Dana Snitzky, The End of the World Review
“An inventive, uncompromising, and poignant examination of transgenerational trauma, the primordial bond between mother and child, and the damage wrought when that bond is broken.” — Alice Stephens, Washington Independent Review of Books
Fantasy was included on Entropy‘s Quarantine Reading List