Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On June 2, Michael Martone is reading in Iowa, and also on Your Computer

Michael Martone the writer/reader/performer will be doing those things at 7pm on Monday, June 2 at the University of Iowa. Michael Martone will be reading from his new book entitled Racing in Place: Collages, Fragments, Postcards, Ruins and also from his fiction.

I enjoy Michael Martone and his writing. I have even written Michael Martone's name many times and had a lot of fun doing it. Michael Martone is an excellent reader of his writing. I was fortunate enough to make the trip across the state with Matt Bell to see and hear Martone read at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids. You can download Matt's recording of the reading, and even listen to it if you want. I recommend doing both.

If you're like me and there's no way you're going to make it to Iowa on June 2 by 7pm, you can still listen live here.

Here's the full press release from the University of Iowa's website.

To ease your curiosity, here are the 100 most frequently used words in Michael Martone's Double-wide: Collected Fiction of Michael Martone:

again along always another away behind big boys building call came car children city come day door down even eyes face father few field first get go going good got hands head hear home house indiana kids know left let letters light line little long look looked looking man men mother new next night now old once own paper people picture place read red remember right road room saw say school see side someone something sound still story street table take tell things think thought time together told took turn two want watch water went white window word work years

Those are good words.

Michael Martone Michael Martone.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jackie Corley, Word Riot, Books, Etc

I'm way behind on this, but there's a ton of stuff going on at Word Riot.

First, top-notch writer and editor Jackie Corley's short story collection entitled The Suburban Swindle (a great title) is available for pre-order now. I'll be snapping up a copy, for sure. And at a mere $10 plus $2.50 S&H, there's no reason not to. Corley has received some nice blurbs from the likes of Scott Snyder, Ian Spiegelman, and Kevin Sampsell. Plus, just look at yet another stunning cover designed by David Barringer:

Next, new Word Riot is up and walking around and visiting hours are now until forever. Take flowers and fast food and say hi. And while you're there, check out Word Riot Press’ Mind Games, a short story collection by David Gianatasio, which is now available for pre-order as well.

It's all good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion

I saw this on Chris Higgs's blog. Chris and Caitlin Newcomer have a short video project in the pilot issue. Well worth a look. I'm looking forward to seeing how this venue progresses.

We're proud to announce Harlot: A Revealing Look at the Arts of Persuasion, a digital magazine and web forum dedicated to exploring rhetoric in everyday life. As the name suggests, Harlot is not another academic journal, nor is it a pop culture magazine. It's a combination of both and neither, and its goal is to provoke real conversations in the public sphere about how communication shapes our world -- from topics on reality television to public monuments to religion to pop music, and so on.

As a digital community, Harlot promotes collective invention and discussion through multimedia and traditional texts, creative pieces, artistic works, blogs, and wiki pages. We welcome submissions in a range of genres and media formats and imagine a variety of possibilities:

* art inspired by gaming culture
* a mock interview with a political candidate
* a short film on green architecture
* a collaborative review of a popular documentary
* an experimental poem about social-networking sites
* a parody of a popular advertisement
* whatever else will spark thought and conversation

We invite adventurous critics, artists, and thinkers to take part in promiscuous investigations into the social, cultural, and political powers of rhetoric ... for play with a purpose. Check out our site at www.HarlotoftheArts.org to learn more. For publication in Harlot's debut issue in Fall 2008, submissions must be sent in by July 1st, 2008.

The Harlot team

Monday, May 19, 2008

Reading, (p)Reviewing, Etc and Such

I finished reading Zachary Mason's The Lost Books of The Odyssey last night. Seriously, this is one amazing book. Before I started reading, I thought I should probably brush up on my knowledge of The Odyssey so I would hopefully get what's going on. I did not brush up. I might have missed some fine nuances, but I really don't think I did. I'll have a full review coming soon at NewPages, but, for now, just know that Zachary Mason's The Lost Books of The Odyssey will rock your world. The stories are stellar and the ideas and construction of the book is brilliant, too, if you're into that. I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether you've read The Odyssey or not.

John Reed has collaborated with William Shakespeare to compose a new play entitled All the World is a Grave, which is due out in August and is available for pre-order now. I'm looking forward to this. John has written books that take on the canon, imploding Lewis Carroll, George Orwell, and now Shakespeare. AtWiaG is apparently going to be staged in New York and New Hampshire. This is going to be fun.

Also, if you can get your hands and eyes on a copy of the latest New York Tyrant (it's sold out, so you may have to beg, borrow, or steal), you will be happy with yourself for doing so. I'll have a review of that and the latest print edition of Juked at NewPages soon, too.

In the near future, I'll be reviewing some books from New Directions. All kinds of good stuff.

Hungry eyes must be fed.

Simulations: Blog Post, Crocodile, and Zizek

I was mauled by an alligator or a crocodile in Florida last month. I lived, but I am not going to tell about it. Except that it was like concrete and was suspended upside down and made to look like it was hanging at one of those weigh stations at the marina or wild game center where Ernest Hemingways stand there smiling and shirtless next to the animal they killed. I was being touristy and decided to take a touristy picture with the simulacrocodile. I lifted my arm in between the open jaws and made a face like it had come to life and bit down. I opened my mouth so as to simulate screaming and pain. I laughed at the picture a lot. I thought it was funny. I still think it is funny, except now I am annoyed with the long shorts I am wearing in the picture, like I am wearing capri pants.

Often, I do not impress myself when looking back. In a week or a month or a year, I may look back at what I am doing right now and not be excited for any number of reasons.

I don't want to write boring sentences anymore. But I will continue anyway.

Sinus infection is still destroying my head. I am considering not getting these infections anymore.

Right now, I am listening to a great new indie band that no one has ever heard of and should immediately download and listen to over and over and over so as to know every song before they get big.

Okay, I'm not. I am wearing my headphones, but I do not have any music playing. I think this is a good way to do this.

I get moments of vertigo lately. My breathing gets shallow and I think of different things and forget to really breathe. And it feels like a light slap to the temple and everything swirls for a minute.

This is boring crap.

My hair follicles are eating dessert out on the balcony tonight after a romantic dinner. They are drunkenly aroused.

I sculpted a bust of Slavoj Zizek out of nail clippings and hair and superglue. I am going to mail it to him and hopefully it will be able to show up at some of his lectures, give interviews, and perform in documentaries for him so he can take a break from the world and relax a little bit. He's a busy guy. I hope it helps.

I'm thinking of deleting some things. I'm not sure what. Probably everything.

I think it is healthy to engage blogs as yet another form of fiction: the blog as a whole is installation art, an interactive piece of social performance. This does not mean it is insincere or fake, though. I am also not making a value judgment by calling it fiction or performance, I don't think.

Yes, I think everything should be engaged as a form of fiction. That is maybe some absurd, but not much scary. I don't know what that means.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Desire: Publishing Genius Literary Salon

I wish I could go to this.

I will wash my hair instead. And maybe clip my toenails. Maybe not.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Work in pineapplewar

I have two short pieces living new at pineapplewar, entitled "Eye, Heart, Politics" and "In Small Ways I Will Entertain You."

In pineapplewar, you can read work by Blake Butler, Brandon Scott Gorrell, Chelsea Martin, Matthew Simmons, Mike Topp, Sam Pink, Matthew Savoca, Kathryn Regina, Justin Rands, Justin Dobbs, Kendra Grant Malone, and, yes, more. I am glad to have my words in pineapplewar. Thank you Prathna Lor. You are yes.

New Things and an Old Thing New Again

I have another sinus infection coming on, I think. Really excited about that. I've been in a fog for two days. Whoever is in charge of sinus infections, I'd like to pass on this one, if that's okay. I'll catch it next time around.

But I got some good stuff in the mail over the past couple of days.

My complete set (so far) of print copies of This PDF Chapbook published by Publishing Genius arrived last week. Adam Robinson does a great job with these. It's easy to see that he crafts each copy with care. They look great, and, of course, the writing is top-notch. I also got a copy of Stephanie Barber's book/DVD entitled These Here Separated to See How They're Standing Alone, and I'm anxious to get a peek at that. Meanwhile, here's an interview with Stephanie Barber. Buying everything Publishing Genius has available is a great deal.

I also got my contributor copy of The Binnacle's Fourth Annual Ultra-Short Competition. A lot of good stuff in there. The Ultra-Short issues come in small square boxes and each story or poem is printed on thick paper about the size of a business card. It's a cool design and each copy of the issue is bound/put together by hand.

Soon, I think, I will have new work in pineapplewar. I am excited about that. I have submitted there many times without success, and now success. pineapplewar is an elegant venue, very nice looking with writing I like. Prathna Lor does a fine job editing.

Listen to Michael Kimball read from Dear Everybody. It's good every time.

I am feeling better, in a non-physical way.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Serious Question about Our Historical Situation

Okay, I really want to know what people think, or, hopefully, know about this.

Are we still postmodern or are we post-postmodern. What's the deal, y'all? I've gotten the impression from some people that postmodernism has already eaten itself. But then I've read that this self-consumption is also a mode of postmodernism. Or is this the global age? If so, what does that mean in terms of art/literature?

I know we're moving through a moment in history when we are obsessed with trying to name our own situation, which is easy enough, but most likely fifty or one hundred years from now we will have been named/labeled/categorized as something else. We seem to be aiming for a kind of cultural filing process that can turn and historically analyze what happened five minutes ago. I'm not sure what to think about this. Pros and cons, I guess.

In terms of art, we're still doing things the postmoderns and many before them did: heavy experimentation (which probably has never really stopped since humans began making art), collage (which is not new), hyper self-consciousness, struggling with the meaning of form and the impotence/richness of language (again, nothing groundbreaking).

The thing that seems to set this moment apart is available technology and the increasingly wide variety of media, the mixture of different mediums. We are becoming proficient at mimicking past modes of artistic expression. We can move from surrealism to collage to stream of consciousness, and we can blend them to produce a new mode of expression. [disclaimer: use of the term 'we' is acknowledged to be a sweeping generalization]

Is our moment the art of mimicry? Have we gone from the Age of Production and Consumption to the Age of Regurgitation and Defecation? I'm not suggesting as much as asking.

I'm sure I haven't read enough about art history and the concept of modernism/postmodernism, though. So any suggested reading will be appreciated. Obviously, Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition and maybe Fredric Jameson's Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Also, is postmodernism a concept developed almost entirely by Marxists/Post-Marxists?

See, these are the kinds of things on my mind all the time. When some people are thinking about their favorite TV shows tonight, or drinkin beer, or watching the game, I spend my time wondering What is our historical situation and what cultural trajectory are we on? I'm not saying this to feel superior or self-righteous, because if I had good cable I would have all kinds of favorite TV shows; I'm just saying that my mental gears often make it tough to relate to the outside world in an unawkward way.

I've tried to just not think about things so much, and I've succeeded, but then I just felt empty and miserable. Boo hoo. I know.

So, any input is appreciated.

I Saw This Today

A government agent who smokes like there will be no tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Ryan Call's Blog is Alive and Screaming

I am excited to see that Ryan Call, editor/writer/etc extraordinaire, has a blog. Take a look at my foot. And keep taking looks at it in the future when you feel sad, lonely, happy, and/or full of glittering semi-social energy. Ryan is having an impressive year of publishing, with work in the new Barrelhouse, the new Hobart, the new Avery, and forthcoming in Caketrain and NO COLONY.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Trailer for I WILL SMASH YOU

Here's the trailer for I WILL SMASH YOU, a documentary film from Luca Dipierro, Michael Kimball, and Black Arrow Studio, where people are filmed destroying something that has personal meaning to them. IWSY looks like it's going to be powerful. I'm excited for the DVD, which is reportedly due out in early fall. Can't wait.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Reviews of Everyday Life: Cell Phone

Every time the phone rings, something hot and irritating moves under my skin. I'm not sure why, but I always expect that the person calling me has orders for me to carry out or wants to complain about something. Just in general. Or they want to talk on and on about nothing. This is usually not the case. I am not referring to anyone specific. I just don't like talking on the phone. This is not technophobia. No fear is involved. My isolation is bugged.

Today my phone rang while I was carrying the garbage out to the road. That seems to happen a lot: I will be carrying things or busy doing something and the phone will ring. That irritates me, too, because even though I usually let it go to voicemail, my first reaction is to want to drop everything and answer the phone. At least make the ringing stop. So I swore and continued out to the road and let it go to voicemail, and kept swearing. I'm not a morning person. Or a day person, really.

My cell phone has been shutting off lately even though the battery is not dead. My cell phone is old, decrepit. Three years old or so. It has no camera. No video capabilities. Hardly any video games. No mp3 player. A chalkboard for a screen. Okay, not really. At 1 inch thick, it could fit snugly inside a cigarette pack. My phone is obese by today's standards. None of this bothers me. I don't have the down time required to make use of the features on the newest phones anyway. However, I would probably rather be playing Halo 3 on my cell phone than talking to someone. No offense to anyone.

Overall, I think talking on the phone for more than a few minutes sucks. Brevity is a virtue when using the phone, despite the incentive of infinite yack time that compells us to just keep saying words to fill the time because, hey, it's endless and what else is there to do except jabber on and try to fill up oblivion with talking for its own sake. I'm just saying.

[review as though given over the phone]

My phone rang. I did not like it. I answered my phone. I did not like it. Someone talked to me on the phone and I talked back to them. I thought about what they said. I said words in response. I did not like it, though I was okay while I was talking because I was performing socially. After we said words to each other, the phone call was finished. I hung up and felt better. The phone is useful for emergencies and ordering food on the go, and sometimes for talking to people about things to a practical end. Mostly, I do not like talking on the phone just to talk. My phone is not fancy. It does not cook my dinner or rub my back. I do not care. Someday I will get a new phone. Can we be done talking now?

[end transmission]

I wonder who will call next. Somebody call. Somebody call. Please somebody call.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Publishing Genius This PDF Chapbook Print Versions Now Available

This PDF Chapbook print copies are now available from Publishing Genius. If you order now you could get copies in time to carry to the reading at 7pm on Thursday, May 22 at 1818 Gallery at 1818 E Lafayette Ave in Baltimore, where Blake Butler, Michael Kimball, Chris Toll, and Daniel Trask will be reading as part of the first ever celebration of the PDF Chapbook series. I wish I could make it out there. Hey, if someone wants to come pick me up . . .

The chapbook price on the PG site is $4. That's a pretty good price for really good stuff to read. I ordered one of every PDF Chapbook that's been published. Excited. Order some and be excited with me.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Story of Ernest Hatcher, American Inventor

He approached me one day and said, Hello, my name is Ernest Hatcher.

I looked at him, my eyes opened wide, and choked a little on my coffee. The Ernest Hatcher?

Yes, he said, smiling and looking amazed. You've heard of me?

I have no idea who you are.

Ernest Hatcher turned out to be a rather serious guy. He was an aspiring inventor. He hadn't invented anything yet, but he thought a lot about how great it would be to invent something.

You're just in it for the money, I said.

No, no, I genuinely love inventing things and making people's lives better and more interesting.

That's admirable, I said. So what kinds of things do you invent?

Well, I've drawn up detailed plans for a machine that converts hatred into combustible fuel. Also, a membrane which, when placed over one's face, turns every idle and empty word one says or hears into a profound truth. Then there's the self-cleaning underwear that can be worn on any part of the body.

I told him that I happened to know some people who like to invest in new ideas and new inventions. Can you come up with a presentation for that underwear by tomorrow?

Yes, I can do a demonstration right now.

Excellent. I shook his hand. With gamers, campers, bachelors, travelers, sports fans, party animals, the bedridden, astronauts, lazy slobs, and husbands, the market is overripe for this revolutionary, life-changing product.

Ernest Hatcher, your idea is going to change the world.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Somethings to be Followed by Otherthings

Congratulations to Matthew Simmons, winner of Sycamore Review's Wabash Fiction Prize for his story entitled "Saxophone Lung Explodes." I love that title. This year's judge was Richard Bausch, of whose short stories I am an enthusiastic fan. I'm excited to read Matthew's story.

Here is a piece by Alexandra Kleeman in DIAGRAM 8.2 that I enjoyed.

Today is thunderstorms and toad sprockets in syrup.

Here is a short film by Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel entitled Un chien andalou (1929). The first scene depicts a woman's eyeball being slit open with a razor blade. Makes the stomach do jumping jacks.

André Breton had a pudgy face and leaky eyes.

Max Ernst shaved with animal hooves.

Mosquito nostrils.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Book Reviews at NewPages

Yeah, new book reviews. Good books. Good reviews. Good.

Reviews of:

Arkansas by John Brandon
Sensational Spectacular by Nate Pritts
Oh Baby by Kim Chinquee
The Strange Case of Maribel Dixon by Charles Jensen
Behind My Eyes by Li-Young Lee
You Must Be This Happy to Enter by Elizabeth Crane
City of Regret by Andrew Kozma
Spring Wind Brings the Fireworks: Translations, Variations and Responses to the Poetry of Xin Qiji by Christopher Kelen and Agnes Vong
I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
The Musical Illusionist by Alex Rose

There. Good. Onward.