Category Archives: literary fiction

Strange Recital podcast features Chapter One of Locus Amoenus

This month the Strange Recital features Ben Jorgensen reading Chapter One of Locus Amoenus. Following the reading, the show hosts, Tom and Brent, interview Victoria Alexander about writing that novel and working on the sequel.

“As you drive northeast through Dutchess County in upstate New York, farm scenes strike calendar poses: leaning barns, well-tended white Victorians, winding roads tunneling through overhanging maples.”

A pastoral paradise… but is there something dark under the surface? Troubles in America manifest in the personal. Let Hamlet tell you about it.

Hamlet Blues by Ben Jörgensen

Goodbye to my dear friend, brilliant actor, crazy good memoirist. He said it was dangerous to play the part of Hamlet, but he had to.

I posted yesterday about my friend Ben’s death and deleted it later because it was up for awhile and didn’t get any likes. So goes our virtual existence now. The shredded fabric of society hangs in tatters. We don’t see or hear from a friend from months but we don’t notice because we don’t hear from a lot of friends who have succumbed to the isolation and fear.

I forget the timeline, but it was probably 2015 when Ben went to Australia to his family home Montsalvat to try to recover from an Adderall addiction and deal with his depression. He played piano regularly in the Elsinore-like stone halls. If I believed in ghosts, I’d say that’s where he is now singing the Hamlet Blues. He went into hospital to heal his body, but to heal his mind he later went into a studio where he recorded this song at night and my novel Locus Amoenus, playing the part of my 21st century Hamlet as a kind of therapy. He said it saved him, doing that. He said he knew that actors who played Hamlet had an uncanny tendency to end up dying by self-slaughter. But, as you can hear in the sung rendition of the famous soliloquy, Ben had worked through the depression and he was very much alive. Continue reading

Chance the Mimics Choice published in Pangyus

I’ve working on a collection of short stories and essays about artistic creation entitled after a line from Nabokov, “chance that mimics choice, the flaw that looks like a flower.” The introduction to the collection describes my work as a philosopher of science and literary fiction author and how these two parts of my life are seamlessly interwoven.  This month the online and print journal Pangyus offers the introduction in their science section.

My work in science and art has been inspired by Nabokov and the volume will include several Nabokovian stories and essays about Nabokov’s work in lepidoptery. My science is also inspired by Alan Turing, who provided some theories about butterfly wing pattern development that I’ve used in my work on Nabokov’s theory of the evolution of mimicry, and I also need to mention Goethe, who, as the quintessential artist-scientist, plays an important role in all this too. The last story in the volume is a Faustian tale about Turing with Nabokov making a cameo appearance.

I hope you enjoy this piece.

Meno’s Stories on the Strange Recital Podcast


The Strange Recital, Episode 20021
A podcast about fiction that questions the nature of reality.

VNA reads two short stories from her collection, Chance that Mimics Choice. Stay tuned for the interview that follows the stories.

Meno’s Stories is a series of four about a paradoxical scientist who stumbles his way to discovery. This program features “Winter Flies”* and “The Walk.”

*Reproduced by permission from the Antioch Review, Vol. 77, No. 2 (Spring, 2019). Copyright © 2019 by V. N. Alexander.

Fine Lines wins Nabokov Society Brian Boyd Prize

The Brian Boyd Prize, for the best book of 2016 – 2018 by someone who has previously published a book predominantly on Nabokov.

Awarded to Professor Stephen Blackwell (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and Kurt Johnson for Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art (Yale University Press, 2016).

The judges write: ‘The judges for this Prize carefully considered five impressive books on Nabokov published in the last three years by established Nabokov scholars. Each would have made a worthy recipient, but ultimately they chose Fine Lines: Vladimir Nabokov’s Scientific Art, edited by Stephen Blackwell and Kurt Johnson (Yale University Press, 2016). Being a distinguished lepidopterist as well as one of the twentieth-century’s great novelists, Nabokov is a writer of outstanding interest to all those who care about the complex relationships between science and art. Fine Lines carries the existing work on this subject forward by presenting us with no fewer than 148 of Nabokov butterfly drawings, beautifully reproduced. The elegantly written and intellectually sophisticated introduction, drawing meticulously on a range of sources, sheds new light onto Nabokov’s thought and writing by focusing in particular on the fundamental questions of taxonomy and systematics. The annotations to each drawing are exceptional, providing every context that future students will need to understand what Nabokov was thinking about as he drew his butterflies. Although the Prize is awarded for the quality of the introduction, editorial work, and annotations, the judges note that the volume is enriched by ten excellent essays (by V. N. Alexander, Stephen Blackwell, Brian Boyd, Robert Dirig, Victor Fet, Lauren Lucas et al., James Mallet, Naomi Pierce et al., Robert Michael Pyle, and Dorion Sagan) and a valuable bibliography. Yale University Press also deserve the praise and gratitude of Nabokovians, and of the literary and scientific community more broadly, for having made this beautiful book.

Who Owns the World? Co-operative Book Publishing

The state of platform cooperativism November 7-9, 2019 at the New School in NYC. Victoria Alexander, director at the Dactyl Foundation and editor of Dactyl Review, will speak on Saturday, Nov 9th about efforts to transform literary fiction publishing using a co-operative platform model.  2:45-4:15PM

The New School, The University Center, Room U304, 3rd Floor,  63 Fifth Avenue, NYC

Around the globe, we are starting to build an alternative economy that benefits the many, not just the few. Our passions, research, and projects challenge platform capitalism and chart a more democratic future. We show that an inclusive economy is not only necessary but already growing among us.

When starting a platform co-op, we have a much better chance at success if we rely on the support of our communities, established co-ops, incubators, co-op banks, unions, foundations, researchers, lawyers, technologists, and policymakers. “Who Owns the World?” is about building connections between these groups, finding the much-needed support, and learning from each other. For the first time, this event will bring together many of the most active players in this movement worldwide to share updates and insights, instigate initiatives, make new friends, lift each other up, plan next steps, and find new business partners as well as funders.

Celebrating 10 years of digital labor conferences at The New School, “Who Owns the World?” will feel the pulse of platform cooperativism, worldwide.

Continue reading

“Winter Flies” Published in the Antioch Review

What makes a story a story? What makes narrated events meaningful?

I’ve been working on a collection of short stories called Chance that Mimics Choice. This first story written for the collection, “Winter Flies” is included in the latest issue of the Antioch Review.  This story is one of four about a scientist named Meno whose mind gives things and events meanings, sometimes just by putting them side by side or noting a coincidental similarity between two things, and this is how he stumbles on new discoveries and becomes successful, despite his rather sloppy approach to thinking. In short, he overcomes what in Plato is described as “Meno’s Paradox”: Continue reading

June 1st, Book Club, Locus Amoenus Pleasant Valley Library

On Saturday, June 1st at 12PM,  Victoria Alexander will lead a discussion about her novel Locus Amoenus at

Pleasant Valley Free Library
3 Maggiacomo Lane
Pleasant Valley, New York 12569

The event is hosted by the Dutchess County Libertarian Party. Listen to the first chapter of the audiobook, read by Ben Jorgensen, below.

RSVP https://www.facebook.com/events/354188491875892/

Propaganda & Art: How we process information when we aren’t thinking

We have been hearing a lot about “fake news” and “propaganda” lately, and it is as important as ever to use our critical thinking skills. But we also need to understand how propaganda works and why it is so difficult to counteract with logic. Propaganda takes advantage of the way our brains function when we are not paying attention. When we are paying attention our analytical skills are engaged. When we are not, our brains go on processing information in a non-analytical way, using what might be called a poetic logic, based mainly upon similarities, coincidental patterns, associations, repetition, and emotion. There are sound biological reasons for this mindless type of processing, which actually helps us learn faster, retain memories longer, and make appropriate decisions without really thinking. In this presentation, we will explore how and why art and poetry may actually be more helpful in developing critical thinking skills. Art also works with the poetic logic of subconscious processing, but does so in a way that is not manipulative, deceptive or dishonest.